Category Archives: Video

New Kid On the Block

For some time I’ve been wanting to move media serving off of my Mac Mini because the design of the available servers requires the machine to be running and logged in which vastly increases its attack surface. I’d been looking for a number of alternatives, particularly one that was energy efficient, had a low footprint, and would be doing what it was designed to do. nVidia came to the rescue about a year ago with nVidia Shield TV, an Android TV. So I’ve allowed the Android camel into my tent.

References

  1. https://support.plex.tv/hc/en-us/articles/221099988-Setting-Up-and-Managing-Plex-Media-Server-on-NVIDIA-SHIELD retrieved 2 December 2017.
  2. https://shield.nvidia.com/support/nvidia-android-tv/faq/1
  3. http://www.practicallyefficient.com/2011/03/18/rsync-automator.html

Before you buy

Do two things. First, read the fine manual at [1]. Go through the FAQS at [2]. I didn’t include any video links as most are long on talk and low on information density. The links above will take you to the setup screens so you can review them.

You will need internet service. Shield has both WiFi and Ethernet interfaces built in. Both work well. If you have Ethernet available in your media cabinet, wired service works well. Shield just knows what to do. A wired interface speeds firmware updates. WiFi is adequate for media playback.

What’s in the box?

nvidia-shield-tv-stock-photo
nVidia Shield TV System Components

The base kit consists of a game controller (left) and the Shield machine (right but just the fin part). The nice aluminum base and the nice aluminum Android TV remote are optional extras. The kit also includes a power adapter, HDMI cable, and USB cable for recharging controllers and remotes. And there is a quick start guide and all the warranty and compliance statements.

Continue reading New Kid On the Block

Tablo TV comes to Apple TV 4

References

  1. https://www.tablotv.com/for-appletv/ retrieved 28 June 2016.
  2. https://www.tablotv.com/tablo-products/ retrieved 28 June 2016.

Introduction

Shortly after I bought my modern television, the digital one, I decided that dark lord Rupert Murdock had received enough of my money. My first try at cord cutting was to move TiVO from the cable to a new TV antenna. Some time later, TiVO’s future was looking uncertain and TiVO’s disk was failing.

I began looking around for alternatives and moved originally to Elgato Eye TV with an HD Home Run tuner. EyeTV required my Mac to be active to record TV so I began looking for an alternative with a lower energy footprint that did not rely upon my Mac Mini for computational and storage resources. At about this time, Tablo was launching so I made the move to Tablo TV using a 2 channel tuner and a WD 0.5 TB USB disk as a program spool volume.

Tablo TV solved the leave the mini running problem. It also solved the TiVO problem of buying a new box when the disk failed. Tablo’s storage is inexpensive and trivially replaced.

Playback in the old days

Tablo TV development was very much a crawl, walk, run thing. The crawling occurred in the lab but once baby was able to walk, Tablo released product. The original product relies upon an iPad app to view content or forward it to an Apple TV to watch on the big screen. I used the AirPlay mode to watch live or recorded programs on my Panasonic plasma TV. This was not entirely satisfactory so I kept looking around for alternative playback means.

This was serviceable but annoying as the iPad was tied up while watching telly. Tablo App and AirPlay worked well but other ill-behaved apps could bring things to a stop. I’m talking about you, Facebook. At wake-up, Facebook sucks up the entire network connection and processor reestablishing situational awareness following hibernation. After a decade, I’m tiring of Facebook (story for another day).

 Plex to the rescue

A couple of enthusiasts built a Plex server plugin that allowed Plex to retrieve the directory and content from Tablo for streaming to the Plex app on an Apple TV. The Plex Apple TV app communicated with the server to show the catalog and play recordings but live watching was still not possible. Plex has a nice interface for recent recordings that shows the most recent shows captured in reverse chronological order in a manner reminiscent of TiVO.

The plugin presented the Tablo recorded material as a Channel in Plex terminology. A channel is a collection of non-native program material that can be retrieved and transcoded for playback by Plex Media Server. Any supported Plex player can control the channel and present the playback stream. Plex playback worked nicely but the channel is unable to support Tablo library management and schedule management. The iPad Tablo app remained the primary means of managing schedules and deleting recordings.

