How Depressing Must Your Job Be If Its Focus Is On Breaking What The Technology Allows

from the soul-sucking-work dept

Rob Pegoraro has a column up about the latest in the very long line of back and forth attempts of companies making browsers for television sets to get around silly blocks from Hulu. Despite the fact that these systems are really just browsers legitimately connecting to a webpage, Hulu's corporate parents freaked out and ordered them blocked for no good reason. Of course, the workaround is easy: just spoof the type of browser, so that Hulu doesn't know that it's a browser on a TV. However, Hulu keeps trying to block these, which leads Pegoraro to ask a good question at the end:
But when does Hulu get tired of playing this silly game? How do Hulu's own developers feel about working to ensure that their site stays broken for the "wrong" users? Do they not have one of the most degrading coding jobs in America? And to what end--so short-sighted suits can find new ways to annoy their customers?
While it may seem like a random question, it could actually be a big deal. When Hulu first came out, one of the points that people made was that it really was put together by folks who understood the power of the internet. That is, they were "internet people" rather than "Hollywood people," which is what allowed the service to work well for many (definitely better than most expected). But, with the corporate bosses continually trying to limit what the site can do, you'd have to imagine that the developers working at the company must be getting annoyed. What kind of developer wants to focus on limiting what users can do with technology, rather than allowing something great? At some point, Hulu is destined to lose its best developers who just get sick of spending all their time breaking their product, rather than building something cool, useful and innovative.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Marcel de Jong (profile), Jun 1st, 2010 @ 2:42am

    Besides Hulu losing developers. They also will lose the war against "piracy" as with piracy you can put the downloaded material on your set-top box like Boxee and play the files.

    Thus, with piracy you still have a better product than through Hulu.

    When are the suits going to realize that they have to provide a better product in order to compete, not a worse product?

     

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  2.  
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    bishboria (profile), Jun 1st, 2010 @ 2:58am

    Re:

    Well said!

     

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  3.  
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    mike allen (profile), Jun 1st, 2010 @ 3:24am

    wont make any differance

    any computer can use a modern Tv as a monitor once you have that video in the Tv it can then be taken to any recording device. Dont see how the suits can put another genie back in the bottle. (not that they have so far)

     

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  4.  
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    Bob, Jun 1st, 2010 @ 4:14am

    I love hulu. It's a great legal way to watch TV. I prefer streaming to downloading so I don't have to plan ahead. They do get it, and that's why it's so popular.

    But content providers don't get it. They don't realize that every day it gets cheaper to make video. Eventually, people like me (who have fun ideas) will start to make content. I'm not talking about a 72 second clip on youtube. I'm talking about quality stuff.

    It isn't the pirates they need to fear. It's when the pirates get move from pirating to production. If you think you can't compete with free then, just wait.

     

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  5.  
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    zub, Jun 1st, 2010 @ 4:24am

    Working on anti-features

    Being a sw developer myself, I have always been wondering what kind of people would work on such things - on antifeatures in general.

    I certainly would not want to do it. I don't think I'd accept such a job, unless maybe in totally desperate situation. Such job would make me hate myself.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 1st, 2010 @ 4:34am

    Kits for arduinos must have gone through the roof by now.

     

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  7.  
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    Unknown, Jun 1st, 2010 @ 5:22am

    If you want to watch Hulu on your tv so bad just get a tv that you can double as a monitor and hook it up to your laptop...I do it with my 26 in all the time and it works perfectly

     

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  8.  
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    ComputerAddict (profile), Jun 1st, 2010 @ 5:44am

    Breaking it for TV

    I wonder how they Exec's are gonna feel about Google TV who prominently displayed Hulu.com (showing it before the actual network's websites)in its search results during Google I/O. Will Hulu continue to try and block this device/service designed for the TV or will they make an exception for Google? and if they make an exception for google will that open the door to other stream-to-TV devices/services.

     

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  9.  
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    Jim L, Jun 1st, 2010 @ 5:46am

    I watch

    I dropped cable and was useing PlayOn(.tv) which allows Hulu, Netflix and more.

    These kind of things got so annoying so I bought a dedicated netbook with hdmi out and wireless remote control. Haven't had a problem in months.

