BitPix Blog


J.Crew Fashion Week Presentation Fall/Winter 2014

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J.Crew Fashion Week Presentation Fall/Winter 2014

You begin before the sun rises and work at a furious pace without room for error, but there’s nothing like the thrill of being part of a flawless production that showcases the latest designs of the brilliant minds behind J.Crew. BitPix Digital is proud to have been one part of an amazing crew and behind-the-scenes team!

Jenna, Tom and Frank give us a look behind-the-scenes at our presentation.

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Aereo TV: a service that should be embraced, not condemned

Aereo TV: a service that should be embraced, not condemned

Aereo TV is a useful, innovative service that has taken a lot of heat in the press lately. I’d like to take a moment to dispel a few myths about Aereo’s service and why I think the courts will continue to rule in its favor.

What is Aereo TV you ask? Aereo TV allows users to legally watch and record broadcast television on their computers and tablets for a small monthly fee. They do not pay the networks or have any agreement with them, which is why the media networks are furious.

Here’s why Aereo’s service is innovative and legal: they use a tiny, physical antenna for each subscriber to capture the broadcast just the way you would do if you had an antenna connected directly to your TV. Using antennas to watch TV for free is 100% legal.

 

Here are a few more points to consider about Aereo and how their service is delivered:

  • Aereo is NOT a broadcaster or re-broadcaster, they are a DVR service. I’ll elaborate more on this shortly.
  • Airwave spectrum is owned by the public, not broadcasters. Television networks license the rights with the promise of giving back their transmission for free.
  • “Bunny-ear” antennas are a memory of the past. The service to the public has become meaningless and a one-sided benefit for the broadcasters and owners of the valuable spectrum.

Every few years a new technology comes along that shakes up traditional industries and incites legal wars by not playing according to the “rules.” In these cases, the “rules” do not necessarily equate to the law, but rather to rules and expectations created by the traditional and existing powers that dominate a specific industry. This is evident across the country when we examine the taxi industry. Recent startup, Uber, has shaken old-school taxi cab commissions across the country with their App that summons and pays for private car service. They were careful to follow the written “law” in every market, but because they didn’t ask first or pay the cab commissions, they’ve had to battle in the court and fight for each victory.

Just as with Uber, we find a small startup battling an entrenched, powerful industry. While Aereo was careful to follow the law, they are being forced to battle in the courts just as Uber is doing. To date, Aereo has had favorable rulings in court, that were based on earlier rulings that concerned DVR products. In the 1980′s the Supreme Court ruled that consumers had a “fair use” right under the Copyright Act to record and view private copies of television shows. Without that ruling, DVR would either not exist or we’d have to pay the networks each time we clicked play.

In the latest court ruling, the courts ruled that Aereo was a DVR service and the fact that the Internet is used for transmission is irrelevant. Just as you may purchase a DVR box from Tivo, Aereo has the right to charge for using their cloud based DVR equipment. Just as traditional DVR manufacturers do not pay networks for the signal captured by viewers using an antenna in their home, Aereo should not have to pay just because the user’s antenna is in their facility. Here’s a practical example:

Lets say I have no signal in my basement apartment, but my top floor neighbor receives an excellent signal. I bring my antenna and DVR to his apartment and ask if he will connect it and record my favorite shows. He says “no problem,” but then asks for a few dollars to cover the electricity and his time. Is this legal? Absolutely! This “neighbor” with a good view is exactly what Aereo is doing. They are not “snatching” a signal and then not paying for it, because the original intent of the signal is to be FREE! They are using my personal antenna that I pay for in their facility and recording the shows that I ask them to.

Lets recap:

  • Spectrum is owned by the public and licensed to networks in exchange for free transmission to the public. The public receives this transmission with antennas.
  • Aereo follows the rules and uses one antenna per customer to receive the transmission.
  • Aereo DVRs the signal upon request by the customer.
  • Customers access their cloud based DVR to watch live or later.
  • Customers are not allowed to view content outside of their market. So if the broadcast is in the New York area, you need to be in New York to watch it online.
  • Aereo shows all commercials and content exactly as it is broadcast.

