Geoffrey Long
Tip of the Quill: Archives

January 2006 Archives

Not dead yet.

For the concerned, I'm still alive and am cutting through the aformentioned 120+ emails with the proverbial machete. In 24 hours I've whacked over 40 emails and am readying myself to get up in the morning and do it again. A couple more days like today and I should be in good shape. Well, if by "in good shape" I mean "back to where I was about two weeks ago, only exhausted as well"...

Jeez. Classes haven't even started yet and I'm already getting my clock cleaned.

Insert swear words here.

If anybody's wondering why I'm a quivering little ball of hate right now, it's because I have over one hundred and twenty emails in my inbox all demanding something or other. So if you're reading this message and wondering where I am or where whatever-it-is-you're-demanding happens to be, I'm working on it, and I'll get to you faster if you leave me alone.


Attaboy, Ryan!

So my old college friend Ryan Ruopp has just scored a new gig as Contributing Editor to UGO (Underground Online). This is so cool. His first piece is a column of comics reviews: check out Ryan's first This Week In Comics. Congrats!


The Ford Reflex: Hopefully More Than a Concept

Why is it that the coolest cars so rarely make it out of the Concept Car ring at auto shows? Check out the new Ford Reflex, currently on display at Detroit. Homina homina homina.

iTunes Network Ratings Boost and the State of IPTV
Good news for those of us living in the 21st century! NBC is crediting the iTunes Store with boosting their ratings:
NBC's "The Office" delivered a 5.1-its highest ratings ever-last Thursday among adults 18 to 49, a bump the network credits in large part to the show's popularity as an iPod download. In fact, the series is NBC's top-performing video podcast available on Apple's iTunes, where it has been available since Dec. 6. Such a connection between podcast success and broadcast ratings success is particularly significant because the NBC data is among the first available evidence of what network executives have been gambling on when striking their new media deals-that the new video platforms are additive because they provide more entry points into a show for consumers.
I've been relatively silent on the IPTV front lately because, to be honest, my primary feeling on the matter right now isn't excitement but fear. Right now both the IPTV and portable video markets are suffering from serious overfragmentation. The iTunes store proved that downloaded music is an extremely viable business model because they managed to get almost every record company on board. Sure, there are still some holdouts, but for the most part whenever I'm struck with the urge to hear new music from popular artists like U2 or obscure and underrated artists like Great Big Sea or Eddie from Ohio I can pop on there and $.99 to ten bucks later I'm a happy customer. Alas, not so with the video market. Not only is each network offering up only a paltry few shows for downloading, but with so many competitors jumping into the space all at once and each staking out an exclusive claim on different shows, it's getting almost impossible to be an IPTV or mobile video enthusiast. My weekly dedicated TV diet consists of Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis, The West Wing, Mythbusters, 24, and House. (No emails about how I should be watching Battlestar Galactica or Lost, please – I'm plowing through both shows on DVD whenever I get a chance.) None of these are available yet on the iTunes store, and very few are available anywhere else. Even if I wanted to extend my media diet to shows like How I Met Your Mother and Desperate Housewives, then I would have to use iTunes for one and Yahoo! for the other. Extend this to the one show I watch that did make early moves into the mobile space, 24, and I'd have to switch cellphone providers just to pay more money to watch a halfhearted mobisode spinoff of the show! People, this is dumb. My forecast for 2006: media pundits will turn on mobile TV and bemoan how few people use it, completely ignoring the massive barriers to entry that are being thrown up between the fans and the content they want. Imagine if Ben and Jerry's tried to branch out into a new soy-based ice cream, but only offered three obscure flavors or made their customers switch from VISA to MasterCard in order to get the new soy version of Chubby Hubby – then cancelled the line because of "low customer interest." To overextend this analogy, imagine if a third party then began providing a DIY soy ice cream maker and people began posting recipes on the Internet using materials from your local grocery store. That ice cream maker? That's BitTorrent, and I for one am discovering the joys of DIY Phish Food. I don't like having to make it myself, and I'd happily pony up the cash to get it otherwise, but it's the only way I can get exactly what I want exactly when I want it. People like Chris Thilk at TVSquad are already making snarky comments like "I think it's more than a little funny that people are turning to the shows on TV after trying them out on iTunes. After all, you pay $1.99 a pop on iTunes to "try" an episode that, if you had watched it when it was aired, would have cost you nothing." This is an excellent example of blatantly missing the point – people like me downloaded music from Napster because we couldn't get exactly what we wanted exactly when we wanted it anywhere else. You can't find Eddie from Ohio or Great Big Sea in Wal-Mart, and the number of times I failed to find an obscure album in even megastores like Virgin or Tower Records was ridiculous – and never mind the number of times the store was closed because it was 4AM on a Sunday morning. Those problems are gone with the iTunes store for music, and when the TV companies really get their stuff together and all provide all their shows on one unified service the IPTV and mobile video markets will explode. I watched The Night Stalker on iTunes (it stunk, but it wasn't a category-killer) and I'd happily give other obscure shows a chance at random times whenever I have a free minute, but I'm not going to TiVo something randomly. If the TiVo recommends and downloads Supernatural for me, fine – but you won't see a dime of that money, and chances are good that it won't. So why not put Supernatural on the iTunes store and let me throw you two bucks for the ability to watch it at 4AM on Sunday morning? We've said it over and over again here at C3, I've said it twice already in this post, and now I invite you to say it with me at home: people want exactly what they want exatly when they want it – and when the property owners refuse to give it to them they lose out on revenue, generate resentment from the fans and drive them to illegal alternatives. This isn't just fans! This is a whole nation of causal viewers for whom it is impossible to schedule their lives around a silly TV schedule but find themselves with bizarre little pockets of time (like 4AM on a Sunday) they want to fill with something interesting. Pick whatever metaphor you want – whether it's a peasant killing deer on the king's land or freezing up your own batch of soy Coffee! Coffee! Buzz! Buzz! Buzz!, I don't care. The bottom line is this: a huge market opportunity is being wasted in Hollywood, most of us would-be viewers already use a working model every time we buy music, and we demand to know why Hollywood is wasting time. So there it is in a nutshell. I fear for the IPTV and mobile video market, but if there are any Hollywood execs reading this post, please – I beseech you. Make your big 2006 New Year's resolution to make me, on 4AM on Sunday, January 7th 2007, just two bucks and one click away from watching Stargate on my computer, my cell phone, or my video iPod. I'll be here waiting with my pint of Cherry Garcia.



