Sunday, January 25, 2015

2015-01-25 Sunday - Digital Media, Internet TV, Internet Broadcasting

Preparation is a core tenent of my consulting / professional services business...it is my hope that the effort I put into preparation provides a significant differentiation in the quality of service I am able to render to my clients - in contrast to my competitors...


A new client engagement is in a business domain with which I have little experience to-date: Digital Media, Internet TV, and Internet Broadcasting.

To help myself quickly develop a broad and deep understanding of not only the technical aspects of the new role - and the technical standards that it encompasses (e.g.. HEVC, H.264, etc.) - I also am interested in developing a deep understanding of the business models and the various business constraints and concerns that may come into play in shaping a solution for a given client.

To that end, I have ordered the following books this weekend on Amazon:

Connected Viewing: Selling, Streaming, & Sharing Media in the Digital Age
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0415813603/
As patterns of media use become more integrated with mobile technologies and multiple screens, a new mode of viewer engagement has emerged in the form of connected viewing, which allows for an array of new relationships between audiences and media texts in the digital space. This exciting new collection brings together twelve original essays that critically engage with the socially-networked, multi-platform, and cloud-based world of today, examining the connected viewing phenomenon across television, film, video games, and social media.The result is a wide-ranging analysis of shifting business models, policy matters, technological infrastructure, new forms of user engagement, and other key trends affecting screen media in the digital era. Connected Viewing contextualizes the dramatic transformations taking place across both media industries and national contexts, and offers students and scholars alike a diverse set of methods and perspectives for studying this critical moment in media culture.
Distribution Revolution: Conversations about the Digital Future of Film and Television
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0520283252
Distribution Revolution is a collection of interviews with leading film and TV professionals concerning the many ways that digital delivery systems are transforming the entertainment business. These interviews provide lively insider accounts from studio executives, distribution professionals, and creative talent of the tumultuous transformation of film and TV in the digital era. The first section features interviews with top executives at major Hollywood studios, providing a window into the big-picture concerns of media conglomerates with respect to changing business models, revenue streams, and audience behaviors. The second focuses on innovative enterprises that are providing path-breaking models for new modes of content creation, curation, and distribution—creatively meshing the strategies and practices of Hollywood and Silicon Valley. And the final section offers insights from creative talent whose professional practices, compensation, and everyday working conditions have been transformed over the past ten years. Taken together, these interviews demonstrate that virtually every aspect of the film and television businesses is being affected by the digital distribution revolution, a revolution that has likely just begun

Producing Streaming Video for Multiple Screen Delivery

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0976259540/
Published in 2013, Producing Streaming Video for Multiple Screen Delivery the only compression-related textbook released after 2010, and it incorporates the latest technologies, including DASH and HTML5 and new devices such as 4G transmitters for mobile delivery. This book is written for producers seeking to distribute streaming video to the widest possible audience, including computers, smartphones and tablets, and Over the Top (OTT) devices. Written by Jan Ozer, this book delivers the lessons learned from years of producing and consulting on streaming, and serving as a contributing editor to the industry bible, Streaming Media Magazine
The Business of Media Distribution: Monetizing Film, TV, and Video Content in an Online World
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0240824237
Learn how an idea moves from concept to profits and how distribution dominates the bottom line of an industry otherwise grounded in high profile elements (production, creative, law, finance, and marketing).In this updated edition of a bestselling industry staple, experienced media executive Jeff Ulin relates business theory and practice across key global market segments—film, television, video, and online/digital—providing you with an insider’s perspective that can't be found anywhere else. This new edition:
  • Includes perspectives from key industry executives at studios, networks and online leaders, including Fox, Paramount, Lucasfilm, USA Network, BSkyB, YouTube, Hulu, Microsoft and many more
  • Analyzes online influences throughout the distribution chain and explains the impact made by the growth of apps, tablets, smart-phones, social media, social gaming, and over-the-top delivery
  • Discusses the growth of Digital Cinema and the related distribution of 3D movies.
  • Explores changes in the home video business and growth of on-demand (VOD) and on-the-go access to content
  • Illustrates how online services like Netflix, Amazon, YouTube and Hulu are changing the way TV content is distributed and consumed, and why they are producing their own original series
  • Breaks down historical film windows, the economic drivers behind them, and how online and digital delivery applications are changing the landscape.
  • Features a companion website (www.focalpress.com/9780240824239), which includes additional material demystifying how projects are developed and profits calculated


