While Microsoft decided to make their presence at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas their last, and Apple chose not to exhibit at CES this year, that didn’t mean thousands of others stayed away. CES 2012 was not complete without technological newness. Here’s five newbie-gadgets that I thought were noteworthy:
Mobile computing, at least the kind that has keyboards, has progressed over just the last 5 years from notebooks [laptops] to netbooks to ultrabooks. After Intel revealed last year that it was putting new processing chips inside these ultrabooks, made them 4/5 of an inch thick, combined elements of netbooks, tablets and notebooks, and priced them around $1000—give or take a few hundred, depending on the features—companies like Dell, Samsung, and HP began showing off the new machines at CES 2012.
Inspired by Apple’s MacBook Air—whether these thinner, lighter machines will sell, never mind work—as good as the other types of mobile computers that are around, remains to be seen. I wouldn’t be surprised, though, if by next year a unique enough market for ultrabooks establishes itself.
No way would you pay $79 for an ice cream sandwich that can be had for a fraction of that price at your favorite convenience store. But you could pay that much, perhaps slightly more, for a tablet that uses Google’s new Ice Cream Sandwich [code name for Android 4.0] operating system.
Chinese firm Ainovo showed off their Novo7 Paladin tablet to Engadget's Brian Heater at the CES, and while there's nothing high-end, in terms of video display or the lack of a camera or GPS, he wrote that it's good for casual gaming and watching YouTube videos.
Ainovo's website says theirs is the first tablet to make use of the Ice Cream Sandwich OS. It list-prices the Novo7 Paladin at $89, and the Basic [with the front and back cameras] at $99, and has not yet made available their Swordsman and Legend tablets. With a 7-inch screen, built in WiFi and 3G networking, the battery power for their tablets can last anywhere from 6 hours, if you're playing a game, to 25 hours if you're listening to music, to as much as 300 hours if on standby. Storage is 1 GB internally, but can be up to 4 with an external drive, though there has been talk of expanding that to 8.
It wouldn't surprise me if Ainovo were to develop a tablet that takes advantage of 4G wireless.
Democratic Congressmember, Zoe Lofgren, represents a constituency in central California that includes parts of San Jose and the Silicon Valley. In late October 2011, after some of her colleagues in the US House of Representatives, led by Congressmember and Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Lamar Smith of Texas, introduced a bill called the Stop Online Piracy Act [SOPA], Ms. Lofgren declared her opposition to the proposals as “the end of the Internet as we know it.”
SOPA, sometimes known as E-PARASITE [Enforcing and Protecting American Rights Against Sites Intent on Theft and Exploitation], is the House’s equivalent of the Senate’s PROTECT-IP [Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property] bill, in that both are meant to put a stop to websites that carry content that infringes on copyrights, combined with Senate Bill 978, which would criminalize online streaming even of people who sing others’ songs on YouTube. Whatever kind of anti-online piracy legislation gets passed, there is the thinking that it could do more harm than whatever good may come of it. How so? Let us count some of the ways:
Under the proposals, any copyright holder can get a court order to shut down a website that posts any infringing material without giving the accused website an opportunity to challenge such a shutdown in court. On top of that, the owner of such a website could even be denied Internet access…again, without due process.
Prof. Mark Lemley of Stanford told the public radio program “Marketplace” that if you so much as put up a link to a website that carries the infringed copyright material, you’ll end up just as guilty of “facilitating infringement” as the website that infringes copyright. Even Google, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube could be all but put out of business as a result.
David Sohn of the Center for Democracy & Technology commented that under SOPA, “a central issue is that the bill’s definitions of bad websites are vague and broad.” So much so that the Future of Music Coalition commented that even legitimate sites, both within and outside of the US, could be held for violations of SOPA, thus making the Internet “too wide for comfort.” On top of that, copyright owners, by filing a court order against an infringing website, don’t have to go to court and explain their actions, which adds to there being no opportunity at justice for the accused.
Hallelujah—it’s here! Finally, an intelligent twist within the crowdfunding platform that speaks to creators (musicians, filmmakers, software developers, artists, etc.), and aims to put the “$-kaching” back into the hands of developers, versus middlemen. IgnitionDeck is a newly launched WordPress plugin allowing artists to self-fund their projects without asking for permission, or giving away more money than they have to when using a crowdfunding platform like Kickstarter or IndieGogo.
Last week I ran across a post on Facebook talking about IgnitionDeck and instantly became smitten with the “take charge, empowering concept,” so I reached out for a quick “Startup Spotlight Q&A” with the IgnitionDeck Founders—Nathan Hangen and Shawn Christenson. Super smart guys, awesome concept twist—enjoy the Q&A!
