Thursday, October 25, 2007

More Video Toolbars and Sites

SATVOD, which was mentioned in earlier posts, is a toolbar which links to TV content uploaded elsewhere (YouTube, etc.), and lets you view it. SatVod might raise several problems:
* toolbars, as mentioned in the original article, are a hazard, and might be infected with adware
* some users have reported problems regarding the usage of SatVod - trying to uninstall doesn't always work, problems with upload, etc.

There are alternatives. It has several competitors. Some are toolbars, some are the sites from which SATVOD takes its content.

More Toolbars
Live TV Toolbar
http://www.tv-toolbar.com/ - this toolbar offers "1750 live TV stations", only that they include such wonderful TV stations such as Algerian TV and North Korean TV. Right, who could prefer Desperate Housewives over another speech by Kim Sung Il?

Search Engines
TV Over - a directory of TV and video sites
http://www.tvover.net

Find Internet TV
http://www.findinternettv.com/ - so much of the same thing, it looks like a clone (or the other way round?)

Media Players
Miro
http://www.getmiro.com/ - Miro is an open source programme that can do a lot for you: it can let you download bitorrent files; watch any video file type; download, search and watch files from YouTube, etc.

TV Stations
Most of these stations are US only, but there is a way around it, by using a proxy server while not distorting your IP address

ABC
http://dynamic.abc.go.com/streaming/landing - this US only ABC site lets you watch some of their top productions

CBS - Innertube
http://www.cbs.com/innertube/ - US Only content - full episodes of shows like Jericho, Survivor

NBC -
http://www.nbc.com/Video/ - US only content, full episodes of shows like My Name is Earl

AOL TV
http://video.aol.com/video-category/in2tv/103132 - US Only

SciFi Channel
http://video.scifi.com/

Channel 4
http://www.channel4.com/4od/index.html - Only for residents of UK and Eire. Broadcasts the godly (and godless) IT Crowd

Australian ABC
http://www.abc.net.au/tv/chaser/war/int/vodcast/ - download vodcasts of Chaser's War on Everything

Sites with Uploaded Videos (Like You Tube)
Not by the channels, uploaded by staff or users and not entirely legal everywhere in the world

TV Video Net
http://tv-video.net/

AllUC
http://www11.alluc.org/alluc/index.php - also includes two foreign language sections, a German one and a Spanish one (see more at: Watch German shows online/Kostenloser Deutscher Fernsehen Online)

PeekVID
http://www.peekvid.com/ - one of the best sites out there

America Free TV
http://www.americafree.tv/index.shtml - weird and badly designed, but could be also checked

Channel Chooser
http://www.channelchooser.com/ - TV channels that broadcast online, including some very good picks (ESPN, Comedy Channel)

Filmzzzz
http://www.filmzzz.com/ - probably illegal wherever you live - films that have been uploaded somewhere somehow

CinemaTube
http://cinematube.net/ - many films and TV shows in streaming, taken from user uploaded sites

TubeZoom
http://tubezoom.com - in a forum

Classic Movies (copyright free)

Internet Archive
http://www.archive.org/details/feature_films - old (copyright free and lega) films and TV

Archive Classic Movies
http://www.archiveclassicmovies.com/movie_lib.html - in fact take their links from the Archive

JBBTV
http://www.jbbtv.com/ - films from the Archive, TV shows from legal broadcaster's site

Clips of Shows
This is not really a category - such videos are available anywhere, but the BBC site has a great collection of their own stuff:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/comedy/clips/

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Mystery

The Spiegel magazine has a new section, which deals with history, and which also includes personal questions and accounts. I will write more about it in another time, but in this case, this mysetery intersted me:

In 1988 I took a 19 year old hitch-hiker from West Berlin to Kiel. He said he
was a West German and wanted to get to Oldenburg. On the road he wanted to "go".
He went in a dark field just behind the rest area, and never came back.

About 300 meters after this field, there is a forest. He gave me his
passport "just in case". I called, jumped and looked all over for him, but had
to leave with very bad conscience, because leaving the road was not permitted.

The GDR border guards took away his passport, and released me after a
long interrogation ("we never had one less passenger").

I have
never found out, what has happened. His birthplace was near Magdeburg [in
another sourc
e he said the guy was born in 1963 or 1969], as I have later
learnt.

What happened in the forest? Why did he give me his passport?
Has he been arrested? Did he want to return to a long lost love? What does he do
today?

I would be happy to get any help in answering these questions.

