TelevisionWeek contributing writer Daisy Whitney is blogging about the pinnacles and pitfalls facing viewers who want to consume television in new ways. Check in frequently as Daisy kicks the tires on the new media juggernaut and dishes on which services do -- and don’t -- make the cut.


Trial and Error

June 2007 Archives

Wikipedia Faster Than Cops in Benoit Family Death

June 29, 2007 9:42 AM

My favorite line from Tony Kushner’s award-winning play “Angels in America” has always been when Prior Walter says “The world only spins forward.”

Now, more than a decade later, I find myself often thinking “The world only spins faster.”

Especially when it comes to the Web.

Fox News reported online yesterday that Wikipedia.org reported the death of pro wrestler Chris Benoit’s wife at least 13 hours before the authorities said they found her body and that of their seven-year-old son. The Fox report said the Wikipedia update was traced to Stamford. Conn, the home base for World Wrestling Entertainment.

Indeed, the release of details of the deaths of the wrestler and his family, found dead Monday afternoon, is odd. WWE even ran a tribute to the wrestler on USA on Monday evening, with WWE chairman Vince McMahon offering this lead-in.

But the following day when authorities said they believed that Mr. Benoit strangled his wife and suffocated his son before taking his own life, WWE backed off any mentions of the former wrestling star on-air.

That decision seems to the right one. After all, when you are suspected of killing your wife and your son, it has the effect of obviating everything else you have ever done, in or out of the ring.

On iPhones and 'Transformers'

June 28, 2007 10:58 AM

Had enough iPhone hype? Who hasn’t?

The New York Times’ tech expert David Pogue takes a humorous look at the unmitigated buzz, the strict guidelines of Apple’s NDA, and the phone itself in this must-watch video.

Plus, he does a great preview of the phone itself, including videos, pictures, the Web and how to use that funky touch screen keyboard. There is a YouTube module, but otherwise Web videos are hard to watch on the iPhone.

And just because it’s Thursday, just because I’m feeling kind of generous, here’s a little bonus video for you.

I love Black20’s latest movie trailer spoof mocking the pending release of next week’s “Transformers,” which incidentally falls under the heading of movie-my-six-year-old-most-wants- to-see-and- his-mom-least-wants-to-see. Check it out.

Old Suit, Old Tie, Old Shirt = New Gear

June 27, 2007 1:50 AM

OK, this almost makes me want to shell out for a sewing machine.

Next New Networks launched Tuesday an online TV network covering, of all things, do-it-yourself fashion. Yes, it’s one of the many legs in the new trend to go green – essentially re-imagining your old clothes. The new show at ThreadBanger.com is called “How-To Tuesdays” and will run for eight weeks.

So what do you get when you mix an old pair of suit pants, an out-of-step tie and a Hawaiian shirt? A brand new spiffy pair of board shorts, of course!

Well, after you’ve sewn and threaded and measured and cut and designed and all sorts of other things that I’ll never be able to do. (remember, gals, what Kristin Scott Thomas said in "The English Patient": A woman should never learn to sew, and if she can she shouldn't admit to it.)

Even so, this first installment at threadbanger.com is mesmerizing because the video makers have sped up the sewing, the pinning and all that jazz so they appear in pseudo-fast forward:

The Landlord is Back, and Then She’s Gone…

June 26, 2007 8:52 AM

Remember Pearl? That foul-mouthed toddling two-year-old landlord of Will Ferrell?

She’s back in her farewell online video performance. And this time she’s taking no prisoners.

Go to funnyordie.com and see how she wrangles a confession out of a scruffy Will Ferrell.

$200,000 to Travel the World!

June 25, 2007 11:22 AM

I want to be a Chivas Life Ambassador.

So what if I don’t like whiskey? So what if I don’t surf, swing a golf club or play the bagpipes?

Get this: Chivas Regal created an online channel at www.thisisthelife.msn.com inspired by "The Chivas Life Ambassadors” search. The whiskey maker sought out two individuals and will pay them $200,000 total to travel around the world for a year and report on their quest for the “Chivas Life.”

I mean, I could do that, right?

The ambassadors will get to travel to places like Hungary, Croatia, Egypt, Tanzania, Brazil, Japan and Peru. They’ll take a balloon ride over the Serengeti, snorkel off the coast of Boracay (fine, I hate snorkeling so maybe I couldn’t do that part), and explore ancient Actun-kan caves (but I could so play the role of spelunker).

