Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: You've gotta hand it to Steve

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  • Mark Easterbrook,

    A better question might be: "If the police could attract more recruits who are Public Address readers, would we start to move towards a more modern, intelligent police force?"

    A campaign like the 'better work stories' one is aimed at attracting different kinds of people who might not have considered it as an option in the past. A bit like politicians and teachers, often the best people to be police officers are the ones who didn't start out wanting to be one.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 238 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    Bob Lefsetz take on Jobs / EMI (and I think its April 2 in the US now)

    One small step for mankind, and one half-step back. It would be like Neil Armstrong getting to the moon and not getting out. I mean if you’re going to go all that way…

    This is the kind of bullshit pussyfooting that got the labels into hot water to begin with. If anything, tracks should cost LESS!....

    And, yes, I imagine Campbell will be thinking, why don't our masters tell us these things are about to happen, although to be fair EMI have indicated fairly strongly in recent months it was about to go this way

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3201 posts Report Reply

  • Nigel Caughey,

    I actually did quite alot of work with NIWA & Metservice in the last half of the 1990s, Augie is so far off base here it is not funny.
    The core issue is that MetService do not concentrate on quality New Zealand forcasting, in order to make money as a SOE they have expanded globally, which in a small organisation inevitiably leads to dissipation of skills.
    I would prefer if NIWA had their role expanded to taking over MetServices core weather forecasting role, more like the Bureau of Meterology in Australia, with Metra being one of multiple providers of that data in commercial formats.
    Personally I found NIWA fantastic to work with their focus on weather and accurate visualisation of that weather, MetService is very much an organisation with a split personality.

    Paihia • Since Nov 2006 • 14 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew Smith,

    Nigel, I'd be interested in a brief explanation as to why "Augie is so far off base here it is not funny".

    Since Jan 2007 • 150 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew Dubber,

    While this might be a good moment to say a quick 'hooray' for the demise of DRM in the face of common sense, it's probably also worth highlighting the fact that EMI just repaired a faulty product, put the price up and called it 'premium' -- and wound up with a good batch of PR to boot.

    Meanwhile Steve Jobs gets the credit for persuading a major record label to ditch DRM despite the fact that the IFPI announced that the majors were walking away from DRM months ago.

    I am impressed with all the cleverness.

    Birmingham, UK • Since Nov 2006 • 17 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    As far as I can see, the weather war is the consequence of an ideologically-driven fuckup akin to the splitting of the Ministry of Justice functions in the 1990s. The forecasting arm was split from its research base in an unhelpful way.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18521 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    While this might be a good moment to say a quick 'hooray' for the demise of DRM in the face of common sense, it's probably also worth highlighting the fact that EMI just repaired a faulty product, put the price up and called it 'premium' -- and wound up with a good batch of PR to boot.

    Meanwhile Steve Jobs gets the credit for persuading a major record label to ditch DRM despite the fact that the IFPI announced that the majors were walking away from DRM months ago.

    Yes, but as I explained in the post, I think it's been done with maximum cleverness. Apple had to shift on price at some point, and combining the no-DRM with a doubling of bitrate (256k AACs sound really good, in my experience) was a sweet way of doing it. And don't forget, the pricing of albums hasn't changed.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18521 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Austin,

    Well that parody of the police ad campaign has totally tainted the real campaign in my head at least. Not that I was planning on applying to the police force.

    London • Since Nov 2006 • 869 posts Report Reply

  • bob daktari,

    Yes, but as I explained in the post, I think it's been done with maximum cleverness

    it would have if this was 1999

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 314 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew Dubber,

    I have to admit, 256k was a bit of a surprise. I don't think the price hike needed to be an inevitability though. While the majors have been pushing for an increase because of their losses 'due to piracy' -- actually, more likely due to the (long tail) massive increase in alternatives -- there is no good reason that a 256k AAC file should be more expensive than a 128k AAC file.

    I mean, they don't use any more raw materials, take up more shelf space, cost more to manufacture or require more time to assemble...

    I just don't think the best way to try and compete with a free (albeit unauthorised) version of your own product is to raise the price.

    EMI would be far better off selling masses of music, rather than trying to maximise return on investment on a per-unit basis. Re-release all the deleted stuff (95%+ of everything they've ever issued), make it dirt cheap and sell it by the truckload.

    I'm convinced that most people would give EMI far more money at $2 an album than at $2 a track. It would virtually kill the piracy incentive, and the profits would far outweigh the initial investment in digitisation.

    The labels would make more. The artists would make more. Not per unit -- just more overall.

    Birmingham, UK • Since Nov 2006 • 17 posts Report Reply

  • Damian White,

    Personally I found NIWA fantastic to work with their focus on weather and accurate visualisation of that weather, MetService is very much an organisation with a split personality.