I googled the name Ralf Strunz online. Several people emerge.
(1) someone who provided chorus and help in an Einst├╝rzende Neubauten album (1996) [that somehow fits perfectly with being a young man in Berlin];
(2) the second, a football trainer from Baden. This guy formerly played football for a team in Riesa (which is in Saxony, East Germany); and might be the same person as
(3) the owner of an advertising agency in rural southwest Germany
(4) The head of the fire brigade in a small East German town [fits with being an East German, although the city is not near Magdeburg]
(5) Someone who lives in northern Bavaria (near the Thuringen border) and has bought a motorcycle

So which one is it? What has really happened? Did he (somehow the gentle spirit who originally asked the question does not put that as a possibility) commit suicide? Was arrested? Was in fact a spy (re)infitrating East Germany? Wanted to meet someone and try to get them out of the GDR, but the person has failed to show up? Missed his loved ones, as the asker implies?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Smelly Washing Machine

As this blog usually doesn't deal with household advices and life hack styled solutions to everyday problems (it is much more focused on non-existent, not important or non realistic problems, when it does), it came as absolute surprise that such an ingenious trick became apparent to me.

Well, it all starts with a stinky washing machine. Washing machines stink when fungus or mold develop under the drum, usually when the washing machine has front door. Liquids left after washing do not dry up and the result is growth environment for all kinds of stink.

There are several products on the market offering to solve this problem. In fact, if you will Google the term stiky washing machine or smelly washing machine, you will reach some of them. I have also reached some pages warning that some of these alleged miracle drugs can be harmful to the machine's rubber seal. Not to mention how environmentally unfriendly they are.

In other words: try these products at your own risk. Or you can buy a product that probably costs 0.01 of the price of those marketed products. Vinegar. In order to get rid of bad odor in your washing machine, just sprinkle some vinegar into the drum after emptying the machine, and leave the door open as long as possible. Friendlier to the environment, cheaper and most importantly, really works.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Young Boys' Club

Young Boys' Club: Ex-Google Employee Sues for Age-Discrimination

Through my friend Em, I got more information regarding an impending age-discrimination suit filed against Google: "A 54-year-old former Google Inc. manager who claimed he was fired after a supervisor told him his opinions were "too old to matter"

I have already discussed before what I saw as sexist remarks by a senior Google official that reflect the general attitude towards women in the high-tech industry. I wrote, that:


Cyberspace and the new Information Technology have not revolutionised gender relations, despite the fact that theoretically, on the Internet, nobody knows that you're a dog. Be a dog, but don't be a bitch - because unless you are career driven maniac who doesn't want a family (which is something most women are not), you cannot stand the hours in the high-tech industry. Even if you do have an engineering degree, which is a question in itself (less women than men study that).


Apparently, this is also true regarding age discrimination, which is a largely discussed issue in the industry. Like women (or men) who would not work crazy hours; like people with disabilities restricted to telejobs (which I wrote, are "pushed to the bottom of the social ladder. Those who telework are being stigmatised as "work-at-home-moms" even if they are providing a service that is unique and valuable"); "old" people are excluded from the young-boys-network.

How old is old? Actually, the perception of the geeks from the silicon valley is not dissimilar to that of the 14 year old mall rat from San Frenando Valley: 45-year-old are old people. 54 year old is already with one foot in the grave.

There are several webpages dedicated only to the issue of age descrimination in the High Tech industry. There are also very interesting responses on Slashdot to the story (well, I am halfway through, if you know what Slashdot is like).

Basically, if you don't fit with a corporate culture that under the disguise of being young and hip, excludes everybody who is not exactly like them, you do not belong there. This is the message that the IT culture passes to people. Accordingly, the "fun" and "hip" is all maintained in order to keep a young-boys'-network, just like in the olden days.

Yes, it does bring up a great idea for a site, probably up next in Google labs:
http://send-the-elderly-to-ice-floes.google.com

Sunday, October 07, 2007

More TV Online Sources

Mashable have published a list of TV online sources. Although not completely different from what you can get here, it is worth visiting

33 Ways to Watch TV Online
http://mashable.com/2007/06/18/33-ways-to-watch-free-tv-online/

Friday, October 05, 2007

Radio Online

Unlike online TV, which (because of different issues, mostly corporate copyright limitations), do not really manage to become a true Internet international phenomenon; radio stations sometimes manage to do that. In a way, it brings up the question why it doesn't happen with TV: you can hear regular radio stations, with their ads and songs, from anywhere; and in the case of the BBC radio, even clean of ads, but with lots of good music. Why can't it happen with BBC TV?

In any case, the prevalence of radio stations make a tool like the http://www.iheard.com/ radio stations directory very useful.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Bremen on a Budget

As usual, when I travel, I also take my notes regarding the option of travelling on a budget. Bremen, unlike Boston and Copenhagen, is not considered to be a very expensive town. In fact, it is - like Berlin for example - a very cheap city indeed.

