Thursday, April 26, 2007

Pirated streaming video discoveries!!!

Many out there think that Youtube is the pinnacle of streaming video content. Without a doubt it is the most popular, but Youtube along with it's Google parent are rapidly being left in the dust with regard to content. Youtube suffers from it's own popularity in many ways. They're under pressure for keeping out copyrighted content, their maximum ratings are PG-13, and they really haven't updated their UI in a while as their resources have been focused on taking down those pesky NBC clips.

While Google/Youtube takes the heat, other streaming video sites have risen and developed under the radar. My current favorite, Dailymotion, is based in France and they honestly seem like they could give a sh*t about American copyrights. Nor do they seem to care about content ratings (excluding hardcore stuff). Even better is that guys like Youtvpc are using Dailymotion as a content server, and putting up a website to pipeline that content to viewers on-demand. TV shows, bootleg movies, you name it! Not quite Tivo since you can only watch what they've got. But it's dang close. Check out the article over at NewTeeVee. Tell me what you think of the sites, especially Dailymotion. LOTS of stuff going on over there...

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Some girl-on-girl action?

I'm sure that's what my buddy Wxman was hoping when he clicked on this link, but this is a PG-13 blog so things will only go so far. In fact, I wouldn't call the music video below anything close to porn, but my long-time pal 'Chelle over at TwistedCurlz thinks otherwise. My advice, 'Chelle? Don't hate, just congratulate. I believe she describes this video by Shakira and Beyonce as "in the hips and on the lips." Oh yeah. My kind of video. Without further ado:

So what do YOU think? Soft porn that should never see the light of cable TV? Or who gives a sh*t since they technically didn't show any nipple?

Monday, April 23, 2007

Joost is coming, but is it ready?

Well, I finally dusted off the Windows XP partition of my laptop and decided to install Joost and try it out. Apparently CBS has just signed some content deal with them, and I'm sure the other networks aren't far behind. For those who don't know, Joost is a new platform for streaming TV content straight to your computer. And for the social networkers out there, there's also some sort of IM client that lets you chat with fellow viewers. Right now the channels are pretty limited. MTV, National Geographic, Comedy Central, and a bunch of indie stuff. So what did I think of it?

Well, first of all, the installer began by cheerfully telling me that my aging Thinkpad T40's video card was not quite up to snuff. AND that 512MB of RAM is really the bare minimum. Hmmm, that would mean there's some 3D jiggery-pokery going on. Nevertheless, it installed and fired up. 30 seconds later, Joost loads full screen with some floating crystals on the side (their logo), and I see a message about my program loading. I didn't select a program, but okay. Two minutes later, an apology. Sorry, but the program you requested can't be displayed. Booooo! I jiggle the mouse a bit and the UI appears and lets me change channels. I load up something in Comedy Central, and a few seconds later, BOOYAA! Full screen TV, good sound, very clear, and the UI gently fades away. I'm thinking, this is cool. Just as I settle in to watch, the screen freezes. The only thing I hear is my harddrive RACING to swap memory. Ah, this is what the installer was referring to. So, the moment was killed. I flipped through some more channels, but I either got a message about not being able to load my content, or five minutes of program and then FREEZE. Too bad. I'm liking the concept. They've got to get some content, they need to stabilize their server-end stuff, and they need to get a linux client out. Then maybe I will try them again on my higher-end desktop machine.

Until then, Joost gets the THUMBS DOWN!

Here's a video of Joost in action. Again, the UI is pretty cool. But even in this video you can see a lot of frame-dropping in full-screen mode. Whoever captured this has a better machine than mine. I guess your mileage may vary. My experience sucked...

Saturday, April 21, 2007

I knew it was coming...

Allow me to rant for a moment, in a similar vein to my good buddy Richmond over on her blog a few days ago. Whenever some lunatic shoots up a school, the "family values" lobby comes pouring out of the woodwork to start blaming violent movies. I knew it was a matter of time. From the article:

"Cho’s video and photos were lifted from movies. The two gun pose, arms spread, straight out of Boondock Saints, or Snatch, or Layer Cake, or The Transporter, or any number of mainstream action movies. The hammer pose, straight out of Oldboy. In a very disturbing way, Cho was doing what the movies told him to do."

