Saturday, February 21, 2009

Hulu Asks Boxee To Not Be A Browser...

Thats about the size of it. it would be the same as if Internet Explorer became really good at displaying and organizing media and Hulu said to them "Oh, wow that makes our content providers uncomfortable... can you stop?"

Here is the story from their respective blog posts:

And here is the post I made at the user message boards:

I just wanted to say that even if Hulu never returns to boxee, I will STILL be dropping my cable service. I will make due with content from other sources that remain available via Boxee. (long live Netflix!) I think many other users like me are tired of being treated so poorly and having ridiculous bundling packages forced down our throats. I honestly believe that cable and satellite companies could have used their influence, wealth and power to make something like Hulu/Boxee happen MANY years ago and they and the content providers could have had absolute control over it... But they were all too driven by greed and ended up treating their customers like they were morons.

Well I am afraid that after a long wait, the genie is out of the bottle and under the command of the customers. No matter how you try to shove him back in, he will slip through your fingers like so much pink smoke. If these moves manage to damage Boxee, what is to stop someone from creating a free "Hulu viewer" based on open source browser code with many of the same advantages? And maybe these people won't have the same respect for the imbedded advertising and will find some way to allow users to mask it? Perhaps THAT will become the standard for how people view Hulu on a "living room monitor"

And not to beat a dead horse, but as many others have mentioned there is the piracy issue, hopefully I can ad a slightly different perspective. As a musician, photographer and short film maker, I don't want to see file sharing become the standard of our society because ultimately it leaves little room for small independents and creators of genuinely unique content to monetize due to the fact that it creates a culture that lacks respect for creative people. (It helps to dislike the people you steal from and think of them all as rich and arrogant even if that clearly is not true.) But if people behind this move continue with the old way of thinking... more and more people will be lead down the wrong path and everyone who creates and consumes media will suffer in the long run.

So on the constructive side, can I ask why not create a separate stream for TV bound browsers like boxee (there will eventually be many...) and pop in a few more ads? I doubt many of us would mind, as long as it stayed well below the ridiculous amount of broadcast TV. Most of us understand the unspoken contract of "TV" is that the ads pay for the content and that it has never been "Free" no matter what an Alec Bladwin shaped alien says. (BTW, thanks for propagating the myth amongst young people that they somehow "deserve" free TV. It makes it much harder to argue the point that TV has a price and that downloading is wrong to a young teenager when a TV star/alien told him that TV was free. : P) --I sincerely hope this can be resolved, and thank you for reading.

Without Hulu Boxee is quite hobbled, but I expect it to be worked out. I am serious though. I will just do without Hulu if they don't kiss and make up. The cable companies had decades to find a solution that made sense and they squandered my trust... now let them be regulated to what they really are... a utility. And just like my water, trash, electric and gas... I expect that internet connection to be fast and on all the time.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I have seen the future of "TV" and it shall be be know as BOXEE!

Or at least if its not THE future, it at least has a real good shot at getting installed in a LOT of entertainment centers in the coming years.

The ultra short version of this post...
Go to this link and get Boxee. It is really cool, play around with it and give it enough time so that you really get a feel for the potential of it. You will thank me.

Boxee home page

OK, for those of you with a bit more attention/time...
About 6 months ago I got into an alpha test of a media application called Boxee and started playing with it. I quickly realized it was the thing I had been waiting for. For quite some time now I have thought that Cable and broadcast television were dying slow deaths and I had began looking for a way to do away with then once and for all. Also I want to present any video content for our new son Jamieson in a more controlled fashion. I want to own the programs he is allowed to watch and have them stored locally. Mainly so that he is exposed to as little advertising as possible for the first several years of his life. After several less than perfect attempts at a solution fell flat. I finally became aware of boxee and I got to tell you its been great! Just about everyone I have shown Boxee to has thought it was revolutionary and several people have installed it after getting a tour of what it could do over at the house. Its quite amusing to me that it has taken someone so long to something like this so well! Honestly, I started imagining a product with many of these capabilities a very long time ago.

OK, so what IS Boxee? 
The best way to describe it is that it is a "media browser" that is designed for your TV. If you are fimilliar with apples front row then you can put boxee in that class of product. BUT Boxee is very extensible and powerful! it playes TONS of media formats and handles streaming from the enternet like a pro. Do you like Like Hulu? boxee can be your front end for Hulu. Have some DVDs you ripped? Boxee understands those files and lets you play them without conversion. Want yo go to and see the top stories? not a problem. Do you like Lost? Navigate over to's channel in boxee and watch episodes. Got pictures on flickr that you want to show off in a fancy slide show? Covered! In fact you can view you friends flickr accounts also! And here is the big one... Netflix! Yup, you can pull up your netflix account and start an instant play movie or TV show any time you want. I am currently working my way through the second season of Dead Like Me. and Katy and I burned through all of the first season of 30 Rock recently. The combination of a netflix account, and streamed shows from services like Joost and Hulu and you are pretty covered as far as watching a huge variety of shows. The selection seems to be growing rapidly too!

So, another way to look at it is  that Boxee is like a cable guide... for a bunch of differently formated stuff thats spread out all over the web, on your local drives, or on a household server.

So why is Boxee important?
Because it brings all that crazy stuff together under one simple interface... that you can work with a REMOTE!

Die Cable Die!
Cable has killing itself by treating its customers like idiots and doggedly refusing to introduce services that would meet their changing needs. Why in the hell do I still need to buy a huge package of channels in order to get the half dozen I am actually interested in?! For gods sake! It's the 21st century! The year 2009! Even new services like AT&T universe STILL bundle content in ridiculous ways. What could possibly be motivating them to continue these seriously outdated practices? Well thats a rhetorical question... it makes them money and they can get away with it.

This situation is so bad that I believe (as many people do) that it actually contributes to piracy. People don't want to be limited to what they watch and when. Just give me the things I am in the mood for and make it simple for me to find them!

Arg! hey... where are you all going? don't you guys want to play pirates anymore?
People have taken it into their own hands to use the available technology to do just what I described above. hook an inexpensive computer up to your TV get a decent internet connection and a bittorrent client and you CAN bybass the traditional methods of content delivery altogether. Sites and services like Hulu and have come into being partly due to the realization by the content creators that if they did not give fans of their shows options in how to receive them other than cable... they would simply download them from the file sharing communities and at that point they would lose all control of the delivery and also lose any opportunity to be compensated fairly through the the inclusion of advertising.

More and more people have been unwilling to continue playing the sucker to the cable companies when such a simple alternative was available, even if that alternative is questionable in its "morality". The way we pay for TV has always been a simple contract that most people clearly understand. You watch a show and no matter how hard you try you WILL see some ads and the people that made the show get paid. But as it got simpler and simpler to get shows and movies in a modern on demand fashion via file sharing and as cable companies doggedly resisted providing logical ways for people to find and get the content they wanted, more and more people justified downloading movies and TV shows. You might be surprised at the types of people that participate in file sharing, its a huge and rapidly growing trend... what could stop it? Making the content from legitimate sources MORE CONVENIENT than file sharing!

Boxee goes a long way to doing just that.

Your turn!
Try it, the alpha is now open to the public and its pretty easy to get started, especially if you don't mess with hooking it up to a TV and just watch on the computer screen. Just remember its designed to work with a remote so learn the keyboard commands before launching because it hides the cursor by default.