Digital Video and HD, Second Edition: Algorithms and Interfaces (The Morgan Kaufmann Series in Computer Graphics)
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0123919266
Digital Video and HD: Algorithms and Interfaces provides a one-stop shop for the theory and engineering of digital video systems. Equally accessible to video engineers and those working in computer graphics, Charles Poynton's revision to his classic text covers emergent compression systems, including H.264 and VP8/WebM, and augments detailed information on JPEG, DVC, and MPEG-2 systems. This edition also introduces the technical aspects of file-based workflows and outlines the emerging domain of metadata, placing it in the context of digital video processing.

Once I have digested this first lot of books, I have identified the following for a possible follow-up order:

High Efficiency Video Coding: Coding Tools and Specification
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/3662442752
The video coding standard High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) targets at improved compression performance for video resolutions of HD and beyond, providing Ultra HD video at similar compressed bit rates as for HD video encoded with the well-established video coding standard H.264/AVC. Based on known concepts, new coding structures and improved coding tools have been developed and specified in HEVC. The standard is expected to be taken up easily by established industry as well as new endeavors, answering the needs of todays connected and ever-evolving online world.This book presents the High Efficiency Video Coding standard and explains it in a clear and coherent language. It provides a comprehensive and consistently written description, all of a piece. The book targets at both, newbies to video coding as well as experts in the field. While providing sections with introductory text for the beginner, it suits as a well-arranged reference book for the expert. The book provides a comprehensive reference for the technical details of the employed coding tools; it further outlines the algorithmic advances compared to H.264/AVC. In addition to the technical aspects, the book provides insight to the general concepts of standardization, how specification text is written, and how these concepts apply to the HEVC specification.
Video coding standards: AVS China, H.264/MPEG-4 PART 10, HEVC, VP6, DIRAC and VC-1
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/9400767412
The requirements for multimedia (especially video and audio) communications increase rapidly in the last two decades in broad areas such as television, entertainment, interactive services, telecommunications, conference, medicine, security, business, traffic, defense and banking. Video and audio coding standards play most important roles in multimedia communications. In order to meet these requirements, series of video and audio coding standards have been developed such as MPEG-2, MPEG-4, MPEG-21 for audio and video by ISO/IEC, H.26x for video and G.72x for audio by ITU-T, Video Coder 1 (VC-1) for video by the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) and RealVideo (RV) 9 for video by Real Networks.AVS China is the abbreviation for Audio Video Coding Standard of China. This new standard includes four main technical areas, which are systems, video, audio and digital copyright management (DRM), and some supporting documents such as consistency verification. The second part of the standard known as AVS1-P2 (Video - Jizhun) was approved as the national standard of China in 2006, and several final drafts of the standard have been completed, including AVS1-P1 (System - Broadcast), AVS1-P2 (Video - Zengqiang), AVS1-P3 (Audio - Double track), AVS1-P3 (Audio - 5.1), AVS1-P7 (Mobile Video), AVS-S-P2 (Video) and AVS-S-P3 (Audio). AVS China provides a technical solution for many applications such as digital broadcasting (SDTV and HDTV), high-density storage media, Internet streaming media, and will be used in the domestic IPTV, satellite and possibly the cable TV market. Comparing with other coding standards such as H.264 AVC, the advantages of AVS video standard include similar performance, lower complexity, lower implementation cost and licensing fees. This standard has attracted great deal of attention from industries related to television, multimedia communications and even chip manufacturing from around the world. Also many well known companies have joined the AVS Group to be Full Members or Observing Members. The 163 members of AVS Group include Texas Instruments (TI) Co., Agilent Technologies Co. Ltd., Envivio Inc., NDS, Philips Research East Asia, Aisino Corporation, LG, Alcatel Shanghai Bell Co. Ltd., Nokia (China) Investment (NCIC) Co. Ltd., Sony (China) Ltd., and Toshiba (China) Co. Ltd. as well as some high level universities in China. Thus there is a pressing need from the instructors, students, and engineers for a book dealing with the topic of AVS China and its performance comparisons with similar standards such as H.264, VC-1 and RV-9.

