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AFL Grand Final – In 3D

Earlier this year, I watched the Rugby League State Of Origin – Game 3 in 3D at the cinema.  You can read about that here.

For the first time, the AFL (Australian Football League) got in on the act and telecast the 2010 AFL Grand Final in 3D.  Yesterday’s game between the highly fancied Collingwood Magpies and last year’s Runners Up, the St Kilda Saints was attended by over 100,000 people at a sold out MCG but by millions across Australia and around the world.  It is the biggest day on the Australian sporting calendar and I wanted to experience it for the first time in 3D on the big screen.

As with the State of Origin match it was difficult to get use to the new angles.  As 3D images are gathered using different cameras to 2D, it meant that the usual angles you are use to when watching the standard 2D games are no longer available so it takes some time to get used to it.

While the images are sharp and in your face and 20 feet tall on the cinemas big screen, and while the surround sound makes it sound like you are actually at the stadium, there is something missing.

The commentators commentate not only by what they are seeing live, but they are also commentating on what they are seeing on their monitors, and their monitors are using the 2D feed, not the 3D feed.  So at times during the commentary they will be making mention of something which we just aren’t seeing.

With fewer cameras in the 3D broadcast we missed images all game of the coaches who add a lot of theatre to the game through their emotions when things don’t quite go right.  The throwing down of headphones, the curse words that any good lip reader can pick up, the angry faces getting redder and redder as the game progresses.  In the case of Collingwood and their famous president, Eddie Maguire who, from his seat in the stands, shows so much emotion when his team does not do well as was evidenced in the 2002 and 2003 Grand Finals when his team lost both years to the then mighty Brisbane Lions.  I missed these images in the 3D broadcast.

As this was Channel 7’s first 3D AFL broadcast the guys who control what we watch in the broadcast centre, ie the game day directors, are different as well.  You know the guy who says “switch to camera 1, now 3, go to camera 12, switch back to 3, now the coaches box camera……”  Well they are two different directors and therefore 2 different perspectives.  I also think that as 3D broadcasting is new in Australia and this was the first ever 3D broadcast of AFL, that the 3D director is not actually an Aussie who doesn’t understand the game.   I could be wrong on this one.

The atmosphere is good though.  It is great to watch the game on a massive screen with other people clapping and showing their respective support for their team.  Add in popcorn, chips and drinks and it rivals any Grand Final party at home which are held all across Australia.

So today I watched the replay which I had recorded in high definition on my 50” Panasonic Viera Plasma.  I saw the reactions from the coaches.  I saw Eddie Maguire blowing a gasket.   I heard the commentators comments match what was being shown on the screen.  I saw the game from a different angle.  I watched the game with far more cameras capturing a lot more images and emotions from the crowd.  I also saw that there were cameras at outside broadcast spots in and around Melbourne and it was great to see the fans who didn’t make it to the ground, enjoying the game in their thousands.

What makes AFL great is not just the game itself but the raw emotion that this great sport generates through its fans.  AFL in the southern states of Australia is a religion.  From March to September each year it is most peoples main talking point.  They worship the players and they can’t wait for each week when their team plays.  I live in northern Australia where AFL is popular but doesn’t have the same religious feel that it does in Victoria, and I get caught up in it each week when my beloved Brisbane Lions play.  I want to see the emotion from the crowds and while 3D has a little bit of this, it doesn’t show enough.  Although there was one exception.  During some of the 3D angles there was this one St Kilda supporter in the crowd who was wearing a red T-Shirt and he always seemed to react to the big St Kilda moments before the rest of the supporters near him.  He was good theatre!

For those who have been living under a rock and don’t know the result.  Well it was an epic game of Aussie Rules.  Collingwood started the game strong and by half time led the Saints by 24 points.  St Kilda came back in the second half and finally hit the lead with about 7 minutes remaining, leading by 5 points after a Brendon Goddard high flying mark and goal.  The final 7 minutes was an arm wrestle with both teams trying to gain an edge.   Collingwood fought back again to take a one point lead through a goal to Cloke and then with about 90 seconds remaining, St Kilda scored a crucial point to level up the scores.  The last 90 seconds seemed like a year and at the end of it and with the scores tied at 68 all the first draw since 1977 and only the third in VFL/AFL history meant that we would be back again next Saturday to try and crown the premiers. Draws in AFL are rare with only 2 or 3 a year at the most.

