Of Kindles, VPNs, torrents and cloudsPosted: April 29, 2011
Much of the revolution in how we consume our TV, music and film has been played out while I’ve been overseas.
So I tend to regard it as just how I have learnt to get access to all the good stuff I left behind – rather than remembering that others have changed too.
But there are other issues that have influenced me. I used to happily pay to download albums from iTunes, only for them to make it ridiculously difficult because of my location. Searching for an album one day I gave in and downloaded it illegally. What can I say, it’s become a hard habit to break.
I’m also accessing BBC illegally via the iPlayer and VPN. Daft really, I pay $10 a month to Overplay to make this possible and from this the BBC gets nothing. I’d much rather pay direct – if they’d let me.
But in Vietnam the VPN does have another benefit – namely it allows me to access Facebook (blocked, not banned, in Vietnam) without further fuss nor pop up ads.
Like everyone what I’ll pay for, and how much, is changing. Paying western prices while living in the east doesn’t sit well when my wage isn’t what it was. Grand Designs Series 11 seems vaguely over priced in pounds ( 26.46 GBP – via iTunes) but put that into Dong and it’s nudging a million (903,600 VND). Too much. Even if I eat up-market here that’s a lobster buffet at the Sheraton.
The fact that I even checked iTunes is as a result of it, for whatever reason, not being available on uTorrent/Pirate bay. Together they have, illegally, provided us with a steady stream of movies. Coupled with the VLC player, we’re also able to download English subtitles which makes it easier for my wife to deal with the assorted English and American accents.
Of course with pirate DVDs available locally at less than a dollar each it’s quicker just to nip out and buy them – but dodgy quality, crazy subtitling and risk of investing in something that turns out to be unwatchable turns me off.
I always intend to go to the cinema more and partly it’s just laziness but also it means dealing with kids with bleeping mobile phones and people loudly munching pop corn. I am turning into such an old git.
Meanwhile iPlayer, 4OD etc, rather wonderfully come with the subtitles included.
So what am I paying for?
I’m paying for books – for the Kindle. The best Christmas present I ever had. Living overseas – the access to books is a revelations.
For a book without pages, cover etc then costwise anything under a fiver sounds about right. Until I had the Kindle then I always struggled to find time to read outside of beach holidays but suddenly I am consuming books again. I’ve read a dozen since Christmas – my brain feels better for it. Amazon is my friend.
I am at a loss as to why all magazines aren’t delivering content this way. I don’t pay for much but there are half a dozen UK magazines I would gladly if they could be sent to the Kindle. Incredibly I have a further 10 books already waiting to read – I am actually giving Amazon money before I can even have time to use the product.
Some years ago now I gave away my entire music collection and it lives on only on an iPod and hard drive – but I want my music cloud. Music may not seem as valuable as it once was – but I need this saved somewhere where it will always be there, even when I am somewhere else.
Which brings me to the issue of having fewer physically tangible possessions – not in some mystical, trippy hippy way but being able to live in a house that isn’t cluttered by CD cases and book cases. They increasingly seem like such a waste of space and resources. All that paper and plastic is a crime. And perhaps I have moved on so much that the process of clearing and packing is always in my mind.
I don’t shop like I used to. Again, part of this is because of where I am – I couldn’t buy a shirt that fit even if I wanted to – but it seems that all my entertainment is stored in my laptop, Kindle, iPod, phone etc. I spend my money on buying these devices rather than the entertainment that they store and provide for me.
There are times when I am lying propped up on pillows on my bed – laptop is perched against bent legs and both Kindle and mobile phone are balanced on my belly and chest.
In the old days I would take a lunch hour walk around Newcastle and almost always come back with a shopping bag - now, eating and drinking out aside I rarely buy anything.
As for all the above technology – I don’t see myself as an early adopter, there have been people doing most of this stuff for years now.
The difference, perhaps, is that I have had to learn it or miss out on music, movies, books etc.