Dear CBS. Don’t you dare break my Trek.

I’ve been a Star Trek fan since I have no idea when. Too young to have seen the original series on its first run, I could never get into it on any of the other times I saw it–dear lord but I tried. But since the launch of “The Next Generation”, I was kind of a little bit all over it. I think that got me interested in the kinds of things that now interest me–technology, space travel, that kind of thing.

some of the later series started to lose me, mind–I couldn’t get into “Voyager” until nearly halfway through, and let’s not even discuss “Enterprize”. The more recent movies, though, didn’t even warrant more than one viewing–I’ll rant about that when I’m feeling more ranty and have the brainpower to go with it. Still, every new series or movie gets at least a quick look from me, because–hey, that’s my thing. Which is why CBS saying they’re starting up a series of their own caught my attention.

Of course they won’t release any actual info on that series yet beyond who might be involved (Can we get a hint, guys?), but a guy can hope, right? And what I’m seriously hoping for is they don’t break the series in the same ways they broke the newer movies. There are way too many things I really hope they don’t go overboard on in this new series (hint: special effects should be the background, not the entire point of the show), and there’s a metric ton of potential for the whole thing to implode on itself, but like any good Trek fan, I’ll probably watch the thing anyway. At least until it threatens to cost me sanity points. In the meantime, CBS, don’t even think about breaking the series. It may be 50 years old this year, but you don’t water down a good thing. No matter what the movie producers tell you.

And speaking of movies, I think I may consider giving this one a pass. If only because again with the special effects before the plot. I keep saying it wasn’t broken, guys…

CTV gets a bright idea. Bet it won’t happen twice.

So remember all that rambling I did about the CBC and its inability to actually put together anything resembling good canadian content outside of HNIC? Yeah, about that. I wrote that entry, having completely forgotten about another brilliant idea CTV latched on to a bit ago. They’ve launched a show for weekday afternoons they’re calling The social. It’s supposed to be escentially another news talk show with cohosts, live audiences and all manner of interaction. This one’s huge selling point? They’re even interacting on Twitter. So now we’ve got a show that talks about current events and the like, not unlike any number of shows that already do such a thing, only this one wants to throw Twitter into the mix–presumedly they’ll be reading people’s tweets to them on the show, I’d imagine? And they’re airing the thing at a time when it’s very likely the only people who’ll be home to watch it are people who have much better things to do than to also be attached to Twitter–like, say, any number of things people do while they’ve got the TV on in the background. And because this is how we do it up in Canada, they’re calling this new show idea of theirs The Social. Folks, I rest my case. We totally suck at content. Although, I suppose it’s a little better than some other US idea we’ve copied and stuck Canada on the end, but you know. If it wasn’t for sports, I’m pretty sure we’d find ourselves up a creak…

If the CBC collapses and nobody notices, did it really happen?

I mentioned a bit ago that Rogers pretty much bought off the TV rights for anything NHL that happens to involve a Canadian team. They probably walked off with a whole lot more than that, but that was where I stopped reading. One of the main stories people keep coming back to is what this means, escentially, for the CBC after next year–when this agreement actually takes effect. Apparently, one of the casualties of this deal was that CBC pretty much loses any control over Hockey Night in Canada–but they still get to actually broadcast that show, at least for the next 4 years or so. So the question’s been asked, sometimes repeatedly. Without hockey, what’s next for the CBC? To which I have a counterquestion. What has the CBC offered in the last several years aside from hockey?

I’ll freely admit I never did get a whole lot out of CBC, either growing up or now. I mean let’s be honest–most of the content that network produces insofar as TV series goes is, well, less than quality. I can’t name an actual series CBC still runs aside from Little Mosque on the Prairy, and I was turned right off of that after about 3 episodes. I have several sources I go to for news, most of them online, some of them redirecting occasionally to the CBC–but none of them are actually the CBC itself. On the very rare occasion where I’ll listen to radio in the traditional sense (well, in as close to the traditional sense as I possibly can without actually owning and setting up a proper radio), I do it primarily for sports, secondarily for news while I’m grabbing something to eat. So the only actual time the CBC plays a role over here is if I happen to be in front of the TV on a Saturday wherein the Leafs just so happen to be playing–and that only if I decide I need a break from the computer for a couple hours. Even the CBC itself says they get the majority of their decent ratings, and as such their advertising dollars, from Hockey Night in Canada. Which to me is an indication there’s more than a few people who, like me, would have no reason to bother with the CBC without hockey.

With that out there, I’m wondering just slightly if maybe now’s a fine time for the CBC to be skaled back significantly, if we even still need it at all–and it should probably be asked, if the CBC was to go the way of the rotary phone in a few years without HNIC, who would actually miss it? I’m not saying it didn’t serve a purpose at one time. And maybe in some areas it still does–just not necessarily a major place like an Ottawa or a toronto. But do we need a publicly-funded, escentially government-supported TV network who’s best material outside of hockey doesn’t even come close to reaching the eyeballs of a majority of the people who pay for the service by virtue of not withholding their taxes?

