The Australian Broadcast Corperation has been a long time broadcaster of the Docter Who television series. During the first seasons of the new Doctor Who series, about 2005 or so, it wasn't possible to watch the episodes via the Internet, unless you went the Bittorrent way. The ABC experimented this season with making the episode available at the same time as the BBC broadcasted it, which is Sunday mornings for us, a week before it was broadcasted via the television.
But why would you want to download the episodes if you know they are broadcasted later anyway?
The technical answers are simple: Because it is possible. Internet traffic is cheap, specially if about two thirds of my cap of 150 Gb per month is generally unused. On the ABC I can see the non-HD version, on the Internet I can find the HD version.
The social answers are about the "feel included" issue: Initially the delay between the availability on the Internet and the broadcast at the ABC was long, weeks if not months. To their credit, last year the ABC reduced the broadcast delay compared with the BBC to one week. But considering that the global social interaction on the Internet happens "now", downloading the episodes to watch them now and be able to communicate on the social media is the only way to not have to feel left out.
And the last is the old argument of "I want to watch it when I can", and added the post 2008 "and where I can". When it is broadcasted, you need to be at home, available, not interupted by various house members of all sizes. The video recorder and digital recorder are a solution for this, but then you still are limited to watch it on your television. These days with iDevices and laptops you don't want to be limited to that anymore. The iView service overcomes this issue partly, allowing you to see it on any device, but it still needs a stable network, not something which 3G on a train trip can provide.
So... How did this experiment from the ABC go for me? For starters, I have watched all episodes via iView and haven't downloaded a single one via Bittorrent. Just like the previous seasons, I have seen them all at least twice to fully understand the story line. I watched the first one on Sunday, sometimes in the morning after breakfast, sometimes after the kids were brought to bed, without having to spend two-three hours first to download them. Unlike the previous seasons, I haven't watched it on TV this time; That really was a new thing.
So, for me the experiment was successful and I hope that the ABC will continue this programming.
The hotel I stayed in last time has changed only a little bit. Was there a small TV last time, this time there was a huge LCD TV. Was there a video-player last time, this time there was a DVD player. Was there a wall with videos for lend last time, this time there was... NOTHING! Okay, that sucks big time because last time I spend some serious time watching different kind of movies than I normally watch and learned a couple of nice actors.
Because of the absence of videos, I had to watch TV. So I checked Discovery Channel, which didn't really have anything attractive on in the evenings. Next one is History Channel, which had two interesting programs which reminded me of the program "Tussen kunst and kitsch" (Between art and kitsch), about two people (sorry I forgot their names) who went through old collector places to find interesting stuff. The story of the two was boring, the knowledge they had about things was massive. The second one was pawnbrokers, instead of hunting for treasures they waited for them to be delivered. The story of the pawnshop was boring, the knowledge of things was again massive. And I found a channel which had Star Trek: The Next Generation on at 22:00 so I could watch it and go to sleep while dreaming of Q and the Borg.
Weather-wise: It was cold. Warmer than San Francisco, but cold for a summer for a country which lies at the same height as Spain! I met up with Jos Backus, again this time, and he showed me again the nice places around Sunnyvale. Thanks Jos!
The week I spend at the Riverbed TAC in Sunnyvale was a good experience, meeting up with new and working together with my old colleagues, experiencing a different style of how a TAC is managed, having the fun of handing over cases to my colleagues in Sydney (did I actually do this or was it just wishful thinking?) and spending some time with former colleagues who left for other roles.
Before I went back I noticed that my bag was falling apart and that it needed a replacement otherwise all my clothes would end up over the landingstrip! On the way back on the plane I was pre-warned this time and got myself eye-patches and a neck-pillow and I slept for about 60% of the time and dozed for a couple of more hours. The plane left two hours late (after they let us on!) because of a missing or failing crewmember-oxygene-bottle-pressure-measuring-device-button-light-switch-thingie. So instead of arriving at 06:15 I arrived at the reasonable time of 08:15. No hassle with customs, no hassle with quarantine.
