How Boxee Saved Our Thanksgiving (And How The Jets Ruined It)

Due to the fact that we are homeless in NYC on account of Sandy, the Gotham Gal decided to take her Thanksgiving on the road this year, out to our beach house on the east end of long island. It was a great idea and starting on wednesday afternoon, our entire family and some friends made the pilgrimage out east to celebrate Thanksgiving at the beach.

But when we arrived wednesday evening we found at that Sandy had an impact on our beach house too, specifically the DirecTV satellite dish was out of whack. I guess I should have thought about that but I didn't. Of course, getting a DirecTV technician out to our beach house on Thanksgiving day was not going to happen. But Thanksgiving without football? That is downright unamerican!

So I went for plan B. Time to hack the NFL. Here's how I did it with the help of Boxee's new Boxee TV product.

I have a Boxee TV in my USV office which gets all the broadcast channels in NYC in HD. Via the Boxee TV's cloud service, I can get all of those channels on my laptop anywhere I am. So I was able to get the three football games yesterday on my laptop.

We also happen to have an AppleTV in our beach house. So with airplay mirroring from my laptop to the AppleTV, I was able to get the games from my laptop to the big screen in our family room at the beach.

Here's how it looked from the warmth and comfort of the family room couch yesterday afternoon as the Gotham Gal and her sister Susan were cooking up a storm in the kitchen:

Boxee tv at the beach

This all worked out great until the Jets played the Patriots last night. That was awful to watch. I turned it off at halftime. I am embarassed to be a Jet fan this morning.


Comments (Archived):

  1. Carl Rahn Griffith

    Cool.I feel like that most weekends, lately, re: Sheffield Wednesday – we are experiencing a bit of a ‘bad patch’ as they say – one that’s going on, and on, and on. And on. At this rate will be a return to awful League One next season, and not – at last – the Premiership. Just to stay in the Championship would be a relief.Anyway, most importantly, great to hear that (football apart) you all had a lovely time.(We stopped going to SWFC matches not just because we couldn’t afford to, but also even when we had the spare cash the games frustrated me so much that Helen understandably got p*ssed off that my post-match mood ruined much of the rest of Saturday!).As you say, sometimes it is better to just switch off. Discretion being the better part of valour, etc… ;-)Have a Great Long Weekend! Sensibly, a long way from shops and Black Friday madness.

    1. Donna Brewington White

      Makes spending the day in the kitchen seem like not such a bad thing after all.

      1. Carl Rahn Griffith

        Indeed. And that’s what I now do most Saturdays, Donna – making bread/whatever 😉

    2. fredwilson

      I am sorry about the SWFC. I enjoyed our visit to see them play very much.

      1. Carl Rahn Griffith

        Ditto. I think it was the pre-match fish-finger sandwich that sealed it for you, Fred ;-)We will take you again when we are back in the Premiership 🙂

    3. jason wright

      Monday’s child is fair of faceTuesday’s child is full of grace,Wednesday’s child is full of woe,Thursday’s child has far to go,Friday’s child is loving and giving,Saturday’s child works hard for a living,But the child who is born on the Sabbath DayIs bonny and blithe and good and gayI recommend a name change. Take your pick Carl.

      1. falicon

        “Monday had a sad childAlways feeling low down,Tuesday had a dream childShe’s always on the goNow I’m in love with Saturday’s childShe drives me wildGonna spend my timeMakin’ sure that Saturday’s child is mine.”Saturday’s Child by the Monkees … good stuff! 😉

        1. Carl Rahn Griffith

          Love/d The Monkees. Was obsessed with the TV show as a kid. Great memories. Associated to them and their music more so than The Beatles!

          1. falicon

            As a kid I watched every episode as well (reruns for me though)…and as a kid I liked them more than the Beatles too. As I got older I learned to love the Beatles more and more, but my love and fandom for the Monkees remains…For reasons I can’t fully explain…this is still one of my favorite songs of all time ->… (this probably is *very* telling of my true personality)

          2. Carl Rahn Griffith

            Lol, not heard that for years – love it!My childhood favourite – and one I still am known to sing when a bit ‘merry’ – is this oddball Bowie number, below – quite what it says of my personality I wouldn’t wish to speculate! ;-)…Apparently, when I am in singalong mood pretty much every song I sing sounds like Bowie is trying to sing it. I’ll take that as a compliment!Lol, just been reminded of the brother’s name – couple of minutes in.;-)

          3. falicon

            Nice! When I’m in a signalong mood pretty much every song I sing sounds like cats are dying…

          4. Wavelengths

            Yep. Here in AVC-land I learn something new every day. Carl, you are sooooo multidimensional.

