A weblog by Will Fitzgerald


Back when I was a child, I had two choices for watching moving images: watching live television or going to the movies.

Now, we have a large array of choices, and this weekend we used quite a few of them, but it was interesting (and frustrating) to see the large array of troubleshooting techniques they required.

I watched a BBC production of Dorothy L. Sayers’s Gaudy Night using the ‘instant watch’ feature of Netflx. It’s not available for the Macintosh, so I had to watch it on our Vista computer. But Firefox isn’t supported, so I had to use Internet Explorer. The show would freeze every once in a while, sometimes quite frequently. Eventually, it would start: first the audio would come on, at normal speed, but the video would fast-foward until it caught up. There was nothing I could do about it, except be patient; but I don’t think I’ll be watching a lot of shows this way.

Bess and I watched Seven Samurai on a Netflix DVD. Just before the final battle scene, there were some flaws on the disc that made the picture pixelated and stutter and pause. Sometimes, fast forwarding through the bad sections works, but not this time. I cleaned the disc, but it looks like the disc itself was damaged. Skipping to the next section solved the problem (although, of course, we missed that section of the movie).

Jane and I watched the TV show Psych on the Macintosh, downloading it from the USA Network. I was thinking this was flawless, but then I remembered that the power on the Mac got low, and I had to run off for a power cord to get it to work.

I tried to watch an episode of Battlestar Gallatica recorded on our first generation Tivo. But our cable box doesn’t take a serial input, so we have to rely on the IR interface, which is very flaky. So the episode was really an episode of some other show. I did get to watch most of an episode of House that Jane started recording 20 minutes in. But there’s no way to recover those first 20 minutes. We’d spring for a new Tivo, perhaps, but we got a lifetime subscription when we got the Tivo originally, and you can’t transfer the subscription to a new box.

The three of us also watched a Netflix DVD of Laugh-in. No technical glitches, but we did feel a need to pause to explain some of the humor (“Ralph Nader: Your Car is Ready”), and feel embarrassed by the ethnic humor.


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