Particle Debris (week ending 7/17) Lightroom, Red Lights and Creepy Palms

Monday:

Netflix announced on July 9 that it will start streaming movies and episodic TV to its subscribers, via the Internet, who have Ethernet enabled Sony Bravia HDTVs. The agreement marks another in a series of breathtaking announcements by Netflix as the company continues its quest to become the movie and TV source. This announcement is particularly noteworthy because all the customers have to do is connect an Ethernet line to their TVs, inviting them to bypass the so-called "set top box fatigue." The eventual impact of this strategic move on the Apple TV could be severe.

As a result of these continuous initiatives by Netflix, its stock and Blockbuster's are going in opposite directions. This last story points out that Netflix CEO Reed Hastings sits on the Microsoft Board of Directors. That goes a long way towards explaining why the Netflix streaming service uses Silverlight instead of Flash.

Funkatron.com published a piece that's a bit on the technical side, but worth a note. It's all about things a developer can do in a Web runtime platform that can't be done in a simple browser. I liked it because it was written by an experienced developer, and no one is in a better position to bust myths like a person with two years of daily development experience. It's called "AIR, Titanium and webOS: 10 Things You Can’t Do in A Browser."

In a story that has created quite a stir, a Morgan Stanley intern, Matthew Robson, not quite 16, published a research note that explained, "How Teenagers Consume Media" While it may not be representative of every teenager, it provides an interesting look into the emerging media habits of young people, analyzed by one of them. It's an eye-opener.

The next item isn't related to Apple, but I did find it interesting, especially in light of the report by Mr. Robson above. If the economy is changing the way people read and spend their money, then advertisers are working harder to use technology to get their message in front of the right people the right way. Notably, business magazines are suffering from a staggering drop in revenue according to this Chart of The Day.

The effect of that places an abysmal value on these traditional publications -- which I'll mention below. (Online revenue is not included in the chart, and subscription revenue typically just pays the postage.) Paper magazines that recap old news and don't supply insight, entertainment or education are probably doomed. I have noticed that Newsweek in working hard to address that issue. So is Car & Driver.

Tuesday:

Piper Jaffray analyst Peter Appert pointed out that BusinessWeek is a US$10 to $20M drag on McGraw Hill and they're desperate to find a buyer to relieve of them of this burden. Selling price? Perhaps US$1.00. Not one million. One dollar. Again, I bring this up because I believe that more and more people are consuming business news on their smartphones, not with a bundle of paper under their arm. Of course, we all know the best smartphone for that.

A good example of the young entrepreneurs are re-imagining online news is this story: "How One 19-Year Old Is Shaking Up Online Media." Michael van Poppel in the Netherlands shook up the news world well before he prepared his iPhone app for breaking news. Also, some of the critical issues in news aggregation, payments and reporting are covered in this thought provoking article.

Wednesday:

Software developers have to make engineering decisions about how to manage and allocate performance amongst various functions. For example, trading app responsiveness against CPU usage for file export. That came to a head when Stephen Shankland started wondering why Adobe intentionally throttled back on export speed in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom in "Adobe: why Lightroom image export isn't faster." The discussion and clarifications from Adobe were interesting and reveal how simple principles we may imagine give way to more complicated principles of customer feedback and engineering trades. Good item to recall when you're sipping that tea, waiting for an endless file export to finish.

This next article was published July 8, but I didn't see it until July 15. It's one of those fabulous, in-depth articles by Dan Dilger, writing as Prince McLean, about how Apple has been developing HTTP Live Streaming. It's a veritable technical history of Apple's, Real's and Microsoft's efforts going back to 1990. I learned a lot from this author, and you will too.

Thursday:

Have you ever opened up a new product from its box, a tech toy, and had a, well, creepy feeling? Steve Smith did when he opened up the box of his new Palm Pre. Worse, he had to explain some odd things to his daughter. You'll see what I mean when you read: "Palm Pre: After The Creepiness Fades."

We all know that Apple's revenue has been slowly growing. Have you ever wondered how Google, Microsoft and Yahoo are doing? This chart, which shows a plot of revenue growth (or decline) as a percentage shouldn't be confused with actual revenue numbers. And the economic times play a strong role to be sure. If I get a chance, I'll superimpose Apple's revenue growth or decline on top for comparison. Or perhaps a reader can do it for us. I really like these charts that SAI posts.

Some of us are admitted geeks, but have you ever wondered what would be endearing habits of a geeky spouse? Guy Kawasaki pointed to this one on Thursday: "Top 10 Endearing Habits of a Geeky Spouse." Food for thought, especially the one about sports on TV.

Friday:

One of the important concerns of any technical librarian or archivist is the durability and technology of media to make sure it remains usable in the future. For example, many of us may have some vinyl records in the basement, but we no longer have a device to play them. And in time, they will warp or degrade and become useless anyway. The same goes for archival data, whether it's business, science or government.

According to the Daily Herald, a company in Springville, Utah has developed a DVD that will last, not for a decade, but for an estimated 1,000 years. Your family photos may not need such protection... or will they? Historians and even anthropologists of the future would be dismayed to find valuable DVDs that have deteriorated beyond usability. This company has a better technology for long-lived storage.

And what a great segue into this discussion about Apple's intentions with optical drives. Seth Weintraub at PCWorld thinks that Apple is planning to dump optical drives in: "Apple's MacBook Strategy: Optical is Over." He came to that conclusion after Apple started making bootable SD card readers available on MacBooks. However, Thomas Fitzgerald doesn't believe a word of it and thinks that optical discs will be with us for a long time.

Of course, there's a distinction between the longevity and applicability of optical discs and whether Apple chooses to support the technology for its own reasons. Apple isn't likely to sway the rest of the world, but it does have its own agenda.

I had lost track of the issue regarding Apple's use of 18-bit displays versus 24-bit displays on the MacBooks. Apparently, it's still an issue according to TweakTown in this short recap of the situation. One issue, as some have pointed out, is that the difference is imperceptible to the human eye.

Question: Is the creative use of technology to inform other users about speed traps and red light cameras questionable? Can the existence of these law enforcement devices be legitimately held as a secret, especially since they're deployed in public? I just ran across those sticky questions being posed in this article at the Washingtonexaminer in " Police chief denounces 'cowardly' iPhone users monitoring speed traps."

Technical Word of the Week (TWoW)

FaceBorg (n.) The Website that creates a collective mindset amongst millions of people on the Internet. Occasionally also called FaceBook. Credit: John Farr.