Information Technology

The world is changing. Rapidly.

Bits are flying over the Internet at an unprecedented pace.

As my loyal reader… know my feelings about Cisco and video conferencing, but, it looks to me as though they are getting back to focusing on handling bits….a very good thing.  For everyone!

This commercial by Cisco is interesting.  I LOVE the part where they say that you do not need to be in the office to be productive.

DUH.   Telecommuting = Coworking = Telework


Dare I say it?   Cisco rocks?   Ouch….that hurt…. :-)

Oh yeah…the bridge at the end is awesome…again, back to cisco’s roots.

VUDU Adds Glee and Modern Family

 (Our VUDU)

As my loyal reader….you know what I feel about VUDU (and here, and here).   Also see our movie reviews on, a lot of what we watch is on VUDU.

Now that VUDU is embedded in new TV’s, Blu-Ray players, etc., you no longer need the separate box that we have.  There is also the ability to connect to Facebook, Twitter, and a zillion other features via the Internet.

It ain’t just movies anymore….

Although the user interface has gotten more bloated and harder to use (hint to VUDU designers) this is still the best streaming video service under the sun.  My hope is that is stays that way….note to Wal-Mart:  Hands off!  Let the VUDU folks do what they do better than anyone…

Anyway…on the TV side, the choices kinda stunk.  Until now.  NOW, I see this article that says they are adding “Glee” and “Modern Family”.

OK….this is GREAT news.  We LOVE “Modern Family”, and “Glee”…..well, it is ok too.  :-)

If you have not tried VUDU (’cause you are using Netflix streaming…which actually came after VUDU)…give it a try.

Now that we have Comcast Internet…we can watch HDX movies in real-time….the quality is awesome!

QR Codes

Ever see one of those square barcode like looking thingys?

I had one hanging on my door from Google Places, but, I did not know what it was or what to do with it.

It looked cool, so I stuck it up there.

So what the hell is it?

Well, finally getting curious I did a bit of web searching.  WikiPedia, of course, has a nice, concise, explanation which I quote below:

QR code (short for Quick Response) is a specific matrix barcode (or two-dimensional code), readable by dedicated QR barcode readers and camera phones. The code consists of black modules arranged in a square pattern on a white background. The information encoded can be text, URL or other data.

Common in Japan, where it was created by Toyota subsidiary Denso-Wave in 1994, the QR code is one of the most popular types of two-dimensional barcodes. QR is the abbreviation for Quick Response, as the creator intended the code to allow its contents to be decoded at high speed.[1]

The technology has seen a large uptake in Japan and South Korea. However, in the west there has been a considerably slower adoption of QR Codes.[2]

I suspect that as SmartPhones become more prevalent, the use of the QR codes may increase here.

Give it a try! If you have a SmartPhone, and the appropriate app on it (you can find free QR apps on either the iphone or android phones)…….scan the QR code I put at the top of this blog entry.

Where did you go?  Pretty cool, huh?

I also have a QR code with my name, business, phone and email…in other words a contact QR code.

According to the “QR Droid” app (a great application by the way…I will donate some $$) I downloaded on my HTC Aria, I can make a QR code for:

  • Contact
  • URL Address
  • Application (calls up an app?, I have not tried it….yet)
  • Phone Number
  • Calendar Event
  • Free Text (how is that as opposed to priced text?)
  • Geolocation
  • SMS

Pretty impressive list of uses….I will start integrating QR codes in my work life more and more.  For example, do you want to rent a room, or sign up for coworking?  Scan the appropriate QR code to call me (and store my number easily on your phone), send me a text message, an email, or just go directly to Paypal.

VERY COOL. (Hmmmmm, I will make up a QR code with my contact information for the next Tracy Chamber Meeting….that would be interesting).

In addition to being useful…I think it is pretty geeky nerdy cool…..just like me!  :-)

Speaking of nerds……I will be getting a t-shirt made up with the QR code I made on top.

I can just see the kids at the Mall with SmartPhones scanning my shirt and then learning that they need to….

Drive Safe!  Never Forget.

AT&T To Cap DSL Usage


I was surfing this morning and came across this bit of disturbing news from the good folks at Mashable (and also at Broadband DSL Reports).

AT&T will cap DSL users to 150GB (I assume Bytes…not bits) and Uverse users to 250GB per month.  If you go over that cap more than 3 times you will be charged $10 for every 50GB over.

I sent an email to my favorites, VUDU, and they replied with some byte estimates for me.  Thank you VUDU!

For SD (standard definition which is great for us) you can estimate (depending on the length of the movie but for a typical 2 hour movie) about 1.5GB. For HD the estimate doubles to about 3GB, and for HDX (which is awesome by the way) 8GB.

Soooo, if I watched nothing but HDX movies, I would burn through the 150GB cap after watching 18.75 HDX movies.  Hmmmm, I would be happy with that, but, we use the Internet for sooo much more than movies…

I remember a year or two ago Comcast announcing the same kind of capping…what ever happened to that?  Is that still in effect?  Well, now, DSL users will be getting it.

What does this mean?

Well…..if you are like me, you are watching TV and Movies (all kinds….) via the Internet, or you are a heavy duty gamer or surfer, or you participate in video conferencing, web conferencing, video chat, etc.  The Internet provides a great transport mechanism.

Maybe that will be changing….?

We watch VUDU movies in HDX, HD, or SD all the time (4 to 5 times a month…see for my short movie reviews).

If I am subject to capping…will that limit the number of movies I watch?  If so, I am not happy about that.

Livestream Video Streaming on Facebook

OK, this is cool.

A few seconds after I downloaded the free app “Livestream Podcaster” I was streaming live video from the AltamontCowork public computer to Facebook!

I have tried Justin TV and Ustream as our “Virtual Window” but both dropped the calls, after awhile, within a few minutes.  Hmmmm, I wonder if it was Comcast limiting me?

Sooo, I’m trying Livestream.  Looks like the same software as Justin TV and Ustream and I still have Comcast, so I’m pretty sure, one way or another, the calls will start dropping.  No matter, this is cool anyway.

One really nice feature is you can give a live presentation using slides and video and audio to a Facebook audience.  See picture below.


Ads interrupt the video stream every few minutes.

I won’t be doing this long term, but, as a cool experiment (and blog entry), it was fun playing with it.

