Monday, September 9, 2013

Lawson Report Moved to New Home

The Lawson Report has moved.

  As of the end of August 2013, I have Officially moved the Lawson Report to its new home. 
The main reason I moved it from here is that I wanted to be able to expand upon what I had started here,.  There you will find easier navigation, and photo galleries, and  my blogs divided into categories.


The url;  lawsonreport.info   has been redirected to the new site.
  Please some time to look over the new site.
Thank You ,

Kenneth Lawson

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

I'm Not Gun Crazy, I'm Constitution Crazy

    I'm Not Gun Crazy,  I'm  Constitution  Crazy

My wife says I’m  gun crazy. But I’m not, I’m Constitution Crazy.  
While I’ve had a lifelong interest and fascination and respect for firearms, their many uses as a tool, mostly for good and sometimes for evil.  The history of this country is inextricably  linked to firearms, and their uses for both defense of of the country and for sporting, and hunting. In many respects we  would not be the country we are today without the firearms.  The defense  of the free world rested on the millions of brave soldiers from all over the world who took up guns and defended the rights of all free nations to exist in World War II. The vast majority of the guns used in that great defense were made here. Some of the most iconic firearms in the world were developed here. Many of the basic designs by John Browning are still in use today, many have been tweaked but still remain basically unchanged in form and function since  John Browning, and his contemporaries designed them over a century ago.
Fast forward, to today, Today there is an assault on the basic rights of every American in the country. What Hitler and his contemporaries couldn’t do from the outside,in the 1940’s and was never quite accomplished in the 1950’s with Joseph McCartney  and his witch hunt in the 1950’s if finally starting to be done today.
There has been a push to limit  the rights and ability of the public to exercise one of their basic constitutional rights , the right to keep and bear arms.
    
    There are 27 amendments to the constitution.   Here is a summary of  the first 10 of them;  The  first 10 are called the Bill Of Rights.  Here is the page where I got them; Bill of Rights

Amendment 1
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Amendment 2
A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

Amendment 3
No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Amendment 4
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Amendment 5
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Amendment 6
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

Amendment 7
In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Amendment 8
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Amendment 9
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Amendment 10
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

There are several items worth noting in the above, One being that the first  amendment says what Congress  cannot do.    
 The Constitution is the ultimate  “Law of the Land”  That is to say, whatever other laws congress and the states may pass, they subject in the end to passing the test of the Constitution,; does it follow into the letter of the law, or in the very least spirit of the Constitution,  If a law does not fall in line with the above, then its illegal and should be thrown out.  However, being that many of the amendments are very broadly written, there is much room for personal interpretation by both officials, and supreme courts. Whenever an elected official takes office, among other things they swear to “Protect and Defend the Constitution of the United States” To my mind that means not introducing laws or ordinances which limit the citizens rights to enjoy their Constitutional rights. To my mind to bring such laws up for vote and worst yet, passing them is essentially treason to the country and should be treated as such.
    Of course the main theme of this article, is “Gun Control”  but the bigger picture is that by limiting the public's right to exercise their rights as given to them by the Constitution  they open the door to  abusing more and more of everyone's rights.

Limiting the public's right to exercise one amendment is opening the door to limiting other right in the long run.  There are already cases where, both state and federal governments have used questionable methods  to get information and   limit the public's rights. If possible to do an end-run around the law, to accomplish their  goals of tightening up  regulations to get or own a firearm, or especially concealed carry.

 A number of questions have occurred to me lately;  One of the main ones is How does a rich mayor of a city become as influential and powerful as Michael Bloomberg , of New York City? While I lived on the other end of the state for many years, there were many issues in our poor rural agriculture  county, Gun Rights, was not one of them. Everyone had a gun, If not specifically for self-defense, but as a pest control and hunting weapon.
While on the surface of it, no one want dangerous people to get guns, be the career criminal, or  mentally ill.  There solution to theses issues, it called enforcing the laws we have in place, and the health system taking responsibility for the patients they have in their charge and doing what is needed for both the patients and publics safety.

The Constitution is the basis of all  of the laws on which we govern ourselves. Any person or agency that through  action, or inaction causes the undermining of the constitution and it provisions is guilty of treason. By bringing up laws that restrict the public's rights to exercise their rights, either through out  denial, or making it so arduous and expensive or otherwise impossible for them to reasonably exercise their rights is guilty of the above mentioned treason.
There are seven main battleground states for the fight to keep and bear arms;
New York, New Jersey, Massessatues Colorado, Illinois  Connecticut, and California.
Theses are the main states which have been trying to enact laws which limit the legal law abiding citizens rights to buy guns, and the places and methods to transporting them, and , in California's case even going to the extent of trying ban lead ammunition , thus effectively banning hunting in the state. Chicago, which has one of the highest crime rates in the country , also has the tightest restriction on getting and gun, and a carry permit in the country. It seems to me, the lesson here, is the tighter the laws, the worst the crime rate is.  In states where its earlier to own a gun, and get a permit, the crime rate is considerably lower; doses that tell you something?



To sum it up, its not just about the guns themselves, while their important, the bigger issue is the attack on the Constitution, and the bill of Rights, once one is weaken, if not toppled, it won’t take much for the rest to fall.
Something to think about.

Kenneth Lawson

Saturday, February 16, 2013

“God made man, But Samuel Colt made them equal"


“God made man, But Samuel Colt made them equal" 

 

This a quote probably from Colt manufacturing  In a world where the bad guys are generally well armed, or at least in a state where reasoning with them isn't going to happen, something else's needs to brought to the table; ie; personal self defense.