The real fact in this matter is that the television networks need to either do something useful with their spectrum (like Aereo is) or they need to give up over-the-air broadcast television all together and release their spectrum back to the public. A direct over-the-air broadcast is no longer a useful service to the public. With the advent of cable TV and the Internet, quality standards have been raised and “bunny-ear” antennas have become obsolete. The networks know this, but if they can pad viewership numbers for advertisers by claiming x-number of “ghost” viewers watch over-the-air, yet have 99 percent of people view via cable television where they are paid for the content, then it’s a win-win for them. The networks continue to maintain their grip on valuable wireless spectrum, yet they have failed to provide a useful public service in return. Furthermore, they try to halt useful services that use the  airwaves effectively–the way Aereo is doing. The networks want to have their cake (cable) and eat it too (hoarding spectrum), which is the true outrage.

If you’re tired of paying your cable company over $100 per month for channels you hardly ever watch, I urge you to give Aereo TV a try. For $8 you get the basic channels, plus Bloomberg television, and 20 hours of DVR. It’s all web based, so there’s no software to install.

If the television networks truly want to provide a free public good, they would support Aereo since it still shows all of their commercials, yet makes the signal relevant and easy to view. Their attempt to halt Aereo is evidence that they really have no desire for people to view shows over-the-air on a wide scale basis. Shame on you network television; either support Aereo or do something innovative with the airwaves yourself. Otherwise, give us the spectrum back!

Fixing Airplay Video Stream on Asus Routers

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Fixing Airplay Video Stream on Asus Routers

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If you have an Asus router and issues with losing an Airplay video stream to Apple TV, here’s how I fixed it on the RT-N56U. These instructions pertain to firmware 3.0.0.4.360

  1. Login to your router’s admin page.
  2. Click on the SSID of the network your AppleTV or Airplay device is connected to.
  3. Click the “Professional” tab
  4. Change “Enable IGMP Snooping” to ENABLE
  5. Change “Multicast Rate(Mbps) from Disable to “HTMIX 130/144″
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That’s it! You should now have a stable Airplay connection on your network that does not disappear or require you to constantly reset your router.

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Google, a better choice than Apple

Google, a better choice than Apple

As a person that has been using a Mac since 1998 and an iPhone since the original was released, I’d like to explain why I’m no longer supporting Apple.

Recently Apple has decided to attack Google and Samsung, but not with “amazing” new products and features as you’d expect. Instead, it has attacked the competition with a series of lawsuits that are ultimately designed to slow the innovation of their competitors, while allowing Apple to control the market, and thus the pace of new features and releases. Since when is competition a bad thing? Economics 101 taught us that competitive markets actually increase innovation at the same time as reducing overall prices for consumers.

Since Apple gets a majority of the press, you may not have noticed that Google has been working hard on building features that make a difference in our lives––a difference that’s real and practical. It’s their maps that have shown us the way on a daily basis; it’s their incredible search features that find information for us in an instant; it’s their email that we rely on––and take for granted––every day. In their latest release of Android 4.1 (Jellybean), they have finally pulled all of their services together in a way that is truly awesome. I’ll come back to this shortly.

Apple has also done a great job of building tools to streamline, synchronize, and enhance our lives. What Apple did not do is invent the smartphone; rather, they made people want to use one. Apple did not invent “Apps.” Applications existed on phones well before the iPhone, but Steve Jobs used a catchy word that made everything seem new again. When the first iPhone was released, it was a visual masterpiece but technologically it was a step back. Yes, the first iPhone was not as “amazing” as you may believe. Long before the iPhone, I was using cut-and-paste on my phone, running “Applications,” and using SSH to login to my server. I was able to do all of these things on a phone that nobody really wanted to use because it was ugly.

The first iPhone was also 2G or “Edge,” when it very well could have been 3G. They had the programming ability to include cut-and-paste, but chose not to include it. Why? It’s because they want to control the amount of features per release to ensure profitability every quarter. You can’t include too many features in one release. It’s hard to argue with the reasoning, but as a consumer, it’s not fun being at Apple’s mercy and waiting forever for certain features.

