The Trouble With Netflix..

..Has been their business model relying on borrowing against future subscriber revenues. CNN business has a good synopsis of how critical this week’s earnings report will be for the company.

Unlike their studio-backed competitors Netflix started with less than a decade of content they actually owned, and they lost a lot of their most popular content when studios clawed back the streaming rights.

Retention, therefore, is key to maintain the company’s value. And to retain they need a constant stream of quality content. But to get more content they need to borrow more money against future revenues.

Given the company has reached a critical mass with hundreds of millions of customers, it’s hard to grow the revenue without raising prices. Which they did multiple times. But now the subscribers are leaving because it’s too expensive.

Netflix is not a takeover target, yet. But they’re going to have a hard time competing against studio streaming services that cost less with much deeper catalogs of IP.

The Week Ahead

Another week is upon us! I have two videos pretty well planned out so this will be shot first. The first is a review of the new Thinkpad X1 Carbon from Lenovo with a 12th generation Intel i7-1260P. It looks like a nice revision over previous models.

I’m also going to continue a topic I started two weeks ago regarding CableCARD. My local broadcasters are now transmitting on the same tower (and same frequency) making it possible for me to finally get everything over the air. We’ll hoist up an antenna and see what happens!

I have a few other things in the hopper including a smart smoke detector and air quality sensor, that Hollyland microphone system, and a solar powered camera from Eufy that just came in.

I’m also likely going to move the shorter Weekly Wrapup to Sunday evenings as I think a weekly preview is best posted on Sunday vs. Monday.

Stay tuned!

For this Weatherman It’s All About the Clicks..

On the scale of things this misinformed post by a local meteorologist won’t impact the scope of world events. But members of the media have a responsibility to get it right and correct the record – even if their incorrect post goes viral and gets them thousands of likes and shares.

“Chief Meteorologist” Ken Johnson from KAUZ TV in Texas shared this picture depicting a storm on Jupiter on his Facebook page and said it came from the James Webb Space Telescope.

The problem is the image didn’t come from Webb, nor was it even a photo. A quick Google search took me to this Smithsonian magazine article from 2020 where a caption describes it as an artist’s depiction of what a storm might look like on the gas giant.

As of the time of this writing the post has over 23,000 reactions and over 7,300 shares. Thousands of people are believing this trusted voice and getting misinformed.

It just goes to show how fast false and misleading information can spread especially when shared by a trained member of the media with a scientific background who could have taken a few minutes to fact check it first.

Now the question is – will he correct the record? Let’s see.

UPDATE: The post has been deleted, but not corrected. Better to pretend that it never happened vs. being accurate?

Weak Signals Go Very Far!

Got some new radio gear last week. I’m learning the art of “weak signals” that send tiny bits of data through the air over very long distances – no Internet required.

Using the 10 meter band (the lowest frequency I’m allowed to operate on with my license) I managed to be heard all the way in Australia! Somebody in Hawaii also picked me up.

Prime Day Stream and Vmix 4k Experimentation

As many of you know I use Vmix to produce my videos here on the channel. It’s by far the most efficient and highly optimized piece of Windows software ever made. It’s absolutely incredible.

My appreciation of it went further this week during one of my Prime Day live streams. I figured I would do an evening overview of the three TV boxes on sale this week (Fire TV, Roku and Apple TV) and I wanted to get all three running together in 4k simultaneously along with my three 4k studio cameras. You can see the stream here.

My current production machine is a home-built i9-9900KF based Intel machine with 32GB of RAM and a recently added RTX 2080ti GPU. For video capture I have a Blackmagic Decklink Quad HDMI card which can capture four 4k sources simultaneously. I brought the cameras and the Apple TV in through the Decklink card.

But Lon, you had 6 sources! Yes and thanks to the modern miracle of NDI I was able to bring in those additional two sources using a Newtek Spark box and a Kilo U40 (affiliate link). These boxes take HDMI video in and output a lossless video signal that can get ingested into Vmix with minimal latency. Those two sources generated about 500 megabits of bandwidth but Vmix easily kept up.