Personal Self Defense begins with being aware of your surrounding, and potential and possible dangers, and scenario, that could end very badly for you. If at all possible avoiding them is always the best option, however, sometimes there is no other option but to go into a situation that is less than safe in some way. With that in mind, always be looking and thinking ahead. I’m not a personal defense expert, however, I have been watching and listening to a number of self defense shows and taken many of the lessons to heart.

In a perfect world, the only things that ever got shot were targets, and animals for hunting for food. However, this is  a far less than perfect world. Sometimes, two legged animals need to be dealt with. Also in a perfect world, police would be close at hand to bail you out, the second you called 911.  We all know the police are spread far too thin and understaffed and overburdened to do what they would like to, even in metropolitan areas. Much less in rural areas,where they many times only have 3 cars to cover a whole county. Response time can run from as little as 15-20 minutes, to well over half an hour, in some cases a hour, thats with them risking their lives to get there in the dark on a windy country roads. That 15-20 minutes can seem like an eternity, and a lot can happen in that time, Probably a lot has already happened, none of it good.
Defending your life, and the lives of your family and loved one can come down to the choices you make now. The right to defend yourself and family has never been question, at least not in principle. However, what is quickly being questioned is what weapons you can use to do that defending.
In the light of the recent mass shooting over this last year, there has been a outcry, to do something ,anything.  What this has become is a knee-jerk reaction to a very real problem.  Make new laws,,, most of them dumb, and don’t solve the problem.  The problem in a nutshell, is health system, particularly the mental health side, The NRA has been trying for over 20 years to get a mental health database tied to gun buying background check, to make it harder for people with mental issues to get guns. The other side of the coin is, the mental health system,itself, which passes the patients off among itself, and no one takes responsibility for seeing to it the patient get what it needs, either treatment, or locked up for both their and the publics safety. No one is willing to make those hard choices, and stand behind them.
The other legs to this is enforcement.  That is enforcement of the laws on the books. And communication between the prosecutor, and the DA and other parties involved, be it the defense, and parole department, to make sure everyone knows if the subject has a record, and what kind of record it is.
The problems occur when one leg breaks down; in the case of the recent mass shootings, its usually  the mental health system which didn’t deal with theses individuals  in a way that was appropriate for them,  either serious treatment, and monitoring, or in extreme cases locked up for their own good. and ours.

I can understand the cry to do something, however, before we pass more bills that eliminate my right to use the gun I feel I need to protect myself and family, go back and look at the guns in question themselves, and look at the way they actually work, all semi-automatic gun work the same, you have magazine which hold your rounds, you pull the trigger once, one round goes out the barrel.
The includes everything from my little Ruger 10/22, to a AR-15 and a semi-auto pistol. regardless of the platform, the principle is the same. The only difference is the “scary level of a  AR-15, is considerably more than that of a traditional gun like a Ruger 10/22, or other semi auto rifle.  If a Ruger 10/22 had been used in these types of shooting, it would be the “Scary Gun”

My advice is got get the people who have used these guns,in real life self defense situation, be it in the army, or ar a peace officer to testify as to why they came home that night, most would probably say that AR-15 and the high capacity magazine saved their lives and that of their fellow officers or soldiers.
When is facing a unknown number of assailants and the first 2-3 shots didn't discourage them,  a federally mandated ban on large capacity magazines is not going to help you when they come breaking in and all you have is 7 rounds maximum .
Many times the presence of the gun pointed at the attacker  is enough to make them think twice about what they want to do. Of course in some cases shots need to be fired, however, as long as there is clear evidence that the shooter was justified in using deadly force, there's usually not a problem.

  As for concealed carry, the, more the better. If There's a very good chance that a bad guy going to run into a gun on the other side of the door, or inside a bank or store, or wherever, he was thinking of doing something bad, then maybe he’ll think twice. Here in Virginia we have open carry law, which allows one to openly carry a handgun on their person, without a permit. In the 3 years I’ve been here, I’ve seen 2 people carrying open. No problems. If its obvious that there are weapons around, the criminals will not be in a hurry to start something.
A gun free zone is stupid, I can definitely see where limiting or regulating the people who can carry a gun in a zone is needed, however, a completely “Gun Free Zone” is essentially a killing field waiting to happen. If it is necessary to make it  a” Gun Free Zone”, then other steps need to be taken to provide for security in that area.
In a interview I saw recently , Ted Nugent said “ an armed society is a polite society “
Meaning if criminals know the  chances of winding up on the wrong end of a gun a very good if you start something, then Maybe they won’t.
Us  armed  law-abiding citizens  have nothing to fear from other armed law abiding citizens.


Kenneth Lawson

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Technolgical Blaze of Glory

    The time has come, again to rant about the past year.  However, there are a variety of subjects  to choose from. One could go on about the current state of  the telecommunications industry, and the future on online viewing   habits and venues, to the recent  advances in television technology.
   However, there are bigger issues that need addressing. Such as Gun Control, Mental Health, and fiscal responsibility of our government, and  the like.  Its all fine and dandy to sit here in our techie towers and ponder the future of telecommunications, which is important, but in the final analysis, if the country has lost its moral compass and its roots all the technology in the world won’t get it back on the right track. It will just go down the wrong way in a technological blaze of glory, which will keep people from seeing what the real problems are.
The shooting last year , prompted me to write about my views on gun control, particularly concealed carry. I don’t belive new rules governing guns are going to solve the problem. The majority of shooting are done by people who have mental issues who were not treated properly or at all. In many cases they were dumped from one organization back and forth to another and no one took responsibility for making sure they got what they needed, either treatment that worked or locked up for both their and societal safety.  The point is everyone who has any responsibility in any level of government is too busy playing the blame game, pointing their fingers at everyone elses when the Sh**t hit the Fan, No one has gumption enough to stand up and say, he was my patient, or our department was handling him, and frankly, we screwed up, and we’re looking to see where we screwed up. No one has said anything remotely like that, nor will they, because, the would be taking responsibility for ones  own actions, or in some cases inaction.  

