Archive for the ‘IPTV’ Tag

Have You Switched From Cable to The Internet? 36% Say “Yes”, another 82% Say “Some”.

Back in March ’09 I asked: Have you switched from Cable to The Internet? The results were incredible. Back then, 1 in 4 (24%) had made the switch completely. I said I would keep you posted if things change.

Jan 2010 poll: 36% Yes, 82% Some

As of today, more than 1/3 of those polled (36%) have cut the cable and gone all-internet.

The biggest leap is those that answered “some”. Back then just over half of those polled (52%) had streamed or downloaded some TV. At the time, I could hardly believe the number was so large …but now 4 out of 5 polled (82%) are getting some content via the internet.

Disclaimer: This poll is ongoing, therefore flawed, but it illustrates an unmistakable trend that is getting too big to ignore.

Take the poll here.

Boxee Beta Goes Public

Finally.

Grab your copy over @ Boxee.TV – if you can. Their server seems to be getting slammed at the moment.

Time-Warner Cable’s Data Cap Trial Stalls Due To Lack Of Interest

From the “What Were They Thinking Department”:

…it looks like the company’s plan to further roll out testing of the consumption-based billing method has been foiled, or at least stalled, because it couldn’t find enough customers to participate in the testing. TWC had planned to test in several loactions, including San Antonio and Austin, Texas, but the response has apparently been so negative, and there were so many complaints, that the company has “delayed” the trials until October.

(via engadget)

My Desk is my Entertainment Center …and vice versa.

Desk in Ballard

My computer is my TV and my TV is my computer, which means my entertainment center must also pull double duty as my desk.

My Desk

The keyboard drawer is deep enough for two keyboards (the very clicky Matais Tactile Pro and the very quiet Apple Keyboard) and wide enough for the mousepad to rest on one side, and iPods/iPhones can rest on the other.

Keyboard Drawer (open)Keyboard Drawer (closed)

Currently to the immediate left of the “stand” is the “component shelf”. This houses my Mac (which had to be configured to output multi-channel sound), My 7.1 amp, my DVD player, my printer, and it used to hold my Roku Netflix Player (before I sold it).

reptel04reptel05

Even though I have a 7.1 amp, I only have 5.1 sound (the amp has a setting to down-sample 7.1 content to 5.1 speakers) right now. I feel no rush to buy another pair of speakers before I get a BluRay player to take advantage of them. I haven’t permanently hung the speakers, because I am planning on spinning the room 90 degrees. The left front speaker is in the corner, as is the subwoofer. The center speaker is directly behind the monitor. The front right is on top of a bookshelf.

reptel06reptel07reptel08

One rear speaker is on top of the filing cabinet, the other on top of the DVD Shelf.

reptel09reptel10
.

My Old Entertainment Center

Old TV

My last TV was so giant, only a giant entertainment center would house it. When we moved into a cabin in the woods for a year, it took almost a week for me to get all of it out there. (I had to carry it in a wheelbarrow)

When our year was up, we moved out – but left the TV and entertainment center there.
.

My Ever-changing Desk

My desk is made of industrial shelving.

Desk 1998

Originally built in 1998 as an editing workstation, it has been re-built again and again.

Desk Flat

It has been low and wide, it’s been flat, it’s been bottom heavy, and top heavy.

Desk 2006

The first attempt at turning into an entertainment center was a bit gigantic.

Desk 2008

But now it’s under control. (and broken into three pieces)

march-2009-desk
deskfinal

Hulu is #4 with a bullet!

Erick Schonfeld writes:

Hulu jumped two spots to become the fourth largest video site in the U.S. in February, according to the latest data from comScore VideoMetrix. Hulu drew an audience of 34.7 million people who watched 332.5 million video streams. That is a 42 percent increase in unique U.S. visitors, up from 24.5 million in January, and a 33 percent increase in streams, up from and 250.5 million streams.

In a single month, Hulu overtook Viacom and Microsoft in total viewers and video streams (see January data). And Hulu is catching up to No. 3 video site Yahoo, which streamed 353.5 million streams in February. Fox Interactive (MySpace) was No. 2 with 462.6 million streams. And YouTube once again blew everyone else out of the water with 5.3 billion streams.

Hulu Gains 10 Million Viewers In February, Now No. 4 Video Site In U.S. @ TechCrunch

Hand Talks Out of Its Ass: Sock Puppet thinks Boxee steals from Hulu.

[Update: Edited for clarity and to fix grammatical errors]

Lately, many people who are ignorant of how the internet and APIs work are showing off their ignorance.

Loren Feldmen does it twice in one video. First by choosing a video host that doesn’t allow embedding (and expecting the internet to still behave like it did in 2006), second by suggesting that Boxee is stealing content from Hulu.

He says it himself at the beginning: Boxee is a browser for your TV. Yet at around the four minute mark he says:

Boxee (now) takes Hulu (ok) AND the content that Hulu cut deals with. Now Lets Talk about the content.

Then he goes on to rant about how taking content is wrong, and that artists deserve compensation.

The problem is: Boxee is no more stealing content from Hulu than Firefox is.

Yes, taking content is wrong. However, no one took anything. You just kinda breezed over that fact.

The content is the exact same content users of the website see in Fullscreen Mode. Boxee is just a browser.

Hulu is still serving up the content and still serving up the ads.

The Sock Puppet thinks that somehow pulling up a website in a different browser makes it “from a different provider”, and that if you use Boxee you aren’t getting your content from Hulu. The rest of his rant is based on this misconception.

Anyway, back to the Sock Puppet:

You guys get so hooked in with the fuckin’ distribution that you forget about the content. The content is having to deal with Charlie Sheen @ $600,000 a week, showing up drunk, so you can fucking watch it on Hulu. Ok. They cut those deals.

OK. There’s so much wrong there. I’ll start with Charlie Sheen. Mr. Sheen works for Chuck Lorre Productions. He does not work with anyone connected with Hulu or it’s corporate parents.

Next, you seem to be using “Content” interchangeably to refer to both “Content Producers” and “Content Distributers”. You’re falling for the same trick the RIAA pulls when it behaves as if they are the ones making the music.

Most television shows are made by independent production companies and are merely distributed by TV networks. (That’s what all those cards at the end of every show are all about.)

The production company gets compensated when they sell (first-)broadcast rights to a block of episodes. Often they will pre-sell the show before filming anything other than a single episode. Often they will seek Network funding to pay for the single episode in return for first pick-up rights. This is what gives laymen the impression that the networks make the shows. The money is flowing from the network, but it’s payment for a delivery. (The network makes money by “giving away” the shows via live broadcast stream, and selling ad time at a rate based on the number of eyeballs the “give away” brings in.)

[This isn’t how ALL TV Procuction is done. Some shows sell all their rights to the Networks including aftermarket (syndication and DVD) rights, others sell their rights to Domestic Television Distributors (who then license them to the Networks), and some shows actually ARE produced in-house (but very little of it is Primetime content). The point is: One all-encompassing label, like “Content” or “Content Provider” gives distributors too much credit and works on the assumption that the producer isn’t going to find a new distributor. (It happens. “Scrubs” jumped from NBC to ABC this year). ]

Anyway, back to the Sock Puppet:

Boxee took TV Shows from the web and put back on your TV

No. They didn’t. Boxee is a browser. It’s a computer program, It doesn’t run on a TV. It runs on a computer. If someone connects that computer to a TV you don’t magically deserve more money because the picture is bigger and the viewer can sit in a comfy chair.

Besides, a digital TV screen is nothing but a computer monitor. Boxee can’t be held liable for the size of people’s computer monitors.

And Now the guys who create The TV

You mean “The guys who distribute licensed shows”

…are saying “Listen. We don’t want it on Boxee”.

How about Opera? Is Safari OK? What about IE?

Dumbasses.

You don’t want it on Boxee? I got news for you. The Makers of that content want it on Boxee, and sooner or later, we’ll have our Nine Inch Nails / Radiohead and they WILL bypass you.

If you’re going to watch TV on a TV, how about this: WATCH IT ON FUCKING TV. IS THAT SO UNFAIR? They’re already dealing with DVRs, OnDemand… they’re paying Charlie Sheen. You’re not.

It is not your customer’s job to support your business model.

If you make less money per viewer because that viewer watched it Via Web Browser vs Via Cable then you got screwed in negotiations.

As we are moving from one type of distribution model to another, all the middlemen are trying to take bigger bites than they used to have.

Content Makers (not distributors) need to realize:
1. the dollar-to-eyeball ratio is the most important metric,
2. the distributers will screw both the people they buy content from AND the people they sell content to, if you don’t watch them
3. the distributers will cloud the subject with red herrings.

People watching Hulu in Boxee rather than Firefox is a Red Herring to distract from the REAL problems with internet video advertising revenue and artist compensation.

If the eyeballs-per-dollar ratio the advertisers are paying Hulu isn’t the same as broadcast/cable/satellite – that’s a problem.

