Goodbye Popcorn Time

This experiment has come to an end


We started Popcorn Time as a challenge to ourselves. That’s our motto. That’s what we stand for.

Pochoclin our mascot

We are enormously proud of this project. It is the biggest thing we’ve ever achieved. And we’ve assembled an amazing team in the process, with people we love to work with. And to be honest, right now every single one of us has a knot in our stomachs. We love Pochoclín and everything it stands for, and we feel that we are letting our amazing contributors down. The ones who translated the app into 32 languages, some of which we weren’t even aware existed. We stand in awe at what open source community can do.

We are startup geeks, first and foremost. We read Techcrunch, Reddit and Hacker News. We got frontpaged in Hacker News twice. At the same time. We got articles on Time Magazine, Fast Company, TechCrunch, TUAW, Ars Technica, Washington Post, Huffington Post, Yahoo Finance, Gizmodo, PC Magazine and Torrent Freak, just to name a few. And we got some action on TV and Radio shows, and this doesn’t even include the many interviews we had to reject due to the barrage of media attention.

And they were not chastising us. They were cheering for us. We became the underdog that would fight for the consumer. Some people we respect -scratch that- some of our heroes spoke wonders of Popcorn Time, which is a lot more than what we wanted to get out of an experiment we threw together in a couple of weeks.

Popcorn Time as a project is legal. We checked. Four Times.

But, as you may know, that’s rarely enough. Our huge reach gave us access to a lot of people, from newspapers to the creators of many sites and apps that had a huge global reach. We learned a lot from these people, especially that standing against an old fashioned industry has it’s own associated costs. Costs that no one should have to pay in any way, shape or form.

You know what’s the best thing about Popcorn Time? That tons of people agreed in unison that the movie industry has way too many ridiculous restrictions on way too many markets. Take Argentina for example: streaming providers seem to believe that “There’s Something About Mary” is a recent movie. That movie would be old enough to vote here.

The bulk of our users is not in the US. It’s everywhere else. Popcorn Time got installed on every single country on Earth. Even the two that don’t have internet access.

Piracy is not a people problem. It’s a service problem. A problem created by an industry that portrays innovation as a threat to their antique recipe to collect value. It seems to everyone that they just don’t care.

But people do.

We’ve shown that people will risk fines, lawsuits and whatever consequences that may come just to be able to watch a recent movie in slippers. Just to get the kind of experience they deserve.

And maybe, that asking nicely for a few bucks a month to watch whichever movie you want is a bit better than that.

Popcorn Time is shutting down today. Not because we ran out of energy, commitment, focus or allies. But because we need to move on with our lives.

Our experiment has put us at the doors of endless debates about piracy and copyright, legal threats and the shady machinery that makes us feel in danger for doing what we love. And that’s not a battle we want a place in.

xoxo,

Pochoclín.

Goodbye!
Next Story — Adios Pochoclín
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Adios Pochoclín

Esto fue un experimento que llegó a su fin


Empezamos Popcorn Time como un desafío a nosotros mismos. Ese es nuestro lema. Es nuestro motor.

Pochoclin nuestra mascota

Estamos increíblemente orgullosos de este proyecto. Es nuestro mayor logro hasta ahora. Y formamos un equipo espectacular en el proceso, con gente con quien amamos trabajar. Y para ser sinceros, todos tenemos un nudo en el estómago. Amamos a Pochoclín y a todo lo que representa, y de alguna manera sentimos que estamos defraudando a nuestros geniales colaboradores. Estamos sorprendidos de todo lo que puede lograr la comunidad open-source.

Somos startup geeks. Siempre lo fuimos y siempre lo vamos a ser. Leemos Techcrunch, Reddit y Hacker News. Salimos en la portada de Hacker News dos veces. Al mismo tiempo. Escribieron sobre nosotros en Time Magazine, Fast Company, TechCrunch, TUAW, Ars Technica, Washington Post, Huffington Post, Yahoo Finance, Gizmodo, PC Magazine y Torrent Freak, sólo por nombrar algunos. Incluso tuvimos nuestro momento radial y televisivo, y esto ni siquiera incluye la cantidad de entrevistas que tuvimos que rechazar por el nivel de atención que recibimos.

Y no nos estaban reprimiendo. Nos estaban alentando. Nos convertimos en quienes lucharían por el consumidor. Algunas de las personas que más respetamos, nuestros ídolos hablaron maravillas de Popcorn Time, y eso solo ya es mucho más de que lo que esperábamos de este experimento que armamos en un par de semanas.

Como proyecto, Popcorn Time es legal. Lo verificamos. Cuatro veces.