    This country was founded on a principle that all men are created equal, and should be given the benefit of the doubt, and along with certain other rights, such as to vote, and pursue that which give us pleasure, so long as it do no harm, to society .  When the government has become so big and complicated that many times one department doesn't know what the others are doing, there is a fundamental issue with the power structure, and  delegation of authority, and who answers to who. While it is clearly laid out in the constitution, and on the state levels, Sometimes  many things are lost in translation, and the people who are responsible, tend to forget to whom they’re ultimately responsible to, to the people who elected them to their offices. They were elected and they can be unelected just as easy. President Obama made history when was the first black president to be elected., again he made history by being reelected, what his final role in history will be remains to be seen, and will not be fully understood for decades. Just as all of our past presidents have been judged through the eyes of time and history to be kinder than  they were at the time.  One can hope history and time will be as kind to President Obama.

Looking forward to the new year, which has already started. Once again find many things to talk about. The advances in media in the last ten years or so have far outstripped sixty plus years of media that came before it. From the time in the 1950’s when color TV came on the scene and  the movie industry felt threatened, to the next generation of TV, being cable and satellite,  there really hasn’t been a fundamental change in the content itself, it was essentially still the same as it was in the 1950’s plus or minus a few little tweaks, depending on your point of view. Then the VCR came along, and that was the beginning of the changes which are still happening.   The movie industry soon embraced TV, as a way to reuse a huge backlog of movie content that had stored and monetize it and get it to still make them money, which they’re still doing, only today on a grander scale. The VCR became the DVR, Digital Video Recorder,, in which we still say we’re  “taping” a show or a movie, and there is no actual tape involved, it all ones and bytes. Of course with the surge of good relatively cheap fast broadband internet across the nation,  sites, like Hulu came along, which allowed us to stream content directly to our computers. while it wasn’t a perfect world, the content still had ads, but it was a small price to pay to be able to see free content, we wouldn’t be able to see in places we wouldn't normally see it.
After that, came Netflix, one price a month, and all the streaming you could watch. Best part no commercials. It was the right product at the right time. They were aggressive with the marketing, and making content deals to get more content as they went along, as they were doing that, they also perused the hardware side, making deals to get their software in as many  types of consumer products as possible, making it easier for the consumer to watch the content they paid for and as many platforms as possible. Since then many other players have jumped into the video streaming pool. It has become somewhat crowded. Amazon has their own streaming service, Amazon Prime, for a flat rate you get to stream a large catalog of material, however, having used it, I have to give it mixed reviews.
    To aid in the distribution of all of this video content online a number of set top boxes have come out. The best of theses is the Roku, its cheap their  cheapest box is about 50. dollars, and their most expensive is 100.00.  Theres no fee for using it. Only if you are using Netflix or other pay service, which you're paying for anyways. The best part is all of the free channels they have available .
At present they have several hundred channels which you can add, 99% of them are free,  The ones that require a fee are relatively cheap. As for subject manor, that ranges from many niche subjects such as specialized cooking to various forms of tech , to a wide range of music channels to stream almost any taste in music to you tv, and sound system, If one is is looking for a good way to supplant their cable or in a few cases eliminate it completely the Roku Box is a good candidate.

    The discussions in Washington, about both technology, and gun control, and health care, are important and far reaching. The right of a citizen to defend themselves is paramount  in the minds of many people. While I am deeply saddened by the shooting that happened last year, particularly the school shooting. I refuse to give up my right to defend myself and my family and anyone else who is in danger at a given time.  As for limiting rounds in magazines that is just a first step to working to take our guns away completely, If we give in to that, we’re saying ok, fine you have my constitutional right, even if it only a round in my magazine at a time,  I’ll remind you of it when I need it and I’m a round short to stop the situation  and people get dead because I couldn’t have the capacity magazine I needed to stop the bad guy and he killed more people.

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Long Rough Road to "TV Everywhere"

    The idea of “TV Everywhere”  has been taking hold over the last year or so. While more and more providers are beginning to embrace the idea of making their content available on a number of platforms. There are still a few problems to be solved.

  One major stumbling block is the national broadband rollout. As with all government projects things take longer than planned;

http://www.multichannel.com/article/488723-FCC_Broadband_Deployment_Still_Not_Timely_Reasonable.php

In order to bring  the concept of “TV Everywhere” into a reality as it  has been hyped, much needs to  be done on the back end with infrastructure  both for wired networking, ie; DSL, Cable, and Google’s Fiber to the home, and other land lines, along with wireless networking, both in 3g, and 4g also known as LTE. On that front much needs to be done. Consumers need simple to understand and use data plans, and devices that can handle whatever network they happen to be on. Right now the wireless market is fragmented , each provider has their own ideas for data plans. As with text messaging, a  few years ago they charged per text, both incoming and outgoing, now they have evolved to a” all you can eat “ bundled with your regular plan. I suspect that  they’re still making money on the texting plans, although they’ll never  say it.
Now data is a whole another matter. The  wireless companies, ie; Verizon, AT&T and other have been trying to move consumers up from either a feature or basic phone to a “Smart Phone” now for about a year.  Anyone who has a smartphone, either Apples, or a Android, loves it. What they generally don’t love is the extra data package that have to pay for every month to make the thing work the way its supposed to.Which is  tolerable  if you only have one phone. What if you and your wife/husband both want a Smartphone? Then want to charge you a separate data plan for each phone. At a minimum of  30.00 each thats 60.00 on top of the rest to the bill. Verizon has announced their  “Share Everything” Plan which sounds good, and for some folks it might fit, although the concept is good, they need to refine it some more.
http://solutions.vzwshop.com/shareeverything/?cmp=KNC-58100000004897908