When the final siren sounded there was a feeling around the cinema and at the ground that there should be extra time.  There isn’t and we reset for next weekend.  There will be extra time next week should the game end up as a draw again.  I don’t think the nation could take another tied result especially considering our federal election also ended up as draw in August.

I’ll be watching this one from home.  In high definition 2D with the camera angles I am used to which in all honesty is still pretty good compared to the grainy black and white images from a few decades ago.  It works for me.

What did you think of the game?  Happy with a rematch next week or do you think extra time should have played?  Did anyone watch it in 3D?  What were your thoughts?

Microchipping – Humans

Microchipping is becoming more and more popular with pet owners using this process to identify their pets.  The reason why people do this is because, as we know, pets get lost quite easily.  The pet is found or picked up by animal control and can be easily identified through the microchip and returned to its owner.  The microchip is about the size of a grain of rice and can be inserted into the pet or attached to it, similar to a piercing.

Simple.

What about microchipping humans?  Not quite as simple.

Initially the idea of microchipping humans was for reasons including turning on lights and opening garage doors, providing direct access to a persons medical records etc. It is akin to carrying an ID card with you, except this one cannot be lost as it is inserted into a persons hand.

I can see a better use of this technology rather than turning on lights.

Currently the microchip contains information but it is not a GPS (Global Positioning System).  I think it will eventually get to the point where humans can have a very small GPS microchip implanted into the body.  The benefits of this are wide ranging.

The question is this.  Who should have GPS microchips implanted?  I think kids should.

You read stories regularly about children going missing, but kids going missing is nothing new.  In 1966, 3 Australian school children vanished from an Adelaide beach. Despite an exhaustive search and enquiries for over 40 years, the Beaumont kids have never been located.  It is possible they are still alive but most likely they are dead.  No one knows and this mystery which has captivated a country, will most likely never be solved.

The Beaumont Children

In 2003, young Queenslander, Daniel Morcombe, 13, went missing one December while waiting for a bus on the Sunshine Coast.  Despite massive media and an enormous police search, Daniel has never been found.

It’s not only Aussie kids who go missing.  In 2007, 3 year old British toddler, Madeleine McCann was abducted while her family were on holiday in Portugal.  Despite worldwide media attention and an exhaustive search, Maddie, also, has never been found.

Madeleine McCann
Daniel Morcombe

These are three examples of kids who have vanished, never to be seen or heard from again.  If the technology was available and each of these children had a GPS microchip implanted into them, the chances are that they would either have been located quickly…….dead or alive.  While it is terrible to think that yes, they could be dead, at least the families would know.  Currently, families of missing children have no idea whether their kids are alive or not.  As a father, I would want to know either way, no matter the pain hearing that my child was dead would cause.  At least from there you can move on.

So what about privacy issues?  Are our kids entitled to privacy?  By having a microchip implanted are mum and dad going to be checking out your movements when you are 15 and out with your friends?  The temptation is certainly there to do just that.

What happens when they turn 18?  As adults, do they keep the microchip implanted or have it removed?  Adults go missing as well and never heard from again.  I remember the case of Sharron Phillips who went missing in 1986 when her car ran out of petrol near Wacol in Brisbane.  She has never been found.  If she was microchipped would she have been found?  Most likely.  Even if she was found dead, her parents would have had closure and 24 years later would at least be at ease.

Let’s investigate a world where microchipping is the standard and all kids have one implanted. Would this mean that child abductions would stop or massively reduce?  Or would professional people smugglers (which is one theory behind Madeleine McCann’s disappearance) quickly remove the implanted microchip and destroy it? If that happens, will the children be injured during the process of removal?  Will they get infections?  Because the abductor will want the chip removed quickly before there is an opportunity for the chip to be activated and the childs location found, the methods of removal will be crude, with no pain relief or anaesthetic used.

Or will technology evolve to the use of mini EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse) machines which an abductor would wave over the microchip area to disable it? There are many possibilities.

I think for those kids who go missing at the hands of non professionals or accidently, the microchip is a good idea.  People who go missing bushwalking or swimmers and scuba divers who get caught at sea in a rip and can drift many, many miles away from their known location can be found. Surely a microchip would assist rescuers and searchers.

