MacInTouch Reader Reports

Mac Marginalization: Media

Nov. 27, 2009
Feb. 16, 2010
Feb. 17, 2010
Feb. 18, 2010
Feb. 19, 2010
Feb. 20, 2010
Nov. 27, 2009

item.105123

Cody Boisclair

Anime licensee Funimation has started up a new download-to-own service
  http://www.funimation.com/f_index.cfm?page=vod
featuring a good number of newer titles that they haven't yet released on iTunes. With the sheer number of titles available, it looked quite cool, until I actually got to the system requirements:

Technical Requirements
* PC with Windows XP or greater. Mac OS and Linux are not supported. NOTE: Emulated versions of Windows XP are not supported (using Parallels Desktop for Mac, for example, is not supported).
* Windows Media Player 9 or greater

DRM so tight that I can't even watch it in VMware, I'd have to boot directly into Boot Camp to watch? Sorry, Funimation, but you just lost a sale...

Feb. 16, 2010

item.109549

David Krafchick

I tried to watch the live feed online of the opening of the Olympics. Before I could watch, the site required me to download Silverlight from Microsoft. I did, then it referred me to an upgrade, but when I restarted my browser (Firefox/Safari), it would start all over again. After repeating these steps, I then checked all versions of Silverlight and found out they were all 1.0. I then did a search for Silverlight Mac and found on Apple site that Silverlight 3.0 works for Leopard or Snow Leopard/Tiger can only use Silverlight 1.0.

Nowhere does the NBC Olympic site note this or even alert the user what the requirements are to even watch this on a Mac or even Windows. I have confirmed that everything works in XP, but I'm sure Microsoft made that possible. I think it would be in Comcast's interest to do something. As for me, I'm disappointed.

Update:

When I went to the NBC Contact Us page and selected video, I found this:

Before submitting your request please note the following:

* Some content is only available within the United States. For coverage of Olympics events please visit your own countries official site.
* Silverlight is only supported on Windows PCs and Intel powered Mac computers.

* If you are having problems getting Silverlight to install please ensure you have restarted your browser (on a Mac you need to Quit the browser, not just close the window) or you can try rebooting your machine after installing / upgrading Silverlight to ensure your browser has fully updated or follow the instructions here to check if you have the latest version.

User Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; U; PPC Mac OS X 10.4; en-US; rv:1.9.2) Gecko/20100115 Firefox/3.6
Silverlight Version: 1.0.30715.0

As you can see, it identifies my Mac and lists the versions of installed elements. So mixed messages, wrong place answers are at the heart of this mess.

If I was NBC, I would make sure these requirement were listed before it sends you to Silverlight. It would have saved so much confusion.

Feb. 17, 2010

item.109701

Derek Fong

It seems that Microsoft has cornered the North American Olympics market with Silverlight because CTV (Canada's official broadcaster of the Winter Olympics) also requires Silverlight to watch online video.

But here's the kicker: it even requires you to have Silverlight JUST to see their TV schedule online. When I saw this and noticed that NBC's TV schedules were in plain HTML, I wrote CTV to tell them I had no choice but to watch the Olympics on an American station because I refused to install Silverlight and therefore had no idea when anything was on. :p

item.109731

Roger Schutte

I am running Snow Leopard and can watch videos of the Olympics streamed from www.nbcolympics.com just fine. The trick is to have Silverlight.plugin version 3.0.40818.0 installed in /Library/Internet Plug-ins and to click 'upgrade later' or 'ignore' on the popup message that suggests upgrading to the latest Silverlight plug-in. This plug-in is 22.7MB and I don't know if it's downloadable or not from any other sites. I can post it if people can't find it elsewhere.

thanks for a great site!

item.109732

Roger Schutte

Silverlight 3.0 can be downloaded from here:
http://www.soft-go.com/dapp/59789

item.109745

David Krafchick

But as I said, Silverlight 3.0 will not install on Tiger, but will do it with Leopard, etc and use only Intel Mac. You just confirmed my point.

But the site will not tell you the requirements unless to you choose Contact Us, then choose video. Why is this the only way to inform a user?

Feb. 18, 2010

item.109786

Terrence Thompson

I just sent the following to MSNBC/NBC:

Why are you trying to force Macintosh users to install problematic Microsoft Silverlight software?

I have Quicktime, Windows Media Player and Flash and I'm not interested in adding redundant software.

MSNBC and NBC should be ashamed. I know that Microsoft is part of your organization but that is no excuse.

