Fogey Friday 22nd June

Jun 23, 2012 No Comments by

In which streaming initiates disc death, shelves torment a Fogey, Thomas Pynchon goes digital, a Blu-ray player opens up myriad new vistas streaming with audiovisual guff, Tom Tom navigates around Google and into Apple and BlackBerry learns to spell.


A Roku media streaming box thingy

At a recent  industry snore-fest in San Francisco Anthony Wood CEO of Roku, which makes video streaming devices, suggested that Blu-ray will be history in four years. He’d like to think so because Blu-ray represents competition for his product but it is certainly true that physical media – CD, DVD, Blu-ray – will die sooner rather than later. TF has a premium subscription to Spotify and has neither bought nor played an actual CD for many, many months. Recently sales of digital music via download from the Internet eclipsed CD sales for the first time. Mrs Fogey wants all CDs and DVDs off their dedicated shelves, into boxes and up in the loft. At least there they will be safe from charity shop oblivion – Mrs F has no idea what the loft interior looks like; she doesn’t do ladders.

Since TF wrote this little bit of blurb above, our webmaster Andris (he’s the one who does all the code-type noodly stuff  on the Tech Fogey website that makes us want to cry because we can’t do it) sent in this appraisal of the Roku streamer: “I bought Roku and next morning gave it back to the shop. Crap. Basically, I am looking for a device I can connect to a network consisting of my TV, the Internet and my computers. Roku looked promising; small, nice, ok price but..

It was easy to setup and Roku soon picked up Internet connection. Then, first surprise – you must log-in and without doing that you can’t use it. So, went online, did this boring stuff which took about 15 minutes.  Then I had to play with it to synchronize it with my other devices – TV, PC. Next surprise, Roku is only for internet programming, most of of which you get only after subscribing. No YouTube. To view content stored on my PC I had to build a proxy server and only then could I connect to the media on my PC. And of the 20 movies I had stored there only one was in a format which Roku was able to recognise.

Basically, Roku says it’s a “media center” but I bet there aren’t many people who could easily setup a proxy server on their PC  just so they can access media on their TV via a Roku streamer. Also, you have to create some .xml files, convert other AV files into formats Roku can read which means downloading converter software… So many things just to see my personal movies? Really disappointed.”


So what if he has MS? Vote Jed! OK, we know, it’s a bit late for all that…

Rather like books that either have been read or never will be, CDs, DVDs and even LPs, line shelves to show visitors what a remarkably tasteful and artistically broad-minded sophisticate you are. Except they’re often in a room no visitor ever enters. So instead of saying anything to anyone else, they keep reminding you of the books you’ve not yet read, the boxed set TV series you haven’t watched and the CDs – once so precious – that you’ll never listen to again. It’s like being chided by a ghostly audience of your artistic peers, collectively tut-tutting as another day passes and their creations remain unexperienced. Why join a gym if you never go? Why buy or keep a book you’ll never read? Well, because you might. And in terms of clinging to the hope of things you might do, reading a book is reasonably achievable, as is getting around to season seven of the West Wing or Boys From the Black Stuff for the first time. Remember, though, those shelves aren’t groaning just because of the weight.


Now weightless on your Kindle

And while we are, tangentially at least, on the subject of books, the complete works of Thomas Pynchon are finally available for download onto your e-reader. With Pynchon having relented on his paper-or-nothing stance, Gravity’s Rainbow, V, Mason & Dixon and all those other slender tomes can know nestle in your Kindle. There’s a longer bit of blurb you can read about this momentous event here.


Google TV, coming to the UK in July

So we have a new TV (50” Full HD plasma) and a new Blu-ray player. The latter is a Sony BDP-S580 which, as well as playing Blu-ray discs and DVDs from pretty much anywhere, can connect, wirelessly, to the Internet. (Obviating the need to buy one of those Roku box thingies).You don’t even need a plug-in dongle, like you do with some other machines, it’s all built-in. And, jumpin’ jehosaphat, knock me down with a feather, heavens to Betsy – it actually works. Via a sturdy Netgear Rangemax wireless router (I know, nerds of the world, it’s sooo out-of-date) TF can watch BBC iPlayer or 5 On Demand or Netflix or a plethora of sundry twaddle that no sane person with the gumption to heave themselves off the sofa would ever give eyeball to. A bit like 90 per cent of the programming on Sky. Soon all TVs will be ‘smart’ and connect to the Internet in the same way as the S580. More than a quarter of TV sets shipped in the first quarter of this year had Internet connectivity, compared with 20 per cent in 2010. (Which is only five per cent more – is that a lot? Who knows?) How consumers will negotiate the deluge of tripe that will follow is anyone’s guess. There’s also the issue that the bandwidth necessary to carry all this stuff is unlikely to increase as exponentially fast as the content that must be carried.  We’ve banged on about this before here and it’s not just Tech Fogey that thinks it will be an issue.  The estimable David Pogue of the New York Times thinks so too. In the June 3rd issue of the NY Times magazine he was asked: ‘What tech problems need to be addressed most urgently?’ And replied: “That we’re heading for a bandwidth crunch.  We’re saddling the Internet with amazing new features – movies on demand, streaming TV, Siri voice recognition, whole house back-up – but they’re starting to overwhelm the Internet’s capacity, especially on cellular (mobile) networks.  The Internet and phone companies respond by imposing monthly limits and the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) is trying to make more wireless frequencies available.  But unless something gives, ‘high speed Internet’ will soon become an oxymoron.  You’ll just have to get used to pauses in your streaming video.”  This brief Q&A is part of a feature in the NY Times magazine about innovations and you can read it here.


Say hello to Tom and Tom. They’re Dutch.

iPhoners will soon be Tom-Tom-ing as opposed to Googling, at least where maps are concerned. Apple has a done a deal with the Dutch sat-nav company whereby it will replace Google as Apple’s mapping provider, partly, one suspects because the commercial paths of the two companies will keep crossing more often – Google (well, Samsung…) makes a smartphone and is the driving force behind the Android operating system which is Apple iOS’s nemesis. Apple is also working to get Siri, its automated smartphone smarty pants, into cars so a tie-in with Tom Tom makes even more sense.


Can’t find a pic of the BlackBerry spelling blooper, so this will have to do.

Finally, the muppets at BlackBerry have got around to changing their promotional ident that precedes Sky Atlantic programmes. The whole thrust of their pompous puff was that BlackBerry helps people find each other via its GPS and stay ‘connected’ and all that piffle and the image used is that of the top end of Regent Street in London. Except the unseen protagonists are trying to meet in Argylle Street, when anyone with a half a synapse and access to the Internet or an A-Z will tell you it’s Argyll Street. The London Palladium and Costa coffee are there, for God’s sake, so it’s not some insignificant alleyway. How this brainless gaffe appeared in the first place is anyone’s guess but it does seem to hold true to BlackBerry’s current brand equity.