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 It is now euphemistically called “catch-up” – no longer do you have to feel as if you are a criminal for downloading the TV show/movie you missed. Or do you?

I want to preface this article by saying that I have never, never had parrot poo on my shoulder (I can’t even speak “pirate” very well me hearties). iTwire is a reputable reporter of news and would never encourage its readers to do the wrong thing.

But I have an adult son and daughter who regularly tell me about their viewing habits and I have recently come from a larger corporate environment where the favourite water cooler topic was watching TV over the internet (on their phone, pad, PC…) so I think this topic is now verging on socially acceptable.

Faced with living in a new Sydney apartment that has no FTA (that’s slang for Free To Air or Freeview) aerial but graced with Telstra’s Ultimate 200GB Cable plan I tentatively started to investigate (as we journalists do) what were the opportunities to catch up on the past few months of missed TV shows – what happened on Revenge?

First I tried the various Freeview (2, 7, 9, 10…) web sites. The best things about these sites are that they are spyware free and video quality is consistently good. ABC iView has a nice bandwidth tester to tell you if you can stream video but as the minimum is around 1.5Kbps even steam driven ADSL connections generally suffice. But make sure you have adequate data limits – standard “1 hour” shows (really about 45 minutes plus advertisements) can be up to 500MB and movies much more. Note most sites cannot stream to international IP addresses (due to licensing issues) so catch up from your Bali beach holiday is not an option (get a life!).

ABC has most of its content there – typically the last one or two episodes of recent series. The best thing about Auntie is the relative absence of advertisements. It is well laid out and easy to see why this is regarded as the best Aussie media site – Taxpayer dollars at work.

Channel 7 generally makes most of its shows available for up to 28 Days.  I liked the “Just Added”, “Most Viewed” and “Expiring soon” tabs – easy navigation. I liked the MyShow email advisory service as well.

Channel 9 is similar to 7 – both also offer additional “web exclusive” content video clips, interviews and gossip.

Channel 10 is similar to the rest especially if you like Reality…

Summary: If you have simply missed an episode these are the safest sites to use and are easy to navigate.

Ah yes that’s all well and good but I missed an episode that’s not listed.

Let’s use Revenge as the example.  I tried searching (insert your favourite search engine here – no bias at iTWire) and it came up with the Wikipedia entry first and then all the various media fan sites. Inevitably after finding an episode guide and enticement to “download and play” I would end up at a site like Amazon to “download and pay”.

Changing the search to ”watch Revenge free on-line” also lead to similar results – pay up! But I was determined investigator and at the bottom of one search was a link to Project Free TV that (if you remember I don’t have FTA reception) has since kept my wife and I blissfully entertained over the Xmas break. Let’s just say that we have finished watching Revenge S2/11 when Aussie TV is yet to show it S2/1.

I don’t know if it is legal (but how do you define that word anyway if it is so socially acceptable – does it infringe copyright, does it encourage piracy?). It’s a giant, well laid out catalogue of movies and TV shows (not Torrents or downloads) that offer several alternative streaming links (which is good as sometimes one link may be jittery). The site is not without pitfalls for the unwary and I am sure there is spyware in some of the popups but as these come from outside the site (external advertisements) I think the author's intent is basically honourable – they even warn you about this. So play it safe and dont install anything that asks you to do so - there is no need if you just wish to stream shows.

Hints for using this site are:

1) Use the Search box to find the TV or Movie. Click on the main links it finds i.e. Season 1, Season 2 and bookmark (Favorite) the resultant page if you want to return to that later.

2) Next check for any popup windows and close them before watching the show.

3) DO NOT select “Download in HD…” or “Play Now” – these are advertising links. Only select the “Play” icon (the > at the bottom of the video window i.e. as you would in Media Player) and finally click on the full screen icon).

4) Make sure you have a good Antivirus and Malware internet protection program. I have not had any issues yet however.

Torrent danger = rubbish and spyware if you are not careful

The other source of content is torrents where you download a movie etc. We start with the obligatory warning “Using P2P and file-sharing software to distribute copyrighted material without authorization is illegal in the United States and many other countries”.

All I will say is that uTorrent is a spyware free torrent client software but that does not mean that the content you may copy is similarly free. It is amongst the best torrent manager I have seen (not that I have used many) and it is easy to remove a torrent once you downloaded it (or you become a torrent source as well and it uses your bandwidth). Another Torrent client that has received glowing recommendations is Vuze but I have not yet reviewed it. Apparently it has a great search engine and inbuilt HD player so it sounds attractive.

While you are at it don’t go to Piratebay a Swedish based web-site that is clearly operating outside US law and copyright jurisdiction that may open your eyes to why the movie and music makers want this site banned. Watch out for pop-ups and malware advertisements or you may need Spybot S&D sooner that you think.

Other sites

By now I hope you have learned four things:

1) Your first best choice is the commercial TV catch up web sites and paid/rental movie sites like Bigpond moviesQuickflix or iTunes etc.

2) You must have an adequate data package if you stream or download. If you use Bigpond as your ISP you get unmetered movie downloads (no data charge) from Bigpond Movies.

3) Be very careful of so-called free sites and do not click on unnecessary links – if you get in a bind with popup windows don’t try and close them - press reset on your PC before too much damage is done.

4) Have the strongest AV software installed – I recommend AVG Internet Security but most of the other name brands do a creditable job too.

 

Lets just finish by asking readers to share thier experiences - I am very new to this.

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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw ray@im.com.au  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!

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