At Home with Tech

It’s time to maximize the potential of all your gadgets.

Tag: UltraViolet Digital Copy

How to Get Your Digital Download of “Frozen”

This disc shouldn’t greet you when you open up your new “Frozen Collector’s Edition” case.  If there aren’t eleven alphanumeric characters slipped into the insert tab, you can’t get the digital download.  But there is another way…

This disc shouldn’t greet you when you open up your new “Frozen Collector’s Edition” case. If there aren’t eleven alphanumeric characters slipped into the insert tab, you can’t get the digital download. But there is another way…

A few weeks back, my four-year-old son spontaneously started singing the Oscar winning, hit song “Let it Go” from the Disney movie blockbuster “Frozen.”

It was a something of a curiosity, because he’d not seen the movie.
(He must have heard the music somewhere.)

So I downloaded the peppy tune in iTunes while he was in the other room and conducted a little experiment…

I began playing it loud enough for him to hear, and sure enough, I heard him begin to sing along…

“Let it go…! Let it go…”

Yep… he really liked that song.

So I decided to buy the whole movie for him.
It felt like an obvious next step.
Plus, it won the Oscar for best animated feature film and
has become the top-grossing animated film in box office history.

(All that said, I was still a little concerned about “Frozen’s” PG rating.
Though I figured… hey, it’s Disney.
Plus, I’d screen it myself first…)

He hadn’t seen it when it came out in the theaters last year, because he wasn’t quite old enough yet to hit the movie multiplex.
(We’ll probably ease into that multimedia milestone with him later this year.)

Say “Yay!” for Digital Downloads
I still like buying Blu-ray Discs that also provide a digital download option from iTunes. That gives me lots of flexibility in choosing how I (we) watch the flick, and I’m willing to pay a little more for the packaged deal.

The problem is the movie studios are making it increasingly difficult to ‘own’ your digital copy and house the file within the confines of your physical kingdom.

Instead, they’d much prefer you park it in their ‘cloud.’
So they’ve developed their own cloud-based streaming services like UltraViolet.

I ran into this problem a while back when I was looking to buy
“The Dark Knight Returns.”

I didn’t want to open up a whole new complicated relationship with UltraViolet.
I just wanted to have “The Dark Night Returns” in iTunes and be done with it…

(I eventually abandoned my quest for a disc and just downloaded the movie on iTunes.)

Supersize My Movie
But when shopping for “Frozen” on Amazon, I noticed deep in the small print a vague ‘mention’ of iTunes as a download option.

I scoured the photo of the Blu-ray Disc box and saw no mention of UltraViolet.
(though there is ‘Disney Movies Anywhere’)

So I figured Disney hadn’t gone completely over to the Dark Side, even though they now totally own it.

So I took a chance…
I bought the “Frozen Collector’s Edition” on Amazon for 25 bucks.
Not such a great bargain… but at least it contained the Blu-ray Disc, a DVD, plus the coveted digital copy…

The file would also come in handy for pre-screening in bits and pieces while on the go.
(Not sure I would have 102 minutes to commit to this task all at once)

Where’s my Digital Copy of “Frozen?”
“Frozen” arrived in its non-descript Amazon brown box, and I eagerly slit it open, ready to extract the magic of Disney from the corporeal disc into my iTunes library.

Next, I snapped open the plastic case….

Inside, I saw an insert promoting the wonders of and how to get the original motion picture soundtrack for only $7 with the attached Magic Code.
(Okay… a little ‘upselling’… nothing wrong with that.)

I kept looking.
But it was not there.

There was no code for the digital download!
That insert was missing.

(That’s a real bummer.)

Hey, Disney…
How did that little detail get missed?!
For me, that’s as bad as forgetting to put the disc in the case!

Let it go?

In Search of the Missing Code
You’re supposed to go to Disney’s Digital Copy Plus site to redeem your code.
So I figured there must be a help section somewhere.
And indeed I found an email address to send along my complaint and a specific page documenting what I needed to provide to receive a replacement code.
(I guess I’m not the first to encounter this problem.)

