Category — interactive media
Today I received an email from Seppo Sahrakorpi of Pilvi Computing announcing his new ‘Streaming Guide’ which links to all the disparate TV streaming offerings available to Canadians. I tested it and it works well. The interface is rather sparse, yet simple and effective. It’s a simple alphabetical list of all TV shows that can be watched online in Canada. You can sort by various genres.
Putting this together must have been an awful lot of work. What’s more, to keep it up-to-date, will require a herculean ongoing effort. Let’s hope Seppo is up to the task! Thanks for all the hard work Seppo.
NOTE: Last I tested it, Hotspot shield still allowed Canadians full access to Hulu.
This week, Netflix launched its long awaited and much coveted Netflix Canada service. Unfortunately, the content selection cupboard is mostly bare.
The limited offerings (and lack of DVD service) explains the $7.99 Cdn per month price. The minimum monthly fee that Americans pay for their Netflix service is $9.95 U.S.. For that they get a DVD-by-mail service and a substantially broader array of on-demand offerings.
Limited Launch Offerings:
Browsing through their movie and TV offerings, it appears that there are only about 100 older movies available – too many of which are third-rate movies. There are no new movie offerings.
There are only 18 TV series available at launch, with Heroes seasons 1, 2, 3 and 4 constituting four of the 18. Mad Men seasons 1, 2 and 3, but not any of the current Season 4, make up another three of the 18. Several of the available TV series I’ve never heard of (Hoarders, Paranormal State, The Boondocks, Drop Dead Diva?). Aside from Heroes and Mad Men, there are no other past or present broadcast or cable network prime-time hit TV series available at all.
Happily, the service is not chock-a-bloc full of the made-in-Canada TV content that riddle the Canadian versions of the Apple TV & Xbox 360 on-demand services. In fact, there isn’t a single made-in-Canada movie or TV show available through the service.
At this moment I can access each of:
- Hulu: I can access full episodes of shows on Hulu now. Below, for example, is Episode 2 of Season 1 of MasterChef:
- Pandora: I had happily used Pandora for a long time before they cut off access to Canadians. I’m delighted that I can access it again.
I tested out the Seesmic iPhone App today. Seesmic on the web is my current preferred method of viewing tweets on the desktop. While the iPhone app is a terrific start, given the deal breaker points discussed below (not remembering where the user leaves off in the timeline, no landscape viewing modes and no ability to adjust fonts), I’m sticking with the new official Twitter App (aka Tweetie 3) on my iPhone – bugs and all.
- ITS FREE
- NICE INTERFACE: It has a terrific and elegant interface.
- CLASSIC RT: It supports classic ‘RT’ retweeting.
- EVERNOTE INTEGRATION: You can now post a tweet to your Evernote database with the click of a button. I love this idea! I hope more twitter apps (iPhone or desktop) add this feature in the future.
- UNLIMITED LOAD OLDER TWEETS: It supports unlimited ‘Load older…” tweets at the end of the timeline (something that the Twitter App also supports in theory but is often buggy)
- WICKED FAST: It is surprisingly fast when loading those older tweets. It is faster than the Twitter app, Tweetdeck and Echofon.
- ADJUSTABLE ‘TWEETS LOADED’ SETTING: I like the ability to set how many tweets it downloads at a time. I always set these to the max – usually 100.
- DOESN’T REMEMBER WHERE YOU LEFT OFF ON START: I try to read every tweet from the limited number of people I follow. To do this I want my Twitter app to start up where I last left off. The Seesmic iPhone does NOT remember where I left off when I shut down the app and restart it – even if I shut it down for just for a minute and come back. THIS IS A CRITICAL FLAW AND DEAL BREAKER FOR ME!
- DOESN’T REMEMBER WHERE YOU WERE WHEN RETURNING FROM LINK: If you are, say, 5 hours down your timeline, and then you click on a link in a tweet to read a linked story within Seesmic’s embedded browser, when you return, you are returned to the TOP of the timeline – not where you left off. You must scroll down and find where you left off in the timeline. If you left off beyond the 100 tweets loaded, you have to reload the older tweets. VERY ANNOYING & ANOTHER DEAL KILLER!