If the eyeballs-per-dollar ratio Hulu is paying The Networks isn’t the same as broadcast/cable/satellite – that’s a problem.

If the eyeballs-per-dollar ratio the Networks are paying the people who actually make the content isn’t the same as broadcast/cable/satellite – that’s a problem.

It’s about the content, not the web site.
The red herring worked. In order to to stress that you should watch it on the Hulu website, The Sock Puppet keeps repeating:

Boxee is just an add-on. A browser. It’s all about the content.

Take your own advice Sock Puppet: Stop focusing on the browser. Stop focusing on the web site. It’s about the content of the stream. Hulu is Hulu in every browser! In Firefox, Safari, IE, or on Boxee; it all comes from the same place and 100% of the in-line ads get passed along. Boxee’s existence in no way lessens the number of streamed ads that get fed to eyeballs.

Hulu’s corporate parents behave as if the point of the endeavor is the website. Content is the bait to get eyeballs to the website (just like a TV network), and ad sales will pay for the website (just like a TV network). Unfortunately, that business model only works if your viewers are coming to see the website itself and only care about the video content as much as the wallpaper and the flash ads.

Advertisers: Hulu can’t deliver on a promise that the number of eyeballs that watched the stream will be equal to the number of eyeballs that saw a banner ad.

Banner ad impressions should be measured independently and sold to advertisers separately from the in-line ads. If they aren’t, then the advertisers should be demanding to know why not. Hulu shouldn’t be bundling all their different advertising methods (banners, pop-ups, in-line) into a single unified price scheme.

If they ARE priced and sold separately, then this is the biggest overreaction to a browser I’ve seen in a long time.

If Hulu was smart, it would license the API for their stream.
It should be done for two reasons: a) to insure proper usage and accurate viewership counting, and b) to allow for a Network TV style price structure where ad revenue for in-line ads would scale up with viewership. The money generated from the website would become “icing on an API cake” rather than the cornerstone of the business model.

Hulu can make more money on a raw stream than their website could ever generate. Remember: It’s about the content. With Boxee, viewers watch shows and ads. What’s the problem?

If you don’t like the dollars-to-eyeballs ratio of streaming your video, negotiate for comparable-to-broadcast rates. Bitching because your viewer is legally watching via a more convenient legally available method is stupid and pointless.

The Sock Puppet finishes up by saying that micropayments are the future, and every show worth watching will be charging. You’ll pay or not watch.

Good Luck stuffing the genie back in that bottle. It worked so well for the RIAA and the MPAA.

.
[UPDATE: Four days after posting, I went back to his site to catch up on the reaction to my Trackback, if any, and found the link gone, the comments closed, and nary a mention of this piece. Read into that whatever you want.]

More on TV’s Autopsy

Media Analyst Don Cole traveled 200,000 miles per year annually for decades visited with local TV stations, cable interconnects, magazines, clients, client prospects, and all sorts of new media sales teams.

He believes that Nothing Can Replace Television and It Almost Has!

He gives wonderful write-up on the progression that the cancer that network tv is suffering from.

He begins with where the symptoms are worst and (ironically) least visible: Local Affiliates.

What I see and hear stuns me. The broadcast media, as a group, are in almost complete denial about what is going on in our world of media. When the relentless march of broadcast fragmentation is brought up, local station people respond with “have you seen our local news. It is extraordinary.” I have and it is not.

Ask industry people about how DVR’s are changing the effectiveness of TV as an advertising medium and the more mature (in age only) say something to the effect that they hope they will be retired before the effects are truly felt in the marketplace. What kind of answer is that?.

He touches on our POV a bit.

Today’s consumers are now in control and they are not going back to being passive viewers again. Life “on-demand’ appeals to people. DVR’s, blogs, You tube, Hulu.com, The Slingbox, streaming video, new cable platforms, and many other possibilities have permanently upset the TV landscape. Watch how a young adult uses media–are you positioning your campaigns to reach young people well or at all for that matter?

…but then goes into Protectionist Mode.

There is also a terrible danger with the presence of legacy mentalities out there. People sit in meetings and nod vigorously when I say that TV is losing its luster as a sales medium. But, moments later they say something to the effect that the solution to TV’s slow death is simply adding more weight. Add more weight? They will still miss the people that they are missing now! All additional weight will do is add significant frequency to the same folks they reach now who are heavy TV viewers and not always the most desirable prospects.

He does touch on TV’s tool as a currently-ubiquitous communication medium and laments the loss of roadblocks and vertical strikes, but fails to understand that the underlying goal that those tools provided – to get information out to a majority percentage of the population – will not die with it.

Just as the death of newspapers doesn’t mark the end of journalism, the death of TV isn’t killing mass-media.

The middlemen will shift. Those that adapt will survive. Those who would apply radio rules to magazines and billboard rules to TV will try to get TV rules to apply to the internet.

Watch.

NBC Double-Dipping iTunes Customers?

Could it be possible that, after all this time, NBC still thinks that it’s a good business decision to try to squeeze the few internet viewers that actually pay for content for extra payments?

Thomas Fitzgerald writes:

So the season Finale of Battlestar Galactica aired on friday night on the SciFi (sorry, SyFy) channel in the US and I think it would be fair to say that the two hour episode was one of the most eagerly awaited events on television in years. The show has a huge fan base and the much publicized finale was something everyone was gearing up for. Of course a lot of people get their shows off iTunes and this was probably one of the most eagerly awaited downloads since iTunes began selling TV shows. So you can only imagine how pissed off a lot of people were when they decided to split the finale into two parts on iTunes so they could charge twice as much for it.

[…]

People want to pay for content. I know the execs at NBC and every other major studio don’t believe that, but a lot of people are willing to pay for good high quality access to their favorite TV shows. But they don’t like being taken advantage of either. As many commenters on iTunes have pointed out, it’s crap like this that pushes people back to bit-torrent.

Read the whole rant @ It’s crap like this that makes people pirate

Have You Switched From Cable to The Internet? 24% Say “Yes”, another 52% Say “Some”.

An Internet Poll asks: Have you switched from Cable to The Internet?

In early results, 52% says they either stream or download shows, and a full 24% of those who responded answered “Yes! I’ve cut the cable and am a 100% internet TV watcher.”

I’ll keep you posted if things change.

Digg @ Digg.com

Tiny Arrow URL: http://➹.ws/ﱴ

Boxee MeetUp March 24th in NYC

Speaking of Boxee, if you live in New York (or will happen to be there on March 24), then you should check out the boxee meetup.

They will be releasing a new alpha version during the event and will “share some concrete plans for the beta”.

If you DO attend, send me some pictures.

Internet Television Test, Week 38: Using an iPhone 3G as my TV remote [Updated]

My Mac doesn’t have a remote control. It predates the Apple Remote by a year (and even if it didn’t, towers don’t have IR sensors).

I could buy a USB IR sensor and an Apple Remote, buy I’d also have to buy software to make the IR sensor work. Total cost: $50+

For $30ish, I could just buy a RF remote with a USB dongle, but then I wouldn’t have the sleek Apple Remote. Instead, I’d be controlling my Mac with something that looks like a garage door opener.

Eight months have passed. IR remotes got worse and RF remotes got better, but I never bought either one.

Instead, my wife got an iPhone.

[She’s nearly got me convinced that I can’t live without one, but I’m holding off as long as I can. My trusty Nokia 6102i is barely two years old, but is breaking. Scotch tape has been holding it together for almost two months, but the other day a small metal piece popped out of the hinge and disappeared into the fourth dimension. Now, every time I flip it open it gets a little worse. I just need it to survive until June/July when the new iModels come out.]

On her phone we have VLC Remote, Remote, and Rowmote.

Currently Rowmote is getting the most use. It integrates directly with Front Row and behaves exactly like an Apple Remote, but Remote’s new iTunes DJ integration looks like fun.

The only problem is: When she’s not home, I don’t have a remote controller!

UPDATE: The guys at Boxee shot out an e-mail letting me know that they have a remote in the App Store, but until I get a new Mac or Boxee shows some PPC love, I’ll have to admire from a distance.

Shirky is Wrong!

So sayeth Dave Winer:

I was bothered by Clay Shirky’s piece about the death of newspapers that got so much play over the last few days, and finally figured out why as I wrote this piece. He says that journalism is being replaced by nothing. This is why the press likes his piece so much, it’s been their main theme: You’ll miss us when we’re gone. The problem with this thesis is that while the press as been declining a new decentralized press has been booting up. I talk about this toward the end of today’s piece. The sources who no longer trust the journos, or aren’t being called by them when they have something to say, are going direct. This is what replaces journalism. It’s happening everywhere (Shirky’s piece is a great example of it). Sometimes the thing that’s hardest to see is what’s right in front of you.

I didn’t realize I was stepping into a pile of Shirky when I referenced it yesterday.

