How Super Are Super PAC's? Are They Being Controlled By The TV Media?

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The race is on – and it’s not four-legged critters such as in the usual horse races. Instead a much more important and costly race is on for the highest office in our land. Who will win – we all are anxious to know. We all hope it will be “our candidate.” Many of those in influential circles such as the elite  TV   media  believe they already know the answer. But do they? How will the deluge of Super PAC ads affect the outcome? Just how super are… super PAC’s?

These Super PAC’s of course are the private groups who organize and raise money in order to elect political candidates or to advance the outcome of, in this case, the 2012 Presidential race.

In past years I’ve always been a somewhat occasional observer of the political scene. Once in awhile while driving I’d catch a few minutes of one of the more popular daily talk-show hosts on the radio. And that would “catch me up” on the issues. Or, so I thought. But the issues are now changing so rapidly, I’m finding it takes more than an occasional hearing. And I have found myself not only glued to the radio but also to the internet to learn and research for myself what is happening to our great country.

And what I’m hearing and seeing is that the all-new-this-year-right-out-of-the-box Super PAC ads are daily being blasted across the airwaves. Their messages being not always made up of truth. Yet millions of dollars are being invested in them by everyone from the lowliest peon to the highest ranking CEO of the largest corporations, banks and investment firms. A lot is hanging on these major players called Super PAC’s. But is all this money bringing in the results that is hoped for.

Well, up until a few days ago I thought it was an open playing field – with of course those with the most backing being more effective simply because of the volume power. But now I’m beginning to wonder if there is not other things happening. For instance”When Mitt Romney Came to Town” came out it hit the news and several main media sources were talking about how terrible and false it all was. Even the candidate that PAC was supporting suggested that if they could not substantiate their message they needed to pull it. The fact being, it definitely got media coverage.

I had seen the production and also most, I think, of the media’s critique of it. And I thought, okay, we’ll see what happens. So in a day or so I checked out the sources’ site and there was an open letter to the “enemy” candidate stating their verification of the facts and offering to pull the ad – when they received verification of certain facts from the “enemy camp.” Interestingly, I heard nothing more on the subject.

Then this same site came out with a shocking production relating the other candidate to a Medicare scandal – which I would think would grab the attention of nearly everyone in America. But, amazingly, that was not the case. You didn’t hear anything about it on the news. Then this Super PAC’s full “documentary” on the subject came out. You would surely think that would be the subject of debates and be on the lips of everyone. Especially since right on the same website they provided a bold link to the documentation for what is presented. But not so. I have watched and listened carefully and have heard nothing.

So, how super are the Super PAC’s? I’m wondering if they are only as powerful as the  TV   media  allows them to be. But then when I think about it, I must ask myself where exactly does all such power come from? It ultimately comes from God. All the money and all the talent invested in Super PAC’s ultimately are in the hand of God to do with as He wills. The mighty King Nebuchadnezzar found that to be true; and after a season of great humiliation, proclaimed: “And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth and none can stay his hand or say unto him, What doest thou? (Daniel 4:35).

Yet it doesn’t end there. We have been given access to this Great Power through prayer. And as the saying goes, prayer changes things. Because our Great God hears our prayers. “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availed much” (James 5:16-17). So if Elias, a man who was no different that we are could pray and affect whether or not it rained for 44 months – perhaps our prayers can effect greatly whether or not the truth gets out. Which ultimately, it could effect the impact of even Super PAC ads – with or without the control of the media.

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What Is Smart TV?

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The very latest waves of Flat Screen Digital TVs hitting our shores this year are being marketed as “Smart TVs”. What does this mean, and what benefits do they have? Let’s try and explain this concept in a simplified manner.

First – A very quick history on TV evolution

Television technology has advanced rapidly over the years, progressing from the basic “Square” 4:3 Analogue CRT Tube. The introduction and sharp rise in popularity of DVD then saw the implementation of widescreen TVs to suit this format. As the trend towards viewing movies in widescreen digital became the standard, similar steps had to be made for day to day Television viewing. So the integration of digital set top boxes began, and our Television networks began to broadcast our TV programs in digital to coincide with that. As the public began to embrace the “cinema” experience, the next natural progression was larger screens, so Plasma, LCD and later LED panels were introduced. In the years that followed, besides obvious improvements in clarity, sound & design, the only major change made to TV technology was size – demand called for bigger and thinner TVs. Over the last year or so, the introduction of 3D Technology was the next “big-thing”, as well the call for more eco-friendly panels.

