Tech tidbits

  1. Researchers have developed a type of chemical iris that could enable photographers to select apertures on really tiny cameras (think camera phones) in the future. Maybe someday we'll get to shoot wider open on camera phones, enabling us to get the type of shallow depth of field which is the one piece of a photographer's toolbox that's most noticeably absent on the most popular camera now, the smartphone.
  2. Netflix signs Chelsea Handler for a new talk show. They're going to keep re-investing their profits in original programming. Imagine if HBO didn't have one particular house style for original programming but instead tried to target programs even more segments of viewers. What number of subscribers could they sign up? That's what Netflix is setting out to do.
  3. Viacom and about 60 small cable operators representing about 900,000 households went to war over carriage fees. In what is a notable first, the two sides decided to part ways rather than settle. Supposedly most households didn't care and the cable operators lost less than 2% of subscribers, much lower than the 10% churn they were bracing for. Not entirely surprising consider Viacom's target viewership is less represented in the flyover states, and most of the generation that watches Viacom programming can likely find that stuff online. This next generation of kids have never paid for cable and probably never will. There remains just one channel that every cable operator in the country would have to suck it up and pay for just about any price, and that's ESPN, which not surprisingly demands the highest carriage fee (by a wide wide margin) in your cable channel lineup.
  4. The Oxford Mail is experimenting with letting WhatsApp users follow them to get occasional news alerts tailored to their interests. This is a small test but an important one as it may signal WhatsApp is finally moving to become a platform like its Asian peers LINE, WeChat, and KakaoTalk. Those chat services have corporate or celebrity accounts you can follow to receive broadcast text messages, much like following a celebrity or corporate account on Twitter.