Tag Archives: Hulu

PTJ 271: Hand of F8

Fresh off the latest Facebook user-abuse apology media tour and visit with the U.S. Congress, Mark Zuckerberg made a slew of announcements at this week’s F8 Developers Conference in California, which El Kaiser and J.D. discuss on this week’s episode — along with other news from the tech realm. Episode 271 also sports a quick look at the big geek movies headed into theaters this summer and an explanation of “malvertising.” Spin up this latest installment of Pop Tech Jam to hear it all!

Links to Stories Discussed on This Week’s Show

Tech Term

PTJ 143 News: Red-Letter Days

Who says the epistolary arts are dead in this age of text and email? As user-privacy rights and national-security concerns continue to clash, stern words are still the weapons of choice.  This week, a coalition of 140 technology companies, security experts and other industry players sent a letter to President Obama asking him to “reject any proposal that U.S. companies deliberately weaken the security of their products.” The letter comes in response to recent remarks by Administration officials that suggested American companies not use (or create) products secured by encryption —unless a backdoor key was provided to the government. No word on a White House reply yet, not even from the President’s new official Twitter account. (Perhaps Mr. Obama was busy joshing with Mr. Clinton.)

The White House was not the only place that got a note of concern this week. Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, received a group letter of opposition signed by 67 digital rights groups who don’t like the idea of the company’s Internet.org project because it stifles the concept of net neutrality, freedom of expression and all that stuff.

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Also in letter writing news, the Federal Trade Commission has asked the bankruptcy court handling the RadioShack case to protect the personal information of former RadioShack customers. As more companies eventually go bust and their data assets are up for grabs, the FTC will likely be writing a lot more letters.

Worried that the telcos will backslide on those new Net Neutrality rules from the Federal Communications Commission? Internet activists have launched an Internet Health Test site  that checks the quality of your broadband connection and looks for any sign of speed degradation, perhaps by an ISP throttling. Your results are then shared as compiled data in the public domain. Meanwhile, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, who once threatened to pause developments of fiber networks if the FCC’s new rules were passed, said AT&T would keep investing in its infrastructure because he is now confident the new rules will be overturned.

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Federal investigators are looking into the claims of one Chris Roberts, a security researcher who said he was able to hack into the computer systems on an United Airlines flight. He said he could gain enough control to do things like drop the oxygen masks, mess with the cockpit’s alert system or even cause the plane to move sideways. Um, yeah, Federal officials, please look into this.

According to an investigative piece out this week from Advertising Age, Google has a crack squad of Antifraud Specialists fighting the ad-bot hucksters. And speaking of  exploits, there’s a new one out that shows a proof-of-concept address-spoofing attack using a bug in Apple’s Safari web browser.

In other Apple News, the fancy new 15-inch MacBook Pro with the ForceTouch trackpad is available now, as is a cheaper version of the 27-inch iMac with 5K Retina display. Prices start at about $2,000 for either. If the Internet can be believed,  Apple is getting ready to roll out some fresh code for both the Apple Watch and the Apple TV; the new version of that set-top box is expected  next month at the World Wide Developers Conference. Oh, and The Wall Street Journal has a story this week that explains why Apple hasn’t jumped into the full-on television market yet.

The Internet has come to the rescue again! After it was canceled by Fox, Mindy Kaling’s sitcom, The Mindy Project, was picked up by TV-streaming service Hulu for a fourth season of 26 new episodes.

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Google and the University of Washington have teamed up for an inventive project that uses 86 million pictures from photo-sharing sites like Flickr and Picasa to create amazing time-lapse videos. The researchers wrote up their findings in a paper whimsically titled “Time-Lapse Mining from Internet Photos.”

And finally, Microsoft is celebrating 25 years of Solitaire on Windows. Woo hoo! Microsoft’s solitaire collection, which includes the standard Klondike version, plus the FreeCell, Spider, TriPeaks, and Pyramid variations, is available free in the online app store for Windows Phone and Windows 8.1. Here’s to a quarter century of lost productivity in offices across the globe!

Tech Term: Over-the-Top Applications

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been described as over-the-top. Yes, I’m bold and have been known to take things beyond reasonable limits but I am rarely excessive or outrageous. If you’ve ever met my family you’ll know that if anything I’m…um…under-the-bottom.

Ugh, that sounds so wrong. Let’s move on.