The most amazing thing about this set up is that my system still had plenty or room left for more. I also connected a 4k display to the back of my GPU and was able independently switch what appeared on that screen. Check out this short I made once everything was set up.

Ham Base Station Acquired

I just ordered a bunch of stuff to begin my amateur radio station. I still only have a technician license which limits a lot of what I can do on lower frequencies but there’s still plenty to explore.

For the base unit I went with the Yaesu FT-991A. I like it because it integrates HF, VHF and UHF bands all in one unit and its powerful enough for the things I want to do. There’s room to grow here as it also works on the frequencies I’m not currently licensed to operate on. For power it can do 50 watts on UHF & VHF with another 50 on the HF bands. Because my HF interests are mostly in the “weak signal” domain that’s more than enough power. And the 50 watts on the UHF/VHF side should be more than fine to do some of the local packet stuff I’m interested in exploring.

Somebody told me that in photography you can’t have enough lenses and in amateur radio you can never have enough antennas! In my case I’m limited to the UHF/VHF bands and a small sliver of the 10 meter HF band. So that helps a bit to narrow things down.

For UHF/VHF I went with what DX Engineering suggested – a Diamond X50A. It’s a simple vertical fiberglass antenna. For HF I found a great blog post from Tom Costello who’s doing exactly what I want to do on HF with a technician license. He built a simple dipole using a pair of MFJ-1610T antennas to make 10 meter contacts. So I bought exactly what he is using.

Because I am not all that handy I will be hiring somebody to mount the antennas and run cable into the house. In the meantime I bought a portable antenna tripod that I’ll set up when I’m exploring the spectrum. I am eventually going to get the UHF/VHF antenna up on the roof but will keep the HF closer to the ground as I’ll be needing a different antenna after I get my General license for the lower bands.

My plan is to try and reach out to a few viewers using the weak signal FT8, JS8talk, and whatever other protocols might work over 10 meters. If you think you are in range let me know and I’ll add you to the list! I’d love to do a few livestreams experimenting with it.

Thoughts on Twitter’s Very Real Bot Problem

I don’t care if Elon Musk owns Twitter or not. But he’s correct on the Bot issue. It permeates the platform and has bifurcated the user base into those with a blue check and those without. Twitter decides who gets a voice on their platform and who does not.

As such Twitter denies independent content creators an equal voice to those the platform has arbitrarily decided gets the mark. They move the goal posts constantly and deny people opportunities to grow their audience.

Blue checks get all sorts of benefits the rest of us don’t: monetization opportunities, longer video uploads, the ability to communicate with other blue check marks, etc.

This is in stark contrast to YouTube. Despite all of their faults, YouTube designed their entire ecosystem around discovery and independent creator opportunity. Arguably Instagram and TikTok do this too but they don’t compensate their creators fairly.

Musk said from the get-go that all users would get verified on Twitter. This would immediately level the playing field as it would make the blue check mark unnecessary.

YouTube already does a similar verification process if you want to monetize. YouTube’s most influential creators are verified real people who earn 55% of the revenue YouTube brings in. And their platform is designed as a market-based pipeline to move aspiring creators to that level vs. an arbitrary system of picking winners and losers.

If Twitter didn’t have a bot problem why split the user base into verified and unknowns?

Virtual Set Tech Goes from Star Wars to Trek – Are YouTubers Next?

Virtual Set technology is moving in some exciting new directions. It all began with the Mandalorian and their use of the ILM “Volume” to merge virtual sets with physical ones. What makes these virtual sets so unique is that the images are not added later in post-production but are there in realtime with the actors during the shoot. It adds new levels of realism as the light from the volume reflects off of costumes and other props naturally. The set also aligns with the camera’s point of view allowing for camera movements and depth making the background look almost three dimensional.

ILM documented the use of the Volume technology in this YouTube video.

But Star Wars is not the only production making use of this. According to this Twitter post, Star Trek Strange New Worlds has a volume of its own to do similar effects. This might be why the production looks so much more expansive than the other recent Star Trek shows on Paramount+.

