Finished with Flixter

Finished with Flixter

I have finally finished my relationship with Flixter and moved all my films to Google Play.

When I first started buying Blu-Rays I would purchase what the trade call, triple play movies these sets contain a copy of the film on Blu-Ray, a copy on DVD and a digital copy for your mobile device. Though more expensive than just buying the Blu-Ray what I did like about it was I could watch the film on my TV and then if I wanted to watch it again I could watch it on my laptop or on my iPad. With most of the films I bought the digital copy was in an iTunes format. This was fine with me as I already used the iTunes ecosystem for music and video.

So I was not happy when the film distributers changed from iTunes to Ultraviolet. I blogged about this dissatisfaction with the Ultraviolet process for getting hold of the digital copies of the films I had bought, back in 2013. The process was convoluted and initially didn’t even work for me. You didn’t even use Ultraviolet to play the video files, you needed another service (and app) to do that and that’s where Flixter came in.

I never liked the Flixter app for watching films, it crashed way too often. It never remembered where you got into a film, so you had to either start watching it again, or try and fast forward to where you had left off. In theory you could download and watch the film offline, but I found that even then the app would try and authenticate online.

In January 2018 I blogged about how I was expecting to use Ultraviolet to access the digital copy, but was pleasantly surprised to find that I got an iTunes digital copy.

I got e-mails in early 2019 informing me that the Ultraviloet service was going to shut down in July 2019. In June I got e-mails about how Flixter was going to shut down too. I was quite pleased to see the end of both Ultraviolet and Flixter.

I wasn’t going top lose my films though, as they would be migrated to another service. This has always been a concern of mine about digital copies of films, especially those with DRM, what would happen to my collection if the service stopped working? I was slightly disappointed I didn’t have any choice in which service they were to be transferred to, as I usually either use iTunes or Amazon Video. The solution Flixter had chosen was Google Play, I have a few films on that service, but I usually don’t use it.

Google Play

This week I got an e-mail from Flixter which described how I would migrate my collection from Flixter to Google Play. It was a pretty seamless process and now I have a large collection of films in my Google Play Library.

No more Flixter

I have never been a fan of the Ultraviolet process for the digital copies of films.

I blogged in 2013 about my dissatisfaction with the Ultraviolet process for getting hold of the digital copies of the films I had bought.

You didn’t even use Ultraviolet to watch the films, you needed to use a different service, in the UK that meant using Flixter.

I never liked the Flixter app for watching films, it crashed way too often. It never remembered where you got into a film, so you had to either start watching it again, or try and fast forward to where you had left off. In theory you could download and watch the film offline, but I found that even then the app would try and authenticate online.

In January 2018 I blogged about how I was expecting to use Ultraviolet to access the digital copy, but was pleasantly surprised to find that I got an iTunes digital copy.

I got e-mails in early 2019 informing me that the Ultraviloet service was going to shut down in July 2019. I didn’t think that would be too much on an issue as it was indicated that I would still be able to access my movie collection through Flixter regardless of the demise of Ultraviolet.

Now it would appear that with the demise of Ultraviolet that Flixter has also decided to shut up shop.

In theory I won’t lose my digital films as they will be transferred to Google Play.

I am slightly disappointed I didn’t have any choice in which service they will be transferred to, as I usually either use iTunes or Amazon Video. I have a few films on Google Play, but I usually don’t use it. Looks like I will be using it more now.

Re-tuning the EyeTV

Every few years you often need to re-tune your Freeview TV as the way the channels are organised and broadcast changes. Sometimes my TV lets me know, sometimes it’s a broadcaster that says something on air (which I usually miss) and more usually I find a load of channels missing and wonder what happened. This was certainly the case when my children mentioned missing channels on our Sony KDL48W605. So a quick check of the Freeview website and it was apparent that a re-tune was needed of the TV.