The charges per month to add a device  varies, however, I did find a page which list the charges for the different devices, the smartphone being the most expensive.
http://www.verizonwireless.com/b2c/plan-information/?page=share-everything
You can read the pricing structure at the link above. To my way of looking at it its backwards. Devices like a tablet are far more likely to use more data out the the data pool then the phones, even smartphones. The ability to use a device as a mobile hotspot will also increase data usage.
In short the confusion in the wireless sector is helping to keep “TV Everywhere” from getting the traction it needs in the wireless sector.

   Other aspects that are slowing “TV Everywhere” is the way content owners and providers are handling the media they own or control. Simply put ; greed and control.  While Netflix is famous for their breakthrough in  bringing streaming content to the masses. Which they’re doing a good job at minus a couple of setbacks last summer, when they tried separating the  streaming side from the DVD rental side,they created a huge backlash which they’re just getting over.
Now they’re looking to expand into other markets; ie other countries. All of which cost money. They have to pay license fees for all of the content they stream.  The content owners have been requiring ridiculous  amounts of money from streaming services like Netflix, and Amazon to allow them to stream their content.  Often these deal have very tight limitations which  can limit availability for other markets, or time frames.  
Content owners need to balance the need for money with the idea of making their content available to a number of vendors.
Venders such as Netflix and Amazon are caught between trying to make their prices affordable for consumers, and making enough to cover the cost, most of which are licensing fees.

    On the consumer side, it can be confusing. There are so many different  places to get content. Some have the same material as the others.
There are at least 6  streaming services out there. Which one is right for you depends on what platforms you want to use, and what type of content you are looking for.
Here is a article that compare 6 streaming services;
6 Streaming Services Compared
This will give you a general idea of what's out there.
As to adding a set top box to use to stream your content to your tv, There are several; Appletv, Roku, are the top two, along with Boxee , and several lesser known  streaming Set top boxes. Which one you choose depends on what you want to stream. Roku offers the best value for the money to me. The XS model will stream 1080 and has a usb plug on it allowing you to plug in a usb drive and play content directly off your usb drive to the tv. The selection of channels in increasing at a steady rate. You can find a wide variety  of niche content channels that specialize in content that traditional media wouldn’t touch either because its too narrow of  audience, or they won’t make enough money from it to justify  a investment.

    The adaptation of mobile devices by consumers to consume their media has driven content owners to rethink  how they distribute  and monetize  their media. This is one area that is still fragmented and likely will remain so for some time as content owners figure out how to track viewership and make deals that are fair to everyone.

   The road to “TV Everywhere” is still  young. While great strides have been made, particularly  on the OTT  side, much needs to be done on the mobile side. Along with more equitable  content licensing deals for venders.
The consumer is demanding more ease of use and the ability to take their content from one device to another without missing a frame. While in place and in some cases work very well, there is  little cross-platform  compatibility , which needs to happen to make “TV Everywhere” work.
In the end, there is still a long rough road to truly make the idealized concept of “TV Everywhere” work.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Personal Defense; Its Your Right and Responsibly

     Introduction


Those of you who have followed my blog over the last few years and know me personally, know I rarely take a stand on political issues one way or another. 
 However, the subjects of the article that follows, is something that a vast majority of Americans have in theirs lives in one form or another, guns. 
     Where I grew up in Western New York, It was not unusual for a farmer to have a old .22 and a couple of old shotguns sitting in the closest as  many of my family did, But, the time I came around, they were never used. I sure in their day they saw plenty of use. 
When I lived in Texas, the gun culture was far more prevalent.  
Many of the  pick-up trucks one would see would gun racks mounted to the insides of the back windows, and at least a shotgun, or a rifle of some kind would live there. And no one paid any attention. 
I have had a .22 rifle most of my adult life and started with BB guns and the like as teenagers.  


     I don't claim to be a expert or marksman of any kind, However,  I do enjoy shooting and seeing and handling fine guns. A  fine gun is in many respects a work of art, and a display of craftsmanship, which  alone can be appreciated .
I said all of this as a introduction to the real article I am publishing today. I wanted people to understand where I come from, and , possibly go back and rethink  the roles guns have played in their lives. But Now On to the article.


    Today, I find my myself writing about a subject that is near and dear to my heart.
In a Word Gun Control. The news s been almost  nothing but the tragedy at the Batman screening  last week . The repercussions will be felt  far and wide both for the good and bad.
As near as I can tell The gunman had all off the-shelf gear that anyone who passed a basic background check can get.  I don’t begrudge any person the right to purchase whatever firepower that they feel the need to defend their life and loved one. including him.

As much as a tragedy this is, This is a isolated incident and should be treated as such. The fact that they have him alive will in the long run help answers a lot of question.