I can find my news at sites other than MSNBC or NBC"CNN, NPR and many others.

All of my Microsoft software over the years has been problematic and required too many updates. Mac Office 2008 was junk and I tossed it in the trash. NeoOffice and iWork are fine as a replacements.

I don't miss anything from Microsoft.

item.109795

M C

So, are there people out there with Leopard/Snow Leopard who are using Silverlight? I get infinite recursion -- the NBC site tells me that I have to install Silverlight, regardless of how many times I quit the browser, or install Silverlight. FWIW, the Silverlight plugin is in my library. I haven't tried FF, but Safari and Chromium both fail for me in the same way.

item.109800

Greg Buchner

David Krafchick says

"But as I said, Silverlight 3.0 will not install on Tiger, but will do it with Leopard, etc and use only Intel Mac. You just confirmed my point."

Well, I have Silverlight 3.0.50106.0 installed and running on 10.4.11 on a MacBook Pro. I installed as there was something Olympics related I wanted to see from the NBC site, so I downloaded it, installed it (without restarting Safari) and got to see the video I was interested in. And I just doubled-checked by playing a video from the NBC Olympics site. I know it was Silverlight it was playing though because when I right-clicked on the video, I was able to change preferences for Silverlight.

Feb. 19, 2010

item.109819

Alice Faber

I have a completely up-to-date Macbook Pro (13"), and had no trouble installing Silverlight and getting it to work in Firefox 3.5. The quality of the video on the streaming hockey games is superior to that on the Flash-based games streams on Yahoo.com.

item.109839

David Krafchick

Greg

I just tried to install Silverlight 3.0, but it reported that it could not install 2.0 on a Power PC - so I do not know how you did it, but I tip my hat to you. When I upgrade to a Mac Mini, this will be a moot issue.

As for the games, I have On Demand, and it's showing wide screen instead of standard. So I will watch it that way. Still I think NBC is limiting access and with all the problems at the Olympics - warm weather, refunded tickets. the outdoor Olympic Flame being enclosed by a fence.

All of these issues are somewhat predictable and resolvable, but whether this is what we remember will be determined by the outcome of the games themselves.

item.109841

Robert Mohns

M C asks:

"So, are there people out there with Leopard/Snow Leopard who are using Silverlight? I get infinite recursion -- the NBC site tells me that I have to install Silverlight, regardless of how many times I quit the browser, or install Silverlight. FWIW, the Silverlight plugin is in my library. I haven't tried FF, but Safari and Chromium both fail for me in the same way."

Yes, Silverlight, Safari 4 and Leopard are working fine on my wife's MacBook Core Duo. We have hooked it up to our TV to watch olympic figure skating for the past few nights.

item.109845

Graham Needham

It's really quite simple. The OS is basically irrelevant - it's the hardware:

PowerPC only supports Silverlight 1
Intel supports Silverlight 3

olympics coverage requires v3 therefore you need an Intel Mac.

item.109846

Marc Marshall

Just wanted to note that Silverlight on the NBC Olympics website is actually working for some of us. I've viewed video on three different Macs (all running 10.6.2) with Silverlight 3 running in Safari and had no problems, including full 3-hour raw events, and skipping around. At max full-screen quality, it also looks great.

I will be the last person on earth to defend Microsoft, but I can see based on features why NBC went with Silverlight over Flash. DRM aside, the adaptive quality works well (it steadily increases the video bitrate if your connection can handle it--there's a quality gauge in the fullscreen player beside the timeline control); I don't know if there are any Flash video players that do that (at least, I haven't seen any that you don't manually select the quality). It also handles skipping around in the video manually very well -- almost no buffering time at all. CPU usage seemed reasonable as well, even fullscreen at max bitrate.

This is just a guess about others' issues, but for me to get the NBC Olympics streaming going I needed to both temporarily disable popup blocking (the site explicitly instructed me to do so) and sign into my cable provider's system via a popup window the NBC site launched. Once I'd done this, it would play video without complaint, even with pop-up blocking turned back on. Maybe those having problems aren't getting the popup-disabling message and/or are having trouble logging into their cable providers?

As an aside, the online video is so much better than NBC's miserable time-delayed West Coast coverage (we're in the same time zone! C'mon!) it's kind of ridiculous. Most events have the complete, unedited (and essentially commercial-free) stream that the Olympics provides to broadcasters, posted a while after the prime time broadcast is finished. This lets you watch *everything*, rather than just the US and medal-contender athletes, from beginning to end, and you can manually skip warm-ups or sections you're not interested in seeing. Once the connection ramps up to the full 3.5Mbit/s the HD video quality (Mini to HDTV via HDMI) is significantly better-looking than my crusty old pay cable broadcast (and widescreen). There are even section breaks, though they're somewhat unevenly applied (figure skating only had a couple, while snowboard cross had one for every race).