OK, so here’s my pitch Chivas. You can send me around the world and I could report on, oh, say Web video, mobile TV consumption, Internet video habits in the Serengeti?

Incidentally, I’m not really that into video channels created by brands. And truth be told, I probably won’t spend a lot of time on the Chivas channel since I’m not a Chivas person. But the video looks fantastic, the channel is easy to navigate and the various videos are simple to find.

Veoh TV Beta Rocks My World

June 22, 2007 12:42 PM

What do I like best in Internet video? Yes, you guessed it. Ease of use and simplicity.

The Veoh TV service achieves both.

I downloaded it yesterday and took it for a trial run today. Veoh bills the service as an Internet DVR that lets you search for, watch and manage online video.

So once I register, a nearly full-screen window pops up with links for favorite, channels, recommendations and search. I say “nearly full-screen” because I can still see my computer’s task bar across the bottom. This is a good thing, as one of my key gripes against Internet TV services like Joost is they can take over the entire screen, leaving you at their mercy.

I decide to start with “Channels” since I haven’t downloaded any videos yet into favorites. Oh, this is so easy. I love the navigation—it’s simple and once I click on the folder for channels, the screen simply lists CBS, NBC, CW, PBS and Fox. In big letters. On a nice clean screen!

I choose CBS and click on “How I Met Your Mother” from among the shows listed. The video loads almost instantly and the episode plays. Yes, it plays without any problems.

Now the screen migrates to the full-screen takeover mode, but if I just gently tap the mouse, the controls come up on the screen. Plus, I can right click on the upper right hand corner to turn the player into regular size. The video looks fantastic. The only issue I have is figuring out how to use the fast forward button. It’s right next to the play button—well, duh—but if you touch it once it sort of restarts the video. I actually have to hold it down the whole time to get it to fast forward.

I’ve only spent a few minutes on the service, but I’m giving it a gold star for ease of use.
I’ll be back next week to try it some more.

YouTube on iPhone Makes My Day, My Week, My Year

June 22, 2007 10:52 AM

It really all sounds so magical and wonderful. So warm and fuzzy. Like what could I want more in the world, what could ever delight me more on this earth, than finding YouTube videos on my phone?

Check out this video promoting the partnership between the video-sharing site and the iPhone.

Will Prom Queen Drive 'Em to Hairspray?

June 21, 2007 12:36 PM

Michael Eisner’s “Prom Queen” officially ended its two-month online run with 15 million views. Those are darn impressive numbers for an online series.

Here’s what I am wondering. Each of the 80 episodes ended with a short ad for the movie “Hairspray,” promoting its July 20 release date. What would really make me jump up and down and sing from the rafters about the effectiveness of online video ads will be if this film gets a nice bump on its opening weekend from “Prom Queen” fans.

Someone should conduct exit polls at the movie theaters that weekend.

Maybe it’s the Shower Scene...

June 20, 2007 11:59 AM

You know the “Charlie’s Angels” miniature episode on The Minisode Network where the girls get hosed down by a female guard in prison? At any rate, just a day after launch, Sony’s The Minisode Network hit more than 120,000 views this morning. That was up from, oh, about 85,000 just a few hours before.

While We Wait for Veoh, Here’s TurboNick

June 20, 2007 10:25 AM

I had planned to download Veoh’s new VeohTV Internet video DVR service and write about it today. But my computer is sluggish to the point where my six-year-old son has had to hold me back from throwing the beast against the wall.

So consider today’s post an interlude, if you will. I’ll get back to VeohTV just as soon as I stop seething and cursing the computer, the wireless, whatever gets in my way.

I’ll take this opportunity then to give a shout out to Turbo Nick. Let me tell you why I think it might be one of the finest online video services around. Here’s why—a couple weeks ago I had to write a quick story while my son was home with me. So I turned his computer on, typed in Turbonick.com and said “here you go.” And that was it. I didn’t have to do anything else. He played videos, navigated the site and was able to figure everything out on his own.

Keep it simple. That’s key.

Did ‘Silver Spoons’ Ever Need to be 22 Minutes Long?

June 19, 2007 11:31 AM

Sony and MySpace made such a big deal out of the launch of the Minisode Network today that I’m kind of surprised it’s not promoted on the home page of the social networking site. While I know the direct URL, I always like to hunt around first and see if the minisodes are easy enough to find on their own since that’s what most consumers will do. And I’m sorry to report that even when I visit the video section of MySpace, I don’t see a promotion or link for “The Minisode Network.”