For the most part, if we’re being completely honest with ourselves over here, we suck at content. And I mean totally suck at content. Rick Mercer notwithstanding, I don’t know of anything semi-decent that’s come out of Canada in the TV space in a halfway to longish time. And for that, the CBC gets a pretty nifty little chunk of our tax dollars–that’s, like, a third of that 3.1 billion dollars everyone’s so hung up on the government misplaced even though the folks what look into that kinda thing say it’s placed exactly where it should be. That’s a whole heaping helping of Mike Duffy’s illegal–or at least unethical–dipping into the pot to pay for a house he’s owned in Ottawa since before he was a senator for Prince Edward Island. That’s an aweful freaking lot of money just to keep Hockey Night in Canada on the air, as good as it… Well… Was. Since the CBC’s losing HNIC anyway, would very many people actually notice if the rest of it drifted off into the sunset? I’d be slightly inclined to think maybe not. And for the money we’d save, I can’t say that’s a bad thing. Which is probably why they don’t let me make that decision.

The government wants you to pick your TV channels. Here’s why it won’t happen.

So around the middle of last week or so, there was a big to-do around the speech from the throne–that’s the kickoff to the new legislative session, for those folks what read this who aren’t up on their Canadian politics. The government’s decided, what with it being 2 years before the next election and all, that now would be the absolute perfect time to go all consumers first on us. Taking aim at cell phone bills. At the trend of selling 75 tickets for a 60-seater airplane. At those fees you cough up for the privelege of being able to pull cash out of a bank machine on the rare occasion in freaking 2013 where you actually still need to pull cash out of a bank machine. But my absolute favourite part of the throne speech was aimed squarely at folks like Rogers, who I’ve gone back and forth and back again with a few times for pulling the stupid out of thin air. It’s my favourite not because I expect it to actually have a chance in hell of happening, but rather because there are too many wicked obvious reasons, just taking into account the TV viewing habbits in this house, why it’s got every chance in this world and the next of not happening.

Our Government believes Canadian families should be able to choose the combination of television channels they want. It will require channels to be unbundled, while protecting Canadian jobs.

Don’t get me wrong. It sounds awesome. And if it actually happens, I’d absofreakinglutely love to be proven wrong–I’ll take those words with a side of fries and a coke, please. But it’s not happening, or it’ll be a long freaking way off if it does. An explanation, in list format, based on viewing paterns here in the last year or so. Because lazy, efficient, and why freaking not?

  • The most regular watching that’d be happening now, if Rogers and I were on speaking terms not related to arguing over their various levels of broken, would be hockey. And very little of that, unless I wanted to watch the Senators ruin what’s left of their season.
  • I’m in Ottawa, so Leafs TV isn’t happening. If you’re local, go ahead and call your provider to ask–it won’t exist for you. Thank the Senators in particular and the NHL in general.
  • Even if a chunk of the games wouldn’t be broadcast on Leafs TV, living in Ottawa means I get the local feed of stations like, for instance, sportsnet Ontario. I’ve yet to find a workaround for that. So if Toronto and Ottawa are playing on the same night and broadcasting on the same channel, I get Ottawa. Which is awesome, except I’m not looking to *watch* Ottawa.
  • That leaves the CBC, and Hockey Night in Canada. Fortunately there are enough of those channels that at least one of them will be broadcasting the Leafs game even if Ottawa’s playing on the same night. Of course the CBC also has HNIC online for streaming or on-demand purposes, so I technically need not even be concerned with that necessarily. Not to mention several radio stations will stream the games–it’s how I can follow even the ones the NHL won’t let me watch on TV in the first place.

Second on the list would be baseball, unless the Jays actually manage to outsuck themselves next year.

  • Most of those games are on one or the other of TSN or Sportsnet, so if I absolutely had no other option but TV I could still watch pretty much all of those.
  • Again, they’re also carried on several dozen radio stations, one of them local, so if I had to there’s that option as well.
  • Plus, Gameday Audio. Which, let’s be honest–for the price you pay it would almost be worth cancelling cable for the summer anyway. I mean unless you’re a fan of reruns but I address those below.

Trailing behind both of those, but not by much, is the occasional tuning into CPAC–that’s Canada’s answer to CSPAN, for you US political folks. Because while it can be interesting to read about political events unfolding, depending on the event it may be more interesting to actually watch it live. I mean I didn’t tune in to listen to the whole damn throne speech, but I’ve had question period on in the background while I’ve done things around the house–it’s a thing to do. That’s also streamed online, so again if it were a thing I needed to watch for reasons, that would hardly be problematic by any means.

Game Show Network. That gets watched every now and again, mostly if May and I happen to be downstairs at the same time with little else to do. I haven’t yet found an alternative to requiring a TV for that, but I also wouldn’t lose sleep over it if I never had that channel on again. There are probably several less than legal ways to catch hold of at least most of those shows, but again, doesn’t really bother me enough to go wandering about looking.

All things wrestling, but mostly of the pay per view variety and primarily for May’s benefit rather than my own. Again, most if not all of those are probably available online if you’d rather not cough up the cash and don’t mind waiting a day or two for them to come available, but if you’d actually like to know what’s happening before John Q. Fanatic with a cable package and a pay per view order in decides to get on Twitter and advertise it, you’re ponying up the dollars. But you’d be doing that anyway whether or not you paid for 900 other channels of which you may only watch 2.

Local/national news. This one used to be huge back before things like RSS feeds and Twitter took right the hell off. Part of my routine was come home, fix me something to eat, flip on the news then flip over to hockey or baseball or whatever after. Now, I can’t recall the last time I actually had a news station on for specificly news related purposes. This includes both the TV and radio versions. I mean sure, I’ll flip on an all-news radio station once in a while. But nine times in ten I go back to the computer after on account of I’ll find more info online on whatever story I’m following. And the rest of the time that particular all-news station’s broadcasting the Jays game, so we’re good.

