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imageAfter years of putting it off I finally installed and learned how to use Hotspot Shield last week. It worked wonderfully.  I was all set to write a blog post about it. Wouldn’t you know it, within a week Hulu has found a way to block it!

imageI just tested it and indeed I’m blocked. I’ll still use Hotspot Shield for the plethora of other free services not available in Canada (eg: Pandora, last.fm) for so long as it works. But, once again, it sucks to be a new media enthusiast when you live in Canada.

Dale Dietrich is a Toronto-based technology, video game, and interactive media attorney. Read more at The Daleisphere.

hulu-disney

Popular online video streaming aggregator site, Hulu has picked up another major content provider – this time Disney/ABC. Disney and Hulu announced that they are joining forces to provide content from Disney properties (this includes ABC Network) and in turn, Disney will become a joint Hulu partner along with NBC and Fox.

So we can expect to see additional prime-time content like Lost, Gray’s Anatomy, Desparate Housewives from ABC and then some content from ABC Family and Disney Channel along with some older shows. ESPN which is also owned by Disney wasn’t mentioned probably because they recently made a deal for ESPN content on YouTube.

The Hulu.com press release directly mentions the following shows will be on Hulu:

  • Full-length episodes of ABC primetime programs like Lost, Grey’s Anatomy, Desperate Housewives, Ugly Betty, Samantha Who, Scrubs, Private Practice and popular late night talk show Jimmy Kimmel Live
  • Full-length episodes of hit ABC Family series like The Secret Life of the American Teenager and Greek
  • Popular series from ABC Daytime and SOAPnet like General Hospital and The View
  • Classic series from ABC’s library like Hope and Faith, Less Than Perfect, Commander in Chief, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and Dancing with the Stars
  • Select hit programs from Disney Channel like Wizards of Waverly Place and Phineas and Ferb which can be easily accessed from a new DISNEY location in the Channel section of Hulu.com
  • Popular library titles from The Walt Disney Studios
  • Short-form content including webisodes, sneak peeks and episode recaps from ABC Entertainment, ABC Family and SOAPnet

So that leaves us with CBS which is the only major U.S. broadcast network not with Hulu.  CBS streams to TV.com though so all major networks seem to be slowly moving towards some online content one way or another.

Check out more of Brent’s reflections on tech, gadgets, software and media at Geek Tonic.

ctv-streaming

Canada’s CTV Network hast recently started putting full-length episodes of prime TV shows online. CTV is one of Canada’s three major television networks. It carries about half of the major U.S. primetime shows in Canada. Global carries the other half.

The new service is available here (see the ‘Watch Online at CTV.ca’ heading to the right). Episodes can be viewed full screen, though the resolution is quite low by Hulu standards. Episodes are divided into segments/clips, presumably matching how shows are segmented between commercials when broadcast. Canadians can fast forward and rewind or jump from segment to segment. Users cannot, however, fast forward through the short commercials (about 10 to 15 seconds each) that play before some, but not all, segments.

Read the rest of this entry at The Daleisphere »

cablevision-101-mbps-docsis-3

Cablevision is going renegade. Unlike many other operators, the company has come out against bandwidth caps. And now to add to that rebel stance, Cablevision is introducing a new speed tier at $99.95 per month with 101 Mbps downstream. That’s higher than anything else offered in the US, and marks the first time we’ve seen someone break the 100 Mbps barrier on this continent. It’s remarkable that only 18 months ago we were looking at 20 Mbps as a record speed tier. It’s a wonder what competition (and DOCSIS 3.0 technology) will do.

Cablevision has also made headlines by offering free Wi-Fi access to subscribers at certain hotspots in its footprint. As many have pointed out, the MSO is going all out to counteract Verizon, which has come on strong in the NYC area. What’s interesting is how innovative Cablevision is willing to be. Remember, Cablevision is also the cable company fighting for Network DVR. It may not be one of the largest players on the scene, but Cablevision continues to do interesting things.