So I plug in “minisode” in the search box, figuring that will do the trick. But instead, the results contain various “mini series” and what appears to be a handful of user-generated “minisodes,” but nothing from the hyped Minisode Network.

Finally I give up and type in myspace.com/minisodenetwork. Once I’m there, the video fires up right away and the site looks good. The page is uncluttered and underneath the video player lies a menu bar with the various classic shows that have miniaturized. I opt for “Silver Spoons” since I used to like that show when I was growing up.

I watch the “Grandfather Stratton” episode in which Ricky meets his grandfather for the first time.

It’s four and a half minutes and still a totally cheesy sitcom with its laugh track. It works in the shortened time. Makes you wonder if any show really needs to be 22 minutes.

Now Featuring NBC as Your Online Love Doctor

June 18, 2007 10:44 AM

OK, so now we’ve got online video about online dating.

NBCU’s digital studio debuted an online video show about online dating with dating coach Andrea Syrtash as the host. The videos are well-produced, though with one or two cheesy graphical elements in the intro. Still, the show features a nice range of man-on-the-street interviews and studio shots. (By the way, that’s a sweet studio for an online video series.) Go to www.ondating.tv to check out the show.

The videos are incredibly easy to play and find—there is a list of episodes on the right hand side while the video plays in the main window. And, the video has got my favorite feature—the big play button.

You can also watch the episode on iTunes, AppleTV or via RSS feed.

When Will Paris Get Out of Jail?

June 15, 2007 11:37 AM

Everyone is an expert, right? Especially when it comes to media, movies, music and stars. So if you want to lay your bets on how much “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer” will gross this coming weekend or whether ABC’s Geico “Cavemen” sitcom makes it on air, then stop off at mediapredict.com. It’s a new online game that lets you become a media mogul by predicting how books, movies and TV shows will fare.

Pole Dancers for Obama

June 13, 2007 9:37 AM

This is what happens when you run for president in the YouTube generation. You get a sexy video made about you featuring a bikini-clad, long-haired beauty with a belly button ring sidling up next to your cardboard cut-out.

“Obamagirl” added this video to Revver earlier this week.

Here’s a sample of the lyrics:

“I’ve never wanted anybody more than I want you. So I put down my
Kerry sign…cause I got a crush on Obama. I can’t wait ‘til 2008.”

And who said, who could dare say, the MTV crowd isn’t politically literate?

After all, universal health care reform makes her warm.

Can Someone Make an Alternate 'Sopranos' Ending?

June 11, 2007 9:30 AM

I’m not a “Sopranos” fan. I never got into the show. I don’t think I’ve ever watched one full episode.

Still, I understand what it’s like to be fanatical about a book or movie or TV franchise.

And that’s why I can understand the frustration some “Sopranos” watchers feel today at the up-in-the-airness of last night’s series finale. Even though I took a certain amount of pleasure as a non-fan in looking up the ending online a few hours before the West Coast premiere, I still felt for my husband—a die-hard fan—when he called me into the living room at four minutes before 10 p.m. to watch the final minutes with him.

I didn’t reveal the ending to him, of course. But eventually, I had to.

Here’s what happened: the second the scene cut to black, he jumped up, cursing Comcast. He was convinced, as many fans were, that our digital video recorder had messed up, swallowed the real ending. He hit rewind a few times on the DVR, watching over and over. I finally had to put him out of his misery and tell him, yes, that was the real ending.

So I thought it would be fitting today to see how quickly alternate endings or other finale-related Sopranos videos turned up online.

OK, so first I try a search for “Tony Soprano” on Google to see if Google’s new universal search feature incorporating video will spit back any current video results. And the answer is: No.

So then, I do a video search on Google for “Sopranos finale” and still there’s nothing timely.

Over to YouTube. And that’s a big No too. The top results are the seven-minute “Sopranos” compilation summarizing the series as well as some trailers.

Now I am off to video search site ClipBlast. I don’t find any fan-created alternative endings there, but the results are more time-sensitive. There are gobs of videos from this morning with TV experts and critics discussing the actual ending—something on Roo and also a link for CBS2.com.

So there you go—if you want more “Sopranos” video, discussions, and blah-bah-dee-blah, go to Clipblast or Blinkx and you’ll find the latest.

The Big Play on CNN.com

June 8, 2007 12:44 PM

I am finally kicking the tires on CNN’s beta site at http://beta.cnn.com/ after all my unfulfilled promises all week long.

