Category Archives: Tech

Changing My Mind About Publishing in Today’s Media Landscape

I pulled into Kroger’s tonight, and what I felt was a good poetic line seemed to flash into me —like so many do that don’t necessarily have a direct meaning consciously, but feel like they came from another place and I am just the receiver and feel like they are pointing towards something that is deep and true.

Normally I’d put the line in Notes like I’ve done hundreds if not thousands of times before and that’d be the last I’d see of it. Today I said, “Screw it, let’s post it.” And there from my car, from my Chrome browser on my iPhone 7+ I opened up my WordPress, created a new post and typed in the line. After I hit save, another line came to me that I added, and while I was in the store a third.

We’ll see how this experiment goes, but my point is, something keeps calling me toward this way of doing things in “real time” as the phrase goes.

Here’s another example with music. A few months ago, I had a somber tune (sweet sad) come to my head on a Saturday night about like this one, and right here in front of this iMac I propped my iPhone, opened up Garageband and recorded it, knowing it would be my next single.

But then a case of the “perfections” came in, and I still haven’t published it. I feel now like I should have gotten it out there, if not that night, for sure within the next week, even if it had a bracket of (Demo) beside it on Spotify. Now so many months later, the tune has sort of lost its “spark” inside of me, and even if I could lay down a technically better performance from taking my time, it would have lost its emotional spark that getting it at the moment or close to the moment would give.

Of course ten years ago, much less twenty or thirty, this would have been a ludicrous approach, but as an example, I was just listening to Rick Beato talking about the B-Side Police single “Murder by Numbers” and as much as I love Synchronicity. I would just absolutely love as much a sort of “B-Side” album of the band recording the whole album live in the same mode of “Murder by Numbers” — mistakes and all.

The great Carver Mead said “Listen to the Technology.” My gut is telling me that the technology, offering itself like this with its focus on immediacy, is telling us to publish, even in the formal arts of poetry and music, with the same immediacy that social media does.

Twitter Should Take Some Notes from Peach

I think Twitter should take notes: Instead of thinking how to make it easier to use, think of how to make Twitter more Fun, Creative, and Useful alà Peach and Google Now. Twitter feels stale, like it has hardly innovated since 2006, and it feels like its catering to brands and celebrities instead of the user. I wouldn’t accuse Google of having Social and Fun in their DNA, but one does feel like they are constantly innovating, in the name of the user, trying to make themselves more useful. Peach also has a personal, interested in the user first, mentality. They’re coming at if from the fun, creative side, but there are seeds of service popping up like the “move” and “song” magic buttons. I’m having fun in Peach, which keeps me in there, and going back more often, and in this attention economy, that quality is hard to overestimate. Twitter should be thinking in terms of pushing into “personal digital assistant” in as much as being a public message bus.

How to Delete All Songs from iPhone Quickly

“Connect your iPhone to iTunes, go to the Music tab and uncheck Sync Music and press Apply to resync.” – from “Randers4 on the Apple Support Forums. (This worked for me and took only a couple minutes, even with 2000 songs, to complete).

Man, iTunes is just crazy, and drives me crazy.  But anyway, the reason I needed to do this: My old iPhone 4 was filled up to where I couldn’t update anything, and in this age of Spotify, I’m not listening to any of the music on my phone’s library. Now my photos and videos are taking up as much space, but my trust in iPhoto is just as weak, so I’m afraid to delete all photos at once, because I’m just sure there’ll be some in there that I have only one copy of. Ugh!

At first when I googled it said to “Uncheck” the unwanted songs and then Re-Sync. But you have to do that one by one! I’m not going to sit there and uncheck 2000 songs! Well actually I started to, and then realized the insanity and futility. Then something weird happened. I Googled some more to see if there was a way to Uncheck all the songs at once. One guy said to, within iTunes, click Edit>Select All, as if that was a way to mass uncheck all the songs. But that didn’t work. It scared me because, after I did that, and again started “re-unchecking” songs, the songs would disappear as I unchecked them. I thought, “OMG, am I deleting them from my computer or phone or both!?!?!?!?!”
Turns out, luckily, I wasn’t. For whatever reason the “Unchecked” songs, as I unchecked them were being moved to the bottom of the page, automatically. Phew! But still crazy. Now, I just went back and clicked Edit>Select All, clicked around the left side of the iTunes window, to the left of the check boxes, and the display seems returned to normal, with the Unchecked and Checked songs together in their normal order.

