Getting Giggity Wit It

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Getting Giggity Wit It

Postby Jonathan » Tue Jan 29, 2008 12:13 am

Or, How I Learned To Stop Paying For Cable And Love The Internet

Comcast shut off our service last Thursday because I canceled. We've had our 802.11g router running on the 7Mbit/s DSL line for a week with no major issues, so the timing was fine. I bought a TV antenna so we could watch Ugly Betty that night. After a solid thirty minutes of increasingly abstract interpretative dance with the rabbit ears, we finally found an antenna position which wasn't too objectionable. There was ghosting, but not a ton of ghosting. There was static, but not a ton of static. There were color issues, but not a ton of color issues. It was the worse-is-better solution of the 50s.

Then, on Friday, Amber tried making the streaming video on Fox.com and NBC.com really big. Really big. Like TV-sized big. It works great. We plugged her laptop into the TV, set the websites for fullscreen, and watched a ton of streaming TV over the internet.

I think I counted two instances where the buffer ran dry during approximately four hours of television viewing. There weren't any digital artifacts. One network shows two 30 second commercials during the commercial breaks, the other relies solely on banner ads and doesn't have commercial breaks. The quality is better than the quality Comcast was delivering, because Comcast mostly has the broadcast channels as analog so we experience ghosting in our house. Also, we get far more digital problems (artifacts/black screen) per hour with Comcast than with internet streaming.

There's basically three issues to resolve now. First, we need a couch-accessible interface. Getting up once or twice an hour to change the show might have been acceptable in the 50s, but nowadays we are a little bit wiser and lazier. I'm thinking a presentation-style wireless mouse with little joystick will do the trick.

Second, we need to get back perhaps 50-75 pixels on the edge of the TV show: black on the edges and OS X/Firefox on the top. I'm hoping Firefox or OS X has the mojo to make this happen.

Third, we probably need to invest in a dedicated box so Amber doesn't have to sacrifice her laptop to the god of television. My first thought is a hacked Apple TV so we can run Firefox. At $229 that's a tough price point to beat. Are there other options in that price range or cheaper?
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Postby Jason » Tue Jan 29, 2008 4:42 am

This isn't exactly the appletv price point, but for a little bit more you can get a mac mini. Geeks has a special: http://www.techbargains.com/news_displayItem.cfm/110666 that includes a wireless keyboard and mouse. The mac mini provides a very nice all-in-one since it also acts like a dvd player. I used to have a friend who had this setup with his hdtv a while back and it was great.

Also there are "other" ways of getting tv shows about two hours after they air. That works for any shows that aren't streaming.
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Postby Peijen » Tue Jan 29, 2008 5:44 pm

I have been doing this forever man.

couch-accessible interface: check out the wireless trackball keyboard I posted, George really likes it and I would've get one for myself if I have spare money right now.

Dont have suggestions for your other problems.

Jason, as far as none streamed tv shows and what not. How long does it take you to download the files? I tried the 720p movies and it's going to take about 10 days each.
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Postby Jason » Wed Jan 30, 2008 12:32 am

Peijen wrote:Jason, as far as none streamed tv shows and what not. How long does it take you to download the files? I tried the 720p movies and it's going to take about 10 days each.
It all depends on timing and popularity. I can usually get a 720p tv show in about an hour or so.
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Postby Jonathan » Wed Jan 30, 2008 1:06 am

I suppose a hacked XBox might do the trick. Are there any hacks for PS2s that turn them into what I want? Cuz I have a PS2.

If it's XBox vs. AppleTV, then it's a question of which soulless corporation I prefer sending my money to.
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Postby George » Wed Jan 30, 2008 2:12 am

I can get several episodes in a day. I'm too patient (lazy) to find a better source.

My tuner card software is once again screwed up, but I find I don't miss being able to watch stuff live at all.
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Postby Dave » Wed Jan 30, 2008 2:17 am

I use newsgroups still to download tv shows in (in don't even know what format) 720 typically. Of course I end up watching them mostly on my computer but that's because my tv sucks (32" 480). When I did use my old 1Ghz laptop to play stuff on the tv it would croak/stutt on higher bit-rate stuff.

You could always try weird services like

http://www.hulu.com/beta/arstechnica
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Postby Jason » Wed Jan 30, 2008 11:44 pm

Dwindlehop wrote:I suppose a hacked XBox might do the trick. Are there any hacks for PS2s that turn them into what I want? Cuz I have a PS2.

If it's XBox vs. AppleTV, then it's a question of which soulless corporation I prefer sending my money to.

The 360 could be an option. It can play content from a decent set of codecs from networked PCs. I haven't tried this in a while since I have an old box as a media center now.
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Postby Jonathan » Wed Jan 30, 2008 11:49 pm

You guys are missing the essential point which is streaming TV from the networks' websites is like Comcast On Demand, but free. You don't have to queue up your torrents/usenet transfers and then watch them several hours later.
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Postby Vyrosama » Thu Jan 31, 2008 1:56 am

my only experience with streaming TV was through NBC.com which wasn't bad since they usually had shows the day after it aired on TV. However, the quality wasn't the greatest (the video was too dark and player they used [probably some variant of flash player] had no way to adjust brightness =( ) and if you can stand the same freakin' commercial looping over and over again during breaks it's ok. For me I'd rather wait till a season is done, get the whole thing and watch it in mini marathons...unless you just gotta find out what happens next!
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Postby George » Fri Feb 01, 2008 12:41 am

I tried Fox yesterday, but it apparently doesn't like Firefox+NoScript. I gave permission to every host that asked, but got nothing for my trouble.
I feel like I just beat a kitten to death... with a bag of puppies.
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