And believe me…It was no small task finding all the requested numbers tattooed all over the box and disc.
Here’s what you need to provide to legitimize your request for a code:

  • 6-digit stock number
  • -Disc artwork number
  • -UPC number

So I wrote down all the digits, checked it all twice and sent off my cry for help to Disney…

“We are Happy to Assist You”
The next day I received what seemed to be an automated response.
“Thank You For Contacting Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment!”
The email was so perky, I half-expected Mickey Mouse to jump out of my screen…

But buried deep in Disney’s message were eleven random alphanumeric characters.

That was it!

But my joy was tempered by the next paragraph:

“Since Digital Copy activation codes are subject to expiration, we highly suggest using the above code as soon as possible.”

Disney has giveth.
And Disney may taketh away…

I took the warning to heart.
No dillydallying…

Enter the Code
So I copied and pasted the code into the yellow box and waited.
I watched the next URL seemingly struggle to load.
It was as if I had activated some massive back-end protection protocol to ensure I was not scamming Disney.
I thought I sensed a black ops chopper hovering overhead and a thermal scan permeating the room.
(No, it was just the cat purring in the corner.)

But I had the code.
Disney gave me the code!!
This should be straightforward, right?

Guess what?
It was.

The next page finally loaded…
“Success! Your code has been redeemed.”

I was then directed to iTunes and “Frozen” began to download.
(deep sigh)

Don’t Let It Go!
The freeze had ended.
Order was restored in the Lester household.
(though nobody else really knew there was a problem)

And it was finally time to watch the movie!

I will say as annoyed I was with having to go through this unnecessary dance, Disney was pretty quick to resolve the problem.

And coincidentally, the closing lyrics to “Let It Go” seem a fitting end to today’s adventure at home with tech…

“Here I stand
In the light of day
Let the storm rage on…”

At Home with Tech – The Year in Review

How about 50 Tech Tips for my 50th post to kick off the New Year? Let’s begin!

How about 50 Tech Tips for my 50th post to kick off the New Year? Let’s begin!

We’ve covered a lot of ground this year!
And what have we learned in our quest to keep our digital gears spinning at home?
The trek is never over.
But the journey doesn’t have to be so confusing.

That said, it’s time for my year in review!
Here are my 50 tech tips to take with you into the New Year:

50 At Home with Tech Tips

What’s Your Backup Plan?
#1 – Technology is a Tool That Will Eventually Turn on You
That T-800 with your name is never far away.
So don’t get complacent.

It Got Cloudy
#2 – Happily, There’s Life After MobileMe
If you want to share your photos online, use Flickr.
For your home videos, use YouTube or Vimeo.
If you need to share some files, then go with Dropbox.

Date Night and the 42” Plasma
#3 – Without Planning, You Can’t Guarantee a Good Date Night Movie at Home
(Even with full access to Cable TV, Netflix DVDs/Streaming, Apple TV, Roku, and Blockbuster!)

My Mission for the Perfect Picture
#4 – Taking an Amazing Photo Is Often Just an Accident
Embrace your accidents! And keep taking lots of pictures. It’s free.
Statistics are in your favor.

The IT Guy is in the Doghouse
#5 – Don’t Try to Win the Battle with Older Tech
Your tech is only as strong as its weakest link.
Enough said.

Your Shoebox Vs. the Cloud
#6 – Print an Annual Photo Book of Your Life
Otherwise, your best photos will get lost in the quagmire of your photo glut.
Time is your enemy.

I Am a Road Warrior
#7 – When a Tech Door Closes, Look for a Window to Open
My cable company locked down its box, which shut off my mobile media viewing on my portable DVD player. Then, streaming cable content on my iPhone became available through services like HGO Go.
Go figure.

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility
#8 – Just Because You Know How to Make Someone Younger in a Photo Doesn’t Mean You Should
My digital moral code says don’t mess with someone’s CDI.
(The Core Digital Integrity of a person’s image).

Please Rate This Product…or Else
#9 – No Product Ever Gets a Perfect Score Online
You’ve got no choice but to rely on Tech Group Think.

