For home theater enthusiasts there is some good news today as we have found out that XBMC is working on a Media Center for use with the Android operating system. Many sites are reporting this as a “leak”, but as the information comes straight from XBMC’s own page we are going to call it a sneak peak. Ever since the first few Android based media players popped up on the market we have noted a rather large gap in what they offer. While most of them do have access to a limited form of the internet and you can access pictures and other items from your own network, the UI is clunky and not really suited for a home theater environment.
We have talked (at length) about Microsoft’s new move to the cloud and also their push with the Windows 8 Ecosystem (which is the cloud). We have pointed out many items of concern as well as shown some of the good parts to the OS; such as faster boot times, much better windows explorer interface, significantly improved task manager etc. However, the one massive point that we cannot get past is the choice Microsoft has made in making the Xbox and Windows Phone the center of the connected home. What Microsoft has done with this mode of thinking is what earned me a D- on a science paper in High School; Concluding the Assumption.
Western Digital is expanding their product line. The Hard Drive maker (and maker of home media players) has decided to attempt to dive into the home networking market. To do this they are introducing a new line of routers called My Net. According to Western Digital My Net is designed to optimize the viewing of online streaming media services and online gaming.
During the last few years the corporate world has enjoyed something of a respite from the typical anti-trust laws that are upheld by the Sherman Antitrust Act. This means that things like the MPAA, RIAA, the Viacom merger and too many others to count have all gotten the thumbs up from regulators. It was not until the Occupy movements hit the streets in major towns that we began to see regulation agencies begin to take notice of some of the more outrageous violations. It was as if they suddenly woke up and said “Hey! You can’t do that…” of course it is an election year and the majority of voters are very unhappy. The incumbent politicians have to at least appear to be doing something.
The war for and against SOPA has once again heated up. We have already told you that the entertainment industry, content owners, and lawmakers are working very hard to push through legislation to get what they want (control of the internet as a means of distribution of their content). It does not matter that the simple act of do this violates many Civil Liberties or that it represents a violation of the very basic tenants of the existing Anti-Trust laws that we have. Now only a few days after Chris Dodd let slip that the MPAA is working to reopen SOPA (or something worse) we find that a new power lobby has sprung up from the ground to take the banner of censorship and wave it.
Facebook is a force to be reckoned with; we have seen this by the way they knocked the once great MySpace into the “who is that?” category. They have challenged almost all other social networking sites and won (with the exception of some of the *cough* adult ones). However, they have also gotten a bit, or rather more cocky than they should. Facebook has begun to implement changes that do not appear to be what their users want and in some cases risk their users personal privacy.
However, one tool they do have that makes them much more nimble than others is Open Graph. It is Open Graph that allows an almost seamless integration with Facebook for websites and many applications. This is also the tool they are going to use to put one of their boldest plans into action. This is the integration of music and video services right into Facebook. With this new plug in you will be able to share what you are watching and listening to on services like Hulu, Spotify Rhapsody and more right on your profile page. (Anyone want to bet on how long before RIAA and MPAA chime in on this?)
The service is up and running now globally (although no Netflix for the US due to video sharing laws) so I am sure we will all know what our friends are listening to or watching in short order. With the power of Open Graph we have to wonder what Facebook will integrate next.
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Remember how we told you that Fox was planning to create a larger delay in their online programming available to non-paid Hulu and Fox.com users? Well as you might have expected the people that are not “subscribers”, you know the ones that are being forced to wait longer, are now downloading these same programs from Torrent and other file sharing sites.
Right after the original announcement, which was designed (according to Fox) to improve their “authenticated” subscribers viewing experience, there was quite an uproar over the delay. Many felt that it was not about improving anything more than Fox’s revenue. After all no matter the delay the cable and satellite viewers are still getting the same experience.
Of course the timing is important as well, many online viewers are disappointed with the available content services right now. Netflix is raising their rates and managed to kick Windows Media Center and other non-web users off their service for a couple of days. All of this is going on while the ISPs are planning to cap the amount of data you can download each month. It makes us wonder about the state of online content. There seems to be a decided effort to push people away from online content and back to the cable and satellite services. The sad part is that this won’t work, but it will give the content providers and ISPs more ammunition to put restrictions, filters and worse on the internet. The same thing is going to happen with the Anon issue. The more we see this happen the more the powers that be can point to these things and say “see, we told you”.
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It looks like the days of free internet TV are coming to a close as the big media companies work to push people back to the tether of cable or other pay services. This should not come as a shock to anyone at all really. After all none of the media companies want you to have access to these shows/movies in a format that they cannot control. We have seen this type of move before with the Music Industry and with the current crop of media giants. The movie and TV companies still have a problem letting go and giving people access over the scary internet. The problem is one of money (it always is); the powers that be are a tad greedy and cannot see how they can make enough if they just allow access to these shows for free…
We have heard that Netflix is changing their pricing in September. We suspected as much after they screwed up their authorization algorithm a few weeks before and kicked all of the Media Center PCs and a few Boxiees out for a few days. The new setup allows them better control and monitoring over their clients who chose to stream content and also provides for better protection against copying the video stream when using a Windows Media Center PC. Of course our initial belief that Netflix was going to begin charging more for people with extended capabilities (like Media Center) did not emerge we still think that Netflix may have had this in mind.
In an odd turn of events Netflix, one of the largest internet streaming media companies, appears to have locked out the Windows 7 Media Center Plug-in. The issue began on June 29th in the early evening when reports of this issue popped up from different users around the net. We checked into the problem and found that while the rest of the service appeared to work flawlessly, you still could not view any movies. The error? Our apologies – we could not authenticate this request.