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July 2008 Archives

Bipolar consultants :-)

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I have Google Alerts set up to notify me when my name, combined with my company name (Two Solitudes), appears in something it has indexed.  This week I got a belated alert about an article on a Canadian Chinese-language website.  Being curious as to what it said, I asked Google to translate it to English.  Google's automatic translation of the Chinese equivalent of "Two Solitudes Consulting" came out as "bipolar consultants" (see below).

Sure, I have my ups and downs, but bipolar seems a bit extreme ;-)   In any event, bipolar or not, I got a good laugh out of this :-)

[The original Chinese version is here: http://www.gcpnews.com/articles/2008-07-05/C1013_24924.html]

Chinese translation - bipolar consultants.jpg


There's little doubt that cloud computing will play a big part in our future world but outages like this are worrisome.  The more we depend on these services, the more we put at risk when outages occur.  And despite assurances of redundancy, etc., these outages still happen.  In this case, it's only storage and not the full AWS (Amazon Web Services) offering, but that's not the point.

While nothing is ever up 100% of the time, services likes AWS need to approach that.  Whether that means 5-nines (i.e. 99.999% up-time) or something somewhat less, dependency is the name of the game and these services have to be properly engineered to meet their SLAs (Service Level Agreements) -- and these SLAs must be clearly communicated.

My submission in response to CRTC Broadcasting Public Notice CRTC 2008-44 (Call for comments on the scope of a future proceeding on Canadian broadcasting in new media) is available here
CityNews story says consumers avoiding travel and staying at home.  That's good for the film and TV businesses as it will increase cinema outings and TV consumption.  Take it a step further, though, when people decide that the soaring cost of gas means even local trips are questionable, and we see that content that can be consumed without ever leaving the home like  digitally delivered movies, games and TV will likely flourish.
A Canadian Press (CP) story that has received wide circulation contained the following:

Canadians also can't use major U.S. TV network sites to watch shows online due to something called "geo-blocking," he said.

Media companies use this practice to determine a person's location based on where his computer is accessing the Internet.

"So if you are coming from Canada and try to go to ABC's website and you try to watch video there, it's going to say, `Sorry you're not coming from within the United States. You can't watch this.' "

It's usually done to save money because of the cost of streaming content over the Internet, Sawyer said.

While I did say that the cost of streaming is certainly a factor, I also said (and this is what's missing from the story) that:

  • media companies (Canadian, American and others) engage in geo-blocking to respect the licensing agreements that are in place that reflect real-world geographic boundaries
  • in the case where the right to do online distribution is not licensed by a broadcaster, broadcasters in other territories today still tend to respect the broadcast license arrangements that are in place and won't stream to other markets
  • to variable extents, the cost of streaming is subsidized through advertising dollars and advertisers have little interest in pay to reach out-of-market audiences
All of this is discussed in the full Changing Channels: Alternative Distribution of Television Content report that's referenced in the CP story.

The Two Solitudes study commissioned by the CRTC entitled Changing Channels: Alternative Distribution of Television Content is now available at the commission's website at http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/media/rp080606.htm (French version: http://www.crtc.gc.ca/frn/media/rp080606.htm)