Thursday, September 27, 2007

my internet tv

Several pieces to a puzzle I didn't know I was trying to solve have suddenly come together, and I'm only spending enough time to post this minimal update so that I can get back to finishing this project.

The first piece is Miro (formerly the Democracy TV project), a lovely media player that merges the play-anything smarts of VLC with the ability to slurp content from RSS feeds that use for content. When combined with a built-in BitTorrent engine, it's enough to send even the most seasoned TV studio executive to the liquor cabinet.

As one might expect, there are several sources of RSS feeds for popular (and not so popular) TV shows. The excellent tvRSS even allows you to tweak your feed so that, for example, it only contains HDTV-ripped shows. Now that's thoughtful! But a Miro "channel" created with such a feed is stark in comparison to several channels that come with the default Miro installation. Where was my show description, episode title and synopsis? Where were my video still thumbnails?

I knew several web sites offered this kind of information, but I wanted a site that offered it in a structured format - preferable, as an RSS feed. It took a while to find, but theTVdb provides all of this, and more. This site is used by several home theatre PC projects to provide metadata for TV shows captured.

But there was still one piece missing: how could I combine the TV torrent feed with the TV metadata feed to get one feed that Miro could use? I contemplated cracking open documentation pages for bash, PHP and Python to roll my own script when I remembered Yahoo Pipes. This Yahoo project is designed to slurp in structured content like RSS feeds and provides tools for manipulating the data to create new feeds! Sounds just like what I'm looking for.

Stay tuned for future postings about my antics with Yahoo Pipes...

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

the times is a-changin'

A sign of things to come: the New York Times has decided to stop charging for the few remaining sections of its online publication that have been available by subscription only. The reason? I can't state it better than this senior VP:

The Times said the project had met expectations, drawing 227,000 paying subscribers — out of 787,000 over all — and generating about $10 million a year in revenue.

“But our projections for growth on that paid subscriber base were low, compared to the growth of online advertising,” said Vivian L. Schiller, senior vice president and general manager of the site,

In other words, they can make more money by attracting as many eyeballs as possible to their content (with ads) than they can by charging a subscription. Seems like advertising is being leveraged to support everything these days; I wonder what the limit is?

NYT story link (available for free, naturally).