Pero como muchos sabrán, pocas veces alcanza con eso. Por nuestro impacto tuvimos acceso a mucha gente, desde periodistas hasta creadores de sitios y apps de gran alcance. Aprendimos muchísimo de ellos, especialmente que enfrentarse a una industria tan tradicional y tratar de revolucionar un mercado tan grande tiene sus costos asociados. Costos que ninguna persona merece pagar.

¿Saben que es lo mejor de Popcorn Time? Muchísima gente expresó al unísono que la industria de las peliculas tiene demasiadas restricciones ridículas en demasiados mercados. En Argentina, los proveedores de servicios de streaming creen que “Loco por Mary” es una película reciente. Esa película es tan vieja que podría votar acá.

La mayoría de nuestros usuarios no son de USA. Son del resto del mundo. Popcorn Time fue instalado en todos los países de la Tierra. Incluso los dos que no tienen acceso a internet.

La piratería no es un problema de gente. Es un problema de servicio. Un problema creado por una industria que pinta a la innovación como una amenaza a su anticuada receta comercial. A todos les parece que directamente no les importa resolverlo.

Pero a la gente sí.

Demostramos que la gente va a arriesgarse a recibir multas, juicios y cualquier otra consecuencia para poder ver una película reciente en pantuflas. Sólo para obtener el tipo de experiencia que merecen.

Y tal vez, que cobrar una pequeña cuota mensual para ver cualquier película que quieras es un poco mejor que eso.

Popcorn Time va a cerrar hoy. No porque hayamos perdido la energía, dedicación, el foco o nuestros aliados. Sino porque necesitamos seguir con nuestras vidas.

Nuestro experimento nos puso a las puertas de los interminables debates de piratería y copyright, amenazas legales y la maquinaria oscura que nos hace sentir amenazados por hacer lo que amamos. Y esa no es una batalla en la que queramos estar.

Un beso,

Pochoclín.

Adios!
Next Story — About Popcorn Time
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About Popcorn Time

What we do, and more…


We started Popcorn Time as a challenge to ourselves. A group of geeks from Buenos Aires who wanted to see if they could create a better way to watch movies, and also give some new technologies a try. We scratched our own itch. We built a Beta and published it on Github to share it with the world and see if other people thought it was an interesting project.

We envisioned a better and simpler way to experience movies in a digital environment.

We didn’t expect the reaction we got at all. In less than a week Popcorn Time became one of the most watched repositories in GitHub (the largest open source community in the world), and quickly started building new releases. We did nothing more than throw a few links here & there and people voiced, in unison, that this was a product they’ve been wanting for a long time.

Then the media appeared.

We have to say we’re enormously proud of the reach Popcorn Time had, and how the enormous amount of feedback we received(and bug reports -we’re in beta, after all-), specially in countries where you can’t really find movies with ease. There are very few users in the US, for instance, since you can find amazing streaming services there, which makes downloading copyrighted material not worth the effort.

We believe we’ve demonstrated there’s a huge need for great streaming services, and the app ended up filling a niche other people refused to fill for a very long time.

We do get asked about the legality issue quite a lot. First of all, we check that our users understand there might be some legal issues in using the application, as they are downloading torrents, after all.

It’s in our best interest to also help facilitate the streaming of public domain content and other types of films and shows that doesn’t violate intellectual property right. We’d like to leave the ultimate content choice to you.

Popcorn Time doesn’t host any copyrighted content, the app is based in a decentralised model, working with services that already exist and are used daily by millions of people worldwide. We aren’t making any money or accepting donations with the project at the time, as we keep to our original intentions of just focusing Popcorn Time on a technology experiment to bring a simpler way to experience movies in a digital environment.

Anyone with some programming experience can modify and build Popcorn Time. We just put a beautiful UX and a great mascot and the community did the rest.

We would like thank the 50 contributors all around the world that help make this one of the best apps out there for streaming movies.

xoxo,
Pochoclín.

Next Story — All your memes are belong to us
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Such meme. Very wow. (Illustration by Harry Malt for The Washington Post)

All your memes are belong to us

The top 25 memes of the web’s first 25 years

By Gene Park, Adriana Usero and Chris Rukan

For more of The Web at 25, visit The Washington Post.

Memes didn’t begin with the Web, but you’d be forgiven for thinking so. The evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins coined the term in his 1976 book, “The Selfish Gene,” to describe something that already existed. A meme, from the Greek “mimeme” (to imitate) was “a unit of cultural transmission, or a unit of imitation.” This encompassed phenomena from Martin Luther’s “95 Theses” to the famous graffiti drawing “Kilroy Was Here,” which dates to the beginning of World War II.

