April 10th, 2003


So there was this guy waiting for a train to pass...

Yesterday I was riding around with jezel (my ex) in downtown Seattle. We were going to go a particular thrift store, "Two Big Blonds". We got off the viaduct, and realized that the local baseball team was having a home game today. Much pedestrian traffic. Anyway, we tried to duck back underneath the viaduct to get on Alaska Way to get out of it.

So there we were on South Atlantic Street, right under viaduct, with a train slowly passing in front of us. While we were waiting, I related a short little story I had heard about a "friend of a friend" who was similarly in a hurry, waiting for a train to cross in front of him, and just as the train was almost past, it slowed, stopped, reversed, and started slowly going the other way.

We both agreed this was a funny story ("type 2 humor: someone else's misfortune").

When what happens? The train crossing in front of us of proceeded to slow, stop, and reverse. Much gnashing of teeth and banging on the steering wheel ensued. And the expressed frustration redoubled and then turned into seething as the train almost reached it's other end in front of us, and proceeded to reverse direction again!

So now this little tiny urban legend didn't happen to a "friend of a friend".

It happened to me.

To replace my ReplayTV

I have a ReplayTV 4160 Personal Video Recorder. I love having a PVR. PVR is one of those things that sounds like a idle frivolity. Until you use it for a little while. You will never want to watch TV the old way again.

(I work for a company that is designing a series of PVR units to be deployed by cable companies.)

Unfortunately, SonicBlue, the folks behind ReplayTV have gone bankrupt, in part due to the lawsuits brought by the tv industry, who hate PVR. Especially they hate Replay's automatic commercial zapping function.

So I was getting nervous. When will my Replay stop working (it has to constantly "phone home", either via a phone call or via a highspeed internet connection, to update it's program schedule. No SonicBlue, no ReplayTV dataservice, no working ReplayTV.

I am now less nervous.

I have seen the replacement for my Replay. It's a GPL open source project called "MythTV". It's still a little shaky and under development, but it will very soon do everything my Replay does. Better. Neater. More openly. More powerfully. More user and poweruser friendly. And in ways that will really enrage the television industry. Heh heh heh.