The Second Amendment in the Constitution give all free able bodied citizens  the right to bear arms.    I just went over the requirements for getting a concealed carry permit here in Virginia
.http://www.vsp.state.va.us/Firearms_ResidentConcealed.shtm
The point is its very easy only cost about 50.00, with the background check, and only takes  about 45 day. and the permit is good for 5 years. So as long as you keep your nose clean, and send in the renewal papers every 5 years your good.
    This bring us to a bigger question . Different states have much tighter processes for getting a ccp, an tighter rules about where you can actually carry it when you finally get it. That not even counting  the fact the many states will not honor a ccp from another state while the reverse state will honor it.

Here is a list of all of the states and a simplified  of each state's rules about ccp rules;

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_laws_in_the_United_States_(by_state)

.

   There have been  several instances of people getting it into their head that doing some kind of mass killing spree will make them famous in the last several years.  While I understand the initial impact is horrific and terrifying to those involved.
My, feeling that keeping it in the news and giving out every little detail only feeds their need to be famous. If they are captured alive in particular,  their names and personal details should be buried, as much for the public's sake, who knows all of this has happened, but does not need to be constantly reminded of it every time they turn on a tv. But it also takes the glamour out of committing the crime and having their names in the public face. The factual detail details are all a matter of record to a very large extent. But there's no reason to  open it any more then needed.

    On to possible outcomes had there been armed  citizens in the theater :
Its entirely possible if he knew there was the possibility that he might be met with armed resistance he would have thought twice about it, but I doubt it from the reports put out so far.
So he goes in with a AR-15 semi auto rifle and starts shooting at whoever presents themselves.What if,  Suddenly he is is being fired back at from the audience, whom he is trying to kill. Now, at that time no one knows he’s wearing all the body armor, But  getting hit multiple times with a large caliber round is going to hurt and possibly give some else a chance to help subdue and minimize the damage and thus change the outcome of the whole situation.

I’m not in way suggesting that we go back to the days of the wild west as portrayed on tv on the 1950’s westerns, where everyone wore a gun on the hip for all to see. Sociality wouldn’t tolerate it. However, making it easy for law abiding citizens and responsible people who are trained in how to handle their gun, and the repercussions would go a long way to helping to shop violent crimes in general. Its my contention that if one knows there at least a 50/50 chance he’s going to ment with a gun on the other side of the door he‘s thinking of breaking into, maybe he’ll think twice, is it worth it.

    The flip side of all of this is the anti-gun camp. They believe that guns are evil and should be banished from everyone but a very select few.  Their argument is very simple; Guns Kill, So get rid of the guns.  A knife can kill, a piece of rope can kill, hell, even a laptop bashed over someone’s head can conceivably kill. Do We ban all of the above mentioned, just because they have been, or can possibly  be used to kill. NO A gun is a tool., Just like a knife, piece of rope, and a laptop. Its all in how their used.
What is needed is education starting from a young age, in boy scouts,, which I know have shooting programs, and fathers and grandfathers educating the young people in their lives about the responsibilities of having guns around both in safety aspects, no one wants someone  shot accidentally because they didn't know what they’re doing, but in  how to handle the firearm, how it works loading  running the action, shooting it and being comfortable enough that should the unthinkable happen and they need to defend their lives or their family's life they know how to use the gun.Alway be aware that this is a perishable skill.  Meaning, that if one does not practice on a regular basis one will lose what proficiently they ever had, instead of building new skills.

    I could go on, However, I think that I have stated my case that I am very much pro gun, and pro concealed carry policies that could help changed the ending of incidents like the Batman shooting. and Maintain the  freedom of all Americans to own and use whatever firearm they deem necessary for their situation. Its in the Constitution, and It should not be watered down by states passing arcane laws that restrict the carrying of the gun, or the purchase  the gun they need for their particular situation.
It seems that as the years have gone by, places that were once considered safe and family friendly are becoming more and targets of people like the batman shooter, so carrying a gun where one might not of thought to suddenly becomes a good idea.



Kenneth Lawson

Monday, April 30, 2012

Consumers Embrace Media Choice, Industry Fears It

     The tale of woe continues for the broadcast industry . This last week’s light reading included articles about  cable rating drop offs. 11 of the  15 top cable networks have lost audience this year. The article could give no clear reasons why the sudden loss of audience. There are a number of factors at work here. The first in my opinion  being price.  The price has continued to go up for all involved with the industry. from content producers, to distributors  and finally vendors, such as Netflix and Amazon who are constantly being asked for more money every year. In the broadcast world retransmission rights are the big deal breakers, along with sports  franchise,  brokering deals worth billions of dollars that will eventually have to be paid for by both the sports fans, and the non sports fan alike. in the final analysis  the one paying for all of the “deals”  and retransmission fees that are being charged back and forth between the local and national broadcaster such as Dish Network, and other cable companies will be passed to the consumer either directly in the form of higher bills, or add-on charges for services.


On the other side is the changing habits of viewers.  No longer are they tied to the couch for 3-4 hours every evening guided by a set schedule. With the advent of the VCR and now the DVR  consumers can now timeshift whatever they want and watch it whenever they want. and skip cominicals.  Networks and content produces have just begun to learn how to embrace timeshifting, and figured out metrics to count what watched on the DVR in the total rating game. Now they have to contend with many new forms of competition for viewers eyes. With the advent of game systems that get online and allow consumers to stream content, granted a very limited amount of content, and just plain hooking a computer to the tv, which is ridiculously easy theses days. the  whole world of internet content is suddenly available to the big screen in the living room.  Now there  is a wide range of ways to bring content into the tv, though various set-top boxes ranging from Blue-ray players, to the PS3, Xbox360, and the Roku, and Boxee, and, and other lesser know OTT boxes the open up a limited amount of content from the web to be streamed directly to the tv at the consumer’s convenience. Now there is no more “must See” tv. Its now   I’ll see it when I get around to it” On whatever platform is handy. It's also possible to switch platforms  mid viewing, going from one platform say the big tv, in the living room, and finishing watching the content on the Ipad, or other mobile device, thus freeing up the consumer to take their content as they like it.