     

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  10.  
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    Dan (profile), Jun 1st, 2010 @ 5:54am

    Re:

    Hardly the point....

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 1st, 2010 @ 6:00am

    i dont think the hulu people get up in the morning trying to figure out how to break functionality, i think they do spend their time to make sure they are withing their content contracts. if you think they are doing it for the lulz you totally missed the problem.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 1st, 2010 @ 6:04am

    Arduino! We love thee!

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 1st, 2010 @ 6:04am

    Re: Working on anti-features

    You want to know what kind of people work on such things?

    People who are lucky enough to have a decent-paying job in today's economy.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 1st, 2010 @ 6:10am

    Re: Re: Working on anti-features

    I strongly advise those people to start searching for other opportunities because they will find themselves without a job in the near feature. The industry record is impeccable in this regard they managed to extinguish every business they bought, managed or had deals. They don't want others doing things.

     

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  15.  
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    fogbugzd (profile), Jun 1st, 2010 @ 6:18am

    Opening the door to GoogleTV

    Basically, content providers can dictate to Hulu what they can and can't do. Since they are content providers by definition they are a whole lot more concerned with what Hulu can't do. Basically, it is an other case where an industry doesn't want to "cannibalize" their established business, so they try to cut off innovation.

    So far AppleTV has been a bit of a bust, but GoogleTV is going to be another attempt to open up the way people get their content. If they are successful the content providers may discover that their fear of cannibalizing has done nothing but open the door to allow GoogleTV to come in and scoop up a big chunk of the entertainment market. The market is out there and growing for Hulu-type services. The content providers have a choice -- they can try to capture that market now while they still have an advantage, or let someone else have it later. It will happen eventually, whether or not GoogleTV is successful.

     

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  16.  
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    zub, Jun 1st, 2010 @ 6:18am

    Re: Re: Working on anti-features

    Then I'm double lucky - having a decent-paying job while not working on anti-features. (I'm not living in the US, btw.)

    But the thing I was intending to say - I wouldn't want such job even if it would mean more money. Money isn't everything. Job satisfaction is important for me.

    But yeah, 1) everybody has a price, 2) when there's no choice and one is desperate enough...

    It's just that I can't understand people who would work on such things having the choice.

     

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  17.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Jun 1st, 2010 @ 6:21am

    Re: wont make any differance

    Actually thats what I do, VGA cable to the back of the new set and Alt-Enter (Full screen).

    Perhaps they are going to be coming out with their own streaming media box, or maybe they are doing this because of TV anywhere which is going to be a giant fail. Crap like this is one of the reasons I watch so little TV.

     

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  18.  
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    CmdrKeene (profile), Jun 1st, 2010 @ 6:26am

    Developers, Developers, Developers...

    I encourage any developer that is told to break their product, to leave the company and start their own product that doesn't suck. Seriously, we'll support you. There's no reason to block hulu because I am using a bigger monitor or like to sit on my sofa than an office chair.

     

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  19.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Jun 1st, 2010 @ 6:28am

    I have a silly idea .....

    "5/28, 5:06 p.m.: I got an e-mail a few minutes ago from Kylo spokesman Jeremy Pemble, saying that Hulu videos stop playing after 30 seconds in that browser, with the same "Unfortunately, this video is not available on your platform" nonsense as before. I confirmed this on the copy of the program I installed yesterday. It seems Hulu is determined to continue down its contemptible course."

    Why not just use a standard open source browser and modify it, or create a plug-in for it. This way if they break it they also break the browsers of people using "Authorized and allowable browsers".

    Or am I missing something?

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 1st, 2010 @ 6:34am

    Re:

    I think it's extremely naive of you to say that you prefer streaming because you don't have to "plan ahead." How does downloading work? You set up your torrent/p2p program and walk away to go sleep for the night. Now, the magic happens:

    1. You can watch this ANYWHERE you want. On the subway, on the bus, outside at a lunch break. You don't need internet access! You simply turn on your laptop and go "Oh this is cool." Instead, you have to plan around needing to make sure you have internet access, making sure that you're using some awful flash browser and draining your laptop battery wasting cycles with that abomination.

