Mark Fleischmann

Mark Fleischmann  |  Feb 17, 2006  |  1 comments
To hear the music industry talk, you'd think its sinking profits were entirely the result of little criminals downloading copyrighted material and going hee-hee-hee. A thousand adults beg to differ. Polled by Ipsos on behalf of Rolling Stone and the Associated Press, they attribute record-company woes to: illegal downloads (33 percent), competing forms of entertainment (29 percent), music getting worse (21 percent), and too-costly CDs (13 percent). In other words, fans say two-thirds of the industry's problems stem from market forces. At least three-quarters buy CDs at least occasionally, and the vast majority don't download anything, either legally or illegally. Among those who do download, 80 percent regard illicit peer-to-peer sharing as tantamount to stealing, though only 38 percent care. The most common way of hearing about new music is not the Internet (4 percent) but FM radio (55 percent). Click the external link for full poll results.
Mark Fleischmann  |  Feb 16, 2006  |  1 comments
A problem with Blu-ray security technology will delay the launch of both Blu-ray and HD DVD by at least a few weeks, insiders have told a German security portal. The stumbling block is BD+, which allows updates of encryption schemes when they're hacked. While the BD+ component of the Advanced Access Content System is used only in Blu-ray, the delay in finalizing AACS will delay both formats. AACS LA, the standard-setting body, tried to resolve the problem last week but failed. The group will meet again next week and take another crack. In the meantime, HD DVD's slight product-debut lead over Blu-ray is dissipating. The HD DVD people must be fit to kill.
Mark Fleischmann  |  Feb 15, 2006  |  3 comments
Do you want your HD video-on-demand and want it now? Meet MovieBeam. The system sends data through the PBS broadcast network to a special MovieBeam antenna and set-top box. Load up on bits, in either high- or standard-def, and then you have 24 hours to watch the movie. Disney has talked the rest of the studios (except Sony) into supporting the venture, four years in the making. You'll need an HDTV with HDMI input to receive movies in HD, and as an added bonus, the HDMI output upconverts SD to 720p. However, the box outputs component video only at 480p. Pricing per movie is $4.99 for new HD titles, $3.99 for new SD titles, $2.99 for old HD titles, and $1.99 for old SD titles. Box and activation fee cost a total of $230 after rebate. MovieBeam is now available in 29 cities.
Mark Fleischmann  |  Feb 14, 2006  |  0 comments
The New York Philharmonic will soon offer newly recorded live material for downloading. A three-year deal with Deutsche Grammophon will bring four concerts per year to download services including iTunes (probably) and others (possibly). To see the significance of this, go to iTunes now and search New York Philharmonic. Nearly everything that comes up is an old CD title with Leonard Bernstein. Classical music has always had a modest slice of the market for recorded music, but it's tougher today, even for major orchestras, when they have to compete with their own recorded past. So they're off in search of new business models. The move into online distribution is a logical next step for the New York Philharmonic, already selling CDs under its own label. The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra launched its own MSO Classics label last year to sell downloads through iTunes, Rhapsody, Napster, and other services. At least one orchestra, the San Francisco Symphony, is also releasing its own multichannel SACDs.
Mark Fleischmann  |  Feb 13, 2006  |  2 comments
The file format that turned music distribution into free-for-all has acquired a watermark. Actually, a method of embedding digital rights management into MP3 is nearly two years old. But this latest wrinkle is not a thou-shalt-not anti-copying flag. It's more a method of identifying who has been doing what with downloads. A combination of psychoacoustic manipulation and spread-spectrum modulation makes the watermark inaudible to human ears, but it can be picked up by a watermark detector, and can survive both encode/decode processes and analog transmission. According to the Fraunhofer Institute, developer of both MP3 and the new watermark, "watermarking can provide a useful mechanism to track illicit copies or to attach property rights information to the multimedia content." Don't say I didn't warn you.
Mark Fleischmann  |  Feb 10, 2006  |  0 comments
Unique is not a word to throw around lightly. To be unique, a product has to be like nothing else out there. Even by the strictest standard, however, the Boomtube from Think Outside can wrap itself in the mantle of uniqueness. This little emperor is well clothed.
Mark Fleischmann  |  Feb 09, 2006  |  0 comments
Here are some fun facts about VEIL, one of the technologies underlying the Digital Transition Content Security Act of 2005—better known as the Analog Hole Bill:
Mark Fleischmann  |  Feb 08, 2006  |  0 comments
The maker of the world's coolest LCD TVs is now offering high-def-capable versions in screen sizes up to 42 inches. My favorite of the eight new design series is the 32-inch HANNSvibe ($1299), pictured here with its detachable speakers. HANNspree is also moving into plasma with the 50-inch HANNSskate ($4199). All big-screen models have ATSC and QAM tuners for reception of over-the-air and unencrypted cable channels. Also new from HANNspree are the G IT line of computer monitors from 15 to 23 inches, the seven-inch car-mount HANNSMobi with built-in DVD player, and the HANNSvidilink, a wireless 802.11a video transmitter and receiver that works at distances up to 300 feet. And the company is adding four Warner Bros. cartoon designs (including Bugs) to its Disney, NBA, and MLB series. The only thing the company isn't marketing is a TV based on my image and I expect to see that any day now.
Mark Fleischmann  |  Feb 07, 2006  |  2 comments
What major U.S. retailer is offering free streaming music videos recorded in its own studios? Nope, I'm not going to make it easy for you by running the company logo as artwork of the day. Hint: It's the same company that's forced the music industry to market censored versions of hit CDs. Still in the dark? It's also the same retailer that accounts for two percent of the U.S. economy, according to NPR Marketplace. I'm talking about Wal-Mart, of course. Check out Soundcheck on the company's homepage. The young and photogenic artist currently featured is Yellowcard (yup, that's them in the pic). Switchfoot has already been featured and Miranda Lambert is coming up. It's all a come-on for Wal-Mart's download service which offers WMA files at 128kbps (with DRM, of course) at a competitive 88 cents per track. iPod owners should note that while iTunes will convert WMA files to AAC, it will not convert WMA-DRM. Oh, and you Firefox and Safari users will have to swallow your pride for a few minutes and use Internet Explorer. That's what you get for making deals with the devil.
Mark Fleischmann  |  Feb 06, 2006  |  1 comments
I love Leo Kottke's virtuoso guitar playing. Still, I hesitated to buy his album Sixty Six Steps, with bassist Mike Gordon, when Amazon specifically warned: "This Sony CD includes SunnComm MediaMax Version 5 content protection software that may expose security vulnerability when played on PCs." I don't love anyone quite enough to put a MediaMax-tainted CD into my PC. And when I rip a new CD for use in my iPod, I prefer a nice clean MP3 to the WMA-DRM format dictated by MediaMax. The iPod doesn't accept WMA files with DRM.