Watched the first 2 episodes of Carrier, Life Aboard the Aircraft Carrier USS Nimitz last night. Its a reality-show style documentary about life at see on a carrier for six months in 2005. Its interesting because it shows the lives of a a core group of people drawn from all over the ship’s crew, rather than just the much more visible pilots that couldn’t do anything without the other 5000 people on board. Showing on PBS this week in HD, and episodes are available online too.

Tivo DRM Broken. Hurray!

I salute Jeremy Drake for providing a platform-independent mechanism to decode Tivo video files. What I like most about the code he released is that it’s not a crack per se, as it still requires the Tivo’s password (as did the windows-only tivo software). You don’t let people have what they want (and should have been given) long enough, they’re going to take it.
The cat’s been out of the bag for a while anyways, it was just more difficult and required windows and direct show dump to get files decode so they could be (lawfully) played on the mac.

I love tivo, but they’ve been teasing the mac community with unfulfilled promises of tivo to go support for at least a year now. I’ve never understood their reasoning for this; of course the windows user base is bigger, but I’d guess the percentage of tivo owners who use macs are higher than the general population mac percentage. Mac users seem more willing (and perhaps able?) to pay a bit more for a better user experience. Now that cable companies are releasing cable boxes with DVR capability, I would think Tivo would want to cater more to this community of people with higher expectations, not less.

While I’m talking Tivo, I can’t see how the company is going to be around for many more years. Cable companies DVRs aren’t as good as Tivo’s, but there’s a lot of people who’ve never used a Tivo and don’t know what their missing. Then there’s this whole Tivo Series 3 debacle; $800 for an HD DVR that doesn’t let users do anything more than a cable company DVR – there’s no tivo to go for example. Why would someone who’s just dropped a couple of grand on an HD set up not be willing to get the cable company’s box for no money up front and less money per month?

Then again, people have been predicting the death of Tivo for years, so who knows what will happen?

30 Days

I really like the Morgan Spurlock created show 30 Days. If you’re not familiar, Morgan Spurlock is the guy who made Super Size Me, and he’s extended that type of stunt documentary to create the series. People spend 30 days in someone else’s shoes to better understand other’s lives or the other side of a polarizing issue The first season included Spurlock and his fiance spent 30 days living on minimum wage, a christian living with a muslim family, and a homophobic man living with a gay man. This season has had an atheist living with a mega-church-attending christian family, an anti-immigration minuteman living with a family of illegal immigrants, and the finale will have Spurlock going to jail for 30 days.

The iTunes music store has both seasons of the show avaiable for sale. The powerful illegal-immigration episode and a making-of the jail episode are available for free.

Tivo: Infallible no more

I’ve long considered my Tivo one of the few pieces of technology that just works – set up a show to record and it gets done. Maybe it records three extra episodes of a show, but it gets the one you want. Until now.

I got home Sunday night expecting to sit down and watch the second to last episode of West Wing. The only problem was that it was recording Family Guy. I scratched my head and checked the season pass listing: West Wing is top priority, so it should take precendence over everything else. The problem extended to next Sunday as well, so I had to manually record the final episode. What gives? The only remotely feasible explanation is that these episodes have their rerun flag inadvertantly set.

Its unfortunate that Tivo has fallen into the larger category of devices that I need to keep my eye on. Oh well.

At least the pope is still infallible.

Soledad slaps away the race card

I just saw this great interview between Soledad O’Brian and Rep. Cynthia McKinney. Backstory is that the Rep. wasn’t recognized by Capitol Police going though security, felt insulted, tried to keep going, got grabbed by the officer, and then hit the officer in the chest. Now she may have charges filed against her for assaulting an officer. So the Rep. tries to call it racial profiling, starts blabbing about discrimination, minorities, the war in iraq, a potential strike against Iran, anything but the issue at hand, which is her side of the story about what happened.

Soledad does a great job at relentlessly shutting down Rep. McKinney nonsensical tirades. Bravo!

American Morning on CNN – Wasted Airspace

I was at the gym this morning and noticed a couple of disturbing things on the television. Next to the TV tuned to MTV which seems to play the same 3 videos every morning that I’m on the treadmill, hospital there was one tuned to CNN. I’m starting to wonder if that middle “N” means news anymore.

About 8 this morning, they spent around five minutes talking about McDonalds coffee and doing a blind test test in the studio and with passers by on the street. Is this newsworthy? I guess I now know that people can’t really tell one coffee from another. (If you’re read gladwell, you also know about the effectiveness of blind test tests). I would like to know how much McDonalds was paying for this infomercial segment, and if they aren’t paying, then why CNN is wasting time covering this crap. I’m sure we can find some more topics to talk about, like the anti-free speech crackdown in Kenya. People would probably have been better served by a video of a waving flag.

In the dreaded crawl during this time I notice this (paraphrasing a little because I didn’t have a notebook with me on the treadmill) “Women from 50 countries sign letter to Kofi Annan accusing him of paying lip service to gender equality and doing nothing to promote women’s rights” – Which is completely redundant. That’s what lip service means! You don’t need to add on the “and did nothing” part.

What’s next, defining all the words in the crawl to make sure people understand what’s going on?