Sunday, June 3, 2007

The Internet is My DVR

I first coined this phrase around a month or two ago. I was having a conversation with someone who had bought an AppleTV and while it struck me that he ascribed a lot of things to the AppleTV that were not actually because of the AppleTV, we had similar thinking.

What the AppleTV is, is a media extender. It’s a media extender specifically designed to work with ITunes and that’s what it is. Period. Through a lot of back and forth discussion on this finally I thought despite the discussion, we were really in the exact same place. The thing we wanted was for the Internet itself to be our DVR.

But either people, including billionaires are stealing the phrase I coined or, you know, it just makes so much sense that of course that’s what everyone wants and anyone who thinks about it for even a second will conclude, “Yeah, I do want the Internet to be my DVR.”

For all practical purposes, the Internet is already my DVR, oh I have Tivos and Media Centers and all that recording stuff constantly, but the Internet is mostly my DVR already. It works in a couple of ways:

1. If my goal is to get recorded content into my iPod, it’s faster for me to download a torrent of the program from the internet in MP4 format than it is to take the exact same program off my Tivo or Media Center, convert it to MP4 and then put it on my iPod. Plus, the Internet version is already stripped of commercials
2. Through these sites I do see programs of interest sorting based on # of downloads. For example, I saw that the Larry King episode with the cast of Heroes on it was a top download…and that was something I wanted to watch.

Larry King is against my religion not because he throws softballs to celebrities, but because he’s a fraud. Going back 25 years when he was on the radio he used to tell all these stories about growing up in Brooklyn. One involved a tale with Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodger Hall-of-Famer, Sandy Koufax. When asked about this story years letter in an article in the Washington Post Magazine (that comes with the Sunday paper) Koufax denied EVER knowing Larry King. I love Sandy Koufax, and I loved the Larry King story about him (it was a bet about Carvel ice cream and how much you could get 2 scoops for in the 50s), but when the story proved to be a fraud, Larry was on the outs with me. I have a rule and the rule is if I know you’re totally on-board with being a fraud, I don’t want to get any of my information disseminated from you.

However, I love Heroes and loved this episode of Larry King on CNN. I was glad to find it, download it AND watch it. I wouldn’t have if the Internet wasn’t already my DVR.

Now I know what some of you are thinking: Aren’t torrents illegal? That is not a question for me to opine on. The question I will opine on is this: do I have a right to use media I have already paid for, for my personal use in any fashion I choose FOR MY PERSONAL use?

Answer: Duh!

Do I worry about the Feds knocking on my door? I hope they knock on my door. I’ll hand them the harddrives and make a name for myself by taking down a completely stupid premise. I mean jailing me for wanting to use media I paid for in any way I choose would be ANTI capitalistic.

Why? Well, for one, I’m already into Comcast to the tune of about $2400 a year for the media, and this doesn’t include ppv, DVD’s purchased or rented, the hundreds of dollars a year I spend on Videogames, the $22/mo. I pay to Blockbuster to be able to rent videogames, the subscription costs for Tivo, etc.

Excluding hardware, my media spend for my personal consumption is probably $5000 a year. I think this makes me an exemplary citizen in the capitalistic system that values people buying media.

If you add in the hardware costs (iPods, media centers, tivos, -- and hey, let’s not forget the plasma screen and the big ass tv and the XBOX 360, and the PS3 and the Wii, etc).

My annual media spend is HUGE. Now, if someone wants to throw me in jail because I found it easier to just download Heroes off the Internet rather than convert the version of it on my Media Center PC…I say let them. I mean if the system wants to put me in jail and take the thousands of dollars a year I spend on media off the table just to make a very self-destructive example, I’m fine with it. It’s exactly the self-destructive kind of behavior (cutting off your nose to spite your face) I love to make an example of and I’d figure out how to use that jail time to make a mockery of these dopes.

Every show is NOT fed into the Internet download population, among them 2 of my favorite shows – the shows I watch the most. ESPN’s “Around the Horn” and “Pardon the Interruption”. Fortunately in the case of PTI, they at least have the audio as a Podcast as is Mr.Tony’s radio show back in Washington, DC. But the video for these shows does not flow into the download library in the way that shows like “The Daily Show” do.

I have a DVR to always have these shows, but there is no easy and quick way to just dump them to my iPod yet – and services that ultimately have the digital equivalent of ON DEMAND for everything, in any format, will be what we pay for. Would I go another $100 a month to Comcast for this service? NO. But another $10-$20? Yep! Believe me when Comcast thinks there are enough people like me to make that interesting, they will.

I’m certainly ahead of the curve and probably by several years on the “I want my media wherever and however I want it” that results in “The Internet is My DVR.”

I basically have already achieved this through media centers, tivos, Sony Location Free Players, the ability to remote broadcast crap of my PS3 to my PSP (location free player does this too) but I have achieved it through great expense and hardware hacks, and it’s still rather clunky as hell Though I do note that recently my ORB server ran uninterrupted with fairly high usage (by me) for over 10 days straight. I know, I know, you can’t believe I didn’t have to reboot my Windows machine for over a week. But it’s true!

The Internet IS my DVR. Someday it will be yours too. And when that happens it will be both CHEAPER (by a LOT) and BETTER (by more than just a little) than what I have today.

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