Let's All Go to the Web, and Catch Ourselves a Flick
Gary: Well, here we are in our new column, "Wasting Time with The Idiots".
Randy: Yeah, and boy did we get some feed back on the change. Most people loved it, some didn't like it, but everybody came up with some great ideas for our new title.
Gary: Our least favorite suggestion was "Two Jerks with Too Much Time on their Hands"
Randy: Uh, thanks Mom, but no prize for you.
Gary: Our favorite idea was "Wasting Time with The Idiots", which we made up anyway, so there are no prizes for anyone.
Randy: But don't worry. We will be providing opportunities for some nifty prizes in upcoming columns.
Gary: And thanks to everybody for all the suggestions and your thoughts about our decision to expand our coverage.
Randy: As always, we love to hear reader feedback.
Gary: Now on to our topic of the day!
Randy: How to get in free at the local pub?
Gary: Uh, it's always free, dude.
Randy: What?! That guy at the door used to charge me a five spot every time I showed up.
Gary: Can you say "loser"?
Randy: Okay, new topic.
Gary: Movies on the web.
Randy: Whoa now Nelli, don't you need some serious bandwidth for that?
Gary: Not as much as you think. Thanks to great technologies like Real Video and our personal favorite QuickTime 4, streaming video over the web has finally become a reality for the average user.
Randy: For most users, a 56k modem is the standard, so we based our streaming test on that speed as our bottom line. But, at that speed, streaming video has a way to go. It can get choppy, and difficult to watch at times.
Gary: The first thing you need to access all the cool video available online is the software to watch it.
Randy: There are two free software packages we recommend. The first, is one you probably already have on your Mac right now: QuickTime 4.
Gary: Some of you may not have upgraded to version 4 yet, but we strongly suggest you do. With the release of QuickTime 4, Apple brought streaming video to the Mac at the system level.
Randy: Once you upgrade to the free version of QuickTime (the Pro version costs $29.95, which is still quite a value), it gives you everything you need including the newest QuickTime browser plugin. This allows you to watch streaming media from all kinds of sites.
Gary: Hello, Playboy.com!
Randy: Actually, the best QuickTime site is Apple's own QuickTime TV. While the technology behind QuickTime TV is not new, the partnership which drives it is. Apple Computer forged a very smart alliance with Akamai Networks, a company that maintains high speed media servers all around the world.
Gary: With QuickTime 4 streaming media to your browser, your Mac searches for the Akamai server that is closest to your location and then streams the media to your computer from the best possible connection. This allows the media stream to avoid a lot of the congestion that breaks down connections as media is passed from one network to another until it reaches your browser.
Randy: To show off this technology, Apple has put together a whole network of content with partners like VH1, Bloomberg News, Warner Brothers, HBO, Disney and ESPN to name a few. Here you can surf tons of content from movie trailers to news broadcast, and cartoons.
Gary: Be forewarned some channels stream more smoothly than others. But as these technologies continue to develop, streaming should smooth out on those channels that have some rough edges.
Randy: One of the coolest things about QuickTime TV is that you can setup your own QuickTime TV broadcasting station for free. Just download the server software free from Apple and load it up on your mac OS X Server and you are in the TV business.
Gary: That may be more that most users want to do with streaming media, but it's exceptionally cool to know that while companies like Real Networks charge a hefty premium for the server software, Apple is beating them at their own game by giving this technology away to the masses for free.
Randy: So what about the Real Player from Real Networks? The newest version , G2, is finally out of beta and is in its shipping form for the Mac. Did we say finally?
Gary: Real Player is more feature-packed, and a bit more mature than the QuickTime player, and there is more content out there for the Real Player. For now.
Randy: Apple is really making a push into this area, which Steve Jobs sees as the future of broadcasting. Remember, he makes movies too.
Gary: But for now, if you want to see all the video that is out there on the web, you need both players to cover everything.
Randy: So that is the next question. Hey, Idiots, what is there to see on the web?
Gary: Hello, Playboy.com!
Randy: all right, all right. We will go to Playboy.com later. But for now there are some great sites that deal with digital movies on the web. The New Venue is one such site.
Gary: It is a cleverly designed site that is a great place to go if you want to view movies, or if you want to submit your own digital creations for distribution on the web. The New Venue specializes in QuickTime and Flash creations, and there are some great shorts here. All of you Star Wars Episode One fans can check out the animated short, The Qui-Gon Show for a laugh.
Randy: Another cool site is Atom Films. They distribute films on the Internet, as well as other media, and they have some powerful partners, including HBO, Warner Brothers, and The Sundance Channel. Basically, their goal is to help the independent filmmaker find new audiences for their work which would otherwise go unseen.
Gary: And the cool thing is you get to see all of the films, animated shorts, and other killer indie works right on your Mac. Atom Films also makes really good use of Flash, including simulating film scratches and dust in your browser.
Randy: Be sure to check their great collection of Joe Cartoons and the premiere of the wickedly funny spoof, Saving Ryan's Privates. There are also other sites that we like, including iFilms Network. iFilms has literally hundreds of shorts and comedy animations to watch all sorted by genre.
Gary: It is a Netscape-only site, so be warned. If you use Explorer, you can't get in. That includes me. Sorry, Netscape, I just don't have 25 megs for a freakin' browser.
Randy: Gary, have you turned to the dark side?
Gary: Join me Randy and we shall rule the universe. Or at least the local cybercafe.
Randy: No thanks, since I can't have my Cyberdog anymore I'll stick with Mozilla.
Gary: Suit yourself. Because you can use any browser you want to surf the video channels available at the Pseudo Networks.
Randy: Right you are. Pseudo Online Network is a complete daily broadcasting center right here in downtown Manhattan. Offering over fifty different programs, Pseudo pumps out most of these shows via live broadcasts everyday.
Gary: One of our favorite gaming video shows is a broadcast from Pseudo, Game Time. While this show is very PC and console-centric in their game coverage, Game Time is a great place to get a glimpse of what is heading to the Mac, and what's hot in the gaming world at large.
Randy: Hey man, what are you doing with our TV?
Gary: I'm swapping it for a copy of Terminal Reality's FLY!. (Since it is finally shipping for the Mac!) With all this killer video content online we don't need it anymore.
Randy: But wait...I need that. I need my Sci-Fi Channel! We gotta go folks, but enjoy the streamalishious video the web now has to offer with QuickTime 4 and Real Video. You'll be surprised just how much time you can waste without cable.
Gary: Hello, Playboy.com!