Monday, January 5, 2015

The Culver City, CA SuperCharger and my first "real" commute in LA traffic

Much different than the Hawthorne SuperCharger experience. 12 bays in a mall parking lot just off the 405 near Culver City. Easy access. A short walk to the mall yielded lots of opportunities for coffee, food, etc. 

However, the best part of today was my first full traffic commute in LA traffic using the HOV lane. Probably saved me 30 minutes x2 today and the experience between the smooth ride and the seamless phone and Internet podcast integration made everything almost enjoyable.  And very productive. 

Loving this Tesla. Wednesday I am planning to drive it to CES. 

Sunday, January 4, 2015

My First Tesla SuperCharger Experience

I picked up my Tesla from Van Nuys, CA, on NY's Eve, so the opportunities to get out on the road to put some mileage on the car have been slim. However, my daughter has a volleyball tournament today about 2 miles from the Hawthorne SuperCharger location (near the Space X facility) which provided the perfect opportunity to try it out.

First, it was not easy to find. It is literally in the middle of the industrial Space X complex. Even the sign by the guard shack told me to take a different entrance, but the guard thankfully came running out before I could reverse to tell me to come thru anyway.

I had some trouble getting the Supercharger nozzle into my port (turns out I was just pushing strong enough), but it gave me the opportunity to try to roadside service number. The person on the phone was extremely helpful to the point of even suggesting nearby places to eat, etc.

The weekend guard (it is Sunday) opened up the facility a little late (about 0920), but was friendly and courteous. Clean bathrooms, Tesla merchandise, the Tesla Model X on display, and a vending machine for drinks. It looks like there would be coffee but the guard says that is only during the week (odd decision).

The charger was pushing about 180 miles of rated charge per hour, so I only need to kill about 20 minutes before I was ready to get back on the road (enough time to right this blog and check my email on my iPad).

While I think they experience can and should be better, I am pleased. Looking forward to trying the one near the mall in Culver City next week...







@ChuckParkerTech

Location:W 126th St,Hawthorne,United States

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Streaming 4K - is it ready?


I find it fascinating that the first 2 "network" options I have for watching 4K content are from Netflix and Amazon. DirecTV has announced a 4K channel in the future,

Netflix announced their capability sometime ago and even though I bought a 4K TV a few months ago, it was only a few weeks ago that I tried out the capability. 

I have to admit I spent some period of time trying to figure it out. I could not get the 4K option work on my XBox One or FireTV, etc, and then finally read up and realized I had to use the Netflix app in the   Samsung TV itself to see the content options. 

Netflix looks gorgeous in 4K. There is a dedicated "row" of content options for 4K. However, despite the fact that I have 45 Mbps of bandwidth, it does buffer and crash the app...a lot. 

Amazon, which announced their option only 2 days ago, is a much bigger challenge for content discovery.  I cannot find a 4K area on the UI, but was able to search for content on my phone. Ironically, looking up a CNET article was the best source for finding available content. There was a lot of rebuffering, though unlike Amazon, it did not crash the app.

I did a bunch of comparisons to 2K content on the Xbox and was hoping the 4K upscale would be nearly as good, but it wasn't. 

So I am glad the shift to higher quality content has started, but we are a long ways from this being a viable, main stream content option. 



Saturday, December 6, 2014

Home Automation - WeMo WiFi Bulbs

I wanted something to be able to automatically control the garage light settings as well as the front porch. Already had a few WeMo switches for lamps and light switches for bed rooms.

Easy install. Took about 4 minutes total. 
Functionality is great. Of course, unlike with a switch installation, you need to leave them "on" so this really only works in places where you aren't wanting to turn on the lights at other times (without getting out the app). 

Bought a few of the Sylvania IQ bulbs to go with this (front porch). Also very easy to add to the app.

You can get all of this on Amazon with this search.


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Casting for Second Screen Continues to Improve

If you read our research a few months ago, you noticed that casting via the Google/Netflix API driven capability has continued to improved across a multitude of apps.

However, a recent review of YouTube and Netflix in my own digital living room (yes, not the average home) reveals that the pair of apps continues to update their list of capable devices in a pretty aggressive fashion. In the image below (Netflix) you can see they have added Amazon's FireTV, the Xbox One, and the latest Samsung TVs (at least). Full disclosure, I don't have a PS4 to test against. It did not detect my Roku. My Amazon FireTV stick requires the user to select a casting mode before the apps will detect it. 

Of course the "rest" of the casting apps (HuluPlus, Flixster, etc) still only detect the Chromecast device itself. A likely scenario is that Google and YouTube will continue to push the envelope (they require new apps to enable casting to get onto their device) and others will follow. 

The other likely result is that the value of casting as a feature for sharing 2nd screen content will grow but the value of the Chromecast device itself will diminish over time. 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