The New Tablo Apple TV App

Tablo completed its Apple TV 4 app shortly before 2016 WWDC and it landed in the App Store the week after WWDC. Tablo sent a press release to all active customers announcing the new app but I saw their Twitter post about a day before the announcement reached my Email. The release ended a year of App Store searches for the new app. It installed without fuss, found my Tablo, and quickly settled down. The App is easy to use for all Tablo TV tasks including

  • Creating and removing schedules
  • Watching live TV
  • Watching recorded shows
  • Removing watched recordings
  • Removing cruft recordings made on speculation but never watched

The only feature I could wish for that is not there is the recent recordings list from the Plex app. This feature may be a subject of TiVO patents but these should be nearing end of life soon.

The new Tablo App is very stable. No segmentation faults so far. Nice work from Tablo.

TabloTV Update

A couple of years ago, I wrote about Tablo TV, an off-air DVR product. Since then, TabloTV continues to improve with an Apple TV 4 App in the works (real soon now). TabloTV made firmware updates to support the app but the app is still awaiting release.

Plex

Plex is a OS independent media server that runs on Linux, MacOS, and Windows. The server component is free with the clients a la carte. There is also a subscription option that enables watching content away from home.

Plex has plugins that allow Plex to present foreign content such as Tablo TV recordings and live TV. I’ve started using Plex to watch the evening news and recorded content. The Plex Tablo plugin has a much nicer interface for viewing content than that in the iPad app. The plugin is unable to manage schedules or recordings but it allows AppleTV 4 to play content without AirPlay from an iPad. My iPad is free for ill-behaved apps like Facebook (network hog).

Recommendations

All of this stuff works well enough that I’ve been using Plex for most of my audio and video playback. The Plex Media Server is mature, the Plex ATV plugin is mature, and the iPad client is mature.

Once the TabloTV AppleTV client becomes available, it should be possible to manage recordings and schedules directly from AppleTV. Until then, the Plex TabloTV server plugin will fill the bill.

Tablo TV One Month On

Back in June I took a flyer on brand shiny new gadget TabloTV. TabloTV had been on the market all of two months so there was little more than press releases at the time. To fill a void, I wrote about how one went about setting up and using TabloTV.

Where is Tablo Now?

Tablo is still ensconced in my media cabinet next to his friend AppleTV. Earlier this week (July 7), a firmware update shipped. My normal process with firmware updates is to start them right before turning in. This time, I decided to apply the update between programs. It went smoothly. This update added some nice things.

  • Parsimonious record new episodes logic
  • Record by time and channel
  • Support for program guide subscription

Tablo is a work in progress. The firmware that shipped in April provided a usable but partially complete DVR functionality that could not record by time and station and would greedily record new episodes (the guide would mark all airings of this week’s new Nova as new). The new front end and back end changes fixed this issue. Now, only the prime time airing is marked new. Tablo no longer records the late night showing and the next day showings on 15-2. Now I can pick series record all new episodes knowing Tablo is not going to eat the disk.

Tablo Disk Management

Tablo logic for disk space management is still in development but should be coming later this year. Until that time, delete programs after the household is finished with them. No TiVO like logic to garbage collect the file system of old watched episodes as disk space is needed.

Tablo Program Guide Subscriptions Coming

The folks at Tablo are not charging for the program guide currently because they are still working on functional issues and back end subscription management support. The latest firmware does check subscriptions. Until the store and front end features are ready, all owners are treated as subscribers. Eventually, free things will come to an end but not without adequate warning to subscribe to the guide.

Tablo TV Arrives

I placed my order for a 2 tuner Tablo TV on Sunday afternoon. On Monday, Tablo shipped my unit by USPS from upstate New York. It arrived in Wednesday’s post. While waiting for my Tablo TV to arrive, I did some reading and selected a LaCie Porsche Design portable USB 2/3 disk.

References

  1. http://www.tablotv.com
  2. http://www.lacie.com

What you need

To make a complete Tablo TV installation requires the following.

  • ATSC HD TV antenna, preferably external.
  • Tablo TV
  • Tablo TV iPad or Android app
  • External USB 2/3 disk drive
  • Local WiFi network for iPad/Android
  • Local WiFi network or Ethernet for Tablo TV
  • Internet access to Tablo to acquire the program guide

Choosing a Disk

DVR service is a moderately aggressive use of a disk drive. The DVR can spend 2 to 3 hours per day recording material and a similar amount of time playing back material. This duty cycle is more aggressive than the typical laptop/desktop duty cycle but less so than a corporate application server. It was with a little fear and trembling that I went looking for a disk to use with Tablo TV.

