nbcolympics.com viewers are whiners!

I just saw this article where some viewers of live streaming of the Olympics are complaining because somehow, magically, they thought they should get HD coverage of the Olympics, on demand, from NBC, FOR FREE, on their wonderful iPads, whenever they want. This just set me off! So I say, Thank You, NBC for providing any live streaming at all (a first) for free. And I say to the whiners, what gives you the expectation you should see this all, for no more fee than to your ISP, in glowing HD with no glitches? Bunch of whiners! Bunch of know-nothings!

NBC is paying a fortune to have the right to broadcast the Olympics (sorry folks, content is NOT free). They’re paying another fortune to have the crews and equipment to generate live streaming content for every event (another first). And they’re paying another fortune to stream this on the Internet, a medium completely unsuitable and never designed for streaming. This is the first time any broadcaster of the Olympics has ever done this, but it’s not good enough for people who were born yesterday and believe the Apple ads that spending a few bucks for a device entitles you to the experience, FOR FREE, that you think you should get because you saw it in an Apple ad.

As someone who was writing software before there was an Internet I have the historical perspective to be thankful for a reasonable approximation of a miracle and it peeves methat a whole bunch of people, who have no clue how their technology works, nor how content publication works, believe anything less than a perfect experience is something they get to complain about. How lucky you are, the first people to ever even have the chance to be disappointed and complain. Phooey on you, you spoiled brats!

I know, you could care less about how we got where we are. But you could at least show a little appreciation for what you’ve got.

I first got online at home with “high-speed” in 1974. I was very lucky, two ways: 1) I worked for Hewlett-Packard and had management who thought spending a little money on me was worth it to get two more hours a day of work from me by providing high speed digital communications at home, and, 2) I happened to live in the same neighborhood as Bill Hewlett, in tech-central, AKA, Palo Alto, and thus was on the same physical phone exchange as Bill Hewlett. That meant HP could put an HP extension in my home (on a separate line even) and thus declare my link to be a business line and therefore I could have a DAA (guess what that was) and thus a 1200bps connection – that’s right, 1 — 2 — 0  — 0 — bits/per/second (do you even know the speed of your connection?). That meant I could send the equivalent of a single tweet in one second! And I was the first person in Palo Alto (possibly anywhere) to have that (Bill had a phone but no modem). And it was amazing, given I’d previously been using an acoustic coupler (ever heard of one of those) to have a whopping 3 — 0 — 0 — bits/second. Imagine how live streaming of the Olympics might have been over that link! Or without the multimode fiber optics NBC is paying a fortune to use!

Then I was lucky enough to work for the first for-profit business on the Internet. And that startup also thought getting its engineers (I was the VP, but it applied to all the engineers) an ISDN connection at home, a whopping 128,000 bits/second, and a gigantic bill that, far exceeds (even in the dollars of that time) what people pay today for ISP or wireless connections. 128K was almost enough to download static low-resolution images in an amount of time I was willing to wait. And that company got some more of my time for free just because I had a connection few could dream of.

Since then, of course, and thankfully, technology has advanced a bit. But guess what, there are still limits! Limits in the physics, limits in the economics. And now, boo-hoo, you’re unhappy that your 4G device can’t stream high resolution video, over a shared hunk of spectrum, in real-time, any time. Grow up. Learn a little bit about the technology you’re using. You think bandwidth is free and NBC is just arbitrarily denying it to you – grow up, learn something. Go to a Husker football game with 88,000 people trying to share the same 4G connection and see what your streaming looks like then.

NBC is doing an amazing thing. And yes, it’s not perfect. And yes, it may be slow and sometimes buggy. But what sets your expectation that it should be perfect, just because you spend $600 on your iPad to Apple and $60/month to your provider?  (not NBC, not your provider, not the net backbone) Are you really that stupid to believe all this should be free and perfect? How do you think NBC will pay for the costs of generating all that content, or pay for the servers and the bandwidth to send it to you? Do you really believe content is free? Do you have any clue how any of this technology actually works, or what the laws of physics are?

So as your wonderful social media throws more ads at you, invades your privacy to sell your profile to merchandisers, does underhanded things to get you to buy stuff, remind yourself how you think all this should be free.

I’m no fan of what hype-driven, get-rich-instantly, Internet zillionaires and VCs are doing, but there are real costs and someone has to pay them, or, poof, it all goes away. You think Facebook or Twitter was created for your amusement, that you have any right at all to complain about service you don’t even pay for.

Undoubtedly lots of engineers will work long hours to continue to boost bandwidth to supply a public with a service they think should be trivial and free and you’ll still probably complain. You probably think gasoline should be free too. But you are willing to pay for electricity to charge your iPad, or airlines to take you places, or Starbucks for an expensive cup of coffee, but NBC doing any less than HD streaming to millions in real-time, that you whine about. Why, well, because you’re a spoiled generation who thinks technology is magic and easy. Come on, you sound as stupid as Sen. Ted Stevens when he was explaining the Internet as a series of tubes.

So, again, NBC, hurrah for you. The first time ever I was able to watch the men’s eight in a delayed broadcast (since I’m not that devoted a fan to get up at 4am for real-time, which was also amazing). I salute and will be grateful for what I get and impressed by your marshaling of the technology to make it happen. And to the rest of you, grow up, learn something about that gadget in your hand and what a lot of very talented people had to do to bring it to you. Let’s see if you contribute that much with your life!

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About dmill96

old fat (but now getting trim and fit) guy, who used to create software in Silicon Valley (almost before it was called that), who used to go backpacking and bicycling and cross-country skiing and now geodashes, drives AWD in Wyoming, takes pictures, and writes long blog posts and does xizquvjyk.
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