Show notes too successful!

Here’s a weird one. We pay a commercial service to send out our post show e-mails on Call for Help and The Screen Savers. Unfortunately the contract was so constructed that when we went past a certain number of e-mails a month the cost skyrocketed.
At its peak CFH was sending out 120,000 e-mails a day and The Screen Savers 90,000. We did a forced re-subscribe when the shows changed last month, but we’re still sending out something like 60,000 messages a day. We ran through our e-mail budget in just a few months and management is pulling the plug on the show notes.

Until we can figure out a way to do it more cheaply (I wish they’d asked me – I could have done it for one tenth the cost with a simple listserv) we’re using Yahoo Groups to send out an unofficial show notes e-mail for both shows.

You’ll have to resubscribe – yes, yet again – at our web site. I’m sorry for all the confusion. It’s not pretty I know. But, hey, at least it’s because we’re more successful than anyone expected!

32 Replies to “Show notes too successful!”

  1. Dear Leo,
    Sorry about not signing you to a multi year contract. Money has been tight lately. I have been working on a solution and wanted to run it by you. I will have Rasheed Wallace send all the money he is fined over to the TSS studios. It appears I am runnung thru that Microft money so fast…you know with all those big NBA contracts I have to pay out….
    Paul
    PS: Hows Marty’s jumpshot??

  2. I gotta chime in with everyone here. The show notes situation is insane, though i dont think TSS should be saddled with the job of taking care of it. (unless someone there really wants to do it)
    Heck, let Yoshi make a dedicated T-bird 1.3 computer for it, and pay whomever wants to do it. Should be a in house thing all the way.
    BTW, does anyone know what sort of case Yoshi used on the computer that TSS used for the reinstall windows segment this week? looked pretty cool to me.

  3. I don’t quite understand. You had 120,000 subscribers and you lost half of them and that is too much for your mail servers? If I lost half of my business I would think I wasn’t running my business properly. How many other companies lose half of their customers and think that’s OK? I still don’t understand why it cost too much to send out one-half the mail. Can someone explain this to me? Thanks.
    P.S. Leo – get your own show! You can run a cable access program that more people would be willing to watch than TECHTV. I miss the old shows.

  4. Hey Leo,
    Why not just find a new company, make a deal with them to plug their company once a show, or put some product placement on the set for the company?? Im sure these little companies would give anything to be advertised for free in exchange for a email server???
    Brian
    http://www.redban.com

  5. Leoville radio all the way… maybe just one show a week sometime…doesn’t even have to be live…maybe some mp3s and tech talk 🙂

  6. Not that this has much to do with the show notes, but it appears that Stacee has won the “Bear Market Babes” poll. I don’t know if this has been mentioned on air (I’ve been busy studying for finals this week), but it seems that the campaigning worked! Here is the “winner” page:
    http://www.playboy.com/sex/feature/bearmarket/winner.html
    (Note: As always, children under the age of 6, farm animals, and people from France should not click this link.)

  7. I don’t want to embarass anyone, but let’s put it this way. It was costing us more to send the show notes than TechTV pays me. Which makes me think maybe I’m in the wrong business.
    A little math:
    Let’s assume 200,000 4kb e-mails a day. That’s 800,000kb – or 800 MB. On a T1 that would take less than an hour to send out. We could easily use our excess bandwidth overnight to send out the e-mails.
    Here’s my question. How much overhead is there with the listserv and sendmail software? How many messages an hour could they process on, let’s say a 1.5 Ghz PIV running Linux? Could we do this ourselves from UGM with our T1 overnight?

  8. Yeah Patrick was on fire last night. See what you get when a person mixes with too much caffeine and a sledge hammer?! 🙂
    I loved the Texas/Country guitar in the background when talking about the Texas show. Leo maybe you should have Diamond Rio on again, and they could write a floor stomping song for Screensavers.
    Y’all come back now..y’hear? 🙂
    -Don

  9. The show notes may not be funny but they are informative and enhance every show. I hope you find a way to keep them up and running. I missed the show once again last night. My cable company is getting under my skin. At this rate I’ll be watching your late show tape all weekend. Doesn’t paul allen have any connections with adelphia? Stacee in a band! Now that’s something I’d pay to see.

