The Box Set
I recently went through the Sopranos Box Set (83 hrs over 30 dvd's). I could write novels on the subject matter, but this post has nothing to do with that. Rather I would like to share a greater frustration: Swapping so many discs is the most annoying experience when watching a full television show.
I would have rather spent a few days ripping all discs to some home networked media server or even paid $$ to have the episodes streamed online (but I can't since I have to subscribe to HBO). Swapping discs at the end of every 2-3 episodes created an artificial boundary to stop or continue watching. If there was 1 more episode on the disc I might continue but if I was at the last one, I would have to flip through the catalog to find it. Furthermore if I ever wanted to go back to an old episode - not even worth the hassle. Worse yet, when I was traveling I had to have the physical discs and managed to lose (and later recover) them on more than one occasion.
Compare this to Lost which is actually worse: 84+ hrs over 38 discs. But I never went that route, instead I watched all 120 episodes via Netflix. Some nights on a binge I could watch 4 or 5 episodes in succession. Other times I might start watching on my PS3 and continue days later on my laptop (if I were still watching now, I can even use my cell phone).
Watching a complete television show after it is complete in my opinion is much more satisfying than waiting till next week after a good episode or next season after a cliff hanger. You can set your pace. If you have all (or almost all) the seasons in front of you it can be pretty easy to just ignore cable and just watch a few episodes a night, like you can do with Netflix.
Currently I am subscribing to Comcast Cable, just so I can subscribe to Showtime, just so I can watch Dexter. I hate the arrangement. I will cancel cable after the season ends (but most likely repeat again next year). However with Comcast, you get "On Demand" where I can watch every past episode of Dexter for free with my Showtime subscription. Sounds great, BUT ... I can only watch it on my single Comcast HD box. I have to scroll through dozens of menus to get to the later episodes, then repeat those steps to get to the next episode. I can only pause for 1 day and fast forward at 1 speed. ALL using an interface that was outdated 5 years ago!
Watching On Demand cable shows are frustrating.
DVD Box Sets are a further relic of the past.
Sadly Netflix Streaming lacks the catalog of DVD's and the new releases of On Demand, but the experience and convenience are leaps and bounds ahead of either alternative. Netflix recently increased prices for customers with both DVD and Streaming subscriptions, but decreased prices for customers with streaming only. As annoying as price change is, it pales in comparison to the yearly price hikes I've endured from Comcast (e.g. "HD Technology Fee: $8.95/mo").
Imperfect as Netflix is, it is the future. I don't see a future in the DVD Box Set or Cable subscriptions. They both are becoming obsolete.
Posted in: Movies, Television, Internet, Technology,
Server Upgrade, Technology and Bandwidth
My previous post was my first new entry after recently upgrading servers (I ran out of space on the old one and the software was getting too old). This switch compared to past occurrences was significantly more work and more costly. I say more work because I had over 5 years of different sites, tools, configurations and accounts scattered all over and I had to ensure that each piece migrated without disruption. I say more costly because for all the time I have not completely migrated, I need to pay to run 2 servers.
The cost issue is important because I chose a server from the same company at approximately the same price as I did in 2006. The only difference is that I now get 2x CPU, 2x Memory, 4x Disk Space and 10x Bandwidth. Someone might say: "good deal", but that would be incorrect, they should say: "good technology". As technology evolves in a free market, products and services should become less expensive over time.
My site went on-line in 2003, and I can recall when I first used 100MB bandwidth in a month. A few years later I was exceeding 1GB in a single day. While that order of magnitude may not be common, the observation is simple: "needs change". Demand can grow or users can grow.
Read the analysis from any ISP or TelCo about the bandwidth needs of their customers. They give so many (questionable) reasons about costs while intentionally ignoring a basic tendency: needs change. The bandwidth caps which meet the current customer usage will most likely last for years and are becoming more restrictive. New brilliant technologies (for example Netflix) will never flourish (some won't get off the ground), or advanced features like HD Streaming just won't work for more and more consumers.
I understand web-hosting and ISP bandwidth are not technically identical, but the illustration on usage change is the same. I cannot imagine setting myself limits for the next 5 years. I for one have a great deal of new ideas and different uses of my server. Hopefully a new reader won't hit their bandwidth limit before they make it to my site or the countless wonderful services that have come on-line recently.
