Thursday, February 28, 2008

i predict

When my old TV died I bought a new one that supported HDTV. That was mainly for the sake of gaming, since the new systems are designed for HDTV meaning the text on screen tends to be unreadable on anything else. But I figured I might as well also get a new DVR from Time Warner that supported HDTV. And shockingly that new box, which should represent the top technology, has inferior features to the non-HDTV DVR I had before.

So I emailed a complaint to Time Warner, reproduced below, and here is my prediction, based on past experiences with Time Warner:

They won't understand what I'm talking about. They will reply in a way that ignores every single point below, and give me detailed instructions on how to search for things even though it is obvious from my email that I have already familiarized myself with all the new features of my new DVR. They will not acknowledge that there are any real differences between the two DVRs and they will most definitely not assure me that they are working to upgrade the new DVR to contain the features of the older one (because, as I mentioned before, they won't even understand what I'm saying).

I let you know when I hear back whether I am right or whether my email miraculously gets to someone who is not a complete idiot.


Since I just bought an HDTV TV, I swapped my old DVR, the Explorer 8000, for the Explorer 8300HDC, and was shocked to discover that while I gained a few HDTV channels, I lost a number of important features.

Most notably it is no longer possible to auto-search for movies and actors. With the old DVR I could do a keyword search and choose to tell my DVR to record anything with that keyword. My new DVR will not let me search by keyword at all, only by title, and there is no way to tell it to automatically record all of anything (for example, I can't say, record everything directed by Alain Resnais nor can I say record any movie with "juno" in the title." Oddly, the search can turn up shows for which there are no upcoming episodes (perhaps it contains a list of all current TV shows) but it won't give you the option to tell it to record that show whenever it comes on even though it has the name of the show in its records!

The series record options are also more anemic. There are less options: you can no longer choose specific times & channels.

The way search is implemented is also inferior. With my old DVR, if I had the guide on a particular show and switched to the search interface it would show me all upcoming instances of that particular show, which was a very quick way to find a time to record a show that wouldn't interfere with anything else I was recording. Now it just starts the list at the top, and if you want to find that particular show you just had in the guide you have to use the text input.

The last thing I've noticed in the mere HOUR I've had this is more minor, but the remote is quite inferior in design to the old one, which was the best designed remote control I have seen anywhere. So that's a shame.

So I gave up all those good features on my old DVR just so I can watch a handful of channels in HD, like ONE of my HBO channels (but not HBO on demand). I find this hugely disappointing, and hope you are planning to raise what one would have expected to be your most advanced box, since it supports HDTV, up to the level of your most basic box.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

just microsoft being microsoft

A while back I was having problems with my Xbox 360 finding all disks unreadable. The first thing the tech support person had me try was

clearing the memory cache. This is a simple procedure that, as far as the tech support person knows, doesn't do any harm to the 360 or change any settings; it just clears up some problems.

So how do you clear the memory cache? Do you go to settings and memory and choose the "clear cache" option? You do not, because there is no "clear cache" option. Instead, you go to settings, memory, and then press X X left bumper right bumper X X.

Seriously, Microsoft has a hidden key combination to use to fix memory issues with your 360. What the fuck?

is the press giving Hillary a raw deal?

My mom has virtually stopped reading and watching the news. Why? Because she says all they do is bash Hillary Clinton. And I'm wondering if she might not have a point.

Mom is pretty hostile to Obama. She considers his talk of "change" vague and meaningless, which isn't unreasonable. I'm leaning towards Obama myself (although in the New York primary I still voted for Kucinich even though he dropped out of the race, just as a statement), but it's a slight lean. I have not liked Clinton as a senator, I feel she blows with the wind and is a political opportunist and I have found her very disappointing. On the other hand, while Obama did come out against the war, once he got into the Senate he voted for every war appropriations bill and it wouldn't surprise me if, were he in the Senate at the time he also would have voted for the war; all the serious presidential hopefuls did because they thought it was politically expedient (although none of them will admit that was the reason).

So I support Obama because I know Hillary's not great, but honestly I doubt Obama is great either.

So it's probably six of one, half a dozen of the other, but it does seem that I hear more criticism of Hillary than Barack on the one news show I watch, Countdown. And I have begun to wonder if that makes any sense. Politics is politics, and logically, both sides should do bad stuff. And while Keith Olbermann did criticize Obama for suggesting Hillary's supporters would vote for him in the general election but that things would not goo the other way but not adding that Obama would still fight for whoever won, he has spent more time criticizing Hillary for attacking Obama, and has implied that Hillary's complaints about Obama are fairly baseless.

Paul Krugman, who appears to be a solid Clinton supporter judging from recent columns, says he finds the Obama camp to be more venomous.

Is he right? I don't know. My mom says yes. Certainly someone like Chris Matthews is always talking trash about Hillary, but then, Matthews is an unmitigated moron, so his bizarre comments on Hillary may well have as much to do with the fact that he's short a few marbles than that he's out to get Clinton.

The press likes a story, and it seems the story they're going for is shrill white chick going off on the charming black guy. But that's just a particular story. When Howard Dean said "yeehaw" or whatever it killed his campaign not because it was a big deal but because the press thought it was a great story and beat it into the public consciousness. As much as I dislike Clinton, I don't like the idea that she is a victim of press storytelling.

Hillary might still get the nomination, and if so I just hope the press doesn't go for the, shrill white woman versus cool straight talker story, because then we're all screwed.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

you see, there are things men care about more than sex

Ah, those passionate Englishmen. A poll indicates half of them would temporarily give up sex for a big TV. Interestingly, only a third of women said the same, although there's no way of knowing whether that means women love sex more than men or love big TVs less than men.

I'd like to see a reverse poll. Something like, would you give up your big screen TV for sex with Shakira. Or something.

Saturday, February 09, 2008