I love over the air television

For the first time in a long time, I'm watching television over the air. It's a wonderfully amazing idea, when you think about it. A device that can receive a signal that contains a program I want to watch. I've got a ton of work to do this weekend before I go back to work on Monday, but I really want to watch the Virginia Tech game. So, I dusted off the antenna I bought from Big Lots a few years ago, and voila!

Of course, there's less than five months until this antenna is rendered useless. Maybe I'll buy the box to get the digital, but maybe not.

In a perfect world, you wouldn't need cable. In a perfect world, local broadcasters could beam out niche programming over the airwaves. Maybe the new digital world will get us that.

I have to get back to work, but I did want to comment that it's pretty amazing I'm watching this programming in my office without needing cable. I feel like I'm getting away with something, but didn't we all do this for most of television history? Until the 80's, it all went out over the airwaves. Now, those airwaves, our airwaves, will be sold to the highest bidder. Will there be a public benefit?

Anyway, go Hokies.


Great article on Buford football

Charlottesville is damned lucky to have a writer as good as Will Goldsmith writing stories like the one he wrote in today's copy of C-Ville Weekly. Careful readers may know that I live incredibly close to Buford Middle School, and lo and behold, this fantastic article helps fill in the details of what I see every day.

To me, this is the kind of article that should win awards. It illuminates something social going on in my community that I did not know about before, and it gives me a sense of something I didn't know before.

But, more importantly, read the way that Will writes about football itself.

One of the first drills involves pursuit angles, one of the basics of defense. A player has to work a complicated math problem that involves the speed of the guy with the ball and their own speed to calculate what the shortest line would be to that point. Of course, kids don’t have time to work through the geometry in a game—it must become an instinct that’s built up through repetition. And this is just one of those skills peculiar to football.

Read the article. Somewhere in here lies the answer to Charlottesville's safe and secure future.


BBC Radio 4 program on American history

Who are we? I wonder that a lot as I drive around in this land where my parents decided to move over 40 years ago. Who are we, and how did we get here? I half-heartedly studied history at Virginia Tech because it helped answer questions, but it was not until I became a radio journalist for WVTF Public Radio that I thought about telling stories myself. I'd still like at some point to figure out a way to tell stories of the past in order to help make a better future.

But, until then, BBC Radio 4 has begun a new series on American history called America, Empire of Liberty that is worth taking a listen to. If you click, what you'll hear are four episodes of the series, which is being aired daily on Radio 4. Each episode is a 15-minute chunk of history, in a style that is not popular on NPR. Yet, it's what I want to do here, and have done here in the past. One narrator speaking, punctuated with actors reading quotes where relevant and appropriate.

I just wish they'd turn this into a pure podcast, because I doubt I will remember to go back again. I want to, though. I just spent an hour listening as I organized the house. Or tried to. There's a lot to organize.


Tinkering with sidebar

I've tried to declutter my sidebar. First off, I'm using a little trick I learned on Alan Rimm-Kaufmann's blog about using your starred feeds on Google Reader. While I prefer Bloglines to Google Reader, I have set up an account so that I can see what it looks like.

With the proliferation of posts on the Charlottesville Podcasting Network, I have been looking for ways to feature particular posts. This week, Ray Nedzel did an interview with the director of Live Art's Doubt. Dan Daniels recorded a talk on the Siege of Petersburg by Bill Bergen. My boss, Brian Wheeler, was a guest on Charlottesville--Right Now! I would like to figure out a way to highlight my favorites among the dozens of podcasts we're posting every week.

So, I used the trick I found to use Google Reader to power the first box you see to the right on the top of the blog this week.

I also went ahead and de-cluttered the rest of my sidebar, which was kind of littered with widgets and things. I do have a need to figure out how to best take advantage of all of the various feeds that I'm currently associated with. I need to figure out a way to grow the audience a little more, now that there's quite a lot of content. I will be adding a list of all of the various podcasts feeds at some point, but I am struggling with coming up with the best way to do that.

But, I've at least done one thing this morning!


ESPN bidding for rights to English Premiership

The International Herald Tribune is reporting that ESPN is considering bidding for the rights to show the English Premiership in the UK.