My Opinion

The world of video communication (either interactive or one way streaming) is moving at lightspeed right now and I am seeing nearly all the predictions, hopes, and dreams I had for this technology the past 20 years coming to fruition!   WhooHoo!

Great stuff!

Now all I need to do is find something that will come true now….so I can live to see it.


Help us raise awareness of unsafe teen driving and the need for parents to enforce curfews.

VUDU Review 2


Rating:  5 WaterTowers (still nearly perfect)

After you are done here:  See my original review of VUDU.

This weekend we recieved our new Vudu system.   As you may already know, we love Vudu and we used it for a long time before I actually had to remind Vudu that we had the demo unit.

Life was miserable without Vudu.  Now we have our own, and in the two months or so we have been without it, there have been some cool additions to the service.  Not surprising since they update a lot.

Cool New Features

The first new feature I noticed was the addition of a rating by the “community” in addition to the rating by the “critics”.  In my opinion, the “community” rating means more to me.

The next feature I noticed was “Vudu Labs”.  This is an area where Vudu is testing new applications.  I really love this!  Figure 1 shows a screen shot.

Vudu Labs Experimental Features

Figure 1: Vudu Labs Experimental Features

Within Vudu Labs, we can:

  • View YouTube videos (including our own)
  • View publically available Flickr pictures (again, including our own)
  • Watch special streamed video from categories such as New, Sports, Entertainment and more.  For example, I watched a CNN update for Sunday. Very cool.  :-)
  • There are games.  The old Asteroid game from, I believe, the Atari (how many of you remember that?)  days has been upgraded….and I still lose.  There are also several versions of solitaire.

Adult content has also been added.  I suppose to be totally objective, I will have to review this portion as well.  ;-)  Stay tuned.  What I have seen so far is that Vudu “After Dark” takes you into a different set of tabs.  I believe (I will check and update) that that can be password protected to keep the young’uns away.


Installation proceeded normally until I got to the page that said it was “Updating Content”  (see figure 2).  I got to that stage pretty late at night and decided to let it run over night.

Updating Content Page

Figure 2: Updating Content Page

Unfortunately, when I woke up it was still on that page.  I pondered what to do and finaly rebooted Vudu.

After the reboot, it found my account, did a bandwidth test, and took only about 10 or 15 minutes to move past the offending page.

TelBitConsulting says:  Not sure if this happens a lot, but, it would have been nice to have the option of getting out of that mode without rebooting.

Updated Diagram

Figure 3 shows the latest schematic.  The video and audio from every component is terrific.

Schematic Diagram of Home Entertainment

Figure 3: Schematic Diagram of Home Entertainment

We now have a full complement of clickers lining up under the TV (Figure 4), and the new Black Box 3 to 1 HMDI interface box is now full.

Clickers Galore

Figure 4: Clickers Galore

I connected the Vudu to port 3 of the Black Box, and to the Cable / Sat audio input on the Bose since my TV inputs have run out.


We now have our own Vudu.  How cool is that!

Let’s hope that Vudu can stay in business in this awful economy (I have seen some web pages referring to this).  From my point of view, escaping reality by watching movies, is something we all need.  Our own stimulus package.

Vudu ROCKS!!!

Justin TV: A Quick Peek

I found a gold mine of lost blog entries!  Here is another…


TracyVirtualOffice Justin TV Page

TracyVirtualOffice Justin TV Page

Rating:  4 WaterTowers (Internet streaming made easy)

Justin TV allows you to stream live video and audio over the Internet.  It took me all of two minutes to sign up and start streaming.

Very easy and very cool.   :-)

I can see tons of applications for this, and I’m sure there are thousands already on Justin TV.  For us at the TracyVirtualOffice and maybe other coworking locations or businesses / education, I can see Lectures being streamed, meetings being streamed (like the TweetUP we just hosted), and when I am at home…this is an efficient security system!  We can connect coworking locations worldwide as easy as 3.14.

Official announcement:  The TracyVirtualOffice now has it’s own LIVE  stream (8:30 AM to 5:00 PM, PST) that you can watch at two locations:

1. The TVO Web Page

2. Justin TV Web Page

Take a look…just don’t get bored!  ;-)

My New Slogan: “TracyVirtualOffice TV: As Exciting as Watching Corn Grow”

I will occasionally turn the web cam inward so you can see the TracyVirtualOffice in action, but, I’ll wait until we have a few more members.  Right now, we are as interesting as the parking lot.   ;-)

What Am I Using?

I am using the TracyVirtualOffice emachines computer, running Vista, with a Logitech 9000 web cam.  I have Comcast Business Internet with 2.5 Mbps upstream and 20 Mbps, or more, downstream and the Google Chrome browser.

The Justin TV application is running in “Good” mode (see picture below) and it automatically selected an upstream BW of about 450 kbps.  I see no slowing of the Internet at that bit rate which is good.

The video quality at the viewer end appears to be very good (Comments?).  Note that I have muted audio for privacy, but, when it was on it worked very well.


As a viewer:

You can watch the video at the default size or make it full screen.  You can chat with other viewers and the broadcaster.   You see updated list of the number of viewers, the number of fans, and the number of views since broadcasting started.   And you can change the audio volume.  The embed and link codes are there if you want to use them.

As the owner:

Justin TV Control Panel

Justin TV Control Panel

You can record video.

I did that yesterday but I have not been able to find it.  Maybe because I am using Chrome?  The recording seems to work ok, but, it never shows up in the designated spot.  I’ll give Firefox and IE a try over the next few days and let you know what happens.

You can change the video quality

The default is “Good” but there is a “Best” as well.  Since “Good” is running at 450 kbps, I have not yet fired up the “Best”.  450 kbps is plenty good for me.  :-)

You can personalize your Justin TV page

I uploaded a properly sized (650 x 125 pixel) logo, changed the coloring, and uploaded a background picture of our mug.  It all worked out very nicely.   See the picture at the top.

You can embed the video on your web page

Justin TV provides links and embed code that you can copy.  The picture shows how it looks on my web page.

TracyVirtualOffice TV Web Page

TracyVirtualOffice TV Web Page

You can link to it here to give it a whirl.  You have to click on the arrow button to start the video.  Once it is running, you can change the audio (we are muted), view the video in full-screen, and stop the video.  There is a link to the Justin TV site below the video feed.

