Streaming soon: AppleTV+


Click to runDailyMotion

We cut the cable cord [well, satellite box cord] a couple of years ago. AppleTV had been a consistent, productive adjunctive device providing some of my favorite movies – and 4K was coming. We’ve experimented with a couple of streaming services, now, and I don’t mind admitting that to date cost is prime. Yes, “Prime” is another important word in our extended household.

Quality delivered for a certain cost is more important than quality alone. Our wee compound is entirely populated by retirees. Politicians who would screw over social security or Medicare or Obamacare should only dare enter our driveway in an armored vehicle. Budgets for retirees always end up being a life-or-death discussion.

Right now, AppleTV is primarily a delivery system. Damned good, for example – when we actually catch a live 4K feed of, say, a Euro or British football match. Exceptional, satisfying, mind-grabbing when it’s episode after episode of a murder mystery with Detective Bosch stalking the villain. Yeah, the commercials are right.

We’ll decide about AppleTV+ — the streaming service — after we try it. Storytelling will play as big a part as cost, no doubt. But, the storytelling is how it always starts. A great deal on crap television is not what we’re looking for.

Richard Dawkins & Neil deGrasse Tyson in a dialogue about alien life

I’ve been fortunate over a number of segments in my life to witness – even take a small part in – conversations like this. Not in front of an audience. Not as part of a public dialogue; but, in the context of what historically has been called a “salon”.

A long time ago, in a galaxy far away. Well, New England, actually. Where the talent pool for discussions like this is more accessible than most of the country.

Thanks, Mike

Oppose net neutrality? Here comes the Comcast toll booth!

Comcast has begun imposing a fee on Internet middleman Level 3 Communications, one of the companies that Netflix has hired to deliver movies and TV shows to Web customers.

Comcast, the largest U.S. cable TV company, has set up an Internet “toll booth,” charging Level 3 whenever customers request content, the Broomfield, Colorado-based company said in a statement yesterday.

Level 3 plans to complain to U.S. regulators who may enact so-called net-neutrality rules next month. The Federal Communications Commission is seeking to bar phone and cable providers from interfering with legal traffic on their networks. The rules are backed by President Barack Obama and companies led by Google, EBay and IAC/InterActiveCorp. Phone and cable companies say rules aren’t needed and may hurt investment.

“This action by Comcast threatens the open Internet and is a clear abuse of the dominant control that Comcast exerts in broadband access,” Thomas Stortz, Level 3’s chief legal officer, said in the statement. “With this action, Comcast is preventing competing content from ever being delivered to Comcast’s subscribers at all, unless Comcast’s unilaterally determined toll is paid.”

Comcast, which is seeking regulatory approval to acquire majority ownership of NBC Universal, defended the fee in a statement, saying it is based on “long established and mutually acceptable commercial arrangements” with Level 3’s peers…

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, in proposing net neutrality rules last year, called for a principle of non- discrimination by Internet-service providers. The FCC will meet on Dec. 21.

This means they cannot block or degrade lawful traffic over their networks,” Genachowski said.

And, btw, putting a surcharge, a toll on your traffic is the same as blocking traffic. If you don’t pay the toll, your traffic doesn’t go through – or Comcast will slow it down enough to make it unwatchable.

Throughout most of the United States, Comcast has been working their semi-competent buns off installing throttling mechanisms. They told everyone – including the Feds – this was to protect consumers from the exorbitant demands of nerds and illegal downloads. Shock and amazement! It’s just of an accident of nature that it can be used as a weapon to extract tolls from companies using the Web for business purposes.

Grayheads watch more TV than younger people – enjoy it less


ESPN plans on the World Cup starting the spin for 3D TV

We usually scold our children and teenagers for watching too much TV. It turns out that their grandmas and grandpas spend even more of their time watching TV, and it is not good for them either, according to researchers…

In a study published online in advance of publication…UCSD researchers examined television use in a large, nationally representative sample that was collected by the Center for Health and Well Being at Princeton University. Using an innovative, diary-like assessment strategy called the Day Reconstruction Method, study participants were asked to measure how they spent their time and describe their experience of everyday activities.

“We found that older people spent a great deal more time watching TV than younger people did, yet they enjoyed the experience less,” said first author Colin A. Depp, PhD…“What the study underscored is that alternatives to television as entertainment are needed, especially in older adults…”

The authors were surprised to find that older adults experienced TV watching as less enjoyable than younger people. “It is reasonable to expect that older adults may enjoy TV more than younger ones do, because they have fewer demands on their time. Prior studies also suggest they may use TV to regulate negative emotions,” said co-author Dilip V, Jeste, MD…

“Yet, our study indicates that older adults report lower levels of positive emotion while watching TV when compared to other activities – which is not the case in younger adults.”

The researchers concluded that increasing public awareness of alternatives to TV watching and reducing barriers to alternative activities that are more socially and physically engaging could reduce TV use in older people and diminish the potential for associated negative health effects.

