Category: "Media"

HD DVD is the better format for consumers

People often ask which is the better format HD DVD or Blu-ray? Of course what they should be asking is which format is better for us, because obviously content publishers can and do have differing opinions.

HD DVD has a number of key points why I want it to succeed over Blu-ray:

1) Region free.
2) Less draconian copy protection.
3) Finalised specification.
4) Cost.

There's also the whole sensible and descriptive name, better picture quality and questionable reliability with Blu-ray, and the fact Blu-ray was a format created to divide the industry, but those are all secondary to the above in my opinion.

If Blu-ray wins, what happens?

1) Bob Public buys a film on holiday, brings it home and find it doesn't work.

2) Joe Public buys a film, expects to be able to legally copy it to his hard disk based portable player, only to find it doesn't work being informed he needs to buy the film again in an online store to download it to his player.

3) John Public buys a first, second, heck even third generation Blu-ray player, only to find it won't play any new Blu-ray films any more because the specifications have changed.

4) Bill Public ends up paying hundreds or thousands of pounds more than he or she would otherwise. Re-tooling all those factories and spending twice as much time developing a menu for the film costs us money.

In short, we get screwed, being stuck with an inferior format.

Some film companies of course love this. Disney love the copy protection, Fox loves the region locking and Sony love releasing products whose specifications aren't finalised, so you can buy a new product to do the exact same job a few years down the line. They work in their best interests (or at least what they think are their best interests), which obviously are not the same as ours which is not to be unexpected, that's capitalism for you.

However not everybody looks at the format war rationally and thinks, which format would better serve us?

Some go on their brand loyalties, the Blu-boys are largely made up of PlayStation fanboys, and people who hate Microsoft (ignoring the point that Microsoft technology is in both formats), and then yes there are people who for some strange reason are actually a fanboy of an optical disc format, of how a 12cm piece of plastic is put together.

By fanboy I mean a person who scourers the internet looking for anybody of a descenting opinion and showers them in abuse, or posts comments on however their little pet technology is awesome and everything else is "teh sux".

There's something these people need to remember, they're partly responsible for why Bob Public wasted his hard earned money only to find his film won't play on his player, or why Joe Public can't rip the film to his portable player, why John Public's Blu-ray player doesn't work with new discs and of course why all of them and Bill Public ends up paying far more money to either work around these problems, or pay for the additional costs of Blu-ray.

Thanks Blu-ray fans, do you enjoy helping the film industry screw the public over or don't you even realise you're doing it?

HD DVD smashes Blu-ray sales figures

HD DVD has clocked up another new record, with Transformers selling 100,000 units on day one and 190,000 units in the first week. Making it the best selling film for the first week on either HD DVD or its competitor.

I hope the BDA studios take note, and stop this stupid format war once and for all. HD DVD is the successor to DVD and all they're doing is forcing people to wait for a clear winner, and making money out of the confusion.

In other news people in the UK can now get 5 free HD DVDs with the Xbox 360 HD DVD drive (around £115), here. I see on Amazon, you can get 5 free films with Toshiba's players too (around £180).

And better still Planet Earth comes out on HD DVD in two weeks time. David Attenborough + a small corner of the universe + HD = much good.

I feel more religious book burnings coming on

Dumbledore, the old guy in Harry Potter is gay. From the BBC:

Harry Potter author JK Rowling has revealed that one of her characters, Hogwarts school headmaster Albus Dumbledore, is gay.

You know it was bad enough with religious fundamentalists in the United States trying to get the Harry Potter books banned (here, here etc), for evil witchcraft and the like, now they'll be at it in full force again.

I can see the headlines now...

"Gay witchcraft - the new threat to Bible-believing Americans".

I give it a week until some fundamentalist nuts call for a ban, or a public burning (Reverend Lovejoy style), or some other crazy thing.

So long Perry DeAngelis

I checked my feeds this morning to see that Steven Novella posted the sad news about the loss of Perry DeAngelis.

Perry's popularity was easy to understand – Perry had presence. The power of his personality went into everything he did, and every relationship he had. He made his opinions known and actually delighted in not sugar-coating them. Truth and reason were very important to him, so much so that he felt the truth had to be brutal. He would not diminish it with mere social nicety. This also means that when he expressed friendship, you knew he meant it.

The SGU will not be the same without you.

And remember, chi spelled backward is crap.

- Perry DeAngelis, a human being of some note.

So long Perry. You lived in such a time where science and technology had advanced far enough that your opinions and thoughts can be recorded, stored and distributed not only throughout the world, but down through time as well, you pushed our science and understanding forward in your own way to help make this possible. As a result people shall be reading what you have written, and listening to what you have said, throughout the history to come. In this sense it is science and technology that has unlocked the ability for people to hear you, no matter where you were or when you were. It is science that allows you to speak from beyond the grave.

Science 1 – Mystics 0.

Zeitgeist

Seven years after Machina / The Machines of God, the Smashing Pumpkins reformed and released Zeitgeist, it's pretty clear to me that Mr Corgan works better under the Smashing Pumpkins brand.

Zeitgeist

This album is not as heavy as Machina, you can really find a lot of correlations to their past albums throughout Zeitgeist, but you can't really compare it to another album as a whole, it is a different sound, even if it is every blurred together.

Come on, Let's Go, and Bring the Light, which starts off like 1979 are the two best tracks on the first listen, almost so that they do tend to stand out too much compared to the rest of the album, Doomsday Clock opens the album well while Pomp and Circumstances closes the album in a Mellon Collie kind of way. Apart from the ten minute 'United States', which I don't know what to think of, some parts sound great, other parts are terrible and should of been left out in my opinion, the rest is certainly good, but I don't think the album flows very well, the first half definitely doesn't work as well as the last four tracks.

