The CD Is Now 30 Years Old

The CD is now 30 years old:

The digital music revolution officially hit 30 years ago, on Oct. 1, 1982. While you may be surprised to learn that the heralds of the coming age were, in fact, the Bee Gees, it probably comes as less of a shock to learn that Sony was at the very heart of it. After years of research and an intense period of collaboration with Philips, Sony shipped the world’s first CD player, the CDP-101. Music — and how we listen to it — would never be the same.

The CD is actually kind of strange. Most people would date CD’s to the late 80’s not the early 80’s. Presumably because of the adoption rate.

In related note, a curious little tidbit about the Sony CDP-101 from Wikipedia:

Due to the cost of producing Digital to Analogue converters at the time of its production, the CDP-101 features only one DAC, which is used for both the left and right audio channels. No sample-and-hold circuitry is present to delay the first channel until the other is ready, so the left and right channels are out of sync by approximately 11 µs.

Weird to think that’s what they had to do. Clever how they dealt with it.

Redefining Broadband

The FCC for years has been considering any connection greater than 200kbps to be broadband. For the past several years that’s been pretty misleading. In addition, they only collect downstream, not upstream. They also consider an entire zip code to have broadband if only 1 home can get it. That’s not very accurate. This makes the broadband situation in the US look better than it really is.

The definition of broadband in the US is now being redefined as 768kbps. They will now collect upstream data, and use census-track data. This is a major win since it will more accurately show how many people really do have broadband, and more importantly how many do not.

I personally disagree on the number and think it should be at least 2Mbps, but it’s a win regardless.

The pacific rim annihilates the United States when it comes to broadband. According to Akamai’s State Of The Internet for Q1 2008 high broadband (greater than 5Mbps) is where we really start to show our deficiencies. Here’s a look at broadband which they define as simply greater than 2Mbps:

Rank Country % >2Mbps Q4 07 Change
Global 55% -2.0%
1 South Korea 93% -1.5%
2 Belgium 90% +1.5%
3 Switzerland 89% +0.5%
4 Hong Kong 87% -1.5%
5 Japan 87% +1.0%
6 Norway 83% -2.3%
7 Tunisia 82% +29%
8 Slovakia 81% +0.5%
9 Netherlands 78% -2.6%
10 Bahamas 74% -3.0%
24 United States 62% -2.8%

Pretty pathetic considering our last Vice President invented the Internet 😉 . We are the largest in terms of sq miles, but when you consider the US population density, the bulk of our land is very sparsely populated. 80.8% of the US population lives in an urban setting [Warning: PDF].

US Population Density

Japan by comparison has 66.0% of it’s population in an urban setting. Belgium has a surprising 91.5% which may account for it’s #2 position. Switzerland has 44.4% yet makes 3rd place threatening Belgium’s position.

I’m far from the first one to complain about the poor state of broadband. BusinessWeek and CNet both have relatively good discussions about the topic.

The future of media is clearly moving online as people demand to consume it on their schedule as they desire. Take a look at some of the statistics and it’s clearly a large industry. I suspect the lack of broadband infrastructure will be a real problem in the next several years as the rest of the world becomes very easy to distribute media to, and the US still faces challenges.

Solution? Highly debatable, but if so many other countries can do something about it, I suspect it’s achievable here in the US as well. I suspect that the taxes made from companies that do business on the internet from ecommerce to advertising would make this a decent investment for the US government to at least partially back. The more places companies make money, the more places the government does. That may be necessary as not all markets are profitable enough for telco’s to bother with. There have been various attempts to jumpstart this effort, but none to date have been successful.

It’s not only about just having access, it’s also the cost. As BusinessWeek points out in the article above, broadband in the US is not cheap.

Perhaps wireless will finally allow for competition and lower prices, at least that’s what everyone is hoping for. The question is if it will happen, if the technology will be there (wireless is generally high latency), and if it will be affordable for the common man.

I suspect in the next 4 years this will become and even bigger topic of discussion as some of the top ranking countries start to reach the point of saturation.

iPhone Keyboard

Dvorak aka Nostradamus seems to have sources that say the fatal flaw in the iPhone is the keyboard. Of course he’s been wrong a few times.

“The keyboard is a disaster, and people are going to return the phone in droves. I’m guessing 20% will go back.”

One important thing to note is that the iPhone has an iPod connection on the bottom. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a Blackberry style keyboard attachment that snaps onto the bottom for those who don’t like the feel of glass. I’m sure someone is already looking into this.

Regardless, I think the market for accessories on the iPhone will be very interesting to watch.

Update: Walt Mossberg posted his take as did David Pogue.

