Oreo uses linux?

There’s an Oreo commercial with a father and son eating Oreo cookies together at son’s bedtime via the internet while Dad is on a business trip somewhere it’s morning already. I’ve seen this commercial a few times over the past I don’t know how long.

A quick glimpse at the boy’s laptop screen makes me wonder for the umpteenth time — is that a Gnome desktop with a Fedora blue?

Obviously as usual it’s a quick, oblique view of a screen whose resolution is just fuzzy enough that it’s hard to tell. The basis of my hope is, as stated, the Fedora blue background, plus the white taskbar at the top of the screen and what appears to be the Gnome menus.

Anyway, yet another entry in the “I hope I’m not disappointed again but it probably isn’t linux use” in commercials game.

CNBC, why can’t you just say “Programming To Be Determined”?

Well, it’s time to collectively put on our tin foil hats again. I’m not sure if there’s a Mea Culpa here from me, or if this merely firms up my idea that CNBC should “Announce what they’ll be broadcasting, and broadcast what they announce.” Or perhaps at least announce “Programming To Be Determined”.

Here are my previous entries on the subject: CNBC, take a lesson from the March Hare: Announce what you’ll be broadcasting, and broadcast what you announce and More on the CNBC schedule.

The base of my argument is that for a significant number of time slots, outside North America’s Eastern Time Zone’s business hours Monday to Friday, CNBC’s announced schedule isn’t particularly reliable. Possibly, in Canada only (since I get the Canadian feed, not the American feed.)

My argument isn’t with what is announced, or what is broadcast; in fact, on weekends, often while there are a lot of timeslots announced to be infomercials, the actual broadcasts are shows that are far more interesting (at least to me, and I suspect to the target CNBC viewers), such as “American Greed” or another one of CNBC’s excellent documentaries on businesses, products, and business people, or investigative reports. At other times, the shows that are broadcast instead of the announced shows are of equally high calibre. Finally, at other times, live market shows are shown instead of the announced shows, such as Squawk Box from the Pacific Region (Australia, Japan, China, etc.).

My argument is with the fact that the announced schedule and the actual broadcast schedule don’t match. In a chronically rampant fashion (and yes, the differences continue to this day; I’ve been watching different shows on CNBC from what was announced all this weekend.) Virtually all other channels and networks seem able to do a competent job of making the two almost always identical. Sure there are the very occasional errors, be they clerical errors about the show to be broadcast, or the episode summary. Occasionally, breaking news or other such time-sensitive programming (emergency alerts, last-minute press conferences from authorities, “Town Hall” style meetings with local leaders, etc.) relevant to the station’s or network’s mandate get put in instead of the announced broadcast. But never such that I can even say “but never so flagrantly as what I’ve seen with CNBC’s schedule.”

This weekend, amusing myself, I have been doing some surfing about CNBC. I came across this piece on Wikipedia on the subject of CNBC’s regional programming, particularly here in Canada (June 06, 2010):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CNBC#International_channels (here’s my archive)

“In Canada, CNBC can be seen with most of the programming identical to the US counterpart. However, due to Canadian programming rights, the 9pm slot which shows television programming such as Deal Or No Deal, The Apprentice, 1 vs. 100 and Heads Up Poker, as well as any and all Olympic Games coverage, are replaced by CNBC World programming. However, documentaries are shown in Canada. This had the making of a major problem, as a highlight episode of The Apprentice 5 that aired April 23, 2006, was assumed to not be available anywhere for Canadians due to these blackouts. While the first airing at 9:00pm ET was blacked out, the second airing at 12:00am ET was accidentally shown. Blackouts on episodes that originally air on NBC and Global are likely to continue. However, occasionally, the television shows are shown and are not blacked out, possibly due to a mistake in transmission.”

This confirms the notion that occasionally there are clerks from either CNBC’s or Shaw’s (a Canadian satellite TV supplier) programming departments who take too many coffee breaks and make mistakes juggling the schedules and differences between the two countries. This happens anywhere and everywhere, and is understandable.

I also don’t have an issue with the notion that there are replacements and substitutions in the programming (see previous paragraph); in any case, c’est la vie.