Is it Time to Stockpile Light Bulbs?
#10 – New Tech Light Bulbs Cost $50!
Thank The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.
It says incandescent bulbs aren’t cutting it anymore and need to be 25% more efficient or else.
The solution? Pricey LED Bulbs.
The new darling ‘A Bulb’ by Philips launched with a steep $50 price tag.

The Art of Inaction, Part 1
#11 – The Tao of Total Tech Caution Says Don’t Upgrade Unless You Absolutely Have To
That also means never buy the first of anything.

The Art of Inaction, Part 2
#12 – Remember the Software Update Button
When you finally upgrade to a new operating system months after the rest of the world, don’t forget to immediately check Software Update.
Otherwise, gremlins will show up!

Parental Omniscience for only $24.95
#13 – You Can Have X-ray Vision Through Your Smart Phone
An Eye-Fi wireless memory card + a Flickr Pro account, + Flickr’s iPhone app = The power to almost instantly see photos of my lad’s adventures wherever I am.

Loving the Loser Light Bulb
#14 – Don’t Spend $50 on the Lexus of New LED Bulbs
Go with the runner up bulb for $15- Philips’ AmbientLED!

Joe and the End of Your World
#15 – If Your Coffee Mug Spills Near Your Computer, Game Over
Buy the HotJo Stoneware Wide Base Travel Mug.
(It’s pear-shaped!)

Living in the Amazon and Loving It
#16 – Amazon Prime Is the Best $79 You Will Ever Spend
Amazon to the rescue…
Every day!

Taming the Evil Work BlackBerry
#17 – It’s Okay to Turn Into a Pumpkin
Choose a time to stop responding to work emails on nights and weekends.
Everyone is supposed to catch some Z’s at some point.

Cancel the Cable TV Mutiny
#18 – 50,000 Free Hot Spots Coast to Coast
The cable industry announced it will share metro Wi-Fi services throughout the nation.
Now we’re talking!

Saying “Sleep Tight from 5,000 Miles Away
#19 – When Traveling Internationally, Keep Your Smartphone Connected on the Cheap with Skype
Buy a Skype Online Number plus a $2.99/month Unlimited US and Canada plan.

The Price of Staying Connected
#20 – Skype Video Can Work on 3G (4G) If the Signal Is Strong Enough

At Home without Tech
#21 – The Digital Sisyphus Always Looms
Do you fear being at home without tech?
Fear is a great motivator. And so is a deadline.
Do your Apple software upgrades or suffer the consequences.

Laptop Time Machine
#22 – Your Laptop Really Is a Time Portal!
The tether of your social media connections remains long after you’ve moved on.
Today’s younger generation will never experience completely losing touch with old friends for decades.

Remembering MobileMe
#23 – Life Isn’t Easy. Why Should Your Virtual Existence Be Any Different?
The marketing gurus say moving your email to iCloud is so easy even a child can do it.
I say you’d better have a child around to show you how.

I Sold My Soul to the Digital Devil
#24 – Final Cut Pro X Claims to End the Era of Pesky Transcoding
Yes, FCP X will grudgingly edit your camera’s native H.264 MOV files without you first having to transcode them.

High Tide at Grand Central
#25 – My Favorite New York Minute of the Day!

Singing the Blu-ray Blues
#26 – It’s Painful, but Stick with Blu-ray Disks
Here are five reasons:
-The downloadable copy
-The extras come with extra extras
-DVD Player, Say hello to VHS Player in the attic
-Owning atoms instead of bytes

The Joy of Shopping at Midnight in your Underwear
#27 – Unless You’re Out of Toilet Paper,
Online Shopping Is the Way to Go!

Who’s got time to waste traveling to the mall, hoping they’ll have what you need and then waiting in a long line?

GPS Jane
#28 – Garmin Nuvi Loses to My iPhone During Their GPS Smackdown
(Probably still holds true even after Apple’s ‘Map-Gate’ debacle)

Going Batty Buying Movie Music
#29 – It’s Almost Impossible to Purchase the Complete Soundtrack for
“The Dark Knight Rises”
I found at least five bonus tracks available across two sales channels.
Holy Complex Marketing Scam, Batman!