Posted in: Website, Internet, Technology,
Picking Sides on the Job
When I look back at my days working for a Fortune 500 (actually 10) company, I learned that often business can be just personal - the people, not the principles. A well informed employee sometimes needs to determine with which "side" they need to align in order to get their job done. As an engineer, it was not uncommon that neither side really wanted to do the right thing. They were just taking positions.
A previous manager of mine came to rely on my opinion on some technical matters. Of course this wouldn't preclude me from commenting on non-technical matters. Whenever I wound up sitting by her in a large meeting or conference hall, I would be quick to provide advice on the potential impending situation. I tried to determine that if a battle broke out between the different sections of the hall, which side we should join in order to be victorious. Also where best to hide if a big robot tore off the roof and started snatching people up. And equally as important: which co-workers would last longer against zombie bites before becoming zombies themselves. ... She never out-right admitted it, but I know she appreciated the anticipatory brilliance of my non-trivial suppositions.
This is just another example of how no previous co-worker, team or business unit has ever regretted having me on their side.
Posted in: Random,
In Memory of a Friend
I originally had decided not to post this, but I now think it will be therapeutic to do so. Exactly 2 weeks ago, my good friend, who I've known for over 15 years, passed away after a 4 month battle with cancer. He was only 31 years old and had been married for less than 6 months.
While I was aware of his condition immediately after his diagnosis, I am still in shock of how rapidly everything happened. For whatever wishful reason I naively thought he had more time, and that I would have had at least one meaningful conversation with him. Sadly this was not the case.
I have always observed life threatening illnesses such as this from afar. Occurring to other people or distant relatives (usually much older). The reality of knowing someone so close both personally and in age, makes me more introspective on my own life (as if that were even possible). All these thoughts, memories and regrets flood my mind.
My biggest regret was that I never spoke to him when he was sick. I never told him that I had not forgotten about him and to let him know that he had all my support. I remembered him. I just hope that he heard me on a voice-mail I left for him or saw one of my messages. ... The only thing I am proud of in some small way, is that I did summon the courage to get up and talk at his funeral. Something I did not plan on doing.
Since he lived across the country, I did not see him often. To his credit, he always visited me when in town and I saw him a few times a year, which is more often than I see some people who live much closer. Being remembered is worth so much more than I can properly quantify. I really wish I had expressed that to him.
At the funeral when his family spoke, his brother's wife said something that stood out to me among all the sadness. She said little by little, each step in his life he pursued a small part of his dream. From engineering, to attending law school, to establishing himself to California and to finding his love and getting married. She encouraged everyone to find their dream - their love - to pursue it and once you have it: hold onto to it tightly. Such precious words from a broken heart. Words to live by.
Grief is a very personal thing. I can't imagine what his wife, siblings or parents are going through. For every word written here, I could speak a thousand more. I can recall the past 15 years quite vividly with all the ups and downs. I can appreciate the changes between us: career, life, relationships and everything else. For the handful of friends who I care about, there is now one less, and that change at the moment is quite difficult for me to accept. In time ...
(a big thank you to all my friends and family, especially my youngest brother)
Rest in peace my friend.
Aashish Kumar Garg
July 20, 1979 - March 9, 2011
Posted in: Life,
A Late New Year Reset
Today started what I hope will be an end to my meandering thoughts on life. The month of January has been quite an exhilarating 31 days. A few weeks ago, in a surprise even to myself, I left the cubicle culture of the "mega-corporation" that I gave over 6 and 1/2 years of my life. (I have plenty of reflections, but I will save those for another post). And this morning, I stepped into a more demanding role at a smaller company where the work is more challenging, the hours longer and most importantly the rewards are much better. ... While I'll still be sitting in a cubicle, the environment, people and responsibilities have little semblance to my past setting.
... I had been planning a trip to Spain (to visit my cousin) for February, but due to the circumstances I decided to go ahead in January as a treat to myself. I came back last week after touring Barcelona, Seville and Madrid. In a sentence: one of the best trips of my life. I could write novels on that, but again, some other day.
So apologies in advance, my inbox has been flooded since December and work/life/etc. has just been a total mess ... my computers are in boxes :( ... I hope to be situated and back in some sort of rhythm in the next month or so.
And to conclude this positive post: the net effect of the recent set of events (trip included) is that I feel like a totally different person. I am so looking forward to 2011 and beyond ...