Saturday, March 1, 2008

Entertainment of Ex-Pat Geek

Living abroad limits entertainment slightly. I mean to say that for example, I live in Italy and I can speak and read Italian but it is not they way I prefer to consume mass quantities of entertainment. When native speakers are trying to copy the format of popular American TV shows like CSI they have to get a lot of dialouge in a very short time and start talking fast, which I have a hard time keeping up with.

The first solution that my family and I came up with was subscription satellite service that feeds also the UK. So we can see some of the most popular TV shows that trickle down via the BBC, etc. This provides what would equate to having cable with HBO in the states about 8 years ago. Which is enough programming, but not the most current or with massive selection.

Last year I purchased a Apple Mac Mini while in the States. I have started using the Mac for my entertainment and video/photo editing. iTunes has provided me with an amazing world of podcasting in diverse media for consumption. I use audio podcasts for the car, iPod formated video for the wife's new iPod and Apple TV formatted for consumption on the 21" monitor that I attached to the Mini.

Recently, I purchased a new Full HD 37" TV which supports PC connectivity. And now, I've added to my repertoire the HD Video Podcasts from iTunes which are, in fact truly amazing. It was during the writers strike and the lack of new TV programming that the family and I realized that the digital consumption of entertainment satisfied our needs and was very, very convienent. Using it in this way made it feel like the Video-on-demand or TiVo experience that most people have to pay extra for via a TVR or pay-per-view model. Where in my case it was a cost of nothing in addition to the infrastructure of the home which already existed.

So, being the geek that I am (as stated in title) I strapped that poor Mac Mini to the new 37" LCD TV and now the family enjoys the shows they want, when they want and in the language they want it in. The only thing that I haven't done yet is to add the USB TV Tuner to the Mac Mini and piped my satellite feed over it to have a very real TVR. By the way, if you haven't seen the HubbleCast produced by the ESA and NASA in REAL (I mean x1080 real) HD, then you haven't lived.

Point is, over the last view months, my family and I would have been more put out by the loss of internet connectivity for entertainment than satellite service. Even though I do have both, I think I will try to keep up the trend. Since that also means that our entertainment is always available over the internet whether we are in Germany, Belgium, France or Italy.


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