If the TV needed doing, I guessed that EyeTV on my Mac would also need to do it too. The mechanism for doing this is, is not entirely intuitive. What you have to do, is to use the EyeTV Setup Assistant.

EyeTV setup assistant

Go through the screens until you reach Auto-Tune TV Channels and then click the Auto-Tune button.

auto tune screen

So I let the EyeTV software do its job and all my channels were back to how they should be.

EyeTV EPG Problems

I can’t quite believe I have been using EyeTV 410 for over fifteen  years now and that the original Firewire based hardware is still working, though the software has gone through a few upgrades.

The EyeTV 410 has a DVB-T digital TV tuner that allows you to both watch Freeview TV on your Mac, but also record it. You can then export it to watch on mobile devices. It’s also possible to stream live TV and recorded programmes to mobile devices, not just on the local network, but it’s also possible do that over the internet.

As with Digital TVs, the EyeTV uses the Electronic Programme Guide (EPG) that is transmitted alongside the video.  

I was having a few issues with the EPG as it was picking up any information from the BBC channels. I could view the channels, but no channel information was available, which meant I couldn’t (easily) set recordings, though with iPlayer I do that less and less now.

I checked for software updates, no the software was up to date.

I tried to Update the DVB Programme Guide, but that didn’t work.

Update DVB Programme Guide

I then cleared the EPG database.

Clear EPG database

That didn’t work either.

I then went through the setup assistant which is accessed through the EyeTV menu.

I then went through the setup assistant which is accessed through the EyeTV menu.

You usually use the assistant when setting up the device, but now and again I find it useful to “reset” the EyeTV settings, or when Freeview require a re-tune.

EyeTV setup assistant

Going to the Auto-Tune TV Channels screen of the assistant, I clicked Auto-Tune and let the assistant do its job.

auto tune screen

This worked and I could see the channel information for the BBC channels in the EPG.

Well that’s a surprise!

War for the Planet of the Apes

Back in 2010 or thereabouts when buying movies, I would generally go for the what the trade called triple play movies, these sets contain a copy of the film on Blu-Ray, a copy on DVD and a digital copy for your mobile device.

With most of the films I bought the digital copy was in an iTunes format. This was fine with me as I already used the iTunes ecosystem for music and video. Since December 2011, I noticed that the trend was to use Ultraviolet DRM.

I blogged about the challenges I had with this back in 2013. Eventually I did manage to get the login processes sorted out with Ultraviolet and Flixter. Over the years I have built up a collection of films on Flixter. However compared to the user experience in iTunes it was never a smooth journey.

I had major challenges with my version of Edge of Tomorrow, resulting in being unable to play the downloaded film on my iPad. This was sorted out after numerous e-mails to Flixter support.

Another annoyance for me was that the Flixter app wouldn’t remember where I had got to in a film, if I had not finished watching. I would then need to work out where I was.

I also found it frustrating that I couldn’t play my Flixter films through an HDMI cable (via an adapter) to my TV or use Airplay. I suppose they thought if you wanted to watch on the big screen you would use the Blu-Ray disc.

The end result was that, I generally stopped specifically buying versions with a digital copy so would buy the Blu-Ray only. Also many studios appeared to stop selling the triple play format. I often found it easier to buy films from iTunes direct or more recently using Amazon Video after a good experience with Amazon Prime Video.

For Christmas this year I got War for the Planet of the Apes, which came with a Blu-Ray and a Digital Copy. It reminded me I had Dawn of the Planet of the Apes also on Blu-Ray with a digital copy. Now this had been a Christmas present in 2014 and hadn’t worked on my Blu-Ray player.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes [Blu-ray + UV Copy]

I had gone out and bought the DVD version of the film and had stored the Blu-Ray version of the film aiming to sell it at some point. However feeling guilty that the Blu-Ray disc may be “corrupted” I had never actually done this, I didn’t want to sell a dud disc to anyone, so was wanting to check that it wasn’t a dud disc by using someone else’s Blu-Ray player. This I never got round to. This Christmas though, the family present was the XBox One S which can play Blu-Ray discs. Receiving the new Planet of the Apes film reminded me that I had Dawn of the Planet of the Apes so tried it out and it worked. I then decided now I had both discs out to redeem the digital codes.