  10. Hey Leo, why don’t you just take control of the show notes? Have you asked to? The solution you just offered seems perfectly reasonable.
    Unfortunately, companies that end up with a lot of money seem to do a pretty good job at wastefully spending it. That’s why all the dot coms are dying … the morons spent all their money on furtiture they don’t need, a Playstation for the confrence room, and free pop in the break room that before they know it they’re spending way more money then they could ever realistically make back. Earth to morons!
    Rosemary
    (no, I’m not bitter at all)

  11. + That’s a lot of E-mail!
    + Why doen’t UGM have the 1.7GHz PIV yet? 🙂
    + I still like the idea of “Leoville Radio”

  12. It’s NOT a good advert for a so called tech tv network to have these sort of newbie mistakes hapening ALL THE TIME! Makes you look like losers if you ask me.
    And before all you sad stalkers flame me…. I’ve been watching the network since day one. Ever since the buy-out it’s been going down hill FAST.
    My only hope is that Leo, Pat, Martin and Kate move on before they get swallowed up by the SUITS who obviously know jack Sh^& about how to run a tech network.
    Take care Leo…..
    Bring back DevNul
    andy

  13. boy with techtv trying to be in the big leauges they sure have gotten off to a horrible start. first with techlive, then the emails, then CFH, and not giving leo a multi year here’s the world at your feet type contract. who else knows what the heck there doing behind the scenes. i wish they would ask the veiwers what the heck they want or even ask the on air and chat staff what they see works and what doesn’t. i will re-re-subcribe again but if i have to do this again i am going to scream.
    rick

  14. Well…. get them to PAY YOU to do the show notes and you’ve doubled your salary! :^) Tell them what to do Leo, tell them how much money you’ll save them and ask for a commission of the money! I would. You’ve got nothing to lose. :^)

  15. Leo: I think the whole thing should be done by you guys at TSS. In fact you should do all the lists for TechTV and make it a running segment on the show about building your own listservers. It’d be quite informative. Until then, let Yahoo swallow the cost 8-).
    -Vincent

  16. cough coughTSS Segmentcough cough
    Man for a high tech channel TechTv does the most low tech things, like hiring someone else to send out their emails. Leo you could probably set this up on the show and nobody would know the difference. So yeah paying more for emails than you pay your best TV personality is kinda lunny.

  17. Yeah, Leoville Radio would be awesome! : )
    Right now I listen to Mac Show Live Radio, and WBAI’s PC Radio Show.
    Then again…I don’t want to see Leo burn himself out like an Athlon processor! : )
    -Don

  18. The trick is to have twit-proof automated software running that will unsub dead email addresses and process unsub / sub requests for you with as little human intervention as possible. There are always people who can’t figure out how to unsub or those who have so many email addresses (or variations of the same email address) that they don’t know which address was subscribed. My email list only has around 500 subscribers. (I just use Yahoo as an archive) I can’t imagine dealing with 200,000 subscribers!
    A friend of mine tweaked a listserver program so that it would take three return to sender messages before it would unsub the dead address.
    (Email servers do go offline every now and then, so you don’t want to unsub those folks if their email is just temporarily down.)
    I think you have a great idea about running UGM for this project. I like the idea of TechTV using the resources they have to serve their audience.
    Have fun with this! In Joy! Diana

  19. I love that commercial they are airing on TV now that has the young dot com elite kids scootering around the offices and bragging that they are the “future of technology”…the “best and brightest”…”the denizens of destiny” and then the guy comes on and says, “You are the morons who don’t answer the phone.”
    TechTV management: pick up the phone!
    You have good people working for you who know technology and know what people want to see. Listen to them… cherish them. Treat them well because they are the ones in touch with the audience.
    Hey here’s a general question I’d like to throw out. Don’t you think all this stock coverage is just “easy news?” I see it as a semblance of “news” The market is always moving so it “appears” that news is happening. Yet at the end of the day is when it really counts. Unless people are sitting at their desks trading constantly is it THAT important to hear about every little up and down that the stock market takes during the day? Isn’t a wrap up of what happened by the end of the day what 95 percent of investors really care about? Day traders seem to be the target audience. Hey there’s a lot of us out there that have real jobs and real lives and make informed decisions about investing over the long haul and not minute by minute. Or is it just me that feels this way?

