Thursday, September 12, 2013

DVR cont.

Hey everybody, they have this new device where you turn it on and they send pictures to you over the air! "Television!"

OK, unintentionally my last post might have sounded like that to some, a guy eager to tell everybody about something new to him, foolishly assuming that it was new to everybody. Well, I knew better than that and I regret the blog post came across sounding like that. For the record, the article at Wikipedia says "Consumer digital video recorders ReplayTV and TiVo were launched at the 1999 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas."

True, I was writing in part to someone I expected to read it who said he didn't have a DVR yet. But I was also writing in part to indicate how I almost immediately started using DVR differently than VCR, wondering if I would get feedback with others who might say the same. And of course I especially was wondering if anyone was using it to watch sports the same way I am now doing. The feedback I in fact did get would seem to indicate that there must be plenty of folks who merely use it the way they used to use their old VCR. I haven't seen any data on what percentages of people now have a DVR or DVR service, and how many just use it like a VCR. It would be interesting. 

Bearing in mind that I expected to someday possibly have DVR, for whatever reason I can't say that I was ever running across articles, or programs, or conversations about what it was like to have one. So here is such a conversation for what it is worth. 

Watching NFL games with the DVR is underway for me. Observations:

*Special set-up to include overtime is essential. With the service we have, you can set-up to record with one click; it gives an option to add 30 minutes. This is not enough sometimes to do full regulation time, so it means learning to do your own set-up.

*It does seem more important to use the recording in a way such that you catch up with real-time by some point in the 4th quarter; it's just harder to avoid news of the final score with football. Note that to be able to do this really is a unique ability afforded by DVR.

*Waiting a bit over an hour to begin viewing the game you are recording is not too much. There is easily just as much game delay and certainly as many or more commercials as in baseball. I am experimenting with waiting even longer.

*It occurs to you that you don't need to wait around for the refs to go through the full penalty process. Punts that likely will result in "fair catch" can be blown through fast with an eye to go back if needed [so easy to do]; with the new rules, more kick-offs go too far back to bring out as well. Surprises in extra point attempts will be discovered checking on the score in the next phase. Needless to say, interminable zebra conferences get the complete axe. 

*I watched three games Sunday. One game in particular I blew through pretty fast, granting that when you do this perhaps it is not too much different from creating your own highlight reel. A complete one though, without prematurely learning the final score! One game of the three I watched pretty thoroughly and I think this will be typical for me. 

It sometimes occurs to me that I am over-using the remote to skip too quickly through the game, and I will put it down then. I'm not going to sit through commercials, but otherwise there is an element of spoiling a game rather than enjoying it if you don't look out. On the other hand, sometimes the choice is blowing through all slow elements or going back to just watching bits and pieces of the game. Time just does not allow watching that much sports for me, that I can watch full game after full game. As with cutting out intervals between pitches in baseball, in football you can cut out the huddle time. It is a little harder to get this right, replays are shown constantly with this game. You need to get used to the rhythm of each team, it seems.

PS: I set up to record and waited 90 minutes to start watching Patriots/Jets Thursday 9-12-13. I got to the very end of the 4th quarter for real-time catch-up by just skipping commercials and challenges-dead-time etc. I fast-forwarded through punts and kick-offs but slowly enough that I could check to see if those were returned or not; this works well as commercials usually follow and the fast-forward can then be speeded up. I put down the remote for all other parts of the game and watched every play. 

I'd say an hour and 15 minutes is probably about right, games will vary and I think you want to catch up with real time for sure on late games [otherwise plan to finish the next day].

Sunday, September 1, 2013

How to Watch Sports in Modern Times

With our current set up we now have Digital Video Recorder [DVR] service through our satellite provider. Although I realized it was an improvement over the VCR, I did not realize the difference would be so great that essentially we have been launched into a new universe. Although there is a learning curve with it and the remote that is needed, it is actually easier to use overall than a VCR. More importantly, it just does more things and does them more efficiently. You can record at least two things at once and watch a third - and play something you recorded on another TV while the other TV plays something else. The amount you can record is enormous. Really, you get hooked and start to think of the old VCR like you think of your old typewriter. I just got caught up with hooking up things and we now have the DVD/CD/XM players going; and the VCR. But the latter is now just set up to play, not record.

