“Right on the Mark” (Open Media)

While attending Queen’s University in 1984, I went to a seminar presented by John Meisel called “InfoSpeak”. This seminar discussed the impact and implications that the Internet would have on society for years to come. Professor Meisel was returning to Queens after serving as the Chairman of the CRTC. My mother expressed interest in that seminar, so I invited her to come with me…

This seminar had a huge impact on my mother. My mother constantly talked about the issues that would arise as a result of the Internet. I was only interested in listening to Professor Meisel since he was going to be one of my professors in the next semester. Just imagine: my mother never touched a computer in her life, but she foresaw the impact of the Internet years before I did, and I was supposed to be the computer geek!

Around this time, my mother also talked about cable companies introducing “Pay TV”. She was worried that cable providers would harm the “public good”. Does this sound familiar? I thought my mother’s concern was an “overreaction”. I just wanted to watch television stations without them fading-in and fading-out. Long live cable!

Yet again, I have come to the conclusion that my mother was correct. In fact, she was “right on the mark”.

Yesterday, the Toronto Star published an article about OTA. The term OTA refers to “Over-the-Air” or “Digital” antennas that provide high-definition Television reception. This article made the front page. What angered me was the arrogant attitude that a representative from Rogers Cable had regarding OTA. The representative mentioned that these users were small in number, and may decrease since “on demand capability is the future of digital television”.

Here is the link: [http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/article/640344]

I’m sorry, with an attitude like that, your corporation is “missing the mark”…

Listen, my family subscribes to Rogers Internet, home phone, and to a cell phone plan for my daughter (for her birthday). We watch television shows provided by Rogers and are happy with the service. But sometimes I ask the question “where is our disposable income going”? The answer, in my opinion, is obvious: a lot of our money goes to “plans”, “bundles”, and “service contracts”. Heck, even fast food restaurants bundle their food items to mask rising prices. Have you checked out the price of a meal at A&W these days? Who came up with this idea of “bundles”?

The Rogers Cable representative failed to mention that you pay an additional fee to view those “on demand” movie broadcasts, and only a very very small number of the free TV stations are listed for just a few channels, not all…

Look, I am just one person, I can’t fight large corporations…
But there is always a choice >:)

By accident, I discovered Open Source software. I am a community college professor, and during my tenure I have learned to use and appreciate Open Source software, including the Linux OS. I believe these open source solutions have empowered me technically. I now work with an operating system that is free. By using Linux, I can install free, legal, easy-to-use, and powerful software by simply entering a few keywords and clicking a mouse button! Applications such as Open Office, Firefox, Cinelerra, Audacity, and Blender3D are examples of powerful substitutes replacements to MS or Apple products. Can’t live without Photoshop? Why not use GIMPShop? Why if I spend money for an operating system, am I expected to purchase (on a yearly basis) additional software to protect that operating system from viruses? Shouldn’t that be the responsibility of the operating system itself? (Think about that)…

Let the corporation representatives try to convince you that the “open source” software approach is silly and is “not the proper direction for the future”. Why should they worry? This is MY choice…

How does this relate to Rogers? One word: Mythtv. I run a PVR on my computer to capture and record television programs, movies, etc. I use Ubuntu Linux for the operating system and Mythtv for my PVR application. I can automatically record and then play back the shows commercial free. Heck, Mythtv even has the option to archive the shows in various formats to avoid the almighty “TiVo Syndrome” – The dilemma that “TiVo” subscribers experience when forced to watch their recorded programs now, or risk losing them as a result of storage constraints… Mythtv works with OTA, and FTA (Free-to-Air Satellite systems – I only view unencrypted (i.e. legal) channels by the way – great for at the cottage – and no “subscription fee”!). Mythtv also works with signals from cable providers (perhaps [in the future] as an option, and not a requirement)…

Here is a link to a Washington Post article regarding the creation of Mythtv [ html]

Unfortunately, my mother passed away several years ago. If I could talk to her today, one of the questions I would ask is “How did you foresee all of this stuff? The impact of the Internet? The erosion of the “Public Good”? I would also like to show her my open source alternative… I think she would would be pleased that I have a choice… I think she would approve of blogs as well…

This Post is for you Mom… 🙂
Murray Saul

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~ by Murray Saul on May 27, 2009.

6 Responses to ““Right on the Mark” (Open Media)”

  1. […] Go here to see the original:  “Right on the Mark” (Open Media) « Murray Saul#39;s CyberSpace […]

  2. Excellent post Murray!…and you are right about your mom of course…she would MOST DEFINATELY approve!

    Cheers,

    Brian

  3. OK, OK Murray, you’ve finally convinced me. I will get off my lazy a** and start doing some research. Goes to show you…always listen to your mother….

    Brian B

  4. Even before cable, your house was the best for TV (a rotor antenna that could get Syracuse, and even Rochester sometimes with those awesome “House of Guitars” commercials)!

  5. internet is like a big sharp knife, it can do real harm and certainly it can be used in good way. It all depends on how you use it.

  6. Great Post. TiVo is actually pushing their message about OTA with a YouTube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=65wdXjKsgQc

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