Me Like Tivo

For the last two years I have been recording a few of my favorite TV shows on an old Macintosh with EyeTV. The cool thing about this is that I didn’t have to remember to switch videotapes. I could quickly copy the shows on to my laptop to watch anytime, anywhere. Plus I could burn it to a VCD for archiving, taking up much less space than a videotape.

During this time I’ve been very curious about Tivo but my computer-based system really did everything I needed it to do. In fact last year just before the new TV season, I almost bought a Tivo. But at the last minute I decided not to invest the money.

This year, I couldn’t help myself. I think it was the $100 rebate and fact that the Tivo plus DVD-R are finally at what I would consider to be a reasonable price. I can’t copy my shows to my laptop like I could before, but burning a DVD is quick and easy.

And the other benefits I get with Tivo are pretty damn amazing. Those of you who already have one already know this. I’m preaching to the choir. But those who haven’t tried it, you’re really missing out. My single favorite thing is that it makes TV fit my schedule instead of the other way around. It doesn’t matter what time I finally get home from work, I can sit down and watch my favorite shows. It can be tough for me to regularly watch shows that come on at 8pm—I’m often not home in time. And if I’m working long hours, late night shows like “The Daily Show” or Adult Swim are now at much more reasonable times.

Wishlists are awesome. I was able to tell my Tivo to record any movie that is directed by Alfred Hitchcock or Akira Kurosawa. It just finds them and records them. I don’t have to do any searching. Also, by spending a little time to rate shows with one or multiple thumbs up or down, I can teach it the kinds of shows and movies that I like. Then it suggests other things that I might like and records them for me. Very, very cool. And all I have to do is be willing to give up my right to TV viewing privacy. 😉

More Ninjas, More Samurai

A couple of days ago I finished the second book of the “Tales of the Otori” series, “Grass For His Pillow”, and now I’m about half-way through the third, “Brilliance Of The Moon”. If I didn’t explain it well enough before, let me just say that this is really a great series.

This part is a secret, at least for the next 24 hours, so don’t tell anyone, ok? I gave Mary, my friend who just turned 30, hardcover copies of all three books for her birthday. Promise you won’t say anything to her? They’re not going to show up at her place until sometime tomorrow.

Several years ago, Mary gave me “Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone” for my birthday. (This was after “Prisoner Of Azkaban” but before “Goblet Of Fire”.) I loved that book and really enjoyed all ones since. I’m so glad that Mary introduced me to that series. I am hoping she will get as much enjoyment out of Lian Hearn’s books.

Party With Pierogis

Yesterday was my friend’s 30th birthday and in celebration her husband rented out the patio behind Warszawa, a Polish restaurant in Santa Monica. I’ve never had “fancy” pierogis before. I born outside of Detroit and lived there through my early childhood years, and I went to college in Chicago. I have had plenty of Polish influence and cuisine in my life over the years but this is the first time I have encountered the trendy, hipster Polish spot. It was very nice.

In fact they were nice enough to allow David to bring in CDs to play for the event and they even had a large screen and a projector so episodes of the Linda Carter “Wonder Woman” TV show played throughout much of the night.

I caught up with my friend Jim who I haven’t seen in probably a year—we usually see each other at parties that David throws since he and Jim went to school together. I knew that Jim worked for several years with the writers on “Crossing Jordan”. That show is shot on the Universal lot and I knew that they had their editing rooms on the second floor of the building I was in when our editorial was set up there. What I didn’t realize was that all the offices for “Crossing Jordan” were up there. In the couple of months that I was in that building, walking in and out of the same front doors, I never once ran into Jim. Now I wish I had gone up to check out their offices.

The good news is that Jim has just this week started a new job as a full-fledged writer on “The Dead Zone”. I was so glad about hear that. I know that he was working for years hoping that someone would eventually give him the chance and now he finally has it.

Hub Heavy

Is there a legitimate reason why USB hubs can weigh a few ounces but their power supplies need to be made out of 5 pounds of lead? Can anyone answer me this? My cellphone power supply–charger is small and light. The little white square that Apple ships with its iPods is very portable. For some reason I cannot fathom this does not seem to be possible for USB hubs.


In this time of “every piece of audio software that I own needs a unique USB dongle to run”, my USB ports are very valuable. I just picked up a new 7-port hub from Belkin that is quite slick. It has two ports on top which are perfect for dongles. Plus the hole in the middle allows easy stacking. But I swear to god, that power supply weighs as much as my PowerBook. It’s not something I’d want to throw in my bag with will my other laptop goodies.

Several years ago I picked up a great little 3-port hub from Dr. Bott. It’s perfect for laptops. But it is only 3-ports and even though it’s pretty good about getting many USB devices to work off it, since it isn’t self-powered it doesn’t support everything.

There has to be something better out there.

