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There were fewer tragedies in this semi. Not saying there weren't any, but fewer is better. Here are our winners.
  • Estonia. Crap. Not Greece-level crap. Not Portugal level crap, but hardly the kind of song that should lead off the winners.
  • Romania. OK song, needs a better singer.
  • Moldova. WTF? Devo, meet Boingo.
  • Ireland. OK, I have to love Jedward. They're like crack on crack.
  • Bosnia & Herzegovina? Wow! Dino Merlin makes it through! Dino Merlin is probably the oldest performer in the final! And he's really good!
  • Denmark's "A Friend in London" has a good, solid ballad.
  • Austria! Yay! It's a drag queen classic in the making! And she's got a great voice!
  • Ukraine has an OK song, but the real talent is the sand painter
  • Slovenia had a weak opening, but did get better.
  • Sweden! Yay! Sorry, but I've got to love Eric Saade.

The losers?
The Netherlands had an OK song, but oy, their choreography was painful. Belgium's fabu acapella group was doomed, doomed I say! Even (probable) silicone boobs couldn't prevent the singers from Slovakia from being flat. Cyprus was missing its autotune. Bulgaria had probably the best hard-rock number of the entire contest, and got knocked out. I so wanted to like Macedonia, I love pop folk but the singer was lame. The triumphant return of Israel's Dana International was hardly triumphant, more weak actually. Belarus showed so much promise, and then they started singing. Latvia was just "meh."

It's kind of weird. I loved Moldova, but I really didn't want them to make the final. Still, every Eurovision final needs some comedy. Belgium and Bulgaria not making the cut are both very disappointing.
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OK, it was the replay stream from Eurovision.tv, heavily compressed but adequate to watch. Here are your winners:
  • Serbia's little 60's retro number is fantastic. Lots of fun.
  • Lithuania's showtune-style power ballad is a waste of the singer's excellent voice.
  • Greece, oh, Greece, we know you can't afford to win, so how did the crap you sent this year make it to the finals in spite of being crap?
  • Azerbaijan? Was that odd harmonies or just bad intonation? I know, both!
  • Georgia's mash-up of hard girl-rock, hip-hop and goth metal should be a tragedy, but it's strangely alluring. The bad costumes not so much.
  • Switzerland's charming little folk ballad is, well, charming.
  • I think the Hungarian singer found the classiest drag show in Budapest and said "Give me that outfit or I'll cut you!" The song is destined to be a drag classic.
  • Finland's folk ballad with a social conscience was cute, and used the stage better than anything else. How it didn't crash and burn I'll never know.
  • Russa's entry strikes me as a boy-band member attempting a solo career. Not the good one, either.
  • Iceland's entry just offends my sensibilities. Sure, they're great singers, but it's a bad cross betwen Swedish dansband and English music hall. And they're badly dressed at that.

The losers?

Poland was decent Eurovision dance pop. Stella Mwangi (Norway) was excellent with "Haba Haba." The redheaded rocker from Albania was pretty good. Armenia was just plain weak. Turkey had an OK song, but a really bad production design (what was with the crappy globe and the phoenix costume we didn't see until the last 5 seconds?). I loved Malta's fabulous synthpop. San Marino was another waste of the singer's voice. Croatia had an OK song, a sloppy production design, but a really great costume-change trick (twice). Portugal's song was worse than Greece and their production was worse than Turkey.

So I like half of the entries that advanced to the final. I'm really disappointed that Norway and Malta didn't advance. I think that Poland and Albania were still better than some of the crap that did.

On Thursday, it's lather, rinse and repeat for the second semi.
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...he needs a bit of p0wnage.

Go forth. Check out [livejournal.com profile] taffscarf. Join it. Evangelize it. All must know the greatness of the scarf...

...and [livejournal.com profile] johnnyeponymous' lack of promotion for such a great thing!
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The draw is done, the entrants are ordered, the preview videos are going up on YouTube.