        2. Wavelengths

          Now? …Dog and I had turkey together. Didn’t watch any of those games. Watching gladiator stuff on DVD. We probably had a better time that some of you. 🙂

      2. Carl Rahn Griffith

        QED! lol.

  2. Donna Brewington White

    Where there is a will there is a way. And having the right technology helps.Although not sure if that applies to the Jets.

    1. fredwilson

      There wasn’t much will on display last night

  3. Mark Birch

    The Jets are beyond terrible this year…

  4. RichardF

    Love hacks, what was the quality on screen like and was there any lag

    1. fredwilson

      The quality was quite good but there was a lag

  5. jason wright

    apple tv and thanksgiving. pagan devil worship.

    1. ShanaC

      started by puritans!

      1. Wavelengths

        Oy veh!

      2. jason wright

        Steve Jobs was a puritan? Explains a lot.

  6. takingpitches

    We need wholesale change – GM, Rex, QB.We need even more than that – I wish we could make Woody sell the team.The fact that he went after Tebow in the off season says it all in my book.

    1. Aaron Klein

      Say what you will about Tim Tebow, but I don’t think he’s ever fumbled the ball by running into another player’s butt. 😉

      1. PhilipSugar

        They’re calling that the bum-ble

        1. Aaron Klein


      2. takingpitches

        haha – agree.Sanchez is terrible, and particularly so, because he has talent and won’t get better. He is babied and/or has little work ethic.My point about Tebow was an indictment of Johnson. Interested in the back pages, instead of improving the team.I give props to Tebow for finding a way to win. For his sake too, I wish he went somewhere else where he could get PT and continue to improve.

        1. Aaron Klein

          Totally agree. Tebow isn’t the silver bullet for the Jets and needs more development, but he has talent, spirit and the will to win.I predict he’s going to make a great entrepreneur after he retires.

          1. takingpitches

            Excellent prediction!

    2. fredwilson

      i could not agree more with you

  7. Dave Pinsen

    Felt bad for the Jets and their fans watching that. Don’t think I’d ever seen a QB run face mask-first into one of his linemen’s asses before.

    1. takingpitches

      That was the first time I have seen that too. Don’t think I have seen 3 tds in 53 seconds either.

      1. Dave Pinsen

        The Edelman fumble recovery for a TD was something crazy too. What a grab on the fly.

        1. bsoist

          If it weren’t the Pats, I would have been glad I got to see that play.

        2. takingpitches

          Yep. Edelman was a good fantasy pickup, so at least that was a slight hedge on real-life disappointment.

    2. bsoist

      I love how Chris Collingsworth kept giving credit for that to Wilford. From where I was sitting ( on the couch with two turkey sandwiches ), it looked like Sanchez just ran at him full speed and didn’t even see him there. ??

  8. awaldstein

    Happy Thanksgiving Fred.Jets aside…you’re hack is a admirable but it amazes me that with all the world changes when it comes to broadcast, it’s still hard work to work around.You are very much in the know and I bet this took more than a few minutes.Big changes in the whole paradigm have been slow to happen. I used to be a more optimistic about changes in this segment happening much faster.

  9. William Mougayar

    JETS- Just End The Season?…Ouch.

    1. jason wright


  10. ErikSchwartz

    The game was not as close as the score might suggest. The Pats spotted them 5 points with a easy missed field goal and a dumb penalty for a safety.Rex is not a head coach. Never has been, never will be. Ever since I watched the Jet’s Hard Knocks season on HBO it has been clear he is not up for the job.

  11. Scott Barnett

    I’m surprised you gave the Jets until Halftime… I turned it off at 21-0. At least the Redskins (my favorite team from my childhood) won, and RG III is just astounding to watch! Happy Thanksgiving to all – we all have a lot to be grateful for this year.

    1. bsoist

      I’ve seen the Jets come back from large deficits before, so I gave them till mid-3rd quarter. Different team this year, though – so I should have known better. My wife is a huge Skins fan and so is my sister. That game was fun to watch. My daughter happens to be a Texans fan ( and has been since season one ), so that game was fun too.

    2. fredwilson

      RG3 is awesome

  12. Dan Lewis

    As a Mets/Giants fan, I have no idea how you Mets/Jets fans survive.

