It all started when the hubby and I wanted to watch the pilot for Life On Mars. After realizing that I did not set the TiVo for the pilot (likely due to our excitement over the Supernatural episode that evening), we had no worries, for we could catch it online at our leisure.
After all, we’ve done it many times before. Our outmoded DirectTV receiver earlier in the year kept screwing up during ABC broadcasts and ruining our Lost recordings. We went to ABC.com, selected the full episodes list, clicked on the episode we eagerly wanted to check out and…nothing. No warnings, no errors, no nothing.
Given that both the hubby and I are Information Technology professionals, we did what any normal geeks would do. We sought answers on the Internet. Surely we weren’t the only people having this problem. Sadly, we found we weren’t. After swarming through pages and pages of similar complaints on the ABC.com boards, there were no answers.
I'm Getting To The Bottom Of This
Leave it up to me to dig in for the rest of the evening and go into my technical troubleshooting mode. I built a long and successful career on finding issues with applications as a Software Quality Engineer and I wasn’t about to be deterred. After all, I’m running the most common setup out there. Windows Vista with the Internet Explorer (IE) 7.0 browser.
It wasn’t long before I found that the new HD player that ABC.com recently implemented is provided by a company called Move Networks. Their player needed to be downloaded and for some reason that download wasn’t happening. I looked on my list of programs and found I already had a Move media player installed. I guess ABC.com didn’t see that.
No problem, I know what to do in those situations. Delete and reinstall. Using the Windows Vista uninstall programs utility, I removed the media player and went back to ABC.com. That prompted something! I was now given the option to install the player, which I did. I selected the pilot again, the commercial played, it got to the episode and…nothing. This time it was a white swirly thing that wouldn’t stop.
One Google search on Move Networks later and I found they also provide the players for The CW and Fox. I went to those sites to play videos and got the same problem. This was especially troubling for me since Supernatural on The CW is my favorite show and I need my regular Winchester fix. Fox is a non-issue though because their stuff is also on the very much working Hulu.com.
My search then found a set of troubleshooting checklists provided by Move networks and other miscellaneous advice from some techie forums. I chose to use CWTV.com as my test site since ABC’s is too cumbersome and clunky. This is where the real fun began (for a weird techie anyway).
I checked if I had the latest version of Adobe Flash. Yes I did, but I uninstalled the player and reinstalled to be sure. That didn’t help. I then checked if I had the latest version of Java. Nope, so I downloaded the updated version and installed that. Same problem. I cleared all the cache on my IE Browser, irritating me to no end because then I had to retype in all my passwords at the various Web sites I frequent. Same problem. I found cookies were being blocked, so I enabled them through my IE security settings for the ABC, CW and Move Network sites. The blocked cookies message at the bottom went away, but the video still didn’t play.
I found to link to check if I had the proper high speed bandwidth (since video streaming is not dial-up friendly). Yep, I had plenty. I tried the video initialization test on the Move Networks site. That test didn’t play videos either and didn’t give me any reason why. I turned off the pop-up blockers. Nothing. I even got reckless enough to try their completely implausible suggestion of turning off anti-virus. Still no video, so I immediately turned that back on.
I then read a suggestion that my Internet Service Provider could be blocking the transmissions. By this time, I had also tested this on my old Windows XP laptop (where the videos used to work) and my husband’s PC and got the same results. That suggestion actually seemed plausible. So while away one weekend, I tried the sites with a different service provider. Same problem.