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  • 6 March, 2009

    On Hulu and Boxee

    posted by Pablo Defendini at 3:31 pm permalink

    I was a huge fan of Hulu on Boxee, and as a result of Hulu pulling out, I have really stopped seeing Hulu as a viable source of content for me, since I’d much rather watch programming on my large television screen than on my computer. Instead, I’ve been using services like iTunes on my Apple TV, completely sidestepping the content providers’ ad-revenues. I prefer the lack of ads and the better quality (and yes, quality on iTunes has gotten better, to the point that I now consider BitTorrenting these shows to be more of a hassle than using iTunes, a revision on my previous position, despite the fact that the shows are still DRM-infested. If I want to send something to a friend, I’ll then go through the trouble of firing up the ol’ BT client), but it does come at a monetary price. The ads on Hulu are a smaller price to pay—it’s a fair trade—but I do take a huge exception to Hulu telling me that I can’t use my TV for watching their content—that I HAVE to watch things on their terms, only on the device they want me to use.

    As someone working in a similar industry, and facing similar problems, I understand the content providers’ hands being tied, in terms of their being dependent on the business model that things like Hulu potentially cannibalize, and I also understand that change at large corporations is not easy—it takes time and planning to turn a big ship around. But honestly, I can’t see how Hulu on Boxee hurts their bottom line: they’re still getting ad impressions, and in extreme cases like mine, where I don’t have a cable subscription at all to begin with, ad impressions via Hulu on Boxee are not cannibalizing ad impressions on the broadcast networks.

    While my case is probably the exception for now, as less tech savvy people start to realize that things like Boxee are out there, and are very easy to use, that situation will change. It’s untenable for me to pay a cable company for a slew of channels I don’t want, when the specific content I do want is individually available for me online. As the economy gets worse, and people start cutting down on their expenses, alternatives like Hulu on Boxee may very well become the norm. Content providers would be well served to work with outfits like Boxee, instead of flat-out shutting them down. The long term benefits are evident, but the network execs need to start looking beyond this financial quarter—or this season’s ratings—to be able to see the forest for the trees.

    Boxee has now implemented what amounts to a work-around to the absence of Hulu on their software, and I applaud them for it. Time will tell if the fight they’ve got coming will be one they win. I sure hope so.

  • 7 January, 2009

    More on the decline of the old, the rise of the new, and the spaces in between.

    posted by Pablo Defendini at 9:09 pm permalink

    Yeah, those stinkin’ pirates are really hurting the entertainment industry. Killing profit margins, destroying lives—oh, wait: the movie industry raked in a record-setting $9.78 billion in 2008? The best-selling album mp3 album on Amazon this year was composed of music that could also be had for free, legally, under a Creative Commons license? Madness! Madness, I tell you!

    The Pirate’s Dilemma has a spot-on analysis, as usual. Of particular interest to me is Mason’s likening of vinyl records (whose sales apparently doubled this past year) to books: “Records are like books – they are souvenirs of ideas.” Indeed. But that still means a smaller, more selective audience, looking for a high-quality product produced in smaller numbers with collectors in mind, versus the cheap, mass market (no pun intended) alternative.

    Mason continues by calling attention to the plight of the college yearbook: “The yearbook business, for example, has evaporated thanks to social networks”. I hadn’t really thought about that, but it makes perfect sense, and not necessarily only for the reason that The Economist states. Aside from the archival capacity of sites like Facebook and MySpace to keep the same mementos previously housed between the covers of a yearbook (pictures, etc.), the fact that social networks keep people connected despite the separation that comes after graduation makes the need for a commemorative tome practically nil. I don’t need memories of Susie Jenkins; Susie’s still in my life—I see her status updates every day, for better or for worse.

  • 23 December, 2008

    Top 10 Most Pirated TV-Shows of 2008

    posted by Pablo Defendini at 9:22 pm permalink

    Take a look at this: popular piracy blog TorrentFreak has just published its list of the top 10 most pirated TV shows in comparison to each show’s Nielsen ratings. TorrentFreak collects its data “from several sources, including reports from all the large BitTorrent trackers.”

    There’s a really interesting number in there: Stargate Atlantis clocks in at 1,810,000 downloads and 1,700,000 (esitmated) Nielsen viewers. That’s right: the geeks are downloading their TV more often than watching it via broadcast.

    Watch out for the early adopters, TV execs. All your base, and all that…

    via Top 10 Most Pirated TV-Shows of 2008 | TorrentFreak.

  • 19 November, 2008

    Pythons versus Pirates

    posted by Pablo Defendini at 3:45 pm permalink

    Well played, sirs.

  • 4 September, 2008

    Metallica Watch Part Next.

    posted by Pablo Defendini at 6:58 pm permalink

    Well, it seems Metallica really is playing a different tune these days. According to the BBC:

    Speaking on San Francisco radio station Live 105, Lars Ulrich said: “If this thing leaks all over the world today or tomorrow, happy days.”

    “It’s 2008 and it’s part of how it is these days,” the musician added

    Interesting. Lovely. So a quick check of Xtorrent and–yep, there it is. I wonder if it really is the oh-so-awaited return to form that’s worth buying?

    [EDIT: Well, it's good on first listen! Back to form. Yes indeed.]

