Tag Archives: Game of Thrones

Episode 141: Jon Snow, now upper management material

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We set the board for the rest of the season and perhaps the rest of the show.

We have big predictions for Game of Thrones. Do you agree? Share your thoughts.

We’ll be back to your favorite tech and liberal arts topics next week (with some Game of Thrones at the end).

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Episode 140: Kicking off Season 6 of Game of Thrones (and episode 1 recap)

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This show is dedicated to kicking off Season 6 of Game of Thrones and recapping the first episode.

Beyond talking about the first episode, we also talk about where we think the show is going. Who will sit on the Iron Throne? Should we bend the knee to the Night’s King?

Is Jon Snow coming back? Are Ramsay’s days numbered?

Share your Game of Thrones thoughts with us on Twitter @pwthornton and @jeremylittau.

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Episode 128: Game of Thrones season 5, episode 1 recap

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We welcome everyone back to Westeros by way of recapping the first episode of season 5.

This gives us a way to discuss HBO Now, the new standalone streaming service from HBO that does not require a cable subscription.

Jeremy has already signed up for HBO Now. Have you?

We also discuss how much better HBO Now is than the old HBO Go. The big difference is that HBO has a new streaming partner to provide high quality video and service.

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Episode 116: Brienne of Wisconsin

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We discuss the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and what it means for philanthropy and whether or not you should feel obligated to donate to it.

Neither of us has taken the challenge. Find out why.

We also discuss the celebrity photo hacking scandal and what users and phone makers can do to help secure data better.

This show has not one but two encore endings, so stick around.

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Episode 110: The king of the neckbeards!

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We are really, really late on posting episodes. Why? Because I just had a baby. Maybe baby Cara will make a guest appearance or two on the show.

We have another episode launching very soon too.

We kick off this episode by discussing The Battle of the Wall, which was the most technically-stunning episode of Game of Thrones so far. But was it enough? Was it great?

Should Game of Thrones have more episodes per season? Is 10 hours of Game of Thrones enough Games of Thrones goodness for each year?

On to the tech discussions! We kick off the tech discussion at 14 minutes in about how smartphones will increasingly become the center of people’s homes with the ability to control lights, home security systems, temperature, etc.

We then discuss using smartphones for health and fitness as well. We really think these areas will truly make smartphones personal computers. This is the next big thing with smartphones (that and controlling cars entertainment systems).

And of course, we somehow discuss net neutrality again. Verizon and Netflix are not BFFs right now. Is it ethical to sell users “bandwidth” they are not actually getting? You can pay for 100 mbps on Verizon and still not be able to stream a 5 mbps Netflix stream because of Verizon.

That sounds like a bait and switch to us.

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Episode 104: Vox.com vs. FiveThirtyEight

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Spoiler: We kick off the show discussing TV watching and spoilers. Is it possible to have an Internet connection and not get a show spoiled if you can’t watch the show live?

Our main topic is our thoughts on Vox.com and FiveThirtyEight, the two new big journalism startups. There is a lot to like. And a lot not to like.

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Twitter is the reason to watch television live #HIMYMfinale

himymfinaleI’m a binge watcher.

I don’t watch a lot of television live, save for sports. I don’t have cable, and Netflix is how I watch most television shows. But Twitter pulls me back into live television.

There is nothing that cable companies and channels can do to pull me back into live television, but technology and the communal experience can. Twitter is so much better than the day-after water-cooler experience. You discuss and share experiences in real time, as new developments happen over the course of a show.

Twitter is the only reason I watch the Oscars. The show itself is kind of boring and bloated, but all the discussion about the host’s jokes, who won what award (or should have won), etc. makes it enjoyable. Oscar watching parties are still popular, and a good way to go, but with Twitter you don’t need a party to experience a live event with lots of people.

I binge watched How I Met Your Mother with my wife starting about a year ago. We eventually caught up to the final season about halfway through (eight seasons in a year is a hell of a way to watch a sitcom). And I’m glad we did for the finale, even though the show is much more enjoyable to binge watch than in 22-minute chunks.

With the second screen experience and Twitter, watching television becomes a communal experience, where as share our thoughts and theories.

As we were watching the HIMYM finale, I couldn’t take it anymore. I opened up my laptop and went on Twitter. I had to see what people were saying, and I wasn’t disappointed.