New episodes of current shows, and reruns of older ones. I honestly just about snickered writing this, but it’s still a thing. The only time I actually sit down to watch a CSI or Big Bang Theory or something like that on TV now is when I’m at my parents’. Because being realistic over here, they’re not all that technical enough to be going out and scraping the interwebs for the same damn thing. Besides–it makes for fairly good background noise while we sit down to supper and talk about taking the backroads to get out there by way of greyhound. But other than that, I’ve got an external HD full of TV crap and the ability to glom onto more if the need be.

Looking at that list, there’s actually nothing on it that’s really up in the “must have it” category. I mean sure, GSN would be nice occasionally, but unless Rogers and friends decided to start massively overcharging on a per-channel basis (ha), it would almost cost more in extra service fees and crap they’d no doubt tack onto the bill than it would for the actual channel. Assuming the price for pay per views don’t do some massive skyrocketting as a result, and assuming a per-channel rate of we’ll call it a generous–in my opinion, anyway–$10, the highest bill for cable services we’d see around here for our one channel and maybe a pay per view, before any additional service charges and the like, would run about $70 or $80. That’s on the outside. Assuming the cable/satelite providers stuck to the theoretical $10 per channel model, and assuming the average subscriber watches more actual TV than we do here, that can add up amazingly quickly–to the tune of roughly what we pay for the package we’ve got now, most of which neither May nor I have bothered actually watching, for maybe 6 or 7 channels. That before you factor in any of the pay per view goodness. And this assumes they decide to do the flat rate thing re: that per channel fee–a mighty fine assumption, given who I’m talking about. Suddenly things look a lot less like the consumers first picture the throne speech painted for us. Which is why I’m not holding my breath when it comes to actually seeing this become a thing. It’s a wicked nifty cool idea, in theory. The problem with theory, though, is it dies a death just as soon as it meats reality. Putting this kind of thing into practice will be a right royal hot mess. And in the meantime, I’ll be over here watching the Leafs online. But hey, thanks for trying, guys. I owe ya one.

The Sun News issue, from a sports fan’s perspective: what gives, #CRTC?

You can be forgiven if you’re only now remotely aware there’s a thing called Sun News, nevermind that it has an axe to grind with the CRTC. Its issue, which is a fair one insofar as there’s not a snowball’s chance in hell the playing field will change in the near future, is it’s not on the list of TV stations that are required carried on basic cable. Other all news stations, however, such as CTV News Channel, have been required on basic cable for years. Sun News would like to have that fixed. Level the playing field, they’ll call it. Which is accurate, if in the wrong direction.

To be completely fair, I’ve never watched Sun News. I don’t even know if the service I’ll be getting next month would entitle me to watch Sun News–although, more than likely not. So I wouldn’t know if its content would or wouldn’t be worthy of being required carried on basic cable–whatever that means these days. but I do know we shouldn’t even need to be having this conversation. because there shouldn’t need to *be* required carry channels.

Let’s look at it through this lense. I don’t watch that much TV–even when I do actually pay for the service. My honest to goodness TV watching consists of Hockey Night in Canada (except for this year) on CBC,, flipping to TSN, or Sportsnet. Occasionally, I’ll swing past CTV–if, as is sometimes the case, they’re airing something I haven’t gotten my hands on yet by way of alternate means. But more often than not, if I’m watching TV, I’m not sitting in front of my TV to do it. Political stuff, when I decide to watch a debate or somesuch live, I can usually get online. Movies, TV shows and the like–well, uh, yeah. Got it covered. If you have to guess how, still, you need you some rereading of older posts. It’s just the live sports content that keeps me glooed to cable. for 3–or 4, if you want to push things–channels, Rogers wants to charge me at least $50. And that’s before you add in anything interesting, like the Gameshow Network–which we’ll need to be adding for the other one what lives with me now. And $50 is probably lowballing, only because I don’t have actual exact numbers staring me in the face. Still, $50. For half a dozen channels. Do explain?

The only reason I stick with cable for live sports is really, if we’re being realistic, even at $50 for half a dozen channels it’s still far cheaper, and far less restrictive, than the halfway offerings by the leagues themselves–which, given I follow both baseball and–maybe again in the future–hockey, would work out to costing me nearly twice as much just for those two. And again, because they like to do this to their fans, you run the risk of not being able to actually tune in the *local* broadcast of the games to boot.

In the entry linked above, I called out the leagues-with help from a writer over at Techdirt for what they’re offering–or rather, what they’re not offering. But when I flip through doing the kind of math that leads me to my cable bill for the month, even that starts to look good. When I also factor in that outside of Hockey Night in Canada, there’s not much on some of the channels I’m forced to accept in order to get the 3 or 4 I do, I really can’t help but have the very wee small suspicion that maybe I’m being just a little teeny tiny bit ripped off.

