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They Get All the Cool Techie Stuff

Posted by susabelle at 1:31 AM on November 5, 2008

I was watching the races unfold tonight, as I have done in the past elections. The thing that I found just as interesting as the race itself was all the cool tech the news sources had to cover the election. The computing power in each news room was phenomenal.

First, there was CNN. They had the big screen behind with a map of the US color coding each state. In fact the map only covered half of the “Wall”. I wonder how much that one cost.

Then there is the “Magic Wall” – a big touch screen in which John King would be able to pull up stats and charts. Four big buttons on the left to let him choose how to run the screen. A big yellow box with an “X” in it to close out any windows he had open. No minimize button or task bar though.

In NYC, Times Square had some pretty flashy tech. From the Big screens showing off the candidates, to the ticker marquee that wrapped around the overhang. It was all pretty impressive to see as the race unfolded.

I didn’t see the projection of the US on the Rockefeller ice rink that NBC was going to do. I am still always impressed what we can do with tech nowadays.

The big question I have though is – what happens to that tech after today? Is it still going to be used in day-to-day news reporting, or will it go into the basement?

I can see this change the face of news itself. We have already seen changes in what meteorologists use to display the weather maps. Gone will be the day of a hand held clicker that moves from screen to screen. Not to mention the pull down maps they used to use in the 70′s and 80′s and definitely no magnetic icons of clouds blowing or smiling suns.

Now, you can touch a couple spots on the screen and move around without being tethered to a controller. Zoom in on areas, push it all to the left or right and call up important data. No more green screens, here.

If news stations started using that for the general news, there is no need for someone in the control room to flip though the pictures. Just a touch of the screen and we see a picture or a Google map or whatever the newscaster wants.

At any rate, if CNN is going to put the Magic Wall away, I have a great place in my living room in which they can store it. I just hope it comes with a remote control so I don’t have to get up to touch the screen and change the channel. Of course, I could always train the dog to nuzzle the screen to do that…

US needs robust consumer protection

Posted by todd at 10:52 PM on October 31, 2007

Mike Masnick makes a plea on techdirt for a mobile phone vendor to step forward and offer truth in their advertisements and product descriptions. This was prompted by a JD Power report on the declining satisfaction with mobile phone providers in the US. Is there anyone responsible for ensuring that consumers aren’t ripped off in the US?

Here in Australia our competition watchdog also has a consumer protection brief. It has the power to make and enforce rulings, and to levy large fines on companies that do not act in the consumers interest. While they are not immune from political interest they have a good track record of championing the cause of the consumer, even in more complicated modern technology situations. Some of the rulings here that would help in the US are:

All DVD players must be region free.
If a product is advertised as {price}+delivery, then the delivery fee must be stated.
Mobile phone numbers must be portable.
Mobile phones must be unlocked at the request of the customer (although contract break fees are legal)
You cannot advertise ‘unlimited’ downloads unless they are.
All phone contracts must clearly state the minimum cost of the contract.

I know there are other countries like the UK that have similar consumer protection advocates, i.e. ones that can actually enforce. It seems from some of the news stories I see from the US that there is either no such entity there, or it has no teeth.

John Edwards talk at Gnomedex

Posted by geeknews at 2:00 PM on June 30, 2006

I am not surprised that most of the conversation were democrats standing up and asking what they can do to beat the republicans. There were a few good questions on net neutrality, but I am sure that the republicans in room felt pretty uncomfortable. But the session was in some people’s in the room opinion almost content free.

Net Neutrality is dead!

Posted by geeknews at 1:27 AM on June 29, 2006

Shutter up the Internet and Pull the plug for 72 hours and then let people voice their opinion of Net Neutrality. You can bet this is a question I am gonna ask Senator Edwards and Gnomedex. Time to fire some people in congress. [Chris Pirillo]

Call to Action from IPaction.org

Posted by geeknews at 3:00 PM on June 26, 2006

This just in and your help is needed in stopping another piece of legislation that will affect yoru fair use rights. This is a direct quote from the folks at IPaction.org

“Tomorrow the Senate Judiciary committee continues its markup of Senator Ted Stevens omnibus communications bill. Is a lengthy and complicated piece of legislation, but hidden deep within are the broadcast and audio flags. Both represent the latest and perhaps most desperate attempts by the Hollywood cartels to control innovation, roll back fair use, and disrupt the free market.