The #HIMYMFinale hashtag was the top one in the U.S. I went there and was able to vent and share my feelings. About half way through the finale I began tweeting my own thoughts.

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As this point, I none of us knew the Mother would die (although I expected her to for several weeks), and that Ted and Robin might be a thing again in the future. And then people began responding to me. Some thought there was no way this could happen.

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After the final was over, and it was clear what had happened, I sent out one of my final tweets.

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If I hadn’t caught up to real time with the show, I would never have sent this tweet out, and had all the interaction I had with people all over the world that night and for the next week. People will still be upset by the finale (or continue to love it) for years, but the energy around the finale was when it aired. Imagine the snark that would have happened when Seinfeld’s finale ended if Twitter were around. I almost want a time machine and Twitter to make that happen.

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Of course, you have to avoid Twitter if you want to avoid spoilers, and there is no way to segregate tweets by region. West Coast HIMYM fans could watch the finale when it aired and still have it spoiled by East Coast viewers and their reactions. That’s a flaw in the current broadcast television model that will only cause more people to go to streaming.

Not showing shows at same time everywhere is the issue — an anachronism from a pre-social media time. The social experience around a television event shouldn’t be limited to people who get to watch the show first.

This is one of the big strengths of Oscars and live sports. These kinds of events are shown everywhere at the same time and work very well for social media. Scripted television will need to adapt.

Binge watching is great. Most of the time it is better than watching a 30-minute show filled with commercials once a week. But binge watching kills the social experience. This will have to be rectified.

But traditional television models are bad at binge watching and the social experience. Viewers don’t really benefit at all from the traditional television model, which is user hostile.

One day when all content goes over IP, this won’t be an issue. Imagine being able to watch a television show when it airs on CBS in your time zone or being able to stream it at the same time everywhere. West Coast viewers could tune in at the same time as East Coast viewers.

But the more I binge watch, the more I realize that the current model really harms the viewing experience and the show themselves. Sitcoms really drag when you are given about 22-minutes of new content a week surrounded by ads. Game of Thrones, with each episode being a weighty 50+ minutes, sans ads, still works in a once-a-week format, because the show is so dense that it’s hard to binge watch more than a few episodes in a week.

I don’t think sitcoms like HIMYM do that well. The show was more enjoyable when I could binge watch it. You can get in about three episodes of HIMYM in about an hour on Netflix. But, again, binge watching can’t be nearly the social experience. All you can talk about with binge watching are the broad strokes of a show.

So, what’s the solution? Perhaps we need more hour-long shows with fewer episodes per season. Or, maybe every episode except for the last few in a season should be available on day one. This way people can binge watch the show over a few weeks and then come together for a big finale together as a community.

House of Cards is a great show, and it’s fun to binge watch, but it lacks a strong social community around it.

Game of Thrones looks to grab the crown for most pirated show of 2012

Forbes reports that HBO’s Game of Thrones is on track to be the most pirated show of 2012:

While “Game of Thrones”‘ filesharing rates are probably driven in part by its appeal to the young, geeky male demographic that’s most prone to using torrent sites, HBO hasn’t helped the problem by making the show tough to watch online for the young and cable-less. The show isn’t available through Hulu or Netflix, iTunes offers only Season 1, and using HBO’s own streaming site HBO Go requires a cable subscription. (The situation was captured in thewidely read comic strip The Oatmeal, in which the author attempts the rage-inducing process of trying to watch “Game of Thrones” online before giving up and downloading it from a sleazy porn-ad covered torrent site.)

A frame from the comic strip The Oatmeal, which pointed out how HBO drives ‘Game of Thrones’ viewers to piracy by making the show tough to watch online.

“This is absolutely a reaction to the show’s not being available elsewhere online,” says Big Champagne’s Robinson. “It’s a very tricky game trying to create this kind of scarcity.”

I’ve written several times about the mistakes that HBO is making in the Internet Age. Perhaps most damning is the fact that HBO’s products and services don’t even work well for paying customers.

Erik Kain says HBO only has themselves to blame:

This underscores the larger problem with how so many companies in the entertainment industry think about piracy. Instead of thinking about the ways lack of access to media creates opportunity for piracy, and how increasing the access to products could help stave off illegal downloads, too often people want to take legal measures or implement digital protection on their products. These “fixes” always have easy work-arounds.

