Thursday, July 12, 2007

Another kind of DVR

Over at boingboing there's an interesting piece about the future of streaming video. "It's a bummer to consider a future in which broadcasts -- which we can all see and record -- are replaced with geo-locked, streaming crippleware netcasts.....All that said: top marks to the first person to demonstrate a working, reliable solution for watching and recording the CBC Dr Who episodes from anywhere in the world."

Right now, I am living in a bit of a gilded Tivo age where I can record just about any signal that comes into my home by intercepting its output right before it goes into the TV (which is basically just a monitor, I have never actually used its built-in tuner). The hugely hacky piece of the whole setup is the IR blaster to control the cable box by pretending to be a remote- with my new Verizon FIOS Motorola set top box, it just doesn't work all that well. New TiVos support the Cable Card standard- at the price of losing control of stream + $800 and a monthly fee. If restrictions are put into place on those new TiVos, for example flags on HD content that make it disappear after a week, then we might actually have a situation where you need to TiVo your TiVo (by capturing its output) to get the content into an open and safe format.

What is really striking about all of this is that the IR remote control is the open interface by which I can control the output of the cable box. Without that, it's basically useless because I couldn't choose what to capture. The whole weirdness by which all IR remotes are similar in that most can imitate the others but just about every device comes with a bunch of pages in the back that allow you to program the remote to control a variety of other devices.

I wonder if we aren't going to see a solution where the output going full screen to your monitor is going to be intercepted in a similar fashion, and then dropped back in to a capture card. It's really insane. The part of the computer that is analogous to the IR interface of the remote control is the URL. It's nice to take a step back every now and then and appreciate the beauty of that- URL addressable content. Now if we could just be assured that we'd be able to look at it when and where we want to.