Five Tips to Rescue your Best Summer Family Photos
#30 – Brutally Choose Your Best Photos and Leave the Rest Behind
The more vacation pictures you bring home to clog up your computer, the smaller the odds are you’ll actually share any of your best photos with family and friends.
Your only chance is to quickly find the few gems and forget the rest.

My iPad Doesn’t Brake for Flash
#31 – Apple’s Mobile Devices Don’t Use Adobe Flash Player
Now, Adobe has removed its Flash Player from the Google Play store, which is the beginning of the end for Android and BlackBerry PlayBook owners.

My New Area Code Twists My Tech-Dentity
#32 – Skype Online Numbers Let You Choose Your Area Code!
Now, you too can be a New Yorker without moving out of the ‘burbs…

My Laptop Battery Got Pregnant
#33 – Don’t be Surprised If the Lithium-Ion Battery In Your Old Apple Laptop Turns Into the Hulk
Mine did. After some research in the X-Files, I realized I was not alone.

I Don’t Know How to Install my Wireless IP Camera, Part 1
#34 – This Journey Can Break Anyone’s Tech Zen
I had no choice but to continue on and risk ‘tech-tastrophe.’

I Don’t Know How to Install my Wireless IP Camera, Part 2
#35 – My Winning Tech Death Match Against the Foscam
Wireless IP Camera

(model FI8910W)

Ode to iPhone 5
#36 – My 4S Contract Says It’s Not Yet Time to Upgrade
Instead, write a poem!

Epson Multifunction Printer Vs. Multi-Talented Toddler
#37 – In the Hands of Baby McGyver, the Evil Power of the Penny Will Destroy Your Printer
Time to look for a new one on sale.

All I Want is to Have my Peace of Mind and Cloud Storage
#38 – You Need a Backup Cloud Solution
For total peace of mind you should create a copy of your precious home media offsite.
I went with the CrashPlan+ Unlimited one-year plan.

How to Rescue your iPhone Voicemail
#39 – Use an Old Analog Mini Audio Plug and Audacity Software
Rerecord your messages and save your visual voicemail onto your computer as AIFF audio files.

My Cable Box Blurred my Political View
#40 – Don’t Press the “#” on Your Cablevision DVR Remote Control. Ever.
Don’t lean on it. Don’t point at it. Don’t look at it.
You’re welcome.

How to Fix Your Broken Email
#41 – Use Connection Doctor
It will tell you if you’ve got the right incoming and outgoing mail server settings.
Then listen for the happy ‘Whoosh’ or ‘Ping!’

Fighting the Digital Darkness after Hurricane Sandy
#42 – MiFi Can Repair Your Broken Tech Bubble
If your smartphone has a signal, and you’ve got some power at home,
a MiFi mobile hotspot generator will get the rest of your tech back in business.

How to Lose Your Email while Upgrading from Entourage to Outlook
#43 – Moving to Outlook for Mac 2011 Shouldn’t Be Hands-Off
After loading it, you’ve then got to copy all your email over from Entourage!
And if you’re not careful, you’ll create unwanted duplicates from your mail server and then accidentally purge your entire email archive. (like me)
Check the settings first!

I Got Lost While on Safari 6.0.2
#44 – Safari Has Received Some Significant ‘Upgrades’
Get used to the Google URL OMNIBAR.

Best Digital Cameras to Capture Your Speedy Toddler
#45 – Buy Last Year’s Canon PowerShot S100 at a Great Discount
I also got the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM lens to upgrade my old Canon T1i DSLR.

The Beginner’s Guide to Editing Your Camera’s Video Clips
#46 – There’s Nothing Like a Deadline to Push Your Video to Completion!
Shoot some video. Edit it. And distribute the magic. All in one day!
I took the challenge and quickly created a little finished flick from my father-and-son outing to Stepping Stones Museum.

Holiday Gift Guide for Home Tech
#47 – Nine Winning Tech Gifts for Anytime of Year!

Blinded by the UltraViolet Promise in Your New Blu-ray Movie
#48 – UltraViolet Streaming Has Replaced Free iTunes Downloads on
Blu-ray Disks

This bait-and-switch has only further destabilized my commitment to physical discs.