  20. It’s a nice thought for tech.tv to cater to the daytime people. Although I haven’t seen too many jobs where they allow you to watch TV while you are on the clock (as opposed to financial businesses that keep Bloomberg on for the tickers) perhaps techlive will encourage the powers that employ IT people to allow their people to start watching TV when they come in.
    Meanwhile, I’ll keep learning with the Screensavers and see how techlive does on my next day off.
    Oh yeah.. Leo, you should have a clause in your contract whereby if you save the suits $money$ by using less expensive ways (to send out show notes for example) you get a piece of the action.
    Have a nice day everyone.

  21. Hi Leo!
    When I received that “you must resubscribe” message I went ahead and resubbed.
    And then I started receiving 2 copies of the newsletters each day.
    Perhaps the original promise of “we will unsubscribe you if you don’t resub” never happened ???
    Just a thought.
    BTW, Egroups (now Yahoo Groups) does a great job with the listserver.
    I’ve had my list archived there since December ’98 and with each change they’ve made, they haven’t trashed the archive. Amazing!
    I do miss the hit counter they used to offer, so I added one recently (in the place of a image).
    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/christianmusic-list
    In Joy! Diana

  22. If they’re paying more for the show notes than they’re paying you then you definitely need an agent. that’s ridiculous. I appreciate the show notes. they enhance the show and are a very valuable tool for retrieving information I gleaned from the previous nights airing. but without a show they are worthless and that’s about what they’d have without the star of the show. You are the reason the show works and I think the management ought to be made to appreciate that fact. Let someone else do the negotiating. I’m the first one to admit that money isn’t everything and being happy in what we do counts for a lot, but you also have to look out for your family’s future, and selling yourself short is not in anyone’s best interest.

  23. Sounds like another fine example of those highly educated suits, that have no business making desisions about anything let alone something they no nothing about, making another outstanding “management” decision. First it was Tech Live, then look what they did to Martin and now this, plus a few other things. My fantasy is finding a suit that is actually smart enough to realize that just maybe the frontline geeks and viewers/customers of those geeks just might know what they are talking about and what they want. Wow, imagine that, a geek with a brain. Golly gee whiz Batman, whats next, a computer you can carry around with you? Wow! Leo and crew, keep your heads up cuz we like what you do.

  24. Hi Leo,
    Just a quick note to say that I appreciate what you and TechTV are trying to do. Geeks are a hard demographic to define, categorize and pull maximum revenue from. (As is evident from the array of advertisements on TSS – from IBM business solutions to hair restoration products)
    I rarely get to catch you guys live, but I’m all over the website and record you every night on the Tivo. The latter is extremely useful to keep the mind occupied during my daughter’s late-night feedings, and to rewind/playback when you go over my head.
    With the new ownership on the network, I know you’re under considerable stress, and working w/o a contract. Hang in there buddy – we need ya!
    pjk

  25. Chuck point well taken in one respect. ( And no worries. I like debate and don’t take arguments as a personal attack), TechTV HAD to make a change. I don’t think they could have gone on the way they had been before Techlive. Obviously endless repeats aren’t a big draw. My point is. I wanted to see more REAL news. More interesting articles that get into depth on the latest tech issues. More great stuff like the interview that aired on today’s (Thursday) Screen savers with the guy from Xerox. Stuff like that. I DO see that stocks are of an interest to many people. I just think reporting on the minute by minute movement of the market is not really news. The sum total of the story of the move in the days market can be easily encapsulated in a 1 to 2 hour (Max) report after the close of the market. Again I refer to the “semblance” of “news” where it appears that events are constantly evolving because the market moves. It is easier to report on the movement of the market between every commercial break than it is to actually send a reporter out or investigate a story now isn’t it?