Are there health risks?  Currently there are.  Lab rats have developed cancerous cells around the microchips.  I wouldn’t want a microchip if there was a chance of getting cancer.  But if they can find a way around this, then I think it is worthwhile looking at.

As I mentioned earlier, what about privacy?  Will parents be checking up on their kids? If the chip can only be accessed by emergency services in the case of disappearance then that should solve that issue.  I wouldn’t want to be checking up on my kids anyway.  That shows a complete lack of trust and if you can’t give your kids trust, how can they ever become trustworthy?

As a father, and if it was safe, I would want my kids to get microchipped.  There are so many benefits to it.  If at the age of 18 they wanted to have it removed, then that is their choice.

It’s where the world is heading and technology can be useful.

I think eventually the technology will become available and it will be cheap and it will be safe.  Would you microchip your kids?  What about yourself?  Are there major privacy issues?  Would love to hear your thoughts.

iPhone 4

After weeks and months of secrecy, Apple today announced the all new iPhone 4, and I gotta tell you I am excited by it.

As an existing iPhone user – I have the 32gb 3GS – this phone will offer more features than ever before.

Facetime – One of the new hardware features of the iPhone is a front facing camera which will enable video calling.  While at the moment it is only available from iPhone 4 to iPhone 4 via WiFi only, this is a great way to keep in contact with loved ones, especially for those away from home.

Camera – One of the problems with the iPhone has been the inability to take photos in low light settings.  With a flash included on the upgraded 5mb iPhone 4, this solves this problem while also taking better pictures.

Folders – I have 10 pages of apps on my existing iPhone.  Navigating around them is sometimes difficult.  The inclusion of folders will mean that I can set up many different folders depending on their classification.  So folders like Social Networking and Recipes and Games will now be easier to access the specific apps.  Perfect.

Screen Resolution – I already think the iPhone resolution is pretty good, but the upgrade to Retina technology will make viewing of photos and videos even better.

Battery Life – I live on my iPhone and one of the constant issues I have is the poor battery performance.  This will be addressed with a larger battery.  We’ll see if it really is better.

Multi Tasking – The ability to leave one app and go to another and then return is great.

These are just some of the features I am looking forward to seeing in the new iPhone.

Here is a great video highlighting many of the features.  I can’t wait to get one.

Suddenly, my existing iPhone is looking very outdated.

The new iPhone will be available in Australia in July.

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Foursquare

Foursquare ™ is a social networking site that allows you to ‘check in’ at different venues when you are there. You can do this via your iPhone, Blackberry or Android mobile phone as it uses the inbuilt GPS locator to find where you are.

Every time you check in, you gain points.  If it is the first time you are checking in at this venue you are awarded 5 points.  If the venue has never been checked into before, either by you or anyone else, there is another 5 point bonus.  All other check in’s are awarded one point only.  At the end of the week you can see if you are the top ranked person amongst your ‘friends’.

Not only are you awarded points but you also gain merit badges along the way.

You earn these badges for multiple check in’s at places like the gym.  Or for checking in a minimum number of times per month.

At each venue you check in to, you can also add a tip for that venue.  The tip is a message about that venue.  Eg, at the local fish and chip shop you might add in how good their grilled fish and salad is.  This means that people who check in at this venue after the tip is uploaded can see the tip and knowing this info, may decide to follow the tip and order the same meal.

If you check into one place often enough (generally 3 times) you may become the mayor of that establishment.  As you can see from this screen grab, I am currently the Mayor of 18 different establishments.

So why would anyone want to join Foursquare?  At the moment there is no real benefit other than earning the badges and seeing how many you can get and for also trying to get as high as possible on the leaderboard each week.  There is a future benefit that I can see and that is when business gets on board.

Currently, most businesses do not advertise their services or products or a special on Foursquare. If I was a small business owner, I would be setting up a Foursquare account, checking into my business for the first time and adding a tip.  When people are near  by and searching for their location to check in to, that businesses tip will show up and this is where the power of this application can really benefit businesses.

Once businesses get on board with Foursquare, the benefit to users will increase from the current use to one that users should get a benefit for advertising a business for free.

Is there a privacy issue in using Foursquare?

Once you have checked in somewhere you can choose to have your check in location shared with your friends via Twitter or Facebook.

It also updates on the internet.  By checking in somewhere, people can see you are not at home which is a worry as some tech savvy people may be able to look up your name and address and pop in for a visit!  And as no one may be home, this opens up the possibility that your house may be burgled or damaged.

