Disney Closing Online Movie Service

Today Disney announced that they are closing their online web movie service on December 31. This service allowed consumers to watch any Disney or Pixar movie that were available.

I have to admit I have never used the service and I don’t know anyone who does. However after reading its limitation I am not surprise it failed. The videos couldn’t be downloaded. You could only watch them on a computer through a web browser. No watching them on an Xbox 360, PS3 or other internet connected devices. If Disney wanted to create a service that was guaranteed to fail they couldn’t have done a better job. In an era where consumers want to watch videos when and on what device they want, Disney created a platform that did the exact opposite. It is pretty clear why they did it they wanted to maintain control and prevent piracy. However in their attempt to maintain control, they drove consumer to other options such as Netflix or Amazon Prime.

If you purchased a Disney Combo Pack, you can transfer the Digital copy either to iTunes or Windows Media Player. Disney said they are working on a new service called Disney Movies Anywhere, that would allow consumers to watch Disney and Pixar movies anywhere across multiple devices. No launch date has been announced at this time. Even if Disney has a successful relaunch of their online video service. I wonder if a service that only provides videos from a single studio, even if that studio is Disney and Pixar can survive in an era that include services like Netflix.

Music Service MOG Moves Down Under

Music service MOG, which is quickly becoming a real competitor for Rdio, Spotify, Last.FM and others, has finally launched their service in the land down under.  Australian music fans will now have access to all of the MOG library and, if they have Telstra, they get a nice bonus thrown in.

This is MOG’s first move outside of the U.S. and they have partnered with Telstra for the occasion.  That’s important because Australia has some pretty serious bandwidth caps in place.  The partnership allows them to become the “exclusive provider of on-demand subscription music”.  More important was this little tidbit included in the announcement – “Though we’re available to all Australian listeners, Telstra customers enjoy unmetered streaming and downloading, meaning music played from mobile devices will not affect user data plans.”

MOG will offer all Ausies a free two week trial.  After that, users can enjoy unlimited ad-free service for $6.99 per month for basic service and $11.99 for the premium plan which adds mobile support for iOS, Android and Sonos.

Domino’s Offering Discount for Online and Mobile App Orders

dominos logoAre you hungry?  Domino’s Pizza is currently offering a 50% discount on all orders placed either online or through their mobile app.  The big discount is a thank-you to their customers for placing one billion dollars in online orders between April 2011 and April 2012.  “Domino’s Pizza is giving its customers the thanks they deserve, as it celebrates – for the first time in its history – surpassing the $1 billion mark in digital sales in the U.S. alone, during a yearlong period from April 2011 to 2012.”

The half-price deal is available only through digital orders, meaning the web site, mobile site, iPhone app, or Android app.  There are, as always, some stipulations.  The discount applies to the pizza portion only on all orders.  The offer is effective now and valid through next Sunday, June 17.

Domino’s claims that digital orders now account for thirty percent of their total U.S. sales.  A significant portion of those digital sales come through the mobile apps.  “Both apps are in the top 15 in lifestyle rankings – with the Android app ranking at No. 5 on Google Play, and the iPhone app ranking at No. 15 on the iTunes Store.”  The company promises to continue to evolve with the latest technology.

Are We All Thieves?

The history of advancing technology is long littered with accusations of copyright infringement along with charges of outright thievery.

The problem seems to stem from ever-changing definitions of what comprises a song, a performance, or a book. Back in the days when the player piano was invented, musicians themselves seemed to define a song as a live performance. Hence, the spreading invention of mechanical player pianos and reproduced sheet music would somehow destroy music itself.

Of course, what actually happened was that rather than being destroyed, music was promoted and ultimately became more popular.

Music is not the piano rolls, nor is it vinyl records, audiocassettes, or CD’s. These are simply physical transmission mediums. It could also be equally argued that MP3 or other digital file formats are not the actual music either, though they are heavily intertwined.

Can’t we as consumers be honest? How is it that so many of us can think nothing of illegally downloading media, yet wouldn’t think of stealing a physical object without paying for it?

Those who continue to rationalize that it’s “okay” to illegally download copyrighted music, movies and other copyrighted materials are thieves. Would you enjoy having your stuff stolen? Are excuses popping up in your mind why wrong is right and right is wrong? If so, you failed the test. If you have to make an excuse to yourself or anyone else to justify your behavior, you are wrong. If you find yourself the victim of a thief, how can you then turn around and complain? Isn’t that the pot calling the kettle black?

The solution to the problem is easy. Get what you want by legitimately paying for it. If you don’t want to pay for it, don’t be a thief by stealing it.

On the other hand, if you don’t like the less-than-stellar behavior of certain media-production organizations, the solution is equally easy. Don’t consume their products. Turn them off. Pull the plug. The world won’t come to an end. You will survive. The age we live in is filled to the brim with alternative entertainment and information sources that make it possible to reduce or completely eliminate the need to consume copyrighted material, if that is your wish.