After some poking around on the InterWebs, I settled on a 1 TB LaCie USB 2/3 portable disk. These are the ones in the pretty package and are “compatible with Time Machine.” I’m hoping that LaCie chose wisely from Seagate and WD’s offerings and picked a disk that is suitable for several hours of continuous activity per day. Only one way to find out, have a smoke test.

Unboxing and Installation

Tablo double boxed Tablo TV for shipping. The inner box was typical of recent Apple or Nest packaging, simple graphics and thoughtful design to protect the product during handling at retail. The inner box was sized to be a snug fit in the outer shipping box so little dunnage was required. The package contained the following.

  • Switching power supply
  • Tablo TV
  • Ethernet cable
  • Quick start sheet
  • 2 weeks trial use of the program guide

Cabling up is simple.

  • Connect the antenna
  • Connect the disk
  • Connect the Ethernet
  • Connect the power supply
  • Plug in the power supply

The unit powers up as indicated by a blue flashing light. The light flashes at different rates during self test, program loading, OS initialization, and application initialization. Once ready, the light is solid. The behavior is similar to that of Ooma Telo so it may be a Linux thing.

Settling In

The next step is to install the partner Tablo TV application on your favorite mobile controller, for me, an iPad. Once you have a blue light, start the Tablo App and select the option Connect to TabloTV. If not previously initialized, this will be the only choice available.

If your Tablo TV is on the wired network, the application will find it without fuss. If using WiFi, the connection process is a bit more complex and is similar to that for Belkin WeMo devices. The Tablo TV will advertise its own network. You divorce from your home network, connect to the Tablo network, and do the initial configuration dialogs to set the SSID and password. Then Tablo joins your home network and you have your iPad rejoin.

Once found, the Tablo App will guide you through channel identification, program guide loading, and disk formatting. Tablo TV will reformat your external disk which will take some time. Plan on this part of the process taking 30 minutes or so.

Will Power!

Resist the temptation to watch live TV on the first day. Tablo needs some time to complete disk formatting. Once the program guide is aboard, you can schedule recordings but give time to have the disk ready and a day to settle down. That said, I was able to schedule recordings about 30 minutes after I began installation and made my first recording at 8 PM, five hours after installation started.

Using the Tablo App

The remarks that follow apply to the iPad Tablo App. I expect the Android app will be very similar.

A menu button appears in the upper left corner of the display. Tapping the menu button opens a side bar menu. From this you can choose the following.

  • Live TV
  • TV Shows
  • Movies
  • Sports
  • Scheduled
  • Recordings
  • Settings

Use the Live TV menu to view a channel/time matrix of what is now airing or about to air. From this, you can select a channel to watch by tapping the channel label in the left column. This will open a player window that you can use to play live TV on the device. On iPad, this view includes an AirPlay widget that allows you to direct playback to any AirPlay server on the local network. Think Apple TV or a Mac running Mountain Lion or Mavericks.

TV Shows, Movies, and Sports allow you to see the scheduled programs in these genres. Selecting TV Shows will show you a listing of each series or single episode show. Selecting Sports will show tiles for the major north American sports genres. Tapping a tile shows a list of available programs that can be recorded. Tapping a REC button picks that episode for recording. If the show is part of a series, the upper part of the pane while have a series record button. Activating series recording presents the choice to record all episodes or new episodes.

TV Shows Organization

Selecting Tablo TV’s TV Shows menu item opens a matrix showing tiles for each series or unique program appearing in the program guide data. At the top of the matrix, a tool bar lets you filter the view to show all shows, series with new episodes or new shows, series that are premiering, or shows by genre. This last button opens a genre side bar. The side bar has categories for news, talk, educational, children, consumer, reality, religious, animated, sitcom, crime drama, comedy, drama, etc. This list is sorted by number of entries in the category. A program may appear in multiple bins, for example, Magnum PI might appear in drama, action, crime drama, etc. Tapping a tile brings up the program summary and recording options.

A similar Channels option lets you filter programs by the originating channel.

 Play Back

Tapping the Recordings menu item brings up a matrix of shows for which recordings are available. Tapping a tile brings up a form showing the series description plus a list of available episodes. Tapping the play button at the right side of the episode tile begins playback on the local display or on the active AirPlay server.