I believe Shirky is “half right”. He’s right about everything that’s crumbling, but he’s wrong about the lack of a replacement.

In a world of interconnected hypertext, I thought the irony was self evident. I was mistaken.

The (unspoken, and therefore way too subtle) joke was: “OH, noes! Print News is dying and there’s no replacement yet! We better build one!”

The newspapers think they have a lock on news and the death of their news distribution company means the end of news gathering.

Writers will starve!

Newspapers can’t conceive of not being the middlemen between well researched, well written journalism and the reader. Newsmen can’t conceive of a system where they don’t work for a “newspaper”. They get off on a tangent trying to redefine what a “newspaper” is (so the status quo isn’t inturrupted so much).

One side argues that they need to switch from dead trees to web pages and the other side complains about comments on fan blogs getting as much weight as “real newsmen”. Both sides think they need to hurry and neither side realizes that they’ve already been replaced.

They just don’t see it
The replacement was here before the old way started failing. It’s true in music. It’s true in Television and Movies. It’s true in news.

The RIAA thinks they have a lock on music distribution and they preach that the death of their music distribution company means the death of music writing and recording.

Musicians will starve!

The networks think they hav lock on “tv” distribution. They say that the death of their video distribution company means the death of well written, well acted, well produced television.

Actors will starve!

And if they mention the internet at all?
Blogs are unreliable! MySpace is Filled with Amateurs! YouTube Videos are all home videos!

Nevermind the fact that blogs became reliable, MySpace bands got big and Big Bands got MySpace, and The President of the United States got a YouTube Channel.

When I (poorly) made a sarcastic reference to Shirky yesterday, I should have written:

“OH, noes! TV is dying and there’s no replacement yet! We better build one!”

None of these “old media” players understand that the replacement is here already.

How To Replace Cable with the Internet: Ten Boxes Reviewed

Part 3 of my series keeps getting postponed because of the fast-changing landscape.

In the mean time, Cnet is reviewing the Top 10 boxes that can help you replace television with the internet.

The over-all verdict:

I’ve done a little digging through the CNET Reviews archives to highlight the top 10 boxes/computers for accessing video-on-demand content via the Web. Here’s a brief summary of each, in no particular order. You can see at a glance what makes each one cool and what makes it not so cool. And you’ll get a general idea of how much each one costs.

I’m sorry to say that I haven’t found a box that offers me everything from all the top movies and TV shows to the best local and live TV programming. But the market is still evolving. And I promise you that the landscape could look very different in another 18 months, so stay tuned.

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

New Google Tools Determine if Your ISP Is Blocking BitTorrent

Michael Calore of Wired writes:

Next time you’re dealing with a dreadfully slow internet connection, you can ask Google what’s causing the trouble.

The company announced a new open platform Wednesday called Measurement Lab, or M-Lab for short. As part of the initial launch, M-Lab includes three publicly accessible tools, including a tool called Glasnost that tests whether BitTorrent traffic is being blocked, throttled or otherwise impeded on your broadband connection.

Find the tests @ Measurement Lab (via Wired)

Streaming Superbowl XLIII

It seemed to me the Bittorrents for the last few Superbowls were mildy popular, but that’s just my observation. I have no stats to back that up. Superbowl broadcast ratings are down. They’ve been down for years. That’s well known.

What isn’t known is how the NFL plans to bring it’s product into the 21st century.

The NFL’s bread and butter has always been the play-by-play broadcast of their games. Other football leagues focused on ticket sales and merchandising or on community spirit. The NFL made their money hopping from network to network to show their precious games and sold the Big Game to the highest bidder. Big Brother even had to step in and make the NFL play fair and give everybody a turn, if I remember correctly.

Has there been ANY sort of an announcement of the NFL’s plans to accommodate the post-television generation? The Official Superbowl Page has a countdown clock and tons of hype… but nothing about how to watch the actual game.

Politics wised up. After a terrible online showing during the election gave bootleg streams of CNN great ratings, we were buried in options for streaming live video of the Inauguration. Will this be the moment that Sports learns the hard way?

There’s a ton of money on the table for the advertiser in the browser window of the re-streaming service that will be hosting the bootleg stream. Will it be uStream.TV this time, again, or will everybody be watching a freed Sling Stream?

How To Drop Cable and Satellite and Still Watch Everything, Part 2: Downloads

[Continued from How To… Part 1: Streaming]

Downloads


Streaming isn’t perfect. If my wife is streaming Hart to Hart from Hulu, I’d better not be surfing YouTube on the laptop. If she was watching Fringe (which we download) I’d be fine.

Also, if the weather’s bad, the internet gets slow. That means lots of paused streams and filling buffers. Downloading your show in advance and watching it from your hard drive requires pre-planning, but your efforts will be richly rewarded.

Downloading allows for higher resolution, multi-channel surround, and the possibility of taking it with you on a gadget.

Like Streaming, there are both paid and free options. Also like Streaming, free comes in official and grey-market sources.

Paid Downloads
Six months ago, there was a small selection of places to buy TV shows that I might have cautiously recommended. Today there is only one: iTunes. It’s pricy, but reliable. That’s the only reason it exists at all. Most video stores have shut down (and the few that still exist are focused more on movies than on television).

Reliability is a big deal. Customers that were unlucky enough to buy video from a store that shut down found that their “purchases” weren’t purchases at all – merely licenses that got revoked when the company shut down the server that unlocked your video whenever the next verification was due. DRM (Corporate-speak for “Copy Protection”) may be dying for music sales, but it’s alive and well on television and movie sales. There isn’t a killer gadget or a killer store to strong-arm the networks into giving up on DRM.

Until that time, most internet downloaders are sticking to original content, or just pirating the good stuff.

Free Downloads: Original Content
Podcasts. Holy Cow, podcasts. This one deserves it’s own post.

Free Downloads: The Good Stuff
Arrrg! Mateys! We have a pirate wannabe! Well, I have a disclaimer for you: No TV network condones file trading. If you are trading a file of a TV network show then you are a pirate. And you know how the industry feels about pirates. If you want to risk it, here’s how:

Bittorrent
File trading methods come and go. The flavor of the week is currently Bittorrent. Bittorrent works like a treasure map and magic compass. The .torrent file is the map, and your bittorrent client (software) is the magic compass that finds the thing you’re looking for (treasure). There is a .torrent file on the internet for every episode of every season of practically every show ever. Find the .torrent file, and find the show.

You can set it up to do it all automatically.

TV Torrents on a Mac is as simple as P.T.T.
1. Perian.org – This Quicktime plug-in will allow your Mac to play your downloads with the native Quicktime Player and Front Row media center software.
2. Download Transmission. This is your magic compass. Set it to launch on startup, listen for .torrents (maps) in your Download folder, and to drop files (treasure) into your Movies folder.
3. Download ted. This is your map finder. Set it to launch on startup and to drop .torrent files (maps) in your Download folder as they become available. Add some shows.

That’s it. You’re done. Tomorrow there will be shows in your Movies folder.

[NOTE: I will include a Windows version if/when I get my trusty Dell to boot again.]

Manually Searching
Searching manually is great for Barbara Walter’s Specials, TV Movies, and new DVDs that’s you’re too impatient to wait for Netflix to deliver. Manual Searching is also a good skill to have in case the automated way skips an episode or two because you forgot to boot up the computer for two weeks or ted thinks a new season started when it hasn’t.

When you bittorrent, you need to know EXACTLY what episode you’re looking for so you know which .torrent file to use as your map. Start by visiting the encyclopedia of TV titles: epguides.com.

Epguides makes it easy to remember that the last episode of The Middleman I saw was the one where they had to go on a boat to keep cursed musical instrument from killing Titanic aficionados. I also found out that it was called “The Cursed Tuba Contingency” and (most importantly) it was Season 1, Episode 7.

Now I can search for “The Middleman S01E07” on Yahoo, Google, or one of the many .torrent trackers online.

On your Widescreen and In Your Pocket

Downloading holds many advantages over streaming, the biggest advantage being portability. You are no longer tied to a web browser. My wife got an iPhone for Christmas.

The primary reason for the purchase was Google Maps, with Mobile Safari a very close second; however, I know my wife. As soon as TV Junkie #2 catches a few episodes while waiting for the bus… I’ll be loading her iPhone with television. Luckily, I’m prepared.

[To be continued in How To Drop Cable and Satellite and Still Watch Everything, Part 3: On your Widescreen and In Your Pocket]

Hulu steps up, takes the blame [UPDATED]

Muhammad Saleem did a great commentary on The Hulu Situation over @ Mashable.

The Hulu Letter can be found on Sunny’s Page for now (and is re-printed blow), but I recommend you read Muhammad’s write-up if you haven’t been following along.

Customer trust is hard won, easily lost.

