Category Archives: media

Soundgarden blows it big time online

On Friday night, my favourite band of all time - the recently reunited Soundgarden - played the Phoenix Concert Theatre here in Toronto in support of their new album, King Animal. I wasn’t at the show. Instead, I was in my living room singing Nickelback.

Why? Two reasons. The first is that I’m a consummate professional. Nintendo’s new Wii U video game console was being released in two days, on Sunday, and I needed to get some time in with it in order to write my review. I had friends over play-testing some games, including the karaoke affair Sing Party. With the other song selections including the likes of Justin Bieber and Carly Rae Jepsen, Nickelback seemed like the best of a bad lot. A really, really awful best of a bad lot.

But the real reason I wasn’t at the Soundgarden show is because the band had done just about everything wrong in respect to its fans and its new album/tour, in light of the new digital age they’ve reunited into. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on November 19, 2012 in media, piracy


Slingbox looking to go mainstream

The Slingbox 500: looks like it was designed by Frank Gehry.

A few years ago, internet-savvy nerds were ga-ga over something called the Slingbox. It was a nifty device - a box that plugged into your flat panel that enabled you to watch live TV on a laptop or desktop wherever you were, so long as you had a decent internet connection.

It was super-neat, but only if you had the knowledge or guts to go into your router and start configuring ports and so on. For the mass market, the concept was simply too daunting.

The new Slingbox 500, which I’ve been playing with for the past few days, is an effort to correct that. By rejigging set-up into a few simple steps that are done via remote control on your television screen, the updated device brings that idea of streaming anywhere to the masses. The Slingbox is now as easy to set up as any other streaming gadget, like an Apple TV or Roku.

And neat is the best way to describe the experience. The Slingbox serves as a middle man between your DVR and your TV by plugging into both. It then connects to the internet via wi-fi and streams your cable or satellite service to a computer, tablet or phone (Apple and Android on the tablet side, Apple, Android and Windows on phones). This can be live TV or recorded content, so it effectively turns those devices into small televisions. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on November 14, 2012 in media, slingbox


The declining effort of music interfaces

The other day, I was fiddling with the new Lynx car receiver from Sirius XM. My previous satellite radio receiver had a bunch of actual physical buttons on it, while the new device is all touch screen. That got me thinking about how interfaces have changed over the years and how they’re going to continue evolving, particularly in how we’re having to put less and less effort into listening to music.

Rather than expound on it, I made up this short graphic that I think explains it all:

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Posted by on November 9, 2012 in media


Interlude makes choose-your-own adventure videos

Yoni Bloch’s video has five choice points with 256 different combinations.

With the ongoing explosive growth of online video, it’s no surprise that a good number of Israel’s startup are focusing on the area. One of the more impressive is Interlude, based in Tel Aviv.

The company was started by Israeli musician Yoni Bloch, who wanted to make online video truly interactive. Bloch and his bandmates are self-professed nerds with a keen interest in technology. As his bass player and company co-founder Tal Zubalsky puts it, “We’re not a sex and drugs band, we’re more of a computer and internet band.”

The idea behind Interlude is extraordinarily simple, but really well done. It’s a set of tools that allow content creators to make truly interactive videos. Creators can insert “choice points” into a video that the viewer then clicks on. Depending on the choice, the video branches off into a different direction and/or ending.

This sort of interactivity has been around since at least the advent of CD-ROMs, but the difference now is how seamless the videos are. There’s never a break in the action or audio, which is impressive. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on October 24, 2012 in israel, media


Canada’s game coverage problem is holistic

Why do Super Mario game reviews show up in business and technology sections?

The other day, at Microsoft’s annual Xbox holiday preview event here in Toronto, I chatted with a number of friends and acquaintances about the state of video game media coverage in Canada. It’s a topic I love discussing because generally speaking, things are not good. In the year or so since I last wrote about this problem, I’ve learned it’s actually a deeper and more holistic problem than I may have initially suspected.

In the broadest sense, there is no major mainstream media outlet in Canada that employs a full-time video-game beat staffer. Many newspapers have dedicated film, TV and music columnists, but no one - to my knowledge - pays an able-bodied person to opine or report on video games and just video games. In almost every case where a news outlet does actually cover the subject, it’s a poorly paid freelancer or staffer with other duties who is handling things.

Yes, it’s a double standard given that Canada is third in the world in terms of industry employment and right up there in regards to consumption, but that’s a river that has already been cried.

The problem looks like it starts further down the chain, in that there is no full-blown trade magazine devoted to news and goings-on within the industry itself. Canada has consumer-focused magazines such as Comics & Gaming Monthly, but nothing aimed at industry professionals themselves. The U.S. and U.K., on the other hand, have the likes of Game Developer Magazine, Develop and Games Industry International. Other Canadian entertainment segments, meanwhile, have their own dedicated trade magazines, from Playback for TV and film to Canadian Musician for, well, musicians. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on October 4, 2012 in media, video games


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