Coups de Martin

Huzzah! Martin Sargent here. I’ve taken over Leo’s Web log. His goose is cooked. This is just the beginning, too. I plan to swipe his entire tech empire from his weak, clammy hands. Leoville? Soon to be Martinville. Call for Help? Soon to be Rap with Martin. The Screen Savers—uh oh, here comes Leo. I’ve gotta split.

Got some very good movie

Got some very good movie recommendations. Thank you!
Some random notes while I’m sitting in the screen savers production meeting…

Phil Zimmermann, creator of PGP, is coming on the Screen Savers, March 12. Should be interesting. But whatever you do, make sure you spell his name with two Ns! (Apparently he’s a little sensitive about the issue.)

Watch the Screen Savers tonight as we learn a new bit of tech jargon, “wall humping.” If you’ve got any other wacky tech jargon you’ve been hearing lately send me an email. I’ll include it on the show.

As you know I love 802.11b (now known as WiFi) wireless networking. In fact it’s become a running joke. I’ve always wondered why more places don’t put little Airport transmitters up for their customers – especially in Airports. Think of the promotion: Use Airport in the Airport!

Now there’s a town that’s planning to offer wireless Internet access to all 6,000 of its citizens. Greenville College in Greenville, Illinois started by wiring its campus. Now they’ve put an antenna on the library and they’re planning to wire the Courthouse and Municipal building later this week.

The SF Bay Area Wireless User Group is promoting public wireless access. They publish a list of access points in the Bay Area. I love this idea. Wireless Internet everywhere!

This is interesting. I’ve embedded

This is interesting. I’ve embedded the blogger form into my wallpaper using active desktop. Now I can blog any time. Blimey.
Watched two dynamite movies over the weekend: Enemy of the State and When We Were Kings.

The first is a thriller starring the miscast Will Smith (I’m sorry but those Opie ears destroy his crediblity as a high powered lawyer. The role was originally offered to Mel Gibson and Tom Cruise. I think Denzell Washington would have been better). He’s being chased by the NSA. The ending is really bang up, but what’s interesting about the flick is its portrayal of the agency’s ability to spy on us. Nothing in the movie was impossible – and much of it seems probable. As digital technology progresses personal privacy disappears. It’s only a matter of time before a government exists malevolent or paranoid enough to use these techniques against its citizens. It might be happening already. Now that’s scary. We’ll have to make it a Geek Library selection.

The second movie, When We Were Kings, is a documentary made in 1974 that only got distribution in 1996. It’s the story of the Ali-Norton “Rumble in the Jungle.” I’m not a fight fan, but it’s impossible not to become engrossed in the events. And man was Ali charismatic.The movie won an Oscar and it deserved it.

Watched both on DVD from Netflix. What a great service. Unlimited DVD rentals by mail for $20 per month. No late fees and I always have three DVDs to watch. Every time someone mentions a good movie I haven’t seen yet (and there are lots of them – I never have time to go out any more) I log on and add them to my list. There are about 70 movies in the queue currently:

12 Monkeys (1995)
Air Force One (1997)
Almost Famous (2000) Releases On DVD 3/13/01
Armageddon (1998)
Badlands (1973)
Big Chill: 15th Anniversary Collector’s Edition (1983)
Bob Roberts (1994)
Breaking the Waves (1996)
Cinema Paradiso (1988)
City Of Angels: Special Edition (1998)
Clerks: Collector’s Series (1994)
Contact: Special Edition (1997)
Crumb (1994)
Dark City: Platinum Edition (1998)
Das Boot: The Director’s Cut (1981)
Dazed and Confused (1993)
Dead Man Walking: Special Edition (1995)
Donnie Brasco (1997)
Drop Dead Gorgeous (1999)
Elizabeth: Special Edition (1998)
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)
Fearless (1998)
Flawless (1999)
For Love of the Game (1999)
French Kiss (1995)
Gattaca (1997)
Gods and Monsters: Collector’s Edition (1998)
Good Will Hunting (1997)
GoodFellas (1990)
Happiness (1998)
Hard Boiled (1992)
Hurlyburly: Platinum Edition (1998)
Liar Liar (1997)
Life Is Beautiful (1997)
Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998)
Mallrats: Collector’s Edition (1995)
Manchurian Candidate: Special Edition (1962)
Meet the Parents (2000) Releases On DVD 3/6/01
Men In Black: Special Edition (1997)
Pal Joey (1957)
Peggy Sue Got Married (1986)
Pi: Faith in Chaos (1998)
Picnic At Hanging Rock (1975)
Player: Platinum Edition (1992)
Red Violin (1999)
Reservoir Dogs (1992)
Return to Me (2000)
Run Lola Run (1998)
Saving Grace (2000)
Silverado: Collector’s Edition (Original Version) (1985)
Spanish Prisoner (1997)
Starship Troopers (1997)
Sweet Hereafter: Platinum Edition (1997)
The Apostle: Collector’s Edition (1997)
The Conversation (1974)
The Dinner Game (1998)
The Groove Tube (1974)
The Limey (1999)
The Mummy: Collector’s Edition (1999)
The Patriot: Special Edition (2000)
The People vs. Larry Flynt (1996)
The Sopranos: Part1 (1999)
The Sopranos: Part2 (1999)
The Sopranos: Part3 (1999)
The Sopranos: Part4 (1999)
The War Room (1993)
The Way of the Gun (2000)
Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead (1995)
Three Kings (1999)
Titus: Special Edition (1999)
Waterworld (1995)
Zero Effect (1998)

Got any to suggest?

Back from Tahoe, at last.