So we’ve seen TV’s develop from a bulky, square Picture Tube with a choice of five stations to view in analogue, to large, ultra-slim, Full High Definition panels capable of displaying 3D images, and a choice of over twenty channels broadcasting many programs in widescreen digital. Add to that a very sharp decline in price, and an ever increasing focus on environmentally friendly performance – we’ve certainly come a long way. So where to from here?

Introducing Smart TVs…

The internet is now a dominant part of our daily existence. Our mobile phones have now evolved from devices used just for making phone calls into “Smart-Phones” – basically mobile phones with internet accessibility. The same technology has filtered through to our TVs, and coined the phrase – “Smart TVs”. Today’s new waves of Smart TVs have a very large focus on online interactive media such as Internet   TV ,  media  streaming, social networking and web browsing. In a Similar way to how internet browsing, web widgets and software like games or applications are integrated in today’s smartphones, the same trend towards such connectivity has now become part of today’s TVs, creating a convergence between computers and Digital TV. Smart TVs allow viewers to search for and find movies, video clips and photos on the internet, stored on a home hard drive, through to your TV, using your remote control.

Smart TVs will eventually change the way we access media in our homes

This convenience will eventually change the way we access media in our homes, or more precisely, from where we access our media. One example would be not having to run down to our local video stores anymore just to rent a movie. By pressing a couple of buttons on our TV remote we suddenly have access to hundreds of movies available for streaming from the comfort of our lounge. Applications (or “Apps” as they are commonly referred to) add yet another facet for us to explore. There are a limitless number of apps that can be created. If you are an I-Phone user, you will already have encountered dozens upon dozens of ingenious applications that you now find hard to live without. There are apps for everything, ranging from live weather and news forecasts, to TV Show catch-up episodes, the latest sports news for your favourite team as well as live scores, and of course the whole social media forum such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. These are now right at your fingertips, transforming TVs into a very diverse media network. The ability to Skype call is also an option, with the aid of a brand-specific Skype camera. While a small number of these features, in some form, have been available over the last year from some television manufacturers, in 2011 we will see the introduction of unrestricted web-browsing in some models. This opens up a limitless array of possibilities by transforming your TV into a fully functional web browser.

Smart TVs – Bringing the internet into your lounge room

There is a distinct advantage of not having to take the effort to boot up your PC, which is usually located in another room, to perform tasks such as purchasing items on eBay, checking your E-mail, or to Google something that has just taken your interest on TV. With large high definition screens, and web pages fully optimised to suit, there is certainly a distinct advantage in browsing the internet from the comfort of your lounge instead of through a little laptop screen or sitting at your computer desk. Even if you have photos, music, movies or video files stored on your home computer, you can access all of these wirelessly through your Home network and stream them directly to your TV.

So, in summary…

Smart TVs are the next generation of Flat Screen Digital Television, merging your TV and computer’s functionality into one.

With the ability to stream high definition movies, connect with your friends using Facebook and Twitter, stream TV Shows, and get instant access to news, sport and weather – all from the comfort of your lounge and on a large High Definition TV screen. Some of the higher end Digital TV models will offer built in web browsers – opening up unrestricted web browsing directly to your Television Set. As Plasma and LED Screens have evolved to become thinner, more energy efficient and providing us with stunning Full High Definition clarity. We now have a limitless array of media applications opened up to us, providing us with versatility and cross functional capability like we have never had before.

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The Indian Media Fraternity

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The Indian media fraternity comprises of several components. These include newspapers, magazines, tabloids, TV, radio and the internet. Of late, internet has witnessed the most amounts of investments and is being called the sunrise sector of Indian media. Today, almost all news can be got instantly from the internet as and when they happen. News in India is mostly made up of the day to day happenings of the Indian community as well as all over the world.

Indian media has existed in the country ever since the 18th century. Radio was first introduced by the British and news broadcast stared started almost immediately. Notable Indian luminaries contributed to the growth of Indian radio and this important component of Indian media has been around for almost a century now.

