An "out" for parents

President Bush signed into law the Family Entertainment and Copyright Act this week. Among other things, it helps strengthen rules about P2P file sharing, and bans camcorders and other recording devices in theaters. This is good news for the entertainment industry. Pirated movies have run rampant in recent years.

However – there is also some bad news – it preserves the rights for parents to use third party devices like Clearplay to censor movies. Essentially these devices “edit out” portions of a movie that are considered offensive. Offensive to whom? Well some third party that has determined what to cut. Now – this happens all the time for network TV or for showing on airplanes and that’s fine. But I wonder how many parents are going to now think it’s ok to show their kids R rated movies because they can have something that will cut out the bad words or nudity?

Just because you cut those things out doesn’t mean that the theme of the movie is less mature. I mean can you imagine an edited version of the movie “Seven”? Sure you could cut out the nasty bits but you’d still have a pretty grim grisly movie you certainly wouldn’t want even a 10 year old to see.

My worry here is that with all these tools – a good portion of this country is handing over their parenting duties to machines. This is not just shutting something off completely. The V-chip does that – and if parents learn how to use it if they have a newer model TV – it works just fine (I’ve played with the options in our bedroom TV which is less then a year old – it’s pretty cool). But this is actally allowing a child to watch something that probably wasn’t intended for them in the first place – which is why it GOT the R RATING!

It’s an “out” for parents.

We need to parent, and a lot of people in this country need help being able to parent. The root causes of this go much deeper. People who have to work two jobs to make ends meet aren’t home to parent their kids. People with lack of education can’t parent because they don’t have the right tools to be able to. So parenting gets pushed off on the government. It is really, really sad. We need to do more so that people can spend more time with their kids and more time being parents.

–*Rob

Podcast Roundup Version 3

Another set of podcasts for my friends and neighbors who might want to know what podcasts I’ve keyed into recently. There is so much good podcast content it’s hard to find time to listen to it all – but here are the podcasts I have found recently that I really enjoy:

The Bitterest Pill – Dan Klass is an actor/comedian in LA and he talks about being a dad, and living in LA.

Science Friday – The podcast of NPR’s Talk Of The Nation Science Friday – always interesting. It’s nice that I can get some of my favorite public radio shows to listen to whenever I want to. Another one is….

Le Show with Harry Shearer
– Another public radio staple comes to podcasting. Funny current events commentary.

Yeast Radio – Madge Weinstein from Chicago has a VERY interesting perspective on the world. I’ll let you find out the rest. Edit: Madge’s site may not be work safe, depending on what she has up on her blog. Usually, it’s “below the fold” but you may want to be safe and check it out at home…

Herro Flom Japan – A show based mainly in doing “soundseeing tours” of actual places in and around Tokyo – conducted by Rich Pav, an American expat who lives there.

And….stay tuned….my own podcast is in the planning stages. I have the equipment, I just need some time to get it going….

–*Rob

Plumber Butt!

It’s true. The children are little parrots of ourselves. Our very own Miss Melissa has plumber butt on occasion. And now, thanks to mommy, she can even say it. You haven’t lived until you’ve heard a one year old say….plum-ber butt. LOL

Google Maps Sightseeing

Via my bud Steve Rubel a site that tracks famous landmarks and other anomalies you can see on the new Google maps.

So very cool. Oh yeah – for all you Jerseyans – I found Six Flags Great Adventure. If you zoom in one more level or so, you can see more detail. The satellite image is about 2 years old as Superman: Ultimate flight isn’t built yet. However you can see to the north the water park and the wave pool. You can see Nitro’s lift hill in the southwest corner. If you’ve been there before you should be able tomake out other stuff too.

–*Rob

More people have listened to podcasts then have TIVO?

Now here’s an interesting statistic (thanks to Brian Ibbott of Coverville for pointing this out):

TIVO’s install base is 2.3 Million. So that means 2.3 Million people “get” the idea of time shifted video content and have it in their homes, and know how to use it.

The recent Pew Internet research stats suppoedly showed that 6 million people had downloaded a podcast or (internet radio program) to listen to on their portable digital audio player. I thought that this statistic was dubious at first, but now I’m even more sure that it’s wrong.