But the Web has proved to be the most fertile ground, and the site Know Your Meme has confirmed more than 2,600 of them. Below, 25 definitive memes from the Web’s first 25 years.

[1] Dancing Baby

1996: Considered the granddaddy of Internet memes, the baby shuffling to Blue Swede’s “Hooked on a Feeling” filled inboxes and prime-time airwaves, appearing in several episodes of “Ally McBeal.” The file was originally included with early 3D software. LucasFilm developers modified it before it was widely shared, and it was finally compressed into one of the first GIFs.

[2] Hampster Dance

1998: Proving that GIFs were meant for stardom, a Canadian art student made a webpage with 392 hamster GIFs as a tribute to her pet rodent. The infectious soundtrack was a sped-up, looped version of “Whistle Stop” by Roger Miller.

[3] Peanut Butter Jelly Time

2001: A Flash animation featuring an 8-bit dancing banana, “Peanut Butter Jelly Time” became an Internet phenomenon in the early 2000s. The catchy song was written and performed by the Buckwheat Boyz, a rap group.

[4] All Your Base Are Belong to Us

2001: A meme that would echo across the gaming community for years to come, “All your base are belong to us” originated in a cut scene in the Japanese video game “Zero Wing.” The poorly translated quote has persisted as an Internet catchphrase.

[5] Star Wars Kid

2002: Arguably the first victim of large-scale cyberbullying, Ghyslain Raza unwillingly became a meme based on a video of him swinging a golf ball retriever as a weapon, reminiscent of Darth Maul in “Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.” It was an early sign that Internet privacy was not guaranteed for anyone.

[6] Spongmonkeys

2003: Before they became spokesthings for Quiznos, two singing Spongmonkeys catapulted to viral stardom after being featured in a newsletter for b3ta, an early link- and image-sharing site. Their opening line: “We like the moon.”

[7] Numa Numa

2004: The eyebrow lift. The arm pumping when the beat drops. The song (by Moldovan boy band O-Zone). Gary Brolsma, sitting at his desk, showed us all what it means to “dance like no one’s watching.”

[8] O RLY

2005: Originating on the community site 4chan, the wide-eyed owl was used to show sarcasm, becoming a precursor to other reaction memes.

[9] Chuck Norris Facts

2005: Chuck Norris was the Internet’s first “most interesting man in the world,” crowned the avatar for mythical men with impossible strength, attitude and swagger. “There is no theory of evolution,” as one “fact” says. “Just a list of creatures Chuck Norris allows to live.”

[10] I Can Has Cheezburger?

2007: Animal-based memes are a dime a dozen, but the “I Can Has Cheezburger” blog, whose mascot is a surprised, hungry British shorthair cat, brought them into the mainstream. The blog was created by Eric Nakagawa and Kari Unebasami.

Rickroll and Deal With It collide to form an uber-meme

[11] Rickroll

2007: Before there was clickbait, there was the Rickroll. Popularized on 4chan, the gag — springing a Rick Astley video on an unsuspecting victim — has appeared during a session of the Oregon legislature and even on the White House’s Twitter feed.

[12] Success Kid

2007: Based on a photo that Sammy Griner’s mother, Laney, posted to Flickr when he was 11 months old, the meme describes something that goes better than expected. In 2015, Sammy’s fame helped his family raise more than $100,000 to offset the costs of a kidney transplant for his father, Justin.

[13] Dramatic Chipmunk

2007: A simple, five-second video clip of a chipmunk — ahem, actually a prairie dog — suddenly turning its head, from the Japanese TV show “Hello Morning.” The maneuver is set to an exaggerated bit of music from 1974’s “Young Frankenstein.”

[14] Philosoraptor

2008: This portmanteau meme was an early example of an “advice animal,” depicting the vicious dinosaur deep in introspection, and pondering wordplay and life’s general paradoxes.

[15] Deal With It

2010: In this GIF, sunglasses slide onto a smug canine’s face. It was around as an emoticon on the SomethingAwful forums for a while, then became a meme when the site Dump.fm held a contest encouraging users to create their own versions, with sunglasses sliding onto various faces and objects.

[16] Hide Your Kids, Hide Your Wife

2010: “So y’all need to hide your kids, hide your wife and hide your husband ’cause they’re raping everybody out here,” Antoine Dodson emphatically told a TV reporter after an intruder attempted to assault his sister. The clip spread quickly on YouTube, leading to Auto-Tuned versions and remixes.

Nyanyanyanyanyanyanyare you going insane yet?

