Goodbye NBC and WAVY-TV

Well tonight is Conan O’Brien’s last night on the airwaves as host of the Tonight Show. And so I’ve decided that tonight will be the last night I watch NBC, and by extension my local NBC affiliate, WAVY-TV 10. As of now I’ve deleted all episodes of Heroes I had planned to watch, and yesterday’s Community is the last of that show I’ll be seeing. It’s unfortunate I have to stop supporting a good, new show that deserves the ratings, but there you have it. I can’t sit by and help fun the network that’s destroying what I consider to be the greatest thing on modern television. Uncharacteristically of me I actually took the time to send a professional snail mail letter to my local NBC affiliate’s, WAVY-TV, president and manager, explaining why I would be switching off his station forever, a station that I’ve watched since 1993. Here’s a copy.

January 22, 2010

Doug Davis of WAVY-TV 10
300 Wavy St.
Portsmouth, VA 23704

Dear Doug:

I’ve been a viewer of your station ever since moving to the area in 1993. My household has enjoyed your station and your newscast for years and has even contributed to your “10 on your side” segment in the past, as well as enjoying programming provided over the air for years by your network. However by the time you read this letter we will have turned off your station forever. In light of NBC’s deplorable treatment of Conan O’Brien I’ve decided it’s best to turn off NBC entirely, and by extension your station. I know this isn’t actually your station’s fault, but I refuse to support a network that has ruined one of the few remaining good things on television, and by extension that means I cannot support anyone affiliated with NBC either. I will also be posting this letter online for public viewing and encouraging everyone I know to switch off NBC and your station as well. Goodbye WAVY, it was nice knowing you.

Sincerely,
Don Scherig

Included with the letter was the image you see attached to this post, printed on an index card, in case the letter wasn’t clear enough.

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I’m With Coco

It begs to be made into a Half-Life 2 Spray

Conan O’Brien has been a treat for me to watch for years now. Stretching all the way back to the mid-90’s I’ve really enjoyed watching him on TV. I mean, I like Jay Leno too, but once his monologue is over and he starts actually talking to people, well, that’s it, he turns into a dry boring corporate-man who only serves as a vehicle for the person across from him to sell whatever it was they want me, the viewer, to buy into this time. I always loved watching Conan’s show because he spent more time on comedy sketches and because I thought he was much more lively and personable with his guests than other hosts. Guests on Conan’s show seemed to always be more relaxed, more lively, more willing to joke and have fun, you know, like an real conversation. A definite improvement to the common “I’ll just be a sounding board for you to make plugs… uh-huh.. ok.. let’s show that clip,” that I’m used to seeing everywhere else.

I remember clearly to last year when it sunk in that the schedule at NBC’s late night was going to be changing. I remember feeling a lot like I do now. A whole lot of rumors, few updates, and no way to really know what’s going to happen. I remember really being worried when there was talk even back then that NBC was going to bump off Conan after he’d packed up Late Nite and had prepared to move when their was talk of Jay Leno wanting to keep the Tonight Show spot after he had decided to retire in 2004 and all the contracts to pass the torch had been signed. However in that case, after lots of waiting and no updates, things turned out ok, and I got to see Conan on in the Tonight Show spot, and it was great. The Tonight Show since then has kept a constant place in my DVR (That’s how I watch /all/ my shows) and I watched religiously for the first month or two, setting aside that time to watch it with others in the household. It was a little awkward at first, and there wasn’t as much time as their used to be for sketches, and I could tell that someone had wielded the censorship truncheon in their somewhere as well, but hey, all was good and it could only get better from there.

So now it’s 7 months later and the turmoil of 2007 has come back again like nothing ever happened, another “gotcha” moment for the universe loves so much, and it’s looking like Conan’s going to be leaving NBC. Jay Leno’s 10 o’clock spot isn’t doing so well. I don’t know, maybe his viewing crowd is just those who still think watching the 11 o’clock news is the best way to get information. Either way it looks like they’re set to reverse a decision they made back in 2004 to pass the torch to keep Conan, spurred by Leno’s desire to retire, and to keep him from taking offers better than his Late Nite gig unless Conan agrees to make The Tonight Show “The Tomorrow Show” and push poor Fallon (Who is awesome) even farther, something Conan has stated he’s dead set against.

Some people are using the chance to make good humor out of a bad situation. Me, I’m just starting to wonder what I find in television anyway. Seriously the good old boob tube seems determined to cancel everything other than “reality TV” shows and the Simpsons. Reality TV is something I absolutely hate on TV. We’re just two changes of the seasons before Survivor is 10 years old, meaning the reality TV “fad” will have dominated Network TV for 10 long soul-crushing creativity-destroying years. And Simpsons, while not a bad show, is something I stopped being interested in once I grew out of adolescence and stopped caring about watching things because they were “edgy” and they upset my parents. Not that Simpsons is bad, far from it, I’ve seen a few episodes, they’re decent, but they say you can’t go home again, and I can’t go back to watching a show memories of which are tied to me being in 4th grade and snarkily telling my best friend he’s full of shit about this “Game Genie” thing he just heard about. (Whoops)

It seems like the “big three” are just determined to grind anything that might be worth watching into the dust? Kings was riveting, that got canceled. Better of Ted is hilarious, and that’s probably going to be canceled. Community got extended, but that seems to be on the chopping block too, and Heroes seems to only stay on the air so NBC can pointing to something they air as entertainment. And I do love watching House… ok, so that one’s not going anywhere. (For now) So out of my list I’ve got a bunch of shaky items and a sure bet. Compare that to Cable TV where I’m riveted to shows like Burn Notice, White Collar, Eureka, Mythbusters, Man v. Food, and I just feel a little let down by what are supposed to be “The Big Three”. I think I’ve spent more time watching Web Series from the Angry Video Game Nerd and That Guy With The Glasses this past year than I have “The Big Three”. How sad is that?