On January 9, we removed nearly 3 seasons of full episodes of ”It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.” We did this at the request of the content owner. Despite Hulu’s opinion and position on such content removals (which we share liberally with all of our content partners), these things do happen and will continue to happen on the Hulu service with regards to some television series. As power users of Hulu have seen, we’ve added a large amount of content to the library each month, and every once in a while we are required to remove some content as well.

This note, however, is not about the fact that episodes of ”It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” were taken down. Rather, this note is to communicate to our users that we screwed up royally with regards to _how_ we handled this specific content removal and to apologize for our lack of strong execution. We gave effectively no notice to our users that these ”Sunny” episodes would be coming off the service. We handled this in precisely the opposite way that we should have. We believe that our users deserve the decency of a reasonable warning before content is taken down from the Hulu service. Please accept our apologies.

Given the very reasonable user feedback that we have received on this topic (we read every twitter, email and post), we have just re-posted all of the episodes that we had previously removed. I’d like to point out to our users that the content owner in this case – FX Networks – was very quick to say yes to our request to give users reasonable advance notice here, despite the fact that it was the Hulu team that dropped the ball. We have re-posted all of the episodes in the interest of giving people advance notice before the episodes will be taken down two weeks from today. The episodes will be taken down on January 25, 2009. Unfortunately we do not have the permission to keep the specific episodes up on Hulu beyond that. We hope that the additional two weeks of availability will help to address some of the frustration that was felt over the past few days.

The team at Hulu is doing our best to make lemonade out of lemons on this one, but it’s not easy given how poorly we executed here. Please know that we will do our best to learn from this mistake such that the Hulu user experience benefits in other ways down the road.

Sincerely,

Jason Kilar, CEO, Hulu

Internet Television Test, Week 27: Six Months Without Cable and I’ve Missed Nothing

Last night when I told my wife it has been six months since we dropped cable, she couldn’t believe it. She was taken aback. The got weirded out about it again this morning as she was pulling up her daily episode of Hart to Hart.

Six months? Really? It doesn’t feel that long. I guess because it’s gotten so easy.

Like having a child, she is so happy with the result that she doesn’t even remember the labor pains. The only real difference in our TV viewing habit is the loss of the remote control (which I hope to remedy, soon).

Has it really gotten that easy, or are we just used to it?

This thought has been on my mind since New Year’s Eve. My family came to visit and my brother, who can’t send an e-mail and defers his web browsing to his fiancee, leapt toward the computer when I pulled up the Three Stooges page on Hulu. He spent the rest of the morning in Saturday Morning Cartoon Mode. He clicked until he found the episode he’d been looking for for years.

Back to the conversation with my wife.

Easy? That’s because everything is set up and bookmarked! I make this LOOK easy!

When she stopped laughing, she kissed me and went to make toast.

I kept wondering if it’s easy for us because it’s all bookmarked and we’ve found all our current shows, or if it’s really gotten that easy for everyone.

The networks have been doing an excellent job of pimping their websites, so I decided to start there.

I went to all the broadcast and cable network sites I could think of. I’ll be posting a write-up soon. (UPDATE: Link). Some (Like ABC and ABC News) were greatly improved, while others (The Discovery Channel) seem to not get the concept.

Then there’s the subject of the shows we DON’T stream.

I’ve come to the conclusion that in January 2009 streaming TV is easier than it used to be, but still not there yet, and bittorrent/RSS is still too difficult for the masses.

More and more people are cutting the cable to go all-internet, but we still don’t have a killer set top box. You can’t expect people to choose between watching on a computer and hooking a computer up to a TV.

AppleTV needs streaming, The Roku box needs downloads, TiVo needs to cut the cable, and a game console is a poor substitute for a dedicated internet television device.

Whoever gets the streaming/download balance correct can rule the Widescreen.
I’m looking at you, Boxee.

This year promises to be interesting.

How To Drop Cable and Satellite and Still Watch Everything, Part 1: Streaming

Times are tough. We’re all looking for ways to cut spending. After looking at my cable bill, I decided (with zero research and zero preparation) to see if my wife and I could live without television for 52 weeks, relying solely on the internet.

Two TV Junkies under one roof can consume a remarkable amount of programming content. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that there is no silver bullet one-size-fits-all solution to replacing television with the internet. We watch a mixture of streamed shows and downloads.

After a bit of a learning curve we’re up to speed and have not missed a single show. Election night was a bit tense, but I didn’t miss a beat. Plus, we’ve saved $250 in five months. Best of all, my setup has passed The Wife Test (your milage may vary).

Streaming


Streaming gets me in that instant-gratification way that video-on-demand should. It’s perfect for when I sit down and I don’t know what I’m in the mood to watch. In the old days I would have flipped channels or consulted The Guide to see what was on. Now I browse for what’s available and the selection just keeps getting bigger.

There’s a ton of services out there that want you to download and install their software. DON’T DO IT!! If it’s not crawling with spyware, it’s big and bloated and unnecessary. All you need is a Mac or PC built in the last half-decade and a web browser.

Free Streams:
Five months ago I felt that I needed to make a page of links for each show I wanted to watch; because I never knew what there was to find, where to find it, or how long it would be there after I found it. (It’s still mostly true, but it’s gotten a lot better.)

In the last few months, the networks have wised up quite a bit and most of them are offering at least some streaming (and it’s usually their biggest shows). All the major broadcast networks (ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, The CW, and PBS) are doing it, and several of the Cable Networks are dipping their toes in as well. USA Network, HGTV, A&E, CNN, The Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, Food Network, Lifetime, ABC Family, MTV, and even TBS and The Weather Channel.

UPDATE: (March 2009) A much longer List of Links is on the right column of every page. —> –> —> –> —> –> —> –> —> –> —> –>

YouTube, the big kahuna of online streaming, will be offering MGM Movies and CBS Television soon, but the big dog in a post-television television world may just be Hulu.com.

Hulu is my first stop when looking for a show. Hulu even lists things they DON’T show, but only if they’re available through official distribution channels. They don’t link to JustinTV, TVLinks.cc, SurftheChannel, ChannelChooser, TV-Video.Net, WatchTVSitcoms, or other grey-market sites.

For those things, Google is your friend. If you have little ones, you will find The Disney Channel & Disney Channel 2 by any means necessary.

Sometimes you don’t feel like searching for things. Sometimes you just want to “turn it on and let it go”. For those times, I go to Joost. Just last night, I was watching a collection of Christmas Episodes from random TV Shows.

For mindless music in the background there’s Pandora, for music videos there’s MTV Music and Songza.

Paid Streams:
Netflix. Technically it’s a paid stream but because my bill didn’t change it feels free. All-you-can-watch streaming is part of most Netflix plans (including mine) and I use it.

I don’t have a Windows PC or an Intel Mac so I can’t see it in my browser (like most people); however, there are an increasing number of gadgets that allow you to watch Netflix streaming, most of them more likely to be attached to your TV than your computer is. If you have a new Samsung BluRay Player, a TiVo HD, The Netflix Player by Roku, or an XBox 360 you can get Netflix Streaming on your TV. Me? I’m buying a Mac mini.

Fancast is a some-free, some-paid browser-based streaming site. It had a very interesting beta period this summer, but now that the networks are waking up, it seems a bit redundant. It’s a great bookmark for those hard-to-find episodes.

If you live in Wisconsin, and have RoadRunner / Time Warner, and have a PC running XP or Vista then you are in the test market for HBO on Broadband.

Downloads


Streaming isn’t perfect. If my wife is streaming Hart to Hart from Hulu, I’d better not be surfing YouTube on the laptop. If she was watching Fringe (which we download) I’d be fine.

Also, if the weather’s bad, the internet gets slow. That means lots of paused streams and filling buffers. (Continued in How To Drop Cable and Satellite and Still Watch Everything, Part 2: Downloads.)

@ http://digg.com/television/Replace_Cable_TV_with_The_Internet_Part_1_Streaming

MacWorld 2009: Free AppleTV 3.0 Update?

AppleTV could stand some improvement.
The AppleTV is deceptively powerful, and Apple could make it much more useful without having to resort to adding a TV Tuner, DVR Features. or a BluRay drive. In fact, they can do it with a Take 3 Software Update.

Free? How Can It Be Free?
Apple accounts for the AppleTV using the same subscription accounting method that they use for the iPhone.

This allows Apple to roll out major revisions free of charge without going afoul of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act for two whole years after purchase*.

The first AppleTVs rolled out at the end of the first week of March 2007, putting MacWorld 2009 well within the 2-year window.

One More Thing
An update to this little hobby of Steve’s isn’t big enough news to get stage time. I’m sure it will be reported on the rumor sites along with bumps to the Mac Pro and the XServe, while the keynote will be spent talking about iPhone and App Store sales, iLife/iWork ’09, or a new Mac mini with a mini-DisplayPort and an extra USB 2.0 in place of DVI and firewire.

We’re due for another bi-annual jaw-dropper “one more thing”, but unless it’s a teleporter or a time machine, it’s hard to imagine that the rumor mill doesn’t know already.

