Tuesday, June 27, 2006

DRM futures

Ever since I first encountered DRM I've always thought that there is an opportunity for a DRM aggregator. In this ideal world, there would still be DRM protection that would protect the rights of the content holder AND would enable the customer to be able to purchase media from the store and use it on as many devices as possible.

The following is an example of how I am currently restricted by DRM (which of course could happen to anyone) and I'll use the example of music...

I have a number of music playing devices in and around my home
- 60Gb ipod
- Windows media centre PC
- Roku soundbridge wireless streaming music player
- Sanyo 9000 Mobile Phone with 1 Gb memory

Here's how DRM (and the licensing issues around technology conspire) against me, the customer...

Ipod plays AAC and protected AAC format songs. Protected AAC songs are purchased from the Itunes Music Store.
Media PC plays WMA via Windows Media Player and AAC files via itunes
Roku plays AAC streamed from a service called Firefly 'cos its not licensed to connect directly with itunes. Won't play protected AAC. Apparently will play protected WMA.
Sanyo 9000 plays unprotected AAC but only protected songs purchased from Telecom's mobile store in a special format. Apparently this will extend to downloads of protected WMA

What all this means is that I have to THINK everytime I want to play a certain song in a certain place. eg if i want to play a song in my living room that happens to be a purchased song from itunes I can't do it using my Roku, I can only do this by physically connecting my ipod to my stereo (stink!) If i buy a song on my mobile, I won't be able to sync it to my ipod. I recently bought an ipod nano and because of all of this carrying on, I haven't taken it out of the box (thinking may sell on trademe) as i am starting to wonder whether i need to have a player that's protected WMA capable just in case someone brings out a subscription music service that supports this a la URGE.

That's why I'm interested in this article from Wired.

I don't want to think about this DRM stuff - I just want the music that I have bought a license for to work on the variety of players that I have. (Not I didn't say MY music). I get the fact he labels need to protect their music I just don't see why I need to buy the license for a song twice to play on two different devices when it is essentially the same format. The team at Navio seem to share this view by effectively allowing the customer to by a multi-format piece of content.

If I can get this puppy to work, maybe I'll open the nano after all...

Thursday, June 22, 2006


For those in Corporate Life, the end of year review can be a bit of a mixed bag. You have to be realistic ( how many of us have really exceeded?) and still put your best foot forward on an absolute basis. Telecom NZ has run a combination of a normal distribution of staff and a peer review system for the last few years which you could only describe as imperfect (no-one has come up with a better system, mind you) for all involved. There have been some significant improvements in the last two years (the best being that there is no forced distribution for the bottom category - most of the non-performers have been systematically weeded out).

we had a mock peer review today in preparation for end of year - all I can say is that that the Management Team I am part of did an incredibly mature job of a dificult conversation. When you are working to a forced distribution to some extent there are people who are relatively worst performers than their peers yet have exceeded expectations on an absolute basis. Sometimes you have to take a hit for the team - I couldn't help but reflect that of the 8 people in the room at least 2 of those are going to be having end of year conversations that are going to be along the lines of 'You met your targets, yet I'm going to have to say that relative to your peers, you didn't do as well. Your bonus it going to take a hit'. I don't expect any sympathy (far from it - this is what we get paid for) but for those who end up having that conversation with your boss - we don't take those decisions lightly and there's no fair way to do it. Ouch.

On a positive note I have to say that spending a good couple of hours reflecting on my own performance has led me to a couple of conclusions...

1. I am really proud of the capability that we are developing in understanding and researching new technology and customer behaviour at Telecom and think this will be fundamental in creating competitive advantage in the longterm. Our work on IPTV and some of the things we are bringing to the organisation (our own wiki - work in progress) will make a big difference in how quickly we share information around the organisation.

2. I could have done a much better job in leading my own team over the last 8 months - sorry guys. Better effort on cards for next year.

3. The work that a number of people pulled together in an incredibly short period of time to launch Telecom's Mobile Music store last year was nothing short of phenomenal. 5 week build period and we can bill it too! A pleasure to lead...

Croatia - Australia Prediction

So I usually can't stand picking Australian sports teams for victory but feel the need to make an excpetion for tomorrow's game vs Croatia. Maybe its my Dad's xenophobic tendancies (Hungarians are great - small country that has come second in both World Wars, full of people who think that they should be fundamentally influencing European culture. Hate every country that surround them as they have lost land to them as a result of position in WWI and WWII) coming through but it would be great to see the Australians get through to the second round.

I'm picking a 2-1 victory to Australia with a sending off for Mark Viduka (ok - I still struggle with Australian victory)

Fab Tees

So why not start my blog entries with a post on something completely random? Was talking to Karen from Ferrit today and she pointed me to this great site for T-shirts . My personal favourite is the first Hong Kong Phooey T . Nice work by the people at Ferrit for getting some local stores on board who aren't the big guys - can't wait until the shopping cart feature is put in place.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


So why have i started a blog?

It's not like the world is short on 35 year old males who have recently become a Dad, play a bit of social football (that's soccer for the uneducated) on the weekends and have a great job in a world where IT, telecommunications and media are colliding together in something that resembles a train wreck that has been project managed by dropouts from the PMI.

Nope - the reason for this launch into publishing my thoughts is that I truly believe that we need to refocus on people - in how we live our lives and how we develop new technology. I'm a firm believer that you can develop fantastic technology that can improve people's lives and not attack the fabric of society (ie people and community). I believe you can lead people to deliver on this vision without being a hard-ass. And I believe you can balance this together with loving your family and booting a soccer ball around at the weekend with a bunch of top blokes.

On top of all that, David Awatere told me he'd been waiting too long. This is a hint for him to update his page :)