Watchever, Konkurrenz für Lovefilm und Maxdome?

Seit Mittwoch gibt es in Deutschland eine neue Video-Streaming Plattform für Filme und Fernsehserien, the weirdly named Watchever. Watchever gehört dem französischen Vivendi-Konzern.

Eckdaten:

  • 8,99 im Monat, erste 30 Tage gratis, monatlich kündbar
  • Sowohl OV als auch synchronisierte Fassungen
  • Offline-Modus
  • viele unterstützte Plattformen (Android, iOS, PC, Mac, AppleTV, Samsung und Philips Fernseher).
  • zum Start ein respektabler Katalog (BBC, HBO, klassische Serien, …).

Vivendi stellt allerdings klar, dass Watchever momentan keine Lizenzen für Fernsehserien einkaufen kann, die noch nicht im deutschen Fernsehen gelaufen sind.

Trotzdem: Der Markteintritt von Vivendi könnte dazu führen, dass der verschlafene deutsche Streaming-Markt belebt wird und es gute, einfach zu benutzende. preisgünstige und legale Angebote gibt.

Ending “The war on drugs” – Progress, finally?

When I saw Traffic in 2000 I felt the effects of the “War on Drugs” had finally arrived in popular media. But the discussion was not picked up, no visible policy changes came, especially in the US. This seems to have changed in the last years, at least according to my filter bubble.

Mexico and the United States

Cannabis has been completely decriminalized in two US states (Colorado and Washington) in 2012. In California, punishment of non-medical use of cannabis was reduced to an infraction, leading to a 20% reduction in the youth crime rate. The New York Times reports on the ubiquity of cannabis use, hinting towards a complete decriminalization in the near future.

Mexicos former president Calderón called upon (WSJ, also by NYT) U.S. president Obama to consider decriminalization of cannabis products in 2012. Also, Mexico’s presidential candidates all promised (NYT) to look for new solutions to end the violence in the War on Drugs. Niemann Watchdog also reports on this.

In 2012, The New York Times, the Economist make widely heard economic and social arguments about decriminalization. The Economist also has a long track record of reporting on failures of the War on Drugs.

Europe

Switzerland and the basque part of Spain allowed growth of cannabis for personal use in 2012. The UK based Release center “of expertise on drugs and drugs law published (HuffPost) a report about decriminalization around the world, finding that decriminalization does not lead to increased use.

Portugal completely decriminalized the use of street drugs in 2001, focusing on therapy instead of imprisonment, apparently to positive effects.

Breaking The Taboo

Breaking The Taboo is a campaign movie narrated by Morgan Freeman and big on YouTube now, pleading for change in drug policies.

Now what?

Call me naïve, but I hope that we will see some change in global drug policy in 2013, especially concerning countries like the US, Mexico and also Afghanistan, being on the forefront of the “War on Drugs”.

What do you think?

Precht: Macht fehlender Diskurs dumm?

Ich bin spät dran, aber vor einigen Tagen habe ich endlich die erste Folge der ZDF-Serie Precht (Hauptdarsteller: Richard David Precht gesehen. Provokanter Titel: “Macht Lernen Dumm?”.

Geliefert wird eine Art zweistimmiger Monolog über den Wissensstand der Reformpädagogik (Precht und Hüther beklagen einstimmig den Stand der Unterrichtspraxis in Deutschland). Inhaltlich wird mehr oder weniger das wiedergegeben, was Neil PostmanKen Robinson, Sugata Mithra, Daniel Pink schreiben.

Ich finde es gut, dass Precht und Hüther die Ziele und Methodiken zeitgemäßer Pädagogik erläutern und sie so hoffentlich popularisieren. Für eine philosophische Runde scheint das Format dagegen ungeeignet (das ist auch der Zeit aufgefallen). Keine Widersprüche, keine Diskussion, keine Entwicklung neuer Ideen.

Gerade die für die Schulen geforderte Kreativität fehlt der Sendung. Tatsächlich ähnelt der zweistimmige Monolog mehr dem gescholtenen Frontalunterricht. Die Funktion “Mitreden”, die gerade in ein Diskurs-Format passen würde, bietet auch nur ein sehr altbackenes Web-Forum ohne Einfluss auf die Sendung.

