Adventures with TV

Despite how much Adam and I like to work (I am a workaholic after all), we do enjoy our TV shows. When we came to Israel, there was a little bit of concern about how we would keep up with the shows that we enjoy so much in the States. Given that TV is fun, but not imperative to our survival, we didn’t spend much time thinking about it before we came. Once we were settled into our apartment, we began to explore and learned that it wasn’t going to be as easy as we thought to keep up with things back home.

The easiest way to watch TV when you don’t actually have a TV set is to watch it online. The problem is that computers are very smart; they can figure out where you are located simply by looking at your IP address. Once websites like CBS and NBC see that you are out of the country, the full episode content becomes unavailable. We aren’t sure why this is the case. From the little research that we did, we couldn’t find that there is any international law against streaming outside the country, but whatever the reason is, it wasn’t available. When we discovered this, I didn’t have much to keep me busy so it was very disconcerting. We brought a bunch of movies, but with all my free time, I went through them very quickly. Plus, the new season of shows started, and it was hard to accept that we would have to wait 2 years to see what happened. So much can happen in two years!

Most people living in Israel simply go to sites that have episodes that people have uploaded, and you can watch the shows no problem. We felt a little odd about that since there are copyright issues so we chose not to do this. While we searched for options, we became very fond of the Daily Show since Comedy Central doesn’t have a problem with streaming out of the country. We also became YouTube fans. YouTube has a policy that only allows the posting of videos that don’t infringe on copyright. Pretty much all the old TV shows that we watched when we are kids are acceptable. So that’s what we started to do; watch all the old cartoons and shows that we watched when we were kids. It was really awesome to remember those shows and to be honest even now that we have access to current TV we still scatter those old favorites in between everything else. You remember the great shows we grew up with right? If not, here is the list that we have been watching (NO JUDGEMENTS PLEASE!)

  • Chip and Dale Rescue Rangers
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
  • Ducktales
  • Sailor Moon (this one is mine; poor Adam is subjected to it)
  • Saved by the Bell
  • Boy Meets World
  • Thundercats
  • Talespin
  • Darkwing Duck

The cool thing is that we remember some of the episodes and to be honest they are still very fun. We are still kids at heart!

So back to our dilemma about watching American TV. We found that you can purchase something called a VPN which essentially masks your IP address so that it looks like you are in America. The other option is a Sling Box. A sling box is a device that you hook up to a TV or DVR in America that you can access through the internet. You then can watch shows either live or that have been recorded on the DVR. With my parents permission, we decided to try the sling box. I chatted with someone at the company to make sure that it would work with our setup and once they gave me the green light, we purchased the Sling Box 350. It arrived a week later, and my parents set it up only to find it didn’t work. The tech support people thought the box might be defective so they sent a new one to my parents. When that one arrived a week later, it also didn’t work. The next tech person said that the 350 wouldn’t work with my parents setup so we had to purchase the 500. After a number of angry phone calls (to a call center in India no less), I convinced them that they should refund my money for shipping since I would have bought the 500 originally had the person not told me that the 350 would be fine. My parents sent back the 350s (since there were two of them now), the 500 arrived, they hooked it up, and it still didn’t work! Another phone call to tech support and it turns out that you can’t use the sling box with HDMI and component cables. So we gave up and sent this one back, after a few more angry phone calls. We did some more research and found out to make it work, you need a second cable box. If we had known that in the beginning, we may have gotten one and everything would have worked, but after all the aggravation, it wasn’t worth it.

So we still don’t have American TV right? Nope. My brother, Jason, accepted the challenge of getting us TV and with the use of his awesome computer skills and an old router, we can watch TV no problem. I know it seems like a lot of work when you can just get it free from those sites I mentioned, but we just felt better getting it from the networks themselves. We don’t have to worry about copyright issues, and we still watch some commercials so the network sponsor’s money isn’t going to waste. While the TV part of the whole process is awesome, the greater fun was working with my brother to get it to work. We had lots of e-mail conversations and even a few long phone conversations to get it all to work. I really enjoyed sharing it with him. I was a little sad when we got it all to work right since we didn’t need to talk about it anymore. Don’t get me wrong, we like watching the television shows from back home, but the connection with my brother that came from it was definitely the best part of this whole process.

We haven’t caught up on everything, but we do know what is going on pretty much so if you want to talk about TV, you don’t have to worry about spoiling things for us. We have also been watching the first season of Friday Night Lights, which our friends the Rosensweigs lent us. We really like it a lot, despite all the football. We should be starting season two soon. We also purchased some DVDs of “Rechov Sumsum” which is Sesame Street in Hebrew. I try to watch a little each week to help with my Hebrew. Before we leave Israel, I hope to purchase a few Disney movies since they come in Hebrew and English. I think the subtitles would be useful. Other than that, we continue to watch the movies that we brought. We went through a Star Wars phase and of course I brought all my Jane Austen movies to keep me busy whenever I have too much downtime. Oh right, we also do get some work done.

I know that it sounds like we watch TV a lot, but to be honest most days we only watch after dinner and most days we don’t eat dinner until 9 or 10 at night. Occasionally we will catch a cartoon in the middle of the day since they are short, but for the most part we only watch a little bit each day. It is a good way to help us relax from the work we have been doing. Then we usually read before bed since we love books way more than TV. I think I can leave books for another blog post however. 🙂

Until next time…
Allison

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2 Responses to Adventures with TV

  1. Evan Galatz says:

    I could definitely see why it could be frustrating not getting the stuff you want there. Its not because of international law that they don’t allow the streaming its copy right. Since they can’t copy right the content the same way in every country they don’t want to stream it, because they don’t want a flood of bootleg videos coming out of other countries.

    I have heard great things about Slingbox before…too bad it didn’t work for you guys.

    You can also look into iTunes, its not free but they go based on your credit card information, as far as I know. If you still have a US address on your card you can order and download through iTunes.

    Another option if you find this with more stuff is have a computer turned on in the US and use GoToMyPC to connect to it and then just stream that. It will be as if you are using a US computer from Israel.

    • Adam Gamzon says:

      Thanks for the tips, but as Alli said in the post, she worked with her brother to setup a system…so we’re all set. 🙂

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