Yes, it's true. The spring makeover has begun – I have shed my winter coat and chopped off my hair. Which was really dumb, seeing as how Boston just decided "Oh, yeah, it's Winter!" and dropped something like 30 degrees in 48 hours. Arg. Maybe I'll keep the beard until I see some daffodils.

In other news, I have decided to co-captain a team in the Get Fit @ MIT program. My co-captain is Dan Roy, and our other team members are Ivan Askwith, Sam Ford and Dan's friend Greg Little. I have yet to meet Greg, but aside from Dan we make up the Chubby White Guys' union in CMS. On Sunday night Ivan, Dan and I met up with our friend Alec on the b-ball courts at the Z Center, where Dan properly taught the rest of us the true meaning of schooled. That was mortifying. My goal? To shape up in time for March, which is apparently going to be a month of much, much traveling...


It's iLife, it's now or never...

Oh, yeah. Big ups to anyone in the audience who got the John Cougar Mellencamp Bon Jovi (thanks Dave) reference in the title of this post without snickering.

I just brought home a shiny new copy of iLife '06, and it's pretty bloody impressive. Seitzinger, you listening? You need this. The improvements made to iPhoto alone are worth the price of admission, and I haven't even started to futz with things like Photocasting and the new Podcast functions in GarageBand. I fired up iWeb once and am sort of staring at it, wondering how exactly they do some of the niftier functions in there – I'm sure it'll be patently obvious as soon as I crack open the code, but it's pretty impressive nevertheless.

The only thing I've discovered that I'm not so crazy about: it seems the new iPhoto breaks Flickr Export into a million little tiny pieces. I'm anxious to see if they fix that, given their own new insidious plans for "Photocasting", but we'll see. Still, very cool new version.


Movie sign! (redux)

Right before the end of the semester I posted a list of movies I wanted to see over break. Well, the winter break is winding down and it's been wonderful – I've been spending some serious quality time with Nick and Laura, I've helped my family out with a couple of projects, I've collected a whole bunch of games and things from the after-Christmas sales that I can't wait to play when I get back to Boston, and I've managed to catch a few of the movies I wanted to see. Here's my updated cinematic to-do list:

  1. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
  2. Memoirs of a Geisha
  3. Wallace and Gromit
  4. King Kong
  5. Aeon Flux
  6. The Ice Harvest
  7. Syriana
  8. Capote
  9. Everything is Illuminated
  10. Good Night, and Good Luck
  11. Shopgirl
  12. The Family Stone
  13. The Producers
  14. The New World
  15. Munich
  16. Casanova (not yet released)
  17. Elizabethtown
  18. Jarhead
  19. God of War
  20. Proof

I might catch Syriana, Good Night and Good Luck, The Family Stone, Munich, and The Producers before I head home, but I suspect the majority of the others will have to wait until they come out on DVD. Happily, I've also managed to watch Fun with Dick and Jane in the theater and XXX: State of the Union, Must Love Dogs, and War of the Worlds on DVD while here in Ohio, as well as Serenity for the third time (this time to expose my parents to the Browncoat regime). Mmmm. It's been a great break. :)


Happy new year!

Hey, all! Here's wishing you all a very happy and healthy new year (and wishing that when I publish this it'll fix the extremely upsetting disappearance of this weblog... :(