How to Watch Internet Video On Your TV (YouTube, Netflix, etc)
I’ve been hearing more and more good things about the Roku box lately. This is an inexpensive little device - between $79 and $129 - that connects to your TV and lets you watch tons of online video from places like Netflix and Amazon Video On Demand. It also supports "channels" that allow people to add support for additional sources, including YouTube, and can display photos from Facebook and Flickr. It even supports lots of smaller indie-type stuff like the TWiT.tv podcasts, and can play your custom Pandora music stations too.
There’s a similar box from Western Digital called the WD TV Live Plus that appears to include many if not all of the same features, plus better handling of your own photos and movies via USB sticks/drives. It’s a little more pricey at $149. But the Roku seems to be quite a well-loved product, whereas I haven’t heard much about this WD device yet.
Much of the online content that you can access through these kinds of devices is free, but that generally does not include feature films and popular TV shows. For that you’d use Amazon’s VOD, which has movie rentals for a couple bucks each; or Netflix, which has a ~17,000-title library of instant-streaming movies and TV shows with unlimited access for as little as $8.99 per month. Of course Netflix is also an amazing DVD-rental-by-mail service, and the $8.99 subscription is actually their entry-level one DVD at a time package; all their packages include the instant-streaming for no extra charge.
The ultimate solution for TV, though, is TiVo. A TiVo costs $299 and is worth every penny. I don’t know how I watched TV before TiVo... actually I do know: I just didn’t bother. The TiVo’s interface for selecting shows to watch/record is by far the best I’ve ever used: there’s no messing with channels or dates or times, you just tell it the name of the show. And its fast-forward (and rewind) implementation is perfect, to the point that trying to use any other devices’s FF/RW (I’m looking at you Boxee, Front Row, etc) is just aggravating. More to the point for this article: through TiVo you can access Netflix, Amazon VOD, and lots of video podcasts like TWiT as well. I’m not sure about Facebook and Flickr, but I have a Mac mini connected to the TV for various other geeky reasons, so I just use that for anything requiring a browser.
There’s also Apple TV and Google TV, but the former has been kind of a dud, is more expensive ($229) and supports neither Netflix nor Amazon VOD (though you can buy/rent content on it via the iTunes Store); the latter isn’t yet available, and seems like it might be a built-into-the-TV feature rather than a separate box you can add to an existing TV. So for the time being, for non-geeky types who don’t want to spend a lot of money, the Roku box looks like a pretty nice solution.
Hyundai Says FU to PC BS
If you’ve watched any TV during the past 20 years, then you know the rule of political correctness in advertising: in any disagreement, confrontation, or conflict between a white person and a non-white person, or a man and a non-man, the result must be that the person who is white and/or male is the "loser" in the situation, with bonus points for portraying the white/male as an utterly incompetent fool.
Which is why this Hyundai Sonata commercial shocked and
appalled delighted me.
That was one heck of a finale. It was nothing earth-shattering, it was just good old-fashioned 24 action. As Rolly said to me a few weeks ago: "Seeing Jack Bauer single-handedly take out a room full of bad guys -- that never gets old." So true.
It still kinda bugs me that several of the final episodes were built around the need to physically deliver a data file that should obviously have been sent electronically. How many times have we seen characters in 24 send all manner of data from CTU to a field agent and vice-versa over the years? It’s always amazed me how Jack’s phone could accept any kind of data card he might come across. Maybe he upgraded to an iPhone for the final season.
That’s really no big deal, though, and plenty of other unbelievable things happen in 24, none of which make the show any less awesome. It’s been a great run and I’ll miss 24. But hey, Jack’s still out there...
I can’t say that it all made sense. And to say that there are some loose ends would be an understatement. But I thoroughly enjoyed Lost, and I will miss it.
Honestly, I’m just glad that Jack finally got the girl, even if she did leave him on the island.
And evidently there will be more answers forthcoming in a DVD bonus feature; that’s a ridiculous way to do things, but at this point I’ll take any additional answers I can get.
I recently saw an episode of NOVA called What Are Dreams? Dreams are such a fascinating subject, and it was a great show. It’s so interesting for example that scientists have identified 5 stages of sleep, can recognize them based on brain activity and physiological factors, know how long they tend to last and the order in which they occur -- yet the only way to determine whether a subject is dreaming is to wake them up and ask them.