What the movies told him to do?! I am usually a fan of the guys over at NewTeeVee, but on this issue, I SERIOUSLY part ways with the author. My comment, in case you don't end up reading the article:

"This article misses the point COMPLETELY. Sociopathic killers have ALWAYS been addicted to the fame. Reference Jack the Ripper and work your way forward. Violent movies “teach us how to kill ourselves”?! The absurdity of that assertion boggles the mind. Movies don't have jack sh*t to do with it! The truly disturbed always get their inspiration from somewhere (books, movies, music, TV), but the reason why they turn fantasy into reality is because they were freakin’ crazy BEFORE they ever turned the TV on!!!

That our culture is one obsessed with 15 minutes of fame for the ordinary Joe Sixpack (a la American Idol) is definitely part of the core issue here. But more disturbing is that our news outlets are GIVING him that posthumous 15 minutes! That’s the warped effect that our reality-based TV obsessed culture has wrought. WE are immortalizing the monsters. It’s pouring in on every TV channel and we can’t seem to get enough…"

This will start to get interesting when the sh*t hits the political fan. Can't wait. And meanwhile, there are truly brave heroes who actually DESERVE air-time amidst this tragedy. The professor and holocaust survivor who died trying to protect his students...

Monday, April 16, 2007

A revolution! Internet streaming TV and movies

We're getting closer and closer. Bandwidth and servers are still major bottlenecks. Unless you're Google, you don't have server farms able to handle the traffic, and residential ISP's still don't offer much above 3MB/sec. But, content providers are banking that this will change, and a few of them are staying ahead of the curve.

First up is Netflix. I was DEFINITELY an early adopter with this company. I remember walking into Blockbuster a few years ago trying to find some movie or another, and realizing that my efforts were futile. Blockbuster's focus was new releases, most of which it couldn't keep in stock. Any other movies were purely hit and miss. But then I discovered Netflix, and I was introduced to the Long Tail of the Market. Obscure movies or TV shows, Netflix had 'em. New releases, Netflix had 'em (albeit with some waiting involved). Indie movies, you guessed it! And over the years, Netflix has grown monstrously, cutting deeply into Blockbuster's marketshare. And now, in an effort to innovate, the rumors are swirling that Netflix will be renting STREAMING movies and TV shows!!! They're slowly loading the talent roster, but I think we'll see some offerings soon...

Finally, there's Joost. I'm one of their official beta-testers, although since they only support Windows, they have gotten nothing but my scorn. They promise a linux client, but....... we'll see. In the meantime, they're signing up channels left and right. It will be interesting to see what happens over the next year. Mark my words, somehow Google (and it's Youtube progeny) will be part of the Internet TV revolution.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Old news, but damn...

So, I guess Imus has been suspended now. 'Bout damn time. Nappy-headed hoes?! In 2007?! And he's saying this in New York? Time to check himself, 'cause he's definitely wrecked himself...


The civil libertarian within me feels compelled to elaborate on my above statements. Imus clearly should have the right to say whatever the hell he wants to say, regardless of how offensive. And the public has a right to tell Imus to shut the f*ck up, and to tell his media bosses to sh*t-can him. Rosie O'Donnell is in the same position. It's troubling to hear the right-wingers try and defend Imus (simply because Sharpton is involved), especially since they used the same tactics to sh*t-can Bill Maher and the Dixie Chicks. It's equally troubling to hear the left-wingers who hate Imus and want to see him fired, conveniently forget to trot out the ole 1st amendment like they did when Rosie's job was threatened. Where do I sit?