[17] Nyan Cat

2011: The combination of an animated 8-bit cat (originally dubbed “Pop-Tart Cat”) with the insanely catchy tune “Nyanyanyanyanyanyanya!” blew up on YouTube, becoming the site’s fifth-most-viewed video of 2011 and inspiring fan illustrations, designs and games.

[18] Ermahgerd

2012: Originally uploaded as “Gersberms . . . mah fravrit berks” and later “BERKS!,” the text superimposed on this meme mimics the garbled speech of a person with a retainer.

[19] Bad Luck Brian

2012: Takes goofy yearbook photo. Gets face plastered all over the Internet. His real name is Kyle Craven, and he’s Internet famous thanks to his friend Ian Davies, who uploaded the photo to Reddit with the text “Takes driving test . . . gets first DUI.”

[20] Grumpy Cat

2012: The original photo of Tardar Sauce (that’s her name) racked up 1 million views on Imgur in its first two days. The meme has since spawned books, a comic book, an endorsement deal with Friskies cat food and a made-for-TV Christmas movie, “Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever,” with Aubrey Plaza voicing Grumpy Cat.

[21] Ridiculously Photogenic Guy

2012: Uploaded to Reddit on April 3, the photo of the handsome runner quickly garnered 40,000 upvotes. Derivatives include Ridiculously Photogenic Metalhead, Ridiculously Photogenic Syrian Rebel, Ridiculously Photogenic Prisoner and Ridiculously Photogenic Running Back.

[22] Doge

2013: In February 2010, a kindergarten teacher in Japan uploaded pictures of Kabosu, her adopted shiba inu, to her personal blog, and a meme was born. It usually features broken English phrases in the comic sans font, representing an inner monologue.

[23] Crying Michael Jordan

2014: The basketball great got a little emotional during his 2009 Hall of Fame induction speech. Around 2014, meme-makers started using an Associated Press photo, superimposing Jordan’s face over failures of all sorts.

[24] Ice Bucket Challenge

2014: While the origins of this one are unclear — people have been doing cold-water challenges for years — the results weren’t. The ALS Association raised more than $100 million in a month, compared with $2.8 million over the same period the previous year.

[25] Left Shark

2015: During the Super Bowl XLIX halftime show, Katy Perry performed with two dancing sharks. One shark stuck to the routine. The other, well, did his own thing — and became an Internet sensation.

And if you’re not over memes like the Internet isn’t over Harambe, we’ve compiled a Spotify meme-themed playlist for you to follow and take with you on the go.

Did we miss your favorite internet meme? Tell us about it — and why it’s so great — in the comments.

Next Story — The Apple-Google shift
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The Apple-Google shift

In the last couple of years, two very distinct things have happened — or, to be more precise, been happening — in the world of consumer tech, in my opinion. A shift has occurred: Apple, once the definition of innovation, has become stale, content to rest on its laurels; while Google, once ugly and disparate, has continually pushed forward with new and better products that are a delight to use.

The result is two-fold: firstly, from a software perspective, Google-authored apps have all but replaced Apple’s defaults on my iPhone; secondly, for the first time ever, I find myself potentially choosing a Google phone over an Apple phone — a choice that represents not just a one-off hardware purchasing decision, but a first tentative step outside of Apple’s ecosystem and, as a result, a break in unashamed Apple fanboy-ism.

Okay, so I’m considering a switch to Android. No big deal. I’m following in the footsteps of many, many, many others. But what I find interesting outside of my own personal decision is that there seems to be a growing discontent with Apple — especially amongst former so-called fanboys/girls — and, at the same time, a growing appreciation of what Google have been doing, especially from a design perspective. In many ways it’s unwise to compare these two companies alone, but few would disagree that these days they’re the two sides of one coin.

So I thought I’d try and pick this apart. What’s actually changed?

It’s not that Apple no longer creates great products, but there’s just not that spark there anymore, is there? Remember when a new MacBook or iMac would launch? Or the iPhone? Or pretty much any new product? The buzz was palpable; the hype almost always justified. For years and years, Apple constantly innovated, whether it was with entirely new product lines or updates to existing ones, but recently everything has just felt a little… well, meh, hasn’t it?

Could this feeling because Apple is now so ubiquitous, no longer the underdog? Possibly. And could this be down to some very shrewd business decisions, with Apple deciding to refine and hone rather than experiment, as evidenced by the longer life cycles of designs for their phones and computers? Very likely.

