Venture Bros. fans keen on deploying spoilers to their friends who have not yet been so fortunate as to see the third-season-ending two-parter can show up at parties wearing this natty item. Then just sit back and let the fireworks fly...
Looks like Boston Dynamics isn't resting on the laurels of their BigDog robot, that creepy thing you can't kick over. Now they've got a robot that climbs walls and trees.
Considering that Boston Dynamics is DARPA-backed, I guess it's good to know there are still moonshot-style projects in the works, and this kind of stuff has always been inevitable—I guess it only seems, if anything, overdue.
I had never heard of Hulu until Dr. Horrible, and even then the site fell entirely out of my mind. When I saw it mentioned on Kung Fu Monkey, it became clear that Hulu had at least two different shows on it. It was at this point that I visited the site proper and became synchronized with the modern world. I immediately stopped whittling on my crude spear.
I'm a little afraid to explain it, because you almost certainly know it, but here: it's essentially free, digital, on-demand television, interleaved with the standard commercial breaks. This happens sometimes already, usually only for specific shows from specific channels, but Hulu is agnostic in that regard. It's as though YouTube grew up and got a job.
He's got a point. There's something almost guiltily decadent about being able to dial up any TV show I want, that I haven't even paid for on DVD or anything, and watch it—even if it does have ads. Even so, I don't think I can get into it in this medium, for a few reasons:
• The playback is choppy. I would rather pay $1.99 for an episode of something and then have to make space for it on my disk or shelf than have to fidget and worry the whole 22 minutes over whether the chop will make me miss a visual detail or the stream is going to cut out altogether. • The player is too small and clumsy. Yes, it's probably the best embedded player I've ever seen yet, but that's like saying it's the fastest RC car. • I just don't feel like waching TV through the same window I use to see the Internet. Maybe I'm crazy that way; but I still consider video content and computer content to be fundamentally separate things.
When I lay out my workspace in an ideal home-office type of situation, I tend to do it like this:
That's so I can have the TV on in the background, and turn the volume down when I need to concentrate on work. I like to be able to fluidly turn my attention back and forth between work and diversion, ebbing and flowing as the moment dictates, like having the world of media on a giant dimmer switch.
The mirror gives me another knob for that dimmer: I can keep watching out of the corner of my eye if I'm doing something that's only mostly engrossing on the computer, like waiting for some administrative function to complete or website to load or program to compile. I can swivel my attention from completely fixed on the TV, to glancing at the mirror with the sound on, to staring at the monitor with the sound gradually fading away, to completely concentrating on important matters.
If both these sources of content were coming through the same window—e.g. the computer monitor—I wouldn't have any of that luxury. I'd either have the Hulu window frontmost, or I wouldn't; if I'm doing work, I tend to have enough windows open that nothing in the background is of any use. And further, if the media that's diverting me is something I've gone to any effort to secure—by paying a buck-oh-five for it, or downloading it, or making room on my disk for it, or waited for it to arrive in the mail from Netflix, or even just cleared out a portion of scheduled and non-time-shiftable day for it—I don't want to put it in the background for any reason. I'll want to give it my undivided attention. I'm the kind of person who has to be sure to have caught every word of dialogue in a movie, to the extent of rewinding and temporarily turning on subtitles, or else I don't feel I've had my money's worth. (I've never understood people who are able to get up and walk around in the middle of a movie and expect to be able to come back to it without missing any key plot points.) The continuum of partial-attention methods only applies to stuff I don't really care about, like whatever's on the History Channel or the One-Star Late-90s Ex-SNL-Player Movie Channel at the moment. If it's something I've actually elected to watch, I can't envision watching it through my computer.
(Case in point: as I finished writing this post, I was genuinely surprised to find the half-watched episode of Arrested Development that I'd summoned lurking in a background Hulu window. No chance in hell that I'd have been able to concentrate on writing with that running, especially knowing that I'd consciously gone and queued it up.)
That's why I like AppleTV. It sidesteps something I would never have done: watching my purchased iTunes TV shows in the actual iTunes window. This way I can buy something online, organize it in iTunes, and then swivel my chair around and watch it on the big screen, giving it my full attention. There's no need to pop it open in a subordinate iTunes window and let it jostle for attention with my other applications, leeching system performance and flickering around the edges and squeezing its audio track into the headphones I use to carefully mute—and yet make immediately available—any sounds arising from the computer. Rather, I can shift the watching of TV and movies over to the screen that's suited for it, and leave the computer free for work.
Maybe if Apple can work a deal with Hulu to integrate it into AppleTV. Then that'd be something.