It also confirms the occasional blackout situation to which I indirectly but not expressly alluded in one of my previous posts when I talk about the flicker at the beginning of some of the programs: Sometimes there are broadcasting rights issues here in Canada, such as:

– the copyright owner does not allow the distribution outside of the US, or within Canada;
– the copyright owner wants an extra fee for broadcasting rights outside the US, or within Canada, which CNBC is unwilling to pay;
– a separate Canadian affiliate of the copyright owner, or another network, or someone else, holds the distribution rights for given shows here in Canada;
– etc.

And except in the cases where another network in Canada holds the distribution rights, maybe CNBC doesn’t want the bother of a new set of negotiations or fees; this is CNBC’s prerogative. Certainly defining the conditions of distribution is the prerogative of the copyright holder(s).

It also indirectly allows for why an announced infomercial such as “Get Ripped in 90 Days” and “Insane Sexy Bodies” is replaced by another show, such as “American Greed” or another one of CNBC’s excellent documentaries on businesses, products, and business people, or investagative reports: The sponsor isn’t interested in selling to Canadian markets (which is their prerogative) or can’t sell their product or service in Canadian markets (let’s say it’s a product that doesn’t meet Canadian Regulatory Standards, or has never been submitted for regulatory review in Canada.)

But so far I haven’t seen anything that explains why the CNBC’s schedule is so out of whack: If CNBC has to modify its broadcast schedule here in Canada for whatever reason, and it seems — let’s presume — that CNBC’s programming department is doing its job right and all broadcast rights are being respected, then why can’t they also send the corrected schedule, which they’ve managed to figure out, to the programming departments of Shaw and other cable companies, and to TV Guide?

I doubt that at 59 minutes and 59 seconds before the hour, as they’re about to put in the next tape, they flip a coin. Or, that a week in advance when they send the schedule to Shaw, other cable companies, and TV Guide, it’s easier to plug in all sorts of programming in the announced schedule that they have no clue whether or not will actually be broadcast, than to just say “Programming To Be Determined”.

More on the CNBC schedule

In my last post, I followed the correspondence of CNBC’s actual programming to what was announced on the electronic guide supplied on Shaw’s satellite service in Canada over the period of a long weekend. I found enough time slots whose actually broadcast programme did not correspond to the announced schedule over the weekend to make me conclude “CNBC, announce what you’ll be broadcasting, and broadcast what you announce”.

I figured that for my own edification and to actually see whether what I’d found was a fluke, just how flagrant it was, and to just get a larger sample size, I’d actually do some more in-depth “research” and gather a whole lot more data, which I present here in PDF format.

Basically the conclusion I came to from this larger data set was “Outside North America’s Eastern Time Zone’s business hours Monday to Friday, CNBC’s announced schedule isn’t particularly reliable.” (Count the number of instances that they don’t correspond.) That’s the polite, reserved conclusion, partly tempered by the fact that I really don’t know what CNBC thinks about schedule accuracy — I did send the contents of my last blog to CNBC, and was told that it was passed on to the programming department — partly tempered by the fact that often enough, while it still doesn’t trump the announced schedule, the actually broadcast shows were much more relevant to CNBC’s apparent mandate of broadcasting business news, partly tempered by the fact that during said business hours, I’m also out earning a living (and don’t watch TV during those hours), and partly tempered by a nagging feeling that something is afoot.

/side note on:

My suspicion that something may be afoot comes from the following:

In Canada, the Canadian Radio and Telecommunications Commission has rules about “Canadian Content” to protect “Canadian Culture”. (Since for the moment I’m not interested in tackling that issue, I won’t. 🙂 ) One of the consequences of this is that on cable / satellite / etc. when a Canadian channel is showing an American show at the same time as an American channel that can be viewed by the same person on the same TV — let’s say the Super Bowl is being broadcast, obviously on an American channel, and a Canadian channel carries it — the cable company must substitute the American feed on the American channel with the Canadian feed from the Canadian channel. So for instance, during the Super Bowl, while we get to watch the same game live, we don’t get to see the American commercials, not even on the American channels; these days at least we can go to YouTube the following day to see them.