    . . . while that may be the case, I don't think it's the point here. And -- rather surprisingly -- I didn't think Russell's take on it was, either. In neither article (i.e. that linked to stuff.co.nz, or in the Herald's near-mirror version) was Auer demanding that NIWA be closed down because he didn't like its findings on climate change. He wanted NIWA disbanded because [Salinger] is letting his own bias on global warming/climate change effect the neutrality of his comments.

    While this does have the appearance of the-throwing-out-of-one's-toys-and-going-home type sulk on Auers part -- I mean, closing NIWA down just because of this? Really? -- he does have a point in that as an empirical-based measure formulated on scientific rigour, the reporting of weather-based facts and figures should be unbiased and neutral, especially given the current climate (da-dum cha!!) of the global warming debate. Fuelling the fire of a black-box debate by sensationalising one's own view when in a position of trust/authority is truly the boil on the backside of our multi-media, hyper-information era.

    I do believe the specific comment that chewed Auer's gristle was Salinger's claim that 'with global warming, warmer air can hold more water, leading to heavier rain'. If any Worzel-Gummage-types out there could put their Meteorology head on (Nigel . . ?), and explain the validity/stupidity of this statement, I for one would appreciate the information.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    there is no good reason that a 256k AAC file should be more expensive than a 128k AAC file.

    Well, I do pay more for uncompressed WAV files than for the smaller lossy formats on Beatport - but those WAV files are 10 times bigger ...

    I'm convinced that most people would give EMI far more money at $2 an album than at $2 a track. It would virtually kill the piracy incentive, and the profits would far outweigh the initial investment in digitisation.

    The labels would make more. The artists would make more. Not per unit -- just more overall.

    You might be right, but it won't happen on iTunes. That doesn't mean someone else can't come to EMI with a long-tail proposition.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18521 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I do believe the specific comment that chewed Auer's gristle was Salinger's claim that 'with global warming, warmer air can hold more water, leading to heavier rain'.

    Which is exactly what the IPCC draft report says. It's not like Salinger was out of line with the bulk of expert opinion or anything.

    Anyway, here's the Climate Science Coalition press release calling for "the disbanding of NIWA and the return of all weather matters to MetService". It's deranged, frankly:

    http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/SC0704/S00001.htm

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18521 posts Report Reply

  • Richard Llewellyn,

    Heh - thats a ripper of a press release.

    Almost pythonesque. My favourite line, "At least MetService deals in the real world of observation of actual weather events".

    Coming to you from the reality based community of weather observers.

    Mt Albert • Since Nov 2006 • 399 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Austin,

    More on the CSC group

    Well it is kind of brief, but better than nothing.

    London • Since Nov 2006 • 869 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew Dubber,

    Perhaps LOOP, Arch Hill, Capital, Round Trip Mars, Lil' Chief or Dawn Raid would be interested in conducting the experiment on a smaller scale.

    You'd get worldwide press coverage out of it, and -- I'd expect -- massive sales at low prices, rather than relatively few sales at current prices.

    And you don't have that pesky problem of going back to the pressing plant and paying for another thousand units when you run out.

    Birmingham, UK • Since Nov 2006 • 17 posts Report Reply

  • Rogan Polkinghorne,

    If Dawn Raid is around much longer Dubber...

    A-town • Since Nov 2006 • 105 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell,

    Any moves away from DRM are good, but I tend to agree with posters vis-a-vis "two cheers for Emi" . NZ itunes store isn't great; I'm silly enough to prefer mp3 despite quality/bitrate issues, just 'cos it's "platform independent"; and I'm still waiting for the music "industry" to wake the f*** up. The old model was seriously unfair for most musicians and great for "the industry". But it's dead. And there's a great opportunity for a label to jump on the wave simply by charging $2 or $5 or something significantly cheaper for re-released albums- and giving a decent amount - say 40%- to the artists. Even if it didn't work, it'd be a great gamble - and ain't they always rumbled about being in a risky business? The worst possible action is to cling to the corpse of the dead model. (Apologies to any dead models out there). I'm not an illegal downloader, but the way this is going, it's starting to seem inevitable that one day I will be. </rant>

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 1437 posts Report Reply

  • slarty,

    So many threads!

    1. I have occasion to work with plod. IMHO the culture shift started after the Scott Watson case. Has anyone else noticed how professional the investigations have been in recent years? This is one of those situations where they recognised the problem and have been quietly addressing it. To rake over the coals now would be counter productive.

    2. DRM. Told you so. I'm going to allow myself a few seconds of smugness. I read an article in Salon or The Economist (can't remember) years ago, where they opened with a paragraph from an article written in the 20's. It was explaining how gramophones would be the death of the sheet music industry (and it was...)

    3. I don't think we should get too heated about the NIWA / MetService thing. My contacts in there say it's a red herring mainly around access to the toys. Idealogical extremism? Does the word 'extreme' fit in a sentence that might also include "weatherman"... :)

    4. Yes Augie is barking - but he's carved a niche, and he's getting paid, and he won't be around when large tracts of Earth are no longer inhabitable, so who can blame him? Philosophically it would be a terrible day if nobody would stand up to the masses - Tipping Point can be a dangerous theory... especially in the scientific industry, where $$$ are scarce and politically directed...