Meanwhile, the millions of pirated Game of Thrones episodes show that it’s not difficult at all for non-subscribers to enjoy the show. I’m willing to bet that a stand-alone HBO GO service would largely fix this problem, though nothing will stop piracy altogether.

Game of Thrones in particular appeals to young people — people more prone to be cord cutters. They’ll pay for a standalone HBO product, but aren’t going to get cable just for one network or show.

Game of Thrones looks terrible streaming over hotel wifi (HBO No Go?)


This is an actual screenshot from my iPad. I usually don’t write actually, but I thought I’d clarify that this did in fact happen.

This is why HBO Go needs offline caching.

The only way I could watch the latest episodes of Game of Thrones in any respectable manner while I’m traveling is to pirate the episodes and watch them when they are done downloading. Watching Game of Thrones on hotel wifi over the HBO Go app was a bit like watching late 1990s Web video. It was blocky, pixelated and prone to stopping randomly.

The best is when HBO Go drops down to an audio-only stream. Yes, instead of providing offline caching or selling digital episodes via iTunes or Amazon during the season, HBO believes showing a blank screen with audio is a good solution.


This actually happened. And it happened several times while trying to watch one episode.

HBO Go is not a to go app.

Why is HBO Go not a to-go service?

The problem with HBO Go is that the name is really misleading.

In what world is HBO Go a to-go app and service for viewing TV shows? Not in this world, that’s for sure.

There will be no HBO episodes on a plane, train or automobile, because you cannot cache episodes on HBO Go for when you don’t have an Internet connection. I’m traveling this week for seven days to Pittsburgh, and it looks like I won’t be able to catch upon Game of Thrones while I’m traveling. It would seem to me that one of the main reasons for HBO Go would be to allow viewers to catch up on TV shows.

The hotel wifi will almost certainly not be good enough for me to stream episodes. It’s not just that HBO Go requires an Internet connection, it needs a good one, especially if you like viewing your video at anything above 1995-online video quality. So, I have to ask, how is HBO Go, a to-go app and service?

I cannot watch episodes on the go with it. I cannot at all. The only thing HBO Go is good for is watching episodes in my own home when I’m away from my own TV. Or if I were to visit a relative or a friend with a fast Internet connection and wanted to watch TV by myself (it’s HBO Go, not HBO social).

Can someone explain why HBO Go doesn’t support caching of episodes?

This issue doesn’t get to the biggest issue with HBO Go; the service requires a cable TV subscription, tethering users to TVs, cable and old ways of thinking about video. I’d love to use HBO Go as a standalone service for $10-20 a month for the pleasure of watching HBO shows without needing cable. I’d be able to watch shows on my TV via a Internet-connected setup box such as the XBOX 360, Apple TV, Boxee box or one of the many other ones. And, in this post-cable world, I’d love to be able to watch my favorite shows on the go.

But, let’s get back to the first major issue with HBO Go: it requires a strong Internet connection. In HBO’s world, a world that wants to protect traditional cable viewing at all costs, how could someone possibly want to watch an HBO show on an airplane?

Crazy right? And why would anyone want to watch an episode of Game of Thrones on a plane via an app called HBO Go? I can’t imagine why Game of Thrones is one of the most pirated shows.

HBO is one of those companies that complains bitterly that people pirate their content, but doesn’t try to provide legal content in ways that people want to use it. The only way to do mobile viewing of an HBO show is to wait for up to a year after the season airs and purchase it on iTunes, Amazon.com or another digital service. Then you can load it onto a mobile device and view it. Very user friendly and modern. Who wouldn’t want to be a year behind on a TV show, all because they wanted to be able to watch TV on a mobile device.

That’s the only legal way. In 2012. I may not have an MBA, but I’m pretty sure that making it easy for people to buy your content is a good way to get them to actually buy it.

As it stands, HBO Go is a good way to watch HBO on an iPad or a laptop on a couch, but nothing more (I don’t understand the concept of putting HBO Go on set-top boxes, since the only way to get HBO Go service is to have cable in the first place, and cable boxes are in fact set-top boxes). This is not a to go service, but I hope that eventually HBO adds both the ability to download shows for offline viewing (or viewing when wifi speeds aren’t fast enough) and the ability to subscribe to just HBO — not the rest of the trash on cable.

Since I don’t have a cable subscription, this whole post is purely academic, of course.