    1. aarondelcohen

      It sucks, but look at the Knicks!

      1. Dan Lewis

        I’d rather not.

  13. John Revay

    Nice hack.1 so remotely – you were able to log on to Boxee Box ( @ USV) and tell it to start recording the games (to the cloud)2. But thinking about the mirroring from the notebook made perfect sense as well, as I started reading the post – I was thinking that you would have streamed back to a second boxee box at the beach house (I guess you save a second boxee subscription – not that – it would be a driving force w/ you).3. Assuming there was some latency/delay – almost real time play back4.JETS – I had sent a JETS J E T S J E T S txt to my college roommate who now lives up in MA during the first quarter – I sent a follow-up txt during half time that I was going to bed.

  14. BillMcNeely

    Thanks for the heads up on Boxee. My in laws really don’t watch football so my watching of the football has been constrained this season. Been trying to find a cheap online soultion.I was just as embarrassed to be a Cowboy fan yesterday. The score did not tell the story. Until Jerry Jones gets a football guy to run football operations we won’t see any difference down here in Dallas.

    1. PhilipSugar

      I grew up in Dallas and watching the Cowboys on Thanksgiving has always been a tradition. You are right on all fronts. I have started rooting for the Ravens. Having Ozzie Newsome as head of football operations with an owner I couldn’t pick out of a crowd and you couldn’t name unless you looked it up just makes a huge stark contrast.

  15. bsoist

    As I read this I am walking the dog ( something I do every morning ), wearing the same thing I wear every morning during fall and winter – my favorite Jets hoodie. Today, though, I wear it in shame.

    1. fredwilson

      at least we can suffer together

  16. Abdallah Al-Hakim

    You always make these hacks sound simple Fred! but how long did it take you to figure it out 🙂

    1. fredwilson

      not long

  17. pointsnfigures

    Happy Thanksgiving. At least you have the Knicks.

    1. fredwilson

      yes, looking forward to the Houston game tonight. i love James Harden

      1. William Mougayar

        Not too bad for the Knicks at .800 along with the Grizzlies.

  18. Tony Alva

    I’d have just simply gone to the vinyl records straight away. Enjoy your weekend!Tony Alva

    1. JimHirshfield

      Yeah, I noticed the vinyl collection as well. Let’s zoom in on those shelves and take a walk down memory lane!

      1. ShanaC

        I wonder how he plays them….

        1. Wavelengths

          Does Fred DJ in his off hours? 🙂

          1. Donna Brewington White

            24/7 at and even occasionally live at “Indie While You Work” room. I get some of my best music from him. I’ll let him answer for what he does at home and in the car although he’s mentioned this a few time in posts /comments.

          2. fredwilson

            yes, i DJ. occasionally even live in front of an audience

        2. fredwilson

          look at the photo. there’s a turntable underneath the big screen TV. that is connected line in to the sonos system

          1. Wavelengths

            I don’t see the second turntable, so I’m guessing you don’t scratch. 🙂

          2. fredwilson

            not at home 🙂

          3. Wavelengths

            Thx. My first belly laugh of the day!

        3. JimHirshfield

          33, 45, or 78 rpm?

    2. fredwilson

      We are going hard on the vinyl this weekend Pat

  19. Mark Essel

    Dig AirPlay at home and in the office. can’t wait till there’s an open standard / aka everything can stream to everything

    1. kenberger

      don’t count on it. as long as opposing behemoths are in charge of competing standards (aka: forever), you can count on fragmentation. That’s a modern laissez faire side effect!

  20. JimHirshfield

    I would have climbed up on the roof and adjusted the satellite dish, yelling “how’s the picture? Better? How ’bout now?” I like your solution better. 😉

    1. Wavelengths

      Sounds like a National Lampoon Family Vacation scene to me.

      1. JimHirshfield

        Yeah….I try to avoid comparisons to Chevy Chase in my life. But thanks for the laugh!

    2. Mark Essel

      that would have been my first instinct before AirPlay

    3. William Mougayar

      I did that once when we switched from DirecTV to DishNetwork. I took a cell phone with me and called home to my wife who was giving me the signal strength on the TV. It worked! But I’m not a fan of going on the roof more than necessary.

  21. kenberger

    I’d expect that setup to be a bit laggy.Hopefully Boxee offers or starts offering an AppleTV app, and GoogleTV app so you could take the laptop->Airplay out of the equation.Or more sensibly for the company (since they compete w/ those 2 platforms), at least have a boxee app for BoxeeTV so you could have a 2nd BTV HDMI’ed at the beach house as the receiver. I’d expect that Slingbox type of functionality. Maybe they already do that?