- NO LANDSCAPE MODE: It’s all portrait all the time. This is especially painful when viewing websites within its embedded browser. THIS WAS ALSO A DEAL KILLER FOR ME (Twitter App & Echofon do landscape – Tweetdeck doesn’t)
- NO USER SELECTABLE FONT SIZE: My aging eyes need this!! Another deal killer for me. I note Tweetdeck also cannot adjust fonts whereas the Twitter app and Echofon can
As usual, Americans can watch live streams of 2009 U.S. Open tennis through the US Open 2009 Website.
Also, as usual, Canadians and the rest of the world can’t.
Below, I include links to two services offering live streamed 2009 U.S. Open tennis matches. When I tested these sites on Monday August 31, I could find every match I wanted to watch in English.
To schedule your viewing, the U.S. Open Tennis 2009 play schedule is here.
You can find several matches on MyP2P. You may have to click around awhile to find one that works and/or is showing the match you want in the language of your choice. Some links require a plug-in to be downloaded. I don’t trust them. I only access those that play without a plug-in.
Since purchasing my iPhone back in August 2008, every time I connected my iPhone to my PC (originally Vista, now Windows 7 RC), iTunes would automatically start the Windows ‘Import Pictures and Videos’ wizard (“IPVW”), regardless of whether or not there were any new pictures on my iPhone to import.
Since I connect my iPhone to iTunes every day (to update my podcasts, backup data, install new apps etc.), I had to cancel out of the IPVW every time I connected. This was a daily frustration!
Along the line I had collected up some 30ish pictures in my iPhone’s ‘camera roll’ for the following reasons:
- Originally, I had not set the ‘delete from iPhone when importing’ option in the IPVW, so those pictures remained on the camera roll even after syncing; and
- For some good pictures, I just wanted to keep a copy on my iPhone for viewing.
Strangely, there is no way to move pictures from the iPhone’s ‘camera roll’ to an album in the iPhone’s native Photos app.
Most of the time I want pictures to be copied off my iPhone when I sync. As a result I had set the IPVW’s Import settings (see link in picture above) accordingly. To my mind, the iPhone should only automatically pop-up the IPVW when there are new pictures that a user might want copied over to the PC. That is not how it works.
Unfortunately, Wimbledon’s 2009 licensing regime makes it so that honest viewers from many countries, including Canada and the U.S. (see complete list below) can no longer access the service for any fee.
Amercian’s can watch online through NBCSports or ESPN360.com. Unfortunately NBCSports must be using the same proxy-shield blocking technology as hulu because Hotspot Shield users can’t access the site outside of the U.S.
Below, I include links to several bootleg services offering 2009 Wimbledon matches live streamed. Some are fantastic. Some less so. When I clicked around I could usually find the match I wanted to watch in English.
Of course, these only work when Wimbledon matches are underway. To schedule your viewing, the play schedule is here.
As far as I know there is no legal way for me to watch streamed Wimbledon matches in Canada. Fortunately there is at least one bootleg service available where Canadians, and anyone else, can view live matches – Channelsurfing.net.
Once on Channelsurfing.net scroll down to the Wimbledon logos and click on one of the several available streams – available in different languages. As I’m watching now (June 24, 2009 at 3:00 pm Eastern) there are 7 available live streams. I am watching the ESPN stream on both my iMac and PC and both are working fine. [Update: The ESPN stream cut out midway through a Roddick match and hasn’t returned as 11:30.am Eastern June 25]
Windows has not provided .iso file burning functionality before. Rather than use a specialized tool, I have, until now, used my iMac to burn iso files. This morning I discovered that with a couple clicks of the mouse, Windows 7 users can now burn .iso files.
- In Windows Explorer double click the .iso file you wish to burn
- Windows 7 opens the following dialogue
- Choose the DVD burner you wish to use (in my case Drive F:)
- Select whether or not you wish to verify the disk after burning
- Click the ‘Burn’ button and you are off:
That’s it. I’m surprised it took Redmond this long to finally include this functionality.
My first $100 in AdSense revenue was generated from my three blogs in approximately 10 months. My second $100 was generated in just over 3 months – from March 4 to June 7 2009. It took 327,383 served ad impressions to generate the first $100, 189,290 to generate the second.
