Friday, April 18, 2008

Free Ebook: Beautiful Children by Charles Bock; I Want my DTV

Free Ebook: Beautiful Children by Charles Bock

Beautiful Children by Charles Bock: how do you make a profit by giving 15,000 ebooks away? The Feb 2008 issue of Wired had an article about this new/old business model. You make up the loss in free advertising or in other products tied in to the freebie. For example, Wired reported that King Gillette sold the razors at deep discount and made it up on the sale of blades.

Well, Bill Gates told Homer you don’t rich by writing checks, as he busted up Homer’s Internet business. Ironically, Homer didn’t even own a computer. But the new/old paradigm of giving the product away has been a hallmark of the online experience. We take for granted free software (QuickTime, DivX, etc.) and that Adobe will always give away the pdf Reader, but what if they charged for it? Would the market respond and come up with another free reader? What if Adobe made pdf files proprietary? There was a rumor in the ’90s that Microsoft would buy Adobe and fears that we’d have to pay them every time we wanted to distill a pdf.

Tip of the Day: If you ever do read a book in Adobe Reader, here’s how I make a bookmark. I create a shortcut to the file, leave it on the desktop, and rename the shortcut with the number of the page where I left off.


I finally got my $40 gummint coupon toward the purchase of a digital-to-analog converter for my old television. Come February 2009, these old war horses will need the converter box to pull in and convert the digital signal. As a member of the coop board, I have to recommend whether or not we should spend the money to upgrade the roof antenna and my test was very discouraging. I tried pulling in a signal many ways, using:

  • The roof antenna
  • The “turn your wiring into a giant antenna” device
  • An amplified indoor or fire escape antenna
  • A screw in my alarm system

Believe or not, wedging the tip of the coax into the screw gave me the best signal strength. However, the only channels I could get were 5.1, 5.2 (simulcast of Channel 9) 25.1, 25.2 (traffic camera channel), and a low power religious station on digital channel 3.1. It’s going to be weird to see channel 3 in New York if they stay on the air. I am recommending to the board to make the investment to upgrade the system and pull in these signals, which for the most part are from the old UHF band which was always hard to tune in. (Although I read that some channels after February 2009, such as Channel 13, may move back to the their old signal on the VHF band).

One of the knocks against digital is the all-or-nothing feature of receiving the transmission: no more ghosts. Another knock is how hard it is to get a signal in a fringe area. I’m on the second floor of the southern end of a six-story building and that’s certainly a reason why I’m not getting much of a signal. I can’t help but recall that the old analog VHF TV signal could penetrate thick walls but UHF cannot. Many people who are ignoring this conversion and who don’t have satellite or cable are in for a shock come February 2009. There may be a mad dash to Radio Shack or Cablevision or Dish.

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