This week’s tech term is over-the-top application and Techopedia defines it as:

…any app or service that provides a product over the Internet and bypasses traditional distribution. Services that come over the top are most typically related to media and communication and are generally, if not always, lower in cost than the traditional method of delivery.

WhatsApp, Viber, FaceTime, and YouTube are all examples of OTT apps but two new TV related applications might push over-the-top usage further into the mainstream.

HBO Now allows you to stream content from the pay TV giant without needing a cable account, a requirement of the app’s sibling HBO Go.

Sling TV from satellite TV provider DISH bundles popular cable channels that viewers can watch on Internet Connected TVs, media streamers from Roku, Apple and others plus iOS and Android devices and your Mac or PC.

The release of these two apps plus OTT game changers Netflix and Hulu makes it very appealing for less tech savvy folk looking for a deal to cut the cable cord.

The number of OTT only households is expected to rise from 8 million to 14 million by 2020 but technical concerns over loading time, buffering and crashing could keep many from giving up their cable packages.

The plain truth is that Internet infrastructure here in the US is just not ready to handle millions more OTT and live-streamers without a major overhaul. Also cable companies will not go down without a fight. Net Neutrality regulation and security concerns could stifle the nascent over the top TV boom.

See, nothing outrageous or excessive. Nice and under-the-bottom, just the way I like it!


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PTJ 138: Axing the Coax

The new $15 standalone streaming service HBO Now arrived just in time for last weekend’s season premiere of Game of Thrones. Early reports showed the app held up well under the onslaught of Starks, Lannisters and new subscribers, which may convince some weary cable subscribers that it’s finally safe to cut the cord and go online to watch all the hot shows.

On this week’s episode, journalist Laura M. Holson — who got rid of her own TV seven years ago — offers her own tips for keeping up with popular programs. Yes, you can do it using nothing but a mobile screen, a sturdy broadband connection and some well-known inexpensive or free services like HuluNetflix, Amazon Instant Video, iTunes, YouTube, Crackle and Google Play, just to name a few. (Oh, and don’t forget free TV network apps and websites from PBS, ESPN, ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC.) To paraphrase the great Dinah Washington, streaming TV is really the thing this year.

PTJ 105: A Cat, a Dog, And a Groot

El Kaiser takes a listen to the INEARPEACE earbuds from Om Audio and likes what he hears while J.D. tells us where and how to find quality documentaries online.

In the news, Amazon continues its war with book publisher Hachette and now finds itself battling Disney; Microsoft has Xbox announcements; Apple appears to have ramped up production of the new iPad; the U.S. government creates new agencies to handle its tech woes; Akamai releases its latest State of the Internet report; we have robot news and yes, it does rattle the Kaiser; and a security researcher weaponizes his pets.

The Learning Channels

It’s easy to waste a lot of time looking at silly videos on the Web, but if you want to sharpen your brain cells, there are also some hidden gems – especially educational programming. If you’ve got time  to kill at the gym or winding down before bed, while not learn something with a nice documentary? You don’t even have to have to flip around the TV or spend valuable time rooting around online trying to fine them, because several sites and apps that do the work for you.

pbsFor example, the PBS app lets you stream hundreds of public-television programs including NOVA, American Masters, Time Scanners, American Experience and plenty of standalone documentaries produced by PBS member stations. (You may have to register with the PBS site to use the app, but it’s free.) You can get the app for iPhone, iPad, Amazon Kindle and a number of set-top boxes like Roku and Apple TV. While a bonafide straight-up Android app isn’t available at the moment, you can stream videos from the PBS website on Android devices or on the desktop. (PBS has acknowledged ground to make up in Android app development, but it’s working on it — for the younger set, the PBS Kids app is now out for Android, iOS and Kindle.)

smithsonianFor short clips about a particular aspect of American history or culture, visit the website of Smithsonian magazine to see videos detailing things like the history of the electric guitar or the origin of Wonder Woman. You can find more clips and full-length episodes of programs on the Smithsonian Channel’s site. The Smithsonian Channel also has its own mobile apps for Android and iOS and has begun to show up on some streamers — again Roku, Apple TV, that sort of thing.

nasaFor space nerds who want to keep up with events, the NASA Television channel and other multimedia content can be streamed from the NASA  website or its various mobile  apps.

Documentaries can also be found where you might expect them. The Internet Archive has a video section with an area devoted to cultural and academic films, as well as collections devoted to movies and classic TV. The free version of Hulu has some ad-supported documentaries as well.

patheFor modern history buffs, the British Pathé film archive has 90,000 historic clips and a YouTube channel. Keep in mind, not everything is available at full-length to watch for free, but there’s some amazing bits of 20th century history to peek at, including news footage from World War I.