As I described in my ‘Analyzing My First $100 from Google AdSense’ post, for this last three month period I dropped footer ads in lieu of what I hoped to be a more lucrative ad type – inline text ads. I was right. Some how I also benefited from higher per-click revenues (see details below) for the second $100 than I did for the first $100.
For the last three months each of my sites used the following three primary ad types (channels in AdSense parlance) – each as depicted in the image below:
- tower ads (120 x 600 down the right column);
- cube ads (250 x 250 in the middle column); and
- inline text ads (468 x 60 in-post text ads – below the title, categories and tags fields and above each post entry).
- $199 for 16 GB in U.S. – $299 for 32GB version (on contract of course)
- pricing only available to new AT&T customers
- $700 Upgrade fee for current AT&T iPhone users
- [June 10 Update: Rogers has announced that Canadian pricing will be the same as U.S. pricing – in Cdn $. So, $199 and $299 Cdn for the 16 and 32 GB units respectively. Only available on 3 year contracts again. No pricing for un-subbed units announced – un-subbed 3G iPhones still cannot be purchased in Canada. 8-GB, 3G Units will be decreased to $99. No word on 16GB units]
- Available June 19 (U.S. & Canada)
- $99 for prior 16 GB iPhone
- “up to” two times Faster
- Voice Control:
- voice dialing
- ask iPhone what song is playing and it will tell you
- tell iPhone to play a song, or songs by an artist or a playlist and it will play it
- developers can integrate into any app
I am a loyal Leo Laporte fan. I have enjoyed his TV shows and have been listening to/watching his podcasts and net streams for years. He is one of the nicest guys you’d ever want to meet. Honest as the day is long. He is so kind tempered he reminds me of Mr. Rogers. I have never seen him loose his temper, let alone swear on his shows, podcasts or feeds.
I admire Arrington as well, but I too have grown a bit weary of his bullying. In light of their history, to my mind, Arrington’s calling Leo’s integrity into question crossed the line – especially when he followed up with a childish ‘… what are you going to do about it” comment.
Normally this kind of thing would have been laughed off by Leo. But I’ve heard Arrington go after Leo’s/Gilmore’s guests unnecessarily hard in recent shows and its time someone called him out on it. It would be one thing if Mike didn’t know Leo well. He does. Leo assiduously discloses all conflicts of interest at every opportunity. Michael knows this.
Good for you Leo!
[June 9 Update 1: A few hours later Leo recorded a 2nd Gilmore Gang where apologies and explanations were proffered. Click here to access it. It doesn’t start until about 13 minutes in. As you’ll hear, there is a real issue as to whether the Gilmore Gang will continue to be produced by the twit.tv network. I’m of mixed opinion. I fear that Gilmore’s personality and the kind of show he produces is not a match for the rest of the Twit network content.]
[June 9 Update 2: It seems the Internet mob has been tearing into Mike and he has shut down his Techcrunch account on Friendfeed. As I read through the comments against Mike and Leo, too many in the crowd have been unnecessarily abusive, mostly towards Michael. While I was upset with Mike’s cavalier attack on Leo’s integrity, Michael doesn’t deserve all this grief either. He made a mistake, he apologized. Leo accepted the apology. That should be enough. I’m now feeling sorry for Michael.]
- John Dvorak covers it
- Michael Arrington’s apology
- MP3 of full show
- Surprised comments on Friendfeed from those watching live
- The LaPorte/Arrington Blow-up is Keyboard Catted
Exclusive PS3 Games Shown
God of War III: (demo’d – coming March 2010 ) Looks terrific! Except, that is, for Sony’s continued reliance on quick time events in boss battles. Grrr! But I still can’t wait GoW 1 and 2 were terrific games.
Gran Turismo 5 (polyphony – teaser trailer – still no ship date) – photo realistically gorgeous as you’d expect – first time cars show damage in this franchise – still a SIM that is likely only playable by extreme racing gamers.
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (demo’d – naughty dog – no ship date – multi-player beta starting immediately) I’m looking forward to this one! Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune is still my favorite PS3 game to date. Demo looked terrific but the female lead has changed. Elena Fisher seems to be gone :(
Eric Schmidt is the CEO of Google. In the 2 minute video below he describes what he believes Web 3.0 applications will be.
In summary, he defines, Web 3.0 as:
- Applications that are pieced together.