OK, so finally I found the simple answer on how to delete all my songs at once. It’s the 8th response down, from “Randers4” on this page in the Apple Support Forums: https://discussions.apple.com/thread/3593697?start=0&tstart=0

He simply states: “Connect your iPhone to iTunes, go to the Music tab and uncheck Sync Music and press Apply to resync.”

Boom! And that was it. Did the trick. They were all deleted in seconds, and I freed up space to do my iOS update as well as app updates.

Now, as to how to go in there and selectively add back songs, perhaps things I can’t get on Spotify, or for when I’m out of connectivity range, I don’t know what the best practice is. I saw somewhere that using Playlists was the best way, you add the things you want on the phone to a certain playlist, and when you connect your phone there’s an option to only Sync certain “selected” playlists.

But I’m not worried about that now. I just wanted to free up space so that I could update. And I really appreciate Randers4 plain English, one sentence response. Why can’t Apple explain things so that a human being can understand? I mean, do you know if you go into “Help” within iTunes that there is utterly no topic on deleting songs from your phone? The craziness stupefies me.

Why Netflix Inc (NFLX) Won’t Raise Prices and What Their Real Endgame Is.

I don’t think Netflix is interested in raising their subscription price or tiered pricing. I think they look at the subscription like Magazines and Newspapers in the pre-digital days looked at subscriptions: a validation of intent and also to show the content creators the legitimacy of their audience. I think Netflix’s endgame is to become the “de-facto” global distribution network for digital motion pictures, tv, and entertainment. When that happens, then so many other options for revenue enhancement open up. Paid placement at the top of the page when you sign in, al lá “House of Cards,” for instance, and then also one can imagine theaters dying altogether, and Netflix being THE place the next big James Cameron or Ridley Scott release. That kind of thing is what I envision, and I think* that’s what they are shooting for.

If one wants to dream hard, since we are on the heels of it, wouldn’t a Global audience paying a modest but fair price, not only sufficiently finance the Super Bowl, but perhaps bring the NFL even more money and exposure, in a more satisfying and efficient way for both the content creators and the audience?

I think so.

The CEO of Citigroup at Davos said that the main economic themes right now are Globalization, Digitization, and Urbanization. It would seem to me that a company like Netflix is not only the beneficiary of, but leading the charge in at least two of the three of those trends.

Addendum: In Response to the article:  What if Netflix, Inc. (NFLX) Is Wrong? from InsiderMonkey.com

I think it makes the medium better and more enduring overall. It can be consumed more like a novel. And if the medium is strengthened that gives more leverage and incentive to make a better product. At the end of the day I think it comes down to whether the show or movie is good or not. That’s the value proposition. What this is, is an innovation in the distribution proposition. All business comes down to two variables: Value + Distribution. This new model is, of course, aimed at greater viewer satisfaction, which of course leads to subscriber growth and more distribution leverage. But is also interesting to think how innovation in Distribution could possibly also affect, in a positive way, the quality, i.e. ‘value’, of the content, the product itself.

Why Netflix Will Become THE Global Distribution Channel for Filmed Art & Entertainment.

House of Cards Promo(Editor’s note: I wrote this piece originally in response to this article from TheStreet.com:  Amazon vs. Netflix: Jeff Bezos Could Squash Reed Hastings Like a Bug)