A very recent article was just released with some very interesting statistic about the change in the numbers of households with connected tv, and the devices that connected to the tvs and what makes a tv a connected tv.
It can be read here;
http://www.leichtmanresearch.com/press/040912release.html
On the broad stroke, 38% of all households have at least one tv  hooked  to the internet via a video game system, Roku, or other OTT device, up from  30% last Year and 24% 2 years ago.  The are a host of other very interesting statics in the article.  The bottom line, to me, consumer are embracing OTT platforms and the offering they have. I don’t think traditional tv is anywhere near dead, and has many more years to go., If it is to continue to  evolve and be open-minded about that way it handles its content deals. Retransmission deals and sports deals need to regulated preferably by the industry itself  If they can’t keep the numbers down to reasonable rates, then the FCC and possibly the FTC needs to step in and set up new guidelines if not rules about the amounts that can be charges in theses deals.

    One of many questions is what are media distributors, and content producers going to do about the changes in the ways that consumers are using their media.
Some are already embracing the shifts in available venues. Such as HBO, they are continuing to open up their “HBO to Go” Concept to work with more devices.
Comcast has been slowly opening it walled garden to allow more networks to be viewed on more devices.  All of theses players need to compete with Netflix, amazon, and other OTT players who have been reaching to other means to get content in the face of rising bill for traditional  cable/sat venues. Particularly if one does not need sports, or 10 channels of news and shopping . If one is  not paying for the extra movie packages, ala, HBO, Showtime, etc, then the OTT venues start looking better and better.

   Last Week, Netflix posted Q1 numbers.  They showed  that they are back to growth, although much slower.  You can read the whole article herehttp://www.videonuze.com/article/netflix-q1-results-back-to-growth-albeit-much-slower
 The main point which I commented on is that  they did make some mistakes last summer which they’re paying for. The Achilles heel of all of this,  is the content owners who have  routinely demanded more and more in licence fees, Thus leaving Netflix and its fellow  players between a rock and a hard place in keeping prices down for consumers and still paying licenses and operation expenses.

    The consumer is demanding more choices about what content is available, and on what platforms. One may wonder if content producers and distributors actually watch the content they produce or distribute.  If they used the many options available today they would be embracing ways to make deals work for all parties. Instead of making its almost impossible for for places like Netflix and Amazon to do a decent deal that's fair to both. In the end it's the consumer that pays the price in one way or another.

Monday, March 26, 2012

On Casablanca, Netflix, and Apple, Three Sides of the Same Coin

On March 21,2012 My wife and I took my youngest one to see the TCM 70th Anniversary showing of Casablanca . Casablanca, a long time favorite film of mine, starring Humphrey  Bogart  Ingrid Bergman, Peter Lorre, Sydney Greenstreet.
The film was one of many made in the time before tv, when they were all done in a almost factory like production, and churned out and released one after another. No one thought much of it at the time, other the myriad of problems they had making it mainly being the lack of script and daily rewrites, and no real ending. Somehow it got made. While it did get generally favorable reviews and a good reception from the public . Time have proven to be its best friend.  The lasting impression of this movies and a few movies like it are what every movie made strives for. 99.9% don’t even come close. Casablanca was one of those rare cases of the right script actors, and directors and the the right moment in time. When you watch Casablanca, particularly like I had the pleasure of last week, you forget where you are and for a while you believe there is a Rick’s Cafe’ Americana . Bogart become Rick, and seems to embody the character. In  watching it last week I recall seeing scenes that I don’t remember seeing before, when I’ve watched the movie, and I’ve seen the movie more times than I can count. Everything seemed sharper and and more defined , I know it was on a big screen, and had been remastered to be as near perfect as they could get,   It seemed almost surreal  .  
Of course of bigger moral questions still abound on either  screen, At what point does one put aside one's feeling and do what needs to be done for the greater good of country, or in this case possibility even the world. Rick by, making it possible
for  Victor Laszlo  and Isa Lund, his wife to leave and continue Victors work. In spite of his feelings for Ilsa.  In doing so, Rick set himself up to finely  become a more than a spectator of WWII .
Every movie should be seen the it was intended on the big screen, with a audience and the whole experience. For thoses of you you are  not a Casablanca fan heres a link to the wikipedia article on it;
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casablanca_(film)



The last 2 months or so have been eventful. One of the more significant  events was the introduction of Apple's next Generation IPad, Officially known as “The New Ipad” The rest of us call it the Ipad3. While it did seem to make several advances from the Ipad2  I got the impression from what I saw and heard that many tech reporters/ pundits etc, they were less than blown away by it other then its new screen, the retina display, which claims to pack more pixels then a HD screen into a small screen. Adding more connectivity  options including models that will use the new LTE as it become available  is a definite plus, However I’ve already read articles says that most of the use they get is on Wi-Fi, even that those that have 3g build into them don’t use it that much or even at all. If most the the use the 3g and potentially LTE units are getting is on Wifi, then one wonders if is it really  that big of a selling point.The question then becomes to upgrade or not. If you don’t have one at all, the the new one is a no brainer. Also if you still have one the originals, it's pretty obvious that the Ipad 3 is a huge upgrade from the original. However, if you the the Ipad2, The question is more interesting. What do you do with it? How often do you use it and what apps  that you use will like benefit from the new display and  other advances under the hood.  If you're happy with the Ipad2 and it does what you need it to do, and you feel like its working for you long term, then wait.