A recent study on the media of India has revealed that over a 100 million daily newspapers were bought in the country. This has made India the second largest newspaper market in the world. In fact, the Indian news industry has grown hugely over the last decade. This is partly because of the fact that TV has made huge inroads in the house of the average Indian. There are more than 1400 companies in the country today that’s making TV sets. This, on its part, has made India the fourth largest TV market. This is mostly stemmed from the fact that the Indian media operates in country that has a huge population. Besides the print and electronic media, internet has gained immense ground, as already said, and has reached almost every nook and corner of the country. Online news has emerged as a quick and efficient method of catering news in the Indian media industry.

Like most other countries, news in Indian media is almost instantaneously catered to the audience via the TV channels. This enables the media of India to reach out to the largest possible audience at one go.

Another important facet of the media of India is the publication of vernacular newspapers. India has linguistic states and each state has several vernacular newspapers catering news, views, information and opinion of local and regional interest to people of that particular state. Many states have their local English dailies as well that mostly caters to the urban and the semi-urban class.

Since the early and the mid-1990s, radio in India has been mostly powered by the FM channels. The FM transmissions transformed the radio from a fading media to a really vibrant one. The FM transmission is mostly entertainment oriented although the government-run stations broadcasts news and information of social importance.

It can be said sans any doubt that the media of India would take a quantum leap in the coming years powered by the internet and TV.

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WD TV Live Hub

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WD TV Live Hub With 1TB Hard Drive

What is the WD TV Live Hub? It is a convenient and easy way to funnel all those media files into one central location and watch them directly from your TV. Not just the files on your computer, but it also streams directly from the internet. And when you have all of your files accessible to the WD TV Live Hub, you can then stream it to any other location in your house that’s set up to handle the media stream. It even handles sending out several streams at one time. Think of it as a mini media server under your TV. But what really sets this apart from the rest of the streaming field is its onboard 1TB hard drive. Let’s break down the features.

WD TV Live Hub File Support

When Western Digital set out to make a device of this kind they no doubt wanted to learn from the mistakes of some of the competition, namely Apple TV’s lack of file support. So here are the files that the WD Hub can handle.

Video

AVI (Xvid, AVC, MPEG1/2/4), MPG/MPEG, VOB, MKV (h.264, x.264, AVC, MPEG1/2/4, VC-1), TS/TP/M2T (MPEG1/2/4, AVC, VC-1), MP4/MOV (MPEG4, h.264), M2TS, WMV9

Audio

MP3, WAV/PCM/LPCM, WMA, AAC, FLAC, MKA, AIF/AIFF, OGG, Dolby Digital, DTS

Photo

JPEG, GIF, TIF/TIFF, BMP, PNG

This is very convenient if you have collected a number of odd and different files from multiple locations lost in a sea of folders just sitting on your hard drive. (You know you do.) Well this can assist in sorting it all out very handily, and who knows, you may even rediscover some old videos you loved when you first saw them but simply forgot you had them.

Streaming

A computer is not necessarily needed in order to benefit from the WD Hub. It connects to directly to the internet and gives you access to online services. Here are some of them in no particular order.

Netflix, Blockbuster, YouTube, Pandora, Facebook, flickr, Live 360, Media Fly, AccuWeather.

Storage Capacity

There are several other devices on the market that are similar to this one. But as I said at the beginning what really sets the WD TV Live Hub apart from the rest is the onboard 1TB Hard Drive. How much can 1TB hold you may ask?

  • Up to 285,000 digital photos
  • Up to 250,000 songs (MP3)
  • Up to 25,000 songs (uncompressed CD quality)
  • Up to 76 hours of Digital Video (DV)
  • Up to 440 hours of DVD quality video
  • Up to 120 hours of HD video

Now that’s a lot of time spent in front of the TV. And just how will you get all those files in and out of the WD Hub? On the Hub itself it has Gigabit Ethernet, front and back USB 2.0, HDMI 1.4 (that’s the latest version), Composite A/V, Component video, Optical audio. The only thing you need to supply is the cables. All this for around $200.00.

Final Thoughts

Now this isn’t to say that Western Digital has come out with the perfect device. While the navigation is fairly straight forward and easy to use it still takes a bit of navigation to find what you’re looking for. All in all though it’s a solid product with good support from Western Digital. After a little bit of set up you’ll be watching movies, looking at photos and going through all those forgotten files on the big screen.

