Tag Archives: Playstation

HBO give us free! Cable, your days are numbered.

hbogo

I’ve been trying to contain my excitement over something I just heard.

“What’s that?” you ask.

Brace yourselves…

Next year you can get HBO without a cable subscription.

Now let it sink in.

Awesome right!?

I know.

Like many of you, I’ve got a two year contract with Fios for my TV, internet and phone.

When I switched from Comcast to Fios, I signed up for the bundled service with that great introductory price.

Once I added the DVR box, the additional set top boxes, and premium channels to the mix, that “great introductory price” went away.

And I end up with a bundle costing me a cool two bills a month.

Outside of the occasional on-demand movie or DVRd show I missed when it originally aired, I was just throwing away money with my cable subscription.

With the exception of HBO, I rarely watch anything on EPIX, STARZ, or any of the other premium channels I pay so dearly for.

So you can imagine my delight to hear that I’ll be able to decouple from cable and still get my HBO on.

Well maybe you can’t actually imagine my delight – but I am delighted damn it!

It’s true.

I started transitioning away from cable a few years ago when I got my Apple TV.

With Hulu Plus, Netflix, and iTunes, I’ve got access to virtually the same content as if offered on premium cable channels.

And the HBO GO app also allows me to watch all the content on that channel (albeit with my cable subscription) on the go.

The bigger thing for me, though, is not the decoupling of HBO from cable, it’s the precedent that HBO has set with this move.

Already, premium networks like EPIX, STARZ, ESPN, and Showtime have apps that let you access their content on demand.

With Apple TV, Roku, Chromecast, Amazon Fire and gaming systems like Xbox and Playstation all offering streaming services, once other broadcast companies follow suit, you’re no longer going to be beholden to the cable companies.

And soon(er than later) you’ll be able to cut the ties that bind (literally and figuratively) and get rid of that stupid cable bill.

We’ll have to see what kinds of deals HBO is able to strike with other set top box manufacturers, and how many of them ultimately end up carrying the channel.

But it’s definitely a sign of things to come.

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Filed under digital advocacy, technology

Techno zombies beware! You will be assimilated!

Walking down the street.

Waiting for the train.

Standing in line at Starbucks (or Dumb Starbucks).

You’ll see them.

Disembodied.

Half-human.

Staring bleakly.

Wide-eyed.

Faces illuminated.

Tapping furiously.

Oblivious to the world around them.

You know what I’m talking about. Don’t you?

You’re probably not even aware that you may one of them.

Zombies.

Techno-zombies to be exact.

What’s a techno zombie?

I thought I made it up, but the Urban Dictionary describes them as follows:

A person or persons who walk through public areas (shopping malls, sidewalks, etc) text messaging on their cellphones, not paying attention to their surroundings.

My definition is a little more expansive.

In my universe, a techno zombie is anyone whose life revolves around their device. Their every waking hour is devoted to an absolute (or near absolute) obsession with their device.

How do you know whether you’re a techno zombie or not?

Simple: answer the following questions.

When you get up in the morning, do you automatically check your phone or tablet?

When you head out the door, do you reflexively check your phone?

When you’re walking to the train or subway, do you frequently check your phone?

When you’re riding the train or  subway, are you checking your phone?

When you’re sitting in a meeting or on a conference call at your job, do you find yourself checking your phone?

At various points throughout the day, do you find yourself checking your phone?

Do you find yourself checking your phone even when you haven’t received an alert, buzz or notification prompt?

Have you ever experienced the ‘phantom vibration’?

If you answered “yes” to four or more of the questions above, you’re a techno zombie.

And I don’t want to hear that you’re always checking for missed calls.

You’re not that important and who actually calls anyone anymore?

You’re checking for a response to that last text message.

Or the latest Facebook post in your feed.

Maybe you just got an alert from the NY Times.

Or someone invited you to play Words with Friends.

Perhaps it was a notification that someone started following you on Twitter.

Whatever the reason, we have become a people inextricably tied to our devices.

Somehow, insidiously, we have slid from a people who thrive on physical interaction to ones who subsist virtually.

We have become the Borg.