The incredibly sad part about this mess? If the CRTC was interested, they could stick a fork in debates like this with one decision. Eliminate the entire concept of channels required to be carried on basic cable. Eliminate the entire concept of cable packages–basic, or otherwise. If John Q. Busy only ever has time to flip on CTV Toronto for the news while he has himself a supper, then let John Q. Busy pay for CTV Toronto out of pocket. Does he really need TSN, YTV, Fox and the like to go along with it? It’s not like he watches them, after all. On a more personal front, I had a couple TLC channels on a package I used to have, back when I used to watch more TV. But I never watched them. In fact, I forgot I had them until somebody what had working eyes was scrolling through the channel guide one afternoon. If I’d known a friend of mine who does watch them fairly regularly back then, the outcome would have been different. But as it was, when my company left I called up the cable guys, figured out which package threw those channels at me and very nearly tossed it–until I heard it included Sportsnet. Then I asked the poor sap on the other end of the phone who in their right mind puts a Sportsnet in the same package as a TLC in the first damn place. At least make them vaguely related, guys.

Cable and satelite companies have channels you can purchase individually already. NHL Center Ice is one such. The NHL Network, which I’m pretty sure has a couple of channels, is another. Your favourite sports team probably has one. They’re not part of any package. You make a phone call, you say I want $channel, and on your next bill the $2 or $3 it’ll cost you for $channel for that month says hello. They have the technology. So why are we still paying $50 for half a dozen channels? And why is the CRTC so scared to fix that? I’d be interested in the answer to that million dollar question–preferably, without the political talking points. I’d also be interested in a lower cable bill. So, CRTC, what gives?

On piracy: Thankya much, Bell.

Every few months, some huge corporation with a vested interest in keeping any and all types of media locked down–usually because they own just about any and all types of media–will come up with some ridiculous bit of reasoning for why we, as consumers, deserve to have absolutely 0 rights with regards the content we’ve already paid, sometimes twice, for the rights to access. And usually within 24 hours, half a dozen people have come out of the woodwork to escentially ask these corporations where to buy their particular brand of crack, as their reasoning more often than not would only make sense to the stoned or braindead. The folks over at the Vomit Comet have, as always, nailed the basic flaw in corporate reasoning, with their own example being someone I’ve mocked on here for any number of reasons previously–the guys over at Bell Canada. Their article, escentially ppointing out the wicked huge hole in Bell’s exclusive deals logic, doesn’t just bury the central anti-piracy talking points–it does a little tap dance over it for good measure.

Again, look at the internet. What have exclusive deals and limited access done? The answer is a whole hell of a lot…for the smart people who run pirate
sites. The pirates know what they’re doing. Here’s an unrestricted decent looking and sounding version of whatever it was you wanted to see. Yes, all of
it. Not just what this or that network thinks you should see because of where you live or who your provider is. Run it however you’d like, wherever you’d
like, whenever you want. All we ask for is a donation, and you don’t even have to give us that if it’s not your thing.

The article goes on to explain–not for the first time–that content itself will make a crap ton of money–if it’s done right, regardless what media you view it on and in what format. Really, with all the excellent points brought up in this post, you’d think they’d read these before. Still, it’s nice to see more and more people actually catching on to all this. Now if we can just get a few of those into positions where it actually matters. Any volunteers?

The “A Network” is dead. Will anyone miss it?

I used to watch the local “A Channel”, back when it wasn’t called the “A Channel” and actually had semi-decent broadcasting. Then CTV got a hold of it. Then CTV started slowly eating away at it. Then CTV started opening stations in markets that used to be primarily served by the “A Network”. Now, after pretty much weakening the network to the point where I’ve lost interest in watching it, CTV’s killing it off, rebranding it CTV Two. It’s supposedly going to be primarily reality/comedy series, with its news broadcasts being renamed CTV news–which begs the question, what’s happening to the original CTV news? Question has to be asked, though. With the exception of the occasional passable programming that airs at odd hours when nothing else good happens to be on, will anyone actually miss the “A Network” as it is? Will anyone happen to switch to that network for their news source, assuming CTV kills its news broadcasts on their primary stations/network? CTV Ottawa and/or A-Channel Ottawa, I’m staring right at you. We don’t need two CTV Ottawa’s. Just sayin’.

Returning to highschool humour. Bring on the boob and butt jokes!

Most of my readers were probably either right in the middle of, or just getting close to, their teens when Beavis and Butt-Head were actually coming out with new shows. And the rest were right about there when they went almost eternally into reruns. Now there’s a nasty little rumour floating around the intertubes that they’re coming back this summer. Just when you thought it was safe to grow up, too. Just remember, folks, they made words like “shlong” popular. And they may very likely be back to do it again. Who says there’s never anything good on TV?

Brought to you by our Canadian content laws.

Just when we thought Canadian content couldn’t suck any more than it did with Corner Gas, we get a special treat. From the folks who brought you that steaming pile comes this attempt at comedy.

Shooting begins in July on InSecurity, a 13-part “action comedy” about bumbling Canadian spies, producers said in Regina.

The series stars include relative newcomer Natalie Lisinska as a rookie agent; William deVry, from the soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful, as her boss; and well-known Quebec actor Remy Girard as a jaded veteran.

I accidentally saw a trailer for the show on Sunday night, and almost immediately wanted to change the channel. That’s after the preview–I’m scared to watch the show. Folks, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. If we didn’t have Canadian content laws in place, people up here would actually be inclined to create a show on par with a CSI, or hell, even a Simpsons. Here’s the problem, though. Most Canadian shows, well, suck. Yes, I’m looking at you, Little Mosque On The Prairie. But even if they suck, the CRTC says they have to be played. So Corner Gas, Little Mosque, and now this sad attempt at something vaguely resembling a TV show get air time. And hey look, they all get plenty of airtime on CBC–no wonder I only watch that channel for Hockey Night in Canada.

