See Me Watch

Yesterday I stumbled across a news article about a different kind of lottery website. It seems that these folks from Cambridge, MA decided to stream video of themselves scratching $10 Massachusetts Lottery Tickets and they say that they give 10% of their winnings to charity. I don't know if these people will make any money at this, but it is an interesting concept.

The site is called SeeMeWin.com. The people working the site spend part of their time scratching tickets for the camera and the rest of the time trying to kill the downtime between tickets. It really has a bit of a college radio flair to it.

After watching this for a few minutes, I found it to be somewhat amazing that bandwidth has gotten cheap enough that you can stream video 24/7 and not bankrupt yourself in the process (the SeeMeWin site can rely on the cost of the tickets to do that for them). Now the video isn't perfect on this site, but I am sure that this is one of those things where if they do make some money, the size of the video on the screen, and its quality, will slowly increase.

What impresses me about this is that it is simply different, not just another video agreggator or social networking site as most new websites seem to be of late. It is always a bit refreshing to find something with original content.

Streaming Media to your TV

I recently took a look at Dell's Idea Storm site. It's a good concept. You log in to the site and post ideas. Other users can vote and comment on the posts.

While taking a look at Idea Storm, I ran across this article about Streaming Media to a TV.

In the future, I will happily buy the device the post describes (or the AppleTV for that matter.) I think that the current problem is that it is going to take a few more years before Streaming Media to a TV is really a practical choice.

The ugly things about any device like this are going to be the bandwidth and the support.

On the support side of things, there is probably less than 3% of the population that is going to be able to just set this up out of the box. No matter how Dell, Apple, or whomever color codes the labels, you are just asking for too much from the average user to get this thing setup. It's not like all TV's have the same jacks in the same places.

And then the device has to be hardwired to your network or setup for wireless. As there are still plenty of folks out there without wireless, how do you think those same folks will do when it comes to running CAT5 to the back of their TV's?

And then there is the bandwidth issue. I have decent connection, but when I stream full screen video to my PC it generally looks like crap. It's pixellated and hangs most of the time. How am I really gonna stream full HDVT content and have it look better? Streaming from around my home network would be good, but I still have to get that content from somewhere.

Just for fun, what percentage of US households have a properly setup Home Network that involves sharing files and not just an internet connection? I don't see this number being greater than 5%.

All in all, I think that there is a ways to go before the PC-to-TV device becomes a real choice, but I look forward to buying one some day.

Netflix & Connection Speed

I am pleased with the fact that Netflix is slowly adding movies to their Watch Now collection. Initially it seemed like the only real choices were between a few aging BBC favorites and The Philadelphia Experiment 2. It is starting to become a place where I might actually be able to use the 24 hours of on-demand time that they have allotted me.

When trying to watch some of this newer content, I have run into an interesting issue. When I try to play a popular movie like The Core, it plays without issue. It takes less that a minute and then just loads right up. When trying to watch a less popular title, in this case The Girl from Monday, I get an error message from Netflix that prompts, "Your Internet Connection is too slow for immediate playback."

This message makes me wonder if Netflix is just missing an error message for, "Sorry this movie is not available right now" or are they actually expecting the average internet user to be browsing in with a download speed of greater than 6 Mb/s. If so, it would be nice if they could tell me just what speed they are looking for. I would really like to know.

Maybe I am overestimating what my cable modem is capable of. I know that there are others with faster connections. Personall I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of Verizon's Fios service so that I can double my current browsing speed. But in the meantime, if my present download speed is good enough to plays just about everything else on the site, why should I be getting this prompt at all?

Joost

Last week I finally received my Beta invite to Joost. Having heard and read much about this app over the last couple of months, I eagerly downloaded it, created my user account, and launched the app for the first time.

My initial reaction was that the program looked pretty slick. Full screen video with a simple menu overlay. It was intuitive and easy to navigate through, but I quickly came upon one serious problem. Where the hell was the content?

It was almost like Joost may have slowed down the navigation a bit to obscure the fact that there just wasn't anything interesting available on the site. That or they are targeting this app at folks that have connection faster than my 6 Mb/s and I just cannot fathom that that would be a huge share of the market at this point.

It looked as though I had access to a full season worth of Laguna Beach (think I might have drying paint that would be more likely to peak my interest) and a couple of videos from Green Day. There was some programming about the making of a few music videos and beyond that, there wasn't much.

This might still be in Beta, but it would be nice if they could at least post something worthwhile so that the users can settle in to watching the site. As it stands, after about a half hour I ran out of stuff to play with on Joost.

Guess I will check back in on this in a couple of weeks, but for the moment I feel a little let down. My on-demand video of choice (well, only choice) will have to be the Netflix WatchNow service.