Serious fans of cultural, historical and nature documentaries can indulge themselves and one of the many sites out there devoted to categorizing YouTube video by topic. TopDocumentaryFilms.com is one great place to start and here, you can find things like Simon Schama’s 15-part A History of Britain miniseries, the Planet Ocean nature film or a biography of Aaron Swartz.

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Similar sites like 1001 Documentaries or DocumentaryAddict.com can also help sat your craving for both streaming video and learning something in the process. And when your brain is all stuffed with new things and you need a break from the mental exercise, you can always cool down with a few cat videos.

PTJ 79: Welcome to Kaiser Town

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these podcasters from sharing their hi-jinks and shenanigans! Well, actually gloom of night might give us pause… This week J.D. gives us some helpful hints on how to prevent our children from making unapproved in-app purchases and Pedro tells us what apps to use to navigate and experience NYC like a native. In the news, Verizon buys Intel Media’s OnCue Internet-based television service; the Internet of Things gets hacked; the video game console war rages on; Hewlett-Packard brings back Windows 7; Samsung Galaxy S5 rumor mill picks up the pace; a comet chasing spacecraft wakes from a long nap; and The New Yorker magazine reminds us that there is still nothing quite like the power and reach of live over-the-air radio.

PTJ 79 News: And Now an Update From the Hoth Bureau

A deep winter chill may have settled over a large part of the country this week, but things are heating up in the streaming-TV business. Still on a roll from last week, Verizon has now reached out and purchased Intel Media’s OnCue Internet-based television service for an undisclosed sum. OnCue, which is still under development, includes a traditional bundle of TV channels, but delivered over the Internet instead of by coaxial or fiber-optic cable. Especially since a recent survey from the research firm NPD Group found that US households that subscribe to premium cable channels dropped six percentage points from March 2012 to August 2013. In that same period, homes that signed up for Internet video-on-demand subscription services rose four percentage points. (The study can’t scientifically show cause-and-effect, but still, ya gotta wonder…)

According to the security firm Proofprint, the Internet of Things has been hacked. (Didn’t take long now, did it?) Researchers for Proofprint report that along with hacked laptops and tablets, more than 100,000 smart, Internet-connected appliances like multimedia set-top boxes, game consoles, routers, television sets and even a refrigerator were compromised by intruders, looped into a botnet and used to send out more than 750,000 malicious email messages. (Keep in mind, though, that the company making this discovery did have a dedicated interest in putting out a press release on the incident as quickly as possible.)

Google’s recent acquisition of Nest, the maker of Internet-connected thermostats and smoke alarms has some people worried about their personal information being passed around. However, in a Q&A on the Nest site, the company says it takes privacy very seriously and states, “Our privacy policy clearly limits the use of customer information to providing and improving Nest’s products and services.” Nest CEO Tony Fadell repeated the company’s vow at a conference in Germany last week, although when a CNNMoney correspondent asked him if she’d start seeing Google ads for sweaters if her Nest thermostat knew she was cold all the time, he said he’d let her know if the Nest policy would change.

The console wars, which escalated late last year with the arrival of both the Sony PlayStation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One, rages on, but Sony appears to have the upper hand. But while Sony and Microsoft slug it out, Nintendo is not doing so well in hardware sales. A reported profit loss and disappointing sales figures for its Wii U console have sent its stock price down and some analysts are saying the company should get out of hardware and stick to software and game development.

Google has booted two browser extensions out of its Chrome store for violating the company’s terms of service. The “Add to Feedly” and “Tweet This Page” extensions got kicked to the curb when it was discovered that code for serving up ads when browsing websites had been quietly added in an update. And Windows 8 continues to get dissed, now even by at least one major OEM. HP has been touting new machines running Windows 7 on its home page, as part of a “back by popular demand” sales campaign. The company has pushed several desktop and laptop models with Windows 7 preinstalled to the spotlight, while keeping Windows 8 in the background.

Microsoft, however, is still fighting for Windows 8 acceptance and has published a new, free how-to guide to the system called “The Windows 8.1 Power User Guide for Business”. Run, don’t walk to get your copy, folks.

Photos purporting to be the new Samsung Galaxy S5 are leaking out online, and those who have seen the new user interface describe it as “looking like an attractive Google Now.” While officially unconfirmed by Samsung at the moment, most expect the schmancy new phone and UI to make a splash at next month’s Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona.