- They are relatively small.
- The data is in the cloud.
- The application can run on any device, PC or mobile phone.
- Applications are fast and customizable
- Applications are distributed virally via social networks and email.
In my opinion, the biggest Microsoft announcement at E3 today was made after their press conference was over. They announced a new Games on Demand service (coming this August). It has two important features:
- Full Games Available for Purchase on Demand: Microsoft will start selling full games on-demand via download through the Xbox Live Service starting this fall. Following in the footsteps of Steam (and to some degree Sony), this may be a critical inflection point on the path away from retail game sales. The 30 announced games are all older games (eg: Mass Effect, Assassin’s Creed and Bioshock). Games are to be sold at regular retail prices (no disk-free, Gamespot/E.B.; disintermediation discount). Nothing was said about the future availability of new titles day-and-date with retail releases. With the service in place there is, of course, no technological reason why this couldn’t happen. It’s just a matter of time.
- A Step Away from Microsoft Points: Anyone who is a regular reader of my blog knows that I am a critic of Microsoft Points (see this post, for example). Games purchased through the Games on Demand service will be purchasable with a credit card. No Microsoft Points required. Amen! Let’s hope this is the beginning of the end for Microsoft Points.
For details see:
- E3: Microsoft Announces ‘Games on Demand’ at Xbox Live Luncheon (Gamasutra)
- Games on Demand Bringing Digital Retail to Xbox 360 (1Up.com)
- Good-bye Games in boxes? Xbox 360 to get full game downloads (CNet)
- Halo Reach: Bungie teased this new Halo game, set for a fall 2010 release. Whoo hoo! If its a Bungie shooter, and it has the name Halo on it, I’m in! Is ‘Noble 1’, Will Master Chief?
- Metal Gear Rising: The next Kojima / Konami Metal Gear game is coming to the Xbox!!! Holy Cow! The final coup de gras against Sony. Kojima seemed genuinely happy to appear on stage for the announcement.
- Project Natal: A ‘controller free’ , full body motion capture, item scanning, facial and voice recognition. Will work on every 360. See demo here. I’ll believe it when I see it! I don’t believe the Lion’s Gate Milo demo pictured on right. It had to be heavily scripted (click for larger view).
After years of putting it off I finally installed and learned how to use Hotspot Shield last week. It worked wonderfully. I was all set to write a blog post about it. Wouldn’t you know it, within a week Hulu has found a way to block it!
I just tested it and indeed I’m blocked. I’ll still use Hotspot Shield for the plethora of other free services not available in Canada (eg: Pandora, last.fm) for so long as it works. But, once again, it sucks to be a new media enthusiast when you live in Canada!
See: Control Freaks: Hulu Now Blocks Anonymous Proxies Too (TechCrunch)
Following my recent ‘Canada’s CTV Puts Full Primetime TV Episodes Online’ post, my commenters (see here and here) have justly schooled me in Canada’s current TV episode streaming offerings. While I was aware of the rather piddling offerings that had been available over the last few years, as of late, it seems, there is a lot more on offer than I was aware.
Case in Point – GlobalTV.com’s increasingly impressive array of full-episode primetime and daytime TV streaming offerings. Global is one of Canada’s three nation-wide broadcasters. It carries about half of all U.S. primetime network content.
The index of shows available from GlobalTV.com is here. Only clips are available for some shows like Survivor and ET Canada. But recent full episodes (plus indicated bonus materials) for the following shows are available:
While listening to audio-only podcasts, iPhone users can press the ‘Sleep/Wake’ button to turn off the display, yet still continue listening to the podcast. iPhone users can also click the iPhone’s ‘Start’ button when listening to audio podcasts, use other iPhone apps, and continue listening to the podcast uninterrupted.
Not so with video podcasts. Clicking the ‘Sleep/Wake’ button, or clicking the iPhone’s start button shuts video podcasts off. The inability to just listen to video podcasts has been one of my primary complaints with the iPhone’s iPod functionality. See my other major complaints here and here.
Why Would Anyone Want to Just Listen to a Video Podcast?
All video podcasts are not created equal. Some video podcasts such as CO-OP, demand that the user ‘watch’ them to get the most out of them. Other podcasts , such as the ‘Cranky Geeks’, Geek Brief TV and Diggnation can usually be enjoyed without ever looking at the screen.
