rfunk: (check this out)
posted by [personal profile] rfunk at 03:25pm on 13/09/2007 under , , , , , ,
This week we heard the latest news in the digital TV saga: cable TV operators will allow customers to use analog TVs until at least 2012. Which basically means they'll continue having analog video outputs on their boxes; I figure those output will stick around quite a few years longer than that.

On the other hand, those of us in the U.S. who get TV the old-fashioned way, through the antenna, are currently scheduled to lose the old NTSC signal on February 17, 2009, about a year and a half from now. The federal government is supposed to provided $30 coupons for digital-TV (ATSC) converter boxes, but when I checked the Best Buy website today I found only one such box available, and that was $180. It's slightly tempting to run out to buy one to add to the entertainment center.

Then consider that, for anyone still recording shows with a VCR, the tuner in the VCR will also become obsolete, so the VCR will no longer be programmable to record the appropriate channel at the appropriate time. The solution for that, of course, is a DVR, preferably a dual-tuner one.

But the only DVR I've found so far that handles digital broadcast signals is the third-generation TiVo, and that currently costs $800, plus a monthly TiVo service fee. (Other TiVos are more like $250.)

So since digital-broadcast DVRs are so rare, the next thought is to build a super-DVR (plus other capabillities) out of computer parts, using MythTV or Freevo software. Lots of geeks are doing it these days, but that starts a big adventure of choosing the most-compatible tuner cards, video output cards, and fast-enough processors that are still quiet and cool. Who knows what the price would turn out to be. (Update: [livejournal.com profile] ah_graylensman says about $685.)

Maybe I should wait a bit to work on this one. There will, by the way, be a talk at the upcoming Ohio LinuxFest that seems tangentially related to this: "The Path to the $100 Linux Media Center"
Mood:: 'intimidated' intimidated
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posted by [personal profile] rfunk at 05:56pm on 06/06/2007 under , ,
The TV-watchers among you are probably familiar with the new CW Network, the result of a merger between UPN and WB. Now CW is going to have a show with no commercials. Well, no traditional commercials...
The network plans to air "CW Now" without commercial interruptions. Instead of buying spots, MediaVest clients, including top advertisers Procter & Gamble, Wal-Mart, Kraft, Masterfoods and Activision, will be integrated into segments of the show dealing with topics such as what's hot in music, beauty and fashion to reach the fickle 18-34 demographic.
So because you and I and everyone else don't want to watch commercials and use DVRs to skip them (or just download commercial-free versions), TV shows themselves are turning into commercials. Of course, Smallville watchers have probably seen that coming for a while now.
Mood:: 'cynical' cynical
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posted by [personal profile] rfunk at 01:04pm on 05/10/2006 under , ,
Season 3 of the new Battlestar Galactica starts Friday, so this week I've finally gotten around to watching season 2. I'm now halfway through. (I guess I probably won't be watching this Friday's episode until sometime next week.)

I think I liked season 1 better than season 2. I loved all the music in season 1, but I suspect (but haven't checked) that someone different did the music (other than the theme) for season 2.

Season 2 also seems more violent than season 1. This thought was emphasized by a particularly disturbing scene that turns the course of events at the season 2 halfway point. The good side of this is that those scenes are generally treated as horrific rather than trivialized or played for amusement. In fact it's possible I'm noticing these scenes because their horror is being emphasized.

I'm still enjoying the show quite a bit, with its eagerness to tangle with moral dilemmas and religious themes, not to mention the documentary-style camera style reminiscent of Firefly. And hey, it was fun seeing Lucy Lawless guest-star sporting blonde hair and her New Zealand accent.

But the increased violence is decreasing my enjoyment and making it harder for me to recommend it. I just hope I enjoy season 3 better than season 2.
Mood:: 'confused' confused
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posted by [personal profile] rfunk at 08:00pm on 18/01/2006 under , ,
Today I learned that all the Babylon 5 scripts written by JMS, along with related memos and memoirs and roads-not-taken, are being sold as a set of fifteen $40 books. (Well, the last one will only be available free to people who buy the other 14.) The first three are available now. www.Babylon5scripts.com has all the info, and TheJoeStore at CafePress has the goodies, along with the usual CafePress swag imprinted with B5 quotes.

You can even get on a mailing list to be alerted when each book becomes available. Volume 4 is coming next month.
Mood:: 'excited' excited
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posted by [personal profile] rfunk at 05:50pm on 15/12/2005 under , , ,
In the past year or two, I've been noticing a lot of indie bands getting attention via non-traditional methods. Traditionally, of course, a band's primary goal is to get signed by a major music label, and from there get pushed on the radio. But with the consolidation of both of those industries, there's not as much room or diversity as there used to be, and both musicians and listeners have started to pay attention to other paths to each other.

I've talked a lot here about podcasts, one of the newest of the new ways of connecting musicians with listeners to buy their music, but there are of course others. TV is a big one -- a lot of shows make it a point to feature new music, often telling the viewer at the end what music they heard. Some bands are even gaining listeners via commercials, especially iPod commercials. Even Starbuck's is getting involved, putting out its own compilation CDs. (I think some are also going the video game route, but since I'm not really into any video games made in the past decade or so, I don't really know anything about that.)

