Maybe We Should Just Go Back

vcrto using VCRs. I don’t watch a ton of television. Not because it’s somehow beneath me (people who claim that TV is beneath them are generally the same ones claim that they spend all their leisure time reading biographies of world leaders, but who are usually found drinking $8 coffee at Starbucks while debating the color of their next BMW), but because I can’t find anything I like, now that The Deadliest Catch is over. Battlestar Galactica is back on now, thereby cementing my belief that the Sci-Fi Channel is about the only channel on the dial that I can count on for something interesting. Other than that, I have to scan the listings for the few movies and shows that interest me.

All of that makes the ability to record shows that come on at odd hours very important to me. Like a few other idiots, I bought (several of) the HDTV Tivos that will soon be (a) obsolete and (b) filled with ads. TIVO is dying on the vine. The problem is that there are no good alternatives.

In theory, I’d like to try a Media Center PC. But that’s not going to work because Microsoft is going to cripple it with restrictions demanded by Holywood in the name of so-called digital rights management. Who exactly is this digital rights management intended to manage?

In my 44 years, I have spent thousands and thousands of dollars on records, tapes and CDs, beginning at age eight with this record through today when I received this CD from Amazon. I do not pirate music. But I have never bought and will never buy a song that has DRM protection. If I wanted to steal songs, I could figure out how to do it. Having someone else try to micro-manage what I can and can’t do with music I have bought is simply unacceptable.

Now comes Hollywood. I do not know of a single instance where anyone I know has ever pirated a second of video. Not one second. But Hollywood, taking a page from the priority-challenged RIAA, thinks we’re all waiting around to spend hours and hours to save $15 by pirating a DVD. The industry’s answer of course is to add a ton of restrictions to the videos we buy. Well, that and making sure that HDTV never comes to Media Center PCs in any usable fashion.

In sum, all of this is actually making everbody’s whipping boy, cable TV, sadly appealing again. In the big race to keep some kid in Belgium from making a copy of a $15 DVD everybody (consumers, manufacturers, even the movie industry itself, loses). Everybody except the kid in Belgium who will crack any restrictions in the time it takes the rest of us to extract our DVD from all of the anti-theft wrapping.

Is That a Train I Hear a Comin'

to take my TIVO away? Or is it Rupert Murdoch. More unfortunate evidence that TIVO is dying on the vine. I like my TIVO, but I know that it is not a long term DVR solution. When Direct TV turned its back on TIVO after allegedly trying unsuccessfully to buy it, the end was beginning. A lot of early adopters like me are going to soon have some very expensive paperweights. The problem is being accelerated by the fact that the current HDTV models do not support MPEG-4, and Direct TV is about to switch to MPEG-4 in order to create more bandwidth for additional HDTV stations.

Like a lot of things (VCRs, tablet computers, etc.) the person who invents something isn’t always the one who capitalizes on it. If Direct TV says subscribers need a Direct TV branded DVR to record HDTV, most subscribers will get one. I don’t know how (or even if) TIVO thinks it can survive without the support of Direct TV, but it can’t.

To make matters worse, TIVO recently hired a contraversial CEO.

Looks like rough waters ahead for TIVO and its (so far) loyal customers.