Let the market decide. If Imus pissed off too many people and CBS can't handle the advertiser fallout, then CBS should "retire" him. Same with Rosie and ABC. If they can weather the storm, then they should both stay. The only thing that will piss me off is if the FCC gets involved and starts levying fines ala boobie-gate. No matter what the outcome, as long as the government stays out of it, we all win.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

The Dark Side...with a sweet cream filling!

For those of you just tuning in, I'm a confessed Google Groupie. Many think that Google, like Microsoft, is evil incarnate. Satan's winter home. The Devil's Spring Break. Succubi Gone Wild! Clearly I disagree. I don't even think Microsoft is evil. That status is reserved for Apple, Inc: The Antichrist. But that's a whole other rant.

I think the anti-Google sentiment comes from the techie far-left that regards everything corporate as evil. (To clarify my own political views, I would probably best be classified as a weak libertarian. Small government, low taxes, don't legislate behavior, social liberal, economic conservative, fiscal discipline, yadda yadda. Watch Penn & Teller: Bullsh&t! for an explanation). In the economic ecosystem of capitalism, big corporations have a niche. History tells us that once they reach a certain size, their own bloat and inability to innovate forces them to collapse. There are few exceptions. Google embraces those things that mainstream companies eschew in an effort to stay ahead of the innovation curve. They are all about open standards, customer/user contributions and critique, and LOTS of small groups doing a bunch of small projects well rather than a few big groups doing a lot of big projects. And they're motto seems to be "Underpromise and overdeliver." Similar to another company I respect. Google doesn't hype sh*t. In fact, they understate things and wait for user feedback. So far, I've been impressed with their many ad-driven offerings. Gmail, Google-Earth, Google-Maps, Blogger, Google-Talk, and Google Office are all awesome pieces of work. Today I discovered more gems. My Google homepage supports cool widgets! Really cool ones. Seriously! Screenshots of my two tabs:

Weather, notepad, pacman, texas-holdem... What more could a Gen X-er ask for? Also, I would like to take this moment to endorse a Linux distribution that I'm currently using to complete my MOST EXCELLENT end-user experience. Mint Linux is, quite simply, the bomb. For those of you in the Windows world, Linux comes in a LOT of different flavors. The new media darling is Ubuntu. I've steered clear of it since it's inception as it was a Debian derivative. And learning Debian, for an old Slackware disciple like me, was like learning linux all over again. But over the last few months, something wacky has happened. Ubuntu has eclipsed Debian. Sort of like Luke cutting off Vader's hand. And now ALL of the Debian derivatives have retooled themselves as Ubuntu derivatives. Weird sh*t, Batman. So, as you may have guessed, Mint Linux is one of those Ubuntu derivatives. Basically it's Ubuntu with all the proprietary software and some custom menus thrown in. On my Thinkpad T40, I'm happier than a pig in sh*t. And I have a bunch of 3D Vista flavor going on. Seriously, this Linux would take Vista to SCHOOL! Even if you're a computer newbie, Mint would rock your world. Tons of free software, and EASY to use. And I'm not even getting PAID to endorse them...

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Dell FINALLY comes to the table!

After two years of flip-flopping on the issue, Dell went to it's customers and asked the question. "Do you want Linux on your computer?" And apparently the answer was a resounding YES!!! Hmmm, people are tired of the Windows monopoly and maybe want to try something different on their computer? Or they're tired of viruses and spyware? Or they're tired of purchasing overpriced software because Windows comes with nothing except Media Player and Explorer? I've been off the Windows since September of 2002. Never looked back. But, then again, Linux isn't right for everyone either. There is definitely a learning curve if you're used to working with Windows. But my relief is finally seeing some competition in a market that has been stagnant for over a decade. The next step is for the Gateways and HP's to follow-suit. Then we'll be making progress...

Sunday, April 1, 2007

CEO of Dreamworks agrees with me...

Blu-Ray and HD-DVD are going to grab a niche market with the early adopters.......and that's it. Don't take MY word for it. Listen to Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO of Dreamworks Animation:

"Blu-Ray and HD DVD are a niche business. They're not going to become the next platform."

See? It sounded just like him! Check out the article...