Radio Times


This post from NPR, Radio: The Port In The Storm, got me thinking about radio, and while I’m pretty well entrenched in the world of podcasts and my own music library, I do still love radio, and the interesting thing is, I think we’ve increased the amount of radio we listen to in our household this year.

Part of the rise of radio in our house might be due our dumping cable TV. We didn’t completely dump TV, as we still get the local channels, but it’s not that 500 channels (and nothing to watch) world we’re used to. We still use Netflix and Amazon, and we still record a few shows using an EyeTV Hybrid, but overall, our TV consumption is down, and our radio listening is up.

It’s mostly Radio Milwaukee and NPR, and the quality of both of those tends to outdo the TV we’d usually watch. It was just too easy to flip on the TV and let it play whatever… even with a laptop out and browsing/working, vapid television in the background isn’t that useful, and good radio is a better alternative.

I’d be interested to know if others who “cut the cord” ended up just replacing all their TV watching with online video alternatives, or if radio is taking some of their attention.


Serialized Television (Sort of…)


Blogger scott d. feldstein recently posted that he’s been watching TV, and he mentions Netflix and a few serialized television shows he’s been digging. I’m a Netflix fan, and I’ve become accustomed to the ability to watch (almost) an entire series or season really quickly.

I’ve managed to quickly go through a few seasons of Dr. Who on Netflix while doing grunt-work in the home office (server maintenance, invoices, etc.) and when I ran out I was saddened that I’d have to wait until BBC America started to show the new season… (I even tried Torchwood for a while, it was OK, a nice diversion, but nothing too compelling.)

About a year ago (right around the Christmas break) the wife started to watch Heros on Netflix, and somehow pulled me into it. We managed to “Watch Instantly” the first three seasons, and were caught up and ready to go when season 4 actually aired on live television. Now, besides the fact that season 4 was pretty bad, I really preferred watching them all in bulk, as quickly as we could handle them, as opposed to waiting each week for a new episode. It made me wonder… how does this method of consumption fit into the old world of television?

I’ve heard so much talk about Mad Men, but haven’t set aside the time to watch it… plus, I missed the beginning, so I’d probably want to start from the first season. Right now Netflix has season 1 on 4 discs, which is… eh… I’d really prefer to just stream them. I don’t want to deal with discs, especially 4 discs.

It’s not just new stuff… There’s plenty to explore and get hooked on. My latest obsession is Firefly. It aired in 2002/2003 but for whatever reason, I never saw it. I heard people talk about it, I knew they made a movie, but just never managed to catch it. Thanks to Netflix I’ve managed to see almost every episode in the last two weeks, and I’ll be moving onto Serenity soon.

There’s still a good amount of television shows I just don’t mind catching every week (typically, they tend to be sitcoms) but for these longer serialized dramas, I’ve really become a fan of the “Give me all of them to consume as fast as I can!” method.


Video Installation (Part II)

If you remember my quest for a decent video installation, here’s the conclusion.

We ended up getting a TV with VGA input, and connecting an old PowerMac G4 to it. From there I loaded videos into iTunes and played them full screen. One problem, iTunes does not support looping in a video playlist. The solution: make a “smart playlist” which contains your videos, as smart playlists do support looping. I just tested this, and it all seems good.

Thanks to all who made suggestions. If you’re interested in seeing the display, and are available the evening of Friday, September 12th, 2008, let me know…


Video Installation

So we’re working on a video installation and we’re planning on putting up a big LCD TV, and want to be able to show photo slide shows and video on it.

Our first thought was, get a DVD player and connect it to the TV (behind the wall as the TV will be mounted flat or recessed to the wall) and we would then author DVDs and play as needed. This could work, but we’re then looking at the DVDs being standard definition versus high definition. So while this option is cheap, and somewhat easy, the quality would be low. (And burning HD or Blu-ray DVDs is not something we are currently doing.)

We also thought about connecting an old G4 to the TV. We currently have a G3 connected to an LCD monitor doing the photo slide show thing, and connecting a G4 might work, but we need to deal with actually connecting it to a TV, which would probably have HDMI but not VGA, and VGA would probably look like crap.

So, I’m starting to think an AppleTV, at $229 is the best option. It’s pretty much built to do what we want. We could manage the content through iTunes and the AppleTV interface, and make playlists that could loop, and… am I missing anything?

Update: It seem you can’t make playlists that loop on the AppleTV, which is a “WTF!?” type moment when people hear that…

Update See Video Installation (Part II)


Does HDMI work?

DVI-D to HDMI During the move, the ceremonial setting up of the TV happened a bit earlier than I expected, due to the cable guy coming three hours early. No matter, I was ready, and while he was finding signal loss, I was trying to use the HDMI cable again.

You might remember that I got a DVI-D to HDMI cable back in January 2008. I tried to use it, but I just did not see a difference in signal quality, and there was this nasty lag when changing channels.

So when Gabe was over, I asked him about his experience with HDMI and he said he couldn’t stand the DRM wrapper it put on the video. I wasn’t sure what he was talking about until I mentioned the lag I was experiencing in changing channels, and he said “Dude, that’s the DRM wrapper I am talking about!” or something like that.

Component VideoSo I am back to using component video cables, because as Gabe pointed out, the ability to quickly go through the channels is of great importance. The component video cables allow that to happen, and like I said, I just am not seeing any difference in image quality. Maybe it’s me, maybe it’s my 3 1/2 year old HDTV, I dunno… but for now, we’ll do it this way.