    Since Nov 2006 • 290 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Andrew,

    1. I have occasion to work with plod. IMHO the culture shift started after the Scott Watson case. Has anyone else noticed how professional the investigations have been in recent years? This is one of those situations where they recognised the problem and have been quietly addressing it. To rake over the coals now would be counter productive.

    Is this where an NZ version of Life On Mars would come in handy? Compare and contrast current police culture & procedures with those of the early 80s.

    Hamiltron - City of the F… • Since Nov 2006 • 833 posts Report Reply

  • richard,

    Salinger's comments seem entirely uncontroversial to me. I am not a meteorologist, but I am a physicist...

    http://ww2010.atmos.uiuc.edu/(Gh)/guides/mtr/cld/dvlp/rh.rxml

    Warm air is not *required* to hold more water vapor than cold air, but it *can* hold more water vapor than cold air.

    Auer's comment about deserts is a complete red herring, and if I didn't have better things to do with my time, I could probably amuse myself with a thorough fisking of his published utterances.

    Not looking for New Engla… • Since Nov 2006 • 256 posts Report Reply

  • TracyMac,

    But Apple has nothing to lose from the AAC format starting to crowd out MP3 in the wider (that is, including pirated) market, especially when Microsoft is trying to lock in its own proprietary WMA as the format of choice. And neither do we: MP3 is an outdated technology stuck in a patent mess. There are already quite a few mobile players that support AAC and, significantly, they include most 3G mobile phones.

    We have nothing to lose from being locked into a proprietary format that won't play on most devices? Who seriously uses their phones to play music, anyway? I strongly beg to differ.

    Yes, a higher bitrate AAC file is going to sound better than 128Kbps MP3. So will a higher bitrate MP3 file. I grant you that the compression algorithm may be better with AAC, but a VBR MP3 is not "outdated" technology and is a significant improvement on a CBR file. So why aren't they releasing them as VBR MP3s if they want to pull in the punters?

    I don't see any discussion about truly open formats like OGG or FLAC. OGG, as a compressed format, blows away AAC, CBR (and, often, VBR) MP3, and WMA. Of course, alas, there are even fewer music devices that support OGG - no prizes for guessing why that is.

    The upshot is, if you're already an iTunes user, you may make the shift to the new files - it's a start. If you're not an iTunes user, you ain't going to make the shift. I'll stick to ripping my CDs to OGG, and downloading VBR MP3s/OGGs when I can find them, thanks.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 459 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Beard,

    [Salinger] is letting his own bias on global warming/climate change effect the neutrality of his comments.

    Yes, it's a slippery slope. Next thing you know, we'll have palaeontologists letting their bias on evolution affect the neutrality of their comments, or physicists letting their bias on gravity affect the neutrality of theirs.

    Warm air is not *required* to hold more water vapor than cold air, but it *can* hold more water vapor than cold air.

    Exactly. I spent seven years as a meteorologist at MetService, and inspecting the tephigram for precipitable water content was one of the first things we did to look for the possibility of heavy rain and how heavy it might be. The very word "precipitable" implies that it's about potential, so there still needs to be some forcing mechanism (surface heating, convergence, frontal activity) to get rain going, but all else being equal, warmer air has the potential to hold more water, and thus to release it as rain.

    Actually, I think Augie taught me that.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1039 posts Report Reply

  • Damian Christie,

    METSERVCE I think the greater issue here is having a climate change denier heading up the Metservice. [EDIT: Of course, he's not - Thanks Tom]

    Maybe not an entirely accurate analogy, but isn't that like Pope being head of NZ Aids Foundation?

    Robust debate yes, but there's got to be a point where deniers are made to sit in the Flat Earth corner of the room and think about what they've done.

    Media are equally to blame, and its an argument I have often with colleagues in various fields of journalism - objectivity doesn't equal giving nutter airtime.

    DUBBER I don't know much about the Interweb 'n' stuff, but when you said having files with twice the bitrate doesn't cost the provider any more, or take up any more shelf space, isn't that exactly what it does? I'm pretty sure that twice the bitrate takes up twice the storage space, and twice the bandwith to flick to people... but feel free to show me where I'm wrong :)

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1127 posts Report Reply

  • Scott Common,

    "Anyway, here's the Climate Science Coalition press release calling for "the disbanding of NIWA and the return of all weather matters to MetService". It's deranged, frankly:"

    Yeap thats a nice understatement.

    One of the most difficult things that someone can get involved in these days is trying to explain science to the general public or the media - the attention spans of both are too short to actually absorb the information which is why we get these boiled down "sound bite" explanations.

    I'm in the joyless situation of having to explain both science and legislation to the general public - luckily when it's one on one it is much easier (though still somewhat similar to having teeth pulled) to do this.

    Scott

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 62 posts Report Reply

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