Tag Archives: Netflix

The Old Ways are the Best Ways

I just want to watch a little TV at the end of my day. Why must it be so hard?

OldManYellsAtCloud2

See if any of these stories sound familiar:

  • The Netflix app on both the Wii and the Wii U “gums up” (for lack of a better term), after a while and needs to be uninstalled and reinstalled to be watchable.
  • After futzing with trying to get John Oliver to stream on the Fire TV stick, I plug in my computer which works, but only after I stop streaming in Opera and use Chrome instead. Ironically, the quality is much better than even when the FireTV is working.
  • I increased my download speed, which I’ve tested, yet shows seem to stream worse. Why don’t shows let me set the quality rate instead of trying to calculate what they think is best? They are almost always wrong!
  • A show on Netflix becomes randomly unplayable two minutes from the end and will not reload even after you reboot all your hardware.
  • A video on YouTube is easy to find on a computer, and impossible to find in an app.
  • I try to use my Roku and the TuneIn radio app to listen to the 24/7 stream of This American Life, only for it to stutter and fail after five minutes.
  • Both my Roku and FireTV stick are hot and can only be turned off by unplugging them which causes a really slow boot the next go around.
  • Hulu shows me that damn Windows 10 commercial for the 100th time. I am not going to raise my children to “lick the internet”. It’s just an OS, get over yourself! Also some weird girl who likes “orange crem” yogurt.

That last one might just be me.

I love the convenience of being able to pick any episode of Star Trek and watch it without having to pull out my DVD’s, and I’m kind of bummed the same service doesn’t exist for Babylon 5. My wife and I started watching MASH because it came on Netflix, even though I also own all the episodes on DVD. And I’m glad I still have those disks because there have been several nights where I’ve had to use them instead when Netflix was being a butt.

I have yet to find a dedicated streaming device that is the equal of even a rudimentary laptop. And none of them compare to actually having the physical media. For all our cord cutting, we still aren’t getting the same reliability we used to get for free over the air, or for an exorbitant fee over the wire, or for a mid fee for a spinning disc. Don’t get me wrong, whenever I go back to over the air I’m shocked by the quality dip. But at least I can watch. I like solving computer problems for fun, but not network issues. That kind of stuff just needs to work, or I get cranky.

Advertisements

3 Comments

Filed under Trube On Tech

On Binge Watching and Original Programming

It’s been a font of riches the last couple of weekends in the Trube household. Last weekend we finally tried Chris O’Dowd’s original series Moone Boy about a middle school age kid growing up in Ireland in the late 80’s and early 90’s, and his imaginary friend (played by O’Dowd). This weekend it was The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt about a girl who was trapped underground for 15 years by a doomsday cult and tries to remake her life in New York City (from Tina Fey and other minds behind 30 Rock). Both of these shows had me screaming at Hulu and Netflix respectively for more seasons.

Both comedies are very bizarre, both in their original premise and in their selection of stories. Moone Boy, with the imaginary friend, is probably the more grounded of the two. I was younger than the main character at the time of the series, but it still brings back a lot of nostalgia for the old technology, hair dos, and goings on (even if I know incredibly little about Ireland from this period). O’Dowd often plays with the premise that everything the imaginary friend says is really coming from the kid so he is often encouraging of the most daft ideas, while maintaining a Hobbes-like skepticism. There’s a lot here that plays like Calvin and Hobbes, including gags showing the kid talking to no-one, lifting his imaginary friend up in a dance move, but we’re not left with the sense that none of that experience is real.

The family dynamic also makes this show. The bit with the fathers admitting how much they can’t stand their kids in the first episode is hilarious particularly the fishing bit. The mother and father relish watching some of the drama of their eldest daughter, until the drama goes a little over the line. And some of the one-liners from the middle daughters forced us to pause the episodes.

Kimmy Schmidt feels like another incarnation of 30 Rock, with some of the crazy energy of those best early seasons. You definitely can see a lot of Liz Lemon attitudes coming out of Kimmy, though Ellie Kemper adds her own ridiculously positive, yet strong energy to the roll. This show does have some of the rough edges that streaming shows tend to have, but mostly in a good way. The auto-tuned beginning alone lets you know this is going to be fun. Casting is spot on, particularly the roll of the crazed preacher who kept the girls underground for all those years. My wife correctly pointed out that the landlady of the building where Kimmy Schmidt lives is Billy Crystal’s wife from The Princess Bride (a reference that would have taken me ages to get despite seeing that movie at least 25 times).

It was a little weird seeing Tina in a role in the show after investing so much in Kimmie in the early episodes. I’m almost wondering if it would have been a better choice to stay out of the way. I love Fey’s ability to create a farce, but when it’s unmoderated it can lose some of its heart. The trial episodes in particular are a mix of the best and worst qualities of 30 Rock, but overall I am demanding another season right now.

And Krakowski is doing some great work in this as well, taking a Jenna Maroney-like character but making her a slightly insecure second wife. At first it plays very much the same note, except maybe tilted 15 degrees to the right, but as we learn more of her back-story and insecurities she’s much more sympathetic and a good friend to Kimmie. I’m leaving out Titus Burgess, but I think he speaks for himself.

