Thinking about the cable industry

Outside the warmth of the house winter weather has blanked Colorado Springs with a mixture of snow flurries and generally gloominess. Normally, we have to wait until Halloween for snow in Colorado Springs. Even Peppercorn the dog has given up on going outside today. To make matters worse the University of Texas Longhorn football team is having a hard time competing against the Oklahoma Sooners on ABC today. One of the challenges of giving up cable involves being willing to watch whatever football games happen to be on broadcast television. From what I can tell from a few quick internet searches overall cable subscriptions are down. I was looking for a chart of the total number of cable subscribers by year, but was unable to find one that I liked. I built one from some data I found on the NCTA website mixed with some press release based Netflix data. Statistician based wizardry aside; the obvious conclusion that can be extracted from the data involves a trajectory of increased competition for content providers.

Today should be a pretty good college football day for broadcast television viewers:

  • Texas vs. Oklahoma on ABC (Morning)
  • Florida vs. LSU on CBS (Afternoon)
  • Ohio State vs. Nebraska on ABC (Evening)

Some of my best thinking happens after ordering a pizza. Today’s bout of cold weather inspired me to purchase a pizza from Borriello Brothers. In other food related musings, I would hazard that the number of people making chili sometime this week in Colorado Springs is about to increase significantly.

Traditional Camcorder or Pocket Video Camera?

A ton of pretty good cameras have flooded the market. Sony has developed a newer (better) version of the Sony Handycam camcorder I have had for the last few years. The Sony Handycam Camcorder Model number: HDR-XR160 has every feature you would want. It shots in 1080p at 60 frames per second and has enough hard drive space to last an entire vacation. It also has pretty good image stabilization. It also has a wind reduction feature (that is awesome for filing outdoors).

I would highly recommend purchasing a pocket video camera like the Sony Bloggie. I feel like shareable web video has trumped building DVDs or Blu-ray discs with a traditional camcorder. The Sony Bloggie records in web ready Mp4 clips that are easy to share and play. Keep in mind that with the camcorder you have to offload the video to a computer and edit it into a format that you can then export to a DVD (15 minutes) or a Blu-ray disc (the writer is like $125 and the discs are pretty expensive $3 each). You could always export to regular DVD by decoding the video on a computer from HD to SD. I just export our 1080p video to Flickr or our PS3 using a networked attached storage drive.

HDR Photography APP Review

What is HDR Photography? Well HDR or HDRI photography involves high dynamic range imaging that uses technology to extract contrast by calculating ranges between the lightest and darkest sections of images using multiple and varied exposures. In an effort to better understand HDR photography technology, I purchased a copy of HDR Camera+ from the Android Market on my HTC EVO 4G.

I took the following images using the HDR Camera+ application on my HTC EVO 4G phone using the 8 MP 4:3 photo setting.

2011-10-01-10.14.20-+0.0Ev

2011-10-01-10.14.21-+2.0Ev

2011-10-01-10.14.22-2.0Ev

2011-10-01-10.14.37 Final HDR Image

Since I enjoy outdoor photography and happen to live in Colorado, I will probably be able to enjoy the HDR Camera+ application frequently. I tried a couple of times to take a photo of a person using the HDR app and found the process very challenging. Landscape photos work pretty well using the application. You do have to have a fairly steady hand or a tripod to be able to take photographs of larger areas (panoramic style photographs).

* Next time we go to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo I plan on taking a series of HDR photographs of the City of Colorado Springs and then stitching them into a panoramic photo using the Windows Live Photo Gallery panorama tool. 

Moneyball Movie Review

Full disclosure: I grew up watching baseball. I have been to a ton of Kansas City Royals games. I really enjoyed the Aaron Sorkin created Sports Night. Aaron Sorkin did a fabulous job during a series of appearances on the HBO show Entourage. On the other hand, please consider that I believe the National Football league (NFL) has usurped Major League Baseball (MLB) as America’s pastime.  

Ok, disclosures aside: Let’s talk about the movie Moneyball. First and foremost the movie was well crafted definitely worth watching on the big screen. Joni and I decided to spend the $6.25 per ticket to watch the movie at our local Cinemark Theater. We try to schedule at least one activity per weekend. The early bird special saved us a couple of dollars. The theater included about 11 people broken into 6 groups. Everybody in the theater purchased at least one beverage and a large bucket of popcorn. A large soda and popcorn cost $11.50. Please keep in mind a bag of microwave popcorn and a 2 liter of soda would cost about $4.25. Movie theater economics and cost structures are important, but I will concede that Aaron Sorkin built a truly well written, layered, full featured character drama that unfolded from start to almost finish.

Over the years Moneyball will easily transition to syndication on television networks. Without being particularly memorable Moneyball provides an engaging escape into the world of professional baseball for about 100 of the 133 minute film runtime. My only real criticism of the film is the poorly written lackluster ending to the film. Maybe Sorkin got burned out during the rewrite and mailed in a cute but ultimately unsatisfying ending. Brad Pitt has developed into a versatile and well-rounded actor capable of delivering performance that are in the end unique enough to be differentiated between films. Jonah Hill and Philip Seymour Hoffman delivered high quality performances. Jonah was remarkably reserved during the entire film.

People in general really enjoyed the 1988 Kevin Costner film Bull Durham. The true test of a movie involves the ultimate movie question, “Will people watch the firm more than once?” Baseball has been the subject of a number of movies. Very few baseball movies can be considered truly memorable. However, I feel strangely compelled to produce a top ten list about baseball movies.

A Definitive List: The Top Ten Baseball Movies of All Time

  1. Bull Durham (1988)
  2. A League of Their Own (1992)
  3. The Sandlot (1993)
  4. Moneyball (2011)
  5. Major League (1989)
  6. Field of Dreams (1989)
  7. The Bad News Bears (1976)
  8. Mr. Baseball (1992)
  9. The Natural (1984)
  10. Mr. 3000 (2004)

Feel free to response in the comments section with your own top ten list…

Falling Tablet Prices

Why would HTC initiate a $200 price drop on the Flyer when the Kindle Fire from Amazon is still $100 cheaper at $199? A higher price point is still a higher price point.

Questions

  1. Will the Amazon Kindle Fire table support the Android Marketplace?
  2. What wireless keyboard will work with Will the Amazon Kindle Fire tablet?
  3. What will the upgrade schedule be for the forked Android operating system on the Amazon Kindle Fire tablet?