High Tech Hobbit

Bilbo Baggins
On top of the general buzz about Peter Jackson’s latest Middle Earth project The Hobbit, slated to be released in December, film geeks and insiders are chattering about the way Jackson is filming the legendary Tolkien story:

The four-day [CineEurope 2012] conference, aimed primarily at European theater operators, kicked off with exhibitors and distributors hearing that the filmmaker’s decision to shoot his fourth J.R.R. Tolkien adaptation using 48 frames per second rather than the current 24 fps (25 in some parts of Europe) will cost them more. Still, exhibitors have largely signaled that they want to show the hotly anticipated movie.

Filming at that quick a frame rate will bring out much richer detail and color to the movie, so long as your local theater has the proper equipment to show it at that frame rate. And it is in this “last mile” of the content delivery where things break down.

Many local theaters can’t handle this frame rate, although the big studios like Sony and Warner Bros are rapidly upgrading theaters they own. The movie studio will have to distribute multiple versions of the film to accommodate all theaters that can’t handle this. And while filmmaking at the higher FPS rate may be a big deal in Hollywood (i.e the movie industry) however I have to wonder how big a deal this really is to the general marketplace?

I would argue that today’s theater user experience is not materially better than watching it from your couch on your big screen TV. So will the opportunity to watch a movie like The Hobbit at a higher frame rate and quality of picture really drive a materially significant attendance lift in the general marketplace? I am skeptical.

But movie theaters and the studios will have to come up with something. The relevance of the movie theater is tied to their ability to deliver a far superior film consumption experience (and I don’t mean by the amazingly annoying and overpriced trend of delivering fried food to my seat). And as we all know, that is under intense pressure as the once exclusive distribution channels (i.e movie theaters) are no longer so, with so many folks consuming media in multiple form factors (HDTV, iPads, Netflix, Hulu, etc.).

Songs of Summer

The folks over at NPR have compiled a list of the top sings from each of the past 50 summers (1962-2012). They were inspired by a similar list over on Billboard Magazine’s site that listed the top summer songs from 1985-2011. There are more than a few songs in this list that I just shake my head at, and wonder what the collective ‘we’ were thinking. Ah, hindsight.

Both of these fine journalistic institutions kinda missed the musical boat on this one by not including a Spotify playlist of each of these lists. So, in about 20 minutes I was able to pull together the Spotify playlist for many of the songs from the NPR list, with a few additional songs from the Billboard list added for good measure.

Spotify Songs of Summer: 1962-2012 Playlist

While the Macarana was included in the top summer songs of 1996 by both Billboard and NPR, I refused to include it in Spotify playlist just on principle.

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Death Becomes Flickr


I just finished reading this fantastic article on Gizmodo lamenting Yahoo’s ignorance and immense missteps in how it mis-handled Flickr (I think I’m being generous here). And the article just made me so sad.

Between 2003 and 2010, Yahoo basically demolished Flickr, along with Delicious – two groundbreaking services. But we all know that. What this article did for me was put it all out there in all of it’s gory detail. It was like reading Bill Simmons’ pice about the Los Angeles Clippers of a few years ago. Once you are done with the article, you sit back and say “How the fuck could these people be some utterly inept?”.

It’s hard to remember, but back in 2005, Yahoo seemed like it had its game on. After losing out on search dominance to Google, it snapped up a bunch of small-but-cool socially oriented companies like Flickr (social photos), Delicious (social bookmarking), and Upcoming (social calendaring). There was a real sense that Yahoo was doing the right thing. It was, to some extent, out in front of what would come to be widely known as Web 2.0: the participatory Internet.

The funny thing is that in reading this article about how Yahoo focused on integrating Flickr into the Yahoo “ecosystem”, I said “Oh, that is what Lycos was so focused on when they acquired companies when I was there.” Where is Lycos these days?

