Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

03 Feb 2009, 1:52 a.m.

That's Webtertainment

Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2009 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.

I'm in Boston this week, probably till Sunday the 8th or so.

When I couchsurf, I want to entertain my hosts. Evidently I do this by foisting fun web videos that haven't really made the rounds, like Target Women, Drunk History, ROTOTRON CORNBOBBER, and the "Wishmaster" mondegreens.

Ever since Leonard built the PVR at our place, it's easier to make our guests watch these little show-and-tell bits. It's also way easier to play music (once I configured some stuff), and to watch TV en masse with automatic closed-caption activation and the skip-this-entire-commercial-break button (again, do some digging).

TiVo cost about $10/month; with MythTV, once you build the box, the channel listing service costs like $20 a year and that's it. And it's also a Linux box suitable for Songbird/Banshee, Hulu and Miro use, which is awesome. However, it breaks and doesn't record scheduled programs about once a month these days, in that frustrating open-sourcey-desktop-appy way. TiVo perhaps had this problem twice in several years of faithful service. So perhaps I should think of TV I like as a "river of entertainment," similar to the "river of news" model that info-use self-help types suggest RSS users adopt: you dip into it whenever you want, but don't get neurotic and completist.

However, Hulu makes it very easy to be a completist about most of my favorite shows. If MythTV falls down on the job, I can just alt-tab to Firefox and watch Colbert, Stewart, and Battlestar via Hulu. Unskippable commercials, worse UI, no closed captions most of the time, but there instead of not.

An exception: Leverage on TNT, which is not yet on Hulu. I want to view Leverage mainly so that I can read John Rogers's posts about it when they show up in my RSS reader. Because I am a completist.