As a result, in such a case, at the beginning of the broadcast on the American channel, we sometimes will see a flicker when the feed is being switched from the American feed to the Canadian feed. Over the course of the past couple of weeks, one of the things that I have occasionally though not always noticed and didn’t document, at the beginning of some of the broadcasts that weren’t as announced was this flicker, making me wonder if it’s a fluke, or if the feed is being switched for one reason or another, regardless of who’s doing it and whether or not the CRTC is involved.

/side note off

Another conclusion I came to was a confirmation of my original conclusion that the switches — with one exception — were usually not of the type where there was breaking news or some other reason that obviously would trump the announced schedule, despite the fact that sometimes what was broadcast actually seemed more relevant to CNBC’s mandate than what was announced; think of broadcasting Squawk Box, a live business news programme, instead of one of the announced aforementioned excellent business documentaries. I also found it interesting that over weekends there were a number of half-hour slots that were either “Paid Programming” or named paid programming along the lines of “Get Sexier in 90 Days”, “Insane Sexy Bodies”, or “Relieve Back Pain”, while very respectable CNBC documentaries or international financial news programmes were actually broadcast. Given that normally there would be two such half hour programs announced — usually “Paid Programming” THEN a named infomercial — and that a one hour program would be broadcast, be it a one-time documentary or an episode of “American Greed”, a combination investigative journalism / documentary program, and that such shows would often be directly announced at other times, it was obvious to me that sponsors don’t call up CNBC and say that they’d like to buy a block of time only to pay for one of these shows.

So enjoy the data. Of course I’m also sending it off to CNBC.

AT&T does it again! (AKA Will I Ever Learn?)

So I just turned on my TV and here’s a commercial … family dinner … It’s Mom’s tablecloth … Back in the day my grandmother made this for me, they don’t make them like they used to anymore … pass the spaghetti … OOOPS! — NO, WAIT! Don’t do anything!

And they all naturally go to the net to look for a solution (peroxide and something else, everyone in internet cafés and schools around the world yell at their computer screens.) And what does the computer screen look like?

A vague resemblance to the Gnome desktop under Ubuntu, with the white toolbars on top and bottom with hints of brown here and there, but it’s just a touch too blurry to identify it as anything other than NOT Windows, and that it’s probably MovieOS.

I guess that every time they shoot a commercial, the geeky “I use linux at home, I’d love to have the bragging rights to *that* computer in the TV commercial” IT guy in the back is on their day off, or they don’t want to give Gnome or KDE a financial nod. Yet they want to go to the trouble of avoiding an MS or Apple desktop. Interesting.

(sigh …)

Bill Kurtis yet again

In the latest Bill Kurtis AT&T 3G commercial (something to the effect of “3G Anywhere” where he’s sitting in front of a Green Screen and all sorts of backgrounds are flashed, such as a kitchen, the park, the fairgrounds, etc.), it again seems to me that there is a white line across the top of a blue screen that is similar to a Gnome desktop.

I of course have come to accept that it’s just a fake, static imitation screenshot that is put in during post-production editing, and anyway in this case, there isn’t the taskbar at the bottom of the screen to further make me hop in glee yelling “Finally! He’s really using a linux distro this time with Gnome!”

Now what’s really getting me is that they’ve obviously put a bit of time and trouble into making up unique fake, MovieOS screenshots for each of the various commercials. Sheesh, for all the trouble AND expense they’re going to, I have to wonder why they just don’t send that money to Canonical or the Fedora Foundation, or maybe the Gnome people, as a quid quo pro “thank you” contribution to avoid any licencing issues or whatever when they ask one of the techies in back “Hey you use linux, right? Well we can’t / don’t want to / find it too expensive to get a licencing deal with either MS or Apple to have one of their computers appearing in a TV commercial, and we’re gonna make a LOT of commercials with different screenshots, can we borrow your laptop with that free OS where we won’t have to pay any licencing?”

Again, I think that the guy/girl would be scampering over as fast as possible just to get the bragging rights to “Hey you know those Bill Curtis AT&T commercials? He was showing *my* computer! Cool, eh?”