How many rabbits can one man pull out of a hat in one career, anyway? If it’s a tablet, a cube, a game console, a VR helmet, a video phone, a WiMAX/whitespace VoIP phone, a car, or an airplane the rumor mill already has processed the patents and mocked up advertisements.

I’m keeping my expectations low: AppleTV 3.0 (with one of these two features) and a new Mac mini.

* The Sarbanes-Oxley Act does not say “two-years” specifically, it just works out to two years in Apple’s case because of the accounting method. SBA does not apply to minor revisions and/or bug-fixes nor to companies based outside of the USA (although some countries do have equivalent laws in place).

How To Fix The AppleTV (Hint: It’s not DVR functionality)

During the long stretch between Last Hardware Updates Of The Year and MacWorld there is little news coming out of Apple, Inc.. This is the time of year when Apple Talk turns from news and rumors to OpEd pieces.

In the last month, I’ve read more than a few articles telling the world what Apple needs to do to “fix” the AppleTV and send sales through the roof. Most of these articles recommend adding a DVR or an optical drive or both.

I hope not. AppleTV is a box for internet-delivered content.

Americans need to re-think Video Delivery
Americans think that you “get TV” from broadcast/cable/satellite and “get movies” come from shiny discs and Premium Channels. Therefore, anything that wants to rule the big screen will have to handle the content coming to it via these means.

…but what if TV and Movies came via internet? What if every single piece of programming that the cable company wants you to pay them to send to you could be sent via the internet connection you already have?

What if you could pull up a TV show as easily as a web page? What if you could subscribe to a TV show as easily as subscribing to a mailing list or an RSS feed?

Stop wondering “what if?”, because it’s all possible today.

(Now that you know this, how long before YOU cut the cable?)

AppleTV isn’t perfect
AppleTV needs to do better, not do more. The machine needs to be a better internet-delivered entertainment device. With this in mind, it’s easy to see where Apple TV could improve.

In addition to a processor/memory/storage bump, the AppleTV Take 3 should boast one of the two following features:

App Store / Plug-Ins
Yes, I know you can use plug-ins now. I also know they’ve gone from hacking and jailbraking-level mods to plug-and-play simplicity, but in the end… they’re still hacks.

We need an Apple-sanctioned solution to adding Boxee, Plex, Joost, or even games to the AppleTV. An App-store like package manager can easily do the trick.

Also, an App store would allow Netflix and Apple to combine forces without an official partnership.

It is widely known that Apple makes the bulk of it’s money on hardware sales and all other endeavors (including the iTunes store) work with the slimmest of profit margins. Apple is in the hardware business, first and foremost. Netflix is not.

Netflix doesn’t make ANY hardware, instead they are doing their damnedest to get their SaaS on everything from TiVo to XBox360 to Macs and PCs to your cable box. It is certain that they would make an App Store app.

Plug-ins boost the value of Apple’s hardware offering with minimal effort and minimal OS bloat.

– or –

Hulu
Apple needs to show the world that there is more free content than just Podcasts and YouTube Rants available online.

Streaming new/current TV Shows from Hulu beats Netflix’s tiny and ancient TV offering, plus Hulu is as free as broadcast, but with fewer commercials.

With MGM adding full-length movies to AppleTV via YouTube, adding Hulu to AppleTV at the factory will make it a REAL linear-delivery killer.

Having Hulu on the main menu next to YouTube would boost the value of Apple’s hardware offering with minimal effort and minimal OS bloat.

[Update: As someone pointed out to me, The Take 3 Software (if released before February) would be free to all AppleTV owners, thanks to the iPhone-like accounting method Apple uses.]

What AppleTV DOESN’T need is DVR features.
DVRs are for wrangling [linear-delivered video] sent on [a proprietary network].
AppleTV is for sorting [non-linear delivered video] sent on [the open internet].

Like a Gas Dryer vs an Electric Dryer, they’re incompatible with (and redundant to) each other. They do the “same” thing, but in two different ways; and no one needs both.

Yet, some people still don’t get it.

Thanks to non-linear deliverable video available on the open internet, I no longer pay a cable or satellite bill and I’m not missing any of my favorite shows.

In it’s current state, AppleTV can help wean you off of cable and satellite… but only if you combine it with Bittorrent, TVrss.net, and VisualHub. Hulu-on-AppleTV makes those other tools unnecessary, makes television-over-internet as simple as a DVR, and makes it that much easier to “cut the cable”.

Without cable, you don’t NEED a machine to wrangle it.

AppleTV DOESN’T NEED a DVD or BluRay Drive
Optical discs can compliment internet delivery, but I feel a dedicated box (like a DVD or BluRay Player) is a better solution for anything with moving parts.

I bought my first two DVD Players in 1998. A Creative Labs DxR2 for the computer and a Panasonic A110u for the television. Since then, I’ve gone through 5 DVD drives and 4 stand-alone players.

Luckily, each replacement was cheaper, faster, and had more features that the one it was replacing; although each one also got lighter and more fragile feeling, too.

Like component AV equipment, the optical disc player and the internet-delivered content player should remain as separate as the cassette player and the CD Player.

But that’s just my opinion. I could be wrong.

Election Night with No TV Set, Part II

My first real test of the NO TV For A Year pledge came this November 4.

After casting my vote, I returned home and pulled up Google News. The headlines were already coming fast and furious. Long lines, hate crimes, gun sales, and I-thought-I’d-never-see-the-day stories were sprinkled with poll closing times, battle state reminders, and the latest smears.

Then I found a live stream of CNN. Well… CNN International, but they were just simulcasting the US CNN feed so it was all the same. Well… all the same when it worked. It went down twice between noon and 2pm, each time going away for fifteen minutes, but it was much worse when I accidently closed the tab.

For over half an hour I kept refreshing the page, trying to connect. All it would give me was a still frame, until finally the video returned.

With the election such a nail-biter, I didn’t trust it to get me through the day on it’s own. I had two web browsers open, each with several tabs. Google, NPR, The New York Times, CBS, CNN, and gave “live” polling results in one browser, and Google News helped me spawn dozens of tabs in the other.

2:40pm PDT
I start taking snapshots. The first polls close in 20 minutes. These are to show how it began.

From Polls
From Polls
From Polls
From Polls
From Polls

3:58pm
NPR reports that Illinois and Kentucky have reported some results, but give no clue what they might be. The New York Times paints Illinois and Vermont blue and Kentucky red, but it’s for the senate races.

4:09pm
CBS calls Kentucky for McCain and Vermont for Obama

From Polls

at 4:10pm NPR follows suit, with Illinois still counting. At 4:17 NPR says Virginia is counting.

I step away from the computer. It doesn’t last.

4:45pm
Google: McCain Leads 8 to 3
NPR: McCain Leads 8 to 3
New York Times: Tie @ 0 to 0
CBS: McCain Leads 13 to 3
CNN: McCain Leads 8 to 3

Whoa. Is CBS padding McCain’s numbers or jumping the gun? Thirteen!? Everyone else is saying three!

4:58pm
Google: McCain Leads 8 to 3
NPR: McCain Leads 8 to 3
New York Times: McCain Leads 8 to 3
CBS: McCain Leads 21 to 3
CNN: McCain Leads 16 to 3

CBS still giving McCain the biggest number.

5:03pm
Google: McCain Leads 8 to 3
NPR: Map won’t load. Try again and again and again.
New York Times: McCain Leads 8 to 3
CBS: Obama Leads 81 to 39
CNN: Obama Leads 77 to 34

5:37pm
Google: Obama Leads 82 to 34
NPR: Obama Leads 103 to 34
New York Times: Obama Leads 10 to 8
CBS: Obama Leads 102 to 54
CNN: Obama Leads 81 to 34

5:49pm
Google: Obama Leads 82 to 34
NPR: Obama Leads 103 to 34
New York Times: Obama Leads 22 to 8
CBS: Obama Leads 102 to 54
CNN: Obama Leads 81 to 34

6:00pm
Google: Map won’t load. Try again and again and again.
NPR: Obama Leads 120 to 34
New York Times: Obama Leads 26 to 8
CBS: Obama Leads 102 to 54
CNN: Obama Leads 102 to 43

From Polls

6:10pm
Google: Map still won’t load. Try again and again and again.
NPR: Obama Leads 175 to 64
New York Times: Obama Leads 62 to 8
CBS: Obama Leads 174 to 100
CNN: Obama Leads 174 to 49

7:16pm
Google: Obama Leads 202 to 80
NPR: Obama Leads 207 to 129
New York Times: Obama Leads 155 to 17
CBS: Obama Leads 206 to 135
CNN: Obama Leads 207 to 95

7:44pm
Google: Obama Leads 207 to 114
NPR: Obama Leads 207 to 135
New York Times: Obama Leads 192 to 87
CBS: Obama Leads 206 to 141
CNN: Obama Leads 207 to 135

8:00pm
Google: Obama Leads 220 to 120
NPR: Obama Leads 220 to 135
New York Times: Obama Leads 207 to 127
CBS: Obama Leads 206 to 141
CNN: Obama Leads 207 to 135

At 8:00 CNN Projected Sen. Obama the winner.