Disk Space Management?

I missed the part of Tablo’s materials that talk about disk space management such as deleting watched programs, etc. Disk space management is currently manual. There is actually a way to delete recordings. It’s on the episode tiles appearing in the program’s entry in the recordings view. Tapping the center of the tile reveals the episode description with a delete button located below.

Work in Progress

Tablo TV is early in its development life cycle. The product launched in April 2014. Tablo’s frequently asked questions indicates that a number of product features are coming to make it possible to save recordings, use network disks, etc.

 

Awaiting Tablo TV

Image

 

References

  1. http://avc.com/2012/02/clearqam-what-it-is-and-why-it-matters/
  2. http://www.tablotv.com

So What’s a Tablo?

Tablo is a new go at an off the air digital video recorder that appears to solve the issues I’ve been having with my EyeTV/HD homeRun combination.

SimpleTV and Tablo Functionality Compared

Tablo is an off the air only DVR similar to the Silicon Dust Simple.TV. Simple.TV can receive both ATSC broadcasts and cable TV clear QAM channels. As the reference explains, cable operators are required to carry local market broadcast channels using clear QAM that can be received by a standard HD TV without a set top box. This allows the local channel service to be pirated. The cable companies keep trying to convince Congress to eliminate the clear QAM local TV requirement to prevent theft of local service.

In many areas, especially the 757, the major broadcasters have their towers in a single area and the flat terrain permits local reception out to the tower’s radio horizon. In the 757, there is no real advantage to taking cable “limited service” from Cox as the same material is available off the air at broadcast resolution. Cox often transcodes broadcast content to lower resolution to pack more on the cable. The best signal at no cost (well $300 up front for the antenna plus installation) is available off the air.

Both products are designed to work with a set top box such as Apple TV, Chromecast, or Roku. I don’t know if either will stream to an Xbox or PlayStation. Both products use a smartphone or tablet application for control and display.

Tired of the EyeTV So Soon?

After 2 years of living with EyeTV, I’ve come to recognize the following shortcomings.

  • My Mac Mini has to be logged in and running to record programs increasing its attack surface.
  • My Mac Mini is powered up 24/7 shortening its service life and increasing its operating cost
  • The HD HomeRun EyeTV combo on said Mac Mini was unable to play live TV on my Apple TV’s
  • Video had to be transcoded for AirPlay from MPEG-2 to H.264 format taking a couple of hours per hour of program.
  • TV off-the-air audio from the TV’s internal tuner couldn’t be sent to the hi-fi via TOSlink.

To fix the transcoding issue, I was looking at buying a new iMac for $2500 or so to get one with the stones for lengthy video transcodes. That’s over 1/2 month of living expense I couldn’t justify spending with other priorities around the house and yard.

Comparing Tablo and EyeTV

EyeTV runs on your computer and controls an external TV tuner. Tablo combines the computer, DVR software, and tuner into a single compact low power device. Tablo has

  • A Linux computer
  • Two or 4 ATSC TV tuners
  • Ethernet
  • WiFi 802.11n. Sorry, not ac
  • 2 USB ports for external disks
  • Tablo transcodes to H.264! The mini be off when not actually in use.
  • The core DVR functionality
  • Remote control server
  • Streaming playback server

You bring

  • A USB 2/3 disk <= 2 TB
  • A set top box like Apple TV, Chromecast, or Roku 3
  • An iPad or Android tablet or an iPhone or Android phone
  • The phone/tablet Tablo App.

Where Things Stand

  • Sunday 6/8 ordered
  • Monday 6/9 UPS picked up and reported the parcel hand off.
  • Portable disk to purchase while awaiting the truck
  • Tablo app installed on iPad.

The Tablo App — It Needs a Buddy!

Tablo uses a smart phone, tablet, or computer as a remote and viewing device. The Table iPad App is useless until hardware comes. I was hoping I could play with the UI while awaiting hardware but the first thing the App does is to look for a Tablo on the LAN. So it just sits there until you have one to add.

More to come …

DIY DVR

Background

I became a TiVO early adopter in 2002 buying a Sony TiVO for use with Cox Cable. Having a couple of greyhounds who needed walked during the evening, I quickly became hooked by the ability to record shows for later viewing and to pause what I was watching when the dogs demanded attention or to use the loo. As digital TV approached, I traded the Sony for a TiVO HD and went digital with cable cards. The writers strike drove me to take a look at BBC America. I discovered Doctor Who, Torchwood, and Top Gear.