What Photomosaic Software is Best?
#49 – Download cf/x Photo Mosaic v 2.0 for $29.99 From the Mac App Store
Become the new family Picasso!

#50 – Keep Blog Posts Short.
(I’m working on it!)

Happy New Year!
(And I wish you much ‘Tech Clarity’ in 2013!)

Blinded by the UltraViolet Promise in Your New Blu-ray Movie

That bonus UltraViolet digital copy in the Blu-ray Disk or DVD isn’t all it’s stacked up to be.

That bonus UltraViolet digital copy in the Blu-ray Disc or DVD isn’t all it’s stacked up to be.

You look at your holiday shopping list and have miles to go before you sleep.
Tick tock.

You start to panic, and your brain defaults to A.G.M. Syndrome (average gift mode):

  • Tie.
  • Bottle of wine
  • Scented candle
  • Pair of gloves
  • Inflatable turkey

If you find yourself caring more about the gift receipt than the gift, you know you’re in trouble.

You start to sweat.
And then you have a momentary flash of genius. (low wattage)
How about gifting a movie?
Everyone likes a good movie!
Bingo. Buy the DVD!

(Add this shopping strategy to my Holiday Gift Guide for Home Tech.)

And while you’re at it, you can do the
“One for you/One for me” chant to catch up on all the recent blockbuster flicks.

A few suggestions:

  • “The Dark Knight Rises”- Satisfactorily completes the trilogy
  • “Marvel’s The Avengers”- #1 at the box office this year. How can you go wrong?
  • “Thor”- Shakespeare meets Marvel Comics, and it works big time!
  • “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows”- not as good as the first, but a lot of great sequences.

But before you whip out your credit card, a word of warning…
(All right… maybe a few words)

The Ball and Chain of Blu-ray
When I say DVD, I’m really talking about Blu-ray Discs.

So I married into the Blu-ray promise (Singing the Blu-ray Blues) a few years back when I bought an LG Blu-ray Disc player for my 42” Panasonic plasma screen, and in a moment of tech insanity also procured a Panasonic portable Blu-ray Disc player for my train commute.

I know. I know-
What’s the point of watching a glorious Blu-ray image on a tiny screen?
(I still got a great deal on Amazon.)

The ball and chain of Blu-ray was securely fastened when I switched my Netflix settings to all Blu-ray all the time.

So I guess I’m committed to Blu-ray for the time being.

Living the Dream with Blu-ray?
But these days, it’s hard stick with one technology for long.
And I’ve found I’ve already wandered.
Like others, I enjoy the simplicity of having movies to watch on my iPhone or iPad.
The digital copy’s the thing.

Digital downloading via iTunes, right?
Lots folks do the movie deal with iTunes, and they’re happy.

Not so fast, partner.

Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer having the physical Blu-ray Disc to come home to every day. It feels like it will always be there for me.
Media on a hard drive always has the potential to evaporate when the drive decides to stop spinning.

Plus I want all those Blu-ray extras.

Sure, there’s iTunes Extra with bonus content for some of the movies you download, but that doesn’t seem to be as beefy as all the bonus content available on discs.

Having my Cake and Eating it too
So when I buy my Blu-ray Discs, I also look for the version that contains the bonus digital copy as well.
Then I’m covered for all possibilities-
I can watch my movies on my Plasma TV on the weekends and on my iPhone during the weekday train commute.

Usually the digital file isn’t physically on the disc.
Instead, you get an iTunes code for a free download.
How civilized.

If I dare say, it nears perfection.

Of course when humanity nears that condition, someone’s got to mess things up.

UltraViolet’s the Bomb
The movie industry got a bright idea back in 2010.
Hey, what if you didn’t have to download your movies anymore?
That’s such a pain. Right?
Plus we hate Apple getting all that business.
And we’d really prefer you not have that digital copy that you could suddenly decide to use illegally.

What if you could simply go to the Cloud and stream all of your movies up in that happy place we control?

Yeah, baby.
This is gonna change everything!

