[ExI] My animation is going to be on the History Channel this Thursday!

Emlyn emlynoregan at gmail.com
Mon Aug 18 01:06:33 UTC 2008

2008/8/17 MB <mbb386 at main.nc.us>:
> Hooray for our Nanogirl! :)  Now you make me wish I had a TV..   ;)

On a tangent, a quick rant about TV...

There's *so* much online video to watch these days (Youtube is just
the start...), but it has this problem that you watch this stuff on a
PC. Sitting at your desk is no place to watch a movie, and even a
laptop makes it a fairly solitary experience (two people can watch on
a laptop, after that it gets hard), plus the screen is small and the
sound is poor. You really want to be able to watch a lot of stuff in
your living room, on the big screen.

Along these lines, I recently got rid of my old CRT TV, and put an old
PC in the livingroom. It's an Athlon 2000, 500 mb ram, circa 2001
vintage? It was one of my kid's machines, but too long in the tooth
for kid's stuff (games need good equipment). The point is, it's old
and crappy, but does this job remarkably well.

The machine is already on the wireless lan, but I added in a TV card
for digital TV (actually it's a usb based device, not an internal
card, can't recommend that enough). I'm in Australia so I had to get
something suitable for Aussie digital TV, which uses an obscure and
poorly supported standard (dvb-t), but you can still get something
economical. Just for completeness, the actual piece of hardware is the
USB TinyTwin from DigitalNow, a tiny aussie company. Nice hardware,
decent viewing software and drivers, but interoperating with other
stuff is a pain in the butt, and the doco is dreadful but
non-existant, much as you'd expect from that kind of company. It's
here: http://www.digitalnow.com.au/product_pages/TinyTwin.html . Cost
me about $130.

The TinyTwin plugged straight into my old antenna cable, no antenna
mods required, and gives far better reception. Digital TV is great.

So, that replaced our TV, with the addition that we now get the HD
free to air channels. Lovely. And I can record TV for the first time
in years. But wait, there's more...

We can now watch youtube on the "tv" just by pulling up a browser. The
machine is running straight XP, and it's now got a wireless mouse and
keyboard (cost maybe $30?), but even with large fonts the machine can
be a pain in the butt to operate; I have to go up close with the mouse
and keyb so I can see properly. I can live with that for now though.

The machine also runs Azureus, for bittorrent. Essential.  'Nuff said.
Although I think Miro might be able to do its job, must investigate...

Which brings me to Miro. http://www.getmiro.com/ . About 5000 channels
of free content. It's what community tv always needed. Most channels
are ridiculous, but there's some excellent stuff there; check out Free
Culture TV (a bit brown bread but ok), or for excellence, Citizen
Engineer (which to be fair is also on their own site
http://www.citizenengineer.com/ or youtube). Hardware hacking as a tv
show, really fabulous stuff. Anyway, the nice thing about Miro is that
it's like a video podcast model, but uses (modified?) bittorrent for
distribution, which means waiting for downloads, but some decent video

Another recent discovery for me was http://www.hulu.com/, lots of
major network US tv shows. You can't watch it if you don't have a US
ip address unfortunately. On a totally unrelated note, however, has
anyone seen Hotspot Shield? It's a free vpn that encrypts your traffic
up to the point where it comes out of their servers. It's meant for
protecting you in open wireless hotspots, but can be useful for other
things. Sounds complicated, but it's easy; on windows, you just
install it, run it, and then say "connect" when you want to use it,
and voila. It does have the side effect of giving you a US ip address,
for what that's worth. Did I forget to mention that it's free, and
that I can't notice any performance impact on streaming video?

And there's the Aussie government broadcaster ABC, with its online
service "iView", here: http://www.abc.net.au/tv/iview/. No ip address
checks, good programming.

And all this is without mentioning dodgy Chinese based sites that show
all kinds of awesome shows directly in the browser, because there's no
way good law abiding extros would use those.

There's more every day. I can't imagine that I'll ever subscribe to
pay tv with the amount of interesting stuff that's online now, and the
free to air broadcast tv becomes increasingly less attractive. I don't
rent DVDs any more either, and I tried Quickflix (aussie clone of
Netflix), but dumped it; removable media is so last week people.

So for peanuts, I have this multimedia extravaganza in the living
room, and I increasingly can't remember what was good about broadcast



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