There are several reasons why one might wish to consume a video podcast with the visual element shut off:
- While Using other IPhone Apps: Since I can, and often do, use other iPhone/iTouch apps while listening to audio podcasts, I sometimes just want/need to just listen to video podcasts while using other apps. Why not?
- Increased battery life: Video playback consumes an enormous amount of battery charge. If you don’t need to watch the video to enjoy it, why waste the battery?
- Putting iPhone in Pocket: I often put my iPhone in my pocket while listening to podcasts. When the iPhone screen cannot be shut off, this becomes a bit clumsy. The act of putting it in my pocket (or taking it out) often results in unwanted screen clicks that can shut the podcast off, fast forward it, pause it etc.
- While Driving: Who needs the video on while driving?
Bottom Line: Hardly a day has gone by since I purchased my iPhone last August, when I didn’t wish I could turn off the screen and still listen to my video podcasts.
Turns out that there has been a way to do this all along. It took me 8 months before I stumbled upon this trick.
Canada’s CTV Network hast recently started putting full-length episodes of prime TV shows online. CTV is one of Canada’s three major television networks. It carries about half of the major U.S. primetime shows in Canada. Global carries the other half.
The new service is available here (see the ‘Watch Online at CTV.ca’ heading to the right). Episodes can be viewed full screen, though the resolution is quite low by Hulu standards. Episodes are divided into segments/clips, presumably matching how shows are segmented between commercials when broadcast. Canadians can fast forward and rewind or jump from segment to segment. Users cannot, however, fast forward through the short commercials (about 10 to 15 seconds each) that play before some, but not all, segments. So far I haven’t seen many commercials. Below is a picture of the interface:
A FAQ is available here. Multiple seasons/episodes of some shows, like ‘The Daily Show’ are available. Only the most recent of others, like Lost and Grey’s Anatomy, are available. I’ve tested several shows and so far the system works well – though the resolution certainly needs a boost.
This is an updated version of the earlier ‘Best Video Game Podcast’ post I made on April 18, 2008. I have listened to, and abandoned, many video game-related podcasts. Those listed below have survived the culling and, with one exception, are recommended without hesitation. At the bottom I list the deadpool – formerly good podcasts that are now deceased or reincarnated.
Listen Up is the successor to the 1Up Yours Podcast. Oddly, the name was changed after 1UP.com was purchased by UGO Networks in January 2009, but the format and content is largely the same. It ‘airs’ Friday evenings. The show is still hosted by Garnett Lee, but most of the former cast (who make occasional guest appearances) have moved on to other things: Luke Smith – now with the Bungie podcast; Bryan Intihar -now with Insomniac Games; Dan ‘Shoe’ Hsu – now on permanent vacation; John Davison now at what they play; and Shane Bettenhausen, now Director of Business Development at Ignition Entertainment. Despite the constant cast changes, Garnet continues to provide an interesting set of revolving guests that consistently provide an entertaining and informative podcast week-in and week-out. My original 1Up Yours criticism still remains – the show is often too long and the interesting content (ie: the news) is usually held back to the the end. Not quite as good as it was when the old cast was there, but still the best video game podcast out there.
The CO-OP podcast (pictured above), continues on where the cancelled The 1Up Show left off. It shares the same cast and terrific production crew. It’s still my favorite video podcast. It provides a comprehensive set of visual video game previews and reviews. It also features interviews with industry luminaries and provides trade show coverage. If you want to watch a video game before purchase, this is the best place to do it. This video podcast comes in small and large sizes (3x the size) suitable for viewing on the iPhone/iTouch and AppleTV respectively.
I signed up for Google AdSense on April 4, 2008. It took several weeks to sort it out and to slowly integrate the ads into The Daleisphere and my two professional blogs. After some initial testing, I had them implemented by early June 2008.
Round about March 3, 2009 I cleared my first $100 in AdSense revenue! Whoo hoo! That’s $100 in 10 short months – roughly 30 cents per day.
No Text or RSS Ads at First
My biggest mistake, it seems, was to decide not to use the text-based Google Ads – like the ad you can now see at the top of this post (just under the Categories and Tags). I think blogs littered with AdSense text-ads look hideous. I wanted my ads to be presented tastefully. Hence, for the first 10 months I opted for image-only ads.