National Online Trusted Indentities

This week the Department of Commerce issued a proposal to create an on line trusted identity system. According to the Commerce Department it would encourage a greater trust in providing information online to individuals by businesses and visa versa. There would be multiple partners in this program, they are as follows:

They insist this is not a national identity system. They say it will be a way that individuals and companies can be sure that who they are doing business with is who they say they are. If this system existed then there wouldn’t be a need for multiple passports or sign ins. Private companies would run the program, but the government would have a large part in it. This is just a proposal and would have to go through multiple steps before coming a reality. However, alarm bells are already going off on my head
The first problem is it’s a large data base, which means it’s vulnerable to hackers. Second it’s unnecessary, we have plenty of private companies who provide this service, think Facebook Connect, Google, Open ID, are they perfect, no, but they already exist. Third it would be expensive and it just mean more red tape for businesses. Fourth it’s not a job for government to solve.
Finally, I don’t trust the government when it comes to how they plan to use the information once they have it. There would be too big of a temptation to misuse it. I truly believe that the commerce sec is sincere when he says this is not for a national identity card however the leap is too short for me. This would also make it easier for individuals to be tracked by the government or business. The paranoid part of me tells me this has nothing to do with private security and every thing to do with national security.

Zediva Has A New Way To Stream Movies

Stories about Zediva have been kicking around the internet for the past few days.  It’s an interesting story and an even more interesting concept.  The company’s founder explained that concept to Rotten Tomatoes as this:

“We don’t rent digital copies of a movie,” he said. “Our users rent a physical DVD, along with a DVD player, from us for a fixed amount of time. They then control that DVD player remotely over the internet — and stream the movie privately to themselves.  Think of it as a really long cable and a really long remote control.”

That “actual DVD” loophole allows Zediva to bypass the streaming contracts that are the bane of such companies as Netflix.  This means they can show more recent releases than other services.  They also charge less for new releases than their competitors – $1.99 for a 14 day rental as opposed to $3.99 from places like Amazon.  They even offer a deal of 10 movies for $10.

They go so far with the physical DVD model that you may find some movies to be rented out and you’ll have to wait for the next available copy.  With that sort of limitation it may be enough for the model to succeed.  We’ll have to wait and see what the studios and the MPAA have to say.

Does The Cloud Have A Dark Side?

Does The Cloud Have A Dark Side?For some time we’ve been hearing about the virtues of cloud-based computing.

Certain functions seem to lend themselves to the cloud. Online word processing, spreadsheets, etc. can seem to make sense in some situations, such as collaborating with others.

In everyday use scenarios, does the cloud really make sense in more traditional private computer-use situations? I contend that it does not.

Right now I’m typing this into Microsoft Word on my MacBook Pro. At the moment I have rather lousy Sprint and Verizon connectivity, even though 12 hours ago at this very same location I had really good connectivity from both. The only thing that changed is the time of day. If I was currently limited to using Google Docs chances are I would be unable to write this. Network demand constantly fluctuates depending on the time of day and location.

Is there enough bandwidth available? With the tsunami of smartphones that are on the immediate horizon, will the carriers be able to keep up with the average five-fold bandwidth demand increase that the average smartphone user pulls from the network? Can carriers keep up with a smartphone-saturated public all trying to pull down data at the same time?

However, for the sake of argument let’s say that mobile Internet connectivity isn’t an issue.

What if the Internet is turned off due to a declared cyber attack and all of your documents are online? What good would the network appliance approach to computing be then?

Can e-books be revised after the fact? If government can simply decide to turn off the Internet, then it’s not that much of a leap to imagine laws and regulations being passed banning certain types of blogs or even books that have been deemed dangerous or seditious. There have already been books sold such as “1984” by Amazon that were deleted from Kindles after the fact by Amazon when it was determined that Amazon didn’t have the legal right to sell it in e-book form. What if instead of banning books, they were simply rewritten to remove the offending parts? What’s to stop instant revision of e-books that have been declared dangerous?

OnLive Intial Review

Today, I receive my invitation to join OnLive I had signed up for it the same day it went live. OnLive is a gaming system, that runs over the internet. You don’t need a high end machine to run the game, because, all the work is done on Onlive end. In fact I was playing games on my three year old MacBook.

The hardest part of the whole process was signing up. After putting in my user name and password, I got a connection error message. However, when I went to the site and tried to sign in, it let me to continue the process, it went fine until the last connection, which took me three attempts before it went thru. Once you are finished signing up, you then download an app which is 8.5 mb in size. When you click on the application, you have to give your email address and password. My one complaint is that there is no paste option for entering your password, which discourages the use of a hard password in my opinion.

The first thing you see when you sign in is the Dashboard. The Dashboard is where you enter the Marketplace. Once in the Marketplace, you can purchase games or play demos. The demos last 30 minutes. Right now there are not that many games available. Hopefully, more games will be added quickly. In order for this to happen gaming companies have to see the value in the service. This may take some convincing. OnLive does have some good games such as Assassin Creed, Batman Arkham Asylum, Prince of Persia and Goo among others. If you aren’t ready to play a game, but rather observe one, you can do that through the Arena. If you are an observer you, can give the action a thumbs up or down and add the player as a friend.

