A man named Boris Pukachev wants to share with the world. But whatever shall we do to prevent it? Give this episode a listen and let us know what you think!
This Malex Minute episode rose out of a number of random conversations. Most of which were a lot less funny than the actual episode, but still, we must give credit where credit is due.
The ‘Boris’ from the episode is an interesting character indeed. He is not, surprisingly enough, based on any of my friends or acquaintances. He almost seems like some sort of cross between the principal and an evil distant cousin of Strong Bad’s.
And I’m not sure which is more frightening, Boris himself or the fact that his business plan might actually succeed. That is, if his definition of success is, “To throw the market into chaos and permanently prevent consumer adoption of high definition video.”
Funny how important it is to define your terms…
The scary thing is, even though Blu-Ray has now officially ‘won’ the format war, it might not yet be as “safe to invest” as we’ve all been led to believe. The looming advent of pervasive high-definition downloads and IPTV has some analysts declaring Blu-Ray dead already, before Blue Camp has even finished dancing on Red Camp’s grave. And none of this even begins to address the standardization (and rapid) deployment of 4k and 8k systems which make 720p look like some sort of primitive child’s toy.
In less than one year, traditional analog television will vanish completely from American airwaves, never to return. This particularly interests me because that same broadcast standard has existed, largely unchanged, since 1941.
Mark my words. Never again, never again, will a video technology enjoy the longevity that NTSC* and friends did. And as a result, we the consumers, can only suffer. “Suffer?” you ask, “How can we suffer with higher resolution video, losslessly compressed audio, and more bandwidth for everybody?!”
Okay, so higher resolution. Great. You just went into debt to purchase that nice new system for (at best) a couple thousand dollars. If I were in your shoes, I’d expect that investment to be good for a couple of decades at least. And yet, I’m desperately afraid your beautiful television will be cripplingly out of date within a quarter of that time.
But yeah, Blu-Ray. Whoopee. Buy that.
* - Lovingly known as “Never Twice the Same Color” among engineers and hobbyists alike.
Malex: Hey everybody, Malex here! I’m hosting the show today along with Linus and Snufflefungus.
Malex: We’ve actually got a guest here on the Malex Minute named Boris Pukachev.
Boris: Hello everybody.
Linus: So, Boris, how long have you been this way?
Boris: (Clearly offended.) I don’t know what you mean.
Snufflefungus: He means, “How long have you been Russian–”
Linus: Handsome! How long have you been this handsome?
Boris: I’m not sure. It uh… It might have something to do with that time when my face got caught in the old ‘Stub Maker’ at the shirt factory.
Snufflefungus: You had a machine for making stubs at a shirt factory?
Boris: (Laughs) No, it made shirts. We just called it ‘Stub Maker’ because it had a tendency to–
Malex: Whoa! That’s quite enough of that, we’ve got children in the audience!
Snufflefungus: I’m confused…
Boris: Sometimes it would color an entire run of shirts. We couldn’t afford to throw them away either, so we would just label the box ‘red’ instead of ‘white’…
Linus: How enlightening. Malex, why is this man sitting here? Now? In our studio?
Malex: Now Boris, you mentioned before that you have some breaking news about the high-def format war. Could you elaborate on that for the audience, please?
Boris: Ah yes, the format war. It rages on.
Linus: No, it doesn’t. HD-DVD finally lost.
Linus: So Blu-Ray won! It’s safe to invest now!
Boris: Ah, that is where you’re wrong, my friend. My company is launching a new high-def format this week. It is called Pink Eye!
Malex: After the disease?
Boris: No! Stupid! It is called Pink Eye because the disks are pink, and because they hold video! For your eyes! Everybody understand this except you.
Malex: Oh. I’m sorry. How could I be so blind.
Linus: Boris, what could possibly possess you to enter the format war so late?
Malex: You must know that you don’t have a prayer of winning any real market share.
Boris: Well, I was a long time Blu-Ray supporter myself. I finally got the money to buy some high definition equipment a week or so ago, and I was shocked to discover that it only supports seven hundred twenty and one thousand eighty.
Linus: That’s the standard, grater face. Assuming you meant lines of resolution and not the reciprocal of your IQ.
Boris: Do I need to bash your face in?
Linus: Go ahead! See if I care!
Malex: Boris, please continue.
Boris: So we decided to create a new disk format that would have an even number of lines.
Malex: Wait, you decided all of this when you bought a bunch of Blu-Ray equipment last week?
Boris: We develop new things quickly.
Snufflefungus: How many lines do your Pink Eye have?
Boris: It supports only video with two thousand lines of resolution.
Linus: What?! That’s terrible! How will it display on current high-definition televisions?
Boris: Sometimes it makes them explode.
Malex: Well that’s comforting.
Boris: If the television does not burn out, we will pan the video around so you can see it in all of its two thousand lines of glory.
Malex: But you can’t see the whole image at once?
Boris: No. Why would you want to do that? That’s stupid.
Malex: Why don’t you just scale the image down to fit on the television? That way–
Boris: No! It is supposed to be two thousand lines! We are not changing that!
Linus: But how are people supposed to create content for your disks? I mean, all of the high-definition digital cameras max out at 1080 lines!
Boris: That is their problem!
Malex: But, if somebody needs to release their high-def content on a Pink Eye disk, you know they’ll just upscale their original video. It would be a lot more sane to just stick with the standard, wouldn’t it?
Boris: Do I have to bash you?! I can bash you!
Malex: There’s no need for that.
Linus: Go ahead, Malex always says he loves Bash.
Malex: The command line interface! Not the violence!
Boris: You see this hand?
Malex: I’m not sure.
Boris: Stub Maker took all the fingers off of this hand.
Malex: That explains it.
Boris: Now this hand, she cannot grip things anymore. But she has clubbed to death many stronger men than you.
Malex: That’s… Far too much detail.
Linus: Can we get back to the discussion at, well, hand? I mean, there’s no way consumers are stupid enough to buy a high-def player that’s so wildly incompatible with their television.
Boris: Yes they are stupid enough. And in case they are not, every shipment will come with a sales rep who can beat them in the head until they are.
Malex: I’m sensing a disturbing trend in your reasoning.
Boris: You wanna fight about it?
Snufflefungus: Hey guys, I’m sorry, I sorta forgot to pay attention there. I was just wondering why Neil Armstrong never ran into any of the teddy bears on the moon.
~~ Awkward Silence.
Snufflefungus: Anyway, could you repeat everything you just said?
Malex: Well, it looks like that’s all the time we have for today, folks. Thanks for listening, and we hope you’ll join us again next week on the Malex Minute!
Producer and Director: Alex Markley
Writers: Alex Markley and Peter Markley
Voices: Markley Brothers
Post-processing director: Gabriel Markley
Illustration: Peter Markley
Release manager: Peter Markley
Recording assistance: Leela
Thanks to everyone for their help and support.