Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Format Wars

Two camps are fighting over who will make the next big medium, the replacement for DVDs. One group (spearheaded by Sony) is pushing the Blu-Ray disc. The other camp (notably spearheaded by Microsoft, Toshiba and others)

Blu-Ray discs are 25 G / layer, which means discs will typically be 25 or 50 G. They have made an 8-layer Blu-Ray disc that's 200 G, however. HD DVD has 15 G per layer, and they can only handle up to 3 layers per disc so far, for a paltry 45 G, but HD DVD drives are supposed to be much cheaper.

Currently, it looks like Blu-Ray discs cost less $ per G, but the players are almost twice as expensive.

Will consumers go for the better value in the long run, the cheaper hardware, the larger storage, or just not give a damn?

Here's a news release on a combo drive from Samsung:

That might suggest both formats will survive, and consumers won't know the difference, like with DVD-R and DVD+R.

On the other hand, here's a news story from the very next day saying that such a drive is unlikely for a while:

Maybe consumers will just stay out of the whole game completely, since it doesn't look like we'll have any $50 HD DVD or Blu-Ray players any time soon.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

World War 4?!?!? (and other tangents)

(Don't worry everything you'll read is open source material and my crazy opinions)
You might be thinking, damn did I miss one? Well it depends on how you consider wars. The cold war was a war of idealogies, that did cover the world. Granted the two powers never went overtly head-to-head, but everyone became their proxy. It seems to me, the rising conflict in the Middle East and terrorist acts around the world is the next round of idealogy wars.

We are not fight any specific nation state, like we have in previous wars, but we seems to be following a trend. During the cold war, we battled Russia and vice versus through nation states. This seems strikingly similar to state-funded terrorism we are seeing today....ok the analogy breaks down there...sort of. There are nation states out there that hate our way of life, similar to communism. They can not directly attack us, without be smashed flat, but rogue elements can pick at our sides.

So how does this lead to World War 4 (WWIV)? Iran/North Korea/Pakistan/Whoever decides they want to spread their idealogy, which is a direct affront to America. By funding and directing terrorist organizations to tie up our resources and split our attention, they have greater freedom. If we were not completely stuck in Iraq right now, do you think Iran would be so uppity? or North Korea? I will grant the Bush's policy of strike first probably scared the crap out of them, but the problem now is, we can't carry through on that threat. We have a straw man holding down the fortress and we can only extend so far.

So how do we actually get to WWIV? Escalation of the current conflict. Hezzbolah has remarkably survived an intense bombing campaign from Israel (long than any nation state in that area). If Hezzbolah is not removed/destroyed, there will be a grand new terrorist training ground from the popular support they receive by "beating" Israel. This inevitably will overflow into Iraq. Now with us tied up more so in Iraq, China/North Korea/India/Pakistan may starting getting jumpy. The tiger's tail is caught, now's the time to expand our reach. These mini-conflicts could start popping up everywhere and before you know it, North Korea/Iran are allies, China smashes Taiwan, Russia invades Georgia.

So how do we diffuse such a situation? I recommend we start doing the one thing we should have from the start. Fight the idealogical battle with words, not guns. Create centers dedicated to helping the disenfranchised Muslims, who are most likely to turn to terrorism. Prop up governments where Al-Qaida is trying to take over, fight them in small controlled battles. I think we made a huge mistake in trying to pin all of terrorism on a single nation. It is in the undercurrent of most societies, we should be spreading our resources widely and not be drawn into one stuck theatre. Of course if this were a perfect world we could do this.

So my question finally to all of you, A) is this a reasonable approach, B) if so, how do we extract ourself from our quagmire and apply this strategy?