The only downside (apart from it not being available until the day after) is that there's no commentators at all; the quiet purity is nice in some ways, but you also don't have them to provide any background on specific athletes or to explain to someone not familiar with the sport what's going on.

item.109850

Steven Klein

For MC who complains

"the NBC site tells me that I have to install Silverlight, regardless of how many times I quit the browser, or install Silverlight."

If you install Silverlight on a PowerPC, you'll get version 1.0, which is the only version supported on PowerPC Macs.

Silverlight 3, the current version, requires an Intel Mac.

The NBC website requires Silverlight 3.

So, no Intel chip, no Silverlight 3. And no Silverlight 3 means no Olympics.

In Microsoft's defense, Apple hasn't shipped a PowerPC Mac in 4 years. Ars Technica has reported that fewer than 12% of their visitors are using PowerPC Macs.

Source: http://arstechnica.com/apple/news/2009/10/how-fast-are-mac-users-adopting-snow-leopard-pretty-fast.ars

[Hey MacInTouch editor: Care to check your weblogs and see how many PowerPC users visit your website?]



[OK, we did a little chart - see below. -MacInTouch]



Mac OS Version for MacInTouch.com Visitors (from most-used browsers, Feb. 1-19)

Feb. 20, 2010

item.109877

David Krafchick

I am not complaining per se about using a PowerPC. What bothered me is that the only place you can find the complete requirements is on the Contact Us/Feedback page concerning video.

Think about this. If you try to use something and it did not work. You are a skilled person, but there are answers off site (at Apple), but as far as you can tell, looking through everywhere, there are no listed requirements anywhere.

Except where someone suggested I go to share my concerns. If you go back and read what I wrote, my biggest comment was about hiding the requirements where only when you are ready to complain... that is just not good site building.

So I am happy that there is an answer, but let's not get bent out of shape. That small section of Power PC might translate in to a very large number in a huge pond. They still deserve to know what won't work without having to dig the entire site looking for it.

item.109892

Jeremy Roberts

re: Steven Klein's comment:

In Microsoft's defense, Apple hasn't shipped a PowerPC Mac in 4 years. Ars Technica has reported that fewer than 12% of their visitors are using PowerPC Macs.

Ars Technica and MacInTouch logs are a terrible barometer of the general population. The readers of these sites are typically tech savvy. More likely to use current hardware/software.

In my family, I have a recent Mac Pro and MacBook Pro for my work. My wife has a 2 year old MacBook, but my 6 year old daughter is roughing it with a G4/867 -- yes, it's 8.5 years old. But it runs everything that she needs and more... When will she get new hardware? When it dies. But she can't watch the Olympics. And yes, there are many PPC users -- I'm typing this on a G5/2.7 that is in my office. Still very useful, and 100% compatible with all software needed to make money. No justification to replace it until it dies.

Just because it's 4 years old doesn't mean anything. Apple hardware is well built!

As to Silverlight and PPC -- this is ancient history. We lived with this issue 2 years ago - search the MacInTouch archives! July 2008...

http://www.macintouch.com/readerreports/macmarginalization/topic2683.html#d02jul2008

item.109898

Gerry Curry

CTV, the host broadcaster is also doing live streams using Silverlight. The difference is that they are broadcasting multiple streams so you can pick events you are interested in. The streams of the regular broadcast channels have full "play by play." Just a warning if you're not a Canadian, you'll find little rooting for the "red, white and blue." Heck, you can even brush up on your high school French if you pick one of the French Canadian streams.

Go Canada!!

http://www.ctvolympics.ca/video/ctv/index.html?cid=sbctv

item.109925

Brad Price

I am not a Microsoft fan by any stretch - but kudos to the Silverlight team for handily besting Flash in movie performance. Silverlight 3.0 on my 2009 MacBook is great for Netflix and the Olympics at about 1/3 the CPU usage of Flash.

I support open standards above proprietary any day, but it's just sad that Adobe now finds itself the accidental emperor of Internet cruft with poor Flash.

item.109929

MacInTouch Reader

Add Amazon to the un-Mac club - While video streaming is available for both PC and Mac, download for later viewing can be done only with a PC (or TIVO) - not with Mac.


MacInTouch Amazon link...

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