Giving up TV (and the licence fee)
A combination of annoyance at the BBC refusal to air the DEC crisis appeal, and realizing my licence money goes towards BBC3 shows such as Bizarre ER made me decide to give up TV completely and stop paying the licence fee.
When I sat down and analyazed my viewing habits, I discovered (1) I haven't watched anything on Five or ITV for the last couple of years, except for Champions League football (2) the only thing I watch on Channle 4 is Shameless, the Fonejacker, and the ocasional current affair program (3) as for the BBC, it's mostly Have I Got News For You, nature programs, Match of The Day, and the occasional current affair program (4) I used to enjoy Jeremy Paxman, but now he bores me, and I can't stand the other Newsnight presenters (5) we mainly end up watch re-runs of Have I Got News For You or Mock The Week on Dave.
Which boils down to: we watch shows we like to get on DVD anyway, and occasionally stuff we can watch on iPlayer / CatchUp. The rest we only watch it because it's there.
Presenting the case to the wife
Armed with that knowledge, I got to work on the wife. Afterwards, we had a discussion about getting rid of telly - not an easy one, since that's her industry, and you can't work at the BBC if you don't pay the licence fee. We negotiated a trial period, where we'd only watch TV if we decide in advance it's worth it (like last night BBC's documentary on surveillance, for example).
Here comes Miro
And that's how we connected my computer to the telly, downloded Miro, the Boing Boing media player, seeded it with podcasts, and started watching (and listening).
The latest version is quite good, it hardly crashes now, and the pullout window works well with the the double screen. The lack of remote control means it needs to be extra clever with scheduling downloads, which it isn't - you got to be ruthless with your settings otherwise you end up with your harddisk filled with old unwatched movies.
But all in all it's a success. The computer has become our main media provider, the TV having replaced the VHS player as the obsolete piece of technology sitting in a corner, the one we only use occasionally for special needs.
That's where you come in
That's not quite true - one things that bugs yth is the lack of UK content. She complains that sometimes it feels like we are becoming a US cultural enclave. Which is true - it's bizarre how we can get free video podcasts from the american networks, Al-Jazeera, and so on, but the BBC (the only one we actually pay for) doesn't provide any free video content. Not even the news.
I am thinking of creating a quick 'scraper' to collect videos from the Guardian / Telegraph online and some other sources, but it will take me a while, so that is an issue.
What we watch
The main selling point for the switch-to-net was Ted Talks - I'm sure you all know what they are. Great when feeding the baby.
I also watch Google Tech Talks and Computer History which are more hit and miss and a bit too geeky for yth - this must be the most interesing talk on WWII I've ever watched
Another deal-maker was DemocracyNow, an independent US news network. On top of left-lening news, they always have authors plugging their books, some of which are often very interesting. One of yth's favourite.
A similar one is The Real News Network, which can be a bit tin-foily at times and has the gloomiest news reader in the world. It does have some interesting interviews though, and they are strong on foreign policy news. One of their commentators, Pepe Escobar, is hilarious.
Vanguard is a good one. It is sponsored by Al Gore - I don't care either way for the man himself, but they do good current affairs programs. The one on Russian skinheads literally gave me nightmares.
Another benefit is that we can watch foreign language channels or stuff which is not produced in anglosaxonia - Al-Jazeera does good news roundups for example. It also has a good music programs called Music of Resistance, presented by a member of the Asian Dub Foundation. However, they publish far too much stuff which tends to clog the player, so we had to switch it off. We watch Italian and French news, and Italian children programs, good for getting the sprog used to those alien tongues.
We also listen to some audio podcasts - this is where the BBC does have something to offer. Wake Up To Money is supposed to be the best financial program in the UK, and yth enjoys listening to bits and pieces of Radio
Toff4 available as podcasts.
The other good thing is being able to watch YouTube videos as well. I create playlists in YouTube, then convert to RSS with a site called RSSHandler et voilá - the best of the web available on my telly. Or something.
So, it's all going well, if you could help with some UK content it will be splendid.
Thank you, and have a good day
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