Archive for July 2009

The future of sports is streaming

July 30, 2009

So a few weeks ago during the Baseball All-star game I must have been busy. To busy to take in how genius this was. So you may know that I like streaming content. I watch almost all of my TV shows via a computer and a web browser. I love it because I can watch it on my time or at any point. Between Hulu and Netflix I am never short of things to fill my time.

Recently I have noticed a number of sports webcasting. The first one I noticed was March Madness. This was great especially at the beginning with so many games during the day at work.. You could stream any game so I could watch my beloved U of I Illini even though I was in Boston. Ultimately when the games were all in the evening I just watched it live on the TV, but it was still a good first try. The second one I noticed was Wimbledon. I love tennis and it worked very well. I actually watched the Men’s championship live on TV and streaming. The stream was a few seconds behind so I got automatic replays of good points.

While I like these options I understand the person who says, “Who cares?” The streams weren’t Hi-Def as far as I could tell and most people don’t have their TV hooked into their computer like I do. I mean even watching tennis is better on a 40 inch vs a 15 inch. So why would I say the future of sports is streaming? It came down to the all-star game. I wish I had realized how genius this stream cast was. I don’t have pictures, but this blog does a good job with screen shots.

Here is the key, TV is a broadcast only medium. It works great with professionals behind the scenes making sure you always get the best shot and always get the action, but that means you only get to see what they want you to see. Streaming can be interactive and the All-star game stream showed off just how good it can be. The first option is just to pick one camera angle to watch the game with. This could be anything from behind the plate, from the outfield, or just the outfield. You could also select 2 cameras to watch at the same time or 4 cameras to watch at the same time. All I can say is, “Wow, you just blew my mind.” It takes you from being a limited watcher to an interactive controller. You get to watch what you want to watch. It is the closest thing to literally being there, and perhaps better since you can watch multiple places at the same time. Suppose there is someone at first base and you want to watch him to see if he steals second. Now you can.

It is hard not see this as the next big step for consuming sports. At Wimbledon imagine being able to fix a camera on Federer and on Nadal. You get to see their form in its finest glory. In Football imagine watching the fixed camera on the QB while watching another cameras of up field. Now you can literally watch as the passing lanes open up or dissolve in a sack.

There are still some advantages to the traditional one-way broadcast medium. At first I was overwhelmed with my options during the All-star game. I also didn’t know what camera angle was best. Since you pick it and leave it it was possible to miss some action. But I think this is a minor issue to resolve. I kept changing cameras till I found the perfect balance.

Ultimately I see this as the future, I sure hope so at least. I would be willing to pay for this option if needed. $10 for all of Wimbledon, yea I’d do that. The price would have to be low, but it could be there. Of course offering it for free just makes it all the more compelling and likely more used. You can make a lot from advertising especially since the breaks are hard set due to the live TV streaming. Eventually people will figure out how to make all this work.

Adobe, I was wondering the same thing…

July 28, 2009

Why wait seven months to release a fix for a vulnerability that (for all intents and purposes) can’t be worked around?  Michael Kassner calls Adobe and MS out:

http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/security/?p=1992&tag=nl.e036

Mono and C# so whats the big deal?

July 23, 2009

There has been a controversy brewing for quite some time in the Open Source world. I’ve sort of stayed out of it because I didn’t fully understand exactly what was happening, and I wasn’t sure that I cared. Still there is good reasons if you are a programmer looking to do anything in the non-MS world with C# to at least be aware of this. I currently don’t have any C# training, but I am scheduled to take a class on it in the Spring. Finally I found an explanation that didn’t resort to needless flame wars. I think it is fair and balanced. Please click through, but I’ll post a few highlights. So you know mono is an open source project that ports .net framework to Linux and Mac. So this is where the controversy lies. It is porting over a Microsoft technology, and MS does not have a good track record with Linux or open source. Also, by way of background, there are a few very notable programs that are written with mono and are being considered as default programs in Linux distributions (tomboy, banshee, fspot, and gome-do).

Mono, the free software implementation of .NET (C#), has been the subject of bitter debate for eight years. Yesterday, that debate ended — or at least shifted to another level — with Microsoft’s announcement that it was extending its Community Promise to include the patents that left Mono possibly encumbered.

