Black Mirror watching advice

The British TV series, Black Mirror, lives in my top five all-time favs.  It has also been a most divisive show and one I spend a lot of time defending.  It’s also the only show I’ve ever had to devise a recommendation on how best to consume.

Here’s the deal.  Now that the show is into it’s 4th season, and second on Netflix, the trick to Black Mirror – each episode is a stand alone story unrelated to any of the others – is better understood.  Before the show appeared on Netflix, it was far more niche and unknown, so people would go into the show as you would with any serialized show: Start with episode one and go from there.

This is where many people unknowingly fell victim.

I’ve always assumed the show’s creator, Charlie Booker, did this on purpose but Season 1/Episode 1 – titled, “The National Anthem” is a story containing a rather shocking and disturbing plot line.  While it’s clever in its own very macabre and “ick” way, it’s one that has turned many people off from watching any of the other episodes.  I’ve always found that really disappointing because what is to come in future episodes – especially in Seasons 1 & 2 – is some of the very best television i’ve ever watched.

What makes Black Mirror great is the fact stories are set in a “near future” and the technology is presented in a manner that seems totally foreseeable in our lifetimes.  Unlike most traditional sci-fi, Black Mirror is filled with stories that will freak you out, not because of scary monsters but because of the potential impact technology could have in our lives, and in many ways already does.

If you’ve yet to dive into the series, I wholly recommend you do.  My advice is to watch The National Anthem last.  Go consume the other 18 episodes first, and then end with it.  Now, you may watch it and report back it was no big deal to you.  Like me, you may find many of the other plots to be far more disturbing in their own way.  But in an effort to help avoid friends and family missing out on what I think is high entertainment – this has been my long running recommendation.

All of the episodes are available on Netflix.  If you chose to pass on my advice and do watch that episode first, only to scramble to turn it off, never to return to another Black Mirror episode again, don’t say I didn’t warn you.


Roku Takes It to the Next Level

If I wasn’t a total Apple lemming and already married to my AppleTV device, I would have bought a Roku TV streaming device.

Roku makes a line of really, really nice streaming devices that sends Netflix, Hulu, Pandora, Disney and a whole bunch of other content into your TV.

Today Roku announced the 2012 release of a new version of the device called the “Streaming Stick” which will plug into a TV’s HDMi port and provide the same services as their hockey puck sized boxes.  The stick, which looks like your standard USB flash drive, will actually need a newer set that supports the new MHL-compliant HDMi input.. This allows for control from the set’s remote, versus Roku having to supply a separate remote with the stick.

Additionally it is expected the Stick will sell for less than $50, and should be in stores by Q2 2012.  Best Buy is expected to announce that they will include the Streaming Stick with their in-house line of TV’s, Insignia.

Roku will officially show off the device at the upcoming CES.


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New XBOX Live Dashboard *update*

**update**  It was supposed to start pushing out this morning but hadn’t at the time I’ve written this… Microsoft’s Larry Hyrb has been tweeting updates all day and you should follow him @majornelson to get the most up to the minute info..


Microsoft wants you to know that if you have an Xbox360, hold on, because you’re getting an update that they promise will make you feel like it’s a whole new console.

The new dashboard, rolling out on Tuesday the 6th, follows the largely loved Metro design seen in Windows Phone 7 and will be seen in the future Microsoft 8 OS.  Much of what was foretold at E3 looks to be coming with all new search functionality, including voice command search via Kinect and the idea that your Xbox360 is now more of a full time media hub than just a gaming device.

Full You Tube, Netflix, ESPN, UFC and other intrigation are all part of trying to get the user to stay on their Xbox when not playing, and watching media through it rather than another source.

There is also now cloud saving for Live users with Gold accounts that make it easy to move files and game progress from console to console, and a new game scheduling feature called, “Beacons”.  This allows the user to send out appointments to friends to pre-plan game playing times so going full nerd can be a fully co-ordinated event.

Be on the lookout starting tomorrow, and report back to me your thoughts and experiences…  I’m interested because believe it or not, I am still running an original XBOX360 from the day they went on sale, way back when.  Yup, never had the “ring of death” or any failures.  Not sure how.  But I wonder how well my 7-8 year old unit will play and perform with all of this new soft/hardware…

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