I just wonder what the this will do to the data transfer rate of the web site?  Does the video feed thru it?  Or does it get fed somehow thru Justin TV?

Here is a full screen shot from the web site feed:


Full Screen from TVO Web Site Feed

Full Screen from TVO Web Site Feed


Not to long ago streaming video over the Internet was a difficult process requiring specialized equipment and expertise.  Those days are gone!

Justin TV brings this capabilty to the average person while providing excellent quality video and audio.  And the price is right….it is free.  Justin TV is super easy to set up and use.

All in all……a  super app!  :-)

As for my new slogan…..”TracyVirtualOffice TV: As Exciting as Watching Corn Grow”!  Believe me, I have experience there, my Masters Degree Thesis (University of Kansas) was on “The Coherent Optical Determination of the Leaf Angle Distribution of Corn”.  Many many (wonderful) hours spent in the cornfields of Kansas.

VUDU Price Reduced


If you have not read my VUDU Review blog, now may be a good time.  

The basic VUDU unit (good enuf for me) is now selling for $149.00.  

Watching movies downloaded from the Internet has never been so easy and so enjoyable.  I gave VUDU 5 WaterTowers a year ago and only recently had to send it back (hey….I finally reminded them I had it, since they did say they would call me if they needed it back).

Not to worry, for $149.00 we are buying one (from Best Buy)!  It should be here in a day or two since, apparently, Tracy, CA is not the hot bed of activity for VUDU’s.  It should be!

I recommend VUDU to anyone reading this….you will not be disappointed.  

When I get it, I’ll post another review, as an update, and also post new schematics which include the Black Box Catalog HDMI 3 to 1 device I got for Christmas.  

Even though we have a Blu-Ray player now, I expect VUDU to be our primary movie watching mechanism.  One seemingly insignificant thing:  We miss searching for an actor or director to see when they were born…VUDU made that easy!

Have a nice weekend!  

I’m gonna take a few days off….and watch some movies!

Test Your Network Connection

Google has added some capabilities (via collaborations) that, when fully operational, will allow you to do some pretty detailed testing of your Internet connection. 

See this article for all the information (well, not all, but, some pretty good stuff).  One of my heros from my college days when I was learning communication technology,Vint Cerf, has something to do with this.  :-)

I have mentioned in previous blogs that if Internet providers impose limits on access; watching movies via the Internet could be adversely affected.  

Here is the link to the test site.  

The information could be especially helpful to those of us who videoconference and want the best video quality we can get.  One question you might ask is:  Is your provider providing the upstream bit rate you are paying for?  In my case I am paying for 384 kbps upstream.  

I tried a few tests and only one worked.  This may be due to traffic, or we may be a bit early and they may not have all the pieces in place.  Technology takes time.  :-)

TelBitConsulting says:  This is interesting, and useful, information for customers who want to know more about their network connectivity.  And it couldn’t come at a better time.  

Quick Test

I ran a quick test to see if my DSL provider (AT&T) was limiting BitTorrent traffic on my line.  Note, according to the BitTorrent web site, it’s technology is:  “the global standard for accessing rich media over the Internet.”

Here are the results:

Is BitTorrent traffic on a well-known BitTorrent port (6881) throttled?

* The BitTorrent upload (seeding) worked. Our tool was successful in uploading data using the BitTorrent protocol.

* There’s no indication that your ISP rate limits your BitTorrent uploads. In our tests a TCP upload achieved minimal 389 Kbps while a BitTorrent upload achieved maximal 394 Kbps. 

* The BitTorrent download worked. Our tool was successful in downloading data using the BitTorrent protocol.

* There’s no indication that your ISP rate limits your BitTorrent downloads. In our tests a TCP download achieved minimal 636 Kbps while a BitTorrent download achieved maximal 641 Kbps.

Is BitTorrent traffic on a non-standard BitTorrent port (10009) throttled?

* The BitTorrent upload (seeding) worked. Our tool was successful in uploading data using the BitTorrent protocol.

* There’s no indication that your ISP rate limits your BitTorrent uploads. In our tests a TCP download achieved minimal 384 Kbps while a BitTorrent download achieved maximal 389 Kbps.

* The BitTorrent download worked. Our tool was successful in downloading data using the BitTorrent protocol.

* There’s no indication that your ISP rate limits your BitTorrent downloads. In our tests a TCP download achieved minimal 629 Kbps while a BitTorrent download achieved maximal 640 Kbps.

Is TCP traffic on a well-known BitTorrent port (6881) throttled?

* There’s no indication that your ISP rate limits all downloads at port 6881. In our test, a TCP download on a BitTorrent port achieved at least 636 Kbps while a TCP download on a non-BitTorrent port achieved at least 629 Kbps.

* There’s no indication that your ISP rate limits all uploads at port 6881. In our test, a TCP upload on a BitTorrent port achieved at least 389 Kbps while a TCP upload on a non-BitTorrent port achieved at least 384 Kbps.

Inauguration Online Video Viewing Stats


According to this report on CNN, the Internet broke some records during the Inauguration yesterday.  

Really quickly: 

1. Akamai says that 7.7 million people watched at the same time ( I suppose that means the peak simultaneous usage was 7.7 mil).  

2. Over a time span of hours, CNN hosted almost 27 million viewers (of which I was one).  This broke a record by a factor of 5.  Pretty impressive.

3. CNN also reports 1.3 mil simultaneous users just before President Obama’s speech. 

4. Even President Obama chimed in after the Inauguration on Twitter.  Gotta love him!  

Hmmmm, I wonder what it would be like to post:  “I just finished my acceptance speech for President of the U.S.A”  “Going to a Ball now.”  “Catch u later.”

While some people had trouble, I was off and on all day and did not have any problems.  Guess the technology knows who not to mess with ;-)

 With news, entertainment (including new original content), and Internet Movies streaming to players such as VUDU, NetFlix, Blockbuster, not to mention all the IP videoconferencing…the future looks exciting.  

TelBitConsulting says:  The Internet is very quickly becoming a streaming video powerhouse.   Our new tech savvy President will help technology and science flourish once again.  

PS: Do you know how hard it is to spell Inauguration?  There a some extra u’s in there that can be deleted as far as I am concerned  :-)

LG HDTV to Stream NetFlix Movies



OK, here it comes.  The battle for streaming movies over the Internet has taken the turn that I have been waiting for.