From Polls

8:04pm
Google: Obama Leads 324 to 124
NPR: Obama Leads 220 to 135
New York Times: Obama Leads 218 to 127
CBS: Obama Leads 283 to 145
CNN: Obama Leads 297 to 139

I watch McCain’s speech, and it is the most beautiful concession speech I’ve ever heard. I watch Obama’s and can’t help but become overwhelmed with emotion. Then I lose the CNN feed for good.

From Polls

All-in-all, the internet-delivered news didn’t do too bad. If CNN had it’s own feed, they would have made a ton of money on advertising but alas they still think cable is their bread-and-butter.

Let’s hope the new MGM/YouTube deal will kick-start some thinking.

Election Night with No TV Set

When I gave up TV in July, it was pretty easy. The weather was nice and re-runs were the only thing on. Now, on Election Day, I finally feel the loss. I no longer have endless channels of mindless blabbering giving me up-to-the-millisecond election coverage. If I want to get information, I have to look for it.

There are a number of places to get “live” polling results, including NPR, The New York Times, CBS, CNN, and (my favorite) Google. I’m sure I’ll be checking all of them over and over again, weighing them against one another.

But, if you’re like me, you feel the need to stare at a talking head, so I found a live stream of CNN over @ uStream.TV (alternate stream) and all-day coverage @ GRITtv.

Internet Television Test: A September without Television

TV Shows and Transmission just started getting the hang of things when my Mac started acting funny.

It’s been acting a little quirky for about nine months, but in September – it just wouldn’t boot.

I’d been meaning to do a “clean slate” install but the Mac only acted quirky now and then – so I got lazy.

When I used Windows, a clean slate install (called a “Nuke and Pave”) was an annual (and sometimes bi-annual) event. In the four years I’ve used Macs, I haven’t done a clean install of OS X since I bought a used G3 PowerMac and a copy of 10.3 Panther. I’ve installed and deleted dozens upon dozens of applications, never once using an uninstaller like IceClean or AppCleaner. When Tiger came out, I bought this G5 and used Migration Assistant to move in. When Leopard came out, I just upgraded.

The hard drive is barely a year old, and it’s S.M.A.R.T. status said it was OK, so when it started acting up I was convinced it was a software error.

I didn’t want to install the OS and then just have Time Machine put it back how it was, and I wasn’t sure if I could even access the files otherwise, so I started burning DVDs of all my “really important” data. After two days of burning DVDs, the hard drive died before I could finish.

I didn’t panic, because I had two backups. A quick trip to Seagate’s web site and a warranty replacement for the dead drive is on it’s way – or so I think. Two days later I realize I forgot to check a box and now have to start the order over, then it takes an extra three days to arrive because UPS is closed on the weekends.

When it finally arrived, it slips effortlessly into the Mac and Leopard is installed clean. As I begin manually copying data off of the Time Machine hard drive – it dies, too.

I don’t panic, because I burned DVDs.

It was when the first DVD read error came that I began to panic.

Through all of this, I have only The Netflix Player and my Netflix’d DVDs to entertain me.

Internet Television Test, Weeks 8 and 9: A Trip Back In Time

As the long summer season draws to an end, I keep going further and further back.

I watched a Karate Kid Double Feature on Netflix Streaming, a couple of episodes of One Day at a Time on Hulu, and even peeped the Pilot to Alice over @ SurfTheChannel.

On the download front, I uninstalled Miro and gave TV Shows a whirl. TV Shows does one thing: It downloads torrents from TVrss.net. The website says a new version will be out “in a month”, but apparently it’s said that for a year now.

The torrents get dropped into my “Download” folder, where Transmission picks them up and downloads the shows into my Movies folder.

It served up The Daily Show, Mythbusters, The Middleman, and Burn Notice, but The Secret Life of the American Teenager was strangely absent.

I think I’m ready for the fall season to begin.

Internet Television Test, Week 7: Getting Bored and Grumpy

This week was more of the same. The Netflix box served up Peggy Sue Got Married and more of Miami Vice Season 1.

We streamed an episode of The Simpsons and Miro gave us our USA Network shows (Burn Notice, In Plain Sight), ABC Family shows (The Secret Life of the American Teenager, The Middleman) and The Daily Show. We also watched the first four episodes of The O.C.: Season 1 on DVD.

I’m still using Miro/Front Row the same way I was last week. When I’m mid-production I don’t have time to kill researching if the fixes I want are possible and/or how to do it. I just have to wait until wrap. Grrr.

Problem with Front Row: Grouping. I am happy that Front Row allows you to navigate to your “Movies” folder. I understand that it didn’t always have that capability. Why does Front Row insist on grouping by kind, rather than by name? This results in the folders being put at the bottom and it reads as a list of titles that go from A to Z twice. Grrr.

One solution would be to get Miro to put titles directly in the “Movies” folder rather than into a sub-folder named after its channel, but if I knew how to do that, I’d get Miro to stop putting dashes in all the spaces. As it is, I have to see The-Daily-Show, The-Secret-Life-of-the-American-Teenager, Burn-Notice, and In-Plain-Sight. Grrr.

And I really need a remote control. I would dump the PowerMac for a Mac Mini for the remote alone if it had the video power and hard drive speed/capacity this Twin G5 has.

I read Wm. Humphrey’s column this week… and he mentions: The O.C.! OK, I have to watch whatever he recommends in this column… which turns out to be “Skins“, a BBC show. Add that to the list!

Speaking of the list, I’ll update it after wrap at the end of the month. Thanks for asking. Next time post to the comments. That’s why they’re there.

Until next week: Grumble…. grumble… GET OFF MY LAWN!!!

Internet Television Test, Week 6: Re-Thinking My Approach

The summer doldrums continue. The slowdown has allowed me to learn how to get TV programming via internet with minimal impact to my viewing habits, and more importantly, my wife’s viewing habits.

I think I know how I’m going to handle the new season.

I think I’ll be streaming sitcoms (the bulk of what I watch) and downloading the one-hour dramas. The quality difference is worth the extra effort and patience, especially if there are a lot of dark and/or action sequences.

I do have to keep my downloads to a minimum. Even now, during rerun season, I have a long queue of torrents that haven’t even started downloading. We got The Secret Life of the American Teenager two days late. Oops. I can’t imagine what it would be like when regular programming returns if I tried to download every show on my list every week.

For what downloads I’ll continue, I haven’t decided if I’m going to keep using Miro or not. It has a few quirks that drive me batty. Besides, I can get similar functionality out of xTorrent or Bitrocket without all the bloat of a built in player that I don’t use and a file manager that I don’t need.

Similar, but not the same. If I can iron out the wrinkles in Miro, it could be the heart of the TiVo replacement I’m looking for – driving Front Row, which will be the “face” of the system.

As for streaming, I may have to just keep using Hulu by default. I heard about Plex this week. Unfortunately, like Joost and Boxee, it’s an Intel-only playground. Apparently, there aren’t any Platform Agnostic coders out there. What happened to Universal Binaries? My machine is barely three years old!

Only with Hulu can a PPC user get any love.

This week we watched new episodes of Secret Life, In Plain Sight, Burn Notice, and The Daily Show, and watched “reruns” of The Middleman, and Miami Vice Season 1. We watched Beaches and Across the Universe together, and I watched Superman: Doomsday alone.

Still haven’t caught up with The Riches, The Two Coreys, The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Mythbusters, or Dirty Jobs, but I did listen to five more episodes of Smodcast. I’m now up to episode #30.

I’m beginning to get nervous that I’m not going to be ready in time for Premiere Week…. whenever that is! I may need to buy TV Guide for the first time in 15 years.

Internet Television Test, Week 5: TV at work and the Roku Netflix Player

Adjusting to a new work schedule and a new sleep schedule, this was a more-boring-than-usual rerun-season TV week.

However, I was never more thankful for my terribly named What I’m Watching and How I’m Watching It list than I was this week.

Stuck alone in a production office, my head bleary from photocopying stuff all day, I needed to kill a few hours until I get the call from set that we’ve wrapped for the day. I had already read everything in the office. Every poster, pamphlet, form, label, receipt, and both phone books. I was finished reading for the day.

Then I saw it. Someone left a production laptop under a table! Yes, I could have gone anywhere online; but why browse when you’ve already got direct links to shows you like?

The list is still a bit lean, but I wouldn’t have thought to watch an early episode of South Park otherwise. When the Production Manager came in and caught me watching South Park, instead of getting upset that I was using a production machine without clearance, he burst out “I love that episode!” and spent the next half hour spouting quotes from the show.