There are several options for cheap accommodation in Bremen. The most obvious one is the Bremen Youth Hostel (yes, no English on the official youth hostel site; the Germans like foreigners, right?); and several guesthouses near the central train station (Hauptbahnhof): e.g. the Bremer Backpacking Hostel.. Please keep in mind that these hostels and guest houses, unless you order a private room with your own bath, may accommodate you with people of the opposite sex; and the showers might be also shared (some may find it as an advantage, I guess).

If youth hostels are not your type, there are several other options. As usual, staying in a private flat is sometimes just as inexpensive as staying in a hostel, but you have your privacy. The city of Bremen has a list of private people renting holiday flats. From a personal experience, I went to stay at this flat, ran by Mr. Nalincioglu (pronounced: Nalinchi'orrloo). He speaks German, English and Turkish and is extremely nice and helpful. The flats are clean and very quiet (in Romantic narrow street), and most importantly, this romantic street is off a busy main road, where you can get public transportation, plenty of pubs and restaurants, etc.

Bremen's main attraction is its old town, and strolling in it is of course for free. The city hall and other magnificent renovated buildings are very impressive. You can find very good information on the City Tourism Bureau homepage, including free walking tour routes to follow; and recommendations cards you can use to get around and get admission into attractions.

The public transportation in Bremen seems to be working well, and therefore taxis are not a must. Except for the Old City, the Schnoor area, with its little boutiques and shops and the Ostertor area (which is where Mr. Nalincioglu's flat is located) are very good areas to hang around. In the Ostertor area you will find student-priced restaurants, bars and cafes, and you can try everything from a Doener to a nice typical Bremen food (if you are brave enough to eat the Labskaus: pork porridge with mashed red beet. In fact not as bad as it sounds - or looks - like, if you get used to the baby food texture).

A word of warning might be in place for those having a conference in the University of Bremen. The university is located at the end of the world. There is nothing to do there at night, and very little during the day either. No restaurants, no shops, and the only attraction is the oyster/spaceship shaped Science Centre. The university has some recommended guest-houses for visitors, but the area itself is like a remote village, so consider the fact that you will have to either have no life; or choose to stay in the city and travel every morning - like all students and staff - to the gulag where they put the university at.

Related articles:
Boston for less
Copehangen on a Shoestring

Monday, October 01, 2007

Rock the Village: A Clash of Cultures in Wacken, Germany

Full Metal Village is a new documentary made by German-Korean Cho Sung-hyung. It is a documentary about a rock festival, The Wacken Open Air, but it is in fact a documentary about a clash of cultures, and the tolerance to the “Other”.

The Wacken Open Air is the largest heavy metal festival in the world, which takes place in the village of Wacken in Schleswig Holstein, northern Germany. Wacken is one of those detached villages, not a gentrified suburb which still calls itself a village. And Cho chose to concentrate on the village and its people, and see their reactions to the invasion of the people, who are so different from them: the clash between the church choir of the village elderly; and the tattooed metalists.


Cho made her choices – except for two people (one 16 year old and another, the 40ish Norbert, who was one of the original organisers of the festival, and is now depressed, bitter, and unemployed), those interviewed are old and represent the “old”, post-war generation in Wacken. I am sure that there are couple other interesting, but less “representative” inhabitants of this 1800 people village.

The old people, however, are charming. You have the farmer who rents out the territory to the festival, who is constantly thinking of a way to earn the next Euro; the granny who was one of the Germans expelled from East Prussia as part of the aftermath of World War II; the one that believes that all heavy metal fans are devil worshippers and worse (the village’s vicar seems more relaxed); and above all, the farmer who relaxes with his cows and seems disinterested in all of this.

German-ness is the topic of the movie, and those coming to see a film about their favourite metal festival might be disappointed. They also might not be disappointed to learn about how tolerant most of their hosts are – willing to help the festival and to get along with the crazy week it entails: the scene with the sales of beer at the local supermarket is very entertaining.

But underneath Cho’s good intentions to bring about a nice film about the clash of cultures (which ends well), there is, well, Germany. The 16 year old girl is obsessed with the second World War in at some point says that “she wishes to have lived during that period” (to be able to learn more).Does her obsession go too far, to the dark corners we might connote with a German teen obsessed with Nazism? The film doesn’t say.

And what about the unemployed Norbert? He plainly says that the guilty party in his condition are all those “foreigners” who come to steal good German job places. And I would imagine, that as Cho herself is a “foreigner”, Norbert has somewhat censored himself, and did not reveal the rest of his opinions of foreigners. In other words, while the old people in the film are supposed be the intolerant, god-fearing, folks, it is the young ones that reveal intolerance to the present and longing for romantic past.

Cho also calls the film a “Heimatfilm”, an ironic title, as the original “Heimatfilms” where romantic (feature) films, which highlighted good old country life, with families, dogs and sheep. And maybe this is what this film is all about – the clash of cultures is not between the Metalists and the village people; it is between those longing for the past and those living in the present.

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