Friday, March 27, 2009

I Exist Even More

As I mentioned earlier, here's what blogging about the PS3 instead of Jackie Chan movies does for your hit counts:

First PS3 posting: Feb 21.

I knew I should have gotten that PS3 a long time ago!
No...wait. I don't get paid for this blog.

I know...I'll watch my Jackie Chan movies on my PS3! Yeah, that'll get 'em!

But what was I doing last September that caused that spike in hits? I can't even remember last week, much less last year.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Advantage Hulu

I've posted a couple of times about viewing Hulu videos using my Playstation 3 browser. The conclusion is - it mostly works, although I do sometimes bump up against the limit of what my wireless connection between my router and the PS3 will handle, result in occasional stuttering. I get similar results streaming from YouTube (watched old Bottom Live shows in ten-minute chunks - good stuff there).

Having missing Lost last night, I decided now would be a good time to see how things worked over on (since ABC doesn't use Hulu or YouTube to distribute its shows - I don't think I actually watch any CBS shows, so that network doesn't matter to me). So, I fire up the browser and head on over.

First strike - ABC has pop-under ad windows. The PS3 browser can handle multiple windows at once, although I think you only get full-screen mode - you have to select which window is on "top". Of course, you don't know until you switch over, and the browser first asks if you want to open a window (I think there is an option somewhere to permanently select the desired behavior). I thought we had kind of gotten beyond those annoying pop-unders, but I guess its just that I've been using more modern browsers on my PC and Mac and so never have to see them.

Second, and more severe - once I got to the Lost page and started the viewer, ABC decided my browser just wasn't good enough. Only Mac and PC need apply, and only if using IE, Firefox or Safari. So Linux is out, as is Google Chrome, I assume.

And of course, so is my PS3.

Now, there's really not any reason for it. It's just plain old Flash video, same as Hulu and YouTube, so there isn't really a technical reason why ABC can't get their content to the PS3. They just decided to put some kind of lock on it, and wanted to overly control how it gets delivered.

But the bottom line is, I now will just jump over to BitTorrent and pull the show from there. Since it's recent, it'll be easy to get. Of course, ABC won't get to embed any advertisements in the copy I get, and they won't get the hit count (and advertisement dollars) on their web site that I would have given them.

So yeah - nice work there, Disney. Good job.

Will Wynn Are "Smart"

Here's one reason why I don't plan on voting for any incumbants on the Austin City Council again this year. Because no matter how intelligent they may sound going into office, they end up doing stupid things like having their employees drive around in golf carts with delusions of grandeur.

You know, to save the environment. Or something.

Maybe I should put a positive spin on this. Let's see...

At least they didn't buy a fleet of Segways!

And we won't have to see them around after they start disappearing into potholes!
You know, guys, one of the tasks the city government is actually supposed to handle?

Oh, and Mayor Will Gore, err, Wynn? Please leave sooner rather than later. Thanks!

Working Late Pays Off

So, here's what I barely avoided on my drive home last night...

I figure if I had left work about 15 minutes earlier, I probably would have been stuck in traffic during the hailstorm. Of course, what I got pales in comparison to what some others in the area had to deal with.

Now to find out if the roof held up....

If You Have To Ask...

As part of electronic jury registration in Travis County, this screen:

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Another One Goes Under The Bus

Via the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

All terrific press for Orion, except that Obama kept pronouncing the company’s name wrong, calling it OAR-ee-on.

After finishing his remarks and talking with a few people, the president returned to the microphone and said his prepared remarks led him to pronounce the firm's name wrong.

“I suspect this is Or-EYE-on as opposed to OAR-ee-on. Just wanted to make sure that when I’m giving you a plug, that we’ve got the right plug. It’s Or-EYE-on.”

Now, I'm not posting to point out that had Bush done this, it would be lead-off material for Leno, Letterman, Stewart, et. al. for about a week. That boat left Port Obvious several weeks ago. No, the real surprise here is that Obama blamed this on his "prepared remarks".

