Ten Years After

I have a plane ticket to Vancouver for this Monday. I was scheduled to fly there to tape Week 44 of The Lab with Leo. Except I’m not. After 645 Canadian episodes of Call for Help and The Lab, Rogers has decided to cancel the show.
It’s a decision I can’t help but agree with.

Our Australian affiliate, the How-To Network, had stopped running the show due to poor ratings. The Canadian ratings haven’t been so hot, either. The slide began a year ago when Amber left the show. The entire staff left in January and I was left the last man standing. I’m not good with slow fades. It’s time to move on.

Rogers is planning to replace it with a daily, live show which is, ironically, what Call for Help used to be, but unless I pack up and move to Canada there’s no way I could host it, so we’ve parted ways amicably. I will always be grateful to them for keeping Call for Help alive these past four years. I have worked with many wonderful Canadians both in front of and behind the camera, many of whom will continue to be friends and partners as I segue into new ventures.

TV, like all performing arts, is full of transitions. It’s graduation day over and over again. You know you’ll see some people again, and you also know that others, many of whom have been close friends, will drift away never to been seen again. It’s sad, but it’s inevitable. Every new beginning is also the beginning of the end. I guess that’s life.

There will be new shows through May; we were producing several months ahead. Repeats of both Call for Help and The Lab will continue indefinitely. Everything comes to an end except re-runs.

Call for Help launched on May 11, 1998. It was cancelled April 2004 and revived by Rogers two months later. Ten years after its birth, four years after its resurrection, and after nearly 2,000 shows, Call for Help is finally over.

Except, it’s not. I’ll talk about the next chapter tomorrow.


This is Call for Help the way it was meant to be – with a handsome young host (hey it was eight years ago!) and guests Martin Sargent and Andy Ihnatko.

Rain City Roundup

I’m in rainy Vancouver this week working on 15 new episodes of The Lab with Leo – these are the last episodes of 2007 but I’ll be back at the end of January for another round.
We’ve had some great shows so far, including visits from Frank Linhares of Digitalunderground.TV (who proved to me that 9-volt batteries just contain six AA batteries), social media guru, Stowe Boyd, Blogher founder, Elisa Camahort Page, and my old friends Steve Gibson, Alex Lindsay, Mr. Excel, and Ray Maxwell, who gave me yet another reason to spend money.

7EFE3ED4-0BC6-4AF2-9A22-7D127D66DAB4.jpgRay showed me his Canon HV20 with a wide-angle lens and shotgun-mic (there’s a shoe on top), and once again I impulsively ordered an HG10 (the hard drive based version) for the trip to Egypt. The Panasonic SD5 I was planning to bring has two big negatives: you can’t really shoot close-up or big objects because even at its widest it’s a little telephoto and there are no wide-angle adapters available for it, and there’s no external mic jack. The adapter and the mic have arrived, but the camera is backordered and might not make it before we leave for Boston on Monday. Drat.

Getting back to the show, Cali Lewis even did two gadget segments via Skype – I’d prefer to get her here in person but travel budgets are tight and Skype works pretty well. I even got my muscle tension read via remote control using Skype and GoToMeeting.

Tomorrow, Kristin Sanford is going to make oobleck and nitrogen ice cream. I can’t wait to find out what oobleck is.

Meanwhile I’m stuck in the hotel room with a bunch of spreadsheets trying to work out the TWiT payroll before the end of the tax year and wishing I could take some time to add dropdown menus to my blog. I’ve got the Son of Suckerfish code and Steve Gibson’s all-CSS variant, but I really should be doing the books. Ah screw it, why think about money when you can hack code?

Gun Fight At The Lab

Dr. Tiki, Jeff Macpherson, shows off his mad editing skillz in this clip from The Lab With Leo starring Kate Abraham and Matt Harris.

Watch show 108 to see how he did it. (I’ll get you the air date as soon as I learn it.)

Torrents Made Easy

Miro screen shot
Miro (formerly The Democracy Player) is a great way to get video content using P2P. They seem to have excellent taste in shows, too, but I wonder where they’re getting the HD version?

Behind The Scenes At The Lab

My new TV show, The Lab with Leo Laporte debuts in April, but I’m in Vancouver right now for rehearsals. Here’s a short video of the new set we shot on Wednesday.

Check out the on set live cam at labwithleo.com/webcam. Kate Abraham’s behind the scenes blog (she’s our call screener and chyron operator) is labwithleo.com/blog/kate and our Free File guy and chase Producer Ryan Yewell’s blog is labwithleo.com/ryan/blog, and there are photos on Flickr.

The show will air on G4techTV Canada and the How To Channel in Australia. We’ll be shopping it to US networks as soon as we have a few shows in the can.