And UltraViolet was born.

UVVU Redemption StickerThe Promise of UltraViolet
The promise is this…
When you buy your DVD or Blu-ray movie, instead of also having a digital copy or a free iTunes movie download code, you get an UltraViolet (UVVU) digital copy!

You used to get a digital copy.
Now you can stream an UltraViolet digital copy.
That sounds better, right?

Conceptionally, UVVU is a digital locker in the Cloud where your movies are stored.
In reality, you’re simply accessing your licensing rights to stream a movie.
You’re actually getting nothing.

Once you do the UVVU deal, you can ‘always’ access the movie in the Cloud and stream it on any of your connected screens.
(Up to 12 registered devices, which should be plenty!)

Boo Hoo with UVVU
There are a few big reasons why a lot of users are unhappy with UVVU.

It’s Complicated
Different movie studios have their own UltraViolet login sites to authorize your movie purchase. It’s not one-stop shopping.
Plus, you’ve then got to use a separate delivery service like
Flixter or Vudu to play your movies.

The overall experience is not as elegant as simply using iTunes.

Owning vs. Licensing
Your rights to streaming your movies don’t expire… or do they?

Here’s the fine print on UVVU:
“Streaming of a given title from the selling UltraViolet Retailer more than a year after its purchase, or at any time via Streaming Services other than the selling UltraViolet Retailer, may incur fees and if so any such fees would be presented to the consumer in advance of streaming titles, with the consumer having the option to accept the fees or not use that Streaming Service.”

Guaranteed free streaming for only one year!

Uhhh… isn’t that a deal breaker right there?
Would you rather own a digital file forever for no additional cost or license it for free for just a year?


Streaming Limits
The whole UltraViolet deck of cards relies on a healthy web connection.
You need to be tethered to a cable or strong Wi-Fi link to actually stream anything.

That’s fine when you’re at home, but what about when you’re on the go?
Sure you can stream through your smart phone’s data plan, but if you have a plan with limits, that can quickly become expensive.

And what if you’re on a plane or a commuter train travelling through spotty coverage?

Sorry Charlie.

Can you Download?
Yes, there is a download option for Apple and Android devices, which you can then watch on a Flixter app, but
UltraViolet really doesn’t integrate with iTunes and the Apple ecosystem.
(What an inconvenient coincidence.)

UltraViolet is Killing my Joy
I’m not alone. UltraViolet’s reviews are mixed at best.

Personally, I’ve really got no interest in slogging through the UltraViolet setup workflow.
But an increasing number of studios have switched to UltraViolet for their digital copy solution.

What’s a movie lover to do?

For now, I’ll continue to seek out non-UltraViolet packaging with my Blu-ray purchases, but I expect to be disappointed.

UltraViolet Combo PackCase in point-
Both “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” and “The Dark Knight Rises” are currently on my Blu-ray shopping list to add to my tool kit
as a Road Warrior on Metro North.
But, of course, these Blu-ray Discs are only available with the UltraViolet option.

Good Bye Blu-ray too?
So unhappily, I’ve got a choice in front of me.
I’m already on the fence with Blu-ray, because of my current priorities leaning towards portable viewing.
This UltraViolet debacle has only further destabilized my commitment to disc.

Maybe it’s time to say goodbye to Blu-ray and embrace an all-digital HD media library.
One that lives happily on home soil.
Not only up in the Cloud.

And for me, that still means with iTunes.
(I’m sure the movie studios’ market research didn’t predict this reaction!)

The Blip
But hey, I guess I’m just an atypical consumer who illogically wants convenience and simplicity when using purchased media with my home tech.
(and legally, I might add)

A statistical aberration I am.
A blip.

But seriously, this does eliminate the option of gifting DVD/Blu-ray Discs for Barrett.
Sorry, Loving Wife.

The good news is I’ve got a three-word solution.
iTunes gift card.

As a favorite high-school math teacher of mine was fond of saying-
(Quite Easily Done!)

And while I’m thinking of acronyms, I’ve got another one for our movie studios-
Beware the Blips.

There are a lot more of us than you think…

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