Why? Because podcasts have barely been around 6 months. So what Pew is saying is that the technology penetration of time shifted downloadable audio has been so quick – that 6 million people have downloaded podcasts. I find that really hard to believe, considering that it’s taken TIVO 5 years to achieve the penetration that it has. Even if you factor in cable company DVRs (anyone got stats on those?) I can’t see DVR penetration being less than podcasts.

Either that or podcasting has taken off like wildfire. Look, I’m not down on podcasting at all. You know I love it. But I think Pew’s research is VERY seriously flawed. I don’t think they qualified their statements enough, and I don’t think they verified well enough that people knew what podcasting really was. They say otherwise, but I think once they threw the words “downloaded” and “radio program” into the mix – they opened themselves up to people using Audible and other services, and not simply using a podcatching client like iPodder.

–*Rob

Wondering….

I’ve been wondering about something for a few years now. Does anyone really LIKE those BIG, supposedly ergonomic mice? You know – the ones that look like this:

Of course they are usually made only for righties(which to me seems discriminatory), and they just feel so big and bulky when I’ve been in a store and put my hand on them. Wireless just seems pointless – most people use their mouse less then 6 feet from their PC anyway – so what’s the point? I get cramps in my hand using even a slightly large Microsoft mouse, but I’d love to have at least an optical mouse – but I can’t find any that are as small as the wired, ball-based Microsoft Mouse I usually use. I don’t need more buttons. I don’t need ergonomically shaped, molded to my hand. Just give me a small, decent optical mouse so I don’t need to clean a mouse ball. I’m currently using this MS Mouse:

I want something the same size as that, but optical. Suggestions?

–*Rob

P-P-P-Podcasts

If you’re getting sick of my going on about Podcasts – tough noogies! I’ve found a few more podcasts of note that I think you may want to check out.

Slice Of Sci-Fi – this is a great new Sci-Fi news and interview show that concentrates mainly on Trek and other shows that are strictly Sci-Fi. It’s produced by the guys who do the Dragon Page and since they’re radio pros the show is very high quality. Last episode they interviewed Rod Roddenberry – son of Gene. Great show.

Claybourne – a sci-fi/suspense/thriller that’s a radio drama. Little 6 minute episodes make it just enough to consume along with other stuff.

Say Yum – a show I was at first down on, but now I enjoy. It’s a husband and wife team who do a talk show while preparing dinner, and actually tell you how to prepare what it is they are making. Recipe is up on their website.

I also listened to John Edwards‘ first podcast – and it was really good, but I’m kind of disappointed that he hasn’t done another one. He had great rapport on the podcast with his wife, and I’m hoping we’ll hear more from him – he’s got a great conversational way of talking about politics.

Download. Listen. Enjoy.

–*Rob

Sung Commentary

The new Bruce springsteen song is out. It’s a haunting song. Not just for its musically dark sound, but for its lyrics. It’s a commentary on the Iraq war. I know not everyone seems to like Bruce – I think a lot are put off by his vocals, but his style of lyricism is just so personal. Everything is put into the perspective of someone living the topic of the song. It’s a first person narrative, and I think it is one of his best written songs ever. See the lyrics here, it’s called “Devils and Dust.”

–*Rob

Friends on your own time…

I was listening to Dave Winer’s Morning Coffee Notes this morning – the latest episode – in which he talks to a bunch of bloggers about their blogging. I got to thinking – this whole blogging thing – it’s not just affecting consumers, and media – it’s actually affecting our relationships with people close to us.

See, used to be if you wanted to communicate with a friend – you’d write ’em a letter. Or maybe an email. If you wanted to communicate with a bunch of friends – same deal. We’ve all gotten those “yearly update” letters that come in Christmas cards, right?

Well it occurs to me – that with blogging – we keep up with our friends on a regular basis – without having to do all that. I post to my blog – friends read it, friends comment on it, refer to my posts on their blog and vice-versa. It’s our own little online community – and it’s on our own terms and schedule. We probably communicate more with each other indirectly through our blogs – then we might if we didn’t have them. I find out more about my friends’ opinions on various topics through their blogs – because time-wise – I don’t have to call them, or instant message them, and have a real time conversation. We just casually go back and forth at our leisure on various topics.

It’s just really cool. I wish all my friends had blogs.

–*Rob