Full press release after the jump.

Continue Reading…

adobe-flash-set-top-demo-nab-1

Adobe’s announcement to bring Flash to the living room is undoubtedly the biggest news out of this year’s NAB show. While much of the focus of the annual event put on by the National Association of Broadcasters goes to the business of producing content, there are always a few flashy tech demos in the mix as well. In this case, flash is the operative word with Adobe making its Flash platform available to hardware manufacturers for use in “Digital Home” devices. According to Adobe, the first devices optimized for Flash will ship in the second half of 2009.

At a time when the convergence of TV and the Internet resembles a snowball rolling downhill, Adobe’s news is like a fresh layer of the white stuff on a steepening slope. Flash means Hulu, YouTube, and more on your TV with apps that can be re-written and customized at will. It brings up a thousand and one questions. How will cable/telco TV providers implement Flash, and what are the implications for their controlled television environments? Is this a competitor to Yahoo Widget TV, or complementary? Will media extenders like Roku gain more traction with the addition of Flash?  (I just plug my netbook right into my TV…) Will greater availability of Flash increase bandwidth usage? And, as Ars Technica points out, will Flash bring your TV to a grinding halt the way it sometimes does to your browser?

My sources trolling the floor at NAB tell me that Adobe’s demo of Flash on a set-top runs surprisingly well – so smooth you can’t tell the difference between it and traditional QAM video delivery. That plus slick HD menus makes the technology drool-worthy. Will it play out as beautifully in the real world? Probably not in the near term, but Flash certainly opens up a lot of interesting possibilities for the future.

Click to enlarge:

cruchpad

The embargo-phobic Michael Arrington, of TechCrunch fame, may have staged a “Crunchpad” leak to build buzz for his upcoming web tablet. I appreciate the economical and minimalistic hardware project goals. However, the relatively quaint notion of a single function Internet device may not fly in 2009. Those modern “netbook appropriate chipsets” enables so much more – why cripple restrict yourself to Firefox running in kiosk mode? Make it the default mode if you must, but how about also including Skype, IM, VNC, VLC, and photo organization software. Like a large number of phones and netbooks being offered at a similar $300 price point. He’s onto something with the larger (12″) screen (and kitchen counter stand), but my ideal couch-based computing device is much more than a browser. It’s also yet to be seen if Arrington’s assembled a team that’s prepared to handle the marketing, sales, and ongoing support (and related expenses) of a CE venture.

Digital Media Bytes

Dave Zatz —  April 10, 2009

A periodic roundup of relevant news… from our other blogs:

comcast-tru2way-2009-applications-cable-show-panel

Online Video for Cable Operators
Depending on how you look at it, online video is both a threat to and an opportunity for traditional pay-TV providers. It has the potential to undercut subscription fees, and/or it offers a new medium for cable (and telecom) companies to expand their presence with consumers.

The Roadmap for Tru2way
With tru2way rollouts happening now, interactive TV is only one part of the enhanced television game. Updated program guides are top of the list on operators’ tru2way agenda – Comcast’s Mark Hess called it “job 1″.

Operators Speak out at The Cable Show
Aside from wireless, one of the big issues addressed was the “threat” of online video. Roberts was remarkably upbeat on the topic, calling online video “friend not foe” for the cable industry. At the same time, the panel discussed the fact that the industry doesn’t know what the successful business model will be for them yet.

Your SageTV HTPC now Tweets Too
SageTweet allows you to connect your SageTV server to Twitter and report what is recording, when to expect your next scheduled recording and alerts you to when your server is running out of disk space. This version is an early beta version with future enhancements planned including lots of UI polish as well as the ability to tweet additional alerts such as recording conflicts etc.

The Twitter Apps, Tools and Widgets I Use
I change the Twitter apps, tools and widgets I use  so frequently that I decided that a regularly updated post dedicated to the topic would be useful. These are the tools I currently use.