And why do we dream in the first place? One theory is that the brain is running simulations in order to test how our actions affect situations, in order to be better prepared to face potentially dangerous situations in real life. Another says it’s the brain running through newly-acquired information in order to better learn/remember it, or to try and find connections between pieces of information that our waking mind might not realize should be connected.
For the past few years I’ve had variations of the same dream many dozens, if not hundreds, of times. In the dream, I’m in school -- sometimes it’s high school and sometimes it’s college -- and it’s late in the semester. I realize that for one of my classes, I haven’t attended it for most of the semester and haven’t done the assignments and can’t possibly pass it. For the past year or so, however, that recurring dream has been largely replaced with another one: I’m in a situation involving a river or a lake (this is a good and fun dream for me) and I end up jumping or falling into it, then suddenly realizing that I’ve left my iPhone in my pocket.
After watching this NOVA episode, it occurred to me that although I spend the majority of my time alone (except for the cats), I can’t think of a single dream that doesn’t involve other people. And it’s usually lots of other people. It seems that my threat simulator needs to upgrade itself to prepare me for the kinds of threats that I might actually encounter: stubbing my toe on the way to the bathroom, being fangoriously devoured by a small housecat, etc.
I don’t know exactly when all the TV news networks started referring to everything as an "ALERT", but now they do it all the time, and it’s annoying. When the installation of a statue into a statuary hall is a news alert, then it’s to the point where the word is devoid of any meaning at all. But sadly this is just another day in the life of the abused English language.
New TV: Before and After
We finally ditched our stone-age TV and got an HDTV. I thought it’d be fun to take some before and after photos.
Here’s an angle-shot from before (click for after):
Here’s a head-on shot from before (click for after):
Here’s the input/output panel from before (click for after):
Roger Ebert, Liar
Quoting Roger Ebert:
Dear Bill: Thanks for including the Chicago Sun-Times on your exclusive list of newspapers on your "Hall of Shame." To be in an O’Reilly Hall of Fame would be a cruel blow to any newspaper. It would place us in the favor of a man who turns red and starts screaming when anyone disagrees with him.
Bill put the Sun-Times in his Hall of Shame for regularly publishing false and defamatory information. Roger Ebert, in response, published a false and defamatory statement about Bill.
Bill’s show, The O’Reilly Factor, is on TV for an hour every weeknight and has been for over 10 years. I watch it almost every night, so I know that Bill loses his temper only a few times per year, despite the fact that guests disagree with him every night. The standard liberal line about O’Reilly, which Roger Ebert mindlessly repeated, is a flat-out lie.
From Modern Marvels:
When the 9-1-1 system was originally introduced, it was promoted as "Nine-Eleven" service. After some panicked callers tried to find the "eleven" key on their telephones, it was changed to "Nine-One-One."
The Upside of the Recession
Scott Adams nails it as usual:
It’s expensive to travel anywhere, but on the other hand, the new season of 24 is almost here. I don’t need to go to faraway places and meet people when I can sit on my couch and watch Jack Bauer shoot those people.
The Microsoft / Seinfeld / PC Ads
So apparently I’m in the minority with my opinion of the new Microsoft ad campaign. I think the first and second ads, with Seinfeld, are great, and the third one is totally lame. Everyone else seems to think the opposite.
The Seinfeld ads were ads about nothing, which was of course the whole point of Seinfeld’s TV show. The ads weren’t trying to sell Windows or PCs. They were just Gates and Seinfeld hanging out, trying to be normal guys. The ads were pointless, but they were funny and interesting. And they sure as heck got people talking about Microsoft.
The new "I’m a PC, and I’ve been made into a stereotype" ad is whiny and pathetic. It’s basically saying "please don’t listen to what Apple says about me!" The ad shows lots of politically-correct multicultural images of people around the world saying "I’m a PC", which when you think about it, just means that the PC is pedestrian, in contrast to the Mac, which is special.
The new ad also fails because, technically, every Mac is also a PC. And furthermore, Microsoft doesn’t even sell PCs, they sell Windows, which isn’t mentioned at all in the ad. So what’s the point again?
The Seinfeld ads were bold, new, interesting, and subtle; and they made Bill Gates a little more accessible to us, even if only for pretend. The third ad is utterly unoriginal and boring.
24: The Unaired 1994 Pilot
We're Running Out Of Time!