Note: My sites only became eligible for RSS Feedburner ads in January 2009. So no significant revenue came in from that source.
Next to my ongoing desire for a podcast delete function, the next-most glaring problem I have had with the iPhone and iPod Touch’s iPod playback functionality is its janky fast-forwarding and rewinding (also known as ‘scrubbing’).
The two most common scrubbing issues I have with my iPhone are when I want: (i) to skip back , say 10 seconds, to re-listen to something i missed – like I can with TiVo’s instant replay button; and (ii) to jump forward past podcast commercials – I can only listen to so many Audible ads on the Twit Network.
Scrubbing with the scroll wheel on iPods is a breeze. (See this ‘How to Scrub on Your iPod’ video, depicted in the picture on the right, for example.) You can easily jump back and forth to the exact desired spot within the song, podcast or video you are consuming by moving your thumb clockwise or counterclockwise on the scroll wheel as shown in the picture.
There is no scroll wheel on the iPhone or the iPod Touch. Instead, there is tiny round selector (see image above) on a small 1.25” horizontal scroll bar that you slide left and right to move around your media. This provides decent accuracy for short items such as a 3 minute song. For longer-form content, such as multi-hour podcasts and movies, the 1.25” scroll bar is too small to accurately select any given point of play. I personally consume long-form content the most. Such clumsy scrubbing has often left me 5 to 10 minutes away from the place I want to be.
The solution, variable speed scrubbing.
If you want to play those AAC songs you purchased in iTunes on another media player that doesn’t support AAC or if you need an MP3 version of an AAC song for other uses, such as with Animoto, fear not, its easy to convert an AAC song in iTunes to MP3 format.
Here’s how to do this on a PC:
- open iTunes
- click on the ‘Edit’ menu
- click ‘Preferences’
- click the ‘General’ tab
- click the ‘Import Settings’ button
- click ‘MP3 Encoder’ on the ‘Import Using’ pull-down menu
- Select the desired quality level on the ‘Setting’ pull-down menu
- click ‘OK’ twice to close both dialogue boxes
- select the AAC track you want to convert in the iTunes window
(you can click and convert more than one at a time if you wish)
- right-click on it;
- choose "Create MP3 version" from the popup menu.
Is the size of your iTunes music library starting to overwhelm your C: drive? Do you want to make your iTunes music library available to more than one PC over a network?
This post is about how to move all the files in your iTunes Music Library (including music, podcasts, videos, TV shows and audio books) from your PC’s drive to a network drive (or another drive on the same PC) while retaining both: (i) the integrity of the underlying file names and organization structures; and (ii) playlists, play counts, ratings etc.
This post is for the gear-head types like myself. Those that have spent time ‘under the hood’ organizing their music the way they want – naming the underlying files with names of their choice, organizing the files into directories of their choice, etc.
If you are like most people and let iTunes do its own thing (ie: let iTunes handle file naming and organization), this post is not for you. There are much easier ways to move your files if you let iTunes do this it’s way. See, for example, here, here and here.
First PMP – The Creative Nomad: My first portable music player was a 32 Meg (yes, Meg, not Gig) Creative Nomad. I organized my music at that time with Windows Media player (‘WMP’).
Dale’s Early Music Organization: Over the years, I spent an enormous amount of time and energy ripping songs from my CDs, keeping my underlying music library file names, file organization/directory structures and meta data pristine. All the files were contained under my C:\Files\MP3 hierarchy, making it very easy to back up my media from time to time by simply backing up that directory.
I recently read Brent Evans’ ZNF post on Vista Media Center’s (‘MC’) new MSNBC video on demand service. As with virtually every-other Internet-related video distribution announcement these days, I fully expected this service not to be available in Canada.
Here’s a typical message I get when I try to access this type of MC functionality from Canada:
Much to my surprise, as I was testing out the Xbox 360 media-extended piece of the latest MC upgrade (the upgrade got my MC working again for the first time in over a year), I saw the msnbc.com item (circled below) on the 360’s MC screen.
Fully expecting the usual ‘Not Available in Canada’ notice, I clicked on it anyway. To my surprise, however it worked.