Number of days made better

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Free Music Model part II

You know how last post I promised to talk about the free model from the artist point of view?  I lied.
I did some thinkin'.  And decided I had totally forgotten an integral part of the whole.. uh... dealy.  Idk.  The Labels!!!  The go-between from the artist to the distributor!

THESE are the guys you gotta convince.  These are the guys keeping the music stores alive.  Now that sounds evil doesn't it?  Wanting to take down the guys keeping the stores alive?  And it is.  You don't wanna alienate the labels.  Now I don't profess to know very much about the reaction of the labels.  So I would actually like to do a bit of crowd-sourcing!  Isn't that great!

I will offer these views:
- Labels offer security and stability to bands, who in turn are contractually obligated to the label.  This sort of symbiosis means that the labels have the most power when it comes to distribution

- At least from what I can see, labels don't generally care where the revenue comes from.  They seemed perfectly fine with the switch from CD to digital, as long as the money keeps rolling in.  For this reason, I am sure most major labels would be open to a game change if it meant they kept their profitability (and maybe gained more control over releases?)

Insight please.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Kitchen Hideaway


No seriously, wat.
So basically, the dealy with this little thing is that it lets you cook in your kitchen... from not in your kitchen.  From what I gather, its designed for use in an apartment setting.  People in their apartments have the helmet and viewport in their room, and it controls an automatic cooking robot down in the main kitchens.
What I don't get is this:
Why is the crazy psycho-neurosis helmet thing necessary?  Why can't I just input what I want on a touchpad and let the robot do the work?  I have this robot so I DON'T have to cook, not so I can do it from anywhere!  The only applicable uses I can see are if you are SUPER EXTREMELY PICKY about how your food is cooked.  And then why don't you just get a kitchen proper?  Kind of silly, if you ask me...

There really is not much more to say about this, beyond the fact that this is the first in a series of what I will call "Cloud Appliances" - appliance that, like the internet cloud, are designed to take the work away from your apartment / house / wherever and store / perform it in a communal place.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Free Music Model part I

What would happen if music were to be distributed through file-sharing entirely for free?  What if the music industry as we know it totally gave way to torrents and usenet sites as the primary mode of music distribution?

Well after the technologically impaired suddenly find out that there are other ways to get music besides itunes, and possibly Apple's revenue drops drastically, how would artists respond?  We know how the industry would respond.  Hell. 

We already know what happens when an industry becomes entirely obsolete, so I won't go into that too much.  The response would start right before the big moment, and follow the classic "7 stages of grief". 

The very first response to this new idea of free music would be a sort of scoffing "It'll never work, you ungrateful pirates!"  They would constantly publicize left and right that this is a stupid idea and would never work in practice.  Its just a passing fad, some crazy idealist notion.  Then after the movement gains momentum...

They would realize that it is not about to go away any time soon.  They will realize that they have made themselves look like greedy corporate fatcats by their previous allegations, and will feel bad.  But not for long, or in any great degree, because they are about to lose money, dammit, and this is no time for feeling sorry for ones' self!

Some smart companies will catch on.  They will still decry  the free model as outlandish, and will revitalize their anti-free model propaganda.  They will aggressively begin showing exactly WHY free music would be a bad idea.  They will blame pirates for poisoning the minds of the public.  They will accuse the government of not stepping in.  They will shift blame to everyone but themselves.  Those smart companies, however, will start making deals.  Lower album costs, lower downloads, bonus downloads, etc. in an attempt to bring everyone back.  There will undoubtedly be filings for government subsidies, which they will undoubtedly get.  But they will squander their money.  None of it will work, and they will move on to:

The pity stage.  They will stand there and watch as their mortal enemy gets passed along to artists and labels, and watch as their empire crumbles.   No one is there for them.  No one pities them.  This ties in with stage 3, as they distribute media showing all the lost jobs and revenue and companies going out of business because the consumer was being selfish.  And no one will care...

Some bright young startups and maybe some of the old regime will think about it one day and decide "why not embrace this?  We can still make money on free music!"  They will start their own ad supported torrent sites and enact quality control, maybe start their own premium download sites for ultra high speed downloads in top quality, or even ready-to-burn CDs.   They will realize what CAN be done, and maybe invest in Pandora or other music discovery services.  Its a start...

Simply the enactment of plans made in stage 5.  Leading finally into...

The final stage. A balance has been reached.  Consumers are happy.  Companies happy.  Everyones in one big happyfest.  We can all live our lives...

You want proof?  This exact same process happened to the newspaper industry not long ago.

We haven't even gotten into the meat of the matter yet.  The most important factor will be the response of the artist and songwriter, which I will be getting into in part II.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Gooeyfridge part II

Just to expound upon my earlier post. 

I was rather disappointed to learn that this gel fridge does not actually exist in prototype or otherwise anywhere.  Its just a concept.  Kind of sad.  But in accordance with my last post, I am reporting on some other media I have found around, mostly from the Electrolux website.