Borg 1

Oh, I’m exaggerating, am I?

Check it.

The next time you leave your office, count the number of people walking down the block with their faces buried in their phones.

Walking and texting is so commonplace that one can navigate an entire city block without ever looking up.

Instead of bumping, pinball like, off other people, eliciting “Hey! Watch where you’re going!s” in your wake, people part like the Red Sea, allowing you to pass unaccosted.

Because no one wants to disturb you mid-text.

The next time you’re on the train, observe how many people whip out their devices and remain glued to them the entire ride.

Gone is the polite banter among riders, replaced by mutes, immersed in tiny screens.

The walking dead.

walking dead

Zombie-like we wander, shunning human interaction for virtual pleasure.

Seeking validation in likes, retweets and shares, instead of in the company of other people.

We have lost our individuality.

Subsisting instead, as part of a large undifferentiated mass of eyeballs, to be sold to the highest bidder.

And what is this collective to which we belong?

Who profits from our lack of individuality?

Facebook? The Government? Microsoft? Google? Apple?

Who knows?

We certainly don’t. Nor do we care.

Today, February 11th, is a rally to protest data collection by the NSA.

How many of us will be there?

How many of us are even aware of the data collection practices of the numerous carriers, apps, websites, and online service we happily sign up for?

Which of us actually takes the time to read the Terms and Conditions associated with using Gmail, or Facebook, or Instagram?

When was the last time you opted out of a request by a third-party app to “post on your behalf” when “signing up using Facebook?”

When was the last time you actually turned your phone off or (even more daring) left your phone at home? On purpose?

With all the data collection being done, hackers lurking around every public wi-fi spot, and swiss cheese privacy policies making your every keystroke fodder for marketers, I’m surprised that more of us are not alarmed at our steady decline into digital complacency.

Rather than fighting to ensure that we safeguard ourselves against the insipid practices of Big Brother, we’re checkboxing our way to our own demise.

And we’re taking our kids down with us too.

We happily hand our children Nintendo DSIs, Kindle Fires, PlayStations and Xboxes and wonder why they’re fat, lazy, with ADHD, short attention spans and don’t know how to socialize with their peers.

While my rant today may seem random, it was inspired by my own personal descent into digital oblivion.

The other day, I found myself staring downward, at my iPhone, as I made my way towards the train.

I had become that which I abhorred!

How often had I cursed the wayward walker ahead of me, bobbing and weaving, oblivious to all else but their precious device?

Imagine my shock to find myself the wayward walker.

When I got home, I took and hid all the kids’ electronic devices in the house, and none too soon.

I realized that my children were being assimilated and I was contributing to the their social demise.

Who knew how much longer I had before I was LOLing with my kids via text and ‘liking’ on Facebook instead of hugging and playing with them in real life?

Take this as a cautionary tale, my friends, before you too end up assimilated…

…or crumpled under the bumper of a car.

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Filed under advocacy, mobile

Digital Stewardship: PAL Digital U.N.I.Verse.City

A PAL Digital U.N.I.Verse.City workstation.

If you’re a forty-something like me, computer classes in high school involved learning to program in ASCII or DOS on a monochrome screen.

If you attended college, there may have been more advanced computer classes, for which you likely moved and stored content on floppy disks.

After college, you used a PC running some version of Windows at the job, and computer proficiency meant that you knew how to use Microsoft’s Office Suite.

You’re up on the latest gadgets, even if you don’t own an iPad or mobile tablet.

You probably have a smartphone, a laptop and an mp3 player.

And you probably consider yourself pretty savvy when it comes to digital technology.

Right?

Wrong!

We are dinosaurs!

Present company excluded, of course.

Today’s youth are exposed to technology, not as a stiff class taught by some bored out-of-touch professor, but as a natural extension of their everyday existence.

Their access to and adoption of technological gadgets, is second nature to them, almost intuitive.

And unlike us, who came into the ‘technological age’ of massive building-size ‘super computers,’ today’s youth have microprocessors in virtually every device they touch.

The Macbook Pros, Xboxes, Playstations, Wiis, Leapsters of today are tens of thousand times more powerful than anything we ever used growing up.