With the passage of 5 years or so, the TiVO HD’s disk is getting tired, I tired of commercial cable, and TiVO’s $20/month is no longer a good value. After all, how many episodes of Ice Road Truckers can one person watch before going batty? What to do next?

Elgato

Enter the cat. Elgato makes media center software and video capture hardware for Apple Macintosh computers selling under the EyeTV name for about a decade. In the Apple community, Elgato is the company to go to for this capability. The current version of EyeTV supports the current Elgato video capture devices plus selected video tuner hardware made by others.

EyeTV 3 can record programs by channel and title. No need to do the VHS thing and set channel and time. Just open up the program guide and select record or record all. Record will create a one-time schedule entry to record the selected program. Record all creates a smart schedule to record all unrecorded broadcasts of that program on that channel. This capability mimics a TiVO Season Pass but goes it one better. You can add additional conditions that an episode must satisfy in order to be recorded.

Some Silicon Dust

I wasn’t keen on the Elgato USB tuner. This device is laptop oriented and can work with off the air and cable tv but I was not keen on connecting a lightening rod directly to my computer. It would be nice to have at least a little isolation. Silicon Dust HDHomeRun Dual came to the rescue. This is the current version of HDHomeRun which has been around for 5 or so years. The device has a dual cable/air turner, a bit of computing, and an Ethernet connection. Application protocols allow EyeTV or Windows Media Center to tune channels and start data streaming. The new digital TV is already digitized so no finicky analog to digital converters are needed. Just recover the MPEG-2 stream and tunnel it over IP to the host.

Silicon Dust makes multiple versions of HDHomeRun for use in Europe with DVB and in North America with ATSC. The current Dual version has 2 tuners and can stream 2 streams at a time. The HDHomeRun Prime version has a cable card slot and can stream both “clear QAM” and copy protected QAM. The Prime version also has a USB port for controlling a cable company switched digital video interface.

Putting it All Together

Setup is simple. Move the antenna cable to the HDHomeRun, plug up Ethernet, plug up the power adapter (small switching supply, not a hulk). Install EyeTV 3 from a disk image, start it, and add the license key. EyeTV 3 wakes up a start up wizard that guides you through the process of setting up the HDHomeRun, creating a TV Guide account ($20/year not $20/month), and loading the channel guide. Once this process is done, your DIY DVR is ready to use. The first year of the program guide is included in the EyeTV 3 price. All of this took about an hour with a little wrestling needed with TV Guide. It didn’t load at first. Elgato support forums had the fix, clear the guide and reload. This worked well.

EyeTV Remote App

For the princely sum of $5, Elgato has an EyeTV remote app which shows the program guide, lets you schedule recordings, review your completed recordings, and view recorded programs on your iThing. EyeTV App is AirPlay capable so output can be redirected to an Apple TV. Once the program is running on Apple TV, the iThing is free for other use like making phone calls, playing Angry Birds, or reading while PBS talking heads drone on.

EyeTV and Live TV

EyeTV 3 has the ability to pause and rewind, and resume live TV in a manner similar to TiVO. Unfortunately, with my older Mac Mini, this feature is usable on the main display but not on iThings or Apple TV. The Mac OS X Quick TIme libraries support MPEG-2 rendering allowing proper play back locally. Air Play to iThings is another story. iThings require conversion of the video stream from MPEG-2 to H.264. This is a compute intensive process that my older Mac Mini cannot do at 30 frames per second. It kept falling behind and trying to catch up Keystone Cops style.

The Apple Quick Time Codecs can use the video hardware for this process. This capability was in development and was one of the reasons Apple moved from Intel on board video to nVidia GeForce 9400 chips in that particular Mac Mini. But the older parts just don’t have the horses needed to do video conversion tasks at broadcast resolution in real time. A check of the Elgato forums did not have a clear answer t this question. Elgato’s specification is for the processor. They’re not thinking that the trans-coding process is actually occurring on the video hardware.

The solution was simple, keep the TiVO HD alive for live TV viewing. It has no trouble with that task. It occasionally snow crashes when retrieving the program guide or the recording catalog but I’ve moved these tasks to EyeTV. I can keep this guy going. Cost for this solution, $20 for a new high quality splitter. My older NTSC splitter is not up to splitting DTV.