24 fans, if you haven’t watched the movie Flatliners since before you started watching 24, you should watch it again. Not only because of one particularly hilarious and well-delivered line, but also to see where Jack Bauer got his toughness.
Oil Information and Statistics from Oil Apocalypse
There’s an interesting episode of Mega Disasters called "Oil Apocalypse" that runs on the Discovery channel. Here are some details and quotes that I transcribed from it:
In the US, nearly 100% of cars, farm equipment, trains, and planes run on oil.
Oil provides nearly 50% of all our energy needs.
Petrochemicals are the base of many of our day to day products including plastics, asphalt, tires, polyester, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals.
The US produced 10 million barrels per day in the 1950s, but only consumed 7 million, so we exported the surplus. World consumption was 20 million barrels per day.
Today the US produces 8.3 million barrels per day, but consumes more than 20 million, so we import about two-thirds of the oil we use. World consumption is now 84 million barrels per day.
Saudi Arabia produces and exports 10 million barrels per day, and has reserves of between 160-260 billion barrels.
The world has consumed 1 trillion barrels since 1859; there are an estimated 1-3 trillion barrels left, but it’s harder to extract than the first 1 trillion, and it’s being consumed much faster now.
Ethanol has for years comprised about 10% of most US gasoline, to reduce engine knock.
Most US ethanol comes from corn, which means that its use as a fuel is hard on our food supply. Ethanol is expensive to produce, takes lots of energy to produce, and still produces pollution.
Hydrogen fuel cells are expensive, and they aren’t technically an energy source since the hydrogen in them takes energy to produce.
Most of our electricity is currently provided by coal. Nuclear power provides 20% of US electricity; solar and wind provide less than 1%. The US is "the Saudi Arabia of coal."
Canada is the US’s primary supplier of foreign oil (surpassing even Saudi Arabia) partly due to the oil sands in Alberta.
Venezuela exports 2.2 million barrels per day, but it is mostly heavy oil considered inferior to middle eastern light crude oil; it needs more refining to be usable. But the reserves could be hundreds of billions of barrels.
Colorado’s oil shale has more oil than all of Saudi Arabia’s reserves, but it’s probably not feasible to extract/convert it.
Comcast Slowsky Commercial - Push It
These Slowsky commercials are the best.
From TiVo to iPhone via Awesome
When Kim bought me a TiVo a few months ago, it didn’t immediately occur to me that it was a great way to build a video archive. But a month or two later when I discovered that you can point a web browser at the TiVo and download videos from it to your computer, it started to click.
I also started to realize that there’s actually a ton of good stuff on TV, far more than I have time to watch in fact: stuff like How It’s Made, Survivorman, Planet Earth, Most Shocking, Shockwave, etc, not to mention things we’d already been into like 24, Prison Break, The Office, and Heroes.
Those last few shows need to be watched in order, and usually on or near their original airing date, but the rest can be archived and watched any old time. So for the past month or two I’ve been archiving shows; I’m up to about 250 episodes, taking up 150 gigs of space.
Back when I first got my TiVo, right away I thought about how it’d be great to be able to somehow watch its content on my iPhone. The iPhone isn’t a home theater, just like it isn’t a full PC, but the thing is that it’s always with me, so having my favorite TV shows on it would be pretty sweet. Still, it wasn’t until a couple of weeks ago that I started to really think about this, and I discovered that it’s possible and not even that hard. So I’ve written up a little guide on putting TiVo shows onto your iPod or iPhone, posted on my tech blog.
A 1-hour episode ends up using about a fifth of a gig on the iPhone. Since my 8 gig iPhone is already full, I’ve had to cut back the amount of music that’s on it a little bit to accommodate a few TV shows, and that new 16 GB iPhone is looking better and better.
I’m just continually amazed by this device; now in addition to being my phone, calendar, email & web device, music player, and podcast player, it also has my TV shows on it -- all automatically kept up to date by iTunes with minimal fuss required.
