Fingerprint Tech Waits for a Grand Entrance

It turns out the forces of change can’t be held back by crappy anti-piracy technology after all. Unfulfilled promises by Google (GOOG) to launch video fingerprinting technology on YouTube in order to prevent uploads of copyrighted content have had little effect on the rest of the industry. In the meantime, big media is adopting the tools of the trade to put more and more content online. And along the way, it’s learning that distributing programming encourages fans — while closing up programming encourages piracy.

But down the road, there’s still an opportunity for video fingerprinting technology to make content owners genuinely comfortable with online distribution. While we’ve found early implementations of audio fingerprinting have problems detecting piracy, the MPAA claims that recent tests have been quite promising.

We’ve seen a couple of developments on that front just this week: Santa Clara, Calif.-based Vobile, maker of the “VideoDNA” video fingerprinting and tracking product, said it had scored Gideon Yu — who is known for being chief financial officer of YouTube immediately prior to its sale to Google, and is currently CFO of Facebook — as a board member. Elsewhere, Paris-based Dailymotion said it was employing Ina, a digital image bank, to detect copyrighted videos on the French version of its site.

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FCC Analog Signal Ruling Doesn’t Impact IPTV

With the federally mandated end to analog broadcast television due to go into effect in 2009, an FCC panel has voted unanimously to require cable companies to continue broadcasting local stations as an analog signal until 2012. According to FCC estimates, 40 million American homes have televisions that don’t support digital signals, and while they are making plans to subsidize the purchase of digital-to-analog converter boxes, FCC chairman Kevin Martin expressed the government’s primary concern:

If the cable companies had their way, you, your mother and father, or your next-door neighbor could go to sleep one night after watching their favorite channel and wake up the next morning to a dark fuzzy screen.

While I’d suggest that would be the greatest thing to happen to the intellectual life of Americans since the First Amendment, politicians are justifiably concerned that so many constituents might find themselves unable to watch the latest campaign advertisements. The ruling leaves the cable companies two choices — either set aside bandwidth for up to five analog channels, or buy every legacy subscriber a converter box. But there’s one class of video content providers that won’t be affected: IPTV services.
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Five Lesser-Known Tips on Being an Apple Fanboy

Obsessing over all things Apple used to be a lonely place. Through the 1990s, in the “No Steve Era”, there was a seemingly small group that would discuss the benefits of CyberDog and OpenDoc, run Kaleidoscope themes to show the futuristic Copland interface, engage in live IRC chats during Apple earnings calls, boot the BeOS on our Macs off Zip disks and seek out the Apple logo in TV shows and movies, trading e-mails when we spotted one.

But in the last decade, the Apple world has changed, and we are surrounded by a multitude of people and press who are following Steve Jobs’ every move. What used to be the realm of MacOSRumors is now strutted about in CNET, the Wall Street Journal and the Associated Press. We have open debates about the iPhone, iPod and iTunes in cover stories on Newsweek and Time. And Apple stock is achieving all-time highs, seemingly every day. Rather than root for the old days, I thought I’d add some helpful, lesser-known tips to the new Apple fans among us, so that they can help spread the Macintosh religion.
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The Geek’s Night Before Christmas

‘Twas the geek’s night before Christmas, and all through the house,

Not a hard drive was whirring, not a single clicking mouse;

The gadgets were charging in their docks with care,

In hopes that St. Nick shopped at Best Buy this year;

The geeks were all snuggled all warm in their beds,

While visions of smartphones did dance in their heads.

With a click and a whir there arose such a clatter,

As the PDAs and UMPCs began to all chatter;

A song they did sing to ring in good cheer,

In their sleep geeks were smiling for what did they hear?

Nothing, because it was all flash drives here,

And as they settled their heads back down in the bed,

They dreamed of the gadgets that might be colored red;

A Zune, an iPod, or an HDTV,

Could that be what they’d find underneath the tree?

As the geeks fell asleep with their eyes all aglow,

And the visions of electrons did come and did go;

With a whoosh down the chimney the gear did alight,

Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!


Happy holidays everyone!  May you spend time with friends and family and appreciate these things that really matter. 

Have Gun, Will Work

Did you know that a new Oklahoma law says employees can bring guns to work, as long as they are kept in a locked vehicle. Suddenly no one wants to be the boss.

How to hail a cab with a Treo

Tom has figured out a new use for Treo 600 — hailing a cab.

treo600.jpgI switched on the screen, which is quite bright and large on a Treo 600, and waved it high above my head. Within seconds the taxi flashed back a response, and it had time to move across two traffic lanes, and I was in the cab and on my way. “That was the first time I’d seen anybody do that,” Chuck Walker, the cab driver said. “That was very effective, I could see you from a long ways away. Otherwise, it’s difficult to spot people unless they step out onto the road. I told him that it was a spur of the moment thing, but that maybe we were both present at the creation of a new thing, and maybe we could launch it as a meme. But what to call it? The taxi beacon? The taxi flash, or flash a taxi? Or, the “San Francisco wave,” which would likely be shortened to the “Frisco wave” by outsiders, much to the annoyance of San Franciscans, who generally hate the term “Frisco.”

Triple Play RFP Rumors

My new favorite weblog, Technology Futurist is hinting at some triple play RFP rumors, including a FTH RFP from SBC Communications. The triple play (the bundling of of voice, video and data) is becoming a sine-qua-non piece of the carriers’ strategies (for both telcos and MSOs). In the U.S., this opportunity is generating quite a lot of business for telecom vendors. A few well-connected Wall Street analysts whom I know gave me a few hints last week about their best-guesses on some RFP outcomes for some RBOCs.”

Verizon has 3 RFPs currently planned: one for the set-top box, and two coming out in October (but the decision not to be taken until probably late in 2005) – one for a mini (small count) DSLAM and the other for the second FTTP vendor. AFC is expected to be the primary supplier in the mini-DSLAM contest, with Adtran being the secondary vendor. There are rumors that Alcatel and Motorola will be the top two contenders for a FTTP project.  Finally, on the set-top box RFP, there seems to be a consensus that Motorola is the favorite choice. Bell South’s top picks for the original FTTP RFP included AFC, Alcatel and Motorola.  However, there are rumors that Bell South will probably opt for FTTC or ADSL 2+ instead of FTTP. You can get the complete lowdown at TF.

Verizon takes a fixed wireless step

Looks like Verizon is dipping its toes in the fixed wireless waters. The experiment is happening in Grundy, Va. Verizon said the opportunity seemed perfect to try a small fixed wireless pilot using Alvarion BreezeAccess VL gear. Verizon will use unlicensed spectrum at 2.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz to connect homes and businesses in line of sight of the base station. In addition it will use 900 MHz equipment to link harder-to-reach homes without a clear line-of-sight. Several other small counties have tried their hand with fixed wireless and done well in terms of rolling out broadband in the boonies. Meanwhile Clearwire, Craig McCaw’s latest project has finally gone live in Jacksonville, Florida.