DVR sort by size

Jekyll Island at high tide
Jekyll Island at high tide

When I get home from a trip like yesterday’s getting home from Jekyll Island, one of the first things I do is check out the free space remaining on the DVR. At times I get it down to under 50% full, but there have been times upon returning home I was up to over 95% full. Sports events usually take up the most space, so I prioritize watching and deleting those first.

Yeah, at the moment I have 16 soccer games on it. Because some of these are tournaments which could go into overtime, the recordings are 4-5 hours in some cases with only 2 hours of content because they did not actually go into overtime.

The are two views for ordering things to watch:

  • Recent
  • Title

Those are generally good options. For 99.99% of the time, when I am looking for something, those are the best ways to find things. A view sorting them with the largest size at the top would help me prioritize my time.

I know to look for the sports stuff. But some times a sports event might affect when a show starts, so I’ll add extra time to the show just in case.

Probably not many people have this problem or care. I’d even be happy with a details view where I can scan for how long is the recording.

Spoilers

Ewww? Sports: I bought my first DVR specifically to record the 2006 World Cup games while at work. I was in my first few months and did not feel like I could afford to take off work to catch all the games I desired. For the 2010, I tuned out of Facebook because I knew lots of people posting live about games. Comments by friends on social media during a game is usually better than the announcers. Unless someone I know is actively posting about a game, I tend not to post anything of my own trying to respect others who might be time shifting the game.

Books and Movies: If asked, I tend to spoil books and movies. I tend to be better about holding myself back for movies newly in theaters or on DVD/Bluray. But if something has been out for a long time, then someone has had plenty of time to consume that story. Maybe they eventually will, but I tend not to save up things. Probably because the longer I wait the less likely I ever will. The exceptions for me tend to be the movie version of books where I watch after reading. The difficulty for me is explaining why someone would or would not want to see something with them feeling like it has not been spoiled.

George R. R. Martin killing off the sympathetic characters is a good example. Some people hate it. Some people love it. It feels unfair not to warn people that it happens in each book. Why someone might like the TV series better without saying anything that happens? Ugh.

Scripted Television: Pretty much both issues of sports and movies apply. I am not very sympathetic regarding shows that have been around for a long time. But I try not to spoil things that are live.

So, I guess people should avoid talking about things they want to see or read around me.

TV Schedules

It seems to me television programmers between college and professional football there would be at least 1,000 games per year which would provide the necessary data points for understanding how long these games typically last. Yet, consistently the games which start on time still run about an hour or more longer than the 3 hour time slots allocated. The programmers understand this enough to schedule the games four hours apart and schedule a post-game review in this period just in case it ends early. Just include that as part of the original “episode” since you include the same announcers in the pre-game.

The TV schedule should make it convenient to know what program is on when. Inaccuracy of the data leads to distrust. (Got a weird deja vu moment writing that.)

Mostly though this is about knowing what to schedule on my DVR. Soccer time slots generally are set for 2 or 2.5 hours so I typically extend them to 3 hours. A half hour or hour are available options. The only time I’ve been burned by this is an LA Galaxy game where there was a couple power outages. (American) Football consistently burns me.

The Digital Switch

The Long Tail claims consumers, given more options, will reflect their widely varied interests. Physical stores cannot fill all of the demand, so bytes stored on disk are the fastest, cheapest method for getting stuff to consumers. We see a mostly example of this shift in the shift to digital music.

Vinyl records were the first physical music media form I used. Later, cassette tapes (1980s) and compact disc (1990s) achieved dominance. In 2001, I started the transition to digital music. There were some stumbles along the way because of technology changes and trusting vendors saying Digital Rights Management is good for consumers. At present, I only listen to digital music when using my own collection.

Digital video seems more complicated. Web sites streaming and on-demand television have the potential to fit the Long Tail model where consumers have access to insanely varied content when they want it. DVRs neither fix the when (just shift the airing to another time) or the insanely varied content. Movie rental distributors like Blockbuster and Netflix are moving toward distributing digital movies and TV shows in setups similar to on-demand. Nothing has even come close to winning.

Digital books may yet get some traction. Computers screens cause eye strain. Laptops don’t feel like a book. PDAs, Blackberrys, and other handhelds with small screens require a ton of scrolling. A recent solution to this is “epaper” which doesn’t constantly refresh. The Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, and Sony Reader are the biggest players. (The Long Tail is not available for the Kindle but is for the Reader. WTH?)

Remaining issues for me:

  1. Ownership is dying.
    • I really like the idea of playing music on my iPod or from CDs. I play DVDs on my computer because I can’t play my DVR stuff in a hotel. So streaming and on-demand only solutions bother me as long-term solutions. If it is easy for distributors to store it because it is just bytes, then it is easy for me to do so as well.
    • I have books from 20 years ago I can still read. Technology changes too much to depend on something I buy today working tomorrow. So maybe “renting” is a way better approach for digital media?
  2. The black markets for music and movies prove consumers want everything any time. Companies must embrace consumer demand and make it easier for consumers or suffer. I think companies changing to accommodate consumer demand is the only reason the music companies have survived. Litigation cannot solve it.
  3. Hardware investment gets expensive every few years.

My solution? Wait and see.

The DVR Trap

Recorded an episode of Psych because I know people who like it. Its okay, but I probably won’t make a season pass for it. 

Skipping past the commercials, I recognized the characters, so I stopped. Only to find myself watching a commercial featuring the show’s characters.

That is SO wrong. Smart way to catch those of us skipping past the advertisements. Guess I’ll just have to get better as skipping with the TiVo.