A) I’ve been an HBO subscriber since the 80’s, watched almost everything on it, and “House of Cards” is totally as good as anything that has ever been on HBO, better than most. (I’ve seen the first three episodes, and wait until you see Spacey’s mind blowing performance in #3). B) Netflix is not competing against Amazon, nor HBO. I’m a subscriber to Netflix and Amazon instant, and even together their cost is 1/10th of my DISH bill. And if HBO had a stand alone $10/mo app, I’d sub to it too, and my cost would still be way lower, but more importantly my value would be greater. Think about the power of that: Greater Value and Much Less Cost. Netflix is competing against cable & satellite TV. And they are going to crush them. C) It’s about distribution. Hollywood cares as much about distribution as it does cash money. Perhaps even more so. Netflix has 30 million subs and growing. How many “Instant” subs are there? 30 million people all seeing “House of Cards” promoted on the front page of Netflix. That’s powerful. How much is that worth? And it’s growing. And it’s Global. Being released Globally at the same time as its being released in the US. I think that is a first ever for any TV show or Motion Picture. That is very attractive to the best writers, actors, producers and directors. Netflix and it’s model are the future: Digitization, Globalization, and Urbanization, and their endgame is to be THE Global distribution channel of filmed digital arts and entertainment, and they will succeed. They’ve already entered escape velocity. 5 years from now they’ll have at least 100 million subs, but more likely closer to a quarter billion. And once again, it’s not the $8/mo from those subs that’s the real power. It’s the distribution and reach of the platform and brand.
You see, at the end of the day, it’s all about distribution. Yahoo Finance gives you distribution for this article about Netflix. Google Finance doesn’t. Luckily, Finance is one category Yahoo does lead in. I leaned this from Dave McClure on Twitter: Business = Value + Distribution. There’s no question about Netflix’s value proposition. So, all these years it’s main focus of energy has been in building distribution, and now it has succeeded and will continue to grow massively.

Considering an Investment in Pandora ($P) in Light of Spotify, Rdio, and Songza

I really fell in love with Pandora a year or two ago. I think the market cap was treading around 2 billion. I told myself that if the Market Cap hit 1.5 billion, I’d make an investment. Well, I haven’t logged it, but it seems like it must have bounced off 1.5 billion about 7 or 8 times in the last year and a half. Seems like it’s bounced between about $9.50-and $11.50 about the same many or more times during this period. From that perspective it seems it would make a great “Channeling” stock, as the traders call them.

But then, a couple months ago, I subscribed to Spotify, and from a consumer point of view I haven’t looked back. I love it so much. I thought I might still use Pandora occasionally for “discovery” but since then Spotify has launched their own “Radio” feature. So, for myself, I literally can find no reason to use Pandora anymore.

Still, I have Pandora (P) on my “Stock Watch” list. I still believe it’s part of the bigger paradigm of all media moving to the digital. So I still think it would probably be a good investment, just on the general paradigm itself. It’s hard for me to make an investment in a product that I don’t use, though. If, however that changes, and they launch some new features that make me want to use it again, I’m sure I’ll even be more excited.

Being in this state of wondering whether to invest or not, I was happy to come across this GigaOm article today: Despite New Competition Pandora Grows It’s Users

The take away is that Pandora is still growing fast in registered users and total minutes per month of listening, but the number of minutes per registered user is actually decreasing, which is weird, until I think about it: I’m a registered user, and my usage has dropped to Zero because Spotify finally picked me off. Back when I was in love with Pandora, I thought, I’d never pay a subscription, but I think seeing Spotify constantly in my Facebook Newsfeed finally wore me down. Like Ogilvy said about advertising: The first time you see an ad, you curse it. The tenth time you see it, you’re writing a check out for the product. Anyway, the GigaOm post inspired me to comment on his site, which I copy and paste here:

“I was a big Pandora fan last year, and I told myself I’d make an investment at a 1.5 billion market cap, which it’s close to now, and has bounced off of several times, but since I’ve become a Spotify Subscriber, or actually since Spotify launched their “Radio” feature, I don’t see any need to go back to Pandora. That’s what keeps me from making an investment, myself. I don’t use it. But I do believe it will grow with the whole digital revolution, as you mention. It definitely had a head start on mobile and has brand recognition.
Once crucial feature of Spotify and Rdio, which seems so vane and egotistical, yet very potent, is the sharing what you listen to to Facebook. I mean even if I own an album, I usually will prefer to listen to it on Spotify, to show everyone what I’m listening to, especially if the record or artist is considered “hip.” I guess Pandora has this feature, but I never see it in my feed. I constantly see Rdio and Spotify in my feed though, which obviously is also free and invaluable advertising for them too. I don’t know why Pandora doesn’t copy all of Spotify’s features (assuming they can) just as Spotify has copied one of the crucial features of Pandora: Discovery.”