The greatest fear has been that Mono-based programs like GNOME’s Tomboy or F-Spot could be the source of a patent violation case by Microsoft against some or all of the community.

In 2001, Microsoft released a letter to ECMA in which it promised that use of the patents involved would be available on request on a “royalty free and otherwise RAND ‘Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory’ basis.”

However, as Miguel de Izaca, the founder of Mono and a Novell vice president, points out, “The problem with ‘RAND’ is that it doesn’t say what ‘reasonable’ means. It has to be reasonable, but it doesn’t have to be free. Microsoft stated publicly and on the ECMA committee that nobody had to pay, but they never actually went and published the license.”

And there is the problem. While C# looks like a great language with awesome capabilities the fact that MS holds patents and is a commercial entity leaves the door wide open to forcing Linux users to pay up.

As described on his blog, de Izaca plans to divided Mono source code into two repositories. One will include the ECMA-covered libraries, and the other Mono’s implementation of ASP.NET, ADO.NET, and Winforms. By making this division, de Icaza presumably hopes to make clear to developers at a glance what code they are working with.

I’m excited to learn C# and really have every intention to use it, but this does give me pause especially if I were starting a large project that needed mono (i.e for any platform other than Windows).

MS releases driver code for Linux… for MS

July 21, 2009

Microsoft recently released code (some 20,000 lines) for inclusion in the Linux kernel.  However, look a bit deeper…  They’re all about the M$.  So it has to be capitalistic.  Keep reading and you find that the drivers make it possible to run Linux on HyperV, MS’s new toy in the server market.  Here’s a good summary of how it looks right now:

http://blogs.zdnet.com/microsoft/?p=3403&tag=nl.e019

In the end, IT support…

July 6, 2009

…is all about the business.  We exist to enable business.  It’s pretty easy to get off course on that.

There are other segments of IT that deal in large ways with process change, compliance, and executive planning.  They guide the business in some ways, and we support folks should have some feedback to them, letting them know where processes are hitting walls so they can do their jobs.  But in the end, keeping a “serving” mindset is just another part of our job description.

I’m curious for insight you readers may have.  Let’s hear your thoughts.

ben

CS intro w/ Java and a bit of book review

July 1, 2009

I’m currently taking a basic Java course that’s supposed to go to the proper level to take the SCJA (Sun Certified Java Associate) certification, the first step in the Sun Java cert track.  Instead of using the standard book that my university recommends, I’m using Big Java by Cay S. Horstmann (ISBN 978-0-470-10554-2).  I’ll post a few thoughts here on this book.

So far so good.  I’m about four or five chapters in, and I think I have a good feel for the flow of the book.  I’ve done several other starter programming books (Zelle’s Python Programming: An Introduction to Computer Science, and an intro JavaScript course as well), but Big Java surprised me starting out.  Unlike some other courses that mainly start out with syntax and primitive data types, this one started out with class design and OO concepts.  It even teaches the student to use a few Swing components (JFrame and JOptionPane) early on in order to make the usual “monkey trick” exercises a bit more interesting.  I like this approach, as it makes the introductory chapters easier.

I like Horstmann’s writing style.  It’s concise and clear, and the code examples are good.  I have yet to find an error in any of the examples.  I’m reading it on Skillsoft Books 24×7, an online book service and it’s been good so far.  I do kind of wish I had the paper copy, but that’s just how I am.  Anyhow…

A big help to me was that I started with JavaScript and Python.  Java’s syntax is very similar to JavaScript’s, so it gave me a head start to coding in Java.  The combination of JavaScript’s syntax with Python’s OO perspective gave me a good foundation from which to move through Big Java.

One more thought – I’ve worked through some programming books that have virtually no exercises.  This, IMO, is a terrible way to help people learn.  If you’re writing a beginner book, you MUST provide practice opportunities for those who can’t come up with their own.  Big Java does a great job of providing practice opportunities at multiple complexity levels.  The exercises build on each other (to some degree), and I feel they are quite effective.

So I do recommend the book for a self-taught Java beginner.  I’ll post more about it as I go along.