Monday, December 26, 2011

Have Yourself a Digital Little Christmas

Well, Christmas is over for another year. The packages have been unwrapped, the gifts examined and gushed over, the big dinner eaten, and all the pretty wrapping paper stuffed into bags and set out for the trash collector. And we'll do it all again in another 365 days or so, because that's what we do. Unless, of course, you are a Nigerian Islamic radical, in which case you'll blow up a few churches because you are a stupid psycho who thinks it's okay to kill people who don't believe the same way you do.

Christmas customs around the world vary quite a bit, don't they?

But my post-Christmas rant is not about religious bigots who are busy creating their own hell. It's about digital movies.

There was a time, not so long ago, when you went to the movies in a theater. You sat in a soft chair (usually behind someone large enough to block your view), ate overpriced popcorn, and then went home with the memory. Then the movies came to you on television. Soon they were available on VHS (or Beta) tapes you could buy or borrow to watch whenever you wanted. Then came DVDs. Then came Blu-Ray discs. And then came the digital download.

This is why God invented aspirin.

One of the gifts Agnes gave me for Christmas was a "combo pack" of the movie Cowboys and Aliens (the 21st century successor to such low-tech film classics as Billy the Kid vs Dracula). The "combo pack" includes a DVD, a Blu-Ray disc, and a coupon which allows me to obtain a digital copy of the film to play on my home computer, laptop, or tablet. How cool is that? Next, they'll be beaming the movie directly into my skull via satellite.

Well, not so fast, buckaroo. I sat down at my computer this morning to download my digital copy, a process that used to be quick and simple: you put the disc into the computer, selected the connection to the download website from the disc menu, poked in your 9,796-character redemption code, and the electrons marched down the digital highway to your computer and arranged themselves in proper formation for future viewing.

But that was obviously too easy. Now, there's a system called Ultraviolet, designed by the great-grandson of the Marquis de Sade, which requires you to give up vast amounts of personal information to create multiple accounts in order to not allow you to download the movie for which you have paid. It took me a great deal of time and agony to work my way through Ultraviolet's insanely complicated system, only to be petulantly told that my redemption code was rejected because it had already been used ... obviously by someone who carefully opened up the shrink-wrapped case, copied the code, downloaded my movie, and cleverly re-sealed the package.

I took a few minutes to send a blisteringly uncomplimentary e-mail to the Ultraviolet feedback address, where it will probably be outsourced to some Nigerian psycho who will try to blow up my computer for not acknowledging that Ultraviolet is the final and ultimate revealed way to get your movies.

It didn't take long to get over that Christmas spirit, did it?

But I'm going to take a few deep breaths, center myself, and spend my last day of Christmas vacation doing as little as humanly possible. I'm going to relax, watch my movie (from the Blu-Ray disc, of course), eat leftover Christmas dinner, and generally vegitate before having to return to the office tomorrow.

And who knows? - perhaps, in spite of all expectations to the contrary, someone at Ultraviolet might contact me with an apology and my digital download.

And Dracula might beat Billy the Kid, too.

Have a good day. Enjoy the rest of the holiday season.

More thoughts tomorrow.



Banana Oil said...

Cowboys and Aliens is worth watching! I hope your Christmas was great. Keep your random thoughts and observatios coming!

The Mistress of the Dark said...

I think that's the movie I bought for my nephew this year for Christmas!

Mike said...

UltraViolet looks like an easy.... hard way to burn through about 100 petaquads of digital bits at your own cost.

eViL pOp TaRt said...

I can really emphathize with your frustrations; I've been frustrated with the intricacies of downloading and streaming videos, myself. Even using the typical DVD can be a challenge to get or remove the subtitles.

KathyA said...

You lost me at Blue-ray. I guess you can say I'm digitally challenged.