Category Archives: Technology/Gadgets

The Sale of 3D TV sets will rise, Possibly Leading to a whole new Creative Explosion in Television

The widespread availability of programme or movie content filmed specially made for 3D viewing is one of the last major blocking points to a potential explosion in the take up of 3D TV. All the signs are that this blocking point is about to be cleared, with the arrival of dedicated 3D TV networks and channels.

These 3D TV Networks will be operated by such well known names as ESPN, Comcast, Sky, and Verizon. You can see a full list to the right of this article.
By the end of 2010, it’s expected that viewers will have a choice of 3D content from up to 15 VOD channels, around a dozen network channels (cable or satellite TV), and a number of internet 3D channels.

For nearly 90 years, 3D viewing has been almost exclusively locked away in movie theaters. Every once in a while, a TV show might have a 3D episode as a special event, offering disposable 3D glasses at local convenience or electronics stores free with purchase. These major marketing events could usually drum up a bigger viewing audience, but they only lasted one night.

The process for creating 3D, too, was often the now-outdated red and blue anaglyph conversion, which causes headaches over extended periods of time.
The success of new 3D films like Avatar, Clash of the Titans, and How to Train Your Dragon has reawakened the public’s appetite for 3D content, though.

Now audiences are clamoring for the same experience they get in theaters, but in the comfort of their own homes. Television manufacturers have heard their cries, and in response a bevy of 3D TV models were announced at the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show. A lot of these models boast the ability to convert 2D content into 3D.

While this will provide a 3D experience, it doesn’t offer the same image clarity as content filmed specifically in 3D. To compensate for this, some TV manufacturers are forming partnerships with broadcast companies in order to launch new 3D TV networks, offering 3D content 24 hours a day.

Sony Corp. recently brokered a deal with IMAX and Discovery Communications, owner of the Discovery Channel and its networks, to launch a new, fully 3D network in 2011 or 2012. This new 3D network doesn’t have a name yet, but it will offer 3D content in some exciting areas, including space, exploration, adventure and natural history. The partnership also has stated content will not exclusively come from Sony, IMAX, or Discovery. Third-party 3D providers will also be able to participate.

Discovery Communications is set to handle the network services and rights, while Sony will manage advertising sales and content licensing. IMAX is on the deal to provide future 3D films, as well promote the network all its solely owned theaters across the nation. The company also will be providing its patented enhancement techniques and 3D technology for the production of ongoing 3D content.

The Discovery/Sony network won’t be the only option, either. ESPN has also announced the creation of ESPN 3D, set to launch as early as June 2010. This 3D TV network is dedicated to sports and plans are to show more than 85 live sporting events – including the World Cup plus some NBA and college basketball games – all in three dimensions. There won’t be any reruns, though, meaning that the network will go dark when there’s no live event available for broadcast. ESPN has already announced the broadcast of the Summer X Games, NBA events, and college football and basketball in 3D.

Access to these new 3D networks will only be available through 3D TV sets, so consumers will need to upgrade their televisions to see the content. But this is only the beginning. Many industry insiders believe that if ESPN 3D does well in the summer, it could lead to an ABC/Disney 3D TV network soon after. On the bright side, the technology will no longer require the color-distorting technique of red and blue anaglyph layers. Instead, viewers will be able to see all the 3D media in high definition, colour -correct splendor.

With two networks already announced, and surely more on the way, the switch to 3D content at home has taken its first steps. In the past, 3D content was limited to a gimmick. Now that big TV content like sporting events and movies will soon be available in three dimensions, this new media wave is gearing up to sweep the television broadcast industry.
Undoubtedly once the content is more readily available, the sale of 3D TV sets will rise, possibly leading to a whole new creative explosion in television.

3D TV networks:
Sky 3D – planning to go live with Europe’s first dedicated 3D TV channel later in 2010.
Time Warner

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This is, as usual, so infuriating I want to scream. Another of Microsoft’s stealth marketing tactics. They asked bloggers to write a short blurb on what their slogan, ‘People-ready Business’, means to them. For a bit of money, of course.
Hmm… what happened to these blurbs? Well, they ended up in banner ads. Of course.

If you want then, Mr. Gates, here is my idea of what a people-ready business is.
by J Rothwell

In my experience, a people-ready business is a business that’s finally seen sense and thrown away its computers, and is now using a pen and paper. Alternatively it could be a business using Linux. Or Macs. Either way, it’s something other than Windows.
So there. Bill, I take cheque, cash, and all major credit cards.