This is an improvement over the old "media player." The question is: are the entrants an improvement over last year? I sure hope so...

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So there's a lot of outrage going around about Sci Fi Channel's rebranding as "Syfy." Some of it is about language, some of it is about branding stupidity, but most of it as about the reporting on the name change.

"The name Sci Fi has been associated with geeks and dysfunctional, antisocial boys in their basements with video games and stuff like that, as opposed to the general public and the female audience in particular,” said TV historian Tim Brooks, who helped launch Sci Fi Channel when he worked at USA Network.

and

“We spent a lot of time in the ’90s trying to distance the network from science fiction, which is largely why it’s called Sci Fi,” Mr. Brooks said. “It’s somewhat cooler and better than the name ‘Science Fiction.’ But even the name Sci Fi is limiting.”

are good quotes. Brooks is the president of the network.

Much hay has been made of "syfy" being Polish for venereal disease, and it's good for a giggle.

It's not really, though. "syf" is short for "syfilis." "syfy" is a plural form in Polish. It's often used to refer to filth and can refer to venereal disease. It's also used to refer to really bad acne.

"The Acne Channel" is a really great way to distance the network from dysfunctional antisocial boys in their parents' basements. Really it is...
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I just ran the numbers on Comcast vs. AT&T. We're looking at a significant cost savings with AT&T.

That said...

How is the VoIP service? How is the voice mail? There's nothing I hate more than voice mail, and I've got to say I like the digital voice mail on the iPhone.

We actually use the Comcast "On Demand" feature a bit. How is the video-on-demand on uVerse?

Giggles...

Oct. 25th, 2008 04:08 pm
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While K builds a haunted house I've been working on the yard.

Between phases of yard work, I've been watching Spongebob, "Tim Gunn's Guide to Style" and "Top Design."

Spongebob is Spongebob.

"Tim Gunn's Guide to Style" is what the original British "What not to Wear" was. It's amusing and ruthless, but Tim and Gretta give the impression they really care about their subjects.

"Top Design" is another reality game show. The structure is pretty good. Watching it after "Tim Gunn's Guide to Style," though, the only thing going through my head was "These designers need to go on Tim's show. They can't dress themselves. The judges are the worst."
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So I missed today's semifinal webcast, but the results are posted:

The following countries are going on to Saturday's finals: )

Then there are the "Big 4" who get in because they're paying for most of the contest:

So we've got more mad, a ballad and, well, another ballad.

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..."The Doctor's Daughter" listen carefully to the music during the shuttle launch.

It can't be coincidence.
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...so you don't have to.

Really, this time.

You don't have to. You really shouldn't. This is a stinker of a year.

The Turks have the best entry, a bit of Turkish hard rock that's a decent song and a relatively creative video. Watch this one.

The Irish, with their big two fingers "up yours" to Eurovision is probably second.

The Finns put in a good showing with heavy metal band Teräsbetoni. But it's Teräsbetoni. It's hard to take them seriously; nobody knows for certain if they take themselves seriously. If you like metal, you will probably like it.

The rest? Fair-to-middlin' pre-fab pop. No tight-harmony pop. No boy bands. No drag queens. A lot of dance divas, all wearing the same silver sequined dress, just some wearing less of it.

There's not even anything really mad. Sure, you've got an anorexic dude from Bosnia/Herzegovina singing to a chicken, Latvian pirates, homoerotic Azerbaijani angels and devils and Estonian... well... I'm not sure what to make of the Estonians. The chicken from Bosnia was back for Estonia, though, in the form of a sign with a drumstick on it.

There's a lot of mediocre. Very little that's so bad it's funny. Very little that's truly snarkworthy, unfortunately.

Some of these entries might stand up better to a live staging. The Swiss entry, while better than last year's submission, has a truly unfortunate and incongruous video.