    2. Commercials. Hulu's got em. Downloaded AVIs don't. 'nuff said.

    You lose.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 1st, 2010 @ 6:56am

    Re: Re:

    NO actually you lose..cuz your a dick. All that stuff you mention is called planning, dont want to do that. Dont care. I just want to click and watch, when I get urge. I dont want to 'plan' the DL, and then 'plan' when I am going to watch, or 'plan' to put it on laptop. TV really isn't all that important to me, I only watch when I get the urge, as in some one told me to check something out. CLIQ. WATCH. On to real things, of which TV is not.

     

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  22.  
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    Modplan (profile), Jun 1st, 2010 @ 6:57am

    Re: Re:

    "You set up your torrent/p2p program and walk away to go sleep for the night."

    That's called planning ahead.

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 1st, 2010 @ 6:58am

    Re: Re:

    To set up a download and wait even 15 minutes to watch your show you have no set a plan in motion.

    There are times I sit down with a pizza planning to watch a TV show to rot my brain and clog my arteries with greese and LAMET AND SORROW I thought I had downloaded the right episode of Dr Who BUT I SOME HOW MISSED THE PREVIOUS EPISODE THAT SETS UP THIS ONE! If I was using a streaming service I'd shrug and click over to the previous one and get back to my tasty pizza. Now I have to eat the pizza and get no brain rotting in tandem. Because cold pizza just ain't cool...

    LIFE IS HARD!

     

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  24.  
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    bob, Jun 1st, 2010 @ 7:05am

    I like good down load sites

    For the most part video quality of hulu sucks, so I don't want to watch in on the 50".
    The ads are repetitive and annoying.
    I would much rather find my TV in the swarm.

     

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  25.  
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    crade (profile), Jun 1st, 2010 @ 7:12am

    It is depressing to me just to be working in an industry that is seeing a massive shift in focus away from creating and innovating and towards locking down and locking in.

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 1st, 2010 @ 7:16am

    How Depressing Must Your Life Be If It's Focus Is On Breaking Into What Technology Blocks.

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 1st, 2010 @ 7:25am

    Re: Re: Re:

    In what world is that planning? Chances are if you read techdirt you're probably going to find yourself on your computer anyway. It's not that hard to visit a website and click "download" while you're doing other things. It requires no more planning than "turn off tv and go to sleep", or "turn off lights and go to sleep", etc.

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 1st, 2010 @ 7:39am

    Re: Re: Re:

    You're completely disregarding the spontaneity of having an AVI file on your machine, making you a dolt. How are you going to use Hulu when you don't have internet? When you have a slow internet connection? Have you ever used Youtube? It's about a billion times more excruciating than Youtubes older servers (y'know, the ones that load 2 seconds of a movie). It requires absolutely zero planning to go "oh hey I have an AVI just sitting here, but I don't need to be tethered to an ethernet cord/this building's WiFi/anywhere. I can watch this as I please".

    How often does it occur that someone sends you a random TV show to just pick up in the middle of a series? Any show I can think of relies on having prior knowledge of the series up to that point. And Hulu's show base is not so extensive that it has every season of various TV shows starting from the beginning. Unless it's changed since I used it a month or two ago, I found that to be a rarity.

    Also, "planning" to put it on a laptop? Do you have half a brain or are you just intentionally stupid? I'll let you figure out your big issue there, Mr. "omg i can huluz on my laptop but i can't somehow download a file on my laptop".

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 1st, 2010 @ 7:40am

    Re: Re: Re:

    OH NOEZ. IT'S SOMEONE ELSE'S FAULT YOU'RE TOO STUPID TO DOWNLOAD OTHER EPISODES. WAHH WAHH.

     

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  30.  
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    crade (profile), Jun 1st, 2010 @ 7:50am

    Re:

    Now that is actually great fun! You get to expose dirty secrets that they had absolutely no business trying hide, and sometimes you get to save people from huge security holes, viruses, anti-competitive lock-in practices. This is really rewarding, I do this in my spare time!

     

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  31.  
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    Jon, Jun 1st, 2010 @ 8:11am

    You shouldn't have an apostrophe for a possessive pronoun, such as in your title.