We lose the Can Con laws, we get decent TV shows, kids. Keep the laws, we get crap–and it still gets airtime. Seems like a simple enough choice to me. So why have no Canadian governments dared bring up such sacreligiousness? Good question. Any political types care to weigh in with an explanation? Inquiring minds kind of wouldn’t mind knowing.

Twitter’s almost as everywhere as Google. Now they’re both on your TV.

You may or may not be aware Google’s coming up with its own TV platform. As is Apple, but that’s not been surprising since they pretty much came out with their own version of nearly everything else. What you may not know, though, is on your TV is precisely where Twitter would like to be. And, thanks to Google’s new and yet to actually be released platform, it will be. Welcome to the future, folks. You can sit on the coutch, munch on a bag of chips, suck on a beer and flip between the first game of the NHL regular season and the world series, and tweet that you’re sitting on your coutch, munching on a bag of chips, sucking on a beer and flipping between the first game of the NHL regular season and the world series–from the very same remote control. Now if that’s not convenience I don’t know what is. Note to self: move the computer out of the living room–it’s just been replaced by the TV.

Bury the original Law & Order. It ain’t coming back.

Twenty seasons is all we’re gonna get out of the original Law & Order after shopping it around got the creators nowhere once the original network it ran on dumped it. It’s dead. Permanently. The funeral’s at 7:00 if anyone’s interested–I’ll bring the rum. And in other news, Law & Order: Los Angeles? Really? *Really*? You hollywood types could have done so much better.

Thanks for proving me right, Rogers. Or, why I’m glad I’m not a net customer.

I used to be a Rogers cable subscriber. Yes, even though–kind of like now–I don’t actually watch a whole lot of content strictly on TV. And every so often, something happens to remind me why it is I pretty much won’t be returning to them for anything but the absolutely necessary any time in the near future. This week, it’s their response to the coming availability of netflix streaming in Canada this fall.

They have apparently decided, because God forbid anyone actually want to use their internet connection for more than just the basics, no one actually needs 95 GB/month of bandwidth (it used to be unlimited). So they’re lowering it to about 80 GB/month instead. For the same price. This isn’t an out of character response from Rogers by any means–when they launched their own online video on demand service at the end of last year, they did the same thing with a twist. Rather than lower the bandwidth cap when they launched that service, Rogers decided that, even though it was a service administrated and maintained by them, it would not be exempt from the bandwidth limitations the company imposed on its internet customers–thus making fairly sure people like me kept doing what they were originally doing to get a hold of TV content online, since there wasn’t a whole lot of benefit to doing it any other way.

Hey, Rogers? I kind of suspected I’d be doing the right thing when I told your telemarketting rep earlier to take your internet service and shove it right up your ass. Thanks for proving me right. Now, if you’re done completely screwing your customers, I’m still waiting to have that conversation with you. Not holding my breath, just waiting.

Canada’s finally getting Netflix. Wonder if anyone’ll notice?

I’ve always been slightly jealous of my US counterparts, mostly because of the fact they had access to Netflix for DVD rentals and whatnot. And then I discovered torrents, and my jealousy took a small vacation. Rogers tried to implement something similar, but I do believe they broke it in more than a few places. And now that I don’t have an immediate need for Netflix usage, it’s apparently coming to Canada. Of course, the article doesn’t give an actual date, but still. I think someone’s trying to give me yet more reason to ditch the satelite. If Netflix or someone else starts streaming hockey and/or baseball games and doesn’t charge a small fortune to do it, they may actually succeed. Hear that, Shaw Direct? You’re on notice.

I just downloaded Hurt Locker. Quick, let the lawsuits fly!

Until there came rumblings on a few of the tech blogs I read occasionally about the possibility of a non-government copyright group going after people who it believes downloaded the movie illegally, I hadn’t ever heard of Hurt Locker. Indeed, it would have probably been one of those movies I ended up watching and not even seen an ad for. That is, until confirmation that the group has indeed launched a suit against 5000 people for supposedly downloading the movie. The sad part is, this particular group isn’t even asociated with the MPAA, acording to the CNET article. Without rehashing opinions I’ve already spilled over on this site, I’ll just say this much. I may or may not actually end up watching the movie. I have, however, downloaded it. Sue me. It’s no crime, but indeed, if the industry thinks it’s got a case, I do mean it literally.

I really need to stop finding new shows to watch.

I recently this year developed an interest in a TV show, “Ghost Whisperer”. The plot was halfway interesting, the characters were semi-realistic–except for that whole ghosts thing, but hey, some people actually believe they can do that–and it was actually not something I ended up falling asleep to. It was also cancelled. Go figure. I’m starting to suspect it’s an unwritten rule or something.

I ended up finding another show of interest a couple years back–a recommendation by then a fairly good friend of mine. After the second season, cancel city. Yeah, definitely an unwritten rule. I’m just going to stop discovering new things to watch now. I’ll watch them after they’ve already been cancelled from now on. Hey, at least then I’ll know to expect it. That’ll show ’em.

The only reason I watch American Idol has left American Idol.