This article on CBS tells us that LG will embed a streaming player in HDTV sets.  No additional box will be needed.  How quickly this is happening!

I have been covering this exciting area of technology from some time and am convinced that the future of watching movies via the Internet is the future.

Note:  If Internet service providers restrict the number of bits users can transfer over their Internet connections, all bets are off.   

TelBitConsulting says:  VUDU, Blockbuster, AppleTV players are all stand-alone devices.  I believe embedded devices will eventually rule.  

See all my posts, including this one, on this topic here.  


Cisco to Introduce Home Products

Update Jan 7 2009:  CES almost has started in Las Vegas (see this CNN article).  They say attendance is down.  Still pretty darn big if you ask me!  I was CTO at the now defunct “TeleCon” Conference and we were happy to get 20,000 attendees.  But, I’m pretty sure that live shows will, over time, draw less and less people to them.  On line Virtual Conferences exist and are getting better…hmmmm, maybe I’ll research that topic and post the info here.


This article states that at the CES Show in Las Vegas this month, Cisco will introduce several new products for the home.

Included in these products are a “Telepresence” version for your HDTV, and a streaming player for watching video over the Internet.

Verrrryyy inteerrrtesting.

I have long held the view that videoconferencing to the home would be a natural on your TV (see this web page of an article I wrote in 1995, scroll down to 6 PM if you are in a hurry).

Of course, my views on Internet streaming to watch movies using a device such as VUDU (hmmmm, do I smell a buyout  after all VUDU is a neighbor of Cisco’s) and other Internet streaming technologies is well known to you…my dedicated readers:

I think Internet video will change the world and will shorten the life of Blu-Ray (although I am totally enjoying watching my Blu-Ray movies).

As for videoconferencing with Cisco, they need to come up with a VERY inexpensive product for the home… or it will not fly. The home user (especially in these horrid economic times) do not have the cash that a major corporation has (or had).  Since Cisco is used to charging over $300,000 per end for their “Telepresence” units…they have a long way to go.

On the bright side….

Cisco getting into home Internet streaming of video (if it is true), and giving the good college try for home videoconferencing (if it is true) can only help the videoconferencing and collaboration technology space.

TelBitConsulting wishes them luck….time will tell if they can succeed.

Internet Movies and Blu Ray


I’ve been thinking.  

A very dangerous thing, I know.  But I was wondering how the likes of VUDU (see my review), AppleTV, the Blockbuster (see my blog entry) and NetFlix (see my blog entry)  streaming video players will effect (hmmm, is that right?  effect, affect?) the life of Blu-Ray.  

A few weeks ago, I posted a more formal written opinion that I have copied below. 

Let me know what you think.


1. Streaming of movies (and other content) over the Internet will grow in the coming years.

2. High speed digital services to the home (DSL and cable modem) continue to increase.

3. High definition movies can be viewed at home without the need to rent a DVD or Blu-Ray DVD.  

This is an important future direction that could shorten the life of Blu-Ray or at the very least lessen the impact Blu-Ray could have in the home.

Tel Bit Consulting’s View

Several companies are now offering high definition movies over the Internet.  These movies can be viewed on a high definition TV and require only a DSL or cable modem connection to the Internet, and a player.  There are technical issues the homeowner must overcome (for example they will need to bring DSL or Cable Modem Internet connectivity to the Family Room) but, the ability to rent a movie and watch it in high definition two to eight hours after renting it (without the need to go to the store) is compelling.


Apple TV came out with a set-top box over a year ago.  Although that required a computer to work properly, the latest versions do not, thus, in my opinion increasing the usability for the average person.  In the past year, more (non-computer based) devices (or players) have been introduced:  VUDU has advanced rapidly from standard definition and a small selection of HD movie titles to a significant number of high definition movies that rival the quality of Blu-Ray (they call their latest HD technology HDX).  More recently, NetFlix, Sony, and Blockbuster have announced players or Internet streaming of movies, or both.  Comcast (and other cable companies) have their own on-demand services.


In short, as these new Internet streaming players come into the marketplace, and more movies become available in high definition, the need (or desire) to purchase, or rent, a Blu-Ray DVD could diminish or never reach its full promise. 


One stumbling block for Internet streaming of video concerns the fact that Internet providers have been clamping down their connections (i.e. restricting the number of bits).  If that practice remains in place, or increases, that could spell trouble for Internet streaming of movies. 


But, if free and open Internet connectivity remains, and Internet streaming technology improves and more widely available, the life of a “Blu-Ray DVD” may be shorter than the life of the old, original “DVD”.

Blockbuster OnDemand Streaming Video Player

Blockbuster has announced a streaming video player made by 2Wire.   This article in Information Week says it competes with Apple TV and NetFlix, but, unfortunately, it completely leaves out the one participant in this space that uses and loves:  VUDU.

No matter what, the future is clear:  Watching movies via the Internet will happen and may happen, in a big way, faster than I had originally thought.
Gathering some information on the new 2Wire player it looks like it does support HD.  Neither NetFlix nor AppleTV (as far as I understand…can support HD).   It works via a built-in wireless or wired Internet connection.
Here are some specs I grabbed from 2Wire’s Press Release:

Technical Details
In the Box

  • 2Wire MediaPoint Digital Media Player (8″ x 8″ x 1″)
  • Quick Installation Guide
  • Power Adapter
  • Composite A/V cable (supports SD viewing)
  • Remote Control
  • AAA Batteries

Video and Audio Connections

  • Composite
  • Component*
  • HDMI*
  • Stereo Audio
  • Toslink (digital optical audio)*

Network Connections

  • Ethernet*
  • Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g)

*cable must be purchased separately

UPDATE: asked 2Wire a few questions (thank you to 2Wire for their prompt reply):

1. What size hard drives are available?

The built-in 8GB of flash memory can store approximately 5 SD or one HD and an assortment of SD movies at a time, depending on the length of the movies.

2. Can you connect an external hard drive to add capacity?

This is not currently an option.

3. Can a person purchase a movie?  If so will it be stored on the person local hard drive?  Is there a backup or archive capability to save the movies in case the hard drive dies?

At this time, you can not purchase movies through the MediaPoint digital media player.

4. Will Blockbuster make HD movies available?  How many movies are currently on the list?  How many are HD?

There are currently over 2,000 movies available through the ONDEMAND service, including a small but growing selection of HD movies. Blockbuster continues to add SD and HD movies to the ONDEMAND library.