Beneath The Radar

I couldn’t get to my website for about 20 minutes this morning., my hosting company, now has this up on their status page:

Beginning around 8:30am today, a steadily increasing flooding attack began against a customer site. This attack temporarily affected approximately two-thirds of our hosted sites until a reconfiguration was made to separate that traffic from other customer traffic. At this time, only the targeted site is being affected. We will continue to work with our upstream providers and adjust our network filters in order to adapt to this attack, which is by far the largest we have ever seen.

My site is back up so I must not be the one hackers are so anxious to take down. The small blessings of not being very popular. 😉

The Curse Of Chalion

Lois McMaster Bujold’s “The Curse Of Chalion” is a fun little book. It’s a bit more of a “popcorn” read than some of my recent undertakings, but at least it has a engrossing story and enjoyable characters—unlike a certain other fantasy book.

I don’t know what it is, but I seem to have picked a lot of “political” fantasy stories recently. Though not as convoluted as the “A Song Of Ice And Fire” series can get, this book is still full of corrupt high chancellors, scheming nobles and weak sovereigns. “Chalion” is more of a theological fantasy than the elves and dwarves kind. It is still set in a kingdom of knights, princesses and castles but the magic involves interaction with the gods of the realm.

The the ruling house of Chalion was cursed years ago by a death magic spell and ever since nothing has gone right for them—from disastrous military campaigns to tragic deaths to childless marriages. The quiet and unassuming Cazaril, a one-time lord and warrior who spent nearly two years as a slave rowing an enemy galley, is caught in the middle of this trouble while trying to tutor the beautiful young royesse and keep her from getting swallowed up by the corruption of her brother’s court.

It has much more of a Hollywood-style ending than George R.R. Martin’s books, but it’s still a good read.

The Software I Use

We got moved in to our new office today without too much trouble. I’m sharing a very small room with the ADR editor but thankfully it’s only for two weeks. Tomorrow I have to finish installing the necessary software on my computer. When I was at Universal I did most of my work on my own laptop. I would just have to jump on to the other assistant’s computer to digitize picture. But it’s certainly nice to have a full-blown Pro Tools sitting in front of me again.

This is my list of necessary software for Pro Tools assisting:

  • Pro Tools (duh)
  • DigiTranslator
  • Titan
  • Tape
  • Change Note Assistant
  • Final Cut Pro
  • BBEdit
  • Word
  • Excel
  • Filemaker Pro
  • Toast
  • Peak
  • Soundminer
  • A Better Finder Rename
  • Quickeys
  • Retrospect
  • Lots of “home brew” AppleScripts

The only one of those programs I can’t run in OS X is Tape. Damn effin’ Tape. I need to find another way to print cuesheets. I’m going to try experimenting with converting sessions and printing cuesheets in Nuendo. It can’t be that much more painful than Tape. Thankfully I can borrow I copy of Nuendo from the supervisor for my testing. If you’re going to compare prices for printing, $1200 for Nuendo vs. $200 for Tape isn’t much of a contest. Of course Nuendo is an entire sound editing program while Tape is just a piece of shit.

Moving Day

Today I’m saying ‘goodbye’ to Universal Studios. The show that was giving us space (not the show I’m working on right now) had an audience test screening last week and now it’s hunkering down for some additional shooting and lots of editing. They’re putting the sound crew on hiatus for several months.

Friday afternoon we ran around packing up rooms, breaking down Pro Tools systems, and rolling everything into two rooms that are being kept on the show so that things can be expanded quickly once it starts up again. This morning we’re moving a couple of systems over to a new location in Burbank. Actually we were going to be setting up shop there in two weeks anyway since there’s a little Disney project starting up then. But we had to find space for two weeks so my show can get through a temp dub and a test screening. We’re taking over some temporary rooms until the main ones are ready on Sept. 27.

The good news for me is that I’ll have a 5 minute commute to work.

Playing Igniter Digital Picture On A DC30+

Those of you who have dealt with Pro Tools and digital picture over the last couple of years may have already encountered this:

Digital Picture digitized on an Aurora Igniter videocard is not usable on a Pro Tools system with a DC30+ videocard running OS 9. Since the Igniter uses non-square pixels (720×486 or 360×243), the picture appears very squished on the DC30+ with its square pixels (640×480 or 320×240). The Aurora Fuse, the other videocard often used by Pro Tools in OS 9, doesn’t have this problem as long as you use the 2.0.3 driver.

There is a fix for the DC30+ and it’s called OS X. If you switch your system over to OS X, some version of Pro Tools 6 and use the DC30 Xact Driver, your DC30+ card will playback your Igniter digital picture at the proper aspect ratio. I just tested this out myself on Friday.

Unfortunately there still isn’t an OS X driver for the Aurora Fuse. Those of you with this card looking to switch to Pro Tools 6 should probably just suck it up and plop down the $1000 for the Igniter. Obviously the DC30+ is a viable option with the 3rd-party driver, but since the card hasn’t been manufactured for 4 or more years it’s a crapshoot whether you can get your hands on one.