Yesterday’s end to Idol’s season doubled as the last appearance of one Simon Cowell as a judge on that show. He was also pretty much the only reason I bothered watching as few episodes of the show as I have. I’ve always had a bit of a problem with that show, which perhaps not surprisingly never actually managed to be solved. But, with Cowell there, at least something vaguely resembling balance was sort of restored. Simon’s escape from the crying masses of folks who think they’re God’s gift to ears everywhere may be good for him, but not very for the series–at least if it’s people like me they’re trying to attract. The only reason I watch American Idol has officially left American Idol. Thank God I only watched it when I didn’t have much other choice. Now, let’s see what else is on during those two hours–oh look, just about anything relatively decent. Okay, I’m over it now.

America’s legal system screws up huge–again–and effectively kills IsoHunt.

IsoHunt may or may not be heading towards shutdown after yet another, shall we say, less than brilliant ruling from south of the border. Now, keep in mind, IsoHunt is located in Canada so this ruling probably shouldn’t even apply, but the US has a thing for sticking its legal nose in where it doesn’t belong–ACTD, anyone? My favourite part of the ruling, if only because its mock value is through the roof.

Defendants shall be permanently enjoined from knowingly engaging in any of the following activities in connection with the Isohunt System or any Comparable System:

(a) hosting, indexing, linking to, or otherwise providing access to any Dot-torrent or similar files that correspond, point or lead to any of the Copyrighted Works;

(b) assisting with end-user reproductions or transmissions of any of the Copyrighted Works through a tracker server, or any other server or software that assists users in locating, identifying or obtaining files from other users offering any of the Copyrighted Works for transmission; or

(c) hosting or providing access to any of the Copyrighted Works.

So, escentially, a service not based in the US has been ordered by a US court to instinctively know whether or not something it’s hosting is protected by copyright and not supposed to be up there–ignoring the fact the service is used by people who hold the copyright for various types of media and actually want them to be up there. Brilliant. Because, you know, it just makes me want to go out and get back to doing things the legal way. Except, um, not really. Good job, folks.

If you’re curious to see what else was found wrong with the ruling, not that you probably need to, clicky. Moronic people are moronic. And now, back to whatever it was you were reading before me.

End of an era: the original Law and Order has been dismissed.

If you’re a fan of the original Law and Order, you may not be watching new episodes next year. The end of May marks the end of a run of 20 years on NBC, who’s just officially cancelled the series. Hopefully for the fanatics out there, another network picks it up. In the meantime, thank God I watch SVU–which just found itself on NBC’s roster next year, for a twelfth season. Now, let’s see if I can’t find the hard drive space for the resulting torrents.

And here comes another plus for piracy: it’s not broken by the FCC!

It seems like only yesterday, I wrote this entry on why it is I have absolutely no problem downloading TV shows etc. What I wish I could have included in that entry? this.

How badly do you want to see new movies in your home close to the date they’re released in theaters? Badly enough to let the movie industry reach through your front door and break your TV? Well, good news for you.

The Federal Communications Commission decided on Friday that the movie industry can remotely disable analog video outputs on your home theater equipment to prevent you from recording certain programs–namely, first-run movies available on demand before DVDs are released or while they’re still in theaters.

So, legally record that episode of CSI, or that new movie they’re showing while you’re being called into work, and get branded. Illegally download a torrent of same, and get branded. I’d rant, but it’s been done before. Once again, the MPAA and government regulators are providing a worse atmosphere than the pirates. One wonders how long before the CRTC, infamous in its own right for some pretty screwed up rulings, jumps on the bandwagon. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got about 4 or 5 torrents to queue up. Screw you, MPAA.

Piracy, justified. And rightly so.

Contrary to what many from the industry will continuously insist on saying, no, those of us who subscribe to the mentality that torrents are better are, in fact, not all cold-hearted lawbreakers. More often than not, we actually genuinely just don’t have much choice. From the linked article:

The easiest way for me to watch TV shows on my computer is to illegally download them. You are competing with pirates, and the pirates are winning. Why? Because they provide me a better service than you do.

I genuinely don’t want to illegally download shows. For starters, downloading torrents is slow and annoying. Secondly, I strongly believe in financially supporting creative output that I enjoy – music, movies, television shows, books, comic books, etc.

Why do the commercial TV options fail me?

Each of the various TV companies insist on having complete control of their shows. This means that they only stream their shows on their own websites. So I find myself needing to keep track of many different websites. (Which network shows CSI again? I can never remember.) This gets doubly tricky for me, because most American websites don’t stream in Canada, where I live.

Indeed, that’s pretty much the crux of the issue right there. Whether or not you subscribe to cable/satelite/what have you, you’re restricted to watching the newest releases of TV shows when, how, where and for however long the TV networks–not the cable companies–choose. Let’s say CTV has the rights to a show Fox is originating. Fox has sold those rights to CTV. If CTV decides to air a show at midnight and I can’t stay up to watch it–occasionally, I do actually go to bed before midnight, I’m escentially screwed. Particularly if I’m not aware CTV has the rights to that particular show, and therefore might, possibly, be streaming it on their website–at least for a few days.

And, since the originating networks in the US don’t actually allow streaming in Canada, I’m left–like the author of the original article–with trying to remember where it is a show is being originated in Canada, and hoping that doesn’t change–I’m reminded of a short-lived show brought to light by Fox during the TV strike of a couple years ago, which in its first season was shown on CTV, I believe, and for its second and final season was shown on a network that escapes me, also on a different day and time.