So I started Flixter on the iPad, followed the instructions, which meant searching for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes in the Flixter library and entering the redemption code (a much simpler process than it was back in 2013). I then checked the code for War for the Planet of the Apes. I followed the same instructions I had done for Dawn, but I couldn’t find War for the Planet of the Apes. Okay lets read the instructions… it said to go foxredeem.com and I was pleasantly surprised to find that I could download War for the Planet of the Apes in an iTunes format (which I did).

Now I am not sure when 20th Century Fox stopped using Ultraviolet, but though still DRM, the iTunes format has worked much better for me than Ultraviolet.

So what about War for the Planet of the Apes, well I’ve not watched it yet…

An Open Letter

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes [Blu-ray + UV Copy]

Dear 20th Century Fox, Amazon and LG

I am writing an open letter to all three companies as I have no real idea who is responsible or who is to blame and I am unsure of how this can be resolved.

For Christmas I received The Dawn of the Planet of the Apes on Blu-Ray, this had been purchased from Amazon.

I unwrapped the Blu-Ray and put it into my LG BD360-P Blu-Ray player. However it did not play, I got an error message saying “Check Disk”. I did check the disk, and there did not appear to be a physical issue with the disk.

I checked the firmware on my LG Blu-Ray player and it was up to date. I also turned everything off and back on. Still no joy, I was still getting the “Check Disk” error.

I did a Google search and it was apparent that I wasn’t alone, other people were having the same issue with the same Blu-Ray disk and the same LG Blu-Ray player. According the online information the problem is with the encryption used by 20th Century Fox on The Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Blu-Ray disk, this means that my Blu-Ray player can’t read the disk.

As a result I am now unsure and confused about what I can do as a consumer.

As far as Amazon are concerned there is no fault with the disk and probably wouldn’t accept a return this long after purchase and the wrapping has been removed.

20th Century Fox won’t replace the disk with one that works, as far as they concerned the disk isn’t faulty and they would only replace it with the same disk with the same encryption issues. They will probably blame the Blu-Ray player manufacturer.

As for LG, they are no longer updating the firmware for what is now quite an old Blu-Ray player and would probably point me back to the company that released the disk.

So the end result is I have no idea where to go and I have a Blu-Ray of a film I am unable to watch.

Kind Regards

James Clay

So do you have any idea? Maybe I should have bought it on iTunes.

And they’re back…

In a previous blog post I mentioned the issues I was having with my new Sony Smart TV.

After getting a response from BBC iPlayer on the Twitter.

I checked the TV to find my UK apps were back.

And they're back

It was apparent that the problem was not with the TV in itself, but with the services provided by Sony. It does demonstrate the reliance that these kinds of devices have on external services. If the decision is made to switch them off, there is very little that the end consumer can do to stop this from happening. Additionally the closed nature of these devices means that you can’t (or if you can not easily) add these services back.

…but it should work!

Sometimes technology frustrates me no end.

I have been playing with a Sanyo Xacti VPC-HD2000 HD video camera and it comes with a docking station which has an HDMI connection.

Sanyo Xacti VPC-HD2000 HD video camera

I thought if I docked the camera and connected the docking station via HDMI to my TV I could watch the video and see the photographs I had taken on my TV.

Well that’s what I thought what would happen.

Well no it didn’t, even though the cables were connected, the playback was still on the camera and not on the TV.

I then thought, it might be because the dock was not connected to a power supply, I did that and still the TV remained blank, though this time the camera went blank too!

So I went to read the manual, which was to be honest no use at all. It gave no additional information, as according to it, what I was doing was what I should be doing. As for the troubleshooting guide, well that was not very insightful.

Even the Google failed me with finding a solution.