One example that still cracks me up: Back around the turn of the century (you know, 1999-2001), when MP3.com was cool and not owned by a big record company, I spent a lot of time browsing the music there. One band from there that I loved was Headboard, which had a fairly unique hip-hop-influenced/pop-rock/mixed-male-female-vocals sound. But I discovered the band relatively late in its life, and they broke up around 2002. I never met anyone else who'd ever heard of them. Fast-forward to maybe mid-2004-ish, when we're hanging out with some friends, and they turn on the current incarnation of DeGrassi (which I'd never seen before in any incarnation). A character trying to join a band whips out a keyboard and starts banging out "this song he wrote" -- and it's a Headboard song! (Not one of their best, and an instrumental keyboard-only version, but still recognizable.) So apparently Glenn Rubenstein managed to keep the income from the band going a little bit.

So anyway, there was recently a story from the Washington Post (and reprinted elsewhere) about this phenomenon of indie bands finding success with these alternate routes to listeners and money. And it starts with the example of Bob Mould (one of my favorites) getting his new music on The O.C.. I might have to start watching that show just for the music.

Update: By the way, GarageBand.com seems to have picked up where the old MP3.com left off, but I haven't had much time to explore there. Oh, and seriously, go check out Headboard's CD Nothing Is Static at Amazon or the iTunes Music Store.
Mood:: 'bouncy' bouncy
Music:: Headboard - "Everybody Wants Something"
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I keep intending to write about all the books I've been reading, but it's inching closer to a year's worth of books, and sadly I don't think I could do any of them justice at this point. I may still try (wading through an 845-page book means the read-books-pile isn't growing so quickly), but it's still getting less likely.

But what I can talk about is comics.

Read more... )
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posted by [personal profile] rfunk at 11:02pm on 07/11/2005 under ,
I finally watched last week's Smallville, and was quite amused....

But first, Smallville meets Buffy )

Smallville meets the Duke Boys )

How sad is it that both these episodes resonated with me?
Mood:: 'amused' amused
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posted by [personal profile] rfunk at 10:37am on 12/04/2005 under , , , ,
Usually on Wednesday nights I veg out in front of TV, since most of the few shows I watch are on then -- Lost, Alias, and possibly Smallville (fitting all three in can make things interesting). But this week there's a lot more going on.

I could drive an hour to the Grog Shop in Cleveland to see The Reputation play around 9:00.

Or I could drive two hours to Skambo's (at Gay & High) in Columbus to see a Midwest Poetry Slam at 7:00, which will include an old friend coming from Michigan to participate.

Unfortunately I have to go to work Thursday morning, so Columbus is probably out of the question as usual. (Hmm, I wonder if I could persuade Kate to detour through Canton on the way home.) But since The Reputation are on early, I could go there and maybe be back by 11 or so.... though if the slam could be only two hours long then I could go there (half an hour late) and still be back by 11 or so.

Update: Yet another option -- Watershed is playing near Youngstown, opening(?) for the Clarks. They're also playing in Columbus at the Newport on Friday. Oh, but they'll be in Akron at AMP on the 28th, so that makes my life easier.
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posted by [personal profile] rfunk at 07:29pm on 20/02/2005 under , , , , , ,
Ooh, tonight begins season two of The L Word. Great show, interesting characters. Guilty pleasure.

If you haven't already heard by now, the Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy movie trailer (direct QuickTime / Windows Media / RealMedia) is now available. Looks like fun. You know I'll be there April 29.

Finally, I'm trying to figure out how up to date the Room Nineteen web site is. If the merch page can be believed, they'll be releasing some stuff "soon". This would be a good thing, since the only CD of theirs I've gotten my hands on is their 1993 CD "Heretics", though I did just find a sampler of new stuff at the Cringe store, and they have some sample MP3s on their web site that I'd never heard before. It's great full-sounding acoustic-driven Celtic-influenced rock. (Also check out Fletch, a former Room Nineteen member who went out on her own, and not to be confused with the fictional character created by Gregory McDonald. That website definitely doesn't appear to have been updated in two years, but there is music available there.)
Music:: Room Nineteen - "The Eleventh Hour"
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posted by [personal profile] rfunk at 10:30pm on 26/01/2005 under , , ,
Up to this point I've sort of half-heartedly been watching occasional episodes of Lost just because [livejournal.com profile] nontacitare was watching it. But tonight it hooked me. Why?

Delenn was on! ....Er, I mean "Danielle" (hmm, almost an anagram of Delenn), I mean Mira Furlan.....

As soon as she spoke I was ecstatic. Delenn!

Although it doesn't look like she'll be a regular, it does look like "Danielle" will be a recurring character. Reason enough for me to finally give up on Smallville, which has only been going downhill.
Mood:: 'jubilant' jubilant

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