Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Nerd Alert! Analyzing Audio Files

We have shared Neil Young's assertion that better quality digital audio requires higher sampling rates.  Now, Wired magazine and posted an excellent rebuttal.  Sampling is a discreet sample process and produces exact analog waveforms.  Feel free to explore as needed.

Or course, the Bitmenu system works for all file formats.  The evidence shows that those producing audio materials need not burden themselves with increased file sizes incurred with higher sampling rates.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Mega Cloud Storage

It's been a while since we last chronicled the adventures of Kim Dotcom and the results of the MegaUpload takedown.  We've been impressed, though, by the persistence and persuasiveness of Dotcom. Now, he's back with a new service that takes on Dropbox, Google Drive, iCloud and other cloud-based file storage systems.

It's called Mega and it opens on Sunday.  UPDATE:  It's now live and receiving huge amounts of publicity (more below).  UPDATE:  Kim.com gets his story out in 14 minute YouTube chunks:

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Part 4:

Part 5:

Part 6 (final):

As reported by Ars Technica, the site is designed to be simple to use and offers 50GB of free storage.  Paying users get 500GB of storage plus 2TB of transfers for $14/mo.  All files are encrypted so the only way to share a file is to generate a public link to the file.  Given that users are moving more data between devices, 50 GB seems like a lot but might soon become standard amongst rivals.

One tidbit bears watching:  Users who share links to files with other Mega users see those files appear immediately in the users' account, similar to Google Drive.

At Bitmenu, we have experimented with for-pay distribution using cloud-based systems.  In other words, users of Mega might one day put a price on the files they share (currently, Bitmenu sellers must upload their files to our servers).  Would you want that?


Update:  In some respects, the federal takedown of MegaUpload has enabled Kim.com to pivot and release a version 2.0.  How is it different?  As detailed in Forbes, only the individual user holds both the encryption and decryption keys to the files they load into the system.  This means that Mega cannot ever know what is being stored on their service and thus cannot "turn over" that content to authorities if required to under warrant.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

TV is Getting Coffee

We consider Louis CK as a pathfinder when it comes to how comedians and others can use technology to reach their audience and profit from the relationship.  I don't think comedians do it just for fun.  They want to make money at it.  They think about this a lot.

For example, click the image to view the embedded episode of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.  It shows that we are not the only ones exploring new business models for creative artists and producers. At the 8:48 min mark, Mel Brooks endorses Louis CK.

TV shows like this are looking for lower cost methods to produce episodes that generate enough of an online audience to sustain the effort.  Note the use of lavalier mics taped to jackets, members of the film crew visible for some cuts, etc.  Considering that these men revolutionized the sitcom, it's worth paying attention to where they are looking and what they are saying.

As Carl Reiner, Mel Brooks, Jerry Seinfeld and others follow the path of Louis CK, they will build in direct sales mechanisms.  We expect these experiments to continue!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Checking Out Is Hard To Do

Bitmenu features a radically different notion of "checking out" to purchase digital items.  As we designed the system, we asked:

"Do we really need the user to set up an account with us when they might be buying a single item and just want that, right away?"

In the Bitmenu system, user accounts are for customer service purposes.  We track each purchase and help buyers resolve issues.  Since we make such lightweight use of accounts, we set them up automatically and in the background.

"If a user gets a tweet or email with an offer to purchase something, wouldn't they prefer to use a payment method they already trust and use regularly?"

Bitmenu currently offers purchase using Amazon or PayPal credentials.  Our system does not hold funds but acts as a broker and agent for our Sellers.  Buyers are sent to Amazon Payments or PayPal where they authorize the purchase amount and then are returned to us for fulfillment.  The user presents their credentials to our payment partner, who then validates the purchase to us in the background.

This video from Google illustrates some of the issues we address with our system.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Get Your Hi-Res Audio

Neil Young has tried for years to get Apple to deliver High Fidelity digital audio files in 192kHz/24-bit sound.  Now he's produced a new service to do what Apple will not.

Read what Rolling Stone magazine says about his Pono service and player.  We will have to stay tuned to learn more.

"His reasons are so not based in commerce, and based in just the desire for people to really feel the uplifting spirit of music," Flea said in defense of Young. "MP3s suck. It's just a shadow of the music."

Neil appeared for a video interview with the WSJ's Walt Mossberg last year, and Pono seems to be one outcome from his work since then.

Bitmenu handles higher resolution files with ease.  Users download and play them on the device of their choosing.  Since the files are larger than MP3s, they are harder for users to share through emails.  Any artist or producer who is looking to deliver Hi-Res audio would be welcome to write us at publish@bitmenu.com.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

QR Codes That Rock

While QR codes are recognized and used more frequently now than ever, they are far from ubiquitous.  Today, TechCrunch came out with a nice piece suggesting something that would make them mainstream: make every smartphone camera into a scanner.

Many in the tech community expect a new technology, NFC, to become commonplace.  The article argues for not waiting for a whole new generation of chips to make their way into the hands of every consumer when we already carry devices that can do the job.  So much can be communicated via simple URLs: just look at any web page.  By making standard digital cameras just a bit smarter, they can become scanners that link users to remote resources.

One interesting approach is to make the QR code blend into the artwork surrounding it.  Visualead has developed a nice approach: upload an image to their site along with your target URL and they will overlay a QR code onto your image.

Can you see the Bitmenu URL in the image above?  Our Sellers can use the Visualead site to attractively present their items for sale.

Friday, August 31, 2012

The Consumer's Voice

Every so often, we see something that speaks directly to what we are doing at Bitmenu.  Our focus has always been to remove barriers and enable easy engagement between buyers and sellers of media.  While we often talk about the benefits to Sellers (no need to manage registrations, credit cards and delivery), the value to Buyers is presented nicely in this article from Gizmodo.

A snip:

"I'm a person who pays for content because I want to support the people who created it, but who's increasingly frustrated by how hard content owners make it to just give them my money sometimes. That may put me in the minority, but I don't think I'm alone."