     

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  32.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 1st, 2010 @ 8:11am

    You know, all things are done for a reason, and I don't think the reason for actions like this always comes down to a lack of intelligence about what they're really doing. I'm willing to bet that Hulu has some kind of under-the-table deal with TV providers (DirecTV, Dish Network, cable companies, etc.), who don't want people to be able to easily replace their existing TV service with Hulu using an internet browser right in their TV. Granted, you can just do like me and hook up a computer to the TV, but how many average consumers are going to do that? Probably far fewer than those who would use a browser that's built-in to their TV.

    That said, I do have a computer hooked up to my high-def TV, and have used Hulu to watch some old episodes of various shows that I've missed, but I don't plan on canceling my DirecTV service with the HD DVR any time soon. The high def signal I get through that is a lot better than what Hulu gives you, in my opinion. Plus, with my DVR, I can retain old episodes indefinitely. With Hulu, old episodes may or may not be available. And don't forget that Hulu doesn't ever give you live broadcasts. I would have gone nuts had I not been able to watch the Lost finale as it aired.

     

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  33.  
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    Sean T Henry (profile), Jun 1st, 2010 @ 8:24am

    Re: Re: Re:

    I watch some shows that are not available in the states. Do you know how hard it is to JUST watch the shows when ever I want? It is so hard I have to go and DL the .torrent open the file then go down stares get a beer and a snack then tell the video file to play when I get back. If the show is popular it will take no time at all to DL I have even received a 1hr hd show in under 10min just a long enough wait to use the bathroom and check my e-mail.

     

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  34.  
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    Mike Moon, Jun 1st, 2010 @ 8:30am

    Re: Re: Re: Working on anti-features

    Fuckin' good for you! Douchebag

     

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  35.  
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    nasch (profile), Jun 1st, 2010 @ 8:31am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    In what world is that planning?

    Well certainly in this one.

    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/plan

    It's not that hard to visit a website and click "download" while you're doing other things.

    Who ever said it was hard?

    It requires no more planning than "turn off tv and go to sleep", or "turn off lights and go to sleep", etc.

    You really don't know what planning is, do you? Turning off the TV and going to sleep doesn't require planning, because it's something you can decide to do and do immediately. Downloading and watching a show requires planning, because you can't do it immediately. You have to decide what show you want, start the download (at this point you are planning to watch it later), and at some later time watch it.

    It's like the difference between Netflix (bittorrent) and a bricks and mortar video store (Hulu). Netflix requires planning: I have to decide ahead of time what movies I want to watch. With a video store, I can go there with no idea, pick something out, and watch it immediately.

    Perhaps you're confusing "planning" with "complexity". Plans can be very simple.

     

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  36.  
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    Mike Moon, Jun 1st, 2010 @ 8:42am

    EXACTLY

    Basically, this issue is irrelevant as long as real TV continues to be a vastly superior product. Apple has been throwing money at the Apple TV device for years, with little to show. I would almost guarantee that Apple is providing a superior service (at a cost, of course) than the BS you get from Hulu. Hulu is fine for a laptop screen, but nothing is going to beat the quality or features available to customers willing to pay their prices.

     

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  37.  
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    crade (profile), Jun 1st, 2010 @ 8:50am

    Re: Re: Working on anti-features

    It's even more depressing when you are stuck in such a job and can't get out because it's all that you can find :(

     

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  38.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 1st, 2010 @ 9:08am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Who ever said it was hard?
    OP (and future responders) did by suggesting that downloading takes an abundance of work while hulu is omgawesome.

    You really don't know what planning is, do you? Turning off the TV and going to sleep doesn't require planning, because it's something you can decide to do and do immediately. Downloading and watching a show requires planning, because you can't do it immediately. You have to decide what show you want, start the download (at this point you are planning to watch it later), and at some later time watch it.
    Your point of deciding what show you want is quite inane. It's not as if you go onto Hulu and it goes "OOH" and streams random nonsense. You still have to click onto or search for whatever show you want, regardless of medium. Also, given that Hulu doesn't get the shows until the following morning, you can't get your show immediately with Hulu either. A great example is that many people work late evenings. If I miss an hour of Law & Order, but I'm home at 8pm, there are already numerous downloads available ripped from TV. I can download it, eat dinner [or as another poster mentioned, turn around for two minutes] and find that my TV show is done. I'm also not confined to what shows, quality, and vendors Hulu thinks I should have. If you like using Flash, you can stop responding here because you're an idiot. Hulu is not going to stream a 1GB 720p or 1080i TV show to me.