Superbowl Commercials: XLII
Well the game ended up being really exciting, though you wouldn’t have known it from the first 3 quarters. But this year’s superbowl ads were mostly terrible. Here are the ones that I liked:
Audi Godfather ad:
Tide To Go interview ad: funny only because the stain sounds like Steve Carell in that hilarious news scene in Bruce Almighty:
Doritos mouse ad: funny, but apparently it’s actually from last year:
Etrade baby ads: these are both hilarious. The "you don’t know how old I am" line kills me:
Coke politics ad: James Carville & Bill Frist become friends. I’m embarrassed to admit that this ad is genuinely heartwarming:
Bud Light Semi-Pro Will Farrell Jackie Moon ad. "and the loins" says it all:
The anti-drug drug dealer ad:
Most ridiculous: the idea that people get excited over Dell hardware:
Both of these are too annoying to display inline; I can only bear to link to them. Note also how both commercials defecate on top of classic songs:Thrillicious: 2008 Sobe Life Water Super Bowl Ad
Snakes on a Plane on a Conveyor Belt: Will it Blend?
This is getting out of hand. Gruber links to Kottke who has live-blogged a Mythbusters episode about the plane on a conveyor belt riddle. (Mythbusters must be running out of myths to bust.) There are nearly 300 raging comments on Kottke’s original post alone, with other forums similarly ablaze.
The thing is, this is SO easy once you recognize that it’s just a trick question; the whole point of this riddle is that it’s a trick question. The riddle says that there’s a plane on a giant conveyor belt runway, and the conveyor belt has a control system which keeps the belt moving backwards at the same speed that the plane itself is moving forward. The question is: will the plane take off?
The Simple 4-Sentence Solution:
The bit about the belt moving backwards at the same speed is supposed to make you think that the plane isn’t moving relative to the real ground and the earth. If that were the case, then of course the plane would not take off. However, the force generated by the belt does not translate to backwards force on the plane, because a plane’s wheels are free-spinning: as the belt moves, the plane’s wheels spin, rather than remaining stationary so the plane itself can move backwards.
There would be some small amount of backwards force on the plane itself due to friction on the axles of the wheels, but that has virtually no effect on the plane’s forward motion because it’s such a tiny force relative to the forward-thrust of the plane’s engines.
The comments on these other sites are full of debates about airfoils and Bernoulli’s Principle and what really makes a plane fly; all of those people have missed the trick in this riddle (the free-spinning wheels) and so are over-complicating the problem.
Jack Bauer Trivia
I just got a hit from a visitor who found my site by searching for:
I think it’s a safe bet.
Macworld 2008: iPhone Updates and More
For Apple fans, Christmas comes in January, at the Macworld Conference. Yesterday Steve Jobs took the stage at this annual event to give his keynote on the state of Apple and the new products and services that the company is releasing. Apple nerd that I am, I maintained radio silence from the time the keynote started (noon eastern) for 3 agonizing hours until the video was posted online, to avoid hearing or reading any of the news before I could watch it firsthand. (You can watch the video here, here, or here.)
The main impression I got from this particular keynote is that Apple right now is a company firing on all cylinders. There was no single earth-shaking announcement like the iPhone from last year; instead there were four slightly smaller and relatively disparate announcements that show Apple is quite busy in several different areas.
The big new product is the Macbook Air: a laptop so impossibly thin -- sixteen-hundreths of an inch at its thinnest -- that it fits in an envelope. It’s got a full-sized (and LED-backlit) screen and a full-sized (also LED-backlit) keyboard, but no CD/DVD drive and almost no ports. Probably most impressive is that the Macbook Air has 5 hours of battery life, compared to 2 hours or less for many other tiny notebooks.
The second new product is the Time Capsule: a wireless router with a built-in 500 GB or 1 TB hard drive, primarily meant to provide simple automated backups of all the Macs in your house via Leopard’s Time Machine backup feature.
Incidentally, the heart of the Time Machine backup system is its dated backups, which allow you to "go back in time" through all your data and access/recover files from one day ago, two days ago, a week ago, a month ago, etc. This is based on and made possible by the fact that on Unix filesystems, a single file can be accessed through multiple different filenames known as hard links. So you effectively have a full data backup from each previous day, week, month, etc, but the amount of space used is only that required by one full backup plus the incremental changes between the backup dates. That’s the magic of hard links: a single file on disk can appear to exist multiple times, once in each backup folder. All of that to say this: when I was working as a system administrator and programmer in a bio lab at Penn State in 2004, I created a backup system based on exactly this same concept (which neither I nor Apple invented) using just BASH, cp, and rsync. It was used to back up not only OS X, Windows, and Linux systems but also even Mac OS9 systems. This was 3 years before Apple introduced the same technology in Mac OS X Leopard. So, I win.
