I’ll come back to podcasts once I find my bookmarks. (I hope to talk about programs for organizing bookmarks another time.)
I want to talk about serious alternatives to a thing that I can’t stand: standard scheduled television. I hate turning on my TV and finding nothing on, which seems to be the case most of the time. The only time that I would watch TV, due to my unusual working hours, is littered with bad soap operas, worse talk shows, and the utter despair for humanity that comes by watching those ‘Judge’ shows.
So I’ve turned the TV off and come up with these alternatives.
1. Joost (www.joost.com)
This is a free, beta program that will run a number of CBS programs. I have to admit I’ve been getting my geek on with the (mostly) complete series of Star Trek: The Original Series. You can also watch Jericho, Married with Children, and I Dream of Jeannie just to name a few.
It does require a stand along program and won’t just run on your browser like some of the other options I talk about. There also a few ads that come along, but most only 15-30 seconds and aren’t very obtrusive. It will also run full screen, and I do get a very good picture with only very occasional skipping on my cable connection.
2. Hulu (www.hulu.com)
I’ve just gotten onto private beta for this, so I haven’t been able to play with it for very long. Yes, I said private beta. I signed up for this about a month ago and finally was allowed access about a week ago. I’m sure that the lead time will grow shorter over time, but I wouldn’t expect to sign up and get access to this in one day. I should mention that someone has come along to open the whole thing up so signing up isn’t necessary, but I found that site (http://www.openhulu.com/) to be much slower.
This site has a variety of NBC and Fox show, in fact a much larger variety than Joost has. It includes 24, American Dad and I’ve even seen a couple of rogue episodes of the Simpsons. This is one I’m definitely keeping my eye on. The video seems to run in a ‘flash-like’ window and does not seem to be expandable. However, the quality is pretty good, if a little small.
3. MySpace Prime Time (www.myspace.com/primetime)
This site also uses the Hulu material, but it does have some original programming and even a few movies. The site just under went some reorganization, which has made it a little more difficult to find things. However, I was able to find a few more show than I saw in my perusal of Hulu, so this might be worth a stop as well.
The quality is definitely the worst of the three, but it seems to have the largest variety of content. Therefore, it is probably worth a bookmark.
One thing to keep in mind with all of these services is that you really need a good internet connection to make the most of these. (i.e. don’t bother trying to use dial-up, and be ready for some break-up with a slower DSL connection) If you can watch stuff on YouTube , you may be able to get away with MySpace Prime Time, but the other services probably aren’t for you.
So enjoy being your own programmer. In a later entry, I plan on discussing another way to be your own programmer, by the use of DVRs and time-shifting the programs you want to watch.