Monday, April 14, 2008

StandBy! TV is broken!

We’re on our way as the doors are now open for the exhibits and sessions at NAB 2008! We can take down the “stand by” screen for NAB 2008. Welcome.

Then again, I was told that TV is broken!? What??? You be the judge. Read on....

Do you remember seeing this screen on TV? Maybe someone mentioned this screen to you? This graphic "please stand by" was often seen on early black and white TV broadcasts whenever a station had technical problems.

The solution to all these early TV problems came from people just like you - - - National Association of Broadcast members, conference attendees, engineers and innovators around the world took us to the next level.

(We still had stand-by screens in the days of color. You may have seen the color bars flash up on TV at various times. It's very rare to see problems over terrestrial TV channels today.)

We're not finished with the stand-by screen yet.

We’re seeing the same “problem-fixing” happening with the new “TV” on the net, on-line, on-air, anywhere on any device, a digital sign, or e-paper. The stand-by screens of today might be a little more colorful, and if there’s a glitch, we throw in a commercial, a promo or another video to cover the problem.

TV is Broken? The Innovation Transition

Richard Bullwinkle, on the founding team of TiVo, now at MacroVision told me, “TV is broken”. What he meant, I believe was that TV is evolving, but to the next generation, the TV of today will appear as very “broken!” I’d rather say we’re making it better.

Thomas Edison broke a lot of light bulbs on his way to electricity, but I would not relate his work to being “broken”.

Richard was emphasizing a point rather than telling us we are messing up. It’s important to say things need a little work, and are broken, as it provides the opportunity to get vendors and engineers to "fix" things, and more importantly we're responding to our listeners, viewers and multimedia consumers.

Bottom line. We’re innovating…and inventing, call it 'whatever', there is amazing work being done today. Broken, not a chance.

(Bullwinkle shared with me their latest Harris Interactive study hot off the research desk. I’ll pass on some stats/graphs in a few days since ironically this blogger is “broken” and having delays on posting images. I agree with Bullwinkle's thoughts, it's a sematics issue. Is it a half full or half empty?

Bye Bye “Stand By” screen? Not Yet.....

This “stand by’ graphic with the indian head is now only seen in books, museums or on the Internet. This once common screen to viewers in the United States is no longer in use.

It’s NOT really gone.

Today - we have our own version of stand-by screens. My Cable DVR always tells me to wait. A webcast or an on-demand video on the net, phone often displays a blank screen and the all too common words, "buffering" or "connecting" Other times, you'll get an error box saying a number of things, stream not found, a gibberish number, error message, downloading or even worse, your system stalls, sometimes calling for a reboot.

Here's a CNN graphic that is hard to see. It says that the live video will be up in the morning. It's not broken, even if your teen-ager thinks it's broken when they click on something and get a message like this.
Who would have have thought I'd be rebooting my TV? I do that every couple of weeks when my cable company or their cable set top box can’t manage the issues. Comcast is my provider, but they are not alone in solving these problems. In fact, I just got an email from Andrew Olsen from Comcast who is on his way out here, a great friend to digital media efforts, and was one of the people behind "" and a digital media innovator.

Let’s not forget pixelation, where the screen is garbled with tiny squares of gibberish, blips seen then and again Digital TV or Digital Terrestrial TV channels. Then there’s latency which is the waiting and waiting for the video to start playing on IPTV and other gadgets. Mobile TV and portable media viewing have their issues, but it’s amazing the difference if you look at today and ten years ago. It’s incredible what you, now the new media innovators have done!

And to our pioneering media friends, I haven’t heard of any system running 24/7 with 100%, or close to the reliability we have seen in years past on terrestrial TV.

We’re getting closer to the day when you click on any device, anywhere, your media will play instantly. The “stand by” screen that says “buffering”, “loading” “downloading” or “please wait” “rebooting” will be a thing of the past. Your children or grandchildren will never know of the problem.

It's amazing to think that we're going to have to explain to our children, or grandchildren that video came in on this big thick box, about a foot or so deep. Inside was a huge tube. They won't know what buffering means, and won't believe you when you tell them there were only a hanful of TV channels (or a few thousands) when you were young.

They will be upset if they click (or ask for) a live or on-demand program to begin and it doesn't start instantly. They'll be able to access their content anywhere, or their favorite display, at home, at work, in the car, at play.

Right now, I’d be happy to have Internet access or a cell phone that works in the convention center.

I had to stop writing and editing this because John Gage came in and was showing us different websites he likes. Blogging or John Gage. Good thing, this was getting way too long...and stand by!


peggy miles
see you on the Net

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