With Facebook, Twitter, texting, etc., kids are more immersed in interactive technology and applications than we ever were.

They can access and touch virtually any part of the digital universe, and regularly use technology to communicate, socialize and interact with one-another and others.

This intimacy, however, has it’s consequences, though.

Cyber-bullying, internet plagiarism, and the regular posting of questionable (and often inappropriate) content are norms, that we didn’t experience when we were using computers and cell phones.

Social media, as we know it today, didn’t even exist.

It’s no wonder that kids are acting…like kids, when they use them these different tools.

I think it’s important that we take stock of what our children are exposed to (from a digital, content and technological perspective), and give them real guidance on the appropriate and responsible use of technology.

To that end, I want to share a project that I’ve been working on with the Police Athletic League of New York City (PALNYC).

It’s called the PAL Digital Digital U.N.I.Verse.City and its a class being offered as part of an apprenticeship program.

The apprenticeship program is the initiative of Marcel Braithwaite, the Director of Centers for PALNYC.

Marcel manages PALNYC’s eleven (11) centers, located in the five boroughs of New York City.

And he wanted to develop a program that exposed kids to technology as a means of both skills/workforce development and keeping them off the streets.

The curriculum we are using for the program was developed by Mark Hines, a graduate of Princeton University, and the CEO and Founder of Marksmen Productions, Inc., a New York city-based creative agency.

Mark has designed a program that teaches real life skills to the youth, using live scenarios which give the students active participation in projects with real time results.

The Digital U.N.I.Verse.City (DU) is a six (6) month intensive audio, video and technology training program, tailored to students of varying degrees of technical proficiency.

Digital U.N.I.Verse.City classes meet two (2) times a week to provide students instruction in digital media production, it’s cultural impacts and ethical and moral responsibilities that accompany the use of these tools.

The program officially launches next Wednesday at the Harlem Center on 119th Street, and Digital Uni.Verse.City students will study media (news, tv, movies, music, art), how it is produced, and begin rudimentary hands-on manipulation of video and audio (DU101/102) in preparation for the Advanced Studio Workshop (DU201).

The Time Warner Center in the Harlem Center has been converted into the PAL Digital U.N.I.Verse.City classroom.

Students who successfully complete the intro courses will be invited to participate in the Advanced Studio Workshop, focusing on professional skill development in (one of the following) music production, audio/visual engineering, video production and direction, video editing, motion effects, journalism and musicianship.

Digital U.N.I.Verse.City instructors include many of our professional colleagues, who are experts in their respective fields.

From Grammy-winning musicians, to New York Times best-selling authors, the Digital U.N.I.Verse.City instructors will offer students hands-on training and skill development on live projects.

The Digital U.N.I.Verse.City curriculum starts with a review of the DU Acceptable Use Policy, which lays out the foundation for every student’s participation in the program.

Most people have never seen (much less read) an acceptable use policy.

But it is the most important thing, for people living in a highly interconnected digital world – and the point of this rambling post.

I helped to develop (read: wrote) our acceptable use policy, which came together after many long sessions, during which we worked diligently to draft something that actually made sense.

For the majority of people who have ever read (read: scanned) an AU Policy, you know its a statement by the owners, administrators or other gatekeepers of any digital or online environment, which provides a code of conduct that users must observe while utilizing (or as a member of) a particular system.

As an advocate for technology, the Digital U.N.I.Verse.City program, gives me a constructive way to address the issue of responsible use of technology by our youth.

More importantly, working on this project has forced me to address the fact that most of us operate without a set of guiding digital principles.

Obviously, I always promote best practices with my clients, and have helped draft numerous Terms of Use, Privacy Policies and various other online instruments governing the use of certain online programs or environs.

But that’s not quite the same thing, when the audience for my usual written verbosity is the youth.

Next Wednesday is our first class (did I say that already?) and I’m excited.

The pictures above were from our dry-run, when we set up the local Moodle we’re using for the class.

Be sure to look out for future posts about how the program is coming along.

Also, feel free to donate to or volunteer at your local PAL!

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