Faster online video

I don’t watch too many online videos – mainly because I’m impatient, and watching videos





It’s not (just) that I’m counting the seconds but also that I get bored listening to people speak slowly, especially when they’re belabouring the point. Text is far preferable as I can race through text very quickly, or read a transcript of a talk in much less time than it takes to listen or watch it, keeping much more focused.

I also find videos are, on the whole, lower quality than text. They aren’t as easy to edit, so whereas typos and mistakes can painlessly be edited out in text, they’re more tedious to do so with video, so people ramble on with pointless introductions and thank yous, and stumble and stutter their way through presentations.

However, there are some great videos out there – of course springs to mind. But still, they talk too slowly!

Today I came across the idea of speeding up videos to get through them quicker, thanks to a post by Steve Pavlina.

He talks about a proprietary Windows tool that costs around $30, but I quickly started looking for something on Linux. It seems there aren’t any tools that allow you to directly speed up the video while watching it online, so the next best is to download the video, after which it can easily be sped up.

Downloading first may seem to defeat the purposes of speeding things up, but it suits the way I browse. I tend to open lots of tabs, then read them one by one. So the same process applies – open a bunch of videos, download them (sites such as have a download link for each video, while Youtube requires a plugin such as Firefox’s DownloadHelper) and then watch them one by one.

So how do you speed up the video? Thanks to Saravanan Thirumuruganathan’s post I discovered there’s no obvious way in Totem, and it’ problematic in MPlayer, while VLC works perfectly. There’s a slider at the bottom (click on 1.00x) which allows you to adjust the speed upwards or downwards, and while Saravanan found the slider frustrating to use, I found that it suited my purposes.

I’ve blasted through a whole bunch of TED videos and, sped up, find watching them much more pleasurable. Or, as Steve Pavlina puts it, he can actually make it to the end of an Eckhart Tolle video without wanting to commit seppuku!