Lead Line — October 2003
By Richard Thiel
|Free boat videos, and no one tries to sell you anything!|
I don’t like technology. No, that’s not quite right—I don’t trust technology. It’s burned me too often. The first car I bought that had electronic ignition started with the flick of the key, ran like a turbine—and left me stranded in the middle of the desert.
My first computer allowed me to cut and paste copy for the first time without having to actually cut and paste—as in with scissors and tape. But it had an annoying habit of dying just as I was beginning the final paragraph of a story, sending the whole thing to the ether. Come to think of it, my current laptop does that, too.
Yet despite these and other bad tech trips, I am today a plugged-in guy. I have a cellphone (that’s always losing its signal in midconversation), a Blackberry, and that laptop. I am connected. But to what? E-mail is a total bust, thanks to spam. Along with the dozen or so business missives I get each day come at least 100 offers to increase my wealth, physical proportions, and sex appeal and decrease my debt, mortgage rate, and weight. It’s not so much the volume of this crap that annoys me, as it is its intrusiveness, irrelevance, and downright idiocy. (Note to Mr. Mgumbo: No, I am not related to anyone from Nigeria, and I’m not interested in baby-sitting your five million dollars while you put your affairs in order.)
The Internet can be valuable, but the more I surf, the more popular I seem to become with wife-swapping groups and animal rights organizations. And really, the technology is hardly what it’s cracked up to be. DSL is fast but pricey, and dial-up connections are so slow, glaciers melt between the time you tell Google what you want and the time you get a reply. And have you ever tried to download a video file? They make silent movies look polished, what with their herky-jerky playback and sound that only occasionally matches lip movements.
Yet despite my opprobrium for technology in general and the Internet in particular, I admit that I have occasionally stumbled upon something worthwhile online, and I am proud to say that one of the best things I’ve found is produced by this magazine. It’s called PMY TV, and although it was introduced last fall, I only tried it in July, techno-cynic that I am. It not only works, it’s free. No one even tries to sell you anything! For someone who likes boats, it’s very cool.
Simply explained—which is the only way I can deal with these things—you first download free software from our Web site, a process that doesn’t interfere with other work. Once installed, this program basically sits there until the PMY Web site sends out a new video. (These videos are produced by PMY editors on a variety of subjects, including new boats.) When the download is complete, a small box pops up on your screen announcing that a new video is available and asking if you’d like to view it. If you click on “no,” the icon disappears but the video remains on your computer for about 30 days, after which it is automatically deleted to save hard-drive space.
If you click “yes,” you get to view what looks exactly like a video—full screen, no jerkiness, and perfect audio-visual synchronization. You can watch it as many times as you wish until it’s deleted, and if you decide later that you want to see it again, you can access it from the PMY Web site. And again, this is at no cost, and no one tries to sell you anything. For a boater, it’s the best thing on the Web.
In fact, it’s almost enough to make you forget about spam.
This article originally appeared in the September 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.