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Snappy Sound Bites Will Turn a Tv Appearance Into a Huge Success

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Anyone wanting to be a guest on Oprah or Good Morning America must learn to master the fine art of generating sound bites for television. Television thrives on sound bites – those brief, quotable remarks that will be repeated again and again on television news and talk shows. Sound bites are the pearls that flow out of our mouths into the ears of TV producers and onto the airways.

If you want to be quoted, you must convert the message points in your book into sound bites. To do this remember that analogies, bold action words, emotions and personal examples, attacks and absolutes make good quotes and sound bites. The highly personal, classic sound bite has action, emotion, and attacks – all of these elements will work to make reporters swoon.

My experience as a publicist and book marketing consultant has taught me to shy away from humor which can be a tricky business. What seems funny to colleagues, friends, or family at 5:30 p.m. may not seem so funny the next morning when you read your comments in USA Today. Sarcasm and teasing types of humor usually don’t work well in the media because you lose control of context and, in the case of print media, you lose the ability to communicate with your voice and facial expressions. The humor that is most effective is self-deprecating humor.

What about YOU? Are you skilled enough in producing sound bites to earn an interview on local or national TV? If you’ve not had media training, believe me it’s too late once you get the call. You may have to get in a car or on a plane within an hour’s notice. It’s too late to get the training then. That’s why you need to be prepared before you get the call. When my clients agree to media coaching, my first choice for them is TJ Walker, CEO of Media Training Worldwide.

TJ Walker is one of the leading authorities on media training in the world. With more than 20 years of media training experience, Walker has trained thousands of CEOs, authors, and experts, including leading government officials in the United States, European Prime Ministers, and African diplomats.

Here’s TJ Walker’s Sound Bite Checklist:

1. Create sound bites that are 10, 15 and 30 seconds.

2. Work an example into the sound bite.

3. Clichés make good quotes and sound bites. Reporters can’t write clichés, but they love quoting other people using clichés.

4. Humor makes good quotes and sound bites but the problem with using humor in front of the media is that someone somewhere is likely to be offended, resulting in a permanent public record of your remarks. So, quip if you must, at your own expense and your own risk.

5. One great way to get your message quoted by reporters is to state your ideas in the form of a rhetorical question.

6. Opposition quotes make good quotes and sound bites. Opposition quotes remain a favorite of reporters, but use them only if and when they are appropriate to your message.

7. The first letters from the following: Analogies, Bold action, Emotions, Attacks, Clichés, Humor, Pop culture, Rhetorical questions, and Opposition quotes spell out A BEACH PRO. The higher number of A BEACH PRO elements you use, the greater your chances are of being quoted. If you have not used any A BEACH PRO elements, you will not be quoted.

8. Absolutes are absolutely quote worthy. If I say “We will be the next champions” that has a better chance of landing in the story than “We are hoping to win.” Saying “Our company is the top performer in this field” would be another example.

9. Recycle your quotes. If one worked well with another media interview in the past, use it again.

10. Populate your quotes with pop culture references.

11. Put analogies in your answers, use bold, action-oriented words, let your emotions flow freely, and attack your way to the headlines.

Memorize that checklist but understand that a sound bite is only one aspect of a successful television appearance. You also must be concerned about your total message, the knowledge you display, and the self-confidence you demonstrate.

As a book publicist I’ll prepare questions for our clients ahead of time and include those in our press kits emailed to the stations. Often times the television host will read those questions right in order. Other times they refer to our questions and include some of them. That’ll help you because you’ll know what to expect and you can respond with the “sound bites” you’ve already developed.

The bottom line: Prepare some clever answers and snappy sound bites ahead of time, rehearse them every day and you’ll sound like a pro turning your TV appearance into a huge success.

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How Television Is an Effective Medium of Advertising?

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Television Advertising is one of the most effective means of generating awareness about a brand, service or business amongst the target audiences. For years, television has been an entertaining medium for the masses simultaneously educating them about various brands in the market place. Television Advertising is advantageous over other mediums of advertising as it provides audio-visual effect on audiences. The brand message is familiarized to customers through sound and visual effect that provides an immediate and lasting impression on audiences’ mind. Two significant advantages of brand advertising through television media are provided in the following paragraphs. Take a look-

Presentation of the brand message with a good storyline- Every advertising campaign is based on a storyline. However, this storyline is presented in such an interesting manner through television media that provides customers a strong impression about the advertised brand. Enhanced by sound and visual effect, brand commercial is presented like a mini film. It is because of this reason that brand commercials through television media are referred as ad-films. Through television media, the brand message is delivered within a minute in an interestingly exciting manner to customers. Though it requires a great deal of creative input and implementation to telecast a television commercial, the impact provided by television ads are better than other advertising channels.