So, is United Airlines really that bad? Yes. With a capital B and A and D. They were before taking off already out of apple-juice and they have absolutely no control over the inside of the plane, more than once I was woken up by the speaker system begging the people to stay in their chairs because the seat-belt sign was on. It is times like that that you wish that the broken crewmember-oxygene-bottle-pressure-measuring-device-button-light-switch-thingie would cause some airbubbles and that everybody without the seatbelts on would end up in a negative G situation and then with their face flat on the floor. It is a way to learn that there is a reason these seatbelts are there :-)
Anyway, I'm safely on the ground again and have my three loved ones around me again!
As stated before, I'm in San Francisco right now. And the flight to here with United Airlines was kind of a nightmare...
I might be spoiled, but with in the travelling I've done in the last ten years, I didn't encounter an airliner which on its long haul flights didn't come with complementary eye-patches and inflatable neck pillow. Oh, I did this time, and it sucked.
Also the "entertainment system", for a lack of better word, were old-fashioned TVs hanging on the roof and a projected on the wall in front of me. So, no eye-patches and this light constantly flashing in front of my closed eyes: To sleep you don't need brain-stimulation like that! Getting rid of these TVs would be a good thing.
The people in the plane where acting like they were on a school trip with zero clue of what was going to happen. The plane left at 14:00 Body Time, which means that it got dark at 17:00 Body Time. So far so good. The cabin crew turned off the main lights and everywhere the reading lights went on and people started to talk loudly and laugh. Did I tell you that there were no eye-patches? AAAAAAAAAARGH! So at 23:00 Body Time everybody kind of fell asleep (finally), but then at 01:00 Body Time the guy next me opened the plastic cover in front of the window and kept it open because he wanted to see the sun. Still two hours to go and had barely any sleep.
Now the good news... I digged up a set of Bose noise-cancelling headphones before I went, new battery in it and oh man, that noise-cancelling works great. Too bad I didn't have an inflatable neck-pillow so I couldn't easily wear it, but the quietness was kind of what prevented me from going totally insane on the plane.
The flights I had went from Sydney to Los Angeles and from Los Angeles to San Francisco. The transfer time I had in Los Angeles was 60 minutes before boarding and 90 minutes before take-off. That was a close call... First you have to go through the DHS checks, which takes 25 minutes before it is your turn, then you have to get your luggage and go through customs, another 20 minutes. Then it's getting rid of the luggage and run towards terminal 7 (It is warm in LA, so my jacket and shirt and singlet were way too much, huff puff). And then you see this huge queue in front of the security check to get towards the gates again. And you hear in the distance "Flight UAsomething to San Francisco is now boarding". Talking to customer representatives doesn't help, the queue is one giant string of people and you just have to wait until it is your turn. Tick tick tick... And finally when they announce the final final boarding call for flight UAsomething, it is my turn and I woosh through. With my laptop and my belt in my left hand and my backback and jacket in the my right hand (I know that it sounds impossible, but that it how it happened) I ran towards the gate and was the second last person to enter the plane. Just in time!
And then San Francisco... Covered in brownish clouds (ugh). They still haven't fixed the awful sounds on the BART trains, I wonder if people who travel daily with it wear earplugs or get compensation or just go deaf early...
But now everything is fine. The hotel is close to Chinatown, so the food will be good, and I had a walk through the area (more or less randomlay walked from the hotel to the west and to the south and to the east until we came to the water and then back to via the Abraham Lincoln Brigade monument and the Villancount Fountain while lots and lots of water was pouring out from it. Very impressive.
Later this week more.
With the move to Australia I have learned a particular thing about my brain: I can't remember names without seeing them written down. This presents itself mostly when watching television or movies: The names of persons (an overal problem), but also about medical issues (Skully in the X files, House), city names and star systems (Star Trek :-).
