So much for free DSL.

So much for free DSL. Winfire has gone out of business. There are only a handful of free ISPs left now. I knew that many of the free web offerings were too good to be true, but I never expected such a wholesale collapse.
The Internet will survive of course. And I think it will be better if the fumes of rampant commercialism burn off. I do wonder what it’s going to look like when the fires stop, though.

Wow. I’m sitting on the

Wow. I’m sitting on the Screen Savers set waiting for rehearsal to begin.
We just had a big meeting of all staff, our first look at the future of TechTV. We gathered on the new TechLive set. It’s gorgeous – nicest set I’ve ever worked on. We’re three and a half weeks out and there’s a lot to be done but I think it’s going to be good. Of course it could be a car wreck, too. We’ll all find out when we launch at 9a Eastern/6a Pacific on April 2.

I think the thing that’s most gratifying is that as the rest of the tech world shuts down, we’re going into the biggest expansion ever. I mean we’re adding NINE hours of live TV a day. More than doubling our output overnight. Kudos to Paul Allen for having the guts to do this now. I’m glad to be a part of it. Really, we’re all very lucky to be here, and I think most of us feel that way.

You may not recognize TechTV in a few weeks. I wish you could be here to see the preparations. It’s thrilling to be a part of something like this. It’s comparable to the original launch of the channel back in ’98. My last Call for Help will be on March 16. Then we go dark for the TechLive rehearsals. Bits and pieces during the week of the 19th, then real time rehearsals on the 26th through the 29th. We’ll do a full dress rehearsal on the 30th as if for real. And then more over the weekend if we need it. We will. I’ll try to blog from the set as we go.

I really want to tell you what I’m going to be doing, but the schedule hasn’t been set. I guess I’ll be uncharacteristically discrete a little bit longer. Stay tuned!

Kate Botello sent me a

Kate Botello sent me a note today:
“I’ve been having major DirecTV/Tivo loooove for weeks now.. and I discovered that the Food Network is showing old reruns of the Galloping Gourmet. I checked some of them out, and he is just delightful! So – I made a tape for you, with a couple of episodes of that, plus one of Emeril Live that I thought you might find inspiring (one man, two cameras.. the world!!). Yeah, they’re food, but they do have a lot to offer re: delivering information all by yourself, and keeping the people watching during the “boring” parts. Interested? I’ll bring ’em by tomorrow; I think you’ll get a kick out of them!”

Funny that she should mention Graham Kerr – he’s probably one of my earliest TV influences. Well, after Annette Funicello, that is. Kerr’s show, The Galloping Gourmet, was the first cooking show I ever watched. I think I was around 10. The recipe was Tournedos Rossini. It was the first thing I ever cooked for my family. As I remember, Kerr had a horrible near death auto accident about 30 years ago – retired, then found God and healthy lifestyle. I interviewed him on the radio about 10 years ago and he was delightful.

And Emeril is an interesting story, too. TechTV management keeps comparing me to him in our conversations. I guess that’s because he does two shows a day. I wish I were making his money, though! Maybe I need to open a restaurant.

Ah that Martin. What a

Ah that Martin. What a kidder. I hope.
Actually we had a pretty good Screen Savers tonight. I think my job is safe for another day. In truth, I’m not as insecure as all that, but I do admit that I still, after all these years, take note whenever I see a Help Wanted sign at the local McDonald’s. This is not a joke.

It’s funny, but I can never tell how a show is going. I guess that’s because I’m in it. Sometimes I’ll really love a show, and it’ll turn out I was the only one. Other times a show will seem like it’s going down in flames and everyone will love it. That’s what it felt like tonight. Nevertheless, our Executive Producer was really pleased. He said that it’s the best example yet of where he wants the show to go. The thing moved right along, all right. We had three guests and a taped House Call. But that means we only had a couple of viewer calls. I still think the calls are the most important part of the show, but the real TV people don’t seem to like ’em too much. I guess they’re right and it’s old fashioned of me, but taking live calls is what I like best.

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!