Current Trends

And it’s not just the general bemoaning, overall refrain of defunct 80’s and 90’s kids caught in the transitional generation, a time period between now ancient devices and the new digital world we currently occupy who were taught using pen and paper, push comes to shove, a typewriter for important documents, just edging into the computer age, weaned on the Walkman and the , slightly older persons prolific users of their VC R, contented by over the air TV, forced to contend with exorbitant cable bills and the obvious limitations of broadcasting companies DVR monopoly in the modern era. Persons still buying CD’s, happy about pocket resurgences of the record player, known to call Blu-ray a scam, unimpressed and utterly lost by all the technology we seem more and more dependent upon. Even tech giants want a better internet, internet neutrality meaning customers of services like Netflix paying for higher web browsing speeds actually get what they pay for, as opposed Discmanto high buffer rates, connectivity issues and poor video quality; those who remember the showdown between music service Napster and the United States government alongside anyone who can actually understand the digital millennium copyright act passed in 1998, might well think we have adequately addressed the problem. Despite warnings on music and movie piracy displaying before every DVD we purchase plays, YouTube videos suddenly pulled, pitched voices used to alter sound on newly released music to avoid copyright infringement and show friends your favorite releases, or just don’t care in light of the numerous music, movie, other entertainment personalities hugely benefiting from something that went viral on the web, from comeback to discovery, from new markets to having one at all, betterment, all-encompassing improvement still goes to broadcasting conglomerates, endless service providers not consumers. Nothing makes that clearer than the complete shut out of the American market from hot products like the Blu-ray recorders all the rage in Japan and South Korea, the Supreme Court hearing the case of TV streaming service Aereo attempting to provide streaming of over the air television to mobile devices and PC’s, the American public remains the loser.

Bigger than continued questions of progress, integrating multiple generations all present on the planet to ever evolving technology, confronting hurdles in our existing technological landscape including costs of internet speed, types of browsers, anti-virus, malware/spyware software variations, the constant challenge to upgrade, keeping operational technology if you are an average citizen who likes music, movies, or just wants whole, complete access to information, erecting sometimes insurmountable barriers between people and knowledge, awareness about the world around them, individuals using the internet for everything from finding a restaurant to finding a physician, specialized schooling for a disabled child, is the idea the internet is supposed to be for everyone coupled with the content accessible therein. The sections of news broadcasts referring you to their website for whole lists concerning product recalls, local social services, charities, enhanced details on breaking stories, meaningful local/national headlines; however, any net user who has been one longer than 5 minutes knows that is far from what we actually have. Beyond academic databases charging money for access, government and other restricted spaces on the internet average citizens aren’t supposed to get their hands on, secure sites related to banking, tax filing, social security and retirement applications are entertainment and information options made increasingly out of people’s reach, not only by the technology medium used, but by how it is set up in the first place. More than the extra step tedium of downloading music choices to your MP3 player over buying a ready to play CD, newspapers trying to sell digital subscriptions for combinations of online and paper content once free  if viewed on the net, more than delayed viewing for whole news broadcasts, primetime television shows watched online vs. catching them on your traditional TV, programing made exclusively for internet viewing, think Netflix’s House of Cards, British comedy only available on Hulu, forcing interested individuals to join an online paid subscription service to view wanted programs on your devices. Topping off your mounting cable bill, your internet provider bill, is the  the number of free services out there still requiring you create an account, usually consisting of e-mail address and password to watch particular movies, see rare, old, classic TV episodes, adding to the litany of accounts and passwords we already struggle to remember. Once you bite the bullet and decide, the want for video, movie, TV series, TV episode outweighs the hassle of creating that account, consumers then find themselves staring at a buffering icon or a message stating you lack a plugin to see what you built the account to see, are asked to download, add media players, particularly to your PC, or mobile device to watch content; media players that are often seeming as numerous as stars in the sky. Media players that A- you may have to download one to view one show, another to view another program, B- media players that may not function well all placed on your computer at the same time, your hard drive may not have room for all the ones you need, the ones mandated to access certain shows may not function with specific browsers or your version of it; older operating systems won’t necessarily accommodate the newest roll outs of Internet Explorer, Fire Fox, Safari or Opera.  Meaning you’re still left without what you wished to watch; many times you are shuffled to 3rd party sites, connected sites asking again that you create yet another account to view what you desire. And because nearly all are webhosting spaces not responsible for content, you are placed on a continuing hamster wheel labeled dissatisfaction when it turns out none of the networked sites affiliated with say actually had the title you were looking for anyway. 

