Tuesday, April 15

#BIG2014 - Inside the Marijuana Industry's Biggest 4/20 Event...

Freelancers don't get passes, so when Main Street and Cannabis Now wanted marijuana coverage, I had to get a little creative...

Brian Penny is a former Bank of America business analyst turned force-placed insurance whistleblower, ghostwriter, blogger, and freelance SEO consultant. He's a frequent contributor to the Huffington Post, Main Street, Lifehack, and Cannabis Now...

Friday, March 28

Herbalife...Brought to You By Herbalife...

Learn more about Herbalife on HuffPostLive...

***Update 3/29 - The Herbalife team's claims appear to be true...34 people so far agree that I can't sell Herbalife...***
Anyone wanna invest in this gold mine with me?

***Update 3/31/14 - 45 people have now voted...making Herbalife my biggest non-seller...*

Wednesday, March 26

Netflix and Hulu Are Losing Relevancy

I'm a cord-cutter - I haven't had cable TV since January 2011, when I lost my job for blowing the whistle on Steve Ramsthel and Bank of America's fraudulent force-placed insurance practices. Since then, I've been on the lookout for free and low-cost entertainment options ranging from indisputably legal to debatable. Two of the early front-runners in cable-cutting options were Netflix and Hulu.

Both services were initially seen as the next generation of television, but now that the honeymoon stage is over, it's clear Hollywood is doing everything they can to weaken these cable-cutting options.

Lack of Content

When they started, both Hulu and Netflix struggled to find a steady stream of content. As they grew, they gained vital contracts allowing Netflix access to stream Disney and Starz content, while Hulu picked up support from the major networks. The problem came when cable and satellite companies started losing revenue and applied pressure to Internet content providers. 

Netflix's struggles to keep their current clientele happy have impeded their ability to find new content providers, and the Comcast-Time Warner merger isn't making it any easier. To alleviate these issues, Netflix began providing original content, including "Arrested Development," "Orange Is the New Black," and "House of Cards." while Hulu came up with a slew of animation and British shows. While the original content is well-crafted, there's simply not enough.

In order for these companies to retain relevancy in a post-Comcast world, they need to become leading content creators, rather than simply streaming services. This could give them the clout necessary with other studios (similar to how Sony leveraged content for their PlayStation store, screwing even Stan Lee out of his creative content).

Interested in Piracy? Check out The Pirate's Guide to Bootlegging...

Hulu Is Too Commercial

The most annoying part of Hulu is the commercials. It's not even that they have commercials, but how much trouble you, the viewer, have to go through in order to watch them. It's bad enough having commercials shove down your throat everywhere you turn, but Hulu forces you to participate entirely too much in the process.

I'm not interested in any ad experience Hulu, and I'm most definitely not interested in having the responsibility of choosing a poison fall upon me. A lesson that Hollywood (and big business in general) never seems to understand is if I have to work for your solution, I neither need nor want it. The commercial participation alone is enough to drive a person to pirate.

The Next Evolution of Online Content

Piracy is still the best option for the majority of entertainment consumption. Cloud-computing has made it more difficult to successfully crack and bootleg software, but it's made content easier to get a hold of. Streaming sites are popping up everywhere, and it's easier than ever before to see DVD- and Blu-Ray-quality content online.

Movie studios deny Hulu and Netflix the ability to stream new content, fallaciously thinking this will encourage us to buy their products, but it has the exact opposite effect, encouraging users to flock to free streaming sites to see quality copies of 300: Rise of an Empire, Veronica Mars, The Art of the Steal, Snowpiercer, and other movies still in theatrical release. If you're looking to keep up on the latest and greatest content Hollywood has to offer, there's still no better way than piracy.

I dunno about you, but this is What I Learned from Pirating...

Brian Penny (aka Versability) is a former business analyst at Countrywide's mortgage and insurance tracking services through the transition to Bank of America. In 2011, Penny turned whistleblower and freelance writer, exposing criminal fraud by BofA subsidiary Balboa Insurance. Brian is a frequent contributor to Huffington PostMain StreetLifehackHardcore DroidCannabis Now, and various other media organizations throughout the web.

In addition, Penny is an affiliate of Manduka and Amazon.

Tweets by @Versability

Tuesday, March 25

Cable Cutter Cartoons

With cable quickly becoming a dead medium, any well-written and produced content is welcome. I've been in an animation mood lately, so I checked out a couple of cartoons online. Here are some of the best cartoon series the Internet has to offer.

Bravest Warriors Cartoon Hangover Versability
Now what am I supposed to do with all this motor oil?

Bravest Warriors on Cartoon Hangover

Bravest Warriors is an animated web series created by Pendleton Ward and directed by Breehn Burns. It appears on Cartoon Hangover's YouTube channel. It follows four teenage heroes-for-hire on various erratic missions around the universe in the year 3085. Chris Kirkman, the team's leader, is also an Emotion Lord, whose future self shows up every couple episodes to create chaos. If you love space, sci-fi, and stoner comedy, Bravest Warriors is a great choice.

Mother Up! Eva Longoria Versability
Think you're a bad mom? We all do...

Mother Up! on Hulu

Eva Longoria isn't just one of the sexiest actresses on the silver screen - she also happens to be hilarious, providing a great sex tape to Funny or Die, and Mother Up!, a brilliant work of animation, to Hulu. The show follows Rudi Wilson, a disgraced record executive and single mother, as she attempts to pick up the pieces of her life in suburbia. The show addresses serious issues for single parenting, but the wit is still sharp. Adults looking for an adult cartoon they can watch with their kids will love Mother Up!

The Awesomes Seth Meyers Versability
Destroy an entire city block to catch a shoplifter? Sounds reasonable...

The Awesomes on Hulu

If you're a fan of Saturday Night Live and Seth Meyers, The Awesomes is...well...awesome. This superhero show about a misfit Avengers-clone run by the not-as-super-as-his-Awesome-dad Professor Dr. Jeremy (Prock) Awesome looks like it has the legs to be a long-running hit for Hulu. With a solid superhero universe, great storylines, and a slew of guest appearances, this ragtag group of flawed, second-rate heroes is perfect for anyone who just can't get enough superheroes.