TiVo Tiptoes Across the Border

Posted in Technology, Television on November 7th 2005 by Randy Reichardt

.: In today’s paper is an article about TiVo finally coming to Canada, albeit really, really quietly. The TiVo website says very little about providing Canadian service:

At this time, the TiVo service is only available in the 50 United States of America, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Canada, and the United Kingdom (via the TiVo partnership with BSkyB)

Even weirder, is the following:

TiVo does not sell DVR boxes in Puerto Rico or Canada, so Puerto Rico and Canada residents must purchase DVRs in the US and import them.

D’oh! What? TiVo service is available in Canada, but one must import a box from the USA? I was in NYC three weeks ago, I had the opportunity to buy a DVR at Best Buy in Manhattan! Then again, I might have had some difficulty flying home with it on the airplane. I don’t know why TiVo service has never been available in Canada, or why it is now, albeit without the hardware. The aforementioned article suggests that the recorders should be available soon. If and when that happens, my guess would be that TiVo will begin a larger ad campaign across the country, compared to the seemingly non-existent one now. Buying a TiVo box might be easy if you live close to the border, like in Vancouver or Windsor. Even then, the purchaser would need to pay duties and taxes and shyte like that.

.: I was walking behind Heavy G today as we left work, calling him because I wanted to tell him something, but he wasn’t responding. He was wearing a toque like this one, so I assumed it was preventing him from hearing me (which didn’t make sense as I thought about it), until he turned around and I noticed him pull out his iPod ear buds. So I go, “I thought you couldn’t hear me because you were wearing a toque, but then I saw the whites of your iPod…” Bwa-ha-ha…

.: Speaking of librarians and their blogs, here’s The Librarian List, which is blogs by librarians ranked by Link Ranks, from Steven Cohen at PubSub.

Archive of American Television

Posted in Television on October 26th 2005 by Randy Reichardt

.: While researching another topic, I discovered this post on the Official Google Blog, regarding the Archive of American Television. From its web site:

The Archive of American Television strives to preserve the rich history of television by videotaping interviews with the individuals who pioneered the medium.

We have rare, in-depth interviews with those behind the scenes as well as television’s biggest stars including: news legends WALTER CRONKITE, DON HEWITT, and DAVID BRINKLEY, actors ALAN ALDA, OSSIE DAVIS, and MARY TYLER MOORE, writer/producers NORMAN LEAR, CARL REINER, and AARON SPELLING, and executives FRED SILVERMAN, SUMNER REDSTONE, and TED TURNER.

By utilizing cutting-edge technology, this Archive will be a digital encyclopedia of television, accessible worldwide by students, historians, and the public. In fact, the Archive has covered virtually every social, economic and cultural events of the 20th Century, which will be used to educate and inspire future generations.

Award winning producer-executives Grant A. Tinker, David L. Wolper, Dean Valentine, and Television Academy Foundation Chair Emeritus Thomas W. Sarnoff are guiding the project’s success.

I’ll definitely check this out, especially after seeing the brilliant new movie, Good Night, and Good Luck in NYC two weeks ago, easily one of the best films of 2005. It isn’t playing in Canada yet (maybe Toronto), but when it arrives, I’ll see it again. Highly recommended.

Mixed Bag Special

Posted in Comedy, Film, Technology, Television on October 25th 2005 by Randy Reichardt

.: Last week, Stephen Colbert, the brilliant and consistently funniest “reporter” on The Daily Show, debuted on Comedy Central with his own show, The Colbert Report (pronounced coal-BEAR re-PORE). Of course, this being Canada, we don’t get the show yet, if ever, so thanks to the miracle of bittorrent technology, I have watched the first four episodes. The show, which is produced by, among others, Colbert and Jon Stewart, is hilarious. Bringing Out the Absurdity of the News by Allesandra Stanley, in the 25 Oct 2005 NYTimes, captures the essence of the show. Excerpt:

And some of the best material on Mr. Stewart and Mr. Colbert’s shows lies in their sadistic use of snippets from real newscasts and political speeches. On Thursday, Mr. Colbert showed a montage of alarmed reports about the avian flu epidemic on CNN, C-Span and MSNBC, then showed a more upbeat Fox News headline: “Bird is the word on the street. Why the avian flu could send stocks soaring.”

Mr. Colbert praised Fox News for always finding something positive in bad news, be it about the Bush administration or the nation. “Every global pandemic has a silver lining,” he said approvingly. “Remember, the Medici made their money investing in the bubonic plague. A lot of people did. Until the boil burst.”

.:In addition to sending me the link to the NYTimes story, Mike Hall also forwarded this CNET story, Tempted by blogs, spam becomes ‘splog’. Apparently, splog is the new word to describe blog spam.

Google’s Blogger blog-creation tool and BlogSpot hosting service, together the most popular free blogging service on the Web, fell victim this past weekend to the biggest “splog” attack yet–an assault that led to clogged RSS readers and overflowing in-boxes, and that may have manipulated search engine rankings. Bottom line: The scope of the attack, and the sophisticated automation used to accomplish it, mark a turning point for splogging, a problem experts say has been building for some time. It’s not yet clear what Google and others can do to stop the nuisance.