Provides mass appeal to target groups- Television is the most effective medium of advertising to provide a mass appeal to target groups about any brand. Almost every individual loves watching television during leisure hours. The brand commercials that are telecast during serials, movies or particular shows provide a rich appeal on target groups. Customers also fondly remember the brand jingles with which most of the brand commercials usually end. Besides they also become aware of various brands and their updated features and benefits. This awareness later helps them to decide whether they should buy that particular product or not.

Amongst the various means of brand promotion, Television Advertising provides immediate impact on target groups. The brand message is presented in an attractive manner enhanced by the audio visual output of the commercials. Maximum numbers of customers depend heavily on television media to keep themselves informed about the launch of new brands or the updated features or benefits of existing old brands. Credibility is also an important attribute of brand advertising through television media. Any brand commercial through television media is meant to be entertaining and informative to enhance the interest of prospects. However, as mentioned above, the message should be credible and should also relate with the features of the brand. Flaunting about the brand through with a credible aspect is one of the secrets behind successful advertising practice.

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What is Dish Net TV and What You Should Know Upon Subscribing

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Currently there are two major dish net TV providers in the US, Dish Network being one of them. Almost all that people know about Dish Net TV is that it provides high quality signal and hundreds of channels. In this article I will explain in more detail what exactly that is in order for you to be able to make a more informed choice when you are subscribing.

Digital network or dish net TV defines a set of communication media enabling telephonic media to handle voice and video. Initially this media was only used to transfer voice from the source point to destination point. But now days, many other features such as video conferencing, chat through voice, etc. are also a part of these networks’ services. The more general term associated with digital networks or dish net TV is integrated service digital network or ISDN. ISDN is a circuit based network system mainly aimed to remove the draw backs of an analogue phone. A digital network and analogue networks differ in many ways.

Analog networks operate upon waves of varying frequency and the digital ones work up on series of binary digits often called bits that indicate the respective on and off sates of the communication medium. This results in better voice quality, minimized attenuation and disturbance free environment for effective communication. It is a way of communication for high quality and low latency sound signals. Another form of high quality digital network service is Broadband Integrated Digital Service Network (BISDN). This service is employed to handle large no of tasks at the same time. Thus a digital network is effective way of modern day communication.

In the article I explained what this type of networks are and what they offer. Now that you have the knowledge you can make a far better decision when you decide to get one for you home/office.

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Western Digital TV – HD Media Player Review

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These days, everyone wants to be able to watch all their media easily. And of course, why not, with media coming from so many places… digital cameras, video cameras, cell phones and naturally, the Internet. You also don’t want to have to physically swap your DVDs or Blu-Rays discs because that’d be, well, un-North American! 750-something doughnuts a year, we Canadians eat. It’s gotta take a toll somewhere.

But in all seriousness, playing all the different media you might have is never an easy task. Let’s look at the options some of us might have.

XBOX 360 – Somewhat capable, but suffers from codec incompatibility, no built-in WiFi, loudness and other issues. Amazingly, the 360 is reported to be able to read HFS+ (Mac) partitions which I like for a number of reasons, while the PS3, a non-Apple competitor company’s product, cannot read HFS+ or NTFS. Even more amazing still, the 360 can’t read NTFS. I’d love to know what happened behind the scenes… was there a disgruntled employee(s) who said,”let’s stick to the MS man baby! HFS but no NTFS!! HAHA! There!” The menu, sorry, Dashboard works pretty well for a console, but not so much in my opinion as a media center. Finally, the 360 just uses too much darn power.

Sony PlayStation 3 – Considered to be a good media player by many, it doesn’t meet with the same sort of fanfare in my house. It can’t handle MKVs, even though the files within that container are usually OK for the PS3, it can’t take files larger than 4GB, it can’t stream these sorts of videos from a PC (and even if it could, its 802.11g speeds would hold it back). Also can get loud/hot like the 360, and it takes a lot of power. Aside from that, the PS3 having a Blu-Ray player is its saving grace. That, its Blu-Ray boot up speed and the fact that it can decode the lossless formats internally make it a decent player. I even like the XMB to a point where I don’t mind using it for organizing pictures and music, but since it can’t handle my MKV video collection, it too, unfortunately, has to receive a thumbs down.

