Particle Debris from the Week of April 28

| Particle Debris

I really believe the TV networks are clueless when it comes to communicating with their viewers. If Steve Ballmer throws a book, let alone a chair, in his office, I hear about it. If Apple has something to say to its millions of customers, sending out a mass (opt-in) e-mail is not a problem. Intuit, which has millions of TurboTax customers, has no problem reminding me that it's time to purchase this year's tax program. But poor, whinny FOX TV. They move "House" from Tuesday to Monday, no one knows about it, and viewership is down 22 percent. They only have themselves to blame.

Here's an idea. Each network sets up a single opt-in page where I can identify my favorite shows with a check box. (Good data to have, no?) Then, if the TV show changes its schedule, I get an e-mail or a message on my iPhone. TiVos can adapt to this, but not everyone has a TiVo. NBC would rather spend millions on Hulu so I can watch old episodes of Hill Street Blues, with commercials, than let me know that Heros is a new episode this week.

On Monday, Tamir Khason took a look at the relationship between computer languages and the facial hair of the developer(s). No hair -- no future!

For those people who just love to fire up Numbers (or Excel) and mess around with Apple's Gross Profit Margins, I saw a story on Tuesday at Barron's that goes over the top and looks at every little percentage contribution to the GM numbers from Apple's Q2 earnings report. If this doesn't make your head hurt, nothing will.

Also, on Tuesday there was a story about how a judge, in an RIAA case, Atlantic v. Howell, decreed that merely putting a music file in a shared folder on one's own computer does not constitute the act of distributing copyrighted material. The core of the case goes to understanding how one's computer works, and this couple apparently did not. They won an appeal on that basis. In that light the defense, which sounds dubious at first blush, actually works: The defendant claimed that "he was not the one sharing the files, but that it was the computer that was sharing the files." Also important was the argument by an EFF attorney: The case "amounts to suing someone for attempted distribution, something the Copyright Act has never recognized."

I saw a story on Wednesday that speculated Apple is going to become more involved with WiMax (IEEE 802.21) and promote it, along with Intel, the father of WiMax, just as it launched Wi-Fi at Mac World New York in 1999. WiMax is a technology that has gotten off to a rocky start, but Apple combined with Intel could make it happen. This was an interesting read, but still speculation.

On Thursday, I saw a story dear to my heart. Apparently, Plasma TV sales in the U.S. are still suffering from myths about severe screen burn in, and that has made LCD HDTVs the darling of Americans. However, Plasma TV sales are growing by leaps and bounds outside the U.S. I will admit, I had my own concerns about Plasma TVs, and it took a lot of research and a trip to CEDIA to alleviate those concerns. Advertising is the key, and I think it may be time for Panasonic to get on that bandwagon. Modern Plasmas don't have much problem with short lifespans, high altitude, buzzing and burn in. I hope they start telling that story before Plasmas die a premature death in the U.S.

Finally, this week I saw this picture and story purporting that Steve Baller gave a presentation with a Mac. But I didn't run it because Mr. Baller wasn't in the picture and there was some discussion about it being leftover from a previous presenter. In this case, a picture does not tell the whole story, and I ignored it.

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