So until business gets on board and offers incentive to people to use Foursquare, I will be giving it a miss for a little while.

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Do you use Foursquare?  Where do you see this application heading?  Is there a future for Foursquare and other location based applications?  Is there a privacy and security issue?

The New Dinosaurs

With the impending launch of Apple’s new iPad does this mean the end is nigh for those retailers who sell magazines and books?   While I don’t think the end is here just yet, it isn’t hard to see a future where the local newsagent will be a thing of the past.

In Australia, most newsagencies sell items including newspapers, magazines, books, greeting cards, lotto tickets and stationary supplies.  I am sure that in the past few years the increase in popularity of email, Facebook and other social networking sites has reduced the sales of greeting cards.  I for one, am a consumer who rarely buys greeting cards anymore and would rather send a greeting to my friends via Facebook or via an email. Is this less personal?  Perhaps!  I am still taking the time and effort to connect to that friend and wish them well on their special day.  When I receive an E-greeting from a friend I am thankful for it and have never thought I would have preferred a card.  I don’t think I am alone here.

As for newspapers I rarely buy one.  I get my news from online sources like http://www.news.com.au.  News online for now is a free service, however reports over the last few months, particularly from News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch has indicated that online news in the very near future will not be free as it is now.  And nor should it be.  Real journalists are paid to compile those reports as well as a myriad of behind the scenes people to load the content, keep the servers going etc and all of this costs money.  Yes I hear you saying that these online sites have advertising on them but I would doubt that a high percentage of readers click through to the advertisers.  I am happy to pay a subscription for online news, but only if it presents exactly the same as reading a newspaper does now, which the iPad and similar devices will allow.  I also won’t be the same as it costs for a current newspaper.  With no need for printing or retailers to sell them and therefore commissions, the cost of an online version of the daily paper should be considerable less.

Magazines will go the same way as newspapers.  Available on line for a nominal fee.  That is fine.  The pictures and articles will look much better and with embedded video added into stories it will improve the quality of those stores 100%.  I look forward to reading my favourite magazines online.  The bloke in me definitely looks forward to seeing the iPad Playboy magazine with more than just pictures!

Books are already a huge online business for companies such as Amazon.com who is now selling more online books than paper books for the first time in history.  While Amazon’s E-Reader the Kindle is in danger of becoming a dinosaur itself with the iPad now only weeks away, consumers have shown there is a huge business in online books and this has to have retailers of hard copy books very concerned.

The remainder of items that newsagents sell like lotto tickets are now available to purchase online in Australia but their little cousins, the Scratchie Ticket. which really is just an impulse buy anyway while you are at the newsagent buying your current newspaper, are not.  Stationary supplies can be bought elsewhere at department stores and dedicated office supply stores like Officeworks and are generally easily accessible.

The same can be said about video stores.  With the massive increase in downloading movies either legally or illegally plus the increase in subscriber numbers to pay TV operators such as Foxtel, your local video store will not be able to compete.  A source tells me that his Video Ezy store has really become a DVD retailer rather than a DVD rental outlet and that is how he is staying in business. He just doesn’t make the same money he once did on rentals.  He has added computers for customers to surf the net on at his store as well as a photocopier as another way of increasing revenue but it is a battle he is losing.  The reality is that as broadband services improve and ISP’s lower their costs in an ever increasing competitive market place, more and more people will download their movies, whether to rent or own at a much cheaper price than a DVD retailer will be able to offer.  Let’s face it.  DVD retailers such as Video Ezy have massive rents and labour costs to pay as well as other costs such as electricity, insurance, security, bank loans etc.  They just simply will not be able to compete.

So my friends, the days of the humble newsagent and video store are numbered.  Add onto this list book retailers like Angus and Robertson and it is easy to see a future devoid of these retailers. While it will take time for older generations to either catch up with technology or die off, there will be a time when it just won’t be feasible for these current day retailers to survive.

I honestly don’t think that in 10 years time you will a Blockbuster or Video Ezy around the corner.  Newsagents will be few and far between as will book retailers.  They will all need to find ways to reinvent themselves or become dinosaurs.

What do you think?  Do you buy less greeting cards than you use to?  Do you download books now rather than buy hard copy versions?  Do you buy your lotto online?  What is the future for these retailers?