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Confusing things further, dubious origins of said media players those that commandeer similar logos to legitimate, functional, sanctioned products like Adobe Flash Player and Internet Explorer duping users into downloading materials that may contain viruses, malware, spyware, spam or other malicious components you then must pay hundreds of dollars to computer repair establishments to remove, in the worst cases replace your device, PC. But not doing so leaves you again absent the ability to watch a favored movie, documentary, TV show, bringing us to your remaining free choices; yes you can find nearly any above listed item plus news broadcasts, event coverage in existence online somewhere, especially those done after the proliferation of the internet. Popularity of program, historical/cultural significance surrounding an event greatly increases your likelihood of finding it relatively easily; searching for it is another matter altogether, locating it doesn’t always mean what we think it does. Laptop users routinely discover provided, no-charge links for steaming cause their fans to run extremely hot, video to become glitch-y or just stop working completely, a huge problem utilizing lower speeds of internet. Complicating things on an entirely different level, blinking, bopping, slideshow, often video ads present on every unused inch of screen taking bandwidth and computing power away from content video viewing, also housing potentially hazardous things detrimental to the rest of your computer; a nuisance to non-video viewing, non-news sites abjectly interfering with net usability not matter where you are on the world wide web. Driving entertainment watchers even crazier, popular service providers once free are pushing into the paid market; wonderful for them, horrible for the consuming public. Available to everyone services from YouTube, Hulu and Amazon’s plethora of products bought online weren’t enough; the former has an on demand service paying cents to dollars for digital rental, Hulu Plus offers a monthly fee subscription to as much digital content as you want, dido with Amazon Prime instant video, to say nothing of Netflix’s transition from a by mail DVD/Blu-ray rental giant to a streaming service that is still belatedly offering the “out of date”  DVD by mail option for old fuddy-duddies still using so called snail mail. What does this all boil to; one user summed it up nicely commenting: “You absolutely want an Amazon/Hulu Plus/Netflix combo. Amazon with two day shipping plus all new movies, netflix for old wrestling documentaries and other specials, and Hulu for current television. Netflix is mostly for older movies. Amazon has new movies way before Netlfix. All three are worth the $19.00 a month. I dont even watch Directv much anymore outside of Hardcore Pawn, Family Guy, Raw, and Dallas plus sports. If not for live sports I wouldnt even have Directv! I can watch all of these with Amazon exclusively (with the exception of Raw) or use the combo. Hopefully one day we can stream all live sports through one network.” [Sic]Not to mention digital services such as Showtime Anywhere and HBO-GO only given to cable subscribing consumers paying for those channels, and maybe the commenter was quoting a $19.00 a month price for each premium item, but it isn’t $19.00 total. Each service/subscription fee mentioned is roughly 7.99 per month translating into an accurate cost of about $24.00

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 Now there are those from tech experts to fellow users who would say the chief problem is people trying to obtain something free that they should be paying for; that if they want better quality, they should be prepared fork over the dollars. Except that’s not so simple either; surpassing rare, vintage materials hard to find outside of some selling, who knows where they got them DVD’s, strangely of wildly popular shows such as Mutant X, Gene Rodenberry’s Earth Final Conflict, Biker Mice from Mars in their series entirety over a single season, mostly first or final seasons available for mainstream retail purchase, movies like Daniel Radcliff’s non-Potter feature December Boys, routine connoisseurs of foreign, non U.S. made films, TV and other productions again find themselves at a loss. Some so-called crossover actors, doing both U.S. and foreign films in their native country, end up subjecting their U.S. fans/audiences to this too, a phenomenon oddly applying to industry interconnected countries like Canada. Prime example, Peter Stebbings well-known Canadian actor known there for his TV work in Traders, Madison, Murdoch Mysteries; garnering a cult classic U.S. following in joint Canadian/U.S. market ventures, Jeremiah where he was a recurring lead and his guest starring role on Stargate SG1, continuing to augment his U.S. presence in the major motion picture Immortals and getting his feet wet in directing producing his original screenplay Defendor, picked up by Sony for U.S. distribution. Unfortunately his U.S. fans either suffer chronic disappointment or think he dropped his ambitions of an acting career, dropped off the radar since under current copyright law, regulations people searching him, huge sections of his filmography are now faced with messages this video is not available in your home country, left with only what is available through services like i-tunes also absent permanent downloadable copies to repeatedly view on your computer, store on your tablet. When we do get a bit of luck in tracking down a DVD copy, it is on sites such as E-bay where quality could be an issue; obscure sites lacking region information letting you know if what they are selling will operate where you live. Though region free players are devices you can buy, ordering them involves yet another .com, shipping usually out of Europe likely to come to you in pieces; region free DVD’s of certain programs are a possibility though they are rarer than anything else mentioned. Assuming said programs were released on DVD for public consumption, Mr. Stebbings’ recent work on The Listener was a hit on Canadian TV after being canceled from America’s NBC network after 3 episodes due to poor ratings; season one released in region 2 (the U.K.) and region 4 South America/Australia). No region 1 date has been set apparently regardless of the fact region 1 includes Canada where it was filmed and is also quite popular. Seasons two through four remain unreleased independent of season five filming having gotten underway. Proving hardcore followers of shows, actors would be more than happy to pay, and in some cases, top dollar for their viewing pleasure via DVD or Blu-ray, if only they could find it. Others would say we are far too TV, entertainment obsessed; instead it appears citizens are clear on what they want, many dropping their traditional cable/satellite providers in favor of online subscription choices, targeting specific media as opposed to settling for whatever is on TV, are demanding what DVR was originally advertised as, a digital, more choices, more capabilities replacement to the VCR, what DVR originally was circa 2000-2003 before the cable giants took it over.  media player virus