I fit the profile for more TV watching since I retired. The extra is sports and movies.

Accessibility to movies has increased with the addition of high definition quality. My favorite sport – proper football – has three channels dedicated to the task on DirecTV with ESPN adding more every season.

I think I balance much of the viewing time with dedicated walking, tightly scheduled exercise. I try.

My first reaction to the article only concerned the paucity of content for a proper news junkie like me. Since CNN disappeared into the maw of Time-Warner, there is damned little of interest or accuracy or need to watch TV news. DirecTV and their peers still lack the courage to open viewership to worldly sources like BBC World or AlJazeera English.

Do I enjoy it less? Well, it pisses me off more. The content that is.

File sharing – French politicians just don’t get it


Their minds are already made up!
Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

It was the French equivalent of former U.S. Senator Ted Stevens’ description of the Internet as “a series of tubes,” which made him the subject of endless mockery on the Web.

In a video shot for an online news site, French legislators were asked whether they were familiar with peer-to-peer file-sharing technology. “No,” one lawmaker responded, rolling his eyes. “I speak French. Excuse me.”

While France has often prided itself on its contrarian approach to information technology — remember the Minitel? — the response summed up the ham-handedness of the latest digital initiative by the French government. The video appeared this spring, at the height of debate about a plan by President Nicolas Sarkozy to set up a government agency to disconnect persistent copyright pirates from the Internet.

The proposal, approved by Parliament last month after an earlier setback, was shot down last week by the country’s highest judicial review body, the Constitutional Council, which ruled that it violated constitutional guarantees of free speech and the presumption of innocence. Only a court of law is entitled to sever Internet connections, the council ruled…

The European Parliament has consistently maintained that Internet access is a fundamental right, at a time when communications, commerce and culture are shifting into the digital realm…

What all this shows, if more evidence was needed, is that an anti-piracy strategy based largely on enforcement is bound to fail.

In the United States, the recording industry has backed away from a legal campaign against file-sharers, realizing that suing its biggest fans is not a great marketing strategy.

Now, we just need someone to explain to Congress what the MPAA and RIAA are gradually beginning to get a glimmer about.

You don’t expect any of our elected officials to be courageous enough to learn something on their own – when there’s always a lobbyist around to ‘splain it to them?

AMA Alliance wants R rating for every single film with smoking


Young movie addict

Smoking in youth-rated movies has not declined despite a pledge two years ago by Hollywood studios to encourage producers to show less “gratuitous smoking,” according to an anti-smoking group.

The American Medical Association Alliance has been trying to get movie studios to make smoking-free films.

The American Medical Association Alliance, pointing to research that big-screen smoking leads teens to pick up the tobacco habit, called for an R rating for any movie with smoking scenes….

“Research has shown that one-third to one-half of all young smokers in the United States can be attributed to smoking these youth see in movies,” said Dr. Jonathan Fielding, head of the Los Angeles County Public Health Department.

Fielding cited another study that he said “found that adolescents whose favorite movie stars smoked on screen are significantly more likely to be smokers themselves and to have a more accepting attitude toward smoking”….

Joan Graves, who chairs the Motion Picture Association’s movie rating committee, offered her own statistics, based on all of the 900 films rated each year, not just the top movies included in Fielding’s numbers.

The association has given no G ratings in the past two years to a movie with smoking, Graves said….

“Any movie with smoking should be rated R,” [Fielding] said. “And if they worry about an R rating hurting their profits, then they should work with studios to remove smoking from films that hurt youth.”

I have a feeling that I could go to lunch with members of the AMA Alliance and the Motion Picture Association and walk away not liking any of them.

Can’t we find some clerical jobs for these guys or something?

Mike Myers, Paris Hilton big ‘winners’ at Razzies

It was a night for neon pink bow ties and words like “disaster” and “monstrosity.” It was not the night, however, to be Paris Hilton, Mike Myers or Uwe Boll.

“It wasn’t just the economy that tanked, so did the qualities of the movies being offered,” Razzie founder John Wilson told CNN several weeks before the show. “I would suggest putting away all sharp [instruments] before putting the DVDs in your machine.”

Paris Hilton and Mike Myers came out on top — or bottom — for the awards. Hilton earned both the worst actress and worst supporting actress awards for her roles in “Hottie & the Nottie” and “Repo: The Genetic Opera.” She was also awarded worst screen couple for her on-screen time with her co-stars Christine Lakin and Joel David Moore.

Hilton’s film had a budget of $2 million but only earned about $27,000 at the box office…

Myers added worst actor to the “Love Guru” worst picture and worst screenplay Razzies.

But perhaps the biggest “winner” of the night was Uwe Boll. Recipient of the worst director award, the foundation also recognized his lifetime work with the worst career achievement award. Boll is the “worst living director on Earth,” Wilson told CNN.

Even at no extra charge on satellite TV, I must admit I’ve never seen any of these. Phew!