If you have either or both of these streaming services, you owe it to yourself to give both these shows a try. I have a feeling many of you will be hooked by the first episode.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Why Books Are Losing

I am no big fan of DRM*

When I buy an MP3 from Amazon, I can transfer it to another computer, my Kindle, an MP3 player or Burn a CD all by just copying the file from one place to another. I don’t have to re-download it, or even be connected to the internet.

Not so for most eBooks. A book I own from Amazon may be able to be read on applications like Kindle for PC, Kindle Cloud Reader, my Kindle Touch, Fire, or even my Android tablet. But the book downloaded to each device is different, and only works on that device. I can’t download a book to my PC and then copy it to my Touch.

That’s DRM for you.

Peter Brantley, blogging for Publisher’s Weekly, goes one further. In a nutshell he compares the existing movie and TV distribution networks, that started with a narrow win for VHS as a legal format, and ends with services like Netflix or Amazon Video to the current eBook distribution model. Furthermore, he makes the case that time spent watching TV or movies is time spent NOT reading books and that if publishers want to increase their revenue streams the same way the film industry has, they need to think about the next “Netflix for Books” or something.

For me anyway books lose to TV sometimes not because of the inconveniences and restrictions of getting them, but because they fail the most American of goals, multi-tasking.

I don’t JUST watch TV. I’m not a part of the generation who tweets about a show while I’m watching, but I am the kind who has a netbook out, or even just a drawer to organize, something to do besides watching TV. This is a value I think I got from my Mom, who certainly likes some shows, but generally is looking for something to do while watching them.

Reading is like watching Anime for me. I used to watch a lot more Anime in college, when (I felt) I had time for simply watching something, because watching sub-titled anime involves a lot of reading, and a lot less time for multi-tasking. Audiobooks, or having my Touch read to me, allows for some multi-tasking, but generally I miss things unless the task I’m doing is pretty mundane. I can’t listen to non-fiction books, for instance, unless all I’m doing is either driving, or drawing images for work. Fiction’s a little easier to multi-task to, but I still feel like I’m missing something.

I think it’s this more than access that’s doing publishers a disservice and I’m not as sure how to fix it. From a technical view, video may be more available but it is not easier from a DRM perspective. Video DRM is very restrictive, often to the point of being tied to a certain device (which for anyone who’s owned a laptop longer than a few years can be a dicey prospect). And I have great access to free eBooks services from my library, tons of mysteries and non-fiction books to keep me entertained and enlightened without spending a penny.

It’s not access, but time that needs to change. One of the joys of being sick (one of the few anyway), was to have some unfettered time to read. But the truth is, I can make that time if I really want to. Not that I don’t think publishers should innovate, and be a little less paranoid with the DRM. I just don’t think it’s the reason we’re watching more TV.

TV is easier, and it doesn’t demand much from us, most of the time anyway. That’s why we like it.

*Digital Rights Management or how publishers attempt to prevent eBooks or other materials from being pirated, and keep them tethered to a single device or vendor

3 Comments

Filed under Books + Publishing

Late to the party

I just started the eighth Amelia Peabody mystery two days ago.

Actually, I restarted it five years after I started it the first time. I’ve been borrowing it from my Mom all that time, but since Elizabeth Peter’s books are only about 6-7 dollars for the Kindle I picked it up for that and have been moving along at a merry pace. The series is now over, or at least has reached as far into the forward chronology as it’s going to, and it’s nice to know I’ll have another eleven books to read after I finish this one.

I never keep current with anything that is currently airing, or releasing or whatever. My one kind of exception to this is John Scalzi’s “The Human Division”, but I’m already a week behind so I better catch up. But more specifically I’m talking about TV I like.

Here’s how it tends to work for me, either I watch some of the show, determine I like it, and then wait for the DVD or Netflix to watch the rest, or I think maybe I’d like it, file it away, and watch it years later, often when it’s over.

I’d like to say it’s because I don’t have time for all that TV, and that is part of it. Even with a DVR, there are a lot of forces that want you to keep your appointment with TV, whether it’s filling DVR drives, or wanting to watch the episode you just saw a preview for and realizing you’ve got ten more before you can get there. But I do watch a lot of TV shows, on Netflix or on DVD.

I recently discovered Chuck. Chuck‘s right in my wheel-house, both in terms of the humor (particularly Adam Baldwin from Firefly), and that’s a show that probably could’ve used my help when it was airing (it had to be sponsored by Subway in its third season). I knew it was airing, I just never followed it. But now I can shotgun whole seasons, and know the size of my investment (5 seasons).

Same goes for Fringe (which I’ll probably watch in a year or two), Castle (which I followed for a couple of seasons and then gave up hope), How I Met Your Mother (which we discovered while season 6 was airing, I tend to like to watch the new episodes in “six-packs” so you can see more of the connections), The Big Bang Theory (don’t tell me anything).

Ironically it’s been NBC comedy that’s been the best at keeping my loyalty (Parks and Recreation, 30 Rock’s last season, and Go On (okay I want Matthew Perry to succeed like the rest of you), though Up All Night lost me when they got rid of Maya Rudolph’s show and changed the formatting.

As for books I might finally read the first Wheel of Time now that I know that mess is over. It’s nice to be able to blaze through, without having to wait for cliff-hangers or long spells between books or not knowing how many 1000 page tomes you’ll have to sift through. Sure you risk spoilers, and you don’t have the same experience as everyone else, but good writing and good TV will stand up to both those tests.

What do you follow currently, and what are you putting off for later?

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized