• comcast

    Comcast keeps on screwing its customers by blocking HBO Go on the PS4

    Comcast appears to be incapable of not screwing over its customers. The company is preventing PlayStation 4 owners from using the new HBO Go app that debuted Tuesday. And it’s not the first time the company has made it difficult for customers to watch a service they already pay for, as the Verge notes in today’s report: Every other cable company has a history of playing nicely with HBO and letting customers watch the streaming service on smartphones, set-top boxes, and…
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    “What Kind of Day Has It Been?” Even on its best days, Sorkin’s “The Newsroom” was a disappointment

    Audiences can’t watch The Newsroom like a normal show. The “best” episodes of Aaron Sorkin’s orgy of preachiness are arguably the ones that are so irredeemably bad and offensive that they manage to do what the show rarely does, passing an important metric for success: They’re interesting. Take last week’s disastrous episode. Its crimes against audiences were both grossly insensitive — a third of the episode was devoted to shaming a rape victim — and embarrassingly cliched. In one unintentionally hilarious sequence, Will is visited by the ghost of his father. This…
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    Last night’s “Newsroom” exhibits everything the show does right — which turns out to be “not much”

    “I don’t want to expand the definition of the news, I want to narrow it.” That line is uttered by the legendary Sam Waterston, who plays Charlie Skinner on “The Newsroom,” and who I really wish had some better material to work with. In so many ways, it’s such a classic Aaron Sorkin quote — it has a nice parallel construction that, if you don’t think too hard, makes it sound incredibly smart. It’s also delivered by Waterston in that big, unmistakably haughty tone…
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    What last night’s “The Newsroom” gets wrong about “disruption” in media

    Few television shows in history have elicited the strange combination of hatred and obsession that HBO’s “The Newsroom” has. Viewers, particularly those who live and work in the media world that Aaron Sorkin’s fantastical weekly drama vaguely resembles, are simultaneously enamored and repulsed by the show’s loud, overwrought ruminations on news, politics, technology, and workplace relationships. Maybe that’s because 21st century journalists love nothing more than thinking about themselves, and like Narcissus, are unable to look away from the mirror Sorkin holds up…
  • tech-tv-entertainment

    Qello is quietly building a “Netflix for music films” — and maybe building the future of digital video

    So what will be the big buzzword of 2015? I’m placing my bets on “OTT.” OTT stands for “Over-the-top” and it refers to video and audio streaming services that don’t directly involve a cable company. For example, when HBOGO announced its standalone service this week, the savvy set of observers called it “going OTT.” We know the big players like Netflix and Hulu. But there’s one company that’s quietly becoming a major force in the OTT landscape and it’s helping to shape the…
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    Game of clones: Assessing the winners and losers now that HBO is going to be more like Netflix

    Netflix has said it’s goal is “to become HBO faster than HBO can become us.” Today, HBO just took a huge step in that direction. After years of speculation and months of rumor, HBO has finally announced that it will offer a standalone streaming service for customers who don’t have cable subscriptions. The announcement was made by HBO head Richard Pleper at Time Warner’s investor meeting. Although the news is hardly surprising, it has major ramifications on both the streaming…
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    A year later, Thomas Pynchon’s “Bleeding Edge” still resonates with tech obsessives more than ever

    There was a healthy dose of surprise from both the literary and tech communities last year when it was announced that Thomas Pynchon was writing a novel about New York’s Silicon Alley in the wake of the dotcom crash. Pynchon, who is arguably America’s greatest living fiction writer, is known for postmodern metafiction and absurd historical revisionism — in other words, not exactly the cold, binary zeroes and ones that technologists and startups say they worship. He’s more David Foster Wallace than Tim Berners-Lee. At the time of…
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    HBO’s “Silicon Valley” may fix its “female problem” in Season 2

    HBO’s “Silicon Valley,” which wrapped up its first season in June, was one of the most frustrating television shows in recent memory. On one hand, it perfectly captured many of the details and vocabulary of Bay Area technology types, which in and of itself is a tiny miracle — from “Social Network” to “Hackers,” Hollywood’s version of techies almost never resembles the truth (at least “Hackers” had the decency to know it was ridiculous). On the other hand, the show…
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    Watch John Oliver’s perfect takedown of native advertising