Money

Here’s what this project cost.

  • $90, EyeTV 3
  • $5, EyeTV App
  • $80, HDHomeRun Dual tuner
  • $20, Digital splitter 1 to 2

Operating costs

  • $20/year, TV Guide
  • $240/year savings, TiVO program guide 

This project has about a 1 year pay back. As I approach retirement, I’m all about getting Corporate America’s hands out of my pockets. Sorry TiVO, you’ve been disrupted.

New DTV Antenna

In early June, a local company installed a DTV antenna for me. About 2 weeks later, I discontinued Cox TV service but kept Cox Internet service. The experience was reasonably pleasant and my TV watching not at all affected. After all, how many reruns of Ice Road Truckers and Mythbusters can one watch in a night? There’s so much program being produced that you can’t see it all as it originally airs. As I learned my way around Netflix, Hulu+, and iTunes, I found myself watching less and less off the air (TiVO, actually). Thus the decision to scrap cable TV.

A DTV antenna is the device that lets you do this. This is a post mounted device similar in appearance to an oven rack with some wire frame bow ties in front of it. The Antennas Direct antenna that I have gives about 14db of gain and is surprisingly compact but it is UHF only. Our area has only UHF channels so the reduced bandwidth is no loss. The antenna mounts to a J post mount secured to the roof. This requires some roofing skills. The antenna feed line and ground line cross the roof and drop down. The feed line continues to the smart home voice/data/video distribution panel in my closet. The ground line continues down to the power panel ground rod.

The local installer installs these antennas for $300. It typically takes a 2 man crew 2 hours to do the installation. On my day, they got behind courtesy of Tidewater congestion and left as a thunder storm approached with the mast and feed line ungrounded. I contacted the owner and they came out about one week later to complete the work. The crews doing this work have some basic construction skills but are not licensed electricians and don’t have old work electrical skills. If they did, they’d be much better paid licensed electricians.

If you are considering a change from cable or dish TV to DTV by antenna, I’d recommend having a licensed electrician do all the inside wiring out to the exterior of the building. Your electrician will have the old work skills to add wiring to your building with a minimum of mess. Let the antenna people wire down to the ground block that your electrical installs. This will result in a much neater installation. The folks who do this work just don’t have the time to do a neat old-work job like your electrician would.

When I was researching grounding, I learned several things. The antenna and feed line must be grounded. This is true for both DirecTV and DTV antennas. The National Electrical code requires it and DirecTV requires its affiliated installers to do proper grounding. A quick survey of the neighbors shows that grounding is not happening. Most installations have no grounding at all.

Why ground? Electrical and fire safety. Grounding keeps exposed wiring, like the F connector body, at ground potential to protect you and your equipment from the mysterious influences of strong electric fields. The second thing it does is to mitigate the possible lightening damage should the mast be struck. I’m surrounded by trees but a strike on one of my trees could hop over to the house, particularly the TV antenna. The energy follows the ground wire which directs it to ground. This is a better deal than having it use the building to find its way to ground. Even with a ground wire, the lightening energy will probably hole the roof deck and splinter the framing it passes near on the way to ground. There may be a fire. Without grounding, the damage would be much more and the fire off to a much better start. A Ledyard neighbor learned about lightening strikes. This one punched a hole in the garage roof and splintered the corner studs and started a small fire which the volunteers were able to put out without major loss. Back in the day, antennas were properly grounded unless homeowner installed. All the local TV retailers provided antenna installation service and did it right.

How well does off-the-air work? Better than cable actually. Digital TV works perfectly or not at all. When it begins to get flaky, the picture tiles where packets of the picture data went missing. There is no snow, ghosting, strange colors, etc. Just a pristine image or nothing. The cable companies typically compress the local broadcasters additionally to get more channels on the cable. Got to make room for that adult content somehow. It is typical that PBS looks better off the air than off cable.

By not watching cable, I’ve missed most of the political nastiness that the SuperPACS have aired 😦 I’ve been using Hulu+, Netflix, and iTunes to watch the best of the best from the last decade or so. I’ve been buying Game of Thrones and Merlin from iTunes, and filling in from Netflix and Hulu+ I can always find an hour of TV worth watching after catching News Hour, Daily Show, and Colbert Report.