Hmmm … Bill Kurtis isn’t being consistent

I just saw a new commercial in the “I’m Bill Kurtis, and I’m faster than …” ad campaign advertising the AT&T 3G internet dongle, this time with Andy Roddick.

The last one I saw, in which Bill Kurtis was in a boxing ring, I was convinced that his laptops were using Ubuntu because I saw what appeared to be a brown desktop that clearly seemed to be the Gnome desktop.

In the Andy Roddick commercial, the computers appear to be using MovieOS, it’s a greenish blueish background (somewhat reminiscent to the default background for Win98) with next to no distinguishing features.

I’m disappointed … short of the likely probability that it costs a production company less to have a few stock photoshopped MovieOS “desktops”, and that obviously it’s likely easier and cheaper to just “make a movie” (or an interactive one, so that it fits in with the script) than to make *any* OS do exactly what you want to do, the way you want to do it, exactly when you want to do it, it seems to me that the easiest thing to do when all you really want is a half second, generic screenshot is just ask the computer geeks in the back room to format a computer with Ubuntu or whatever else, and there aren’t any licensing fees.

Hmmm … unless the various backers of distros have these “commercial use” clauses in their distribution licenses that I haven’t bothered to look up.

Of course, this now reminds me of another conversation I had recently: It “started” in 2006 with the person I convinced to reformat my systems with Linux on the premise “that I just want something to believe in” — something that has bugged me over the past couple of years of being both too corny and not quite what I really meant — and that “ended” a few weeks ago with someone else covering all the basic linux topics, particularly the convoluted licenses making you cynically wonder whether or not you may use a given piece of software even for its intended purpose, concluding with me saying “I just want to use my computer” — which I realized is pretty much what I really meant to say in 2006.

Linux, the mainstream, and market penetration

Back in January, I related a story of a billboard I’d seen in October and how the software being advertised happened to be available for Windows, Mac, AND Linux.

Everyone who cares (that’s about, what, five of us) knows about “MovieOS” or “Hollywod OS” — computer sceenshots that are obviously custom shots that are in-house artwork. You know, either the animated PlaySkool shots showing people to click on the “GO” button regarding going to their store to spend lots of money on their wares, or, it’s a screenshot that “looks” like it’s a functional computer screen but doesn’t look like any computer desktop people are familiar with or any other computer desktop on the next show or movie you watch.

I’ve been noticing things on occasion in the mainstream media for a couple of years regarding computer screenshots: Not only is it not Windows or Mac, it’s not “MovieOS” either. What you see is a variant of the Gnome desktop, usually on Ubuntu (for those of you who have no clue what to look for, watch for two white lines on the screen, one on the top of the screen, and one on the bottom, and a light brown background to the rest of the screen.)

Listen up folks, here’s one of the moments that I think Mr. Shuttleworth’s little darling is doing some good.

In late 2007, there was a CBC Marketplace report on the various download speeds of the various high-speed internet suppliers across Canada. A closeup of the download progress window made it clear that each participant was downloading the Ubuntu CD of the day.

Just today on CNN I noticed in an ad for AT&T 3G USB key for highspeed mobile internet — this is the one with Bill Curtis in a boxing ring bragging about how fast he is — and the laptops appear to be running Ubuntu.

These are the two that come to mind. However, every couple of months, what do I see? An Ubuntu screen. I rather suspect that the reason for this trend as well as most instances of “MovieOS” is that it’s cheaper — including the cost of paying the computer technician in the back the time to reformat a computer, assuming that they didn’t just ask the guys in back to lend them their laptop, or of course asking the art department to make up something that looks nice — than paying any licensing fees to MS, Apple, or anyone else. Or, they didn’t get a sweet enough product placement deal from MS or Apple or whatever computer manufacturer in the advertising department’s rolodex.

I’d say that Linux — be it Linux in general, Ubuntu, any other distro, or the fact that there is a wide choice out there, in this case I don’t care — seems to be making some headway. Here’s one of the examples where I’ll concede the point that if people think Linux, they think Ubuntu, and that that’s OK.