I could go on about how Yahoo crushed the lively community within Flickr, how they still have yet to get it right with mobile, and some other amazing oversights, but just read the article. But there are two paragraphs that hit home for me and pretty much justified my decision to walk away from Flickr this year.

Illustrating just how bad the Flickr mobile effort was:

Among other problems, it wouldn’t let you upload several photos at once, you had to go in manually submit them one at a time. It was downscaling photos to 450 x 600, murdering image quality. Users had to log in via Safari rather than in the app itself. It was striping EXIF data from photos as they uploaded—precisely the kind of thing Flickr’s photo nerds wanted to see.

Today, it all seems too late. The iPhone is the most popular camera on Flickr, but the feeling isn’t mutual. Flickr isn’t even among the top 50 free photography apps in iTunes. It’s just below an Instagram clone in 64th place. By way of comparison, an app that adds cats with laser eyes to your photos is 23rd.

And illustrating how the once vibrant community within Flickr has fled to Instagram, 500px, Facebook and others, while at the same time describing in exact detail how I currently utilize Flickr:

As a result, Flickr today is a very different site than it was five years ago. It’s an Internet backwater. It’s not socially appealing.

Recently, Flickr rolled out a “Justified” view, a way to scan your friends’ recent photos where they are all placed together like puzzle pieces. It’s similar to the way Pinterest lays out images. It’s a dramatic, gorgeous way to look at photos—that mostly highlights how rarely many people update now.

As I scroll down I note that friend after friend has quit posting. At the bottom of the page I am already back in mid 2010. So many of my friends have vanished. It feels like MySpace, circa 2009.

This is anecdotal, sure, but I follow many of these same people on other networks (Path, Facebook, Instagram) where they tend to be very active. I see photos of the same people, with their same children and their same dogs—all looking a year or two older than on Flickr.

This justified view also serves to highlight just how many of my friends’ photos are formatted in perfect squares—the tell-tale sign of an Instagram snap that’s been exported. Many of my contacts’ entire photostreams are made up of Instagram photos. In other words they are mere duplicate streams—with fewer comments and activity—of content that exists in primary form elsewhere. The only reason they are active on Flickr at all is because they automatically export there.

The leadership of Yahoo should be fired. Oh wait. They have been. And again. And again. And again.

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Shaken And Stirred


Someone has taken the time to count the number of gunshots fired at James Bond (aka Agent 007) throughout all 22 Bond movies.

It turns out that there have been over 4,600 shots fired at him.

A static well-aimed shot would almost certainly have proved lethal, but assuming all 4662 were “on the run”, the probability of a single fatal shot is about 5 per cent. That is, the chance of a single shot missing is 0.95, and hence the probability of all shots missing is 0.954662 or 1.4 × 10-104, which is as close to zero as makes no difference

Now, about all of those Bond Girls he has gotten to know so well.

via New Scientiest by way of NextDraft.

Brooklyn Is Sleeping


So sad about the news of Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys losing his fight with cancer. The Washington Post, of all places, (The Washington Post!) pulled together one of the best tributes I’ve seen yet:

A Tribute to Adam Yauch, Composed Entirely of Beastie Boys Lyrics

Born and bred Brooklyn — U.S.A.
They call me Adam Yauch but I’m M.C.A.
Like a lemon to a lime, a lime to a lemon
I sip the def ale with all the fly women (1)
I’m not James at 15 or Chachi in charge
I’m Adam and I’m adamant about living large (2)
I’ve got more rhymes than I’ve got gray hairs
And that’s a lot because I’ve got my share (3)
Now what do we have here, an outlaw and his beer
I run this land, you understand, I make myself clear. (4)
M.C. for what I am and do
the A is for Adam and the lyrics; true
so as pray and hope and the message is sent
and I am living in the dreams that I have dreamt (5)
I wish for peace between the races
Someday we shall all be one (6)
That’s right y’all
Don’t get uptight y’all (7)
I’m out and I’m gone
I tell you now I keep it on and on. (8)

via The Washington Post by way of Buzzfeed.

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