Saturday, November 24, 2012

Giving thanks for good to TV, Radio and Newspapers

Yesterday was "Thanksgiving" in the USA and though we don't celebrate it here on this side of the pond (aka Europe) I'd like to give thanks to the television, radio and newspapers. A big thanks. They really were an important part of my life growing up. But they are not anymore. At all. My habits have changed. I don't need these artifacts of the 20th century anymore... and I don't think I'm alone here...


How I started out with an old TV and 2 channels

I was born in Poland in the communism times. We had two national channels. And that's it. Then we started getting some satellite TV... but our old TV boxes could receive up to 8 channels... but then we got new ones, better cable television... and now we live with 100s of channels with nothing interesting to watch :-)

In the communism times I used to stay in the line for half an hour every day to get the daily newspaper. I didn't read the news but there was a comic there and I was collecting comics. And my dad read newspapers. Now he doesn't. Neither do I. If I ever have to stand in a line again, it's to buy a newest iGadget, not a newspaper :-)

When I got my first car, I bought myself a good radio receiver. It had to have RDS and other cool technologies to pick up good signal. I liked listening to the radio. These times are gone.

I don't watch TV - I watch TV shows and movies

That's right. Even though we do have cable at home, we only use it for my 4-year old daughter to watch her favorite cartoons. Although it's changing as well as she prefers watching them on the iPad from iTunes. Times are changing. This is how I "consume content" nowadays:

1. Shows (and movies) on Netflix and Hulu

Thanks to a friend of mine I managed to set up a Netflix and Hulu account and thanks to a VPN provider I can watch them nicely while living in Europe. The geo-restriction is dumb. Especially that I'm a paid subscriber to both of these services. This is how I watch TV shows without actually watching TV.

2. Movies on iTunes

Having an American iTunes account enables me to watch all the newest movies from the comfort of my home. At $5 bucks, renting movies is cheap (and they stream instantaneously in HD!) - I don't have to go to a rental shop and waste time only to find out that a movie I want to watch isn't there yet (or anymore)... or is not on Blu-ray. Seriously. Who goes to rental shops anymore?

3. I don't watch "bad" TV News

TV News should be just called "BAD NEWS" actually. This year I watched them a few times only and each time I was totally appalled by the number of times they mentioned seriously tragic things. They just need to have our (viewers') attention so they focus only on the negative. That's why I don't watch bad news. I'm a positive kind of guy.

4. I listen to audiobooks and podcasts

When I'm running or driving I prefer to listen to the audiobooks as I can focus on hearing what the person "from my iPhone" is reading to me. When I'm checking email or doing work that doesn't require too much focus from me, I'm listening to podcasts. There's no room for radio here. And I don't mind.

5. I read RSS and digital magazines

I'm the publisher of the Productive! Magazine after all so I like digital magazines but most of all I like RSS - where I can subscribe to many of my favorite blogs and read them daily using the fantastic Reeder app on my iPhone or iPad. And if I really want some more up-to-date news'y kind of stuff - I check my Twitter timeline.

This is how content-on-demand changed my habits

The Internet changed everything. Content on demand changes even more (even though the old media companies still don't want to admit it) to the point that my "media consuming" habits have altered dramatically. I've come to expect that I can watch, read or listen to everything "on demand" and I don't want it any other way. I'm glad I can choose what I "consume" now and it's not being forced upon me like it used to be in the "good old days" of TV, radio and newspapers.

That's why I'm so thankful for the times are live in and for the amazing ways I can access content on demand. TV? Radio? Newspapers? No, thanks.

Question: And how do you "consume content"? Have your habits changed, too? In which way?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

How to view & download YouTube HTML5 videos on a mac

This is not a typical post on this blog, but I spent considerable amount of time searching for the easiest way to enjoy HTML5 videos on YouTube without Flash and an easy way to download the videos I really liked without performing any converting later. Chances are you'll find it useful, just like some of you did with my last Time Machine blog post, too.
The Idea - enjoy videos without ads, online and offline

This is the idea:
1) Use Safari without Flash installed (no crazy ads on portals, better performance and battery life)
2) Watch YouTube Videos in HTML5 (better quality, speed and no ads in YouTube videos)
3) Download YouTube Videos without any external program and play them back in Quicktime

The solution - thanks to John Gruber and others

Step 1 - remove Flash from your Mac

Flash is located in: /Library/Internet Plug-Ins/
Just move: “Flash Player.plugin”, “flashplayer.xpt”, and “NP-PPC-Dir-Shockwave” to a different folder.
Restart Mac and you don't have Flash in all of your browsers… except for Chrome which comes with Flash embedded anyway.

What I do is I browse the Internet in Safari without Chrome, but if I want to launch a specific web site in Flash, I use this AppleScript from TJ Luoma to open the current web site in Chrome.

This will tell Youtube to show HTML5 videos instead of flash ones. It also has great player which later lets you download the videos to your hard drive easily.

Step 3 - (bonus) to download a YouTube video that you like, click on the "i" icon in the video (right top corner) and you'll have the links to different versions of the video (see picture above) - right click and choose "Download Linked File As…" and put the name of the file and you have the video on your disk! It will be an MP4 file that you can simply watch in Quicktime.

No additional apps, no conversion, no fuss

It took me a while to figure this out so hopefully this saves you some time. I love it how my Mac runs so nicely in Safari without flash and how my YouTube videos play and can get downloaded so easily. Enjoy YouTube watching and make sure to check out my Productive! Show Episodes :-)

I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.