I wasn’t aware of this attack, and as far as I can tell, neither this site or STLQ were victims of this moronic episode.

.: I have 172 feeds in my Bloglines account at the moment, which is beyond absurd. I can’t don’t keep up with 99% of it, but every so often it’s fun to cruise through the feeds and see what’s out there. It seems a little early for movie awards season, but The Movie Blog reports that Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith, has earned the Hollywood Movie of the Year award for 2005. The award is one of many given at the annual Hollywood Film Festival, which ended yesterday.

.: Futurists Pick Top Tech Trends comes from Wired News. The trends forecast to happen include simplicity, mobile socialization, the end of the combustion engine, the green movement expansion, and an 2006 IT revolution.

.: I am not into video games of any sort, generally. I tend to default to games like solitaire, spider solitaire, miniputt, and the like. Science writer Clive Thompson writes on his site, Collision Detection, about a game called Poom, in which a ball drops from above, and the player moves a grid of tiles below so that the ball will bounce back up; some of the tiles, of course, are missing. When the ball hits a tile and bounces, the grid below will change. The key is to watch the shadow of the ball as it falls back to the grid. Addictive indeed.


Posted in Hurtin' Unit, Music, Television on April 12th 2005 by Randy Reichardt

:: Yesterday I received acupuncture for a tendonitis problem in the area surrounding my right elbow. The practitioner is an acupuncturist and a physical therapist, and came highly recommended. Needles were placed in the area around my right elbow, the tops of my feet, outsides of my calf muscles, in and in my chest and forehead, for other reasons. None of the needles hurt, and in fact, I nearly fell asleep during the time the needles were in me. I will go for at least three more treatments.

:: I don’t know if it’s a function of age, but there are more and more moments while watching a tv show, I will not understand a line said by a character. It’s not that I didn’t hear it, it’s that the actor didn’t enunciate it well enough for me to interpret what she or he just said, or the sound editing is bad, or whatever. One solution is to turn on the closed caption function, which I’m doing more often these days. For certain shows like Deadwood, where the dialogue occasionally sounds Shakespearean, the CC function is a blessing.

:: A new, modern rock radio station is in the midst of its four-week testing period on the air at 102.9FM in Edmonton; the station officially begins broadcasting on May 5 or 6, 2005, with live djs, etc.. Sonic 102.9 Modern Rock is a welcome breath of fresh air, at least so far. The other rock stations in Edmonton collectively suck big time. My car radio is tuned permanently to this station at the moment, which is playing, and I hate to use the word, alternative rock. But in this case, my meaning is that the music being played is indeed an alternative to anything the aforementioned stations are offering at the moment. And it’s new, content from the 90s foreward. My hope is that it continues into their broadcast life, and that their djs show some respect for their audience. One of my favorite kinds of music is edgy, noisy rock, with good melody and song structure, and that’s what I’m hearing so far..

:: Filed under, “What Th-??”, a woman in Arizona ran 301 miles in just under 80 hours, without stopping to sleep or take any breaks, other than one brief stop for a leg massage.

:: Yesterday, while talking to my friend Pam in her office, I leaned against a bookshelf that was holding a glass jar of coins of all denominations. Of course, the shelf was adjustable, and therefore not one with the entire unit, and it flipped, sending the jar crashing to the floor, where it broke into a million shards. I’m always good for a few yucks, and once the laughter subsided, we spent time picking up the glass and coins, until I realized I cut my right hand in a few places – nothing major, mind you. I owe Pam a new glass jar.

Captain Klutz, at your service.

Deadwood Returns

Posted in Television on March 8th 2005 by Randy Reichardt

:: Deadwood, the brilliant Western frontier drama set in Deadwood, South Dakota in 1877, is back on HBO, and in Canada, on Movie Central. I was going to write about it, but then noticed Tony’s post, so I will defer to his equally brilliant review

:: I exhausted from doing what seems to be nothing at work but writing. A letter to support a colleague’s upcoming tenure, a column on RSS for Engineering Information, revisions to the chapter I am writing on the literature of petroleum engineering and refining. For one who does not consider himself a writer by any stretch of the imagination (I surround myself with friends who do it much better than I ever will), what I’m learning is that writing takes a lot of time, and a lot of energy, and can be simulateously very rewarding and mentally draining.

Battlestar Galactica

Posted in Television on February 12th 2005 by Randy Reichardt

:: A few weeks ago at practice, a fellow band member mentioned the revived, or as it is being called, reimaged Battlestar Galactica series, speaking favourably of the new version. (Canadian site here.) I was vaguely aware that a mini-series version had aired in 2003, but paid no attention to it at the time. When the original series first aired in the late 70s, I detested it, with the exception of having a major crush on Maren Jensen at the time, which caused me to watch more episodes than I care to admit. The show was pure camp, featuring characters with horrid names like Starbuck, Apollo, Athena, Adama, Boomer, and Cassiopeia, combined with bad acting and writing.
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