The bill mandates a government technology committee that would approve or reject devices based on their functionality, just like Hollywood wants. For example, new personal video recorders could be blocked from the market for having too much functionality, allowing users to tweak its settings, or interfacing with non-approved devices in your entertainment system. This kind of silly bottleneck would be laughable if it wasn’t so close to becoming law.

Now is the time to let our representatives know how the flags would decimate the consumer electronics industry while erasing our fair use rights.

Please call the Senators on the Judiciary committee and let your voice be heard.”

Do you have a Senator on the Judiciary Committee? If so get busy!

Net Neutrality: This is serious, No it’s a National Emergency

Posted by geeknews at 1:52 PM on June 22, 2006

If you don’t know who Tim Berners-Lee then I encourage you to click on the link, and read his Wikipedia entry so I will say he is justified in making the following statement.

“When I invented the Web, I didn’t have to ask anyone’s permission. Now, hundreds of millions of people are using it freely. I am worried that that is going end in the USA.”

If you think that my standing on a soap box, and screaming at the top of my lungs for you to get active politically has been a lot of Hype, then I would like you to read the linked article and watch the video.

I will say it again. The Telcos by technology advances are being made irrelevant, the only business model in their future is that of moving bits and bytes. In 20 years no one will have a hard wired copper based telephone in there home, everyone will be using IP or similar technology, and people’s primary data provider will either be the cable company or the company that has purchased the telco, and converted all of it’s infrastructure to IP based technology. Current and Future technology will eliminate the need to have a hard wired phone in your homes and this has them scared to death.

No some will argue my economic outlook on this but because the telcos are positioning themselves to be the traffic cops setting speed limits and how much the tool booth charges are going to be they are angling to make sure that they are still in business in 20 years and that they can control the flow of data.

They know if they don’t squash Net Neutrality they will be on the loosing side of the equation. This is why they have spent millions on a advertising campaign to hood wink the general public, we know it, they know it, they are using Congress to save their business model. They will do everything in their power at any cost.

This is why Net Neutrality is not only serious but a National Emergency. [dig.csail.mit.edu]

Seems a treaty being proposed by the WIPO will make it harder for Podcasters to use music and other materials in their podcast. They have a petition online for people to sign. More details at [log.hugoschotman.com]

Senator John Edwards to Keynote Gnomedex

Posted by geeknews at 8:08 PM on June 17, 2006

I am not sure what I think about this, I have had 24 hours to let it sink in, and received a reply to a message that I sent to Chris about it. The only Politics I talk about on this Blog, is how it seems that a great number of senators, and representatives have not a clue what they are doing in some of these tech bills they have supported.

I have been around politicians all my life, and honestly most of them tell ya what you want to hear, while trying to sell you a bill of goods. I swear though if he starts getting political I’m not sure I will be able to sit their and listen. But I am going to dig around on his voting record on key items that are important to the readership of this blog, and I am gonna ask some hard questions.

But the verdict is still out on whether it is a good idea to bring a speaker in that at least half of the people in the room do not care for. At least if you follow general wisdom that the political split in geeks will be pretty much down the middle risky and yet very interesting pick to say the least.

House of Representatives sell out to the Telecommunication Industry

Posted by geeknews at 2:10 PM on June 9, 2006

I am today quite sickened by the events in the House of Representatives in them selling their souls to the telecommunication industry. It is highly obvious that those largely Republican representatives that voted for this ignored the will of the people as usual, and gave the industry everything they wanted.

Americans were sold a bill of goods today and even worse telecommunications companies are now going to be able to setup toll booths on the Internet. This telecommunication monopoly on the way representatives vote in the house showed how the people are not being represented and it’s beyond a travesty. This statement sums it up:

“In a concession to the telephone and cable companies, the legislation does nothing to prevent the phone and cable providers from charging Internet content providers a premium for carrying services like video offerings that could rival those of the telecommunications companies.”

If this does not get you mad you need to get mad, you need to find out how your rep voted on this and let him know your opinion, then you need to get on the phone and let your senator know too. Makes me mad enough that any candidate will be better than the one currently in my district. [CNET Part 1] [Cnet Part 2]

Bloggers are Jailed?

Posted by geeknews at 8:10 PM on November 6, 2005

Political bloggers jailed, detained | Tech News on ZDNet

What happened to Freedom of Speech? I usually do not discuss politics, nor do I get involved in a lot of political talk. There are some things that I just stay away from, but in doing that, I don’t think anyone should have the right to shut down a blog for practicing their Freedom of Speech. Are blogs going to be ok, just as long as they are not political?

I realize this is not in the US, I just found this hard to believe.