Apple TV + iTunes
The third keynote item was the rebirth of Apple TV. Originally released about a year ago and since described by Steve Jobs as just a hobby for Apple, the Apple TV hasn’t been a smash hit: they haven’t released any sales figures for it, and yesterday Jobs admitted that -- along with Microsoft, Amazon, Netflix, and others -- Apple had missed the mark in getting internet-based content into the living room. But Apple TV "Take Two" fixes most of the shortcomings of the original: it doesn’t need a computer, it has a much-improved interface, it supports HD content, you can buy iTunes content on it directly, and you can now rent movies on it. To top it all off, these new features are all available as a free software update to existing Apple TV owners, and the price of the Apple TV has been cut from $299 to $229.
The fact that iTunes now offers movie rentals is at least as big a deal as the Apple TV update. Apple is currently receiving a small beating from the record labels, all of which are now offering their music as DRM-free MP3 files through Amazon’s music store, but withholding the DRM-free versions from Apple for their iTunes store. And while Apple has been offering movies for sale through iTunes for a while now, the selection is slim because Apple has only secured deals with a few movie studios. But with the new rental feature, Apple has signed up every major movie studio -- no small feat. Apple is far and away the leader in digital distribution of music and movies, even with the aforementioned handicaps, so having every studio on board with rentals would seem to cement Apple’s position.
As an Apple fan and general geek, I’m fascinated by all of these things. But most likely I won’t actually buy any of them. I don’t really have a need for a super-thin notebook because I don’t travel much, and when I do, I’d rather have a more full-featured notebook than one that’s exceptionally thin. Time Capsule is cool, but I run Linux on most of my systems, and I’m a data freak so I already keep multiple backups of all my files. The new Apple TV and iTunes stuff is awesome, but I’ve recently discovered TiVo and don’t know how I ever lived without it for TV shows, and I’m extremely happy with Netflix for movies.
I guess that whole issue would come down to price: we currently pay ~$90/mo for cable+TiVo+Netflix, so would we be able to get the same content for the same price or less with Apple TV and iTunes? We mainly watch 4 shows: 24, Prison Break, The Office, and Heroes. Each episode is $1.99 on iTunes, so 16 shows per month would be $32 per month. Then throw in say 6 movies per month -- with Netflix, it’s unlimited, and our usage varies pretty wildly -- which at $4 each comes to $24. So the total with Apple TV + iTunes would be $56: a fair amount cheaper than our current bill. However, with the TiVo, I’ve now discovered a few more shows that I would really hate to give up: How It’s Made, Most Shocking, Shockwave, Mega Disasters, and World’s Most Amazing Videos. Adding all of those in would certainly push us past what we’re currently paying. And I just checked the iTunes store for The O’Reilly Factor and it doesn’t appear to be available there; that’s certainly a deal-breaker.
Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that I’m excited about all the new stuff Apple is doing, but at the end of the day, none of the aforementioned stuff affects me. The fourth thing Jobs presented, though, certainly does: iPhone updates.
Apple released iPhone firmware v1.1.3, which contains a few new features. The most exciting thing to me is the update to the Google Maps application. This includes a new "Locate Me" feature that uses cell tower triangulation/multilateration to determine your current location and show it on the map; not bad for a phone that lacks GPS. The Maps update also includes a new "drop pin" feature, which lets you stick a pin anywhere on the map (and drag it around) and then make it a bookmark, get directions to/from it, etc. Both of these new features make it far easier to map routes, since you don’t have to type anything in for one or both of the route’s endpoints. The Maps app also now includes the hybrid view, showing satellite imagery with roads and locations overlaid on it. Frustratingly and ridiculously, though, it STILL lacks a freakin’ scale bar! I can’t believe there’s actually some meathead at Google or Apple who thinks the scale bar should be left out, and that this glaring omission somehow gets past all the other engineers and execs.
The iPhone update also includes the ability to rearrange the icons on the home screen, and to add bookmarks to the home screen from the browser. These bookmarks also remember the zoom and pan state of the browser, which is really useful; for example, I visit weather.com for the detailed weather forecast since the iPhone’s built-in Yahoo weather sucks, but since weather.com has about 9 miles of ads and other crap at the top of the page, having the iPhone automatically pan to the forecast within the page is really helpful.
Another small item in the update allows the iPhone to send SMS messages to multiple recipients simultaneously; Jobs made no mention of the
much- seldom-requested iPhone MMS support.
