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Laurion

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$2 each.... [Jul. 26th, 2006|08:04 am]
Laurion
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Babylon 5 has now made its way onto the iTunes store. Season one so far, but others are on their way. As someone who (he admits sheepishly) has only seen a handful of episodes, this is a dangerous thing.

On an unrelated note, people who do technical work are frequently called technicians, but very few people who do medical work are called medicians.....

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[User Picture]From: learnedax
2006-07-26 02:20 pm (UTC)
Well, of course. The proper term is medici...
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[User Picture]From: laurion
2006-07-26 05:14 pm (UTC)
Oh yes, let's call them after one of the most ambitious and potentially murderous families....
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[User Picture]From: taellosse
2006-07-26 04:54 pm (UTC)
It still bugs me a little bit that digital forms of products like this don't get priced any less than the physical counterparts most of the time. The cost to distribute is vastly less, so they're making FAR more money. $2 per episode means that a season of 26 shows costs about $52, which is virtually the same as the season on DVD. The same is true for digital albums versus CDs, and, I've noticed, PDFs of the GURPS books.

I'm still waiting to get a copy of B5 seasons 4 and 5 so I can finish seeing it. I never followed it when it was on the air, either. I saw a few isolated episodes, but it required regular viewing for most of them to really make sense, since the story arcs are such a big part of the show, so I never got into it.
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[User Picture]From: laurion
2006-07-26 05:31 pm (UTC)
For the most part I agree. In general it's better to have the DVDs. Although that doesn't give you any more legal rights, because these days when you purchase a disc, you aren't owning anything, you're purchasing a license to view the material. But there are reasons to go with the electronic version:
1) No loss of physical space
2) Buy just the pilot to try the show out, or just the episodes you want, and not have to buy the whole season at once.
3) Portability. Watch it on your iPod!
4) Convenience. Instant gratification. No need to go to the store, no need to wait for something to ship.

None of these are particularly good reasons necessarily, and to be honest, the box sets of B5 have been on my wishlist for years, and that won't change. I might pick up the first episode or two to see if I MUST BUY BOX SETS NOW, or if they can stay on my list until some relative says "I don't know what it is, but they asked for it..." and gives it to me as a gift.

And CDs are a different argument: Many times I find it cheaper to pay $12 and no shipping on iTunes than $15 plus shipping online, or $17 dollars at the store. The sick thing is that CD prices have only gone up since the format hit mainstream, not down, despite the fact that a disc costs about 4c with packaging to produce... Actually, when CDs first came out you could buy them for $10 each, and casettes were cheaper (probably still are) despite costing an order of magnitude more to produce. Let's not even compare iTunes to import costs.

And the first thing I typically do when purchasing on iTunes is burn the tracks to disc. I know I'm getting compressed audio, and no liner notes, but that's ok for the most part. I only buy CDs on iTunes a few times a year, and end up buying most of my CDs through CDBaby or small special niche retailers (a-cappella.com). With a collection getting close to 600 CDs though, all of which sit sleeved while I listen from my iPod, I have to start considering the reality that I don't treat my audio like a physical medium...
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[User Picture]From: taellosse
2006-07-26 06:02 pm (UTC)
From what I understand, software exists which can convert DVD video into mp4s for the iPod anyway, so you could buy them on physical discs and then get it onto the iPod if that was your thing. Me, I don't watch all that much video on my iPod, though I do have some--mostly random music videos I like.

Sampling a show you might not watch makes sense, though. $2-4 to determine whether you like something is fairly trivial. On the other hand, renting it also works pretty well (that's how I determined I liked Stargate SG-1 enough to buy, as well as, more recently, Battlestar Galactica) and with things like Netflix, the cost of that is fairly low as well.

You do have a point about loss of physical space with DVDs, though. We've got a closet devoted to movies and such, and, while the space is used somewhat inefficiently, it's overfull and only gets worse. Trouble is, We pretty much just watch movies and TV series on the actual TV, and occasionally a computer screen, so digital formats don't make much sense for us.

I prefer to avoid buying physical CDs anymore as well, for most of the same reasons, though my collection is only about a third the size of yours (even including my wife's, its still less than 400 discs). I listen to them pretty much exclusively on my computer or through my iPod anyway, so I may as well just own them in that format. The liner notes aren't that important to me, since most of the time lyrics can be found with a web search if one cares, and otherwise they sit in a sleeve on a shelf collecting dust, along with the discs.
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[User Picture]From: laurion
2006-07-26 06:40 pm (UTC)
There is software which can convert DVDs, but that is of dubious legality as well, as it generally had to bypass the built in copy protection to do it. To my mind, it is fair use. I should be able to convert my movie to take with me on my ipod, but the question has yet to be answered by congress or the courts.

Renting costs at least $2, and has less convenience than an iTunes download. Netflix works if you have it, but I haven't the time for it, so it would actually be of less value for me.

I built my own DVR (TiVo), so my TV is a computer monitor of sorts, and it would be trivial for me to watch an iTunes purchase there if I chose. In my case digital formats do make sense. I still do almost all my watching with material that comes over the cable connection, but the very first thing that happens is the DVR captures it digitally (and then set skippoints so I don't get commercials). I don't even have a video iPod, actually. (I have an old 40GB B+W)
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[User Picture]From: taellosse
2006-07-26 06:53 pm (UTC)
Seeing as how the creation of mix tapes, and the copying of VHS tapes for personal use was accepted by the courts and Congress long since, I find it unlikely that, should it ever actually make it to a courtroom, the results of copying something you already own into another format for your own use is going to be treated any differently. Its when you put it on a p2p network, or give it to friends, that the legality starts to get somewhat murky.