Why should I have to scrimp and scrounge through the three networks with the most funding, many of whom own the cable networks showing “the good stuff” to find something that isn’t reality TV, a law and order clone, or an ER clone?

(A version of the I’m with Coco image formatted for use as a spray in Half-Life 2 and any source games may be found here. Just goto options and click the import spray button to import it for use in multiplayer games.)

Update: This site has a nice update of the entire debacle. It’s a bit vitriolic toward Jay Leno, but it is also pretty accurate with the events as they occurred.

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Western Digital Green Power: Why No One Else Uses “Idle 3”

Some of you may think I don’t have anything to blog about. Not so, quite the opposite. I have so much that I would like to blog about that I can’t decide what to write about. Where to start? Global Warming? Netbooks? Gaming? Portable Apps? Books? The list just doesn’t seem to shrink. So instead of all that great controversial stuff that you’re probably all waiting for, here’s a tech article about a problem with a device that I’ve had for months now and have only been able to fix. All because some shmuck at Western Digital decided that “Green Power” was an effing sweet slogan.

The year was 2008 (AKA Year Awesome compared to 2009 AKA Year Epic Fail) and it was February, and WD had made their RE2-GP drives. I decided to pick up a 1TB edition of the line. Because that was their newest 1TB drive, and who doesn’t just love being able to say they can store a Terabyte of data. Even though it’s not really a Terabyte because  hard drive makers sing themselves to sleep at night by singing 1 kb = 1000 bytes in stark contrast to the reality that 1kb = 1024 bytes, SI be damned. Anyway to top this off the GP in RE2-GP stands for “Green Power” which was WD’s way of saying the drives turn themselves off. A lot. They like to call this state “idle 3”. And that’s not such a bad idea. That means less wear on the drive, and all the bench marks said things worked well and it got good reviews.

Problem is it seems those benchmarks were treating this thing like any other drive that doesn’t go into idle3 if it’s left alone over 30 seconds. Once the drive starts up, the drive works great. But when the drive is in idle 3 it takes it a second for it to wake up. How long you ask? Long enough for Windows to decide your new drive has a bad block, that’s how long. Forums and product review pages alike were littered with people RMAing these drives because of bad blocks, meanwhile those people were being shouted down by others who didn’t have any problems. The difference between these groups was just how the drive was used. Those with problems were using the drives in a way that the drive would go into idle 3 mode and then give them the errors when they tried to access them.

So when WD finally released a firmware update that keeps their drive from going into idle 3 mode every two seconds do they make an announcement? No, they quietly release an update, bury it on their site, and then include a readme which says things like the following

Some utilities, OS’s, and applications, such as some implementations of Linux, for example, are not optimized for low power storage devices and can cause our drives to wake up at a higher rate than normal.

The number of systems using such applications and utilities is limited and customers can resolve this symptom by optimizing their systems to not wake up the drives unnecessarily every 10-30 seconds or so, thereby gaining substantial power savings and eliminating superfluous activity.

Yeah I guess if you consider the Event Viewer a limited use application then sure, I suppose the issue did affect limited users, as everyone else was too dumb to realize those program errors they were getting were caused by Windows saying “@#$% it” every time it had to wait for the drive to come out of idle 3 and just spat out an error instead of waiting. Needless to say once I installed this firmware all of those bad block errors that occurred only when the drive first attempted to perform a task after being idle, like say when booting up, all magically went away after installing this firmware.  So much for “Green Power”, huh? Guess next time WD wants to unveil some new drive technology they should make sure it works with any operating system on the planet before trying to sell it.

Also, because of this I had to dredge out one of my floppy disks and make a boot disk just to upgrade this firmware. That just annoys me. Those floppy disks are for super-secret emergencies, darnit!

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Time Extended!

Anyone who’s ever played outrun or any of Sega’s other similar racers in an arcade can probably hear that over-excited digitized voice in their head now at the mere mention of these words. Imagine my surprise when browsing for some soda in Wal-mart I came upon these two packages of Mountain Dew Throwback and Pepsi Throwback. For those of you who don’t know, the superb Pepsi Throwback and Mountain Dew Throwback are back again for a limited time. According to Pepsi the production run for these is going to be 8 weeks long and it started on December 28th. These two sodas are identical to the previous run, though the packaging is much more in theme, I’m really glad to see the old Pepsi logo, and the Mountain Dew has orange juice concentrate and more caffeine in it like regular Mountain Dew.

I really like soda. A lot. And I like soda made with real sugar even better. Well, at least I think I do. Who knows, if I took a blind taste test, maybe I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. I’m not about to discount the fact that this whole, “Made with real sugar thing” could be a gigantic placebo effect on my taste buds. But if that’s the case, placebo tastes mighty good. It just seems to me the sodas made with real sugar “pop” a bit more and have a “brighter” taste to them. So I’m happy to see these products back on shelves. How happy am I to see them? I normally drink cherry coke. Yeah, that’s right, this whole real sugar thing is enough to get me to drink Pepsi instead of coke. I sure hope Pepsi gets smart and stops teasing us all with these limited runs, because I really want to keep on enjoying this stuff. Of course, without it I’ll just switch back over to Jones Soda and their excellent Pure Cane Cola, which is also excellent, and they have many other great flavors of cane cola as well. Berry Lemonade being a real favorite.
If you like soda too, check out www.sodapopstop.com for Galco’s. They’re in California and they were featured on History Channel’s Modern Marvels, Soda. (I did say I loved Soda, right?) They’re a veritable Mecca of soda. I mean they have nigh unto everything there, and their site is like an encyclopedia of Soda in the United States and nearby countries. Check it out.

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