I click on a few text links for news stories and all looks good there, so now I’m going to run a quick “check” on the site’s video.

My initial impression is the site isn’t terribly video centric. I would think the central picture should be a link to a video piece, but it’s not. You have to comb around a bit before you spy the small “CNN Video” link tucked away in the upper right hand corner.

Oh, but wait a second there folks. Once the video page loads, you know what it’s got? I can’t believe this. It’s almost as if they read my blog. I can barely contain myself, but yes, it’s true. The video has the big play button. Yes, that deliciously inviting arrow button poised in a silhouette over the video. And it works. Major points for CNN.com.

However, the fast forward function barely works. I can only scoot the video ahead a few seconds.

But there’s a plethora of video clips arranged in neat rows and also by category, such as most popular, staff picks and CNN live.

This site needs some work, but definitely has potential.

Vote on Harry, Edie, Isaiah at MSNBC

June 7, 2007 1:10 PM

I know I said I would take a look at the CNN.com beta site today. But something much more critical has arisen in the news world. It’s a poll at MSNBC.com on whether Harry Potter will die in the final book.

(Have you heard? The seventh book is coming out July 21. Not that I am counting down the 43 days or anything until then).

OK, so go to this site.

You can vote on other pressing issues such as whether Isaiah Washington will leave “Grey’s Anatomy” and whether Edie is really dead on “Desperate Housewives.”

These are critical issues, my friends. Go, go, go now. Vote! Let your voice be heard.

Letters From Paris, Live on the Internet, Revamped CNN.com

June 6, 2007 12:25 PM

I know it might seem like I am a celebrity gawker now with a Paris blog item two days in a row. I assure you, I am not.
This video is just plain funny. I’ve been continually impressed with the work of Black 20.

Check out its latest video, “Paris Hilton - Letters from Jail”

And, now it’s two for the price of one. Bookmark this site: findinternettv.com. You’ll want to keep checking back as it adds more live and archived Internet video. While there are plenty of online sources to help you search Internet video, what’s cool about this one is that it’s got a grid that lists what’s live on Internet TV at any given moment. The pickings might be slim now, but they won’t be for long. Keep an eye on it.

And one more little nugget. (OK, three for the price of one). I’ll check this out in more detail tomorrow, but if you want to take a look at the beta version of CNN’s new site.

Making License Plates in the Joint

June 5, 2007 12:25 PM

Eager to help Paris Hilton during her prison stay?

Well, she’s busy making license plates on GSN.com. I mean, somebody’s got to do it!

So check out The Prison Life: Paris.

But here’s a tip: You have to line up the left side of the plate with the stamper.

Hearst-Argyle, Where Are You on YouTube?

June 4, 2007 11:12 AM

So local TV stations are getting hip to YouTube. Hearst-Argyle Television started offering local videos from five stations on YouTube today. You can find them online at: www.youtube.com/wcvbtv, www.youtube.com/wmurtv, www.youtube.com/kcratv, www.youtube.com/wtaetv and www.youtube.com/wbal.

But can you find them if you don’t have the URL? If I was just strolling around YouTube, would I happen to land on one of these channels? Let’s talk a walk and find out.

I don’t see any links on the home page. But that’s OK – people go to YouTube and search.

Next, I try the link for “channels” but the featured ones are the ones with the most subscribers. So then I click on “partners” and find videos from No Good TV, CBS, National Geographic, LonelyGirl15 and other YouTube partners. Then I try an alphabetical search, then I click on “category” and finally I just plug “Hearst Argyle” into the search bar. But the first video there is from KSBW-TV in April.

So finally I plug in the URLs directly. And the channels do look good. But really, how are you supposed to find them, to stumble upon them, to serendipitously discover all that you never had but suddenly desperately want from local TV online?

No Good is Good

June 1, 2007 12:08 PM

Can I pick ‘em or can I pick ‘em?

OK, so maybe the number of views has just a wee bit to do with the, um, bare buttocks shots on the image thumbnails, rather than my hearty blog praise last Thursday.

But no matter. If you go to YouTube today, click on most viewed videos for the week. The top two are from No Good TV, which I told you about last week. Both have about 1.5 million views in just a few days on YouTube.

OK, OK. Fine—the flesh is probably drawing the views in. Still…

I Have the Views

June 1, 2007 11:54 AM

OK, I know you’ve all been waiting for the official word.

At last, long last I have it.

Prom Queen has officially hit 8.9 million views.

So there.