Cut the Cord

?Cut the cord? has become the rallying cry for those interested in abandoning cable television in favor of streaming online video to their phones, tablets, desktops and ??forsooth! ??televisions.

It?s an apt phrase, not merely for its echoes of severing the umbilical cord in the delivery room but for its metaphoric reach into that almond-shaped space in the Venn diagram between baptismal rebirth and outright renaissance.

There are variations, of course. Google indicates that ?cut the cable? is a fraternal twin. It also brings up a blogger who simply calls himself ?John,? who launched Cut-the-Cable.com two years ago. John matter-of-factly identifies his online effort as ?the anti-COMCAST blog and resource site? and admits to having a ?chip on my shoulder? due to the layoff that affords him the free time to take on the ?fat bastards,? which presumably no longer fits his budget. Though his posts are sporadic, they are typically vitriolic and directed at discrediting and defaming the cable giant. Among them is a relatively recent analysis of a Houston news site story headlined ?Comcast Contractor Accused of Raping a Child,? replete with a mug shot.

Whether or not John?s informative if pungent tirades are justified (and they are to anyone who has ever made a phone call to Comcast?s customer service), they?re a bellwether of sorts and he?s not alone. Crystal Collins, the discount doyenne behind TheThriftyMama.com, doesn?t cast cable providers as evildoers, she does provide a gleeful step-by-step guide to cutting the cable, which, depending on your cable consumption needs, she claims can save one upwards of $600 a year. Lifehacker.com also show how to slice and dice one?s media diet, with additional info on where to stream your favorite live television feed.

With all this blogging and flogging of cable companies, cutting their core product might seem to be grassroots movement. However, one should keep in mind the fact that broadcast networks themselves have stoked much of the fervor by streaming their content directly to consumers via their respective websites, effectively sidestepping cable ??their one-time rival turned overlord (adjust a pair of rabbit ears lately? Yeah, didn?t think so).

Moreover, Hulu is a consortium of a several networks ??NBC, itself owns over a 30 percent stake. This is ironic given the fact that Comcast now owns NBCUniversal (the merged version of the network and the studio). However, the Department of Justice mandated as part of Comcast?s acquisition, it ?must relinquish its management rights in Hulu? lest it ?interfere with the management of Hulu, and, in particular, the development of products that compete with Comcast?s video service.?

Comcast isn?t crying since they dominate much of the broadband market (at least locally). To wit, the cable behemoth still profits by the umbilical link through which the data that is, say, Parks and Recreation, comes tumbling. In fact, it?s a completely vertically-integrated strategy.? The revolution is being televised on the Internet, brought to you by the very entity against which you?re in revolt. Sort of like cutting off cable?s nose to stream its face.

Sign of the Times: FMRL Parking Edition

You know you’re legit when you not only have your own parking space but a big f-off sign saying so. Behold, the official FMRL Parking Sign. Now we no longer need to fight for parking with Danny Glover and his Carrie Productions, which, seriously, takes up 70% of the lot. Meh. Perhaps I’m just spiny because his crew hasn’t accepted my LinkedIn invitation to take on the Zaentz Media Center as the East Bay’s nexus of indie media-making. So be it, someday we will have TWO parking spaces and Carrie Productions’ parking lot domination will begin to crumble. Meanwhile, our street-parking initiative is in full-force ??soon you’ll have to sublet metered parking from us, for we are lords of space and time. Another hour, another dollar…

Twitter the “Mayor” of the Middle East?

I’m just sophomoric enough to still enjoy a typo or two when it comes from in such a venerable a news organization as the New York Times. In a article exploring the 5th anniversary of the launch of Twitter, the Times substituted the word “mayor” for “major” when describing its role in the recent uprisings in Middle East. “Mayor,” of course, is the distinction earned by players of Foursquare to recognize their provenance as a patron of a local business. Given that millions in the Middle East have “checked in” to Twitter in recent weeks, one might say that Twitter is indeed its Mayor, in the social networking meaning of the word. Maybe it will be rewarded a coupon for a free falafel or maybe a slice of fresh baked democracy…

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Blade Runner’s Sequel Sickness

Certain films are so singular in vision, so spectacular in their realization that they’re fundamentally immune to the disease of sequel-itis, or its often more virulent form, prequel-itis. Among those in this rarified canon are Citizen Kane (of course), Casablanca (duh) and, until last week, Blade Runner.

Whether or not one agrees that the futuristic depiction of dystopian Los Angeles circa 2019 belongs in the company of Welles’ and Curtiz’s respective masterpieces is subject to debate (mind you, it made the American Film Institute’s Top 100 list), but what’s not is that, to a certain generation, Blade Runner is something of a holy relic. And now it’s getting some cinematic siblings.

Original Blade Runner producer Bud Yorkin, who retained the rights to the 1982 flick starring Harrison Ford as a hardboiled detective on the trail of a band of rogue bio-engineered androids, is concluding negotiations for both a prequel and a sequel with Alcon Entertainment, a 13-year-old company perhaps best known for the Sandra Bullock weeper The Blind Side and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.

The film deal, reports online industry rag The Wrap, also has a provision for “other projects,” which suggests possible spillover into television (paging J. J. Abrams) and video games.

The original film is an adaptation of sci-fi author Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, penned for the screen by Hampton Fancher and David Peoples, who, like Dick, has some Bay Area provenance. Who will write the sequel? A computer, perhaps? Meanwhile, producers are said to be shopping for an auteur of similar gravitas to Ridley Scott, who delivered the original in three different edits, no less.

Batman rebooter Christopher Nolan has been mentioned in the trades as a candidate. Nolan’s possible participation makes the notion a bit more palatable; as a card-carrying Gen X-er, he should have a native appreciation for cyberpunk and an understanding that, to many, Blade Runner is as profound a statement of existential yearning as Picasso’s Guernica is about the horrors of war. But Guernica 2: Horse Returns is not coming to a museum near you, so why trifle with an icon like Blade Runner?

In a statement released to the media, Alcon co-CEOs Broderick Johnson and Andrew Kosove explained, “We recognize the responsibility we have to do justice to the memory of the original with any prequel or sequel we produce. We have long-term goals for the franchise, and are exploring multiplatform concepts, not just limiting ourselves to one medium only.”

But do they know they’re replicants?

Here’s our tribute to the films of 1982…

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Light Painting with WiFi

Norway-based Timo Arnall, a designer working with interactive products and media, presents Immaterials: Light Painting WiFi, an exploration of the invisible terrain of WiFi networks in urban spaces. Arnall and his team of collaborators create “light paintings” by revealing signal strength in long-exposure photographs.

“This project explores the invisible terrain of WiFi networks in urban spaces by light painting signal strength in long-exposure photographs. A four-metre tall measuring rod with 80 points of light reveals cross-sections through WiFi networks using a photographic technique called light-painting.”

Clearly, Arnall was not using the weak-ass WiFi in my building (courtesy of “comboplatter”), otherwise his canvasses might be blank.

Immaterials: Light painting WiFi from Timo on Vimeo.