The original post was apparently prompted by a cease and desist notice handed to him by his ISP, which was handed to them by CBS. They were slapping him on the wrist because he had the nerve to download a show otherwise not available in Canada lest he pay extra to subscribe to the Movie Network. In the letter, he’s advised he can watch the show on demand from CBS’s website. Except, being in Canada, he can’t. He could watch it on the Movie Network’s website, except they’re only streaming one episode of this show on their website, and apparently you have to be a subscriber to that channel in order to gain access to watch that one episode.

Let’s take it a step further, however. At the end of February, I was bouncing around somewhere between my apartment and my parents’ place on one end or another of a month of oh my busy. As a result, I missed the gold metal hockey game between Canada and the US. Yes, I know who won, but I’d planned to actually watch it. Think I could find a means of streaming it online, legally, when I finally had a minute to sit down and actually do that? If you said yes, give your head a shake. CTV, who carried the olympics, didn’t offer it. Nor did I find a listing for it in my search, admittedly online, of Shaw Direct’s on demand options. Which meant exactly what? You guessed it–torrents. Within 5 minutes of looking, I’d found exactly the feed of the game I was looking for, completely free and without needing to go digging any deeper than the official sources for such things. Now, imagine if that’d been the official legal source of what I was looking for? I’d of been much happier. And so would the network doing the broadcasting. I’d offer an opinion on that, but once again, the original article says it better than I could.

As a Canadian consumer, wanting to do the right thing, now what am I supposed to do? You tell me.

Are you starting to understand why piracy is more convenient?

I have money in my hand, and I’m looking around the Internet for the product I want, and it’s just not for sale. This is a situation I find myself in regularly. I want to download a digital copy of an album, but the musician is only selling CDs. I want to pay to download a videogame, and the company insists on sending it to me in a box. I want to watch a streaming TV show, legally, and no one is streaming the show.

In all of these cases, the pirates are standing right next to me, whispering, “You want that video game? You want that music? You want that TV show? Here you go. No charge.”

Fast, convenient, easy to find. They do it better than you.

Indeed, as a Canadian consumer who can’t aford to subscribe to every network that might possibly be offering a show I may or may not want to watch, “What am I supposed to do?” is pretty accurate. I’m still waiting on an official answer for that that doesn’t equate to “subscribe anyway”.

H/T: Kill Everything

My latest interest: Ghost Whisperer.

And it’s entirely my mother’s fault, too. She usually has it on in the background while I’m over there. From the IMDB info on it:

A newlywed with the ability to communicate with the earthbound spirits of the recently deceased overcomes skepticism and doubt to help send their important messages to the living and allow the dead to pass on to the other side.

That’s the basic rundown of how it proceeds. Episodes tend to touch on all kinds of situations–I’m pretty sure the main character’s helped in solving a murder or two. She was watching one yesterday wherein a victim of a kidnapper, now dead of course, pretty much helped the main character to stop that same guy from potentially killing his next victim. All of this while trying to help both dead and living come to terms with the fact they’re no longer among the living. Plots are fairly interesting, and at the very least it’ll be a distraction from my multiple episodes of CSI, SVU, Star Trek, and whatever else.

I think I’ll attempt a conversion of Jessica to watching this show while I’m at it. It’d probably be right up her alley anyway, what with the spiritual crap that gets tossed in there and all that wonderful goodness. And, hey, there’s the added bonus of the snark factor. No show can go wrong with that. So, yes. It’s officially made the pirated list. torrents are free, and free is good. Besides, I have the room. Why not?

Startrek: the sequel?

Rumors continue to float into my RSS reader–thanks, Google alerts–of a possible Star Trek sequel, to be shot in early 2011 or so. Part of me–the part that’s sort of clinging to the old Trek–is kind of hoping they’re just rumors. I mean, I downloaded the first of the new movies. And, yes, for what it is, it’s good. But things like Vulcan being wiped off the map? I can’t wrap my head around that. Nevermind the other 50 billion twists away from the established Trek timeline the movie goes through. It was nice to see the older Spock back in action for maybe one last time, though. Now, to go figure out which one of them screwed with the timeline more–Enterprise, or the movie that came out after it. Anyone feel like offering an opinion? I need to find mine.

I’m such a pirate. And I have a lot of trouble caring.

I’ve had a problem for the last couple years. Fortunately, it’s an easily solved one. Just about everything I’ve watched since about 2004 has been downloaded, or otherwise ripped from DVD’s borrowed or rented from elsewhere. This includes movies, TV shows, even the occasional hockey game–hey, I didn’t always have Leafs TV. The reasons are two-fold.

Movie companies have gotten incredibly sneaky with what they stick in that first track of current DVD’s. The one track you can’t actually skip/fast forward past–usually it just contains the FBI warning that says you can’t copy them. They’ve gotten good at cramming previews and other advertisements onto that first track. I’ve heard it said that some DVD’s actually have enough un-ignoreable advertising on there that you could theoretically run into the kitchen, whip up a quick snack, and come back in time to hit play. Download the movie instead, and snap. Problem solved.

