Posted by: Farren | 26/03/2015

Truth In Advertising

Jenn and I have been without internet and cable for about four years now. We’ve survived pretty well tethering to our phones for internet, but we do miss the speed of a real connection. Now as for the cable, well, I’ve been downloading the shows and movies we watch.

Now downloading has gotten slightly more difficult as authorities shutdown torrenting sites, but there are still plenty out there, and I don’t think they’ll ever really go away. However, the DMCA and its supporters in Hollywood and Cable companies are very adamant about people not downloading their properties. The focus of this little piece is actually about TV shows that are downloaded/streamed illegally.

I’m wiling to bet that most of the takedown requests facing torrenting sites come from the Cable companies. Most of you probably think that it’s because it’s taking viewership away from the channels, which brings down Nielsen ratings of TV shows. The Cable companies like to say that it’s copyright infringement. It is, technically copyright infringement, but what is the difference between watching a show that a friend/relative recorded with their DVR at their house and watching a show that you downloaded from the internet? Both shows have been recorded by someone else, and neither are being viewed for profit or by the public. The majority of the time, downloaded shows are used for private viewing in the home of the downloader. So what’s the big deal?

Jenn and I had to move out of our apartment five weeks ago because of water damage. One of her sister’s friends has rental properties on a beach and was kind enough to let us stay in one for a very small rate until we can get back home. This little cottage has Cable so we can actually watch our shows when they air. We’ve done it a few times…and Jenn doesn’t like it. She hates having to sit through the commercials. Being already exhausted from the stress of not being in our own home, having to travel an hour each way for work, and just the stress of the job itself, she tends to fall asleep early (she’s out by 9:30PM). Having to sit through commercials makes it even worse for her (since she’s already stretched out on the couch), she’ll just close her eyes until the show comes back on. Sometimes she starts to fall asleep, so I have to nudge her awake.

Now what does this have to do with torrenting and torrent site takedowns? Well, the answer is advertising. When Jenn complained a week or so ago about having to sit through commercials, it got me thinking that it’s the advertisers who are really loosing when people torrent shows. The only real difference between torrenting and recording is with torrenting, you get the show without the commercials. Advertisers spend millions of dollars per year hoping to get their products seen by the public when they’re watching TV. They know people tend to change the channel when commercials come on, but they still manage to get their messages and products out there for people to see. Even streaming sites like Hulu, YouTube, and the channel’s websites themselves (ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, et al) have commercial breaks during their shows.

Yes, I know that the advertisers pay the networks to show their products so the cable networks will lose money if everyone resorts to downloading their shows. Websites are using targeted ads more and more these days, so even the network sites and streaming sites are getting inundated with banners, pop-ups, and other ways to get you to see ads. This article from Wired is showing even more how much advertisers are trying to get people to buy things. With this approach, advertisers save money by targeting ads at people, rather than just throwing ads against viewers and seeing what sticks.

So really, the rage against torrenting sites and downloading TV shows isn’t so much about copyright infringement as it is more about advertisers and media companies losing revenue because people aren’t seeing advertisements. I guess you could say it’s all about truth in advertising.

Posted by: Farren | 25/01/2013

On the fringe of of panic

Well I just had an awful scare. I got a minor virus at work while I had my external drive and a thumb drive plugged in. I’ve mentioned that everything came up clean after I deleted the infected files.

Well the other day I put a couple of episodes of Fringe on my external to bring home. When I went to get them on my XBMC comp, they weren’t there. Or so I thought. I checked my thumb drive, but didn’t see them there either. So I figured I just left them at work.

So to-day I remember that we needed to watch Fringe. I check the download folder on my work computer, but don’t see the videos. I plug in my hard drive and check the folder there. Well, the videos are there and have the correct extensions. I had some trouble during the fall with videos downloading without their extensions, so XBMC wouldn’t see them unless I was in the File Manager or in the main Ubuntu. I decided to download them again, just to make sure. After they were done, I moved them back onto the drive (overwriting the previous copies) and figured that was the end of it.

We came home and I plugged in the drive. A little while later when I got around to moving the files to the computer, I didn’t see anything. I checked another folder they might have been in (in case I put them in the wrong place), but didn’t see them anywhere. Just to make doubly sure, I plugged the drive into one of my Windows computers. There they were: the two files I’d been looking for. I figured that maybe XBMC was having trouble seeing them (even though Ubuntu should have been able to), so I made copies and changed the extensions from .mkv to .m4a. That didn’t fix anything.

So I tried the thumb drive. I copied the videos over to that and plugged it in. Nothing. No videos. Now I’m starting to panic. I’m starting to think my drives are still or again infected. We did have another incident at work of the same infection with another user, so maybe the virus is still with me. I copy a visor from the hard drive to the thumb in Ubuntu. I plug it back into Windows and see the new file. I go back to the other computer and its still not seeing Fringe.

So back to Windows I go. The new file is gone. Now I’m really starting to worry. But I also have my instincts telling me to reboot XBMC. I just don’t want to because it doesn’t always come up. And it it does, it doesn’t always initialize the audio. Something I need to work on. But I run a virus scan on the thumb and even boot into Safe Mode when the scan is clean. Heck, I even did a search for all .executive files on Windows. I gave up after area minutes of looking at the results.

Finally I give in and reboot XBMC. It comes up just fine, and even sees the four Fringe videos. I guess this means I really ought to find out what’s wrong and get it fixed. I’m just glad my drives are clean.

Listen to your instincts. They’ll save you time and worry.

~Farren

Posted by: Farren | 30/06/2012

Will you walk into my parlour?

Wow. I feel privileged this evening. In all my years, I’ve never seen a spider build its web, or catch something and wrap it up, and eat it. Tonight, I got to see all three. :>}

We have a lot of spider webs on the handrails and balusters. About an hour ago,  I happened to step outside and saw all of the webs. I looked at one and saw a spider building it. I watched for a couple of minutes as it went around one way, then came back the opposite way. It was so cool.

Just a few minutes ago, I went out again to see if it had cooled off at all. I decided to check on the spider and saw that its web was finished. I told it how nice it looked, then it grabbed an insect that got trapped, and started wrapping it up. As I watched, it took its dinner up to the center and started eating. It was so cool.

Thank you little spider for letting me into your world for a few minutes. It’s something I’ve only ever seen on telly.

Oh, and they really do sit in the center of their webs and wait.

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