5. Does your unit support 1080p?

Not at this time. The 2Wire MediaPoint digital media player currently supports the following: High Definition – 1080i, High Definition – 720p, Standard Definition – 480p, and Standard Definition – 480i.

6. Does your unit support 5.1 or 7.1 audio?

The 2Wire MediaPoint digital media player delivers stereo sound and supports 5.1.

7. If I want to watch an SD movie, how long do I have to wait before it starts?  HD?

This depends on factors that include the speed of your Internet connection and the length of the movie. For example, with a 3 mbps connection, you could begin watching a standard-length SD movie within 30 seconds to one minute after beginning download.

8. What is the size of your unit?

The dimensions of MediaPoint are 8 in. x 8 in. x 1 in – about the size of a box of movie candy.

9. Do you support HDMI out put to the TV?

A composite A/V cable is provided with purchase. The player does support HDMI output, but the cable must be purchased separately. The HDMI Digital A/V output jack provides digital audio and video signals to a compatible HDTV or HD monitor.

10. Are any currently in use?  Can you tell me how many?  (If not, that is ok)

We are very pleased with the sales figures since the launch, but cannot divulge specific numbers.

11. How is the streaming handled?  From a central location only?  Peer-to-Peer?  Other?

Unlike media players that stream movies over the Internet, the 2Wire MediaPoint uses progressive download to let movie fans access high-quality videos, and begin watching them during download. The video and audio quality is consistent, and does not depend on your Internet connection speed. says:  If a streaming player does not support HD….forget it.  To introduce a product in 2008 that does not support HD is wrong.  It looks like 2Wire got it right. I know VUDU has it right….

The new Blockbuster player from 2Wire is significantly different than the VUDU player.  It is interesting to see how different design directions can be taken to solve a problem.
Engineering at it’s best.
For example, the 2 Wire player was designed, it appears, to watch a movie then that movie is gone.  There is some storage capacity but the smallish 8 Gig flash drive will not allow the massive storage that the 1 TB hard drive VUDU can come with.   You cannot “purchase” movies with Blockbuster, but, that is not surprising since Blockbuster is a rental organization.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out over the next few years….either way, thinks this is the way people will be watching movies….as long as the Internet connections stay open…
See all my Blog entries on Streaming Video including a V-E-R-Y detailed review of VUDU.

VUDU Introduces HDX

If you have not yet experienced VUDU Internet streaming of movies… may be the time.

As you may know, I am a big fan of VUDU and now even more so. Check out my review of VUDU here.

With over 6000 movie titles in Standard Definition and High Definition….VUDU has recently introduced a new high definition technology they call “HDX”.

Since I have an older HDTV (how did time go so fast?) with less resolution, I figured HDX would not give me much improvement over their HD offering or even SD which I consider better than my upconverted DVD player.

I was wrong. HDX is simply astounding.

Since I cannot take a picture (or a movie) that would do it justice (but I gave it a try…see below), the best comparision I can make is this: Go to your nearest Best Buy and watch a full 1080p Blu-Ray movie being played. HDX is just like that! Even on my less than full resolution HDTV, the picture quality is a major step up from HD and worlds better than SD. And our Bose sound system captures the robust audio from HDX like nothing we have yet experienced.

I can’t wait to earn enough $ (remember…starving blogger) to get a full 1080p TV…..hmmmm, anyone need a decent videoconferencing guy?

A look at the VUDU “Most Watched” list shows that people with VUDU agree. The HDX movies are at the top of the most watched list.

The only downfall is that we have to wait about 8 hours for the HDX movie to download. With SD we can watch it instantly, and with HD we have to wait a couple of hours. So some pre-planning on our part is needed. I could always upgrade my Internet service, but, oh rats, starving blogger…..

I know I sound like a VUDU commercial….but….

Our lives with VUDU have changed. We have not gone to Blockbuster in months. We have not purchased a DVD in months. Where we once planned on buying a Blu-Ray player and start a collection of Blu-Ray movies…that plan is on hold. We are perfectly happy with VUDU spending about $5.99 for a movie rental and about $20 for a purchase. What could be better?

Tel Bit Consulting says: Internet video can (will!) change the way the world watches movies. I only hope that the Internet remains open and unrestricted.

Watching the Olympics on

Rating: 5 WaterTowers

OK..this is COOL

I went to the web site and signed up (all you need is your Zip code and browser…yes, Firefox works). Remember I have a Toshiba Laptop running Windows XP. Nothing fancy, nothing out of the ordinary.

NBC is streaming live video using Microsoft Silverlight.

Yikes! I never heard of Silverlight but here is a blurb at the front of their web site:

Light Up the Web
Microsoft® Silverlight™ is a cross-browser, cross-platform, and cross-device plug-in for delivering the next generation of media experiences and rich interactive applications for the Web.

Hmmmm, ok….great marketing, but…..does it work?

Yup…and YeOldeTechy says: This is super cool.

Cross browser….great thinking Microsoft! About time…errr, did I say that?

Anyway… is what you have to do:

1. Go to
2. On the right (top corner) there is a sign up for streaming video…enter your Zip code.
3. Follow the procedures to download and use the Microsoft Silverlight.
4. Wade thru the menus and options to find what you want to watch.

I watched some LIVE (well maybe not really live, but…..) tennis and now have Yacht Racing (if you consider a one person surfboard thingy a Yacht) on…..WOW.

The control panel (below) lets you watch one of 4 live events. Apparently, as I watch this, there is only one event live. I will check later to see if the 4 events pop up. (NOTE: there are smaller windows on the left set of windows labeled 2, 3, and 4 that you can click…those fill in the empty slots so you can switch between them easily…..this is great).

Also, you get the video without commentary (a good thing sometimes) or you can select commentary. I tried it and have yet to hear commentary…I’ll keep trying.

Go U.S.A.

Gotta love the Internet…..streaming video ROCKS.

If you like this, check out VUDU….THAT is streaming video at it’s BEST.

Sony will Stream Movies Direct to Your TV

Reading my past blogs on this subject, you know I believe that streaming movies via the Internet will take it’s toll on such old favorites as DVD’s, Blu-Ray, and Blockbuster / Netflix.