Fazit

Dem Format würden mehr Kontroversen gut tun, um tatsächlich neue Ideen zu produzieren, wie es eine philosophische Runde verspricht. Handzahme Vorträge zu zweit werden dem nicht gerecht.

More to see here…

nicht zuletzt inspiriert durch Johnny Häuslers Aufruf 2013: Das Web zurückerobern werde ich in 2013 versuchen, dieses Blog zum Zentrum eigener Inhalte zu machen und damit Aktivitäten bei Twitter, Facebook usw. ergänzen.

Hier wird es also in Zukunft auch Linkblogging+ geben, weil ich auf der eigenen Plattform mehr Kontrolle über Form und Stabilität der Links habe. Twitter (und evtl. Facebook) werden dann Inhalte dieses Blogs verlinken und nicht mehr direkt fremde Inhalte.

Stay tuned…

Android frustrations: “Enterprise features” are not just for the enterprise

There’s no Android device (that I know of) that supports hardware encryption of all data on the device, there’s no framework support for transparent encryption and there’s no remote wipe. These are the things commonly demanded for “enterprise devices“.

But I’d like to have them on my Android phone as well, even when I don’t store company data on the device. People lose their phones. All the time. And there’s private data on there that should better be kept secret.

I feel uncomfortable carrying around a device which has more than 300 contact data sets, lots of personal email and also knows password to some of my accounts on the web. And I’d gladly buy an Android device that properly protects my data.

Oh, and no, all the apps available in the market that offer password stores or document encryption are just not the way to do it!

Android frustrations: What’s in a platform

I’ve come to like the Android after my early heavy frustrations (there’s a post coming up on what’s fundamentally right (read: compared to iOS)), but I can’t shut up on some very fundamental, conceptual issues that will (for now) make some people less happy than they should be with their Androids:

Customers have to specifically decide on a feature set, not just on the platform

It’s not enough to get “an Android phone”. There are two major differentiators on the Android platform that requires customers to look close to really get what they want: 1) the OS version and 2) the specific device capabilities. These two are interconnected (a device usually only comes with one specific OS version), but two devices with similar hardware can perform quite differently with different OSses.

The major differences customers can experience are along these lines (in no specific order):

  • screen size
  • networks supported (3G/WiFi,GSM)
  • keyboard / touchscreen
    • multi-touch or just single-touch
      • (in the multi-touch case there are different qualities of multi-touch as well (number of simultaneous touches supported, robustness of detection)
  • camera
    • sensor quality
    • flash (yes/no/type)
    • front-facing camera (yes/no)
  • GPS (yes/no)
  • pre-installed apps*
  • fundamental look and feel of the apps on the device*
  • availability of fundamental apps like navigation*
  • availability of tethering
  • size of internal memory
  • Google certification*
  • enterprise security features *

the items marked with a * will be subject to a future post because they require more detailed discussion

Many of these options that are not prominently advertised (and as such taken as a platform capability) make a difference for the applicability of your Android device (tethering? fundamental look and feel?). Also, all these options may lead to a Paradox of choice situation.

Now, to me it seems that the mobile devices market is mostly defined through devices, not so much through platforms, but that may be changing now. Apple delivers the iOS for different devices and Motorola calls it’s devices the Droids, so platform may be important.

The questions that remains to be answered: What are the defining properties of the Android platform from a customer perspective?

Android Frustrations: Samsung Mail Client

I’m under the impression that everybody who reviewed the Samsung Galaxy S I9000 and gave it big praise (even as an iPhone contender) has not really used the device for more than two minutes. There are so many annoyances and glitches that must not happen to well-designed user-friendly devices.