Still, I doubt it. Very few entries last year improved in their transition from the studio to the stage. It's going to be a stinker of a contest this year.
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I rebuilt ffmpeg. Still have some A/V sync problems. This isn't a surprise. The machine couldn't sync Matroska/h.264/mp3 videos under Windows. Just didn't have the processor power.

Everything else is running as well or better than when the machine was running Windows.

So notes?
  • Ubuntu Linux is perfectly fine and the install is dirt-simple
  • The CIFS (SMB, Samba, or Windows Networking client) support in Ubuntu is kind of weak
  • VLC Media Player isn’t bad, but the linux version doesn't support direct browsing for media over CIFS protocol
  • If you're going to have to mount your network media file system, and you have the option, NFS is a much better protocol choice for Linux.
  • MPlayer is an even simpler media playback tool than VLC, and it’s got a wide range of codec support
  • MythTV, while being pimped as a DIY DVR box, also provides a great front-end for accessing your media library and playing it through MPlayer

Success!

Mar. 25th, 2008 11:27 pm
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Well, it's a minor success.

MPlayer for ubuntu comes, by default, configured half-stupid. All of the codecs that might just infringe somebody a teensy bit are excised out of the code.

That's not to say they don't exist. Finding and loading the better WM* codecs just fixed my windows media playback problems.

We'll see if rebuilding Ubuntu's FFmpeg solves the h.264 problem.

Horrific!

Mar. 19th, 2008 01:21 pm
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I blame [livejournal.com profile] sfbootdog. If it hadn't been for him I could have remained blissfully unaware.

So back in the 80's when Doctor Who went on a one-season hiatus, a bunch of folks involved in the show did a charity pop song. Well, the proceeds went to charity, but the purpose was to raise interest in the show and avoid its cancellation.

It's been described by one of the songwriters as "...an absolute balls-up fiasco."

For your consideration, an absolute balls-up fiasco:

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Hugo Nom that is...

I've filed my 2007 Hugo Award nominations.
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So about Tin Man...

It's not 6 hours of my life I'll never get back, thanks to the magic of DVR. More like 5.5 or so. It didn't totally suck, but it sure wasn't good.

Look up "contrived" in the dictionary and you'll find the script for this miniseries.

Soundtrack reminds me of a porn flick with extra orchestration.

Alan Cumming is charming. Neal McDonough is hot (but don't look up his pictures on IMDB, his smile in many of them looks like Bender's). Kathleeen Robertson shook monkeys out of her boobs. Zoe Deschanel is, well, kind of wishy-washy, Trillian without the spark. The rest of the cast? It's not as big a waste of acting talent as the current incarnation of Flash Gordon.

If you haven't seen it, don't go out of your way to. Pretty much don't bother.
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The Doctor Who Adventure Calendar went live on Saturday. 24 days of web updates until "Voyage of the Damned."

The new Torchwood website goes live in about 2 weeks...
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...but someone at KPBS figured out how to harness the power of Google.

Why is this valuable? Well, first, it's the most detailed map of the fires and related conditions. More importantly, though, it's hosted at Google, whose servers aren't being overwhelmed by requests (unlike almost every local website in San Diego County except KPBS).

In clever news of the weird, they're also using Twitter to get one-line news flashes out via text messages.
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I wrote this back when Ep10 aired in the UK as part of a review:

So I've been hearing a lot of "But what's Torchwood about?"

From people who are watching it.

Over the series, it's flowed much more like an anthology series with some common characters than a traditional drama. It's Friday the 13th, The Series in Cardiff, only instead of an antique shop of cursed items scattered around town, it's a space-time rift.

Seriously.

The reason for Torchwood in Cardiff is a space-time rift that keeps spitting out strange things, new and different strange things. This allows (if not encourages) variety in story concepts, and all that's tying things together are the characters. Throw in "twist" plots (like "<schnip>" and "<schnip>") and it gets more erratic. It's the nature of the premise.
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