    1. fredwilson

      i think boxee cloud DVR on appletv, googletv, or roku sounds awesome

  22. steve

    Could you not try to manually reposition the dish. Can’t be that hard to do?

    1. fredwilson

      it’s on my roof. i am not great with heights or balance

      1. LE

        Another way to handle would have been to get any guy with a ladder (painter, handyman etc.) to climb on the roof and re position (if that was the issue). I wouldn’t climb up on a roof either.That said I once got Comcast to come out on new years day by telling the dispatcher that I was in Brian Roberts class in college. I said I was going to call his secretary (note I said secretary not him) if it wasn’t fixed. I said it very matter of fact, very nicely, not threatening, just casually. I got a call back within the hour from the head of the region who apologized and they had a crew out to dig up bad cable (with a backhoe) on New Years day. I have a video of this on my old cell phone.The trick wasn’t entirely mentioning Brian though. The trick was letting them know that I knew there was deferred maintenance in the zone and implying (not saying) that higher ups would find out about that if my problem wasn’t taken care of. I knew of these issues because I had spoken with the repair men who had come out previously while they were repairing other things.

    2. John Revay

      I thought the same – Fred seems like a fairly handy engineering type, his comment seems to give his limitations w/ heights

  23. ShanaC

    Meanwhile, here I was hoping for black friday/cyber monday advice :)Though I am seriously impressed with the hack and that your house on the east end of LI actually survived

    1. fredwilson

      this is my black friday advice…

      1. John Revay

        clicked through to the walmart site. User reviews were only OK – total 6 reviews 4 & 5 stars, 13 reviews w 1 & 2 stars

      2. ShanaC

        I don’t watch tv!!!

  24. baba12

    Well The Jets, sucked, we can hope for the Nets to do som better maybe, then there are the Mets, seems like we have perennial lame ass losers in the NYC area, I’m not a fan of the Knicks so I don’t talk about them.As for Boxee TV, I am guessing if you had an antenna attached your TV, you could have received the over the air signal as well avoiding the hop scotch and jump to get to the Big screen. Hope you had a good thanksgiving… As the Newyorker cartoon states” The takeaway from Thanksgiving Dinner is “thanks””

    1. fredwilson

      yes, exactly. but the cool thing about BoxeeTV is it virtualizes the OTA antenna. it doesn’t matter where it is and you an access it anywhere on any device

    2. jason wright

      false gods

  25. WA

    Go Niners

  26. David Petersen

    There is a business to be found around making all this home audio video stuff work without hassle. People are trying but no one has found a way to make things simple. Every time Fred makes one of these posts it makes my head spin.The more advanced of a system you put in your house, the harder it is to re-configure every time you want to add or remove a component.I’m ready to yank out my entire system and replace it with a few sonos speakers.Fred, you can stream NFL games on if are a sunday ticket subscriber.

    1. fredwilson

      that would have worked too. didn’t think of it. thanks!

    2. kidmercury

      that’s where the apple model really excels. instead of a samsung TV connected to boxee controlled via an iphone you need One. i was really looking forward to the apple tv set, not because i’m a fan or would get it, but just to see how they would approach it.

      1. David Petersen

        It still doesn’t solve the problem of the ceiling speakers, subwoofer, and some other components, although it’s getting closer.

  27. Harvey

    I feel your pain, living here in San Diego and having the Chargers is no different than being a Jet’s fan.

  28. JamesHRH

    Cool.Does Slingbox = Boxee HD TV?

    1. fredwilson

      not exactly. boxee tv only works on the broadcast channels. sling works on all the channels

