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Post-Strike TV Show Statuses

I woke up this morning to a link from my friend Adam to a handy San Jose Mercury News article listing out the status of all TV shows now that the writers' strike is over. As the article states, these statuses aren't final and are subject to change, although they will be updating them as new information is released. For those of you with the same exact interests at me, here's the status of my favorite shows:

  • "Heroes": No saving the world until the fall.
  • "Scrubs": Four episodes still unaired and was planning to produce four more in what is its final season. Status is now iffy.
  • "The Office": Will film as many as eight episodes for April and May.
  • "Big Love" (HBO): May be held until early next year.
  • "Entourage" (HBO): Back in the fall instead of the summer.

Shows that I also follow but weren't on that list are American Dad, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Family Guy.

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Bad, Bad, Bad, Bad Bloggers

First, me:
It's January 12 and I'm only 8 blog posts in (this would be number 9). Unfortunately, last week was a very busy week at work, as we delivered a new version of our software to one of our clients last night. Things weren't so bad at the beginning of the week, but the 12-15 hour days really took a toll on me as the week progressed and I just didn't have much energy to write anything when I got home (even on Twitter, my most recent update was posted last Sunday).

Second, Gizmodo:
One of their bloggers ran around turning TVs off with TV-B-Gone. He's been banned from CES but the blogosphere is up in arms because it reflects poorly on all bloggers and jeopardizes mainstream media's already tenuous perception of bloggers as not-really-journalists. John Biggs of Gizmodo rival CrunchGear (the blog that I stopped reading when they posted a story detailing how to go about stealing Leopard) has a rather insightful post on the whole issue and I think he sums it up nicely:

While I’m sure editors at Business Week rarely have to sprinkle out sawdust in the break room, they are looking to emulate our style if not our traffic. Unless they’re willing to accept the risk of an asshole move with the promise inspired ones, they’ll be sunk. And unless bloggers are ready to act their age and use their skills, energy, and position to help consumers and not piss of PR folks, they’re also sunk. We’re almost there, but each stunt like this pushes us back a notch.

Also, see TechMeme yesterday at around 4:15 for more of the conversation.

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The Last BitTorrent/RSS Guide You'll Ever Need

It seems like every week we get yet another guide on how to use RSS and a BitTorrent client to download TV shows automagically. Xtorrent, a Dave Watanabe (of NewsFire fame) app, will soon render those guides obsolete. Beta 3, released last week, adds built-in support for RSS. I've been using it for a few days now and it works wonderfully. Getting started requires only three steps:

Step 1. Find an RSS feed that has .torrent files enclosed (say, from tvRSS.net)
Step 2. Click the RSS+ button at the bottom of the source pane to add the feed.
Step 3. Find your feed in the source pane and double-click or click download to start getting the selected torrent.

Xtorrent has nowhere near the download/upload configuration options that an app like Azureus has, but it is still in beta and the default settings work just fine. Pre-release pricing is available for a limited time ($15.89 vs $18.99), so now is a good a time as any to pick it up.

Note: Downloading copyrighted television programs is a violation of copyright laws. Download at your own risk.

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"That's What She Said" Music Video

Much better than any of the Super Bowl ads…

NBC did a good job incorporating all four shows, but I wish it was longer.

read more | digg story

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I've Been Lost

After a relatively great blogging month (29 posts in 31 days), August has started off a bit slower. The reason is Lost. I am hooked. I just started watching it less than a week ago but I'm already 4 episodes into the second season (that's around 3-4 hours a day for those keeping track at home). The show is just so enthralling that I don't know how people could have watched this on a weekly schedule.

Lost is just the latest in a string of TV shows I picked up this summer, starting with Curb Your Enthusiasm and later The Office (US). I've noticed that though I'm pulling away from the mainstream with regard to audio and news, I'm embracing it more and more in the realm of video. Perhaps its just that audio can be produced well for cheap, whereas video requires a much larger budget. I love Ze Frank and enjoy Rocketboom but these and other short-form shows are nowhere near replacing mainstream television shows.

What I do think will change for mainstream TV is the distribution method. We're already seeing this with more and more networks adding shows to the iTunes Music Store, with ABC shows appearing on abc.com for free and (legality notwithstanding) with shows popping up here and there on YouTube.

So how exactly am I watching these shows when and how I want? Here's a hint: not by turning on the television.

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A Pair of Videos

Here's a pair of links to tradition media (gasp!) prince VH1's Best Week Ever Blog.

The first video is a take on the current Apple "Get a Mac"
ad campaign, featuring a hip guy as a Mac and a nerdy guy as a PC. The second video is a take on Adam Sandler's movie career summed up in just a matter of minutes.