    Other big news I’ve been reading about is the huge upswing in streaming of the last year, q11.  Netflix has been reporting record numbers in over 2 million hours of content streamed, globally primary us The point of this and other streaming venues is that for the first time streaming is projected to beat out physical media .
http://www.videonuze.com/article/it-s-hard-to-see-how-streaming-movies-will-surpass-dvd-blu-ray-in-2012
The question becomes how much will the public let themselves  depend on streaming media? They allready depend to a large degree on cable and satellite for their media intake, with the help of DVRS they can time-shift their content to watch when they want. It took a few years but content owners have embraced the DVR and are now including DVR viewing in the rating.   And have realized that even time shifted eyes are better then no eyes seeing their content, and thus their ads.
The advent of streaming media over the last few years have forced content owners, providers to rethink their game plan, as to how they package their content and sell their content.   Being able to pull netflix up on almost device from my Ipod Touch to a Ipad, or android tablet and any number of tv/internet connected devices,ie,  Roku, Boxee, Xbox360, etc, open a whole new world for content owners. They now have a much wider audience to graze their offering, and putting content that was not useable on other venues  suddenly give older underused content a new life.
As much as I like streaming and use my Roku box, have found content that I didn’t even know existed on the various channels of the Roku. My feeling is that there will will always be a place for physical media. There are collectors and folks who don’t believe in have media be it music or movies/tv that they bought and paid for in a cloud, be it Apples or Google’s or Amazon’s. And would rather have a copy in their own hands to use as they please. Thats not even counting have ones own copy of classic movies or tv series that they particularly love.

    Yes streaming is good, in fact it can be very good, There is no substitute  for owning ones own media and content. Content owners and distributors need to understand several things; They can’t put all their egg in one basket, Streaming and DVD are here to stay, however, They are still missing a huge market in not bringing older classic content to the big screen on a regular basis.  There are a number of ways that that programs could be set up to draw in older moviegoers who don’t care to see the newest hit of the week, but would love to see their favorite classic movie they way they first saw it on the big screen.
To me streaming and movies are opposites sides of the same coin, and can definitely complement each other if done right.

  
 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Is 2012 the Year Media is Revolutionized?

The new year is upon us again. Many folks have looked back on 2011 in many different formats, and contexts, covering many aspects of the past year. Everything ranging from events that happened in current media, ala, ETv, to TCM, and their annual look at all of the actors, directors and other classic Hollywood personalities who passed last year.

Of course there are are obvious losses like Peter Falk, and Steve Jobs.
Much as been made of the loss of Steve Jobs. Yes he did revolutionize the way we think of and use media, even the hardware we use to work with the media.
His earliest days with Steve Wozniak , one of the co-founders of Apple Computers, lead to a great leap in technological advancement, not just in computers, but in anything that a microprocessor could be put into. As microprocessors got smaller and more powerful, they became more accepted by the general public.
Soon there were a handful of theses new devices that played a new digital music format called MP3, which is a compressed copy of the music, thus taking up less space on a hard drive , but still sounding reasonably good to the ear. What Jobs did in 2001 with the IPod was take the big clunky MP3 Players that were out there, and redesign them into a sleek elegant , easy to use, player that worked as good as it looked. Along with that he developed ITunes, to handle the interface between the music and the computer, Mac being the only computer it would work with for several years.
Eventually, ITunes was developed for the Windows platform, thus opening up the IPod experience to the rest of the world.
The Importance of Steve Jobs on the world can't be understated, However, its easy to forget at the end of the day he like the rest rest of us was just a man, but a man with a grand vision.
Many of us have “grand visions” of ideas or concepts that we would like to make happen. However, the reality is that very few of us have what it takes to articulate what they see, much less being able to lay out a plan or pull together a team to make it happen. Steve Jobs, was one of those rare few, who were in the right place at the right time with the right vision. Apple has big shoes to fill, to continue the grand vision Steve Jobs let us with. I read recently that Apple is working a new version of the Ipad, and Possibility's even a Apple Tv. All rumors, until they are announced. However, the upshot of the rumors is that Apple is still working to redefine the way we use and treat Media, preferably keeping as much as possible in their wall garden of Itunes.
The predictions for 2012 have been varied and interesting. The main point most of what I’ve read is centered around two things. Mobile, and tv content. There seems to be a drive towards making as much content available on as many mobile platforms as possible, which is good. However, content distributors need to figure out ways to keep the content available on as many venues and platforms as possible. Having ones content limited to one place is essentially putting all your eggs in one basket. If that basket falls through, your left with a mess. However, if you have several deals with different distributors, such as Netflix, Amazon etc, and one goes bad, you still have your content out there hopefully making my money in the other places. And a bunch a smaller deals taking less for each one could pay off in the long run. Eliminating pay walls, and sign in as much as possible is something consumers will appreciate. and help keep them going back and using a service that has the content they want, without hoops to jump through to see it.

CES is this week, Jan 10-13, For those of you don’t know what CES is, here are a couple of links http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consumer_Electronics_Show , http://ces.cnet.com/ This is the Be all and end all of consumer electronic shows. Held every year in January, in Los Vegas. It brings out the best and brightest and biggest, and even some very small electronic are showcased here. Everything from 55” and up tvs and a variety of tablet PCs will be seen including accessories to go with them. and items one probably hasn’t even thought of yet. many items will be prototypes or first generation. How many will actually make it to the consumer hands remains to be seen. The hype and clamor of CES is matched only by the Hulu of the Super Bowl, In many ways CES is the” Super Bowl “of the Tech Wold. The difference being, that there are usually no clear cut winners. There will be some who shine and bring products, that consumers need or at least think they need.. How many of those products will actually make it to market and how many consumers buy them once their there remains to be seen. And there will be many more with great concepts or products, that for one reason or another will never be seen again. Little companies who spent their last dime to get there and rent a booth at CES and in hopes to make a the right impression with people who can help them get their idea or product out of the development stage. Essentially do or die, and if they don’t get deals they need they go home very empty handed.