  • 3 September, 2008

    If it ain’t broke. . .

    posted by Pablo Defendini at 8:47 pm permalink

    Wired reports that ‘file sharing’ is alive and well, despite so-called legal alternatives. Big surprise there. After all, the people who pirate want shows as DRM-free HD content in a standardized format, and that’s about the last thing the networks seem willing to give up.

  • 15 July, 2008

    Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog: Live!

    posted by Pablo Defendini at 1:50 am permalink

    And by ‘live’, I mean ‘online, for your streaming pleasure’, of course. I’d embed it here, but the idea is for you to check out their site, and prove, via the power of your mighty and unique view, that this is a viable method of delivery for entertainment. That, and it’s on Hulu. They don’t allow you to embed video elsewhere. Bastards. But it’s also on iTunes, which is a promising step (except that, even after buying the Season Pass, priced at $3.99 for all three 15 minute episodes [see? I'll pay for something I support, it's not all piracy around here] the downloads won’t start. Double bastards).

    Regardless of a few day-one hiccups (and despite the fact that it’s on Hulu, which I don’t like simply because they pulled Battlestar Galactica away from the iTunes store–yes it’s a grudge thing, so sue me), it’s funny, precious, witty, self-deprecating, and sing-along-y, just like the Whedon your mama used to make ya on the teevee. I’ll review in full once all three eps are up, probably on Tor.com (yes, we’re getting closer to that July 20 launch date…).

  • 11 June, 2008

    Little Brother Binding by Evilrooster.

    posted by Pablo Defendini at 6:25 pm permalink

    Abi Sutherland, Making Light contributor and bookbinder extraordinaire, asked me for some of the off-register misprints from the first Little Brother edition, in order to put them to some good use. Well, she’s designed and made a kickass binding out of them, and showed me the pictures today. I then proceeded to run around the office like a thirteen-year-old showing everyone I could find her beautiful work.

    The dynamic between Camera Head on the front cover and Marcus on the back works beautifully (check out Abi’s Flickr photoset for images of the spine, the back, and the open spread), and the layout of the type is bold and in-your-face, true to the spirit of the book.

    This is a perfect example of why sharing your work and letting others remix it rawks.

  • 11 June, 2008

    The Pirate’s Dilemma, Now a Pay-What-You-Want e-Book

    posted by Pablo Defendini at 11:45 am permalink

    Matt Mason has finally been cleared by his publishers to make The Pirate’s Dilemma available as a pay-what-you-wish download. The PDF e-book is available here.
    I’ve already snagged my copy; I’ve been meaning to read this book for a while now, but my to-read stack of physical books has been pleading with me to not add to its bulk. However, a PDF which I can read on my laptop? Full of win.
    I can’t wait to get started. From what I’ve been able to read so far, via various excerpts online, the book should be chock-full of good, forward-thinking insight. I’m sure a close reading will engender one or two posts here, so this won’t be the last time I mention it.

  • 10 June, 2008

    I Think Lars Ulrich May Have Control Issues….

    posted by Pablo Defendini at 7:53 am permalink

    I used to be a big, big fan of Metallica when I was in high school. I still enjoy their music on occasion. But then two things happened, and they happened more or less at the same time: they started to suck —anything after the Black Album is trash, and the Black Album itself is already a departure from classic Metallica, really— and Lars Ulrich produced his now-infamous list of file sharers who were ‘ripping him off’ by illegally downloading Metallica tracks on the original Napster.

    The fact that four middle-aged, rock millionaires going through mid-life crises were essentially shaking down Shawn Fanning and co., crying about their ‘lost profits’ like some stupid corporate lapdogs was just too much. Ulrich’s ridiculous stance on file-sharing was even more absurd, considering that anyone even vaguely familiar with the band’s early days knows that Metallica first made their name by word of mouth. Back in the ’80s, when they were poor and metal, they actually encouraged people to make and distribute bootleg tapes of their material. Now that they were rich and washed-out, well, I guess they must look after their profits, no? Cliff Burton must be rolling over in his grave, dammit.

    So, done and done. I destroyed my Metallica CDs, downloaded their discography illegally, and forgot about the whole thing.

    Cut to a few months ago. Wired posts an article about how ‘Metallica Repents, Sort Of’. It turns out that the Metalli-windbags, after having had less-than-stellar studio outings since the ’90s, and after seeing the likes of Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails pursue successful online distribution strategies, have decided to follow suit, and release their new studio album online. Sort of. They set up a website called ‘Mission Metallica’ (no link love for these jerks), where they have been posting ancilliary material such as in-studio and live performance videos, photos, etc. However, what they won’t be doing is posting their album. On top of that, you have to sign up on the site to be part of their so-called community. Meh.

    Upon reading this, I was slightly intrigued, but upon reflection, and upon remembering that Metallica has sucked musically for the last decade or so, I said to myself “Too little, too late,” and moved on.

    Now this. It seems that Metallica has had early reviews of their new album pulled from internet sites, even though the reviews stem from a listening party that they themselves set up in London, at which no one was asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement. The kicker? The reviews were apparently (and surprisingly, at least to me) good, and heralded the album as a ‘return to form’.

    Idiots. Call me when the abum drops, so that I can go download it illegally and then immediately delete it from my drive, unplayed.