Apple’s history is founded on Steve Job’s control-freak nature. “Control,” in every aspect, is part of Apple’s soul. They control the design, the manufacturers, the employees, the distributors, the retailers, the presentation, and yes they control you the consumer. They know what you want and need better than you do, and we respond by bowing  down and opening our wallets to the mighty Apple icon. Like any good dictatorship, the system can work for a while, but eventually a tipping point is reached and the system crumbles.

Fast forward to today. Earlier I mentioned that Google was doing amazing things with Android 4.1. Samsung is also outmuscling Apple on the hardware end. Competition is fierce in the mobile market. This is causing ripples in the world of Apple. Yes, they are the market leader, but they certainly do not want any other company to put pressure on their release schedule. They want “innovation” and new features to happen on their schedule. This means it’s time to put the lawyers to work and sue, sue, sue. Shame, shame, shame on you Apple.

You’ll hear phrases from Apple such as “protecting intellectual property,” which makes many people believe they invented the smartphone. The bottom line is that Apple and Google both took existing technology and made them better. Google reinvented search and the availability of information. They reinvented web based email to the point that almost everyone now has an @gmail.com address. Apple took the look, feel, and interface of a phone and presented it as if it were sent straight from the heavens. We accepted it as such, but the technology all existed beforehand. Both firms hold many patents in the mobile realm, and both sides have infringed on each other. From the beginning of the personal computer through today’s smartphone, there has been a recurring theme of corporations building upon the work of others and claiming it as theirs. Most companies in the mobile market have abused the patent system by creating frivolous patents solely for use against competitors, just as Apple is doing now. The war in courts over mobile patents is bad for the consumer and bad for innovation.

The tipping point has finally arrived for me, and after many years of being a loyal Apple user, I’ve decided to end my relationship with Apple and move to Google. Neither company is a saint, and Google is far from perfect as well, but of the two, I believe Google has a better vision of the future. To be more precise, I believe that Google’s vision and products coincide better with my digital lifestyle and how I prefer to operate. How we choose to live in the digital world is exactly that, it’s a choice, and there should be more than one quality option––not just the Apple way.

In the case of Apple and Google, we can learn a lot about the soul of each company (or lack thereof) by examining the founders. Apple was founded by two Steves: Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. Most people do not even know who Wozniak is, yet it’s because of him that Apple actually got off the ground. Jobs had no real programming or engineering ability so he relied on Wozniak to actually build the first Apple computer. If there was no Wozniak, there would not be the Apple computer that we have today, it’s as simple as that. So what happened to Woz? In a very simple sense, he was pushed aside and eventually out of the company (except for a token role) while Jobs took the glory and credit for just about everything. Jobs’ true gift was the ability to sell, combined with an understanding of how to make technology usable in our everyday lives. Jobs’ unique vision of the role of technology in our lives, combined with his ability to sell and distort reality, combined with his eye for talent and engineers that could actually build his vision, was the recipe we call “genius” today. Jobs developed a culture that demanded perfection and attention to detail, which resulted in quality products and success. Yet, he also created an extremely selfish corporate culture that continues to serve its own interests above all others. Apple hoards cash, produces products in deplorable Foxconn factories in China, and appears to have no philanthropic vision of helping the world become a better place. Apple’s help to the world is only available to those that can afford to buy their products.

Google was founded by Sergey Brin and Larry Page. Both men built the original product together, both continue to run the company today, and neither has tried to displace the other or take the spotlight. I love that Google was founded on the motto “Don’t be evil” and continues to revolve around that principle today. They also have a philanthropic arm (http://google.org) that seeks to do good in the world in a way that falls outside of quarterly results.

In the end, I want to join the team that makes the best products, that gives users a choice, and that truly seeks to make a difference in a world. For me, at this point in time, this is team Google.
I’m happily saying goodbye to my iPhone and iOS, and am excited to join the Android community.

Here are a few links to learn more about Google’s latest products and projects…

Tech-Driven Philanthropy:

Google Glass: Hopefully these glasses will end the days of a roomful of people staring down at their phones. Google glass allows one to use technology and take photos while maintaining eye-contact with the world or with the person in front of you. Check out the demo videos below

Google Now: Information when you need it, in real-time.