Wii – Hah. I’ll discuss the 1080p media center capabilities of my original Game Boy next.

Popcorn Hour – This was one of the first proper media center thingys that had all the requisite features on paper. Hard drive, included, along with WiFi, RSS Bit Torrenting skills and the ability to play back MKVs and high-bitrate 1080p video. Only problem is, it didn’t do it well. First hand reports abound of the player stuttering, freezing, and generally sucking at playing back 1080p video.

Various other networked media streamers – These all work decently well for pictures, music and even SD video, but then again, so do the 360 and PS3 with TVersity. Nay, the real test is full-bandwidth 1080p video, and I’m afraid both the players and their skimpy wireless connections are not up to the job.

HTPC – This would be the only real solution for a long time. I even have posts detailing what they do and how to put them together. Why do these work? Because they’re just computers connected to TVs. Dual-core CPUs, lots of RAM and fancy videos ought to make short work of anything you can throw at them, at least in theory. Having owned HTPCs since I was able to connect an S-video cable to my Radeon 9700 Pro back in the day, I can tell you that the experience is not as smooth as it should be. Why? Because we’re using Windows! XP Media Center Edition was just XP, and Vista has Media Center built in, so that Media Center is just an application that runs on top. BSODs, freezes, slowdowns and other issues will still happen, especially if you use the box for other purposes, such as downloading in the background. That, and the incredibly complex setup procedure was seriously annoying. You have to of course install Vista, but then the codecs, and making sure that things are being upconverted and handled properly, sound is being output through the coax or toslink or HDMI the way it should, and then finally calibrating the video output was a chore and then some. Most of these problems go away when using Plex with a Mac as your HTPC. It’s one of the best media center frontends I’ve seen, and it’s incredibly efficient with its processing, playing video back smoothly that won’t in VLC or Quicktime with Perian. Still, it’s quite an investment (well, it’s actually a depreciating asset, but let’s not split hairs) to buy a whole PC, and that too a Mac. Your only aesthetically-acceptable option would be a Mac Mini, and their price-performance relationship is unheard of (in a bad way).

WD TV HD Media Player – Finally, that brings us to the object this review is about, the Western Digital TV HD Media Player. No one was expecting this thing, at all, at this price, and certainly not from WD. But none of that is important.

We’ve been led to believe that good things come in small packages, and it seems that this tiny device may be a proponent of that idea. It’s unbelievably small, at least to my eyes, which are used to seeing acceptable 1080p playback from big boxes that contain massive coolers atop multi-core CPUS breathing hot air, sucking electricity down and adding to the racket and sweltering heat produced by the other components inside that (usually) ugly box. This thing has no fans, is pretty green and gasp… actually does what its supposed to! Setup could not be easier, and I think no AV device in history has been easier to set up, physically. The power cable, the HDMI cable… and you’re done. Yes, this is also the case with many other HDMI devices, but this thing is tiny, and it only has a few jacks, so it’s very hard to mess it up. No physical buttons are on the unit, so it’s switched on by the remote. A more-white-than-blue LED lights up for power, and if you have a USB device plugged in, it’ll flash or light up, depending on whether it’s scanning the drive or is ready to go. I encountered a problem early on. After setting up the easy cabling and getting into the menu, I found that it would not recognize my external 1 TB hard drive. Alarmed, I immediately copied a 720p TV show to my Patriot Xporter flash drive and plugged it in. After a few seconds of inactivity, it started flashing and the videos came up. Still, if it wouldn’t read 1 TB hard drives, it’s not really an effective 1080p media center now, is it? I updated the firmware, and then it finally saw the drive. I noticed speed improvements as well! Hopefully this thing will get better and better with each firmware update.