Going to try with a different TV and see if that helps. However it shouldn’t be this complicated and this challenging, it should just work!

Goodnight Netflix

When Netflix started in the UK back in January 2012 I was quite intrigued having heard about it a lot on TWiT network podcasts.

I was initially disappointed with the range of films and television programmes, older films and television series, but did give it a go. So I have now been subscribing for well over a year and have certainly watched some good tv series and films.

This month though I have decided to relinquish my subscription. The main reason is threefold, since moving house and changing from FTTC back down to ADSL, streaming video has been a bit of an issue, more so when other people in the house want to use the internet tubes. There has been a fair few times I have cursed Netflix for stuttering, only to find out that my son was streaming BBC iPlayer at the same time! Secondly, I am not really using it very much, I seem to be watching a lot less television as I get older and certainly a lot more selective; this leads into the third reason which is what I am actually watching on Netflix in the main are repeats of things I have seen before. For example I re-watched BBC’s Hustle and enjoyed that, but I had seen that on the TV before. I am certainly not taking advantage of other stuff on there. As for films, they do add new films regularly, but apart from the “B” movie dross that use to fill the shelves of your local video rental place, there are very few films that I want to watch and many of the new films I do want to watch I have found I have already seen at the cinema, I bought the Blu-Ray or rented the DVD from the local library.

So after a little consideration I am going to terminate my subscription and say goodnight to Netflix.

Ultravioleting

In recent years I have been buying, what the trade call, triple play movies, these sets contain a copy of the film on Blu-Ray, a copy on DVD and a digital copy for your mobile device. Though more expensive than just buying the Blu-Ray (or just the DVD) what I did like about it was I could watch the film on my TV and then if I wanted to watch it again I could watch it on my laptop or on my iPad.

With most of the films I bought the digital copy was in an iTunes format. This was fine with me as I already used the iTunes ecosystem for music and video.

More recently, well since December 2011, I have noticed is that the trend now is to use Ultraviolet.

UltraViolet (UV) is a digital rights authentication and cloud-based licensing system that allows users of digital home entertainment content to stream and download purchased content to multiple platforms and devices. UltraViolet adheres to a “buy once, play anywhere” approach that allows users to store digital proof-of-purchases under one account to enable playback of content that is platform- and point-of-sale-agnostic.

In theory what you do (in the UK) is sign up to Flixster and then you can redeem your Ultraviolet code and watch or download your movie.

I say “in theory” as I haven’t actually managed to do this process. The first time I signed up, I think I some how managed to sign myself up as an American. This would have been pointless as I wouldn’t have been able to access my “UK only” films. There was also no way to change your country. this is obviously to stop regional piracy. I do think that these “piracy” measures are short-sighted, as what they are actually doing is stopping me, an actual customer who has paid for the film, from watching the film; whilst the actual pirates wouldn’t even worry about such things, probably using a copy from the film studio or similar…

I have to say that is one thing that does annoy me after spending my hard earned cash on a DVD or Blu-Ray the first thing I see (and usually you can’t fast forward or skip it) is a clip telling me not to pirate films… Hello? I bought the film, I didn’t pirate it, I bought it, why tell me something I already know and do. If I pirated a film, I wouldn’t see that clip would I, so why show customers who are honest, want to watch the film, a stupid clip telling them to buy films… they did. I wouldn’t mind so much, but half the time you are “forced” to watch the clip, as they have restricted the capability to skip or fast forward the clip. Why don’t they put that clip on pirated films?

So back to Ultraviolet, so of course I tried to sign up again, and it wouldn’t let me, as I had already signed up… When I tried a different e-mail address, that didn’t work it timed out. In the end I gave up.

I think part of the problem was that I was trying to do all this on my iPad. Why the iPad, well I wanted to watch the film on the iPad.

I think the best option will be to do it all on a PC and then hopefully, if Ultraviolet will allow it, then it will let me access the films on the iPad.