Back from Tahoe, at last. Man I missed my cable modem. I don’t know how people survive dial up connections. I haven’t used one since ’96 when I first got ISDN. Ouch. It almost takes all the fun out of the web.
I’ve got a pot of chicken soup brewing downstairs. I use a relic of 50s homemaking called a pressure cooker.One chicken, celery, carrots, bay leaf, salt and pepper, one hour and it’s soup. I usually make matzoh balls for it, but since we’re out of eggs, noodles will have to do.

It snowed last night, but

It snowed last night, but it turned to rain today. So it’s that yucky slushy snow that’s not much good for anything. It’s supposed to snow a foot tonight with the snow continuing into tomorrow morning.
I put chains on the van so we can try to make a getaway tomorrow but it might be dicey.

Meanwhile, it’s a stay inside day today with a fire in the fireplace, popcorn and Harry Potter. We’re rereading book two out loud. Henry and Jennifer have never read it – Abby and I have, but it’s fun to read it again. I still have to write my column and web questions for Access today, though.

funny how much easier it is to write this than the column.

I think this blogging thing

I think this blogging thing is getting out of control. Here I am, sneaking upstairs to get on AOL so I can send another blog. Sick.
Did I mention that part of the new contract is a promise to give TechTV one book? We disagree on what the book should be, though.

The publisher they have a deal with, Pearson, wants me to co-author a 10 pound PC Upgrade and Maintenance clunker. I want to do a “Screen Savers Almanac.” Something filled with factoids, tips, and questions and answers that can be released yearly.

I think anything I write should reflect my personality, and the personality of the show. Publishers are deeply conservative. They don’t like doing anything different. Maybe I’ll have to do the clunker to get to do the almanac. Life is full of compromises.

Access Magazine will likely do a compilation of my Ask Leo columns, too. With 13 million readers they should be able to sell a bundle. For that matter, so should TechTV. We can’t claim that many viewers, but 120,000 people subscribe to my daily Call for Help email. Sounds like a market to me!

Great timing, the US Weather

Great timing, the US Weather service has issued a severe weather alert for the mountains. Looks like a blizzard is headed this way on Sunday with snow heavy at times and wind gusting to 70 mph. We weren’t planning on driving back until Monday – hope it clears up by then! I’ve got chains, but I’ve never used ’em before.

Snow flurries, 32 degrees. Net

Snow flurries, 32 degrees. Net access courtesy AOL. It’s bettah than nuttin!
I’m doing some online research real quick on the Napster claim that they can block copyrighted titles. (Napster to voluntarily block songs)Yeah but how are they going to block the Arrowsmyth classic Wok this Weigh? It’ll never fly. Doing an interview in five minutes on KGO AM 810 afternoon news. Then it’s back out to the snow!

A number of people have

A number of people have emailed to say that the links at the bottom of this page weren’t working. I know. It’s a bug in blogger’s code. I use server side includes (SSI) to automatically insert the stuff at the bottom. For some reason blogger parses the included HTML and inserts its own, incorrect, path to the links. This even though I’ve got absolute references in the URLs. I’ve just replaced the SSI include with hard code in my blogger template to try to fix this. If the links are working now, it worked. Otherwise I’ll have to think of another workaround!
I’m not complaining about blogger mind you. It’s an amazing service – a real gift to the web community. If I could post via email it would be perfection itself. (I understand that’s coming.) Then I could update you from my Blackberry – even on the slopes. How cool is that?

One gratifying thing. The studio

One gratifying thing. The studio crew was nervous when I came in for Call for Help. They knew today was the big day. Someone asked me how it went and I said, I guess I’ll stick around and a big cheer went up. That was really nice.
The CFH studio crew consists of the four camera operators (Gabe, Dave, Simon, Aaron, and sometimes Matt), the prompter operator (Javi usually, sometimes Conchita), and Greg the floor director. Everyone else is in the control room, invisible and except for occasional traffic on my ear piece, unheard. So it’s really the crew that’s the “audience” for the show. You develop a real rapport with them after a while, and I guess I really play to them. When they laugh I know it’s going over. (Can you hear them laugh on the show? Probably not most of the time.) That cheer made my day.

Uh oh. I’ve been outed.

Uh oh. I’ve been outed. Looks like people are reading this. I guess I’ll have to watch what I say from now on. Not.
I’m packing up the whole family this AM for a trip to the snow. The one thing I miss about living in Calif is snow – I grew up in Providence – but at least we’re only a few hours from the mountains. We take the kids up each winter so that they have some little experience of what that white stuff is they read about in books. Unfortunately they’ll never know the joy of a school snow day.

I’m not a skier but Jennifer is, and the kids will get their first lessons this weekend. I’m going to go tubing then be a lodge bunny. I’m taking the computer but I don’t think I’ll have internet access, so no blog until Monday night when we get back.

Note: the post time is not a typo. I’m up late (or early I guess) writing up the notes from the negotiation to send to Greg. Next step is a deal memo, then the lawyers nitpick the contract for a few weeks. I’m sure we’ll have a deal by April 1 – that’s when the old one runs out. Even if we don’t my new duties will start then.

There will be some changes to my schedule as part of the whole channel redesign. I can’t really talk about them – they’re not public knowledge yet – but it will all happen with the launch of TechLive on April 2. I will be on the air more, not less (a lot more, 12-15 hours a week instead of 8, and I’ll be back to five days a week), and doing some different stuff, too. I’m really looking forward to it. Some of the changes are painful, as well – no more solo stuff, for instance. But that’s how change is. I’ll talk more about it once it happens. And since I don’t think anyone from TechTV reads this, I promise to be candid!

BTW the TechLive set is coming along. You’re not going to believe it. It’s amazing! It’s a whole new world.

Whew. What a relief. After

Whew. What a relief. After a marathon 32 minute negotiation session Greg and I were able to come to a tentative agreement for a new contract. There are still some details to be worked out but it looks like you’ll be stuck with me for another two years.