TV shows have a similar problem. Only they actually make that problem slightly worse on TV. A typical hour-long show, minus advertisements, only actually lasts about 45 minutes. But they interrupt the show every 5-10 minutes for at least that long filled with commercials. It gets worse during live events, such as the olympics. I swear the advertising doubles at that point. And, as usual, they go to commercial during a semi-important portion of the said live event. Well, at least they didn’t cut off during most of the Canadian portions of the events.

My solution to both problems, except for the whole live events thing, is the almighty torrent. About 95% of everything I watch can easily be found, and downloaded, via that means–anything from CSI to Deep Space 9, and a few of the less popular shows that got me through highschool. Yeah, the MPAA may have a thing or three to say about it, but well, I have a thing or three to say about unwanted ads, too. I’d say we’re even. The only difference is, I won’t spend money to take down the MPAA. Yeah, I’m a pirate when it comes to TV shows. I also have a difficult time caring. You can blame the MPAA, and ads. I do. And I sleep just fine.

CTV Ottawa lights up. Literally.

A goodly portion of my TV watching, at least that which doesn’t consist of hockey or baseball, is done on CTV. Usually, its Ottawa station–particularly since they were nice enough to kill news broadcasts from Ottawa’s local A Channel station.

Their Ottawa newsroom caught fire overnight last night, resulting in the temporary loss of use of that building and the possibly permanent loss of 30+ years of news and video archives. Definitely, it resulted in the permanent loss of at least 2.5 million dollars worth of computer and video technology. They get to provide their news updates during tonight’s football game–which starts in 4 minutes for anyone curious enough to watch-from the parking lot of their former headquarters. Tonight’s local update at 11:30, however, will ironically enough come from the A Channel building–the first newscast from that building since March of last year.

If you get any of your news from CTV in the Ottawa or Pembroke area, or even if you just want to help out, keep an eye pealed–there will probably be ways and means for you to do so. If you’re a Max Keeping fan and happen to have something from his time with CTV, you’re encouraged to help replace everything he’s lost in the fire this close to his retirement–info for doing so is in the article’s comments section. CTV, and the news I’ve gotten semi-used to watching from there, will probably never be the same. CTV Ottawa is dead, long live CTV Ottawa.

My problem with American Idol.

I used to at least make an attempt to watch American idol every couple weeks. Mostly because I was living at home and we only had 2 working TV’s, both of which would usually be in use, but a small part of me found something about the show fascinating. It wasn’t necessarily any of the actual talent–there haven’t been all that many that I’ve seen that made me want to pick up the phone and repeatedly call in to vote, or clear my schedule the next week to see if they ended up bombing out or if they made it into the top fifty million. I thought it might have been the overall hillarity of some of these people who somehow got the judges to believe they could sing, only to have themselves booted when someone outside the actual broadcast could make the decision. Then, I figured it was the general amusement I got out of listening to people who thought they really really could sing, only to discover–not entirely too unexpectedly–they really really couldn’t. Nope, wrong again.

Why do I bother to tolerate a show like American Idol, when I’d much rather be doing just about anything else? Because at least once in a season, usually only once, you get that one particular fool who figures him or herself to be god’s gift to anything musically inclined, and there’s just nothing you can say or do short of tranking them that’ll make them shut up about it. My major complaint with American Idol? It only happens maybe once in a season. So after I see it, I no longer have any real interest in watching. So I usually skip out.

Take tonight’s show, for example. I watched it only because it was on, my mother had the remote, and I’m mommy sitting. And, admittedly, because if the show completely sucks at everything else, I can at least snicker at some of the things that come out of Simon Cowell. It didn’t disappoint on either front tonight, but now that I have no real interest in watching next week, I can make do with what I saw.

Near the end of tonight’s show, we were treated to a very stoned-sounding dood who thought, though I have no idea why–other than the fact he very well might have been stoned, that he could actually carry a tune without a half ton truck. And he chose to demonstrate his unquestionable singing ability with Amazing Grace–not exactly world’s most popular, or best really, song to begin with. That was mistake number 1. Mistake number 2, though? Actually having the nerve to be surprised when all 3 judges pretty much simultaneously decided he redefined suckitude. Mistake number 3? Insisting they were wrong and offering to give them an encore. Whether they wanted to hear it or not. The gentleman’s reward? A personal escort outside. In handcuffs. Whether he wanted to or not.

Now, why in the hell doesn’t American Idol show more stuff like that? That’d make the show about 5 times more interesting to watch. Hell, I might even manage to last through to the finals if they happened to have someone up there who, upon receiving the impression they’re god’s gift to anyone with ears, got told to go pack. Maybe I’m just abnormal, but seeing a person get all uppity like that about a few million people who all think he should be flipping burgers instead of singing would be worth sitting through the rest of the crap. My problem with American Idol really is that simple. They pretty it up too much. That’s probably why you only see maybe 3 or 4 of the people who end up going home–the others, they figure, are probably too strung out at someone having the nerve to prick their ego. And thus, there goes any entertainment value for me. Don’t get me wrong, Idol’s an okay show, if there’s nothing else on and I’m desperate. But it could be so much better. And I might walk away from a show not feeling like taking a nap.

Dear Idol producers. If you happen to be seeing something similar to this here entry, take it under advisement. I have a problem with your show. It bores me to tears. Thank you.

Also, randomly tacked on side point: I still maintain Simon Cowell should consider a career in politics. We’d then at least know what we’re getting, even if we don’t all agree with or like the guy. More than we can say now.