I tried the Batman demo, at times I thought there was some lag, however it might have been my imagination. I haven’t played PC games in years, so the lag may have been on my end. I also tried Goo, and that game played great with no problems. Goo is a puzzle game and doesn’t require any quick reaction. The lag problem will show up the most in those games that require precise timing.

When I played this afternoon, I had no problems as far as connecting to the network. However when I was playing last evening I kept on getting a network error message. I am on cable so as more people are online in my area, my available band width goes down. If I was a serious gamer I definitely would consider going upgrade my bandwidth. This is a big problem for the OnLive Service. There is nothing more irritating to a gamer then to be in the middle of a game and have the server disconnect and loose everything you worked for. Unfortunately, as more people join the service this problem may get worst. Especially, among those whose ISP, limit how much they can download.

Despite these problems I do think OnLive may have a bright future. Especially if they can work with the various ISP’s and Gaming Companies. I can see this being used by gamers who are traveling and doesn’t have their console, but wants to do some gaming. It is also great for someone like me, who doesn’t own a console or a powerful PC, but would like to play a game on occasion.

They Continue to Stomp on Privacy – The Social Experiment

**Update: The “Who’s been watching my Profile” application (and 25 variants) are a Hoax and a phishing scheme, according to Trend Micro – If you see it, you should not select or accept any offer to see who’s been looking at your profile.

I got another “Who’s checking your profile on Facebook” application. It seems to be the newest annoyance on the Social Network site. We seem to run into new avenues where privacy just seems to continue to be trampled over. You can complain, but the damage has already been done. So why have privacy anyway?

First of all, we have to ask if this Facebook application is stomping on my privacy and how it’s doing so. Well, I have already been in a couple pictures stating I have recently read their profile page. I don’t remember giving the application permission to do so. A friend of mine just mentioned that he felt the app was only pulling random pictures from your friends list, so in that case, it can be a misleading picture altogether.

Nonetheless, it’s a picture. It circumvents other privacy initiatives. Such as “Certain friend see my wall posts”. If you leave your photos open, hey! I can see the picture. I know who you’ve been talking to… well… sort of.

Think about it: You get an email from a “Former friend” saying “Dude. Stop going to my profile”. Worse yet, paranoia might set in and they delete their Facebook profile altogether.

Not to get on a tangent on this one Application. The reality is we seem to continually get bombarded with privacy issues – Some of them are common sense issues – by bigger corporations. It could be Facebook, MySpace, Google, Apple, Microsoft, IBM, Intel or a number of other companies. Most of the time, it’s the 3rd party applications that cause the issue; in which these companies state that: “We are not held responsible for what these apps do”. Yet they approve them.

Some people have said that privacy is only a figment of your imagination. That may be true, but I like to feel a little safe as to who I share my info with. Kinda like the home with the door that is falling apart and that could be kicked in at any moment: At least I have the one lock, so I feel safer. Nevermind the window I leave unlatched in the living room…

Privacy online is a different story – Of course. We have to continually monitor who has what information. It only takes one company with an idea, and another company employee to blindly approve said idea.

The “Who’s been Watching” application is a small infarction to a much bigger issue. However, we cannot overlook the smaller issues, because they can snowball. With Facebook being under the microscope as of late changing around their privacy issues, any new problem is definitely going to be scrutinized. But sometimes, you just cannot hide behind the 3rd party disclaimer. Yeah, it’s not your program, but it is my data. I can take that ball and go to another place with a beat up door and flimsy lock…

Will online media become a monthly subscription?

1003605_13011789 2-250rdRumors are circling that Apple is proposing an online TV media subscription model.  For just $30/month you could possibly have access to the archive of syndicated shows and the new shows as they come.  Later in the day I read of a favorite tutorial site, which shall remain nameless until I do a proper review, was bumping its fees to about $15/month.  Many of my favorite podcasts have donation links on their site for $2/month or so.  Please understand, I am a believer in paying for labor.  I am just beginning to wonder when this evolving online monthly subscription model will break.

Some people believe a service like Apple’s would get rid of the need for Cable or Dish and save some money. I don’t see that.  The streaming system is not ready for the high-def load and most people will keep the Cable and Dish for their instant viewing.  For those that jump into the online media, how many monthly payments do you want to sign up for?  I just can’t keep signing up for more monthly payments.  The inflation on monthly tech and media services is getting pretty high.

Cable and Dish consolidated traditional media into a monthly package.  What about online media?  It will forever and always be a mix of traditional and common man media.  How many packages can I pick up?  One traditional media package, ten small media packages, one cell phone media package. . .  A revolution in content delivery is underway and will continue to occur, I just wonder where and on what there will be a price tag.