Here. We. Go. IgnitionDeck is a DIY crowdfunding platform for WordPress that installs as a plugin and allows creators to raise money without the restrictions of other platforms. The problem we see with Kickstarter and similar platforms is that if your campaign fails to raise, you end up with zero investment despite the fact that you’ve worked your tail off trying to drive traffic to the Kickstarter site. We’re building IgnitionDeck for those people, and anyone else that wants to crowdfund on their own terms, rather than the terms of the middle man. It’s perfect for musicians, filmmakers, software developers, artists, and anyone else that has something cool to sell.
For starters, it’s the only product of its kind that empowers the creator, rather than the middle man. With ID, the creator is in complete control—they get to drive traffic to their site instead of another platform, get to keep the SEO benefit of linking/sharing, and get to keep all of the money (outside of Paypal’s fees). Another big benefit is that it works outside of the U.S., so anywhere you can use Paypal, you can use IgnitionDeck.
The team is made of two co-founders, Nathan Hangen & Shawn Christenson, who live in Florida and Alberta, respectively. We both do a little bit of everything, but Shawn, being the better designer by far, does much of the product design, while Nathan focuses heavily on development and product management.
Welcome to the second installment of ‘The Techie Minute’—a ‘one minute dish’ on tech gossip of the week—like Talk Soup meets MTV News for the tech world. Yes, this is a homemade video—recorded using PhotoBooth, edited using iMovie and Picasa—trying something a little fresh here at HOLLYISCO—a boutique press site covering entertainment technology from Silicon Valley, to Silicon Beach, to Silicon Hills.
What is ‘bootstrapping’ your business? Bootstrapping is the art of building your business without much external help and on a budget. Two bootstrap concepts introduced this week on “The Techie Minute” are 1) Bootstrap Lighting—for when you don’t have the Hollywood budget, or a P.A., and 2) Bootstrap Branding—how to make a mockup product using just your business card and packing tape only—kaching! The featured mockup product this week on “The Techie Minute” is WineBeer by HOLLYISCO.
Over the last four years or so, a few websites have sprung up to offer anyone with at least a webcam and broadband the ability to do live TV online. Websites like uStream, Justin.tv, Stickam and Livestream have made “lifecasting” and other forms of live streaming video possible.
Google’s YouTube, which has been famous for hosting video clips past and present, homemade and otherwise, had also been doing some occasional video streaming of live events during this time. But that is nothing compared to what they have just come up with. Yes, they’re venturing into what had been the territory of uStream and the others by starting up their own live streaming video service. Might they be late to the party?
Maybe not, thanks to YouTube being so well-known and well-established, with over 2 billion views a day. I used data from Alexa, which monitors website traffic, to figure out that YouTube, at #3 in terms of page views as of the time of this writing, is well ahead of uStream , Justin.tv , Livestream  and Stickam .
Cable systems pay a fee per subscriber for the right to carry channels like ESPN, TBS, TNT, USA Network and many more, on their systems. But does that right extend to putting those channels on iPads?
Back on March 15, 2011, TimeWarner Cable introduced an app that allows subscribers to view cable channels on their iPads, workable only with subscribers’ wireless home networking and Internet access. No sooner was that app introduced than some cable channels, including those owned by Fox—like FX, Fox News and Fox Sports—and Scripps—like Food Network and HGTV—ordered TimeWarner to remove them from that app, saying that it was prohibited under their carriage agreements.
Though TimeWarner Cable still, as of this writing, has some three dozen channels on their iPad app, the Los Angeles Times compares the scenario that the cable company is facing to one in which you buy peanut butter from a store, put it in a Tupperware container, refrigerate it, and then have the peanut butter manufacturer tell you that you have to pay extra for doing so.
“Back and Forth,” directed by James Moll, was an exquisite look at the life of a full-fledged, respected, American rock band—Foo Fighters. The line to get in to see “Back and Forth” last night was wrapped around the block of The Paramount Theatre on Congress Avenue in Austin, TX, as the SXSW Film Festival rolled on. Just as I was entering The Paramount, the Foo Fighters arrived, and I was able to capture their moment—a mere glimpse into the fantastical elements of their life. Seen in this video are Dave Grohl, Taylor Hawkins, Pat Smear, Chris Shiflett, Nate Mendel—Foo Fighters.
The Foo Fighters are coming to the big screen tonight with their world premiere documentary “Back and Forth,” by Director James Moll (Oscar-winning 1998 documentary “The Last Days”), at this year’s South By Southwest Film Festival.
According to SPIN.com, “Moll’s visual portrait will chronicle the Foos’ 16-year-history, from its start as a one-man project started by Grohl up through the sessions of their latest album. The documentary promises to be a no-holds-barred look of the band.”