Archives For Web


Since I’ve pretty much had my say, finding no value in one-dimensional television-based tweeting, I’ll just leave you with a few pics from the Xbox Live Preview that landed on my 360 today. Despite my negativity (or maybe it’s only apathy), I will add that the Facebook and Twitter visuals are quite nice.

Cash Register on White with Clipping Path

The interwebs are abuzz (OMG!) with Hulu’s confirmed exploration of paid tiers and pay-per-view, in addition to the current ad-supported video content model. News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch, as quoted by the Associated Press:

Are we looking at it with a view of adding subscription services in there and pay-per-view movies? Yes, we are looking at that.

However, a company spokesperson acknowledges that free video supported by advertising does “resonate most” with viewers, so I doubt we’ll see it go away. Having said that, I have very little use for the current incarnation of Hulu. It’s content library still exhibits the “random crap syndrome” – which I had hoped would be cured when Hulu exited from beta. Didn’t happen. Still hasn’t happened. Shows come and go. Good luck finding an entire season/series. (ALF doesn’t count.) And then there’s the restrictive playback policies. No PS3 for you. Screw you too, Boxee. I appreciate the Internet as my video transport mechanism, but I prefer to watch television… on television.

So bring on the pay services, I say. I’m an adult with an adult salary and limited free time. Offer me something worthwhile at a not-outrageous fee, and I’ll pay for premium content and the convenience of quality aggregation. Should Hulu manage to provide it.


I’ve recently spent time with a loaner Pogoplug ($99), a device I first encountered pre-release at CES. Combined with your own USB storage (stick or drive), Pogoplug places your content on the ‘net for local or remote access. I was astounded by the ease of setup, compared with say the network gymnastics (port forwarding) often required to punch a Slingbox feed through one’s home router. Files can be accessed via browser, local drive, or iPhone app. Additionally, files or entire directories can be selectively shared with friends or family. And new file uploads can automatically be tweeted. (But why?) However, to fulfill my personal cloud vision, I’d like to see less reliance on the mother ship. I’m also a bit surprised Pogoplug doesn’t offer more NAS-based services given its in-home location. The good news is that, with a little hackery, the Pogoplug can be modded to stream iTunes – and I hope to see more of this going forward, whether community developed or provided directly by Cloud Engines. If you’re thinking of joining in, I suggest looking at Seagate’s more practical hardware implementation of the Pogoplug experience.

Click to enlarge:

Given recent changes in the various environments I find myself and an imminent computing hardware realignment, I’ve begun leaning more heavily on the cloud. I’m possibly giving up some security and privacy in exchange for convenience. First, I’ve reactivated Xmarks (formerly Foxmarks) to keep my bookmarks in sync across various platforms and browsers. I’m now also following in Dale’s footsteps by using Evernote to write and clip all sorts of content which can be accessed just about anywhere. And when NetNewsWire recently dropped their RSS feed sync service, I took the opportunity to move back onto Google Reader – I wish there was more visual contrast between read/unread items and I’m still awaiting Snow Leopard Gears support, but the iPhone web implementation is outstanding. Speaking of Google, I expect to lean more heavily on Google Docs to keep documents accessible (and editable, obviously). For larger files, while I’ve minimally accessed their service over the last year, I expect Dropbox will see more usage from me. However, as a former subscriber of MobileMe, SugarSync, Mozy, and others, it’s safe to say all of this is subject to change as service offerings and my needs evolve. And I haven’t entirely given up on Windows Home Server as a comprehensive solution. Give it headless Media Center capabilities, and I’ll revisit WHS in a heartbeat.

NewTeeVee took a look at Microsoft’s upcoming Xbox 360 (Live) Facebook and Twitter apps. And weren’t quite sold on the experience.

[…] implementing social TV is harder than we thought. My first impression was that socializing felt disconnected from the Xbox experience. This could just be my bias since I primarily use Xbox as gaming platform, but there isn’t much overlap between my friend interaction and my playing.