Now buried deep in the middle of this article is an announcement by Sony that it will start an Internet streaming service for movies direct to their Bravia TV’s (which to me says that the TV will have this capability built in….I may be wrong). The first movie for this service will be “Hancock” (see trailer below).

Wow! This is a blockbuster.

The innovators in this area VUDU, Apple TV, and, more recently, Netflix all with separate players that connect to a TV might be shaking right now…

And to add to this, Sony is promising most of their devices will connect wireless to the Internet…the prospect of wireless Internet connectivity to your TV is mind boggling.

Pretty soon, every home will have videoconferencing in their TV. Then keeping in touch with family will be a breeze….

More to follow in this I am sure….

Netflix Introduces Streaming Video Player

In all my years in a fledgling industry (videoconferencing) I have seen (and experienced first hand) my fair share of innovative companies that have, for one reason or another, flamed out.

The general trend is as follows: Great idea–>Lots of seed money–>Marketing Hype–>Success–>Failure to keep up with changing technology–>Market share loss–>Out of business. I can name some of the companies…but I won’t…..the list is very long.

My point is: A company cannot rely on it’s bread and butter forever, it must change to continue to thrive (hmmmm, this is why I am a starving blogger and not writing paper “white papers” for gobs of money, what a fool….oh well).

Netflix found their niche. You order a movie, they mail a DVD to your house, you watch it, and send it back. Simple and efficient. But, the end of that model of video delivery is close at hand (and also the need to drive to a store to pick up a DVD).

In the not too distant future, video will be delivered by the Internet (or via cable) using streaming video technology. No doubt that this will happen, it will just be a matter of time.

Yesterday, Netflix announced the availability of a streaming box. This box will cost about $100, will connect to the Internet and your television, and will be able to download movies from a vast collection of Netflix movies, via the Internet, which you can watch on your TV.

Netflix has seen the future, they have admitted they they need to embrace it, and is doing the right thing to stay ahead! Bravo.

The Netflix box is not the first on the market. It is similar to VUDU (which I have reviewed and used extensively, and love), and Apple TV (which, I believe, was first). This technology is still in it’s infancy….over time the players will shake out and new brash start-ups will arrive. To survive….innovation must survive in these companies, and I have no doubt that the companies now involved will continue to innovate.

YeOldeTechy says: Pretty soon (a few years at most) DVD’s will become a thing of the past, the life of Blu-Ray will not be as long as the standard DVD technology was, going to a store to rent a movie, or getting a movie in the mail, will ALL be put into a time capsule as examples of the way things used to be. Move over 8 track tapes and H.320 videoconferencing here comes DVD.

VUDU Evaluation and Review


Rating: 5 WaterTowers (nearly perfect)

UPDATE Jan 2015: VUDU is now available on most Blu-Ray players, Smart TV’s, and Chromecast (and I’m sure other streaming devices / services). Wal-Mart bought VUDU a few years back.  

Before you read, you can watch my future Oscar winning documentary on “Using VUDU”. You will not be bored, but, in case you are interested to see what movie I used as an educational demo you can fast forward to minute 2:05 or so.

 Update Jan 2015:  How right on was I?  This was written when Kristen was 16, she is 23 now, and before NetFlix jumped on the streaming video bandwagon.  

Goodbye, Blockbuster and Netflix. It’s been nice knowing you, DVD. Watch your back, Blu-Ray. There is a new kid in town, and that new kid is about to change the world. That new kid is VUDU.

“Dad, do we have to give the VUDU back?, I love it”. This is from my 16 year old daughter, Kristen. I love it as well which shows you that VUDU spans the generations from Kristen’s “Me” to my “Baby Boomer”.

As soon as this poor, retired, starving blogger gathers enough money to buy a VUDU, I will.

TelBitConsulting says: VUDU is the future. Downloading movies via the Internet will change the DVD and Blu-Ray industry as much as downloading music is changing delivery of music by CD. VUDU is extremely easy to use, feature rich, and the video and audio quality is superb.

Quick Look at Some Features

Spending almost two weeks with VUDU we have a great appreciation of several of VUDU’s features.

The search capability is very powerful allowing you to find a movie in one of several different ways. You can search by actor or director, by title, by genre, or you can use the icons at the main menu to search for “HD Titles”, “War Movies”, “Best Picture”, etc. See the picture below where I am ready to search for “Best Picture Winners from 1927 -2007”. Wickedly cool. As I finish up this Blog entry there are 5075 movies in the VUDU database.


Embedded in the search capability are interesting facts on the actors or directors and a quick synopsis of the movie with a rating. See the picture below. You can select an actor or the director and VUDU shows you what movies VUDU has in its database with that actor or director. For example, I can click on Nicolas Cage and see that VUDU has “National Treasure” and several other of his movies. By the way, “Next” is way better than 2 stars. Nicolas Cage rocks.


The remote is extremely easy to use. Of course I needed directions from Kristen, but, once I got the hang of moving the dial and also pressing the dial to select the chosen option, you can use the dial and 4 buttons to do anything you need. Since the remote is RF (radio frequency) you do not need to point it at the unit. You would not believe how hard that is to get used to.

Almost every movie has a “Preview”. We enjoyed watching many previews and found a few movies we would like to rent by watching the preview.

After finding a movie you can place that movie in your “Wish List”. Once there, you can easily find it again and select it to watch. See picture below.


The ease of starting a movie. No need to drive to a store, no need to get off the couch find a DVD from your own collection open the DVD player, etc. Simply find the movie and play it. See the Oscar winning documentary at the start of this Blog for a demo.

The video and audio quality are outstanding. In fact, the quality of a standard definition movie surpasses the quality we get with our progressive upload DVD player. The high definition movies are simply tremendous (see picture below). We watched several movies, both high definition and standard, and never once saw an Internet based glitch or slow down (I have DSL).

VUDU has mastered the art of video-on-demand with their “peer-to-peer” technology.



Need for Improvement

Although VUDU is nearly a perfect product, there is still some room for improvement…..but not much.

I would like to see a built in 802.11G wireless network capability. I would much rather pay for that capability built in at the factory than to purchase an external device for that purpose. To be clear, VUDU allows an external connection to a wireless Ethernet device. But, for this evaluation, I simply made a Cat 5 cable long enuf to connect my hub in the study to the VUDU in the Family Room.