This baby will play just about anything digital you can find. From old-school DivX encodings to the latest super-high bitrate 1080p MKVs, this will handle them all. More surprisingly, it seems to have no trouble playing them. They are no signs of a struggle! I put on a specially ripped version of the Godfather, barely compressed from the original, taking up about 20 GB. It started playing right away, faster than my gaming computer could start playing it(and that has a 4 GHz Yorkfield and 8GB of RAM). VLC and other players sometimes have a lot of visual imperfections playing back high-resolution high-bitrate video, but there was no such macroblocking, other than any present from compression. If you haven’t compressed your Blu-Ray rips much, or, you’ve just copied the stream file from a Blu-Ray disc (which it WILL play!), the video will look superb. Sound is as good as standard Dolby Digital or DTS gets (if you’re connected through composite, it won’t decode DTS though), but currently, it doesn’t do DTS-MA or TrueHD as far as I know.

The interface is a little like a simplified, vertical-scrolling Windows XP-coloured Sony PS3 XMB interface. Sounds a bit like Windows Media Center, right? It’s not unlike it actually. Though the menus are a little simplistic, they get the job done and I can’t complain much. The only issue I have with the interface is that each icon should have the corresponding text near it, not down in the bottom-right corner. A small niggle, really. The device has the ability to create libraries for you, but I disabled this feature as I have my own organizational structure on the drive, and also, it
seemingly takes forever to index a 1 TB drive. One more caveat here is that it can’t do this for HFS+ formatted drives, and I think it’s because it can read them, but not write to them.

After using the device for a few hours, I can say that I’m very satisfied with it. It switches between videos easily, resumes videos where you left them off, and never falters during playback, no matter how demanding the video file is. At this point, I have just one niggle… the remote is too small for adult male hands, and the buttons require a lot of effort to push. Sounds like a small issue, which can easily be resolved by using other kinds of remotes (programmable, Harmony etc.). At $139 Canadian, this is a great deal since it can do what HTPCs can’t do as reliably or as quick, for hundreds less. It also trumps every other media solution on the market, including the consoles.

I give it a 9 out of 10.

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How International Audio Conferencing Works

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Audio conferencing enables individuals from different locations to connect and speak with each other using the services of a secure telephone line. The process allows people who otherwise may not be able to physically meet each other to communicate and have meetings. This is a preferred mode of communication as it is more economical for businesses than to have their personnel travel across cities or countries to attend meetings. International voice conferencing allows people in different countries to communicate with each other at a pre-determined date and time.

This is more commonly known as teleconferencing or voice conferencing, any number of people can be connected at the same time. This form of communication is widely in use in commerce, education and business. It also saves time as traveling from one country to another can take time, and delays can always make such trips much longer. Traveling also causes disruption at work as the time it takes for an employee to travel means time away from the office.

An international audio con-call differs from an ordinary phone call in the sense that there are more than two people who make up a voice con-call. Callers are connected to what is known as a conference bridge which is a server that makes it possible for many people to communicate with one another.

There are different types of international voice conferencing services available today. The first type is the “dial in” which is simply dialing a number that has been pre-designated and given to all the participants of the conference to call. It is normally accompanied with a code or passkey that needs to be entered via a touch tone phone.

The second type is called the “reservation-less call” which is most commonly used for businesses that choose to allow participants in Canada and/or in the US to connect toll-free into the con-call. If the participant is outside the local dialing calling area, there is no long distance cost incurred as these are charges to the host of the con-call. This type of call also utilizes a passkey or pass-code.

The third type of voice conference call is “operator assisted.” Operator assisted con-calls uses services offered by a conference call company which normally includes the bringing of participants to the call (operator dial out), call moderator and live call monitoring, roll call, faxing or emailing of any documents to all the participants, services like translation, and many more services.

Such voice con-calls allow businesses to communicate with people in different locations or countries without incurring traveling, hotel costs, per dime costs, and any travel delays that can arise.

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Constructing the Ultimate PC Based TV Entertainment Center

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You likely already use your TV as a great source for entertainment. You probably also use your computer for a large amount of entertainment. With the combination of a properly configured computer and your TV, you can unleash so much more potential for entertainment and make everything so much easier to access.

Entertainment system will include

At the center of your entertainment system is going to be your TV. I of course would strongly recommend an HDTV to those that can afford it. Also, while size isn’t the only important factor in the quality of an HDTV, I do have to say, bigger is better. For this setup we’ll assume that you have an HDTV that supports HDMI input.