The Samsung mail client

Samsung has put their own email client with IMAP/POP3 support on the phone. And I’ve never used an email client with so many fundamental flaws:

  • it considers all mail it has not read itself to be unread on IMAP. (Yes, IMAP!)
  • you cannot copy text from received emails (!!!)
  • it does not support threading
  • folders are shown as an horizontal bar at the top. This is not helpful if you have 50+ folders
    • oh, and you cannot move/copy mails to folders anyway
  • the “new mail” notification does not show subjects, only number of mails received
  • responding to mail does a fullquote and puts the text to the top; and no, there’s no way to do it another way

And I forgot, it looks really ugly.

Fortunately there’s K9Mail on the Android market that does most of these things better. But for an out-of-the-box experience (how many people exactly will be spending time looking for alternative clients) this is really bad. You can do better, Samsung.

Android frustrations: Overall system performance

Update: Downgrading from the unofficial Froyo (2.2) release to an unofficial 2.1 release (2.1-update1, from the JM5 release which can be found on the internet) seems to improve things greatly: The “Active Applications” widget now shows 7 to 9 apps running without any significant slowdowns. “Force close”s are gone, lag is way down, battery seems to last longer (though only the next days will show). I’m not yet sure about the clock (I don’t trust it) and the general problem of missing feedback on actions is still there but it’s less serious because everything’s fast, now. So, the next articles will be about some of the apps. Finally!

One of the most notable things (a 3rd generation iPod touch being my companion for over a year now) is the less-than-stellar performance of most things on the Samsung. I believe it’s caused more by the software than the hardware, the Samsung Galaxy sports a 1GHz processor and 512 MB of memory.

My most prominent (and hardest to bear) examples (using the unofficial Froyo images found on the web; performance was worse in 2.1):

  • clicking buttons often  does not offer any feedback (> 30% of the cases, more like 70% if the phone has been running for some time)., so you’re always wondering if the phone actually recognized your clicks  This makes for a terrible user experience since it often takes 3-10 seconds to launch applications.
  • When someone calls you, the phone rings, the screen goes dark and after around 3 seconds the screen lights up again and you see who’s calling. This is pretty ugly for a device that’s dominantly a phone! (This was really bad with 2.1, around 10 sec)
  • The clock runs 7 minutes late after a single day of use. The C.L.O.C.K, can you believe it?
  • battery drain is really bad. Even mild use of 3G (downloading one small app, checking facebook once, twitter twice) means that the battery is down to 25% ofter one day (no phone use). This means you cannot take this device with you (on a trip) if you cannot be sure that you can charge it overnight. This also makes the navigation applications useless because the battery will not survive a trip longer than 2-3 hours.
  • applications seem to use blocking updates which makes the system unresponsive (instead of updating in the background in a separate thread). This should be blamed on the applications (since background updates are even advertised as best practice by Google) but the prevalence of applications that present a “wait or force close” screen after updates is high. Even Google’s Listen stalls on me every few minutes. I hope, developer education will solve this one.
  • You see the “force close” screen much to often. This is almost certainly caused by generally low quality of apps in the Android market but even apps delivered stock with the phone crash way to often.

These are my top-level frustrations and I think there are conceptual reasons for them:

  • The code produced by the Dalvik VM is still much slower than machine-specific code.
  • the Android OS gives applications a lot of freedom (which is a good thing), allowing them to do things in a non-optimal way
  • there is no review of applications enforcing strong quality standards. This is two-faced. It allows for innovation and crazy ideas but allows for a lot of bad user experience. I guess, even the apps produced by Google, Facebook or twitter might be better if they had to go through an Apple store-like review process.

In the end, it’s still really hard to write good, working software. It’s even harder to write software that has a good user experience. And it’s still a lot harder to do this for smartphone-type devices where functionality is more limited and user experience is the only thing that really counts.

I love that now there i strong competition to the iPhone, but (at least for me) Android does not deliver, yet. But I’m not giving up. The platform does have a lot of interesting concepts (think of Intents, e.g.).

Android frustration a day

Since I own a Samsung Galaxy S I9000 Android device now and am not entirely happy with it, I decided to share my whining with you. The coming days, I’ll try to explain what’s wrong with the phone, Android and the apps. I don’t have months of experience with the device yet, but I’ve started to write some applications so I know at least a bit of the inner workings and don’t have to rely on wild guessing.

stating the obvious