Similarly we warn the populous, focusing on teens and 20 something’s, of the permanency of the internet; things you post there could, can and will follow you for the rest of your life. Drunken photos, drug photos, sex tapes that could all stop you from getting into college, getting your dream job, carrying the real possibility of jail time, a criminal record while others of us wish the internet had that kind of longevity for the items we wanted; because when we do find that coveted link to whatever media, cooperating with our browser, internet speed, there is no guarantee it will remain where we found it or in existence thanks to [insert browser name] can’t find webpage, fatal server errors, no media found messages, symbols with unclear meanings until you’ve seen them a few times, ultimately indicating you won’t be watching what you hoped to. This is a particular headache to budding, armature journalists, blog writers searching news items to accentuate their written offerings to expectant readers who want multi-media experiences when hearing celebrity gossip, fashion trends, fashion event summaries, news; news-related opinions, especially, hold more credence when people can see real video from authentic news sources playing controversial remarks, interviews with analysts, disaster victims, activists, whichever is relevant. Problem, finding suitable content accompanied by required embed code, obtaining exact news segment seen on Television in usable video format for your purposes; again the older the story, document or event, the harder it could be to retrieve from the electronic minutia. Newer materials may be equated to finding a needle in a haystack unless you can remember which national news network it aired on, the exact wording of the headline to plug into search engines like Google, Bing, a news network/program’s own website search capability; further without the umbrella of press credentials affiliated with a business producing blogs, written news content making requests for clips, pieces from news agencies can, at the very least, be time consuming in an era of daily blogs, updates and 24 hour news cycles. Once more locating embed code equipped video doesn’t always indicate victory; counter to news websites’ general help sections regarding video advising people to have the latest web browser, latest version of Flash Player, said sites repeatedly become unworkable upon new updates, often the latter mandating people send multiple requests via their contact forms to correct the malfunction.       

