Tuesday, November 27, 2007


I'm halfway through a Capgemini seminar on IPTV, and thought I might sketch my thoughts.

The positive first. There's a lot going on in the group with regard to innovative video services. Capgemini has been involved in some ground-breaking work in developing the architecture and business models which are now hitting the European market. Personally I'm a late entrant, I've been involved in the T-Home workstream for just over two weeks, but my employer is well positioned to capitalise on the market demand.

The grim reality second. Everything we're doing is currently "classic IPTV" - more succinctly, a defensive play by telcos to capture back some market share from cable companies who are bringing triple play products to market.

Somehow I find this defensive position depressing. What is the value of a me-too service? I was keen to get an insight into the workings of Hulu, Joost and Miro. Instead I learned that IPTV "requires" the following:
  1. Live "regular" TV.
  2. Streamed and encrypted content
  3. A closed network.
I don't believe these propositions for a minute. Let's take them in turn.
  1. Live TV is an artifact from a broadcasting era. There is no good reason why you and I should both choose to watch "Desperate Housewives at 20:00. Video should be on-demand, any other model is an unnecessary encumbrance. In a model where delivery servers need to scale, simultaneous delivery is in any case suicide.
  2. Streaming and encrypting is expensive. Why bother? Digital content will be copied and pirated regardless of any effort to the contrary, why handicap yourself trying? Instead, we should lower the bar to progressive download a la Apple TV.
  3. A closed network is required to ensure Quality Of Service. A noble goal, one might think. However, turn the tables, and it means that your friendly neighbourhood telco will not give QoS guarantees for a third-party video service. Suddenly your promised 6 Mbit/s bandwidth becomes a number you're guaranteed not to exceed, rather than a goal to achieve. This fails the "Don't be evil" test miserably.
What's the upshot? As I've said before, the digital media market will continue to fragment. Telcos will find their niche, together with the Internet pure players, cable companies and other aggregators/etailers such as Apple iTunes, Walmart, Amazon, etc. The successful players will be those who add sufficient value or advertising, and established telcos will survive by girth alone.

I for one won't be signing up for a repeat of today's television experience, but thankfully I'm not representative of any known target group ;-)

Conservapedia Statistics

Much love to Rebecca Watson for this tip about Conservapedia (here a link to my blog post from earlier this year for those who missed it).

Check out Conservapedia's usage statistics:

Most viewed pages

  1. Main Page‎ [1,953,451]
  2. Homosexuality‎ [1,827,374]
  3. Homosexuality and Hepatitis‎ [518,416]
  4. Homosexuality and Parasites‎ [460,254]
  5. Gay Bowel Syndrome‎ [432,120]
  6. Homosexuality and Promiscuity‎ [422,619]
  7. Homosexual Couples and Domestic Violence‎ [374,478]
  8. Homosexuality and Gonorrhea‎ [332,269]
  9. Homosexuality and Anal Cancer‎ [294,892]
  10. Homosexuality and Mental Health‎ [294,250]
Is it my imagination or do these guys have a bit of a hang-up about sexuality?

BTW, the further invitation to view Conservapedia's description of evolution is a little more depressing. People believe this stuff? And vote? Scary.

Monday, November 19, 2007


Regular readers of this blog will know that we share our humble abode with two Deutsch Drahthaar dogs, Elektra and Othello. Today I'd like to talk a bit about Othello.

Othello's original name was Bandit, and he spent his first 11 years on a farm in Alsace. Here he was kept on a chain outside through the winter, and generally badly treated, so much so that the woman who runs the local animal refuge climbed over the fence with bolt cutters and liberated him in a midnight raid.

Once in the animal refuge, Othello did not recover well from his mistreatment. His fur was frozen off, and he was underweight, so that no-one was interested in taking him on. Through the organisation that had helped us find Electra, we heard of his plight and agreed to take him on for a few weeks. The hope was that he would then look more presentable and be more easily rehoused. He wormed his ways into our hearts, and has created havoc in our lives since September 2002. Despite the initial prognosis of a six month life expectancy, and occasional health scares in the last few years, Othello has always tried to attain the goal set for him by Heike: see Liam into his first day at school.

On Saturday, I came down to the kitchen to find Othello on the floor unable to get up. After 48 hours of trying to pep him up, we were forced today to bring him to the vet and have him euthanised. We miss him. Some pictures of Othello are shown below.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Rail vs Air for Heidelberg to Les Fontaines

I'm off to the Capgemini university at Les Fontaines for a training course in a few weeks, and thought I'd check out the rail option. My thought was, if it's competitive in time and cost, I'd go with the smaller carbon-footprint option by rail.

First up, what's to beat: Last time I drove to Frankfurt, queued for security, flew to Charles de Gaulle, followed by a 30-minute taxi ride, all in all about 4 hours door to door. The costs including mileage to the airport, flight, taxi and airport parking are a little over 500 euros.

This time I'll board at my local S-bahn at 16:06, arrive at Chantilly at 21:42, then a 5-minute taxi ride to the chateau. So at almost 6 hours, I'm definitely over the time budget. However the costs are well under control, my ticket to Paris comes in at 124,30. Although I can't know my local train and taxi prices in advance, I'm pretty confident they won't bring me over about 25 euros each way, giving a total trip cost of approx 175 euros.

Added to that, I have most of the trip on a TGV, which is more comfortable than any plane I've been on recently.

So in this case, I'm happy to take the time penalty and use a little less fossil fuel :-)

Marta's Christening

Here are a few pictures from Rosalie's friend Marta's christening earlier today.

Here she is with her godparents:

From Marta Taufe

And another with mother Wiebke and sister Greta added to the picture:

From Marta Taufe

and finally one with father Thomas:

From Marta Taufe

The fine art of eating

Rosalie has started to eat mashed fruit and vegetables, with mixed results, see the picture.

From Liam and Rosa...

The prevailing wisdom may be that the "messy" phase for feeding children is limited to some time period. The picture below would suggest that this time period extends past two and a half years.

From Liam and Rosa...