This is Dmitriev's own presentation of his project at the Electrolux show.  It is about 6 minutes long, + about 5 more minutes of questions.  It is PAINFULLY obvious that english is not Yuriy's first (or even second or third) language, and his speech is nerve-gratingly slow and broken.  So i will sum up the presentation for you.
This fridge is of course Yuriy's vision for the future of refrigerating. 

He simply goes through all the reasons that it is better than fridge classic.  As you can see, food is inserted or removed by simply grabbing it with your hand.  It doesn't use a door so no accidentally forgetting to close the door and ruining your food.  It doesn't use energy so the food will stay fine in a power outage.  The space in the appliance is used more efficiently, so it requires far less space.  It first looks like there's barely enough room for anything, but he demonstrates how it can expand to up to 3x it's size to accommodate the likes of an entire beer keg.  It can be mounted vertically or horizontally, and can even be mounted on a ceiling. 

One of the coolest things though, is that while the bots are absorbing the heat from the food, they give it off as light, so you can actually see food glowing as it cools down.
Some questions came after.  One gentlemen asked how the robots were powered.  Yuriy replied that they are powered by heat, supposedly form the food or from the air around it.  He then asked how the robots would maintain proper numbers, but there was some translating issues and no good answer was given.  The next question was about the color, which turned out to be a product of the energy flow, and about the white container, which turned out to be just design.  The last question was unclear, and the answer was even vaguer, so I'll skip it.

This video has a short artist-rendition of how it will work

This one only focuses on the fridge for a short time, and doesn't really show anything.

Well that's all for this... thing.

All of them

After gooey fridge, I looked at the other items in the lineup here
Then I decided that I couldn't just let this go, so for the next few posts I will be going through all 25 gadgets in the lineup and give my own opinion on them (and any other pics and videos I can find.)



I had heard about this little thing before, but after someone posted a comment in my Lumenhaus post, I decided to look it up again.  This is just about as future as it gets, folks.  We have jetpacks, we have flying cars, we have violin playing robots, but storing our food in anti-gravity (ok not really) gel to keep it cold?  That is awesome. 

While it looks cool, and works cool, there is a larger underlying concept here that I would like to address:  Its a totally new direction.  A bona-fide revolution.  Not saying its going to push out refrigerators any time soon, but its just mind boggling how much of a turn this is from the old model (here-to-fore referred to as "fridge classic").  Fridge classic uses convection cooling (cooling the air around an object), gooeyfridge (my own name) uses conductive heating (though not entirely sure, depends on if the gel is a solid or not).  Fridge classic requires power, gooeyfridge does not.  Fridge classic requires mechanical parts, gooeyfridge does not.

What I'm trying to say is this:  Technology is usually a slow moving process.  It moves jerkily and in small increments.  It is very rarely that something like this comes along and skips about 40 steps of advancement and goes right to what might almost be a perfect design.  Just amazing.  And did I mention it looks cool? 

Dang, I feel weird, like I came off sounding like a fridge worshiper...

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Apple wants more

Article from the BBC

This is just ridiculous.  Again, I am sure you have all heard about Apple's new subscription policy for apps on their ios devices.  They want to require any subscription-type content providers to put in subscription buttons right in their app, and it must be at or below the price offered by the provider elsewhere (ie their website).  That doesn't sound bad at all, right?  Convenient, even.  Except that Apple wants a cut of the subscription.  A whopping (and I mean WHOPPING) 30% of the subscription price.  I have seen countless articles about this, but I chose that article in particular because it goes into Apple's long run (evil?) intentions about controlling all digital media exchange that they can get their money-grubbing ihands onto.  And yes, when a company tries to charge 30% in this way, they deserve to be name called.

But that's not the big problem.  The problem is that, despite Apple's insistence to the contrary, this is an incredibly money-losing situation for lots of developers.  If you don't know how commerce works, a company that wants to sell something must first buy the thing they want to sell.  Whether its parts or wholesale food or paying reporters and journalists, they have to spend money.  Then they resell or sell a completed product for only a tiny margin more than they spent.  Figures like 6% or 9% more than they spent are generous.  It doesn't seem like much, but it is necessary to stay competitive, and those small margins over a lot of units comes to a hansom profit.  But Apple wants to take 30% of the revenue, which is of course several times more money than the company actually makes.  The example used in the article above cites Spotify as saying that as much as they would love a more convenient subscription service, they will be losing money on every subscription they sell through the app, and will of course pull out if their profits begin to fall.  Where will they go?

Android.  Google recently announced a very similar subscription service for Android apps, the main difference being that they only charge 10%.  This is still very high, but not nearly at the ridiculous prices Apple thinks they can get away with.  It is also reported to be much more publisher friendly.  Is Apple killing their own monopoly (which isn't even a monopoly, it only seems that way)?  Android already has a lead in smartphones, but Apple has a genuine monopoly on tablets.  Are they willing to push publishers of premium content (and therefore customers) away from their own product?

If it turns out to be so, then at least it wont be Apple's first epic failure...