THE FINAL BARRIER TO MEDIA WORKFLOWS IN THE CLOUD

It seems everywhere you look these days there is something about “the Cloud” in front of you.  Twitter, LinkedIn, the tech press, and seemingly every press release you read has the various players in the Media and Entertainment industry describing what they can do for you in the cloud.
The promise of the cloud is BIG.  At its most basic level, there is the opportunity for a company  to turn its fixed investments in CAPEX into variable (or “burstable”) spend when required as OPEX.  For smaller companies and companies without legacy infrastructure this is potentially the best way forward so that their costs are directly tied to their revenue stream whether those requirements are storage, transcoding or rendering for post production and visual effects work flows.  For larger and more established companies, it is the opportunity to exceed current infrastructure capacity to take on that surprise project.  It is also the opportunity to set an investment level threshold where companies  build to the “trough” rather than the “peak” for the inherent variability in the media industry business season.
But this isn’t a new promise in the IT world.  Back in the early 2000s, this promise was held out to the largest companies in the guise of “outsourcing”.  What’s changed now?  First, CEOs and CFOs in the M&E industry are well educated now about “cloud” and understand enough to know that their businesses should be at least experimenting with workflows in the cloud.  Additionally, the “burstable” nature of the cloud means that businesses can actually “test drive” new capabilities in their workflows without significant investment or risk to their business.  These two structural changes have resulted in a proliferation of growth in “back office” workflows across industries.  SaaS (which is the ultimate cloud approach where the application and infrastructure are “by the drink”) has been a driving force here, allowing companies to put their expense systems, HR systems, and even sales and CRM systems into the cloud (think SalesForce.com) with great success for the companies who are deploying them.
But putting production systems into the cloud has been elusive.  These applications are both complex and customized to the point where SaaS is not really an option.  Even when two companies are using the same rendering application for their workflows, they are often managing their compute and storage in entirely different ways.   So the industry has coined a new term to attempt to educate the CxO suite on how to approach this landscape – IaaS – or “Infrastructure as a Service.”  At its most basic level, when you retain control of the application but are leaning on the cloud for storage or compute resources, this IAAS term describes your approach to leveraging the cloud.  But while this approach has better economics and risk models than the “outsourced” approach in the industry from 10 years ago, it isn’t exploding at the rate you would expect with its promise of “on demand” and “less investment”.
So what is holding the M&E industry back from investing in the cloud for its primary workflows?
Two things: security and connectivity.
Security.  While every major cloud provider goes to some length to describe what kind of security protocols their customer’s  data lives in while on their servers, we still hear horror stories every day about large companies being hacked for their valuable resources (Target and Home Depot are the most recent infamous incidents).  In our specialized industry, all of us know that one single breach of pre-release materials can be the death of a company and no amount of promised encryption, even when from established and emerging cloud platforms, can alleviate those fears.  Further, if the project you are working on isn’t your IP, you are likely already bound by contract to use certain security measures that preclude using “public” cloud infrastructure for your workflows.  The ability to audit security processes and posture is important to trusting partners in the service chain and remains a requirement for the most important content workflows.
Connectivity.  The challenge of delivering the promise of “burstable”,
“on demand” storage and compute power to these resource intensive applications comes down to the internet’s age old axiom: sustainable bandwidth.  While there are plenty of companies that can drop a multi-gig connection to a cloud provider, there are few that have the expertise to connect your application into the cloud resources right to where they need to be and integrate with your existing network and workflow – taking account of aspects like low latency requirements.  Even then, just finding a “large pipe” for your data doesn’t complete the business model—if you cannot get your bandwidth to be as “burstable” as your storage and compute power, the investment model for cloud falls apart.
So at Sohonet, we believe the key to unlocking the M&E industry’s “cloud potential” is the ability to offer studios, post production houses and visual effects companies options for getting their applications connected to public and private cloud infrastructure in a manner that meets their low latency and security requirements while still meeting the “on demand” business model to support their ability to “burst” into the cloud for production.
We believe that the M&E industry will embrace a mix of three approaches to meet their production workflow and business model requirements.  Inherent to all three approaches is unlimited or inexpensive egress (essential for the unpredictable production process), improved security posture, and (most critically) access to 24/7 support resources that understand their unique workflow requirements.
  • Low-cost access to generic compute and storage resources (public cloud) coupled with sustained low-latency bandwidth that includes unlimited egress.
  • Access to application-specific low-latency and/or industry standard security approaches (private cloud) for storage and compute resources coupled with sustained low-latency bandwidth that includes unlimited egress.
  • High-speed, burstable connectivity to major cloud providers where the support for the application and security are already “in-house” and the only missing component is the “burstable” bandwidth directly into their resource center that provides the lowest possible latency and inexpensive egress while still improving the security posture.
We believe that access to cloud resources is critical to the industry’s progression along ever-increasing data storage and compute requirements as 4K workflows begin their progression to 8K and High Dynamic Range workflows and while 4K consumption becomes mainstream in consumer homes.  As the trusted communications partner for the M&E industry Sohonet is committed to providing the same Fast, Flexible and Phenomenal customer service that has built our brand and reputation over the past 15 years, and that delivering on the promise of “Connected Cloud Services” is critical to our customers’ future.
Chuck Parker- Executive Chairman, Sohonet

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Sports and Second Screen - The Winning Combination

1.    Introduction: the winning combination!

Sports are big for TV. To be convinced of this, just look at the amount paid by BT to broadcast the football games of the European Champions league: £900m ($1.5bn/€1.1bn). As BT won the football rights, BSKYB the losing bidder saw its share price drop 11%[1] and £1.3bn ($2.1bn/€1.6bn) was wiped off its market capitalisation in one day. Clearly, the loss of football games rights was seen as a major risk to its future profitability[2]. According to the Telegraph, BSKYB even lobbied Champions League officials for three days to reopen the bid after it was excluded from the auctions.
Sports are big for TV because it can draw a huge number of fans who are ready to pay for content. Together with Hollywood blockbusters, sports form the basis of pay TV. Contrary to films, sports is also very big for 2nd screen.  Nielsen compiled the below statistics[3] that shows that sports is the main driver for tweets about TV shows. Forget about the “X-Factor”, and the US Presidential race--this is all about the Super Bowl; 50% of tweets about TV are about sports. Why do sports events drive so much social TV activity? This is due to the nature of fans and of sports events themselves. Sports fans are really engaged and very emotional about their teams and players. Sports events are broadcasted live and drive immediate reactions.