ESPN is considering a challenge Fox and its News Corp. cousin, British Sky Broadcasting, for Premier League rights starting with the 2010-11 season. If ESPN succeeds, it could be the spark to increasing ESPN's presence in England and perhaps beyond on the European continent.
I hope this is a two-way street. I think it would be interesting to see a wider audience fior US sports in Europe, because I personally think American football is a fascinating sport. It's the only sport I continue to watch on a regular basis, in part because it's a seasonal thing. But mostly because there are a lot of interesting story-lines woven into the way the games unfold. I watched a good portion of the Jets-Patriots game in part because the image of Brett Favre playing in a Jets uniform is compelling to me.

When I'm in England, I often try to explain the sport to my cousins and anyone else who will listen. It doesn't work so much, but ESPN likely would do a better job of televising American football, especially if they're also able to cross-promote it heavily if they're the people showing the games.

My point is, though, that I would love to see the English Premiership on basic cable, which is all I'm ever going to pay for. I could see it now, but my cable bill would rise to over $130 a month. That wouldn't do. At the moment, I really don't know how to follow the sport, but I do want to know what happens. I'm currently very much interested to see Manchester United not doing so well so far (#14) . I'm happy to see Hull City currently fourth in the league table. Of course, it's still early, but English football has the added pleasure of seeing who gets relegated to the league below at the end of the season.

I like that I'm increasingly living in a world where I don't have to choose between England and America.


Documenting my file-related cluelessness

When I started the Charlottesville Podcasting Network three years ago, I immediately began posting file after file after file. And then posted more files and more files. There was a lot, quickly.

That meant I filled up my allotted storage amount. I upgraded, but then filled up that amount fairly quickly as well. I kept having to take files off line because I could not figure out a solution, and couldn't afford to spend more money.

So, over the summer of 2005, I deleted several podcasts and backed them up to my computer. And then, to a CD. I had a computer I'd bought in 2002, and a laptop I bought when I launched my company and CPN. The two together really weren't up to the task of powering a website.

Somehow, I've neglected to back up some of those podcasts. Still, requests for some of the files occasionally come through, and I can't locate that they're looking for.

I was pretty clueless. Now I'm a little more advanced, but still fairly clueless.

In any case, this is a request for anyone who might have a copy of the following podcasts:

A long shot, I know, but you never know, though. Read through the comments on that last one. Interesting what developed from there, I think.

I'd very much like to revamp my website, but it's currently the fourth priority in my life, and I can never get to it as much as I would like. However, any time I do spend on it does tend to help me out in all of the various things I do. It's just that the web-design and maintenance is not my strong suit.

What is my strong suit? Kevlar.


Follow-up to last post: Not the Nine O'Clock News sketch

In the last post, the second clip has footage from the debate between members of Python and conservative Christians in England regarding whether or not the Life of Brian insulted the spirit of Jesus Christ.

Well, this sketch from Not the Nine O'Clock News is a take-off on the idea, which features a young Rowan Atkinson. Again, I'm amazed that YouTube allows me to easily view British television history.


On watching a Life of Brian documentary

I'm watching a documentary on the secret history of the Monty Python's Life of Brian, which is one of my favorite movies of all time. I remember watching it at Jeffry Cudlin's house when I was 10 or 11 on his dad's Betamax machine. Now, with nothing better to do, I'm watching a Channel 4 documentary on how it was put togheter.

I don't know if this is typical, but often I work into the night on one computer while the other one is showing something entertaining. Nothing live, as we don't have cable television anymore. But, this is even better.

The documentary ends up being about the documentary meeting the opposition of Mary Whitehouse, a crusader in the United Kingdom who went after anything she considered blasphemous. The documentary at about eight minutes in begins talking about Whitehouse's history. And then after two minutes, goes back to being about the writing of the film. The documentary is weaving two different threads at the same time, which may explain why this is one of my favorite films of all time.

As the documentary continues, there's footage from a debate where John Cleese and Michael Palin take on two religious figures in England. At that point, the British Film Licensing Board (or whatever it was called) was still discussing whether or not the film could be shown in the UK.

I enjoy that I love to be able to watch these things when I want like this. I'm amazed. Now, how do we make it pay people's salaries?

This article does not include links to all of the episodes. There are five installments on YouTube, and you'll have to poke around and find it. But it's there if you look for a moment or two.