I see VUDU is recommending a “power line” networking device from Linksys. Ah!! Another evaluation for my Blog! But seriously, this is a very cool way to move data around the house. Story: Many years ago, YeOldeTechy designed such a device for his modem (remember modems?), it worked really well, but every time the refrigerator fired up I got a ton of packet losses. Great design, huh?


Fundamentally, the VUDU needs to be on all the time since it is part of the peer-to-peer delivery network. However, these days (and into the future) energy costs are increasing at a very rapid rate. Having yet one more electronic device on 24×7 is concerning. VUDU may be a power hog or it may be a power miser, I do not know. All I can request is that future units be designed with power consumption in mind. On the other hand, you do not need to get in your car to visit the rental store, so maybe the green equation tips in favor of VUDU. I suspect it may.

I had a concern about backup. When you purchase a movie now, you have a hard copy of it. I asked that question of VUDU and they will have (starting this week with version 1.3) an archiving capability where you can backup your purchased content to a “VUDU vault” (an email from VUDU tells me this in in Beta as of 3/4/08). If you happen to lose the hard drive, you can then download your vault contents for no cost. Very cool.

This is not VUDU’s fault, but, I like to watch the “special features” that come with a disc.In an email response to my question, VUDU replied with the following: “So far, the studios have not made special features available for digital distribution.It is VUDU’s hope that they will be able to deliver them in the future.”

Cost Comparisons

As far as I can tell, VUDU is not a clear cost saving alternative. All things considered, depending on what you have, or need to purchase, it is pretty much a wash. Let’s look at my particular situation.

My goal is to watch high definition movies. I already have a progressive upload DVD player and a high definition TV. To watch high definition, I would need to replace my “old” DVD player with a Blu-Ray player then rent, or purchase, Blu-Ray movies.

The Blu-Ray player costs about $400 at Best Buy (but I can also spend up to $1000). I could then rent Blu-Ray movies at Blockbuster for $4.99 plus tax or I could purchase Blu-Ray high definition movies at Best Buy for around $29.99.

The VUDU player costs $295.00 with free shipping but I would need to spend the money saved on a permanent Ethernet connection (either wired or wireless) near my TV. The VUDU high definition movies rent for about $5.99 or I can purchase a high definition movie for $24.99. VUDU rentals start about 30 days after they are available for purchase.

The typical rental cost of a VUDU movie is between $2.99 and $3.99 for a standard definition movie (with some really old Westerns going for 50 cents or for free). At Blockbuster we can rent a standard definition movie for $3.99 plus tax.

Depending on the rented movie, you have 24 to 48 hours to watch it. We did a test with “The Waitress” and started to watch it for the second time 5 minutes before it’s expiration. Sure enough, when that 5 minutes expired the movie stopped playing and we saw this on the screen: “The viewing period for this movie has expired”. Darn, those VUDU designers are way too smart.

VUDU sets up an account for a certain value (from your credit card) of your choice. As you watch the movies the rental fee comes out of your account. When the account reaches $5.00, VUDU automatically ups the account to the specified $$.

Future Directions

According to VUDU there will be the ability to connect an external hard drive, via it’s currently unused USB port, to expand the local VUDU capacity (it now has a 250 gig hard drive). VUDU will automatically format that drive. With 1 Terabyte drives now on the market, your movie storage capability will be greatly enhanced with this future capability.

In fact, in the Winter of 2008, VUDU XL will arrive with it’s own internal 1 Terabyte drive. The thought of 2 Terabytes (one internal and one external) just for videos, to me, is mind boggling! I received an email and the VUDU XL with 1TB disk is available now…March 4, 2008 ! Great news.


I cannot say enough good things about VUDU. This is simply the most outstanding new product I have evaluated since ooVoo. It is good to know that innovation is alive and well and living on Tasman Drive in San Jose. I wish VUDU the best of luck, and who knows, a Tasman neighbor may be interested in you!

I already miss my VUDU…boo hoo.


Technical Evaluation

The following section is included for the more adventurous, or self hating, individual who likes to get into the nitty-gritty (Dirt Band?) technical stuff. J

Set Up

Refer to the picture of the VUDU back for much of the following discussion.


Real Time: Hmmm, the first thing I need is Ethernet to my TV. Since my house is fairly old, I do not have wiring there and I cannot purchase a wireless Ethernet adapter to connect to my wireless router (poor and starving blogger, remember). Sooooo, I will need to find a long piece of cat 5 cable and drag a line through the house. Arrghhh.

Result: I went to Radio Shack and purchased a 100 foot long roll of Cat 5 wire. I had everything else I needed to make a long cable connecting my Ethernet switch in the Study to the VUDU in the family room. Once I did that, I cracked the VUDU box and started the install process.

In the box is almost everything you need to connect the VUDU to the network and to your TV. It has an Ethernet cable which was too short for my evaluation, an HDMI cable, RCA cables and a small RF antenna. It has a sleekly designed remote control and batteries. The hardest part of the installation (other than making the cable and running the line) was installing the batteries in the remote. The cover is darn hard to get off and back on. The RF antenna screws on the back of the VUDU unit, very simple, and then I needed to connect the “coax” output for audio to our Bose sound system.

Before I get too far ahead, I had to do some pre-installation thinking about how to connect the VUDU into my existing home theater (if you can call my kludged mishmash of components a “theater”). After making some drawings, the solution was obvious. All I needed to do was replace my DVD player with the VUDU. After all, that is the point of the VUDU, right? All my videos for the evaluation period were now on the VUDU or in cyberspace. See my drawings below.

Home TV configuration

Home TV configuration 2


The picture at the start of this section shows the back of the VUDU. It has component video, S-Video , analog and digital “coax” audio outputs. It has an HDMI connector , an Ethernet 10/100 Mbps port, a USB port (not used in this version, but, will be used in the near future), an I/O port, a switch for 480i and 480p if you are not using the HDMI connection, and power. You can see the RF antenna on the left and the remote sitting on top. The remote is an RF unit and it took a bit time to get out of the habit of pointing the remote at the unit.

The VUDU found an IP address automatically when it was turned on. Unfortunately, it grabbed my printers IP address and I could not get the printer to work after that. Luckily, the VUDU device has a way to manually enter an IP address (and gateway and DNS). I did that and experienced zero network issues ofter that.