The question I posed in August (Do you want Twitter on your TV?) is irrelevant at this point. Social networking functionality is most definitely creeping into our living room devices. However, beyond the ‘novelty’ factor, Twitter TV has limited value in its current form. What we need is more sophisticated integration. Both on the source device and in how/what we share. But don’t let the current state of affairs stop you from hitting up the Xbox Live Preview program.

Waiting on the Widgets

Dave Zatz —  October 9, 2009

The highlight of CES 2009 for me back in January was the unveiling of Yahoo’s Internet TV widget platform. Given so many partner announcements (Intel, Samsung, Vizio, Sony, LG) and demos, I was hopeful we’d see a glut of Yahoo Connected TV products, including HDTVs and set-top boxes, by mid-year. Yet Yahoo’s Linux-based SDK hasn’t even hit v1.0 with fewer than three months left in the year. And the widgets that have been deployed are fairly basic. Internet-sourced info is a good start, but where’s the high definition Netflix and Showtime streaming video? The concept is sound, and inevitable at this point, but can we speed things up a bit? I’m looking at you Vizio, with that QWERTY remote. (See DirecTV and Verizon’s FiOS TV for different variations on widgetized television experience.)


A periodic roundup of relevant news… from our friends at Last100:

Adobe Flash seen running on Palm Pre – Netbooks, MIDs, and other smartphones
Adobe was already known to be working with smartphone platforms from Palm (WebOS), Nokia (Symbian) and Microsoft (Windows Mobile), along with a raft of content providers, chip makers and consumer electronics companies. The company has added Google and Research In Motion, with relation to Android and Blackberry-powered smartphones respectively, leaving Apple’s iPhone as the odd one out regarding planned support for full Flash.

Opera wants to put Internet widgets on the TV too
Opera, the Norwegian company behind the desktop and mobile web browser of the same name, wants to be a major player in the nascent Internet-connected TV space. Like Yahoo’s ‘Widget Channel’ or the boutique gadget maker Chumby’s own platform, Opera’s newly released Opera Devices SDK 10 is touting the ability for TV and set-top box manufacturers to add Internet widgets to their feature set, along with full web-browsing if required.

Social networking impressions of the HTC Hero
Having lived with the Hero for over a week, it’s easily the most social networking savvy smartphone I’ve tested, going far deeper than the efforts of most, if not all, of its competitors. For example, while the iPhone has by far the best standalone Facebook app – it’s just that. Standalone. Whereas the Hero takes a people centric approach.

BBC iPlayer on PS3 gets a makeover, higher quality video and 1080p UI
The version of BBC iPlayer optimized for the PlayStation 3 has been given a major update that delivers improved video quality and a User Interface designed for High Definition televisions that operate up to 1080p.

Mari and I have been following the Verizon Hub, from its pre-release iterations through the product that ultimately shipped in February of this year. And I’m sad to say that Verizon has decided to pull the plug. The Hub was designed to be both an Internet-connected widget station and serve as the household VoIP hub with a bit of PIM functionality thrown in to sweeten the deal. It probably wasn’t the meh resistive touch screen that did it in but, rather and as I predicted, a failure of marketing and pricing. Requiring the Hub to be purchased solely via Verizon Wireless at $200 plus $35/month with a two year contract is pretty steep barrier to entry when introducing a new product category to the mainstream.

I only know one person who picked up the Hub and it was fascinating to observe his initial excitement morph into disgust after experiencing months of issues – some technical, but most related to his account, billing, and phone number. So Verizon’s staff may not have been fully trained in supporting this device. (He ultimately managed to unwind it all and ended up back on Verizon’s typical VoIP service using his own handsets.) While the Hub is no longer being sold and has been scrubbed from Verizon’s web site, a PR rep informed me today that existing customers and contracts will be honored.

I do think there’s room on many of our kitchen counters for this sort of device. So I hope to see Verizon give it another go with a more robust platform and a better marketing/deployment strategy in the not-so-distant future. If not, one could just pick up a net-top.

(Thanks for the tip, Dave M!)