January 2008 Archives

TV on the internet v. TV on TV

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I sat down in front of my TV last night to -amazingly enough- watch some TV. Most of the time, I use the TV for watching movies or playing games. I get most of my TV from the internet. The CBC normally gets my viewership by posting episodes on their website. This, I think, works better for everyone. What's so good about it? The CBC gets a more precise impression of where their viewers are coming from. When I pluck waves out of the air with an antenna, the CBC has no idea that I'm watching. On the other hand, when I click through to the jPod website, for example, it is quite clear that I'm watching. There's a useful corollary to that, too. CBC can more precisely tell their advertisers how many people are viewing, and who those people are. That's quite good. Clearly, the CBC benefits from me watching TV on the internet. What, then, do I gain? I gain flexibility and self determination. I gain the ability to watch shows when I want to, instead of when the CBC chooses to air them. That's useful if I'm not home when the show first airs. I'm much less likely to follow a show if I have to drop everything to watch it. The other major gain is that the show doesn't get interrupted by advertisements. I'd much rather view banner ads on the side or top of a website than ads in the middle of a show.

If TV on the internet is so good, why am I even framing this as a competition? TV is, at this point, still better than TV on the internet in some respects. For one, if I were to watch jPod on the CBC website, the resolution would be far worse than the TV version. Not only that, but the episode would stream, and streaming is inherently jumpy. Also, if I happened to be home on a Tuesday night, it would make far more sense to watch the broadcast, since episodes aren't uploaded until after the show has aired. Problematic. But not just problematic for the viewer. Even though the CBC benefits in many ways from making shows available on their website, there's still a major problem: the cost of bandwidth. Streaming a 45 minute long show takes bandwidth. Bandwidth costs money. They now pay not only to broadcast the show on TV, but also to stream it on demand on their website.

Some questions, then, about the good and bad of TV on the internet. Would I rather watch a low res, slightly jumpy version of a show, or have the story constantly interrupted by advertisements? Why, if the CBC is willing to make shows available online, do they not choose a better distribution method? Would it be so wrong to set up a CBC sanctioned torrent? Such a solution might cut bandwidth costs for the CBC, and it would certainly give viewers a better viewing experience. At the same time, would regular viewers be willing to spend time waiting for a show to download, in exchange for better picture quality? Do regular viewers even bother to watch TV on the internet?

If I value flexibility and self determination in my TV viewing, why did I sit down last night and watch TV on TV? Simply, I was home, I had nothing to do, I wanted something lazy to occupy my evening with. So I turned on the TV. I find, though, that the more committed I am to a show, the more I end up watching it on the internet. Broadcast TV, on the other hand, is admirably suited to casual viewing. Plus, commercial breaks are a great time to go and get a fresh cup of tea.

Often, when I walk past the shoe repair shop, it strikes me just how fantastic my neighbourhood is. Really, it's the prototypical mixed use neighbourhood. Within a three block radius of home, I have access to a grocery store, two hair dressers, a video store, several pubs, at least six different restaurants, a newsagent, a museum, two parks a metro station, the highway, if I happened to want it, and of course, the previously mentioned shoe repair shop. All of that, on top of the whole pile of mixed residential, as well as the office buildings two streets over.

I don't ever need to leave the bubble. And that's what makes me wonder. I have trouble grasping why anyone would want to live in an area that didn't have everything within reach. Is it actually pleasant to have to leave the neighbourhood to get groceries? Is there some factor in non-mixed neighbourhoods that makes it worth the inconvenience? I find it very hard to believe that anyone would be willing to trade the corner store for a detached house and a yard.

My neighbourhood forces me to exercise, because most things that I need or want are within walking distance. Because I can walk, I don't need to spend money on maintaining and fuelling a car. The sheer proximity of amenities gives me the opportunity to be healthier and have more disposable income. What's not to like about that situation?
Warning: involves discussion of personal hygiene products.

I got to thinking this morning about the little metal boxes in public washrooms. They've always bothered me, mainly because they just don't seem like they can possibly be clean. Also, I went to a high school where people would just pile the paper bag full, instead of putting one pad in a bag and then removing the whole works to the main garbage bin. That's the problem: we have a paper bag dispenser that looks like a very small garbage bin. By putting a lid on it, users are encouraged to just leave their waste in it. The lid also poses a sanitation problem. Let's face it, do you really want to touch something that someone else has touched when you know that everyone using it is coming into contact with some fairly private bodily fluids?

So, what's my solution, then? Install paper bag dispensers that actually look and act like paper bag dispensers, instead of mini garbage bins. Just make something like a paper towel dispenser and fill it with little paper bags. Users will be forced to take the bags to the main garbage bin. Problem solved. Each user only touches one bag, and there's nowhere to leave the bags in the individual stall. Put a sticker on the dispenser, if you must, that tells people not to flush their bags.

on our contemporary definition of love

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I've been researching a paper that I'm doing for my film studies class. I'm thinking about Legally Blonde, the general category of movies aimed at young women, romance novels, and how all of those media influence gender construction. It's interesting stuff, but puzzling. The problem is that all of this research is making me constantly have to run up against the concept of romantic love. And that's something that I have trouble processing, even outside of the academic context.

Think about it: we have this massive collection of expectations. We expect the undefinable spark that we call love. We expect someone compatible enough to be a very good friend. We expect to find someone who can do those two thing, and then we expect them to stay and make a life as a unit. That alone is an awful lot to expect.

There's more, though. At this point in time, we expect the compatibility, the spark, the life, and a whole other set of things. We expect an environment of mutual respect, which is a fairly new condition. We expect to find our partners interesting. We expect them to fit into our existing lifestyle. We expect all of these things, but we don't seem, as a society, to have a very good track record when it comes to holding it all together.

Even if it doesn't work out a lot of the time, we're fiercely tied to our happily ever after definition of love. From fairy tales, on through happy-ending-girly movies, up to chick lit and series romances, the stories women get told are jammed full of perfect, considerate, attractive, nice men who want to make breakfast in bed and then grow old together

When I think it through, I wonder how much of that ideal is really necessary. And then, because I'm a product of my culture, I kick myself for even imagining settling for less.

pigeon hunt

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a game whose sole purpose is to prove that I can do pretty things in flash:

idea for a print

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(text is monospace, with letters running together, spaced over three lines)

you'll call me when you want someone to introduce to your mother

a stub of a poem about a highway underpass

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the loving heat of exhaust fumes
nose stings from running too much
breathe breathe breathe
twenty steps 'til home