That is, on his teleprompter.

I guess it wasn't the TOTUS that we thought it was....

Friday, March 20, 2009

DVD Spending Tag IV

Well, I guess I see what people are truly interested in.

A couple of dozen postings about Jackie Chan movies = a couple of hits.
Three postings about PS3 streaming = a couple of dozen hits.

It's all about targeting your market.

So in the "don't-give-them-what-they-want" department, my fourth DVD purchase of the year is...

Jackie Chan's Crime Story (Dragon Dynasty edition), via eBay for $5.25. Wow, that's going to bump up my average. This will be showing up soon in my Jackie Chan Film Festival, if I ever get restarted on it.

Yearly total: 4 movies, $15.95 total, $3.99/movie.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Hulu And The Playstation 3, Continued

In a previous post, I mentioned issues with watching Hulu videos on my new PS3.

This was partially, of course, because I am an idiot.

As it turns out, Hulu videos have a "full screen" mode, which does correctly scale the video to the browser size. So I am able to get the video to fit to my screen without needing to zoom out more.

However, there is still another small issue, although this one has to do with the Playstation itself, I suspect. When I pause a video in Hulu, it continues to buffer content up to some amount, and displays a large play button to resume. This works on my Mac, but on the Playstation 3, I haven't been able to resume playing after buffering occurs. The mouse cursor moves, but none of the on-screen widgets react to button clicks. Even worse, the browser controls themselves don't respond, either - I can't go back or even quit the browser. I have to hard exit back to the main menu by holding the Playstation logo button on the controller (what is the name for that button, anyway?).

I don't know if things are getting backed up on the PS3 while doing the buffering or what, but this means I have to watch an entire Hulu show without stopping, which is a bit suboptimal. So, one hurdle overcome, another hurdle encountered.

A Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

Ah, the first sign of Spring....bluebonnets along Mopac.

Add in the Spring forward for daylight saving time, and I'm a happy guy.
Now bring on March Madness!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

And Even More On Rivet (and Hulu)

Since I'm apparently an idiot, I had forgotten that 24 was a two-hour episode this week and tuned in at my usual 8:00 Monday night. Hmmm, now I don't know what's going on. Oh well, this gave me an opportunity to check out web video viewing on my new PS3.

This evening, I fired up the browser and headed over to Hulu to watch the episodes I had missed. I soon saw I was getting the same stuttering performance I had gotten earlier when I tried to stream a ripped DVD. So, time to find out just what the issue is here.

I dug around in my closet and pulled out the longest Ethernet cable I had. After stretching my router's power cable to its limit, and sliding the PS3 over a bit in its cubby hole, I was just barely able to string my cable between them. After switching over to wired Internet connection, I relaunched the video from the Hulu site - and voila, now it works pretty well. It's still not broadcast-quality, but I think I would be getting the small pauses and such even if I was viewing it on my Mac directly hooked up to the router - it's being streamed over the Internet. So it appears something on the PS3 wireless client just isn't up to streaming that much content (because I am able to stream this video successfully to a laptop using the same wireless connection).

The other problem with viewing Hulu on the PS3 is that I'm using my 24" standard-def CRT TV. The screen is the wrong proportion for the video I'm trying to view, and the PS3 browser doesn't appear to let me zoom out to shrink the size of the video - I can only zoom in, which is the wrong direction. So I just centered the video part of the page as best I could, which was good enough for now. An HDTV would, I suspect, solve this problem.

After finishing 24, I went back to check out my ripped DVD over the wired connection. At first, it looked promising - the first couple of minutes went by with no stuttering and good video and audio quality. And error message? "The content cannot be played - error code 800288D8."

Hmmm. A quick Google search seems to indicate this is some fault on the PS3 side of things. That is, there appears to be an issue in streaming MPEG-4 video that is independent of the server being used, so this doesn't seem to be a Rivet issue. I may have to play around a bit with different video formats some more until I find some combination that everyone is happy with.

The quest for multimedia Nirvana continues....