Television is something I’ve talked about on many venues and have expressed many ideas on the possible future of television. There is a lot of discussion about the break up of the traditional package programing models that we’ve been using for the last 25-30 years, starting when cable companies started bundling channels together to get deals for both them and the consumers. Problem is the bundles aren't getting better, and the prices for what one typically get in a bundle has continued to rise substantially over the last few years. This coupled with increased use of DVR and other time shifting tools has made it increasingly harder to get accurate numbers of who is watching what and for how long.The traditional “shotgun approach” to advertising is no longer working, not that it ever worked to begin with, but until recently there wasn’t a better way to do it. Now with content being migrated to the web and, new ways to counts views and exactly who is watching and for how long Advertisers are looking for ways to put this to use and, the consensus is that it will scale up as the year goes on. However, they need to consider the consumer, they are tired of being bombarded by commercials every few minutes as they have been on traditional tv for years. A few well spaced, and relevant ads will do more then a slew of ads they don’t want to see. This will drive them away quicker then anything. The ala carte’ model has been kicked around on and off for years, What that means instead of buying a bundled package of channels you pick and chose the channels you want. There are problems with that, same as there are problems with the way we do it now, so nothing is prefect.
The cable companies have been trying to avoid going to a model of this type for years for a number of reasons. A good article that I commented, on discussing tv and the future of IP tv is here. I read this site a lot and have commented on many of his articles over the last couple years.
http://www.videonuze.com /Disney-Comcast-and-Why-TV-Everywhere-Alone-Is-Not-Enough/&id=3346
Poke around their site they have a number of site that they link to that have excellent articles concerning a wide varieties of aspects of the media business.


On the subject of adding content to your tv, and competing with traditional cable/sat companies; there are set-top boxes that can stream a host of Internet based content directly to your tv. A couple of more widely known ones are the Apple Tv which brings the Itunes experience to your tv, allowing you watch your bought tv and movies, not only on you computer but now on your tv. and the Roku.
Having received a Roku Box for Christmas, I find that is much more varied and interesting then I ever thought. It does the obvious streaming Netflix, Amazon and Huluplus to your tv, its only a matter of activating the account on the Roku site and box. and your good to go. However, going though the on screen channel store, you will find a wide variety of channels to chose from that will keep you busy exploring content. If that isn’t enough, there are what are called “private channels” that you you can add. For those you will need to do a google search to find pages that list them and the codes that you need to enter into your account on the Roku site. once entered, they usually show up fast and work. Boxes like this and the Boxee that can add a large amount of nontraditional or mainstream content to the consumer are something the cable and content providers and creators need to take into consideration. If they’re smart they’ll make as much content available on boxes like Roku and Boxee as they can. The basic idea is they need their content in front of as many eyes as possible.
Consumers generally only have a limited time to spend watching tv. The choices of what to watch are almost endless. Cable and Sat companies are having to work very hard to maintain every viewer they have, and attract new ones, which is harder as the choices of content, and where to get it increase almost daily.
In the end the consumer has the upper hand; they can tell content producers and distributors what they want to watch and where and how they want to watch it by voting with their pocketbooks. If ventures like Comcasts idea of TV everywhere are left to fly and get started in a big way, we will have a very fragmented ecosystem of Internet tv. which should be avoided at all cost.

So whats the bottom line for this year?
Television is no longer a big wooden box in the living room with a 27’ screen that the whole family gather around to watch Jack par, and “I Love Lucy”, and later “Gunsmoke”, and “Whats my line?” and a host of other now classic tv shows.
Today. television is more of a concept. Yes there are still physical tvs although they don’t look or work like the tv of old. What would be a more accurate description of a television would be a monitor that plays whatever is piped into it it. be it your DVD or Blue-ray player, to your sat or cable box, or Roku or Boxee, even your computer, it don’t care. Its a content/media player. Much the same as other media/tech terms we use today. The oldest of those is probably the “clicker” referring to the remote control. The term Clicker goes back to first tv remotes which did in fact click when you pressed the button .
For a history on the long and varied story of our beloved remote control see this;
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Remote_control
Another term refuses to die is “tape” at least in terms of recording television content to be stored for later use. Tape as a recording medium goes all the way back to the 1950’s or so in studios to record records, the eventually there were consumer reel to reel recorders, and 8 tracks and cassettes. All for audio material only. In the late 1970’s into the 1980’s the rises of the VCR came about and suddenly everyone could get their favorite movies on tape. and as taping from tv became common place, the phase taping came to be. Fast forward to today. Our remote don’t click anymore, and can run a host of componets in a entrainment system. Also today the list of everyday household items that never needed a remote, and now come with at least a simple ir remote is growing everyday. Tape in the media world has nothing to do with tape anymore today its either to a hard drive, or a DVD. We use the term tape when referring to recording content to either a DVD or a hard drive.

As the media landscapes evolves over this year both consumers and content providers and creators, and advertisers will struggle to find the right balance of content distribution, advertising and control. Hopefully the consumer won’t get either caught in the middle, or left behind.