As I mentioned, that TV is great and all, but we’re going to use a computer to make it do so much more for you. So that brings us to the computer you’re going to want. I would strongly recommend a Windows 7 based PC that includes Media Center. If you don’t know what Media Center is, we’ll get to that. The computer should also have a nice video card to ensure that your computer can play high quality HD content without stuttering or being slow. You’ll want to make sure this video card has a built in HDMI port with audio support. This will make it as easy as possible to connect the computer to the HDTV. Also, it usually doesn’t cost much to add a Blu-Ray compatible drive to a computer and it is definitely worth the cash. If you haven’t used Blu-Ray on your HDTV you’re missing out on a true movie watching experience.

In addition to the TV and the Computer you’ll want to make sure you get a Media Center compatible remote for the computer. This will allow you to control everything we’ll install on the computer from the comfort of your couch.

Software and set up

As I mentioned you’ll want to run Media Center on the computer. This will be the base of everything we do on the PC. The reason for this is that it has an interface designed to be controlled with the Media Center remote so you don’t have to have a mouse and keyboard on your lap while doing all of this.

In addition to that you’ll want to install the Netflix Media Center plugin. This will give you access to all of Netflix’s streaming catalog right through media center. This way you can browse, search, and watch anything that Netflix has available. Netflix does require a subscription in order to have access to the streaming material, but it is definitely worth it to have access to all sorts of movies and TV shows instantly.

Another one you’ll want to install is the Hulu desktop application. This application gives you access to the same free streaming content that is found on their website, but it will also work with the media center remote. Hulu does not install itself into the Media Center application, but we can still make it work. You’ll want to use a program like Media Center Studio. Media Center Studio is a free program you can download that will let you make changes to the Media Center menu. Using this you can add a launcher icon for Hulu. Then you can launch Hulu Desktop from Media Center and when you quit the Hulu program it will bring you back.

Media Center does not come with built in support for Blu-Ray movies. If your computer came with a Blu-Ray drive it may have also come with a plugin to add support to Media Center for that. If not, you’ll need to purchase one. There are lots of options available online. Just whatever you purchase, make sure it includes a Windows 7 Media Center compatible plug in. This will ensure that you can control your Blu-Ray movies with that same remote and without having to leave the Media Center software.

The last real step for configuring your computer is to copy your music, video, and photo libraries over to the computer. Assuming the music and videos aren’t protected by non-WMC compatible DRM you will be able to listen to and view any of those files through the Media Center software.

Connect PC without HDMI

Some of you may already have a PC you want to use, or have just picked one up on some killer deal only to find it doesn’t have HDMI. Fear not, you can still connect it to the HDMI port on the TV, with some work. Your options are varied. First you can install a new video card in the computer that has HDMI. This is the best option for older computers that could stand to have an upgraded video card anyway.

Another option is to use a DVI to HDMI cable from any computer that has a DVI video port on it. This will get the video to your TV with no problems at all. Be warned though, that DVI ports do not output audio so you’ll have to run separate audio cables. Hopefully your TV has an input next to one of the HDMI ports on the TV to allow for that.

If your TV has a VGA input, you can simply use a VGA to VGA cable from the VGA port on the computer to the TV. This will work great in most cases. Some TVs don’t support full 1080p through the VGA port, however, so be cautious of that. Also, VGA doesn’t carry audio either so you’ll need to run separate audio cables in this situation also.

Let’s say you’ve got VGA on your computer, but you need to go to HDMI on the TV. You can use a VGA to HDMI signal converter to convert from the analog format to the digital, allowing you to use the full 1080p input of the HDMI port. These converters will generally support sound conversion to put it on the HDMI line which can help a lot in setting it up.

Just whatever you do, DO NOT purchase a VGA to HDMI cable. Those things have been floating all over the web, but they are a scam. VGA is an analog signal and HDMI is digital and you cannot just use a cable to convert from one to the other. If you purchase a cable like that you’ll really just be wasting your money.

Conclusion

Once you have your TV, PC, and remote all connected you’ll be all set to enjoy all these forms of entertainment from a single device. We’re talking viewing Hulu, Netflix, Blu-Rays, DVDs, listening to MP3s, stored video files, pictures and much more all from one device, and all from the comfort of your couch. I have personally been running a set up like the one described here for about 3 years, and it is continually improving as new sources of media come out. This is the ultimate home entertainment device.

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