Overall I'd give this album 4 out of 5. It's no Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, but it's certainly up there with their other albums and should be on the listen list of Pumpkin's fans.

Patrick Moore on the BBC's quality

Sir Patrick Moore is in the firing line over comments he recently made about the BBC's deteriorating quality. He blamed it on women, of course he has been blasted for these comments, but nobody has bothered to go into details.

British TV standards are deteriorating because the BBC is "run by women", astronomer Sir Patrick Moore has said. The presenter said: "The trouble is the BBC now is run by women and it shows soap operas, cooking, quizzes, kitchen-sink plays."

OK well it is established that a lot of high positions within the BBC are manned by women.

I'm also sure most people will agree that women aren't interested in science and technology as much as men. I'm not saying that women are any less skilful at those areas, but I think it is fair to say under current cultural conditions they're not as interested.

So I think some of what he said could be attributed to women holding some positions within the BBC, I think it is likely that if men held those positions that science programs would have a somewhat easier time of things.

Patrick Moore is well known for his disagreements with those in the BBC, particularly about how late the Sky at Night is on, when I was a kid I could very rarely watch it because it would often be on after midnight, this continues nowadays too, but at least the BBC has more channels and so can show it more than once.

This could be the result of a recent spat with somebody in the BBC screwing the Sky at Night over, and that person was probably a woman, which sparked this whole episode. A woman, or perhaps a small group of women may indeed be responsible for shoving the Sky and Night back a few hours to put some nonsense on TV and perhaps even wider attacks on science programs on the BBC, but I think fundamentally the dumbing down of television is simply due to market pressures to reach larger and larger audiences and that it is not due to differences between the sexes.

This isn't just happening with the BBC. Take the Discovery channels and the History channel; they started off pretty good, now they spend their time showing things about ghosts and the history of zombies.

The BBC however is the most worrying. I expect low quality crap from private broadcasters. I do not expect crap from the BBC, the BBC should stop trying to emulate the private sector, and concentrate on what its good at, doing things the private broadcasters simply cannot afford to do, the BBC's funding is secure, and they should stop worrying about trying to reach more viewers.

I remember when Horizon used to be the science journal on TV, where it was not uncommon for an episode to just be a scientist talking about this or that subject. What is it nowadays? 70% special effects and 30% sensationalism, it's so bad that last week's episode on the Large Hadron Collider needed to advertise itself with the machine potentially creating a black hole that would destroy the Earth. Utter junk science, honestly I feel like I'm watching American TV.

Patrick is just reacting to this decline, and in my opinion probably basing it on his own personal experiences with female executives within the BBC.

"I used to watch Doctor Who and Star Trek, but they went PC - making women commanders, that kind of thing. I stopped watching."

OK that's pretty far out there, I've never been a fan of Doctor Who, and so I can't speak on that. I didn't have much of a problem with Captain Janeway, Voyager was pretty good until they brought 7 of 9 into things just to try and get some more viewers, this sort of thing continued into Enterprise, which in my opinion is the reason it was cancelled, in trying to get more viewers they alienated their core viewers. Star Trek turned into more of a soap opera in space. So perhaps Patrick's comments aren't too far off the mark.

The Sky at Night host also described female newsreaders as "jokey"

The BBC's national newsreaders are fantastic, apart from their fairly recent additions from Sky News like Natasha Kaplinsky (for the reasons Patrick mentions) and that guy; I can't remember his name, who is one of the dumbest newsreaders I've ever come across. The ones on the local news are a bit "jokey", they lack seriousness that they should have, but that probably varies from region to region.

I suspect Patrick's comments were triggered by a recent falling out with some women whom have some say over the Sky at Night within the BBC, Patrick got rather annoyed over-generalised and fired off a salvo.

But in doing so he highlights some important facts, the BBC needs to change, the careerists ruining the corporation need to be booted out, and the dumbing down needs to stop. I'd like to see a Moore-Dawkins-Attenborough coalition take control of the BBC, and get its science up to standard.

I see the Bad Astronomer, Phil Plait has said he'll have nothing more to do with Patrick Moore over his remarks, seriously what the hell? May be if Americans had decent quality TV at some point they'd understand the seriousness of the situation, from the amateur astronomy circles I frequent the BBC's quality often crops up, people with more than 12 brain cells are getting seriously annoyed about it, so I don't think it is surprising that some people will over-generalise and lash out.

Patrick also speaks about having channels for men and women. In some cases we already have that. I've always thought of it being more of a smart vs dumb divide. The private broadcasters race to the bottom and appeal to dumb people. While the BBC, not having to worry about keeping advertising revenue can concentrate on high quality programming.

Judging from the number of comments from women largely agreeing with Patrick on the BBC News website, I think my hypothesis holds up. It is an issue between smart and dumb people and not an issue between men and women.

Patrick has a geniune point, but being a self-proclaimed eccentric he probably didn't get it across very well. But the point that remains is solid.

He claimed that interesting programmes were screened too late at night, and said he would "rather be dead in a ditch" than appear on Celebrity Big Brother.

Here here, it's time to get all the crap off the TV.

Update: It seems Patrick's remarks were misrepresented, with one of his comments being there were too few men working as TV announcers and that was spun into this, his comments were also strictly off the record, overheard by a journalist and chucked out there.

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