Veiled Video

Justin Thyme, industry insider and crackpot, provides anonymous analysis and commentary.

Think broadcast flags on steroids. That’s what the MPAA has in mind by embedding a digital information stream directly inside the images you watch on television. The motivation of the MPAA is to place the same sort of broadcast flag mechanism as CGMS-A in a location that requires no special procedures or equipment of the video distributors to enable. Here’s how we bypass this trivial protection and why such weak protections are our friend, not our enemy.

Veil Technologies
is mentioned as a specific technology provider to accomplish this task in a MPAA draft resolution being circulated. If the draft becomes law, then consumers will be confront Veiled video within 12 months of its passage. Making devices to bypass Veil could land you in jail for 5 years for a first offence.
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Town Renames Itself DISH

Dave Zatz —  November 16, 2005

EchoStarEchoStar found a willing recipient for their absurd DISH City Makeover promotion which launched in August. In exchange for selling out, all 125 residents of DISH, Texas (formerly Clark) will receive 10 years of DISH Network programming. While this promotion officially ended November 1, it appears EchoStar is willing to take on other cities. So if your town has no pride and you dig free satellite TV, you can ring them up at CityMakeover@dishnetwork.com.

EchoStar says : As of today, Clark, Texas, a small tight-knit bedroom community located a half hour north of Fort Worth, Texas, has legally changed its name to DISH, Texas. In exchange, DISH Network has agreed to provide every household in the town of DISH 10 years of free basic satellite TV programming, including equipment and standard installation. DISH Network introduced the DISH City Makeover as part of recent re-branding efforts and a new advertising campaign trumpeting “Better TV for All.”

XM Arrives on DirecTV

Dave Zatz —  November 15, 2005

XM on DTV

As previously reported, 72 XM stations were scheduled to debut on DirecTV today… and they did. Tim Bilbro, my man in the field, provided some pics and commentary: “The sound is crystal clear and stereo. The rating systems work with your parental controls as well. The display of what’s playing on screen is off on some channels.” Despite the sporadic song info synchronization issue, it sounds good to me as a free upgrade!
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Red TrousersTiVo is moving beyond short advertising clips (see Navy football and CNET) into feature length films. While the Netflix deal may have died, TiVo seems to be pressing forward with acquiring content and building out their movie distribution technology.

The new trial involves requesting the 96 minute Chinese film Red Trousers by entering your email address and TSN on a TiVo web page. The movie will then be scheduled for download on November 23rd. Ultimately, I would hope for a TiVo-based movie selection interface and a more immediate download. However, free is good as are public trials!

TiVo says: Enjoy a FREE advance screening with broadband!

TiVo and Tai Seng Entertainment are pleased to present RED TROUSERS as part of the TiVo Video Download trial program.

In this dazzling combination of documentary and short film directed by and starring Robin Shou, star of MORTAL KOMBAT, and which Los Angeles City Beat called “a must-see for Hong Kong action fans” and the LA Times called “pure delight,” the death-defying feats performed by the world’s greatest stuntmen (nicknamed “red trousers” for the pants they wear during their training at Chinese opera schools) are profiled through interviews and clips that showcase their work. Intercutting with the documentary footage is the short film LOST TIME, a futuristic martial arts adventure in the style of Alex Proyas’ DARK CITY, where one can appreciate the stuntmen’s extraordinary achievement in their final cinematic form.

RED TROUSERS is presented through TiVo Video Download in its unrated version, in widescreen letterbox, with English and Cantonese soundtrack and English subtitles. Parental discretion is advised. Running time is approximately 96 minutes.

TiVo’s CNET Content Downloads

Dave Zatz —  November 14, 2005

CNET on TiVo

TiVo’s latest opt-in content downloads are a series of weekly 15 minute product reviews during the holiday season. I find this material far more compelling than the random Navy football clips last month. This seems to be a win-win situation for TiVo: another method of generating advertising revenue while hopefully entertaining us subscribers. As with other recent TiVo innovations, this is limited to networked Series 2 models.
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Harmony 360 For Xbox

Dave Zatz —  November 14, 2005

Harmony 360

Logitech has revealed a Harmony remote customized for the upcoming Xbox 360. The remote carries forward the new form introduced with the Harmony 520, but has added a row of Xbox-specific function keys mapped to X, Y, A, B. The display has also been tweaked with new green backlighting that appears to make text more legible. The remote is expected to drop this month for $130.

Logitech says: With the Harmony remote, there´s no need to juggle remote controls or press a dozen buttons to set up a TV, home-theater receiver, and Xbox 360 for gaming. When people push one button on the Harmony remote, the Xbox 360 and all of the appropriate electronics components are set to the required state for game play. Special console-specific buttons on the Harmony remote make it easy to navigate the Xbox 360 interface. The remote´s white finish, chrome accents, cool green backlighting and ultra-slim design complement the understated but sophisticated design of the Xbox 360.

Warner To Offer Free Streaming TV

Dave Zatz —  November 14, 2005

KotterThe era of à la carte content experimentation continues. This week Time Warner jumps into the fray announcing free Internet streaming of select television shows. The catch is shows will contain advertising which can’t be bypassed and episodes don’t appear to be scheduled in a predictable manner.

Shows will optionally be offered in higher definition format using a new AOL software and service called Hi-Q (as in high quality or haiku – boy they’re clever). To save on bandwidth Hi-Q will utilize a P2P file sharing cloud.

One to two minutes of commercials per episode is a reasonable trade off for free content. Though, as with MovieLink and CinemaNow, you’re theoretically tethered to the computer. However, free thirty minute shows may be more conducive to PC viewing.

NYTimes says: Programs on In2TV will range from recently canceled series like “La Femme Nikita” to vintage shows like “Maverick” from the early 1960’s . Other series that will be available include “Chico and the Man,” “Wonder Woman” and “Babylon 5.” The company will offer a changing selection of several hundred episodes each month, rather than providing continuous access to all the episodes in a series, Mr. Frankel said, so as not to cannibalize potential DVD sales of old TV shows. Programs on In2TV will have one to two minutes of commercials for each half-hour episode, compared with eight minutes in a standard broadcast. The Internet commercials cannot be skipped.