Much cooler than my last PM.

At home, Miro continued to feed my Daily Show and Secret Life of the American Teenager habits and I finally finished Season 1 of The Two Coreys. It also spit out the 1971 “hit” Cold Turkey, Harold and Humar Escape from Guantanimo Bay, Burn Notice, In Plain Sight and a quirky new show called The Middleman.

Then the Netflix Player came in the mail. The first thing I watched was Bill Envall’s Here’s Your Sign, followed by Jeff Dunham’s Spark of Insanity. Then on a whim, my wife and I watched half of Miami Vice Season 1. Neither of us watched it when it was on the air, so it’s a “brand new” old show for us.

Internet Television Test, Week 4: Getting Automated

This week, I finally discovered the usefulness of Miro.

I fully intended to review Joost, Miro, and Hulu’s RSS-based “subscriptions”, but I never got around to subscribing to anything on Hulu and Joost requires an Intel-based Mac, which mine is not.

Miro has taken hard drive space through two name changes and countless updates, but I never did more than fire it up once every couple of months… usually right after I ran AppUpdate.

I liked the concept, but I found the content lacking. I can get Ask A Ninja and StrongBad E-Mails through iTunes and I don’t care for the skimpy Discovery Channel podcasts in the Sample Channels. There is 2 minutes of content and 2 minutes of ads per “show”. That’s a terrible ratio.

But this week was different. This week I discovered tvRSS. (Link in the blogroll).

C|net has a great step-by-step tutorial on how to use tvRSS to make Miro useful. I discovered it about two hours after I finally figured it out for myself.

<Mr. Miyagi Mode ON>
Google first. Always Google first.
<Mr. Miyagi Mode OFF>

I added random things from my terribly named “What I’m Watching and How I’m Watching It” list, went to bed, and forgot about it.

The next evening when I sat down, there were two episodes of The Daily Show in Front Row. Shades of TiVo. It slipped my mind that I had told Miro to put the data files in my Movies folder. Scanning the rest of the list, I also found episode 4 of Secret Life of the American Teenager.

I added a few more random things to Miro and forgot all about Hulu.

Maybe next week while I check out Crafty TV I’ll browse Hulu.

We finished House M.D. Season 1. It was a great wrap-up and lots of juicy backstory came out along the way.

The Two Coreys and The Sarah Connor Chronicles sat unwatched, as did The Riches. I caught an episode of Mythbusters, and watched part of an episode of Dirty Jobs.

So far, replacing television with the internet has not cured the summer doldrums.

With No MTV, IMF, VH-1, or MTV2 to turn to, I hit YouTube.

Something Happy: Lemon Demon “Word Disassociation”

Something Melancholy: Chris Blake “Someone Else”

Something Uplifting: Sick Puppies – It’s All The Same

Something Sentimental: Journey “Faithfully” (Embedding is Disabled for this title.)

And I finally took a listen to Summer of Love 2008 from WHA!? Music.

01 Step Together // Phil RetroSpector (Happy Mondays VS the Beatles)
02 Pinball Wizard in the Drivers Seat // Apollo Zero (Dogtooth VS Who VS Cook’s County)
03 Black Acieed // dj lobsterdust (Ram Jam VS D-Mob)
04 What’s That Sound? // World Famous Audio Hacker (Buffalo Springfield VS 808 State VS Deee-Lite VS Prince VS Duran Duran)
05 Here Comes The Sunscreem // Bobby Martini (Sunscreem VS the Beatles)
06 Land Of Oz (Summer of Love Mix) // Flying White Dots (Manuel Gottsching VS Latino VS Grace Jones VS Pink Floyd VS The Orb VS Opus 3 VS Bjork VS Masters At Work VS The KLF)
07 diamond pressure // Simon Iddol (Richard Wahnfreid feat. Klaus Shultze, Manuel Gottsching, Mike Shrieve and Karl Wahnfried VS Little Louie Vega with Jay ‘Sinister’ Sealee and Julie McKnight)

Grab your free legal copy @ WhaStudios.com. It will help get through August.

Do People Under 25 Watch TV Shows on Television?

As someone young enough to think that “Duhhh” is a term from the 90s, one working producer thinks it’s crazy that the networks haven’t figured it out yet.

Why would anyone watch shows on t.v.? They are filled with ads, you can only watch one episode at a time, and you have to watch it when it is airing. Instead, you can download (and if it’s Gossip Girl very quickly) and someone has already kindly removed all the ads for you. You can download several episodes at once. You can watch them at your leisure. You can put them on an external drive and run them right onto your flat screen television or even pump them onto your ipod for the subway ride to work.

Well, I know my sister (20) watches TV on TV – but she’s been watching TV on DVD a lot more. She gets online regularly, but I don’t think she watches anything longer than a YouTube video. My wife and I (15 years her senior) just gave up TV altogether for the internet.

So, is it an age gap or technology gap? What do you think? The comments are open.

Internet Television Test, Week 3: Rerun Season

(For those just joining us, here’s the story so far.)

Ah, Mid-July.

The time of year when I catch up on shows that I missed and the TV networks bombard me with advertisements for the new shows debuting next season. I think. Has it started yet? I don’t know. I don’t own a TV.

My list of links to the shows I’m watching is about half done. There is little motivation until new shows come out. Instead I found myself finishing Burn Notice Season 1 by getting the two-part finale free off of iTunes.

We also finished Disc 2 of House M.D. Season 1. This is a really good show. If you’re like me and missed the boat the first go round, pick it up.

We watched In Plain Sight on Hulu rather than USA Network this week. Our first impression is: The controls are much better. Better for going INTO full screen mode, better once you’re there.

On USA Network’s site, to go to full screen you have to click a small rectangle-within-a-rectangle no bigger than my Mac’s pointer. At first I didn’t even know it was clickable. On Hulu it’s a large button. It’s so large of a button that it fits the words “Full Screen” and an easy-to-see icon. The ICON is four times the size of USA’s whole button. Brain-dead simple to figure out and do from the sofa.

Once in full screen, on USA Network’s site uses the same controller as when it’s in a tiny window. It doesn’t get any bigger. Pause is a tiny target sandwiched between “rewind” and “exit full screen”, barely a fraction of an inch apart.

On Hulu’s site, “pause” and “exit full screen” are on opposite corners. In fact, they ARE the opposite corners. The whole corner square inch is one big button on each side. To rewind/forward, just click the timeline. Brain-dead simple to figure out and do from the sofa.

TheDailyShow.com’s player is similar to Hulu’s, but not quite the same. The buttons are still in opposite corners, but they don’t take up the whole corner. Someone on Comedy Central’s website team needs to learn about Fitts’s Law. (Remember: Design is more than “how it looks”)

After Hulu and TheDailyshow.com, the USA Network player is bad enough to make me NOT browse USA Network’s site for new shows when I’m looking to discover new content. Instead, I watched the Pilot Episode of Remington Steele and added The Riches to my list, both found on Hulu.

Speaking of The Riches, I watched the pilot episode of yesterday. It was 180 degrees from what I was expecting. When I read Eddie Izzard and Minnie Driver, I was expecting a sitcom. When I saw it was an hour long, I still imagined something closer to The O.C. than The Sopranos. Instead, I got the best Pilot I’ve seen all month. I cannot wait to finish Season 1.

This week brought another episode of The Secret Life of the American Teenager and another visit to ABC Family’s web site to stream the episode. This time everything appeared to be there, but I only clicked on Episode 3 for fear of jinxing it.

Same as last week, you have to click the screen after each commercial break, but you can click anywhere. Still annoying.

On the download front, both my wife and I are still enjoying The Sarah Connor Chronicles. I downloaded this fully expecting it to blow as badly as Clerks, My Big Fat Greek Life, and many other Movie-to-TV translations. Instead, I find myself curious to see where they’re taking this. It may have to be added to the list.

I have low expectations for The Two Coreys, Season 1. After Scott Baio is 45… and Single (and its sequel) my appetite for peeping into the dirty laundry of the stars of my childhood entertainment is is fully whet and the torrent is 99% finished.

the show with zefrank

About the show with zefrank

Streaming:
Popular Episodes
Start @ The Beginning

First Review: 18 JULY 2008
From the Website:

“the show with zefrank” was a short video program produced Monday through Friday
for one year (March 17, 2006 – March 17, 2007). […] Start by watching a popular episode or two—but realize that you’re joining a conversation already in progress.

While no longer topical, “the show with zefrank” definitely holds up with age. That isn’t something you can say about a lot of Internet Original material.

Smart, hip, and funny – this podcast is a shining example of the quality that Internet Originals can be.

I recommend starting at the beginning and watching three or four in a setting. Any more than that can cause confusion, then addiction, and finally sudden withdrawl when the show comes abruptly to a stop.

Ze, I know you’re still out there. I hope you come back online with another show.

Who likes the little, little duckies in the pond? The Comments are open.