What I’m most excited about is this technology making its way to small creators. Many of us with gaming PCs have the processing power already – it’s just a matter of packaging this display technology into something smaller and affordable for us basement dwelling YouTubers.

Elon Musk’s Twitter Deal Isn’t Dead Yet

Rarely do my predictions come true but this time I might be on the right track! On May 2nd I suggested Twitter was overstating its value because of its bot problem – an issue that Elon Musk says is a material breach of his purchase agreement with the social media company.

Musk did them a favor by releasing this in a Friday night post-market news dump. This is going to gut their stock price on Monday as it raises serious doubts about the actual number of real, non-bot active users are on the platform. This was an issue I also covered in the May 2 video, where Twitter was forced to disclose that they overcounted actual users by about 1 million due to a software issue.

They really have no way to measure bots on the platform. Why? Because Wall Street demanded user growth. There’s no way engineers would implement any impediment to that growth – it’s engrained in the code and the culture there.

Ultimately user growth is a poor measurement. Twitter’s value I think comes from the weighty influence of the “small” number of actual users it does have. As @davewiner pointed out a few months ago Twitter really is a big newsroom/cocktail party.

My new prediction is this deal is still going to close – but perhaps closer to $25-30 billion which is probably what the company is really worth.

I ordered an M2 Macbook Air

The M1 Macbook Air largely ushered in the ARM Mac transition and pushed the PC industry in a new direction. In my review of it I was blown away by its performance and power efficiency.

It was so good I retired the 2016 Macbook Pro I was using for my daily driver (including channel video edits) and handed it over to Producer Jake as he was still using my decade old prior Macbook Pro Retina for his work.

The Air worked great for 4k and 1080p video edits along with everything else I was doing for my day-to-day work. Even after I bought the 14″ Macbook Pro I still used the Air quite a bit as I left the Pro mostly docked in my studio office. And then my wife took the Air when her 2016 Macbook Pro 13 died.

So today I ordered the new M2 Air (affiliate link) to fill that secondary role. I much prefer to travel with a less expensive laptop so this will also fill that role. I ordered the “midnight” color which reminds me of the original Intel Macbook I owned back in 2007. I can’t wait to see what it looks like in person.

We’ll have a livestream and review coming up on it as soon as it arrives!

Gigabit ISPs: Real World Usage vs. Speed Tests

One of the things I talked about recently in my Gigabit Pro update video is that even though you have the bandwidth you likely will never make full use of it on any single task.

Sure it’s possible to run a speed test to fully saturate the connection as I have done many times, but when doing real world tasks things work differently. So even though I have a full six gigabits available, I’m usually only getting about half a gigabit to each location I’m sending data to.

The image above was taken from my Unifi app as I was uploading an 8.7 GB video to YouTube and Floatplane simultaneously. Each can only take about 500-600 megabits per second.

Remember the Internet is not one network. So it’s possible that within Comcast’s infrastructure I can utilize the full bandwidth. But once we cross outside the network it depends on how different networks interoperate and what kinds of bandwidth they allow across those crossing points. In some cases there are multiple networks to traverse!

“Strange New Worlds” Succeeds Because We Missed the Trek Formula

Strange New Worlds just completed its first season. I like it.

I’m a few episodes behind but it’s great Trek. Oddly I don’t think the traditional trek formula being used here would have worked if they launched this as the first new series in 20 years. We needed Discovery & Picard first to know we really wanted this.

And if you like the “problem/planet of the week” formula you’ll love The Orville. Season 3 is now on Hulu and I hope it gets renewed in the future.

Drobo Files for Bankruptcy

Apple Insider reports that storage device maker Drobo is filing for bankruptcy.

Drobo’s were once a popular direct (and later network) attached storage device. They simplified the process of adding storage to an array which allowed for expansion without having to offload all of your data first. You can see an early review video of it here from Luria Petrucci who used to be known as Cali Lewis.

I owned one of their early Firewire based devices that took four drives about a decade ago. I liked it quite a bit but its fan and drives were quite noisy sitting on the desk. Because it was a direct attached device it had to be plugged into my computer for it to work.