Last week I was reminded about this when discussing the latest episode of The United States of Tara: I didn't kow the names of any of the characters except for Tara. I know there is a husband, a son and a daughter (and on the side line a sister, a fast-food shop-manager, a boyfriend of the son and a psychiator), but I don't know any of their names. Neither the name of any of the personages Tara transforms in (except for Buck, which is a name I saw in the subtitles of Kill Bill).
I have seen numerous episode of The Bill (UK Police series), but I won't be able to name any of the characters in there. I have seen numerous episodes of House but can't name his colleagues or female boss.
This issue has never been a problem when I lived in the Netherlands, because all the foreign television series and movies are subtitled. So I know all the names of the people in Star Trek and Babylon 5, and I know part of them in Battlestar Galactica (Starbuck, Apollo (is he in the new one?), Boomer and Adama because they were in the old series which I saw with subtitles) but the name of the president or the second in command on the Galactica or the name of the scientist are all unknown to me.
That didn't mean that having the BBC was useless for me, thanks to the subtitles on the Teletext system "behind" the broadcast I was able to follow everything.
So, what does this leave for me in Australia? Not much, there is no Teletext system on the normal channels and there is only one channel, SBS, which has subtitled movies and series (because they are non-english). Before the re-run of every episode of Dr Who and Torchwood I read up on the TARDIS Wikimedia website to make sure I know who is who this time.
At least I know the limitations and the workarounds, but it's very tricky sometimes!
When I moved from thet Netherlands to Australia I lost access to television.
Not because there isn't television here, but more because there is either much television (horizontal programming with reruns of old series) or not enough diversion on television (three commercial channels fighting for your eyeballs with reruns of old series, plus two non-for-profit and one community station).
The worst part is the delivery of the signal: Everybody here still has their own antenna on the roof or, even worse, inside their house. Were you used to receiving a crystal clear scala of stations via a municipal coaxial cable in your house, here you get (if you are lucky) six channels with varying quality. And nobody to complain at when it looks crappy (signal delivery wise). Oh boy, this was going back to the middle ages.
For a couple of years I haven't really worried about it. The only channels I am interested in are ABC (Doctor Who, The Chaser etc) and SBS (Top Gear, Mythbusters, any foreign spoken movie) and most of the time I managed to get a (relative) clear picture for them. The other channels had weeks in which one or more were undecodable for the human eye.
So what has changed? First, extra channels for the ABC and SBS, but only on the digital channels. And to tease us, they are showing Torchwood and the Tour de France on it. Now I'm not really easily blackmailed into something, but a combination of the Tour de France for me and Captain Jack for Naomi, that is something very hard to refuse.
So... We got a set-top-box and had a !@#*)!*#@) hell of a time to get it synced. For a long time we had nothing until I once by chance had a signal good enough to receive some ABC channels. And I was happy, because it also showed that there was an button on the remote control (but only once it had found a channel) which says how good the signal strength and signal quality are. Oh boy, finally something to work with. But it didn't find anything besides the three ABC channels. And now and then when I did a rescan it also lost the ABC channels... Even spending 70 dollars on a new antenna, with an amplifier, didn't work. Very frustrating!
It wasn't until this week that I understood that what I was doing was wrong: While the ABC showed up on channel 21, 22 and 23, that actually were logical channels on carrier channel 12. Once that principle was clear, I suddenly knew where to find other channels and one by one they popped up: SBS, Digital 44 and Channel 9. So far I haven't found Channel 7 or 10, but it will be just a matter of time. Maybe. So that Naomi can watch Jeff Goldblaum on L&O:CI and Dirkie can watch Funniest Home Videos.
So which channels do we have now? ABC (1, 2 and 3), SBS (1, 2, 3 and 4), NITV, D44 (including random news and the Federal parliament), Nine (crappy signal). Good enough for now :-)