Replacing Television with The Internet, Part 2 1/2: The Sound Redux

In an unexpected development, my AV Receiver died.

One step forward, two steps back.

Purchased in 1998, it served me well.

In Part One, I bought the first part of my new system: A screen. ($300)

In Part Two, I brought along a Mac (current eBay value: $355) , 5.1 AV Receiver (current eBay value: $0), and sundry cables and cords.

What I didn’t bring along was computer speakers.

Yes, I know I was pleased when I reported that my Mac had a built-in speaker and I’d never be without sound. Well, sorry Mac – your built-in speaker is no match for a good DTS track. The built-in speaker is good for music, but so-so for action movie dialogue.

I grabbed the Philips SBA 1500 powered notebook speakers my wife uses with her iPod and connected it to the Mac.

It’s not perfect, but it’s better than constantly asking: “What did they say?” and trying to rewind with a keyboard and mouse.

The HDMI switch that I was going to be reviewing this week went back to the store unopened, the Netflix box postponed, and my wife even offered to give up her iPhone money for a new amp.

With a budget of $499, I was able to find the Sony STR-DG920 for $487.03 shipped. It should be here by this time next week. Until then, it’s tiny, white, and 2.0 for me.

The Riches


The Riches Episode Guide

Streaming:
AOL Video
Hulu
Fancast

Download:
Torrent (change season and episode number as needed)

Disc:
Season 1
Season 2
Season 3

First Review: 19 JULY 2008
I watched the pilot episode of yesterday. It was 180 degrees from what I was expecting. When I read Eddie Izzard and Minnie Driver, I was expecting a sitcom. When I saw it was an hour long, I still imagined something closer to The O.C. than The Sopranos. Instead, I got the best Pilot I’ve seen all month. I cannot wait to finish Season 1.

Remington Steele


Remington Steele Episode Guide

Streaming:
AOL Video
Hulu
Fancast

Download:
Torrent (change season and episode number as needed)

Disc:
Season 1
Season 2
Season 3
Seasons 4 and 5

Internet Television Test, Week 2: TiVo Season Pass List Replacement v1.0

The nice thing about TiVo is that you can become blissfully unaware of programming schedules. This allows you to think of TV as non-linear. Because of this, I think it will be easier for me to make the leap to internet-based-TV than most.

The problem is that TiVo did all my thinking for me, and now I have no idea when my shows come on, what’s in re-runs, or what was cancelled. Because of this, I think it will be harder for me to make the leap to internet-based-TV than most.

Crap.

The first question is: Which shows do I download, and which shows do I stream? Well, it’s hard to make that decision without knowing which shows are even available, and for how long.

Nine episodes into the 12-episode Season One of Burn Notice, the shows disappeared from both Hulu and USA Network’s site. I found some torrents, but so far zero percent.

While I was browsing, I grabbed the torrent for Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. It’s about 60% done.

Googling around I found The Dick Van Dyke Show, and watched an episode. Now I have to add that to my list. Too bad I forgot to bookmark the page. I’ll get around to it.

I started making my TiVo Season Pass List into a page of links to keep track of what show is available where. I figure it can be the page I pull up whenever I’m ready to “watch TV”.

Meanwhile… House M.D. Season One (Disc 1) came in the mail. After just 4 episodes, my wife and I are hooked. That’s added to the list.

I tried to pull up episode 2 of The Secret Life of the American Teenager, but I couldn’t find it. ABC Family reports that the episode is missing. (Already??!? ZIt just aired a few days ago!) From the looks of the site, the episode is supposed to be there, but the link is broken. Bittorrent has it on my hard drive in just over an hour… in HD.

To kill the hour, I watch the pilot episode of Sliders. Gotta add that to the list.

Ohh! Incredible Hulk Pilot Episode in it’s full Bill Bixbyish glory! Oh, that has to go on the list.

How long is this list going to get?

After finding about twenty shows, I’ve got a nice collection of jumping-off points for when I go looking for links – and just when I think there are no more… I find another gold mine of content.

I gotta start filling that blogroll with something useful – links to streaming video sounds good.

So ends week 2. The weeks ahead will include learning about HDMI, buying an HDMI switch, reviewing the Roku Netflix Player, testing different Remote Control solutions, Subscribing to RSS feeds, checking out the world of Podcasts and, of course, BluRay.

Family Guy

Family Guy Episode Guide

Streaming:
FOX on Demand
Fancast
Hulu
AOL Video
TBS.com
TV-Video.net
WatchTVSitcoms

Download:
Torrent (change season and episode number as needed)

Disc:
Netflix

Midwest Teen Sex Show

Midwest Teen Sex Show Episode Guide

Streaming:
MidwestTeenSexShow.com

Subscribe:
iTunes
Miro

Reaper


Reaper Episode Guide

Streaming:
CWTV
Surf the Channel

Download:
Torrent (change season and episode number as needed)

Disc:
Season 1
Season 2

The Colbert Report

The Colbert Report Episode Guide

Streaming:
Comedy Central
Fanpop
Fancast
Hulu

Download:
Torrent (change season and episode number as needed)

Disc:
The Best of The Colbert Report

Exes and Ohs


Exes and Ohs Episode Guide

Streaming:
Logo

Download:
Torrent (change season and episode number as needed)

Disc:
Season 1

Inline Ads: A First Impression

I don’t mind commercial breaks in online shows, so far. Each episode seems to have one sponsor, and you get a single ad in each adbreak where a clump of ads normally would be if it were on broadcast tv.

Some sponsors are better than others. Outback Steakhouse has already made me a hater. It’s not the content of the ad. I’ve seen it before on TV: Four men are golfing, one describes his meal at Outback Steakhouse. Big deal. The problem is that’s the only one they play. With six breaks per episode – it was at least four times too many.

AT&T has a nice three-parter. Each “segment” gets repeated once. If only the ad wasn’t so stupid. They get points for non-repetition and for not breaking my “full screen mode” like Outback Steakhouse did.

Yes, Outback Steakhouse – in addition of making me hear that same dreaded commercial six times in 44 minutes, forced me to have to manually exit and re-enter “fullscreen mode” after each ad. Not fun. And you can’t use the mouse to fix it. You have to press ESC on your keyboard, then use the mouse to hit a tiny target to the bottom left of the video to return to FS Mode.

The Secret Life of the American Teenager forced me to click to continue, but at least it was just one click, and it could be anywhere.

I wonder if they’ll all be like this.

South Park

South Park Episode Guide

Streaming:
South Park Studios
AOL Video
WatchTVSitcoms.com
Fancast

Download:
Torrent (change season and episode number as needed)

Disc:
Season 1
Season 2
Season 3
Season 4
Season 5
Season 6
Season 7
Season 8
Season 9
Season 10
Season 11

The Secret Life of the American Teenager


The Secret Life of the American Teenager Episode Guide

Streaming:
ABC Family New Link! (20 JAN 2009)

Download:
Torrent (change season and episode number as needed)

First Review: 17 JULY 2008
A surprisingly complex family drama that shows how a teenager can be smart, stupid, scared, and brave all at the same time. The Secret Life of the American Teenager takes an unblinking look at the consequences of a stupid one time mistake, and how gossip and reputation is more powerful than even the harshest realities.

After just three episodes, I find myself looking forward to new episodes each week.

So far I’ve only found one stream for this show. ABC Family makes you click the screen after each commercial. It’s a minor annoyance, but still an annoyance. If anyone finds another stream, please send me a link.

What do you think of the show? Comments are open.

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Episode Guide

Streaming:
TheDailyShow.com
Fancast
Fanpop
Hulu

Download:
Torrent (change season and episode number as needed)

Disc:
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart: Indecision 2004

Rocketboom

Rocketboom Episode Guide

Streaming:
Rocketboom.com
YouTube

Download:
Rocketboom.com (follow the “Download” link)

Subscribe:
iTunes
Miro
Google
MyYahoo!
TiVo

Medium

Medium Episode Guide

Streaming:
Fancast
Hulu

Download:
Torrent (change season and episode number as needed)

Disc:
Season 1
Season 2
Season 3
Season 4
Season 5

In Plain Sight

In Plain Sight Episode Guide

Streaming:
USA Network
Hulu
AOL Video

Download:
Torrent (change season and episode number as needed)

Disc:
Season 1
Season 2

Samantha Who?

Samantha Who? Episode Guide

Streaming:
ABC.com

Download:
Torrent (change season and episode number as needed)

Disc:
Season 1

The Simpsons

The Simpsons Episode Guide

Streaming:
Fancast
AOL Video
FOX on Demand
Hulu

Download:
Torrent (change season and episode number as needed)

Disc:
Season 1
Season 2
Season 3
Season 4
Season 5
Season 6
Season 7
Season 8
Season 9
Season 10
Season 11
Season 12
Season 13
Season 14
Season 15
Season 16
Season 17
Season 18
Season 19