  26. Hi Leo! I just joined the Yahoo email list and noticed that the Tech TV long urls that are listed are not clickable links on the archive and probably not in the emails either.
    Here’s an example:
    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/techtv/message/15
    This happens because your email settings are for shorter urls only.
    Here are the directions how to fix this if you’re using Outlook Express. It might change the formating, so be sure to remember how to change it back if you don’t like it.
    When visiting a newsgroup using Outlook Express, click on
    TOOLS
    and select
    OPTIONS
    Then select
    SEND
    You’ll see two options there regarding this issue:
    Mail Sending Format
    News Sending Format
    For each one, click on PLAIN TEXT SETTINGS and set it for 132 charactors. This is a maximum for the automatic wrap.
    Hope this is helpful!
    In Joy! Diana
    http://pages.prodigy.net/dianamorris/tech_tv.htm

  27. So you’ve been hoisted by the petard of your own popularity, eh? ;-P I was wondering why the show notes were going to stop again. Sounds like just another example of ham-fisted management at ol’ TT, of course a list-serv doesn’t have to be expensive. Are they aware that there are actual real-live geeks working there who know how to make things happen? (As opposed to TV people) I enjoy the show notes a great deal, they are a great recap for those of us who are still learning. One unhappy thing – I was intent to keep all of the show notes until I discovered a glitch a few weeks ago while digging around through some older messages. The links in many of the older show notes, say before the big site redesign, are no longer good. Many I’ve tried now default to the techtv.com home page instead of the article in question, so if I want to try to find something that I know you covered a few months ago, I still have to do a search at the site.
    All things being equal, YahooGroups (nee’ eGroups) is not a bad option, although I’ve been through quite a few problems with them since the change-over. I found that even if you pay them for ad-removal for your list, and post only plain-text messages, you may open a message to find it in HTML with a nice, big animated gif banner at the top. Bleech! (Sorry, I’ll stop grousing . . .)
    Anyway, last night’s show was great. Patrick was very energetic. 😉 Maybe he can replace Juan Valdez as the icon for Columbian coffee. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen him so happy. Not to mention that cute little chair dance he did at the end – we should offer him red meat more often and call it Patrick’s Barbeque Boogie!*
    Mondo May-time Smooches,
    Jeannette
    * soundtrack available on K-Tel

  28. Michael:
    Think about what you just said. You have a real job and a real life. Which means that you are not watching TechTV during business hours. So TechTV needs to target viewers that are watching during buisness hours. People are not grasping the concept yet. The more people that watch, means the more money they can charge for commercials. Look at the new format, during business hours they target business professionals, day traders and news junkies. From about 4pm CST when people start getting off work, TechTV targets kids, familys, geeks alike with CFH, TSS, Silicon Spin, and whatever 30 minute show is on that night. From purely a buisness perspective TechTV management is doing the right thing. The powers that be are not as brain dead as somepeople think they are.
    What I really want to know is the age breakdown of TechTV viewers. I see a lot of complaints that look like they are written by kids, like “techlive sucks! I hate all this Stock stuff..”. Well during the day you are in school and are not watching TechTV, so as a buisness they target those viewers that are. That is the bottom line. But then again we will not really know untill the neilson ratings come out. However if I had to put money on it, I would bet that the TechTV managements’ gamble pays off.
    By the way, Michael, This was in no way a personal jab at you. Your post just allowed me to attempt to show people why these changes are taking place.
    Chuck Shaw

  29. Michael:
    I definately agree with you on the chief scientist from xerox, he was great. If you really sit back and think about it, other than the stock tickers they don’t really talk about the market. Well they do have the little snippets now and then. The bulk of the time they are talking to executives or representatives of tech companies about what they are doing or their plans for the future. So it is not entirely about the momentum of stocks, although the two are definately related. I could maybe see them doing a segment targeted at stay at home moms or stay at home parents in general. Moreover it takes a lot of reasources to produce all the shows. Someone posted about all the shows they would have if they were in charge in another thread. While I liked his/her ideas especially the garage tech idea, TechTV does not have the financial resources to handle all those shows. TechTV has to work within its means and cater to the specific segments of viewers that will maximize their profits at any one time.
    I remember seeing the job description when they were hirering for TechTV. Some of the job descriptions were for booking guests. So the guests are only going to be as good as their abilities allow them to book. In addition to that, TechLive and TSS are on everyday. Their is no way you are going to beable to get good guests everyday. Some days your going to have to go slumming.
    Later,
    Chuck Shaw

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