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Doubling the insidious nature regarding broadcasters’ case against Aereo is they intrinsically have a point; their service is leasing cloud space and antenna hardware allowing people to view and record content, compared to the VCR’s of previous decades, charging a modest fee, $8.00. Frankly a long awaited solution to cable’s takeover of DVR, people’s inability to use DVR players/recorders purchased at retail electronics outlets like Best Buy and DVRW discs to create DVD’s of their own from over the air programs, because said DVD player/recorder combos no longer have TV tuners and many were forced to get, at minimum, basic cable to receive any over the air channels at all post the digital transition foisted on Americans in the name of progress in 2009. My own DVD/VCR combo purchased that same year with DVR capability, according to owner’s manual specs, only worked with satellite providers such as Direct TV and Dish Network, not just excluding traditional cable entities, Mediacom to name one, but very possibly unworkable currently thanks to their own DVR machines Genie and Hopper respectively. Key too, unlike HBO- GO and Showtime Anywhere, giving said premium cable channel subscribers a PC/device viewing option for those without company provided DVR, TiVo, who by the way has partnered with Mediacom to install rented TiVo’s into homes, giving whole home DVR to prime, premium customers, is Aereo isn’t giving away any content not housed solely on over the air venues, is not accessing any cable content not already available free; rather focuses on restoring what once was, what still is to people willing to use analog TV’s and converter boxes, combine antennas and VCR’s. Crucial considering individuals trying to divorce themselves from their computers, laptop owners who may use said laptop in work, paying bills, battling low speed DSL who cannot run their PC 12+ hours a day. Absolutely critical to comprehension of every facet of the issue is, knowing we have broadband blackout spaces nationwide leaving swaths of people out in the cold unable to stream content at all, where broadband DSL is available persons in rural areas, key pockets across the U.S. find themselves paying sky high prices for barely functional internet that just covers rudimentary tasks. Tech geeks and cellphone users alike will next tout wireless as the latest, best choice in internet connectivity and speed whether you are running a phone a tablet or laptop, yet there are more wireless dead zones than there are broadband blackout spaces nationwide, causing more than just dropped calls. Another negative to wireless on a home PC, grounded laptop vs. tools for business persons on the move, wireless plans are centered around data limits and unlike the ones designed for phones offering unlimited talk, text and data for a monthly fee, DSL plans through a provider allocated according to speed, these plans charge based on how much data you consume, adding cost for going over. The catch is in calculations of what is deemed data, data usage; simple actions such as loading a webpage is considered downloading taking from said limit, but so is refreshing a page, clicking on a Google search listed item along with music and video.  Free Wi-Fi, like the internet itself, is seen as the great equalizer when it comes to net access; except it is notoriously unreliable and increasingly unavailable. Outside major former landline phone companies having long ago gotten into both the internet and mobile phone markets, closing off once free Wi-Fi hotspots; set up for what’s left is a nightmare for anyone over 18 and who doesn’t work for Geek Squad, contains weak signals unusable in more areas than not, entails buying a hotspot or other device boosting consistency. Translation, more money spent.            

Fixing this gargantuan ball of wax, unfathomably intertwined ball of signals and fiber optic cable involves much more than adjusting, overhauling copyright law, but it is a good place to start elevating many interim problems while tackling larger parts. Streaming and downloading webpage content to view should be free of charge period; content on YouTube, similar sites should be available for viewing under the same principle, barring people uploading previously unreleased movie and music materials. However, if the song is on the radio, it should count as a release and people should not have to find ways around it because they want to tout an artist’s new song, listeners don’t use conventional radio, do not belong to a music service; special consideration specifically given to movie and television content akin to those listed here unavailable beyond one single country, not released, released in their entirety on home entertainment options like DVD, TV episode viewing of videos via websites like CTV, not locked by country of origin even when that county is Canada and seeking parties are in America, not Zimbabwe. Letting go of this antiquated idea allowing such sharing cuts into industry profits, ability of artists to make a living even being extremely popular, when the exact opposite is true; people who find good music, in particular, via YouTube are very likely to buy it from i-Tunes, Google Play or order the CD. People who find good independent, obscure movies, TV will alert their friends, will generate a fan base, facts that kept the NBC series Chuck on are for another season.  Realties that would doubtlessly increase Mr. Stebbings popularity, his big screen aspirations if people could find key staring titles such as Re-Generation The Limb Salesman, Kardia, Separation, proven strategies helping not only actors and musicians but directors, producers and related behind the scenes personnel looking to create a name for themselves. Charges should only be incurred for files downloaded onto your computer to keep in digital format. Developing a ratings calculator to use in conjunction with the typical Nielsen ratings to track what people are recording to DVR, TiVo-ing, what entertainment people are Google-ing would give TV producers an accurate picture of what people like, want more of. Addressing larger functionality components, working to simultaneously correct broadband blackouts and wireless dead zones must be coordinated with federal regulation efforts mandating all content operate on all browsers, content be properly configured to all internet speeds including cultivating a business climate accepting only legitimate, industry standard media players. Speaking of which, if dial up is so obsolete it can’t accommodate simple streaming, then it should be free, DSL plans cost roughly what dial up once did and wireless plans be sold at adjacent costs to DSL, a flat monthly fee differentiated by speed; amazing is how we let them adopt the old AOL format and get away with it. Steps that should not take government intervention, major international cooperation but rather should be part of a functional business model whether that’s getting your independent movie, television series put on DVD for anyone who wants to watch it, buy it, chiefly in neighboring countries like Canada and the U.S., making sure movie directors, casting personnel can find your body of work, creating a media player, browser people aren’t consistently writing negative reviews on, complaining about; instead techies and consumers both are projecting an aura of  that’s the way it is live with it. The way it is, sure; the way it has to be, has to stay, no.