They later came up with an expensive network add-on (and later integrated networking into the product), but they were leapfrogged by competitors like Synology who built better and less expensive NAS devices with far more features.

I ended up moving to a Synology network drive that was just as fast over gigabit ethernet and could be located in my equipment closet where I wouldn’t hear it. Synology also has a fairly simple array expansion process that doesn’t require a full rebuild and there’s a much more robust app library.

Drobo could have been a contender.. They blamed the pandemic for their woes but they just could not keep up with competitors. It’s a shame because the product really solved a lot of problems that plagued storage arrays at the time of its release.

The Week Ahead

Happy Independence Day to my friends in the USA!

Although it’s a day off for most the show must go on for me. So today I’ll be shooting a new version of the Wrapup that accomplishes the goal of reaching out to subscribers and sticks to being channel-oriented vs. a topic. Let me know what you think about that tonight! It’ll be posted around 6:45 p.m. eastern USA time.

I still plan to do my in-depth topic analysis videos but will do so as standalone videos. and only when there’s something to talk about.

Also be sure to check out my latest video on Amazon Luna that I posted Sunday morning. It was one of the more popular ones I did this week.

Stay tuned for tonight’s video to get a preview of what’s coming up this week!

Wrapup Feedback & Shorts Experiment

I want to thank everyone for their comments on the wrap-up ! I haven’t figured out exactly what I’m going to do with it just yet but we’ll get there soon. I do have a great topic for next week that I think will do well and after that we’ll figure out what to do next.

One idea I heard from those who liked the wrapup was to maybe have it live on its own channel. If I do that I think I’ll have it live on my Snippets channel where I used to post clips from the longer wrapups I used to do. Those clips still get decent traffic depending on the topic.

Another thing I’m experimenting with from a wrapup perspective is testing out using YouTube shorts to preview the week. I posted one as an experiment yesterday – they are super easy to put together.

Shorts are supposed to help drive subscribers but this one cost me 2 of them. So the juries out on this one :).

Tonight’s video will be my monthly sponsored Plex video! We’ll be taking a look at the official release version of Plex’s HTPC client. This supports HDR in a limited fashion along with lossless audio passthrough.

The Week Ahead

June was a blur! Here in the United States kids get the summer off from school before they start in the next grade level. I used to LOVE summer vacation as it gave me time to hang out with my friends, ride my bike, and of course play around with all of the cool 80’s and 90’s tech I grew up with. It was always a bit sad for us neighborhood kids when those summers came to an end.

My two girls, however, miss school and can’t wait to get back in August. I love that they love school more than I did!

This week will begin with a Weekly Wrapup as usual. But we’re going to talk about the Wrapup moving forward as I’ve done some analysis on its performance.

That will be followed by my monthly Plex sponsored video where we’ll explore the new HTPC client. After that I’ll have my review of the Beelink Mini S PC that I livestreamed the other day here. I also got in a new affordable HP Gaming Laptop and a smart smoke alarm with air quality sensors. We’ll probably have a few livestreams in the mix too.

Stay tuned and set your notifications!

Will Valve Deliver my Steam Deck in June? YES!

Last year I put in my $5 deposit for a Steam Deck. Valve was so overwhelmed that day that I couldn’t get my order to accept until late in the afternoon. That put me at the end of the order queue and I’ve been waiting ever since.

Valve has promised me Q2 availability which ends in 3 days. Will they make it? The answer is yes!

A few hours after I tweeted about this I got my confirmation!

Great Photo of the ISS HAM Station

There’s an amateur radio on the International Space Station. Usually it’s configured in repeater mode which is how I was able to contact a fellow HAM in upstate New York. I communicated through this ISS radio in repeater mode which received my signal and re-broadcast it out.

Sometimes the astronauts talk to people on the ground too. This weekend was the National Association for Amateur Radio‘s annual Field Day event where amateurs around the world make contacts out in the field using battery or emergency backup power. Astronaut Kjell Lindgren was participating in the event making contacts on the ground. You can see a list of stations he received on his notepad in the photo.