But that doesn’t excuse recent product launches that have (again, in my opinion) fallen flat by their past standards. The MacBook? Well, it’s a lovely little machine (and I’m typing on it right now) and I even took a whole set of photos to capture its beautiful form, but time has revealed it to be irritating in many ways (the keys repeatedly get stuck, for instance, and the removal of a magnetic power connector is genuinely irritating). The Apple Watch? After the initial magic wore off, I came to the conclusion that it’s essentially useless — as did almost every other Apple Watch owner I’ve spoken to. The new Apple TV? A total lack of innovation — both from its previous version and the numerous offerings from competitors. New iPhones aren’t even exciting anymore.

In many ways, I wonder if this all started with the launch of iOS 7: although I was originally one of its supporters when it came out and enraged half the Apple-buying world, when I think about it these days, iOS still doesn’t really encourage interaction. It’s not about flat design versus skeuomorphic design; it’s more about how Apple laid the groundwork for what a great, minimal, mobile operating system could be… and then never really built upon those foundations. The same could be said of their camera technology. The iPhone camera’s noise reduction algorithm has ruined many a photo that would have benefitted from not being put through a paint-like Photoshop filter. Oh, and don’t even get me started on Apple Music. What a mess. Sure, it’s not a total failure from an interaction design point of view, but it’s a sub-par effort from a company that should really be far, far, far better than any other steaming music competitors. That Apple Music has been so successful is only down to the ecosystem they’ve cultivated — not because it offers a superior experience.

Then there’s just all the douche moves Apple has made again and again with proprietary connections — their decision to remove the headphone jack on the forthcoming new iPhone being the latest. All of this has added up to make even this most ardent of Apple fanboys start to question his allegiances.

And all the while this has been going on, Google — which, with each new product launch, whether software or hardware, has become even more of an Apple competitor — has continued to innovate; to make better versions of Apple’s own apps. (I don’t even need to mention Maps, do I? No? Good.) And from a design perspective, Google has well and truly grown up: Material Design offered a lot of promise when it was first announced, and in the time that’s passed since, it’s proven itself to be a strong framework for unifying a the company’s multiple software offerings. Sure, there are times when its incarnation feels a little templated and dry — Google Play Music, for example — and perhaps it’s easy to praise Google for their grown-up new looks when, until recent times, Google web apps were so damn ugly. (Remember how Gmail used to look? For a reminder of that less graceful era, look at the browser version of Google Calendar.) But the difficulty of creating a system that works in so many instances, both in terms of aesthetics and interaction, should not be underestimated.

Beneath all of these apps and interactions and aesthetics, there’s another layer of Google that has become so trusted: its infrastructure. Yes, I get the fears about our data being mined to show us more relevant ads, but who do I trust for reliable cloud syncing: Apple or Google? Who do I trust to backup and share my photo library: Apple or Google? Whose infrastructure do I trust for my emails, documents, calendars, and more: Apple or Google? Granted, the latter could be any service provider vs. Google, but the point is that Google’s infrastructure underpins so much of the internet and our daily lives, it often just doesn’t make sense to let someone else handle what we know Google can handle so well.

(At this point, i’m going to refrain from delving into lengthy praises of particular Google apps and services, but I do want to give a quick mention to the Google Calendar and Google Photos iOS apps. They’re so radically superior to Apple’s equivalents, I’d question anyone’s need to ever open those defaults again.)

All this is to say: if Google can be this good on a competitor’s operating system, how much better can it be in its own environment? This is the question that’s been gaining traction in my head recently.

Android used to be a poor man’s iOS, but it’s obviously grown a lot since then. Unfortunately, fragmentation is a problem that’s plagued Android from the very beginning and is probably the primary factor that’s never allowed me to take switching seriously, but here’s where it gets interesting: with Google making (via OEMs) its own Nexus hardware, it’s possible to use a vanilla version of Android, free of bloat from carrier-installed software. It also removes that weird you-can-only-use-this-particlar-version-of-Android thing that plagues Android phones made by other manufacturers, and, in doing so, puts Google on an evening playing field with Apple: control the hardware and you control the software.It just works.

So it’s this vision of Android — a Google phone in its purest form — that’s making me, and others, consider the switch. And with new Nexus phones rumoured to land (or at least be announced) very soon, the opportunity to do so might be just around the corner.

Or maybe not. The new iPhone is also due very soon. Maybe it’ll be amazing. Maybe it’ll be the best hardware and software combination that exists in the world. Maybe Apple’s core apps, services, and experiences that underpin the entire iOS / macOS / tvOS ecosystem will up their respective games and I’ll look back on this post as blasphemy.

But — sadly — I’m not sure that’s something the Apple of 2016 is capable of.

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