It has changed the way I want to watch TV. You sit there while a commercial comes on and all of a sudden it hits you, "I can just record this by pushing a button, watch something else for a while, even read!" After a suitable length of time you start watching the show again, but this time blowing through the ads. You wind up at the end of the program at the same time as usual. It's great!

I am definitely watching more sports, and watching them differently. It's probably fair to say in my life I had gotten to where I wasn't really watching sports. Oh, I'd tune in once in a while for an inning or two of baseball, maybe the first and fourth quarter of an interesting NFL game, parts of a NHL contest. Enjoyment came with this, and I can even say I can get into the relaxed pace of baseball [it requires an adjustment after hockey season!] But three or more hours devoted to watching sports had gotten to be really too much for me. Living on the East coast, I have come to realize, meant often not staying up to watch who won prime time events as well. This situation held for me when working full time, part time, and when not working at all. I was just not going to spend that much time and then say, as Woody Paige quipped recently, gee I was watching some commercials and a football game broke out for a while!

Baseball is what I've been experimenting with so far. Here's the formula,

*set it up to record 6 hours to catch any extra innings. Again, capacity for DVR is enormous. Record any and all you have any notion to do.
*don't even start watching at first; about one hour should go by, not necessarily more, ideally.
*tune in and watch the first inning or two completely to catch up with the pitchers, current stats for the players, and some team news as the announcers slowly disgorge that. Skip only the commercials.
*innings 3-6 watch unitl the first 2 outs of each half-inning, and if no one is on base and the pitcher seems to be in control, fast forward through the action and the batch of commercials to the next team's at-bat. If you missed some scoring, you will be able to tell, and also if you don't f-forward too fast you can see the bases get loaded by the graphic, and go back.
*in these middle innings it should be also possible to skip other slow moments, such as when for some mysterious reason the batter or the pitcher is still not ready. If a pitcher is especially slow, you can f-forward slowly and when you see the batter look at the pitcher or the pitcher look at the catcher's signals, you know it's time to go back to normal speed for a pitch.
*by the 7th inning, pitchers may change [that means a commercial break to blow through], often other line-up changes, and a more interesting part of the game. Especially if the latter is holding up, go back to watching each pitch. 
*If you've been using up your bought time ideally,  you get caught up with real time about by the end of the 8th inning. You get a hint of where you are with a graphic that comes up when you use the controls too.
*If you don't get a chance to start watching until the game is into later innings, it's just time to accelerate all of this to get to the 7th or 8th innings. You can keep an eye out for action and stop and 'rewind'  too, by looking at the graphics and the score. This is just as well since there are so many baseball games; I'm wondering if especially with football you might just wait to watch until the next day. Ironically, this also means there is more risk you will accidentally be told the final score prematurely, though. 
*Extra innings? I prefer to finish up the next day, especially on evening games.

Bear in mind also you can still do the opposite of skipping, and instead repeat good plays or events that were accidentally missed, etc. This just buys you more time to skip what you'd like to skip. It never happened with a VCR, but I start to think of the DVR as my time machine. Sometimes you have to be reminded that you can only view the past. For example, it doesn't buy you anything to freeze the action during commercials, you might as well just use the mute button. You can only 'buy' time when you freeze action that you are actually going to watch later. On the other hand, when you repeat events, you've bought something your 'time machine' can use. 

Now some fans who watch entire baseball games might be critical of some of the above, assuming that person still exists. The thing is, I am now really watching baseball games, not little bits of them and trying to keep up interest by getting the highlights and final scores later. I hope to be able to watch football, baseball, and hockey when all three are going at the same time! That, friends, is going to be a challenge! DVR service is the only thing that might make it possible

Any program that can still be enjoyed the next day, Sue and I pretty much just go ahead and record. Even just a program that starts earlier in the day than we will want to start watching, that also is well worth recording. With DVR, recording just a small portion before watching, while the real time show is still going on, is not only possible but something you find yourself doing all the time.

A final note: At one time it looked like TiVo was going to accomplish the "Kleenex" feat and become the name people were going to use for this ability to record without tape. It even became a verb for a while! I think it is because the cable and satellite services started offering the service without having to buy a device to hook up that this usage is almost gone. TiVo is still around and continuing to be innovative, though, it seems.