I am happy to say that Apple has now updated Safari so older Athlon processors can run it.
Well. Apple issued the update, but it wasn’t installed automatically. I had to give it a little kick start (read that as going into the Start menu, finding the Apple software updater and looking for the updates, telling it to download them, accepting the license agreement and waiting for it to install.)

I am now typing this in Safari. And it’s sooooooooo fast you would not believe.  It’s pretty, well thought-out, has some wonderful features and is exactly the sort of browser I need. True, it is a little buggy (this is the second time I’ve had to type this - when testing the bookmarks feature, it forgot the WordPress ‘write post’ page even existed) and rough around the edges, but I can see a great bit of software coming out of it at the end.

And for once we have a browser that doesn’t pester you if it isn’t your system’s default Internet browser, media player, shell, teapot, etc. Impressive, especially by Apple’s standards.
edit: oh no, I spoke too soon. Safari decided to remove all the line breaks from this post in the WYSIWYG editor, so I’m having to insert them in old fashioned, clunky HTML… Safari is still good though.
Some people are so stupid with passwords, it would seem, that they might as well erect a sign outside their door saying “LOOK! BANK ACCOUNTS, ONLINE PROFILES, PRIVATE INFORMATION, ALL FOR FREE!”
Malicious hackers know that a lot of computer users find it difficult to remember passwords, and will therefore choose something they won’t forget and will stick with for a long time. Easy passwords like ‘password’ or ‘open’ or ’security’ are a no-brainer, for both unsuspecting user and evil cracker.

Equally unpreferable are ‘dictionary’ passwords, as in single words like ‘cabbage’. When picking a password, if you absolutely must make it a single word, pick up a dictionary (yes, the big heavy one) and look for it. Ideally you might also want to search the full Oxford English Dictionary if your library has a copy, or check on Wiktionary. If a dictionary password is used, all the cracker has to do is try all the words in the dictionary and he’s in.

Obvious numbers are also a big no-no. Don’t use your date of birth, phone number or the box you won Deal or No Deal with. Neither should you use your username, and definitely don’t use a blank password. This allowed the British hacker Gary McKinnon to enter NASA’s systems and then make wild, ridiculous claims about UFOs and free energy.

The best policy for generating passwords is to put something in at random, a combination of letters, numbers, and preferably some symbols like # ~ @ etc. It should be at least eight characters long, and changed at least every year, preferably every three months.

And writing passwords down should be avoided whenever possible. If you need to write down your home password, then keep it under lock and key (eg in a safe). NEVER write down your business password.
You may think I’m being a bit over-the-top in this, but it is incredibly important in these days when identity theft is widespread and as easy as rummaging around in someone’s bins. And I can’t imagine your boss being very happy if he finds out that a rival company employed someone to crack your weak password and steal a document called StrategiesForAdvantageAgainstCompetition.docx. 

Both identity theft and corporate espionage are big business and on the Internet, there are people who will do anything to make a few quid.
Well, to be fair, it is beta software, but a bug all the same.

Lots of bugs, in fact.
The problem is with Apple’s Internet browser, Safari. It’s a great bit of software (better than Firefox in many respects) and I was delighted to hear that its latest beta is now available for Windows. (I don’t like using Windows but don’t have much choice as the WAN adapter won’t work with Linux and I can’t afford a Mac.)

Imagine my shock, therefore, when Safari was not only slow, sluggish and buggy (as described on the Apple discussion forums) but failed to open at all!
*dramatic Psycho music*
Well, it didn’t completely fail to open. However, I did have one of those unwelcome encounters with Microsoft’s  ‘we’re sorry for the inconvenience but your program crashed - please tell us and we’ll make it better, honest’ dialogue boxes.
I didn’t send it to Microsoft.

After browsing Apple’s discussion forums still further (in Firefox, as Safari wouldn’t get past displaying the toolbar) I found that Apple had actually forgotten to compile one of the drivers (?) for AMD processors.  Oops…
I did test Safari on a (Intel) Celeron machine earlier this afternoon, and it worked fine - until you tried to use the BBC website when it crashed completely.
Oh dear.

That’s beta software for you. I eagerly await the patch.
Despite what the shop said, your optical mouse does need cleaning from time to time. If it isn’t cleaned, your mouse will