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Full TV Episodes on YouTube

Here's a list of a bunch of TV shows available on YouTube. There's a good mix of old and new, you've got classics like Diff'rent Strokes and current hit shows like Lost. What really caught my eye, though, was the 30 or so episodes of TechTV's The Screen Savers from 2004. I was a big fan of TechTV way back when and I'm now a big fan of TWiT so to see Leo and Patrick on screen again was a real treat. So throw your crusty old copyright laws aside, sit back, relax and watch a classic episode of The Screen Savers!

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Tip: ABC.com Shows in Quasi-Full Screen

I only watched an hour of the Desperate Housewives last night and forgot to set it to download this morning. Instead of waiting hours for it to download tonight, I decided to take ABC.com's online streaming out for a spin. I tried it out right when it came out but the site was so bogged down that I couldn't get through 5 minutes of an episode. This time, things went without a hitch, except for the fact that the player window is a bit small.

The ABC.com stream only offers something like a 700 x 400 pixel window but I quickly fixed that by turning on OS X's universal access features zoom functions. Cmd + Option + 8 toggles the zoom on and off and Cmd + Option + = and Cmd + Option + - zooms in and out. Unless you like staring at your mouse cursor for 40 minutes, go into the zoom options and click "Only when the pointer reaches an edge".

I'm sure one could accomplish the same thing using Windows' magnification feature, but without a Windows machine present I can't provide detailed instructions.

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Media Glutton

I just started watching Scrubs, and after realizing I have ~50 episodes left to watch before I'm all caught up, I came to the conclusion that I consume too much media.

TV

  • American Dad (22 min)
  • Desperate Housewives (42 min)
  • Drawn Together (22 min)
  • Family Guy (22 min)
  • Reunion (Cancelled) (42 min)
  • Scrubs (22 min)
  • South Park (22 min)
  • The OC (42 min)

On a week when all shows are on, this takes up: ~4 hours/week

This is a bit of an overestimate because not every show is on every week (especially over the holiday season), however, it doesn't take into account the time spent acquiring the shows (maybe another 15 minutes a week).

Podcasts

Total time: 7.25 hours/week

Podcasts take a long time to listen to because a lot times I have to really pay attention or else it becomes background noise. I've had to unsubscribe from IT Conversations because I fell so far behind, there was no way I would ever catch up. It's a shame, because the shows I did have time to listen to, I really enjoyed.

Blogs

I've got 51 feeds in my feed reader that are updated at varying frequencies. I figure that even at 10 minutes per feed per week, I'm looking at 8.33 hours weekly. This does not include the sites I read that don't have feeds, or links that I follow from the feeds in my reader.

All things considered, this adds up to almost 20 hours a week that I spent not doing homework, reading for class, socializing or doing something that doesn't involve sitting in front of a computer. Somehow I need to trim some of my consumption, but its not going to be easy giving up the things I've grown attached to over time.

Any suggestions on how to cut down? What's your weekly media consumption look like?

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Free Classic TV and Portable Video

The New York Times is reporting that Warner Brothers will be offering free downloads of classic TV shows on a P2P network run by AOL. The catch, they say, is that users will have to stay on the network and take some of the burden of distribution off of AOL servers. The TV shows will also have 1-2 minute ads that will help generate revenues for Warner Brothers and create an incentive for people to go out and buy the DVD sets.

This sounds like a good plan, but with every network doing their own thing (and their own DRM), will there be one portable video player that will be able to handle all these different formats? Is portable video really necessary to succeed in the downloadable video space? After all, video is an active medium, you can't really be doing anything else while watching it like you can with music and so the appeal of a portable device is diminished.

From personal experience with my video iPod, I can tell you that video isn't "there" yet like music is. In the month or so I've had with the iPod, I've watched 3 hours of video max. First off, getting the video on to the machine, while not difficult, does take some time. I have to download a video, then convert it and finally transfer it over. Second, if I have the time/resources to sit down and watch a video, I probably have the opportunity to watch it on a bigger screen. Like I said before, portable video requires much more attention than portable music. I can't watch a video while walking to class without looking up every few seconds to make sure I don't run into anything. I also can't watch a video if I am doing something that requires both hands, like eating, since I need one hand to hold the device up (yes, this is easily fixed with some kind of stand, but without it being integrated into the device, it's easy to not carry a stand around and so the problem still exists).

As much as I don't want to run a seperate player for each network's shows, its much easier to do so than it is to carry (and purchase, for that matter) a seperate device to take the video with me. Who's to say I want to watch the video on a portable device anyway? "Free as in speech" arguments aside, I for one welcome our new proprietary (but free) video overlords.

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