And of course, the iPhone can now play video content rented through iTunes.
All of these new features were delivered for free to existing iPhone owners like myself, which may be the best part. I’m just so happy that this device I purchased is continually getting more useful, as opposed to getting more and more obsolete with each passing day.
Finally, Jobs touted the iPhone’s impressive sales figures: 4 million sold in its first 200 days on the market, or about 20,000 per day. In its first 90 days the iPhone captured 20% of the entire smartphone market, making it #2, behind only RIM BlackBerry. The fact that the iPhone surpassed all Windows Mobile smartphones in just 90 days on the market is particularly funny in light of Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer’s comment -- after the iPhone was announced but before it was launched -- that the iPhone would get "no significant market share."
Sleep Paralysis or Alien Abduction??
So there I am, watching an episode of How It’s Made, which incidentally may be my favorite show ever, and as it ends I catch a moment of the next show, which is apparently Unraveling the Mystery of Alien Abduction. And right off the bat they start talking about sleep paralysis!
But I only catch a few seconds of this show, because the episode of How It’s Made is from a few days ago and I’m watching it on my TiVo, which incidentally is one of the greatest inventions of all time, and as a result the next show naturally hadn’t been recorded because it wasn’t one that I had told the TiVo to always record.
The problem now is that I can hardly find any mention of this show online, other than the fact that it’s a Discovery Channel show, and the TiVo doesn’t show it running again anytime in the next couple of weeks. I really want to see this show, because I’ve never heard any mention of sleep paralysis in the media before (nor from any other kind of official source for that matter).
Could it be that my (undiagnosed) sleep paralysis is really just a matter of alien abduction??
NB: I don’t actually have any interest, much less belief, in the concept of alien abduction, except when portrayed by Mulder and Scully.
Mike Huckabee / Chuck Norris Ad
Best commercial I’ve seen in a long time. Probably the best political ad ever, and certainly Huckabee has the best sense of humor of any of the candidates that I’ve seen so far.
"There’s no chin behind Chuck Norris’ beard, only another fist." That’s gold.
Most Shocking; Prison
The CourtTV channel has this show called Most Shocking and it’s one of the best shows on TV. It’s all actual footage from security cameras, police cruiser cameras, and citizen-recorded videos, and it shows all kinds of (often stupid) crimes being committed, and (usually) the police taking down the criminals.
I’ve never really watched the show Cops, but I guess Most Shocking is similar, except I think that Cops is at least sort of scripted (don’t they have a camera/cameraman intentionally going into various situations with police, as opposed to showing footage of interesting stuff captured by cameras that run 24/7?). And from the previews for Cops it always looks really slow and boring, whereas Most Shocking is non-stop action, with stuff like shootouts, crashes, hostages, etc.
It’s on Wednesdays at 8 PM, though I usually watch the encore which is at midnight. It’s also apparently on Fridays at midnight sometimes too.
I sometimes catch bits of other shows on CourtTV, and some of the shows about prison are really interesting. One thing that I don’t understand about prisons is why they’re designed the way they are, with the convicts able to congregate freely at certain times, such as while eating and while out in the prison yard. Prisoners are able to pass around drugs and weapons, and they sometimes attack the guards and even cause riots. They can beat up, molest, and even kill other prisoners.
So why should prisoners ever be allowed to congregate? Why don’t we keep them in their individual cells at all times? It would be far simpler and safer not only for the guards, but for the prisoners as well.
Full-screen Video Interruptions
Kim and I have been downloading the TV show "Heroes" in iTunes and watching it on our TV. This is on my Mac Mini system, using Apple’s DVI to video adapter to display the video on the TV, which works quite nicely.
But today, right in the middle of watching one of the episodes in full-screen, iTunes decided to pop-up a dialog box saying "Thanks for using iTunes. Would you like to back up your collection?"
Frankly, if I wanted this kind of brain-dead and annoying behavior while watching a video, I’d use Windows or Linux to watch it, where the overall experience is nowhere near as seamless and polished. I expect that kind of thing on those operating systems; I expect more from Mac OS X.
On every operating system, there should be a flag that any application can set, which would tell the operating system "I’m in full-screen do-not-disturb mode", the effect of which would be to prevent anything from popping up in front of the application. I’m surprised that OS X does not have such a mechanism, especially in the tightly-integrated environment of iTunes/QuickTime, where all the running code should know that there’s a video playing.