High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC): Algorithms and Architectures (Integrated Circuits and Systems)
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/3319068946
This book provides developers, engineers, researchers and students with detailed knowledge about the High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) standard. HEVC is the successor to the widely successful H.264/AVC video compression standard, and it provides around twice as much compression as H.264/AVC for the same level of quality. The applications for HEVC will not only cover the space of the well-known current uses and capabilities of digital video – they will also include the deployment of new services and the delivery of enhanced video quality, such as ultra-high-definition television (UHDTV) and video with higher dynamic range, wider range of representable color, and greater representation precision than what is typically found today. HEVC is the next major generation of video coding design – a flexible, reliable and robust solution that will support the next decade of video applications and ease the burden of video on world-wide network traffic. This book provides a detailed explanation of the various parts of the standard, insight into how it was developed, and in-depth discussion of algorithms and architectures for its implementation.
Entertainment Industry Economics: A Guide for Financial Analysis
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1107075297
The entertainment and media industries, already important sectors of the U.S. economy, continue to grow rapidly in other countries around the world. This ninth edition of Entertainment Industry Economics continues to be the definitive source on the economics of film, music, television, advertising, broadcasting, cable, casino and online wagering, publishing, performing arts and culture, toys and games, sports, and theme parks. It synthesizes a vast amount of data to provide a clear, comprehensive, and up-to-date reference guide on the economics, financing, accounting, production, and marketing of entertainment in the United States and overseas. Completely updated, it includes new sections on price effects, art markets, and Asian gaming. Financial analysts and investors, economists, industry executives, accountants, lawyers, regulators and legislators, and journalists, as well as students preparing to join these professionals, will benefit from this invaluable guide on how the entertainment and media industries operate.

Monday, January 12, 2015

2015-01-12 Monday - Brother MFC-L2700DW Compact Laser All-In One with Wireless Networking and Duplex Printing


Very pleased with a new bit of equipment I've added for my mobile office kit, a Brother MFC-L2700DW Compact Laser All-In One with Wireless Networking and Duplex Printing 



(although, it might be worth paying a bit more for the additional duplex capabilities of the MFC-L2740DW)

Thursday, December 25, 2014

The 24th International World Wide Web Conference (May 18-22, 2015)

The 24th International World Wide Web Conference will be held May 18-22, 2015 - in Florence, Italy - with a chosen venue of the Fortezza de Basso

http://www2015.wwwconference.org/ 

http://www.www2015.it/conference-overview/


In recent years, the 2014 conference was held in South Korea:

http://www2014.wwwconference.org/

...presentation slides
http://www2014.wwwconference.org/presentation-slides/





...and the 2013 conference was held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

http://www2013.org/index.html

videos of the keynotes speeches...
http://www2013.org/salas/segovia-i/

proceedings... 
http://www2013.org/2013/06/21/proceedings-available-online/

tutorial materials...
http://www2013.org/2013/06/21/tutorial-materials-available-online/

http://www2013.org/papers/companion.htm



Some recent threads of discussion related to this InfoQ article series has raised my interest in possibly attending the 2015 conference...
http://www.infoq.com/articles/Web-APIs-From-Start-to-Finish

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

2014-12-23 Tuesday - Ray Dalio's Principles

As an architect of software systems - I am deeply interested in the idea of IT architecture principles which may be codified to help guide my own thinking - as well as others within an organization.

Similarly, in my role as the founder of a small consulting business, I find learning about the business principles of other successful leaders to be of great interest.

