How To Watch

Sean W. writes:

I’ve been busy working on a new business: How to Watch. This new business aims to help people find where a movie or TV show is available via online streaming (e.g. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Instant or iTunes). I got sick of having to search on each of the platforms to find “my stories”. The result is this site and mobile apps (Android, Windows 8, Windows Phone and Kindle; iOS is coming soon if I can get Apple to certify the thing!).

What a great idea! Check it out: http://howtowat.ch

Watchlist, a Wishlist for Instant Video

So you’re talking with a friend, or overhearing a conversation in Twitter, and someone mentions a TV show or movie that sounds interesting. What’s a good way to remember it for later, in a service that’s easy and relativly inexpensive? Enter Amazon Instant Video’s Watchlist feature.

Hop over to Amazon and search for a movie, choosing the Instant Video category

Amazon Instant Video search results

Now, look over there on the right-hand side of the screen. See the “Add to Watchlist” button? Click that and Amazon will remember it for you.

The next time you’re in the mood for a movie, you don’t have to try to think back, to remember that conversation. You can just go to your watchlist and choose.

The Wizard of Oz at 70

wizard-of-oz

Seventy years. 70 Years!

Wow, the movie we all know and love and reference in many ways – The Wizard of Oz was released seventy years ago.

There is of course an 70th Anniversary Two-Disc Special Edition of the DVD available for purchase – this is almost a “must have” for any video library.

If you don’t want to go that route, you can also rent it from Netflix of course, and Netflix is offering this special… Even if you’re not a Netflix customer, you can instantly watch The Wizard of Oz streaming from Netflix for free at www.netflix.com/wizardofoz on Saturday, October 3rd, starting at 9:00 a.m. ET for 24 hours.

Time to get back on that yellow brick road.

TV’s Digital Switchover

Hey, it’s been a while since I last wrote about buying a new TV, but for some of you the time is coming soon. Or not. Most geeks — and I’d guess most readers here — already know what’s what, but look around. There are plenty of people who don’t, and those of us who understand should be helping our friends and relatives. Here’s the short version:

All full-power broadcast television stations in the United States will stop broadcasting analog signals and begin broadcasting only in digital by February 2009. Some will make the change before then.

The key there is “broadcast,” meaning over-the-air.70's TV with rabbit ears If you get your shows via Cable or Satellite dish, you’re ok — you don’t need to do anything. You probably want to start looking into your provider’s Digital service anyway; the signal is, in my experience, better.

If you’ve got an antenna on your roof, or your set looks a little like this one — rabbit ears and all — you will need to purchase something by end-of-the-year or so:

  • Purchase a subscription to cable, satellite or other pay service,
  • Buy a new, digital-ready TV set, or
  • Keep your existing analog TV and purchasing a TV converter box (sometimes called a Digital Antenna, Digital Tuner or Converter). There’s even a coupon you can get from the government to help you buy a converter if you’d like.

The point is that some people need to take action, they don’t need to buy a new television set, and we can help them figure it out so they’re not sitting on the couch in tears next February wondering why they can’t watch Days of Our Lives.

LOST

Tonight’s the night fans of LOST, J. J. Abrams’ popular TV series, have long been waiting for. Last night, ABC re-aired the final episode of last season along with “pop-up” messages that were supposed to help viewers who’d not watched the series before. LOST’s John Locke I watched that, but seriously — if you’d never seen LOST before those little messages weren’t going to help.

If you really want to start, you should have probably found somebody with DVDs of the first three seasons and watched those this winter. But there’s not enough time left for that, so… if you’re sitting there with nothing to do today, start with last year’s Newbies Guide to LOST, then hop over to this wiki LOSTpedia entry and click through to each of the episodes listed. You won’t have anywhere near as much fun as watching all 70+ hours, but you’ll (almost) know what’s going on. At least, you might know as much as the rest of us.

In any case, you’ll want to start with Lost: Past, Present and Future which airs tonight at 8pm ET, right before Season 4 Episode 1: The Beginning of the End at 9pm. We’ll be recording ’em both on our DVR and watching when we can.

HD-DVD’s Final Countdown?

Two more possible defections to the Blu-Ray camp, according to an article in Variety:

Daily Variety has confirmed that Universal’s commitment to backing HD DVD exclusively has ended. And Paramount has an escape clause in its HD DVD contract allowing it to release pics on Blu-ray after Warner Bros.’ decision to back that format exclusively.

Neither studio is ready to throw in the towel immediately, however. On Thursday, Universal broke its silence about the matter to say that it plans to keep supporting the format for the time being, a pledge Par made earlier in the week. And in any case, U is committed to a series of HD DVD promotions in coming months.

The chicken & the egg — did consumers not buy this holiday season because there was no clear choice, or are the studios trying to make a clear choice because consumers didn’t buy?

TED – Check it Out

Bored with the junk on TV these days? Check out TED.

What was said at TED stayed at TED… but now it doesn’t. The TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) Conference may be “exclusive” but the rest of us can get a taste as well now, thanks to recordings made available via the web (thanks to BMW, apparently).

For those with a political bent, for example, Thomas Barnett is an interesting place to start. I’ve recommended his book The Pentagon’s New Map to some folks, and his talk at TED from back in ’05 is a good listen and summary as well.

And there are talks in plenty of other themes as well — invention, technology, art, Africa, predictions… — pick one and enjoy.