  29. LE

    The boxee message is way to complicated for the type of people that buy plasma at Best Buy. (And now I read it’s exclusively sold only by Walmart). And it’s even to much for me, at quick glance.I haven’t checked the POP packaging yet but I will assume (after looking at their website) that it’s probably packed with to much information and totally confusing to the type of couch potato (see any news reports on black friday) who walks out of Walmart unshaven with a new TV ready to watch “the game” with a 20oz. (That person by the way, doesn’t have a vacation home most likely and is perfectly happy paying for cable because it has things he can’t get without cable.)Reducing the boxee message to discrete points like “watch netflix on your hdtv”. “watch vudu on your hdtv” (notice not combing those either) might be better. The $99 price isn’t the issue. Couch potatoes aren’t interested in science projects at home with low yield that involved electronics. That’s why they are coach potatoes. The thought of all that packing material even scares me.Additionally since you can’t sell these at “dying”best buy they are missing one of the best ways to push this product. By “spiffing” [1] those sales people to offer boxee to anyone who has purchased a HDTV after that sale is made. As an add on. $5 or $10 for each boxee sold to the sales person. (Note that you can’t do this with online sales since there is no salesperson involved.) And it won’t work at Walmart, not the way they deal.The “cloud dvr” sounds good but it doesn’t help me with recording, say, showtime or hbo which I can currently record on the dvr that we get from fios.[1] A spif is basically a bribe paid in cash to the salesperson of, say, computer products. We used to do it back in the day. The manufacturers reps would go into the computer stores and Var’s and give them cash for any products they pushed on their customers. Nothing heals like cold steel.

    1. kidmercury

      agree it’s way too complicated. if they don’t want to simplify (preferring to amplify flexibility instead), then IMO they should adopt a back end approach and let someone else be customer facing.

      1. LE

        True. And nice way to put it. .Problem with a low priced product is there isn’t enough “walking around” money and margin. When Fios rolled out in our area they hired sales agent companies as contractors to walk door to door to sell the service, knowing that they would gain a stream of income going forward. It’s fairly obscure that Netflix even offers Roku it’s never in your face or anything when you login.”complicated” is good, as you know, when you are selling things and actually want people to be confused so they “sign on the dotted line” for fear of appearing stupid. Many financial products are sold this way.I’m not sure though that boxee is the “low hanging fruit” of business opportunities, at least not as the product appears currently, un-pivoted. I mean look at Fred’s usage of it in this post. “homeless” person, from freak 100 year storm, with place on Long Island, who likes football, and has Thanksgiving at his vacation home, with dish ajar, and afraid (as I would be) to climb on roof and adjust, on a holiday week and doesn’t care about having another power brick to plug in and device to configure. The question is not only how many people fall into this category, but would Fred have ever done this if he wasn’t in tech, lest an investor in Boxee?

  30. matthughes

    The Jets made a case for the NFL to implement the mercy rule last night – that was brutal.I hope the Wilson crew gets back into your home soon.

  31. John Revay

    looking forward to the ND/Irish game w/ USC on Sat

  32. jason wright

    does that record player work?

    1. fredwilson

      yes. it gets a lot of use

  33. Vineeth Kariappa

    “homeless guy”, with a beach house 🙂

    1. fredwilson

      i know. that was my joke for the first week of being displaced by sandy. we actually have several homes.

    2. Wavelengths

      I acknowledge the dichotomy, but … Anyone who has had a major life upheaval that left them couch-surfing, or worse, and dealing with the indignities of wondering how to manage ordinary details such as bathing, clean clothes, and the maintaining of a public presence while the personal life is in chaos — anyone who has been through that has a visceral understanding of the early downward steps of the person who typifies our usual image of homeless.While alcoholism and mental illness show up among the long-term homeless, those may be side products of the numbing despair that comes after suffering some blow in life that was insurmountable. No helping hand was extended, no lottery ticket came to the rescue. Items in the news over the past several years have included people who formerly worked at title companies or realtors who live in their cars as a last resort.I foresee that many people will find themselves on this slippery slope in the aftermath of “Sandy” — people who always thought themselves far above the guy on the corner with the cardboard sign. I hope that efforts are mounting to help stabilize those vulnerable people before they, too, are victims of long-term despair.Kudos to Fred for using the term.

  34. markslater

    sorry to hear about the house – sounds like you got in the middle of that storm.My siblings building which is very close to the WTC has now been condemned and they re not being allowed back in to get belongings apparently.and the jets, well…….it was more ‘freak’ events than a beating, but fun to watch 😉

  35. John Revay

    Looks like a Samsung screen ….and that turntable. I recall reading in a post a few months ago that you moved your family LP collection ( & Turntable) to the beach house.Assuming you have a Home theater type receiver that push to the Sonos speakers

    1. fredwilson

      Not Sonos speakers. We have high end speakers. Sonia is just the bridge from internet to home audio

  36. PD

    A cloud DVR works, but since its OTA to begin with, a simpler fix would be some rabbit ears, but this is an interesting “saves the day” story for BoxeeTV. My area doesn’t have cloud DVR so I couldn’t justify keeping it so I returned mine.