    Also, I love that you're bashing my position about 'planning' without addressing any of the issues I've mentioned. What about having to plan for needing a stable internet connection? You have to plan to be in a certain area with a certain kind of connection. If you're downloading something, you only need to worry about it for a brief window. After that, you're free to take your file anywhere and watch it, at your leisure, in any quality you so choose.

    TLDR: both require planning; one's just a hell of a lot better for regular programs [e.g. weekly sitcoms] as opposed to random "omg i want to explore" situations.

     

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  39.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 1st, 2010 @ 9:08am

    Re: Re: um hello? legal?

    the issue is hulu (and netflix) are legal. most bittorents are not. obviously you have no problem with that. some of us do.

    thanks for playing the lose game.
    how about a nice game of chess?

     

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  40.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 1st, 2010 @ 9:19am

    Re: Re: Re: um hello? legal?

    Isn't this the discussion we have everyday here on TechDirt? I own legal DVDs of all the TV shows I download -- except that they aren't available on DVD the moment they air. When they come out, I buy them and support the shows I like. But until a major network moron gives me a format I can watch as I want to, DRM-free and in any quality, I'll stick to my torrenting as opposed to some wanna-be-HD Hulu.

     

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  41.  
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    nasch (profile), Jun 1st, 2010 @ 9:47am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    OP (and future responders) did by suggesting that downloading takes an abundance of work while hulu is omgawesome.

    I just reread those posts and can't find where anyone said it's a lot of work. Perhaps you could point it out.

    It's not as if you go onto Hulu and it goes "OOH" and streams random nonsense.

    No, but you can click on something you find interesting on the Hulu home page.

    Also, given that Hulu doesn't get the shows until the following morning, you can't get your show immediately with Hulu either.

    "Immediately" meaning "when I want to watch a show", not "as soon as it airs".

    Also, I love that you're bashing my position about 'planning' without addressing any of the issues I've mentioned. What about having to plan for needing a stable internet connection? You have to plan to be in a certain area with a certain kind of connection. If you're downloading something, you only need to worry about it for a brief window. After that, you're free to take your file anywhere and watch it, at your leisure, in any quality you so choose.

    I didn't address it because I thought it was already covered. The OP said TV is not that important to him, so I would assume if he's somewhere without internet he would just do something else. If it's important to you to have TV where there's no internet connection, then Hulu or other streaming services are not a good choice for you, but that is so obvious I didn't feel a need to address it.

    TLDR: both require planning; one's just a hell of a lot better for regular programs [e.g. weekly sitcoms] as opposed to random "omg i want to explore" situations.

    In other words, there are legitimate reasons to choose either one over the other. The fact that OP's scenarios lead him to choose Hulu doesn't make him an idiot or wrong.

     

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  42.  
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    Nastybutler77 (profile), Jun 1st, 2010 @ 10:15am

    Re: EXACTLY

    "Hulu is fine for a laptop screen, but nothing is going to beat the quality or features available to customers willing to pay their prices."

    Except for the torrent files made from those high quality files. Which are identical, but free. Plus they won't have ads, or anti-piracy threats, that you can't advance through.

     

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  43.  
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    Bob, Jun 1st, 2010 @ 11:25am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I can buy that you like avi's better. I like them too. But I don't like hunting for a torrent. I just click on my hulu queue bookmark, then click on the show. I have a PC hooked up to the tv and it looks great.

    No one has ever sent me a tv show to pick up on. I don't carry a laptop very often. All my cpus are turned off at night. I don't want to hunt around on torrent sites.

    Hulu is convenient. The commercials are short and I don't have to make any effort whatsoever.

    But I can understand that you like avis. That's great. In fact, I used to use them, but streaming is the least hassle for me.

     

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  44.  
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    eMike (profile), Jun 1st, 2010 @ 1:45pm

    You know what would be great?

    If Hulu gained a huge market share and just shut down because of ideological differences with their content providers.

    That would show how anti consumer the content owners are and would potentially bring a lot of average joes into the fight for digital media.

     

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  45.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 1st, 2010 @ 9:10pm

    For legal bittorrents go to VODO or mininova.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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