Today I have spent time meditating deeply on the words of Ray Dalio, as expressed in a 123 page PDF that he published, entitled: Principles
http://www.bwater.com/Uploads/FileManager/Principles/Bridgewater-Associates-Ray-Dalio-Principles.pdf

His words are inspiring, his lessons invaluable, and the clarity of his thinking is like finding nuggets of gold and precious diamonds laid before one's feet.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

2014-12-21 Sunday - JDK8, JavaScript, Nashorn, JJS, Eclipse Luna

This posting is a placeholder for links to some useful information as I explore the JavaScript processing capabilities of JDK8's Nashorn (JJS) within an Exclipse Luna environment.

Nashorn JavaScript Engine with JDK8 - Hello World
http://ladstatt.blogspot.com/2013/09/nashorn-javascript-engine-with-jdk8.html

Java 8 Nashorn Tutorial
http://winterbe.com/posts/2014/04/05/java8-nashorn-tutorial/

Nashorn: JavaScript made great in Java 8
http://www.javaworld.com/article/2144908/scripting-jvm-languages/nashorn--javascript-made-great-in-java-8.html

The Two Pillars of JavaScript
Part 1: How to Escape the 7th Circle of Hell
https://medium.com/javascript-scene/the-two-pillars-of-javascript-ee6f3281e7f3

The Two Pillars of JavaScript
Part 2: Functional Programming
https://medium.com/javascript-scene/the-two-pillars-of-javascript-pt-2-functional-programming-a63aa53a41a4

Mozilla Developer Network, JavaScript Guide
https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Web/JavaScript/Guide

w3schools JavaScript Tutorial
http://www.w3schools.com/js/

Processing.js
http://processingjs.org/

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

2014-12-03 Wednesday - Advice for a Friend Launching a Solo Consulting Business

A friend is about to leave his large comfortable corporate enterprise job - and go out on his own.  I offered to write-up some suggestions based on some of my own experience (this posting is primarily focused on specific tactical resources that he might find useful) to help him prepare for launching his solo consulting practice. His business is in a different industry than mine - so these suggestions are more general purpose - and not specific to the software/technology industry...


If your business evolves as mine has, you may find that 50% eventually comes from referral/relationships - and 50% from sources that you monitor.  Having said that - there comes a time (either at the bottom of a vicious downturn in the business cycle, or at a peak in the organic growth rate of your business itself - where cold calling will be necessary to thrive - or just survive.  These are the best-of-the-best books I have found for developing the mental mindset for that time...

Some Recommended Books...

Zig Ziglar's Secrets of Closing the Sale, my copy is the original 1995 edition

http://www.amazon.com/Zig-Ziglars-Secrets-Closing-Sale/dp/0425081028

You might prefer the newer 2004 edition:
http://www.amazon.com/Secrets-Closing-Sale-Zig-Ziglar/dp/0800759753

Or, perhaps the Audio CD
http://www.amazon.com/Secrets-Closing-Abridged-published-Schuster/dp/B00ES24V5G

This is an excellent book whenever your business growth feels like it is stalling...
Make It Happen Before Lunch: 50 Cut-to-the-Chase Strategies for Getting the Business Results You Want
http://www.amazon.com/Make-Happen-Before-Lunch--Chase/dp/0071360719

Gerald Weinberg's writing has been transformational in how I have evolved as a consultant...

Secrets of Consulting
http://www.amazon.com/Secrets-Consulting-Giving-Getting-Successfully/dp/0932633013

More Secrets of Consulting: The Consultant's Tool Kit
http://www.amazon.com/More-Secrets-Consulting-Consultants-Tool/dp/0932633528

I have an entire shelf of Alan Weiss books in my library - his attitudes about most things rubs me the wrong way (often in a most disagreeable manner) - but his writing continues to challenge me in stretching my mind in how I view my consulting business - and how I seek to differentiate my competitive service offerings.  He also challenges my conventional notions about how to set billing rates - and how to value the service I offer clients. Be forwearned, he's a real ball buster kind of guy...
http://www.amazon.com/Alan-Weiss/e/B000AQ0PNG

