Premiere Week Positive for Networks, But Don’t Call It a Comeback

One of the more memorable Monty Python bits is the “Bring out your dead!” segment from The Holy Grail. The poor subject of the joke pleading “I’m not dead yet!” is a fitting metaphor for the network TV world, which breathed a collective sigh of relief last week as new shows premiered with generally good numbers.

The concept of live network TV seems increasingly outdated as DVRs, iTunes and Hulu become more mainstream, allowing viewers to watch what they want, when they want. The industry itself even poked fun at its diminishing power during last week’s Emmy program.

But the networks got a bit of a reprieve as season premieres garnered respectable audiences. CBS (s CBS) was up 7 percent through the first four nights of the new season, with an average of 14.2 million viewers, writes The LA Times; and FOX (s NWSA) was up 35 percent to 9.4 million, thanks to a big bow for House.

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Apple Implements App Ratings/Restrictions for iPhone, iPod Touch

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The fact that they included parental controls for games in the 3.0 beta sort of hinted at this, but along with the iPhone 3.0 update today came app ratings, which appear rather inconspicuously under the app’s price and buy button on the detailed info screen. It also appears next to an app’s name in the list view of the iTunes store browser.

Interestingly, all apps appear to be getting a rating, as I checked out even one so innocuous as HP’s MediaSmart Server iStream app and found that it was “not yet rated.” It may be that all harmless utilities will receive this nondescript side-stepping of a rating going forward. Read More about Apple Implements App Ratings/Restrictions for iPhone, iPod Touch

NIMF Backs ESA on iPhone Game Ratings; ESRB Says Bring It on

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Support is growing for some kind of ratings system for the games found in Apple’s (s aapl) App Store for its iPhone and iPod touch platform. Adding its voice to those already calling for ratings implementation, including the ESA and the ESRB, is the National Institute on Media and the Family (NIMF), a not-for-profit organization dedicated to “watch[ing] what our kids watch,” or basically conducting research on the effects (both positive and negative) of media on children.

Unlike the ESRB, which, as at least one commenter pointed out in a previous post, may have a vested interest in pushing Apple to adopt its ratings system, NIMF simply wants some kind of ratings system in place to protect children, but not necessarily an ESRB-controlled solution. Read More about NIMF Backs ESA on iPhone Game Ratings; ESRB Says Bring It on

ESRB Wants App Store Games to Be Rated

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You may or may not have noticed that among the new features coming in iPhone OS 3.0, due June 17, are parental control settings that prevent users from downloading audio and video material from the iPhone store that comes in above a certain rating, determined by whomever sets the iPhone’s content filtering password. My money’s on tech-savvy teens finding the settings pane and creating a password before their parents even hear about the feature.

One of the problems with the system, considering the current set-up of the iTunes’ store, is that game content is not rated like movie and music is, so if no further changes are made, the filter won’t prevent kids from downloading any game they want. The Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) would like to do what they already do best, and help make sure that doesn’t happen. Read More about ESRB Wants App Store Games to Be Rated

Apple Brings Parental Controls, 3G Data Failure to iPhone OS 3.0

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Another new feature has surfaced in iPhone OS 3.0 beta 5 (though it appears to have been available in beta 4, I just discovered), and this one should come as welcome news to beleaguered and frustrated developers dealing with inappropriate content-based rejection. Parental controls are now available on the iPhone, just as was hinted recently in a rejection letter to the developer of Newspaper(s), a news aggregation app.

The new controls should also please Trent Reznor, who recently had a very high-profile and vocal (albeit one-sided) argument with Apple (s aapl) over their rejection of an update to his app for objectionable content. Much like Google’s Safe Search filtering, they allow iPhone owners to restrict the types of apps which are allowed to be installed on their iPhone. This means that poor little Johnny might soon have to go without Bikini Blast, for instance, if his parents get wise to the new features. Read More about Apple Brings Parental Controls, 3G Data Failure to iPhone OS 3.0

Consumer Reports Gives Apple Notebooks Top Marks

consumerreportsIf the FTC wants to investigate suspiciously chummy partnerships, they should look at the June installment of Consumer Reports. It reads like a love letter to Apple (s aapl), and the primary reason for the schoolgirl crush appears to be the oh-so-sexy notebooks coming out of Cupertino. Which notebooks? Just about all of them, actually. Every portable computer category saw a MacBook taking top honors. A clean sweep is a pretty nice way to start off the summer.

In the 13-inch category, Apple took all of the top three spots, with the Unibody aluminum model in first, the MacBook Air in second, and the white plastic MacBook capping the trifecta in third. The 15-inch MacBook Pro won the top spot in the 14- to 16-inch notebook class, and the 17-inch MacBook Pro beat out all comers in the 17- to 18-inch category. As mentioned, they had no competition on the podium in the 13-inch category, while Toshiba, Asus, Dell (s dell) and Lenovo all offered second- and third-place machines for the other two categories. Read More about Consumer Reports Gives Apple Notebooks Top Marks

Apple Declares No More Uninformed Reviews, App Store Ratings Jump

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Once upon a time, anyone who wanted to could post a review of any app available in Apple’s (s aapl) App Store. You could just drop in on the top paid apps list, prepare a number of scathing single-star reviews based on the outrageous prices of each app, and possibly make a significant dent in their overall rating (especially if you were looking at some of the international stores, where there aren’t nearly as many ratings as there are in the U.S.).

It was misleading, it was petty, and it was stupid. Luckily, Apple did away with most of that nonsense when they limited the ability to review to people who’ve actually purchased an app. What remained, however, were all the spurious reviews made prior to the ban, with no way for users to distinguish between the two, and still affecting the app’s cumulative score. Read More about Apple Declares No More Uninformed Reviews, App Store Ratings Jump

iTunes Tip: Remembering to Rate Your iTunes Music

My life is busy (and yes, if you’re wondering, it is all about me), and frequently I tend to rip or download music without taking the time to apply ratings to it. Since ratings are one of the best methods for determining the usefulness of your playlists, neglecting to add that information to your tracks can really handicap the power iTunes offers.

Some pondering of the issue (and a putrid burning smell) led me to come up with a Do It Yourself kind of solution that everyone can institute without spending anything more than a little time. If this sounds like something useful to you, feel free to follow along at home.
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