Speed Test

I connected my laptop to the end of my new, homemade, super fast Oscar winning, Cat 5 Ethernet cable (where the VUDU would connect) and did a DSL speed evaluation for VUDU from their web site . It is good to do this before purchasing a VUDU to ensure you have a sufficient high speed connection. They recommend at least 2 Mbps downstream, which means you need DSL, Cable modem, or better. Dial up will not work.

Video Quality

Outstanding. It uses MPEG-4 and has resolutions of 1080p/24 (24 frames per second), 1080i, 720p, 480p, and 480i. I talked about these resolutions in a previous blog entry on HDTV here. The high definition movies are received using Dolby 5.1 surround sound.

The family agrees that the standard definition video is better than DVD’s played back using our Sony DVD player with progressive upload. The picture is significantly clearer. I see no movement effects and have not yet had any problems watching a movie all the way thru without interruption. In other words, the downloading of the movie outpaced watching it.

VUDU offers a free HD version of “The Bourne Identity” but I suspect that the movie is already on the hard drive (I now know it is). As you can see from the picture the quality is terrific.


How VUDU Delivers the Video

According to VUDU, they have developed a “hybrid peer-to-peer” delivery network where every VUDU box on the Internet can hold portions of videos available for playback. As you play a movie, you are actually getting the movie from other VUDU boxes. Extremely cool. This concept is essentially the same as I reported in this Blog awhile back for Meraki Internet access. I can only imagine the complexity of the VUDU software. But, even with that, the performance in the two weeks I had the VUDU was absolutely flawless.

VUDU tells me that less than 10% of your disk space is used to hold video’s being watched by others and that VUDU is careful not to overdrive your network if you are using the network for another purpose (like watching a movie or intense computing).

The picture below shows what VUDU thinks of my Internet connection. I did have to wait for the high definition movie to download. Not a problem at all, I just continued with my day while the movie was getting ready.


Limitations and Requests

I would like to be able to see the hard disk space remaining and some usage stats (BW being used, packet loss, etc) while being used. In the videoconferencing world we can see this kind of information and it is very helpful when questions arise if there are problems.

The RF antenna may be a bit high if you have a location that is tighter. You can turn it sideways if you have to. I did that and it worked fine.

I also set the sensitivity to the remote to “Low” and a lot of the false hits I was getting using the remote went away.

Email Questions and Response from VUDU

Answers to your questions are below. Have a good weekend.


1. Is there a way to see how much VUDU disk space has been used?

The current box has room for unlimited rentals and approximately 50 owned movies. The next software release (1.3, due next week) will allow for deletion of previously purchased titles to free space on the drive and, where permitted, archiving of owned titles (currently available for select movies and all TV shows). Archiving transfers owned titles from the box’s hard drive to the “VUDU Vault” where they are stored and may be downloaded again for no additional cost. Further, VUDU is planning to upgrade the box’s software to support off-the-shelf external hard drives and will eventually format the drive and make it an extension of the VUDU box.

2. Do you “pre-position” the content closer to the customer? Or is the video sent from a central location? If central, are your servers in San Jose? How many simultaneous customers can you handle?

Vudu utilizes a hybrid peer to peer system so that every VUDU box—yours, mine, your neighbor’s, etc., contains some pieces of movies that are streamed to other boxes when users want to watch those movies. From VUDU’s side, this means that when they know a big blockbuster movie is coming online, they can pre-position content around the network so there isn’t buffering or too much pull on one specific copy. From the VUDU owner’s point of view, it means you can get access to movies whenever you want – less than 10% of your drive holds these pieces of movies that are streamed to other boxes, so it doesn’t adversely affect your watching behavior. And VUDU is careful not to use your box if you have a heavy network load – e.g. you are watching a movie yourself or doing some super computing in your study.

3. Will the USB port be used for an external hard drive? Will it be plug and play? Will any hard drive manufacturer work?

The VUDU box was designed to be flexible, able to adapt to the changes and improvements we plan to make to the product and service in the future. VUDU intends to introduce software to support off-the-shelf external hard drives for additional storage and will eventually format the drive to make it an extension of the VUDU box.

4. Will you include, do you include, backup software?

Back-up software is not included. VUDU has the ability to reset the box to its factory settings if needed. Software updates are performed automatically through the service.

5. If someone loses their content, do you have a record of that, and the ability to refresh a lost disc?

VUDU has a record of all rentals and purchases made on every box. VUDU’s one-year warranty dictates that should the hard drive fail and content is lost, VUDU will replace that content or offer credits should some titles no longer be available.


6. Do you have 24×7 support via telephone? Via email? Via web pages?

VUDU’s Customer Care is available at 1-888-554-VUDU (8838). Hours are Mon-Fri 9 to 7 and Sat-Sun 11-7. They may also be contacted via email at

7. Why are some movies “buy only”? Will they be able to be rented in the future?

Whether a title is available for rental and/or purchase is determined by the studios. Generally, new releases are available to own the same day that they’re available on DVD. They become available for rental roughly thirty days later.

8. Do you have the ability to view statistics? Packet loss? BW used? Other stats?…..while the machine is operating?

Users can test their bandwidth and gauge VUDU’s usage of their bandwidth within the Service Quality Screen in Info & Settings. They cannot view statistics or packet loss.


9. Will you include “special features” in the future? For example, with a DVD we like to watch the special features….bloopers, how they made the movie, etc.

So far, the studios have not made special features available for digital distribution. It is VUDU’s hope that they will be able to deliver them in the future.


10. Are the movie “previews” loaded on the disk or are they downloaded via the Internet in real time as you watch them, like the movies?

Previews are pre-loaded onto the hard drive so they are instantly available. Similarly, the first 20 seconds of every available title is cached to enable instant playback.

Blu-Ray beats HD-DVD

In case you doubted that Blu-Ray has won the DVD war, yesterday and today two more blows were dealt to HD-DVD which could hasten it’s demise and bolster Blu-Ray.

1. Netflix announced exclusive support for Blu-Ray

2. Best Buy, starting in early March, will recommend Blu-Ray to their customers.

3. The most telling sign yet from Toshiba.

4. And more, this time from Wal-Mart.

And now…the FINAL announcement marking the end of the battle. Blu-ray is now the official winner, but, watch out……downloading high def programming from the Internet will threaten Blu-Ray sooner than you think.

I am still waiting for version 2.0 of Blu-Ray, but, please do not buy HD-DVD as you may be wasting your money!


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