 
Avoiding the Hourly Billing Trap - Selling Your Expertise...
http://www.forbes.com/sites/susanadams/2014/10/27/heres-how-one-new-college-grad-made-66000-in-one-month-without-a-full-time-job/
 

https://www.udemy.com/teach/
 


If you have some ideas for possible commercial/cloud software/service offerings, I highly recommend signing up for the Microsoft Biz Spark program...
http://www.microsoft.com/bizspark/


Business Insurance
Recommended:
http://www.thehartford.com/


Sample Contracts, possible sources...
http://www.onecle.com/
http://msabundle.com/


Cloud Hosted Accounting Software
You might want to look at something like this...
http://www.freshbooks.com/

..or just
Cloud Hosted Billing/Invoicing
https://www.simplybill.com/

...or perhaps Intuit's invoice payment service...
https://ipn.intuit.com/



If you find that you have long-term engagements with clients - where you need to publish client-specific documents - and have some form of interactivity - you might want to use a service like Base Camp
https://basecamp.com/
https://basecamp.com/start#prices

or...
https://trello.com/

Or perhaps if you need something a little more robust...this might be worth looking at...
https://www.worketc.com/

If you just need a time-tracking tool...
https://www.tickspot.com



Road Warrior Tools....

You'll be on the road...often....and as a solo Rōnin Business Warrior - you'll have no corporate organization to support and back you up. It is up to you to assemble your 'support team' and 'support services' - here are a few that I would consider as potential 'force multipliers' for an Army of One:


Wifi / Mobile Hotspot
I have been very pleased with my AT&T Mobile Hotspot device [Unite Pro] - and recently upgraded to the 30GB/month option. One of my best investments in tools for the road: Never having to worry about availability of Wifi; ability to avoid public/guest Wifi networks; and avoiding potential additional charges for Wifi access in hotels and airports.


Web Site Hosting
Want to host a web site?
Yahoo Business Hosting has very economical plans:
https://smallbusiness.yahoo.com/webhosting

You may also want to consider something like:
http://www.digitalocean.com
or...
http://www.rackspace.com


File Sharing
http://www.dropbox.com
http://www.github.com 
http://www.box.com 
http://docs.google.com


Electronic Document Management
https://www.docusign.com/

Need a Virtual Assistant?
http://www.virtualstafffinder.com/



Mail Box Service
UPS.com 
Having a mailbox with a local UPS store is extremely useful. The peace of mind that there is someone there to sign for packages, and who can forward your mail to you while you are on the road has been worth the annual cost.


Virtual Office / Phone / Mail / Support?
http://www.regus.com/products/virtual-offices/index.aspx

Although I am currently a Vonage business customer, if I were starting out today, I might consider...just a Skype Business Number

...or...
http://grasshopper.com/


For offering seminars/classes: Student Registration / Sell Class Tickets Online
https://www.eventbrite.com/t/how-to-sell-tickets-online


or...
https://www.regonline.com/


If you find yourself in the same major city often enough - and the client's office location is not usable (for whatever reason: space, convenience, noise, lack of privacy, etc.) - you might want to consider a Gold Business Lounge Membership with Regus.com
http://www.regus.com/products/businessworld-membership/gold.aspx
http://www.regus.com/products/business-lounges/index.aspx

Prices are very reasonable - and you can select a plan that is specific to a State, Country, or Global

Sometimes you just need a place to sit, have a coffee, and do a little work - this may be a useful link to save:
https://workfrom.co/

If I were traveling frequently, to help deal with stress, jet lag, etc. you might want a gym membership - my personal preference would be an LA Fitness Signature Club membership
https://www.lafitness.com/Pages/findclub.aspx

If you find yourself spending a lot of time stuck in airports, it may be worthwhile to sign-up for a Priority Pass
http://www.prioritypass.com/

For frequent business travel, I would also consider the extensive benefits offered by the American Express Platinum card
https://www304.americanexpress.com/credit-card/platinum

Also, for frequent flying, TSA-Pre
http://www.tsa.gov/tsa-precheck-application-program

If you have frequent international travel,
http://www.cbp.gov/global-entry/about

This site can help with getting visas for international travel...
http://www.itseasy.com/