Meanwhile, out in space, NASA reports that the Rosetta spacecraft woke up from a 957-day hibernation on January 20th and is getting back to work on its mission of chasing Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The Rosetta project, which began back in 1993, is actually a mission of the European Space Agency, but scientists from NASA contributed three of the 25 scientific instruments the spacecraft will use to monitor the roaming comet.

SonyRadioAnd finally, while the consumer world is all abuzz with streaming online radio stations, high-fidelity equipment, satellite receivers and other high-end gear, The New Yorker has an insightful article online right now about the humble analog pocket AM/FM radio, specifically the Sony SRF-39FP. While broadcast radio may seem like a quaint notion from yesteryear, the article is another reminder that there’s nothing quite like the power and reach of live over-the-air radio. And it’s still one of those few entertainment activities you can even do when your Internet connection is down. Imagine that.

PTJ 62: The Swaggiest Swag In All The Land

Despite all the big tech news this week J.D. takes a few minutes to help El Kaiser work up the courage to cut the cable, um, cable. In the news Microsoft buys Nokia’s phone handset division; CBS and Time Warner finally make up; Big announcements at the IFA Berlin show;  Google acquires a smartwatch maker; U.S. retailer Target gets into the streaming video game; another government agency trips through U.S. phone records; and Skype celebrates its 10th birthday.

Ready Your Rabbit Ears

Even though the month-long hissyfit between CBS and Time Warner Cable finally ended this week, the notion that you can still watch your favorite shows without spending a huge chunk of money lives on. If you’re one of the viewers out there thinking of downsizing your monthly bills, here are a few options to consider for cheaper television:

  • Antennas. A good old-fashioned antenna won’t help for premium cable channels, but could yank down digital broadcast signal from the regular TV networks if you live within range and do not have any major obstructions. (Time Warner Cable was even offering a limited amount of free antennas at one point, with $20 coupons to pick up one at your local Best Buy instead; Radio Shack does some bang-up antenna business in some parts of the country too.) Next time you’re at the newsstand, check out the October issue of Consumer Reports magazine, which tests some digital antenna options priced between $10 and $80. Antennas in big cities can be hit or miss, but the magazine reported that testers got anywhere from no channels to more than 40 over the air. Consumer Reports also pointed out that even without a cable company-network dispute, an antenna could come in handy in other situations like ditching a set-top box for that bedroom TV you only use to watch network shows anyway, or as a backup if the cable service goes out. (Just remember that all TV signals are digital now after the switchover from analog a few years back, so your television set needs to either be digital or have a converter box attached to get the broadcasts with the antenna.)
  • Network Web sites and mobile apps. You may be able to watch some shows on the TV network’s own Web site or through its mobile apps. CBS, NBC, ABC, FOX and PBS all have some shows available.
  • Third-party streaming TV services. Although mired in legal battles of their own and not available everywhere, services like the Aereo and FilmOn can bring local broadcast channels right to your computer, tablet, smartphone or other compatible device. Aereo, which is available in New York, Boston, Atlanta and Salt Lake City so far, starts at $8 a month and also includes 20 hours of online DVR recording so you don’t miss your stories; your first month is free. FilmOn has a variety of subscription plans with $20 a month for HD streams as a starter course and you can pick up online DVR recording as well. You can also watch local broadcast stations in standard definition for free, with ads. And don’t forget Hulu or if you’re catching up on older seasons of some shows, Netflix.

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  • Legal downloads. Many shows are available the next day from services like Amazon Instant Video and the iTunes Store. Sure, you may be paying a la carte (unless you’re an Amazon Prime member) and the show you want is available, but hey, a season pass for a couple of shows is cheaper than taking the family out to the movies in New York City. Plus, you don’t have to sit through commercials and you get to keep the show for rewatching whenever you want.
  • Slingbox. The Slingbox connects to a regular TV and lets you watch live and recorded shows from that TV over the Internet on your laptop or mobile device. The Slingbox isn’t cheap — $180 or $300 —depending on the model, but even if you keep the cable around, you can watch your shows in more places than just on the TV linked to the cable company’s set-top box.

If you do decide to totally slice the coax and lose the cable bill, you can put those savings toward a really nice television set or tablet. And the next time the local cable carrier starts dropping or blocking channels due to a corporate smackdown, you won’t have to care.