    As print ad revenues hit their lowest point since 1950, traditional news publishers are struggling to find any avenue they can to make a buck. Many, including the New York Times and the Atlantic, have resorted to native advertising, the art of dressing up a paid advertisement to look like a news article. The most notorious example came from the Atlantic when it published a glowing profile of Scientology leader David Miscavige that was paid for by the church…

    Outside of HBO’s “Silicon Valley,” TJ ‘Erlich’ Miller is all energy with little substance

    On Mike Judge’s Silicon Valley, TJ Miller’s Erlich Bachman ran away with the first season. Miller’s mixture of hyperactive aggression with a softer, more endearing cluelessness made Bachman an easy crowd favorite. It’s Miller’s one iconic performance as an actor. He has a tag now. In a tent at Bonnaroo, however, watching him perform as a comic far outside the fourth wall of HBO’s Silicon Valley, Miller has a similar bombast to his performance, just without any of…
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    After many ups and downs, the first season of HBO’s “Silicon Valley” ends on a high note

    Last night, the first season of HBO’s highly-anticipated comedy-drama “Silicon Valley” came to a close. The show’s eight episodes vacillated wildly between highs and lows as the writers struggled to figure out whether they wanted to craft a biting satire, a celebration of entrepreneurship, or a raucous frat-boy comedy. On rare occasions, it achieved all three ambitions, living up to the high quality we’ve come to expect from the best network on television.

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    Booth babes and gay panic bring down last night’s episode of HBO’s “Silicon Valley”

    There are few shows on television more schizophrenic than HBO’s “Silicon Valley.” Some episodes take on the cultural and socio-economic issues in the Bay Area, acting as smart critiques of Silicon Valley’s frothy tech boom, cult of entrepreneurship, and problematic gender and race politics. Other episodes, like “Proof of Concept” which aired last night, only confirm outsiders’ worst perceptions about Silicon Valley without adding any commentary on why the tech world’s white-male-dominated culture might not be such a good thing.

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    Adderall and ageism: Episode 6 of HBO’s “Silicon Valley,” reviewed

    Last week I wrote that in its fifth episode, HBO’s “Silicon Valley” had become a show that’s far more adept at traditional sitcom humor than biting satire. That’s a disappointment for viewers looking for trenchant critiques of modern tech culture, but at least it was an improvement on Episodes 3 and 4 which suffered from major tonal issues.

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    HBO’s “Silicon Valley” has some life (and laughs) left in it after all: Episode 5, reviewed

    After last week’s episode of misfired jokes and confusing clashes in tone, “Silicon Valley” may have rediscovered its focus. And its laughs. Episode 5, titled “Signaling Risk,” is the show’s funniest episode since its debut, though unlike that first episode it draws laughter not from satire but from more time-honored sitcom tropes like sight gags, timing, and irony. Sure, it’s disappointing to see the show shy away from serious commentary, particularly when the tech world of 2014 is such ripe…

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    Last night’s “Veep” episode said more about technology than all of HBO’s “Silicon Valley”

    HBO’s “Veep” just beat sister show “Silicon Valley” at its own game. We’ve written a lot here about HBO’s new television series, “Silicon Valley.” It’s a better show than many expected, and it gets a lot of the technical details about building a company right. But with more and more money and influence moving West to the Bay Area, “Silicon Valley” misses some key opportunities to comment on the socioeconomic and political ramifications of this monumental power-shift. Too often, the show is content…
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    Has HBO’s Silicon Valley lost its vision? Episode 4, reviewed

    The word of the day in tonight’s “Silicon Valley” episode is vision. As viewers know, the show’s founder-hero Richard has built a uniquely powerful algorithm for compressing video and audio files. When asked to explain why his company matters, Richard emphasizes that his algorithm’s compression capabilities, measured by a fictional benchmark called “The Weissman Score,” are way ahead of anyone else’s.

The Week in Review