Need to host a web demo kind of meeting? This is a very economical service that also includes a free usage tier
https://www.join.me/
https://www.join.me/en/features
https://www.join.me/en/pricing

or...consider this service
https://www.uberconference.com/

or....
http://www.screenleap.com/

or...
http://www.gotomeeting.com/online/



A World Clock
http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/

Currency Converter
http://www.xe.com/currencyconverter/


You may need to entertain clients sometimes, OpenTable is convenient for checking menus, venues, and makes dinner reservations a snap
http://www.opentable.com


Some useful travel sites:
http://www.flightarrivals.com
http://www.flightradar24.com
http://www.seatguru.com
http://flightaware.com
http://thepointsguy.com
http://boardingarea.com



Consulting industry trends...

I subscribe to the Kennedy Wire e-newsletter, since it gives me a broader overview of trends/news related to the business of consulting in general.
http://www.kennedyinfo.com/consulting/
http://www.kennedyinfo.com/consulting/periodicals/kennedywire


Some links to inspirational content for the start-up / consulting frame of mind...
http://onstartups.com/
http://www.startuplessonslearned.com/
http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/
http://venturehacks.com/



For an overview of the legal aspects of start-ups...
http://www.startupcompanylawyer.com/

Presentations / Marketing:
Need business cards, stationary, signs, banners, web site, company swag?
http://www.vistaprint.com

Need a logo developed or a web site - put it out as a contest/bid project

http://99designs.com/

or consider this service...

http://www.logoworks.com/

Engage your audience with a web hosted survey
 
https://www.surveymonkey.com/
 

Need to send out mass-mailings (e.g. newsletters?)  
http://mailchimp.com/

Share presentations

https://speakerdeck.com/

Share videos
 
https://vimeo.com/

Press Release Distribution
 
http://www.businesswire.com/portal/site/home/submit-a-press-release/ 
http://www.businesswire.com/portal/site/home/distribution/

Presentation Zen
http://www.presentationzen.com/

http://www.garrreynolds.com/preso-tips/


I find it helpful when crafting an initial contact email to refresh my mind with this...

[Apparently I captured the following snippet in a notebook some time ago, but I can't seem to find the source for proper attribution - I will update with the proper attribution as soon as I can confirm the source]

AIDA
When crafting a sales letter, try to go with the proven direct marketing formula known as AIDA. It stands for: Attention, Interest, Desire, Action
Your sales material must incorporate all of these elements, which in effect takes the customer by the hand from the moment of getting their attention (A), having them take interest in the product (I), causing them to desire the BENEFITS that the product will give them - note that this is not the same as desiring the product (D), and calling them to action (A). A strong call to action, where you spell out and tell them exactly what to do in order to buy your product, is essential...

2014-12-03 Wednesday - Micosoft Office Visio Stencil 2014


Useful:



http://www.microsoft.com/en-nz/download/details.aspx?id=35772

2014-12-03 Wednesday - Book Review: Effective Ruby



Expert Guidance on Ruby's Ways

When you buy a book to expand your knowledge of something, you hope that the author has used the pages to communicate worthwhile lessons - and a good book is liking having a teacher by your side.  For my personal preference, an even better style is when the author acts much as a mountain guide - not only showing you the right way - but also calling out the dangers and risks of less efficient paths...or paths that will lead you astray.

In "Effective Ruby, 48 Specific Ways to Write Better Ruby", Peter J. Jones demonstrates his knowledge of Ruby - in a hands-on and practical manner - achieving the much deserved accolade as both teacher and guide.

The clarity of writing is reminiscent of Kernighan and Ritchie, Scott Meyers, and Joshua Bloch

Ruby is a worthwhile language to have in your toolbox - and this book is a welcome addition to my technical library.




Chapter 1: Accustoming Yourself to Ruby
Chapter 2: Classes, Objects, and Modules
Chapter 3: Collections
Chapter 4: Exceptions
Chapter 5: Metaprogramming
Chapter 6: Testing
Chapter 7: Tools and Libraries
Chapter 8: Memory Management and Performance