According to Walt Mossberg:

On the keyboard…

The virtual keys are large and get larger as you touch them. Software tries to guess what you’re typing, and fix errors. Overall, it works. But the error-correction system didn’t seem as clever as the one on the BlackBerry, and you have to switch to a different keyboard view to insert a period or comma, which is annoying.

On what’s missing…

…There’s no instant messaging, only standard text messaging. While its two megapixel camera took excellent pictures in our tests, it can’t record video. Its otherwise excellent Web browser can’t fully utilize some Web sites, because it doesn’t yet support Adobe’s Flash technology….

Countdown to Meebo being iPhone compatible commences now. I’m surprised about the inability to recording video. Wouldn’t be surprised to see the feature added in the future. No flash? I think that’s just temporary as well. I don’t think Adobe wants to miss out on this market.

There’s of course much more in that review, I’d recommend giving it a read. It’s a real nice summary that goes into many aspects of the phone.

David Pogue had a somewhat similar take on the iPhone. Overall pretty positive. He does make this interesting note:

But otherwise, you have to use AT&T’s ancient EDGE cellular network, which is excruciatingly slow. The New York Times’s home page takes 55 seconds to appear; Amazon.com, 100 seconds; Yahoo. two minutes. You almost ache for a dial-up modem.

You can’t follow Apple hardware and not read what these guys have to say. I’ve been waiting for their takes on the iPhone for a while.

Firefox News Articles

With the pending release of Firefox 1.5 said to be really soon , I’m getting ready to see what the press has to say, and ultimately the users.

So if you notice any news articles, feel free to leave a comment, or send me an email. I’m especially interested in anything that references the new reporter tool (aka “that broken website thing”). So if you find any of those, be sure to leave a comment or email me.

This really is the fun part of the release cycle. I’ll leave this post with a great quote from this Browser Face-Off Article:

Regardless, just having a choice is a great thing for consumers. Vive la différence.

Hurricane Katrina Photo Part II

The individual who wrote the capture for the now infamous “finding” picture broke his silence today.

The people were swimming in chest deep water, and there were other people in the water, both white and black. I looked for the best picture. there were a million items floating in the water – we were right near a grocery store that had 5+ feet of water in it. it had no doors. the water was moving, and the stuff was floating away. These people were not ducking into a store and busting down windows to get electronics. They picked up bread and cokes that were floating in the water. They would have floated away anyhow.

looting, as defined by the dictionary is:

1. Valuables pillaged in time of war; spoils.
2. Stolen goods.
3. Informal. Goods illicitly obtained, as by bribery.

finding on the other hand, is defined in a way that makes it sound much more law abiding:

1. To come upon, often by accident; meet with.
2. To come upon or discover by searching or making an effort: found the leak in the pipe.

Taking property that isn’t yours without express consent, especially if it’s only feet away from a grocery store (which makes it obvious who the owner of the goods are) is still looting. Both definition 1 and 2 for looting 100% describe *both* pictures. The definition of “finding” doesn’t apply to either in the context of the caption. This is just like you can still be charged with armed robbery even if you don’t fire your weapon. Looting is looting. It doesn’t matter the color of your skin or what type protection the property owner had in place to protect their goods. You steal them in a circumstance like this (this really falls under time of war like anarchy)… it’s looting.

Yahoo Letter

Yahoo published the following in regard to this topic aknowledging it and explaining (although they didn’t write the captions, they just syndicate it):

To Yahoo! News readers:

News photos are an especially popular section of Yahoo! News. In part, this is because we present thousands of news photos from some of the leading news services, including The Associated Press, Reuters, and Agence France Press. To make this volume of photos available in a timely manner, we present the photos and their captions as written, edited and distributed by the news services with no additional editing at Yahoo! News.

In recent days, a number of readers of Yahoo! News have commented on differences in the language in two Hurricane Katrina-related photo captions (from two news services). Since the controversy began, the supplier of one of the photos – AFP – has asked all its clients to remove the photo from their databases. Yahoo! News has complied with the AFP request.

Here are a few of the postings that have commented on the photo caption language:

Flickr

Salon

Romenesko

Gothamist

You can comment on the issue on this message board.

Yahoo! News regrets that these photos and captions, viewed together, may have suggested a racial bias on our part. We remain committed to bringing our readers the full collection of photos as transmitted by our wire service partners.

Neil Budde
General Manager
Yahoo! News

Update: added yahoo letter.

Advertising and the media

“We all leave our doors unlocked. We can run around in our nighties. It’s all girls and we feel really safe and that will change,” said student Starbuck Hersey.

A hearing on the lawsuit against the school is scheduled for Dec. 16. Until then, the school is actively recruiting male applicants.

[Source: FoxNews.com @ 12/8/2004 1:20 PM EST]

Think they will have trouble recruiting male applicants after that quote? That’s about as great advertising as it gets!