We still haven't got a DVR, though we've talked about getting one recently, nor do we bother with true cable anymore--we only get about a dozen channels total--so much of our viewing is done via DVD. We both have our own Netflix accounts, and, on average, go through at least 6 discs apiece per month, and often more. That comes out to slightly more than $2 per disc, but if I were to DL them from iTunes, I'd have to convert them into another format and burn them to disc for us to watch them on a proper TV, so I figure the half a dollar or so extra is worth it--especially since the selection on Netflix is much larger than iTunes.

But I can see how that option would make more sense for you than me. Our circumstances differ, so the direction we're likely to take to arrive at the same endpoint is likely to be different.
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[User Picture]From: taellosse
2006-07-26 07:28 pm (UTC)
I admit I haven't watched the issue all that terribly closely. I've never been terribly interested in the legal details, honestly. It'll happen, and the tools necessary to make it happen will be available, regardless of the legality. If I find myself wanting to make a copy, I'll get what I need to do so. I'm not going to start selling pirated movies or music or anything, but as far as I'm concerned, if I paid for it, I can do with it as I please.

The 2 Netflix accounts has more to do with the fact that we each had it before we moved in together than anything else. At that time, it wasn't possible to set up profiles for multiple people on a single account, as it is now, and there's also the fact that we've both got queues numbered in the hundreds, that neither of us wants to take the time and energy to recreate on a new account. Our combined accounts cost cost the same amount as the 6-at-a-time version does (actually, oddly, its 1 cent cheaper), so there's no reason to change it, really.
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[User Picture]From: jducoeur
2006-08-01 05:13 pm (UTC)
I've never been terribly interested in the legal details, honestly. It'll happen, and the tools necessary to make it happen will be available, regardless of the legality.

Mayyybe. To the hacker, likely true. But at the consumer level, it's becoming steadily harder, quite rapidly. Most consumer-grade tech these days obeys the copy-protection bits, and it's getting to the point where consumer-grade computers are doing so as well.

So while I suspect that the dedicated hacker will always be able to circumvent copy-protection, it's fairly likely that those avenues will close for 95% of the public, fairly soon...
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[User Picture]From: taellosse
2006-08-01 06:12 pm (UTC)
Oh, I'm no hacker. I've never had all that much trouble tracking down the tools I need before, though, whether its media or software. I am a firm believer in benefiting from the effort of others, and hackers inclined to circumvent such restrictions frequently do so out of philosophical objections to the protections, and then make their cracks available online. It takes a bit of creativity and diligence to track down something, but it's rarely impossible to find.

On the other hand, 95% of the public can't navigate the internet as well as I can, most likely (that's not intended to sound arrogant or anything, it's just probably true), so you're undoubtedly correct all the same.
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[User Picture]From: laurion
2006-07-26 07:26 pm (UTC)
Mix Tapes and VHS tapes are legal yes, but the legality question isn't whether it is legal to make copies for personal use, it is whether or not is is legal to bypass the encryption that DVDs now carry. Please note also that more recent VHS tapes also had copy protection technologies included. But the DMCA (new legislation) has made it illegal to bypass encryption, to make tools that bypass encryption, etc. So it may well be illegal to convert the video, not because you are converting it (which is legal) but because you are bypassing the manufacturer's restrictions. The MPAA and RIAA have spent the last 10 years trying to forcibly legislate their way into new controls over what the end consumer can do with the products they pimp out. See http://www.eff.org/IP/fairuse/ and http://www.eff.org/IP/DMCA/ for more information. Generally the EFF site is a bit rabid, but provides good coverage of the issues. You can also read up in more rationally toned articles on Ars Technica.

Re: cable, I find there are two people out there, TiVo people and NetFlix people. People use one or the other to fill their watching hours, and no one really has enough time for both (although I know people who have both). There are definitely arguments on both sides of the camp. Me, I like watching shows when they are first broadcast, and don't want to wait for them to come out on DVD, so I TiVo. Both options give you a huge amount of variety, and a great deal of flexibility with your time.

I do marvel a bit that you have two netflix accounts. Wouldn't it be cheaper to have one that allowed for more discs out at once?

[Edit: Updated with more useful links]
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[User Picture]From: learnedax
2006-07-27 12:59 pm (UTC)
I might pick up the first episode or two to see if I MUST BUY BOX SETS NOW

Most fans of the show would say that the first few episodes are not a good sample of its quality. I disagree, but I'm clearly in the minority.
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[User Picture]From: jducoeur
2006-08-01 05:21 pm (UTC)
The pilot is less unrepresentative now that it's been recut -- it no longer sucks in many of the ways that it did in the original miserably butchered cut. But I do think that both the acting and direction improved considerably over the course of the series, and the style changed significantly as it stopped being all setup and started getting into the meat of the plot...
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[User Picture]From: jducoeur
2006-08-01 05:16 pm (UTC)
I might pick up the first episode or two to see if I MUST BUY BOX SETS NOW

Just keep in mind that the series gets steadily better for a fair while. Season 1 is hit-and-miss -- there are some really good episodes, but also some pretty bad ones, and the season is almost entirely setup for what will happen later. It doesn't start to really hit its stride until Season 2, and Season 3 is certainly the peak...
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[User Picture]From: laurion
2006-07-27 01:14 am (UTC)
Oh, and as a kicker I just found out that you can get the whole season on the iTunes store for $40. So there's a bulk discount.
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[User Picture]From: taellosse
2006-07-27 01:54 am (UTC)
Oh? That's not so bad, then
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