Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Hating Christmas (or at least what you put on your lawn)

Bah Humbug.....

Or so it seems.   Perhaps it's the more eco-maniacal tendencies of some of the staff over at NPR  that spawned an entire article by Linda Holmes attacking the content of ABC's "Christmas Light Fight" programming.

With quotes like:

"Christmas: volume is everything, taste is discouraged, you never use one lighted reindeer when you can use eight, and it's unnecessary to think about the planet because electricity is apparently made by elves for you to use."

Of course this is coming from an author that was compelled to spend 9620 words regurgitating an episode of "Bachelor Pad"  

You'd be excused if after reading the piece you were led to believe that the show was about a bunch of self-serving egomaniacal nut jobs whose only purpose was to bring attention to themselves.

Taste is a subjective thing and like everything else is colored by our experiences.  It's a woefully inadequate term to describe anything outside of your own context.   In fact the very definition of taste includes "individual inclination." as one of the possible meanings of the word.  That's why most reputable news organizations don't use it. 

In other words, choose your nouns carefully, the use of "taste" in this context invalidates your message.

But I digress...

The real problem with such a point of view is myopia.  For example, Should I choose to spend the rest of this post  focusing on nothing but one word that undeniably imparts a personal bias I'd be guilty of  the same sin.  That being ignoring evidence that contradicted my own point of view.

"They are Tim Taylor from Home Improvement come to life, celebrating the season by shrieking at the tops of their figurative lungs that they love Christmas more than you do"

Yes, the participants on "The Great Christmas Light Fight" may indeed be a bit overly enthusiastic about the holiday but what Holmes chooses to ignore is why.

Using one of the show's winners as an example, the author mentions, " El Paso family who said they would give the $50,000 to charity." 

Then follows it up with:

"(Presumably, they're keeping the hilariously cheap-looking trophy.)"

Yes, the light display was over the top but what wasn't mentioned was why El Paso businessman, Fred Loya, did it.  

Loya remarked on the show that he felt gratitude to El paso and wanted to "give back for all El Paso had did for him"  On winning the contest he was quoted in the El Paso Times as saying...

"It's a humbling honor because the underlying goal is to bring honor that reflects on the families of El Paso," Loya said. "It means a lot to us. We've always maintained that (our Christmas light) show belongs to El Paso."

Almost all the contestants had similar motivations such as:  Giving back to the community, a tribute to a cherished loved one or a reverence for the holiday they wanted to share.

But rather than investigate, instead we make references to Coco Chanel quotes and Disney's intellectual property not to mention the suffering of the "planet" because of all the electricity used.  

Never mind that Coco Chanel was talking about fashion sense not taste and that most displays are only on for a few hours a night and use LED's which consume a fraction of the electricity.  I'd wager some of the show contestant light displays use less power than the author's vacuum cleaner!

But it's far more interesting to ridicule and attack what we don't agree with than to dig deeper isn't it.  It's astonishing that NPR would allow an article born out of such biased and mediocre journalism.  Where is the balance?  Where is the journalistic integrity?  Should we infer that anyone who chooses to express their holiday cheer with more than a wreath on the door is a prime target for a hit piece?

You've missed the point Linda Holmes or should I say, Scrooge!

Monday, December 8, 2014

A walk with Jesse

A close friend of mine recently told me a story from his childhood that upon hearing, I felt needed to be shared.

It's a story about race relations but instead of tearing at the nation's fabric like the sad events in Ferguson or New York it inspires hope. 

It's about the clarity of  innocence and embracing instead of fearing our differences.  

It's about a child meeting a hero that he'd never heard of before who looked different than anyone he'd ever known.  

It's a story about how we should be and not what we are. In his own words, I bring you a story from my friend Thomas...

 My most awesome early memory: meeting Jessie Owens.

My name is Thomas and I have lived, for most of my life, in Phoenix, Arizona. I was originally born in Illinois, but our family moved to Phoenix in 1969. I had been only a little over 1 year old when we moved.

According to this website:, Jessie Owens settled in at Heritage Heights, a subdivision of northeast Phoenix. Our house had been at 32nd street and Cortez which is a little north of Heritage Heights.

I thought it important to note where he had lived to try to correlate the location. My parents had said that he lived in the area, but didn’t know exactly where.

The events I can remember are nebulous at best because I was so young when it happened. None of this could ever hold up in court, but I’m convinced it was him.

I’d been walking around the neighborhood in what seemed to me to be late-afternoon. I don’t remember it being cold, and I had been walking alone. I’d walked to the corner of 30th street and Sierra, and I believe I’d decided it was time to go home. I must have been a little bit on Sierra street because I remember turning around to get back to the corner. The route back to my house had been 1 block south on 30th street to Cortez. When I turned around to get back to 30th street, I saw him.

I had been so young that nothing like fear or panic or anything like that ever entered my mind. The best guess of my age would have to be about 4 or 5 years old, and my concern at the time was just to get home. I know I began to walk towards the corner, and we started talking. I think I was curious more than anything else because he was African-American. I’m a white as can be Caucasian. The concept of skin color hadn’t registered yet.

I can’t say he had been the first African-American I’d ever seen, but he’s the first one I remember. I’m unable to remember how the conversation began, but I might have asked him about what he did. I had been familiar with the concept of work since my dad went there every day.

So the first thing I can remember is that he said that he ran very fast. He said he received a medal. I know he talked a little about running, but I can’t, for the life of me, remember much about that part. But, I asked how he did that. And, he said he drank a lot of milk. I then rather quizzically asked if it had been chocolate milk. It made sense to me that his skin color must have been from drinking a lot of chocolate milk. He laughed pretty good on that one. He then asked me if he had been the first black man I’d ever seen. (He actually did use the term black and not African-American.) I’m not sure what I may have said; I’m sure I was terribly confused. He said that was the color of his skin. He stretched out his long arm, and let me look at his hand.

I grabbed on to his huge hand, and he rotated it around a bit. Naturally, his palms were a lighter color than most of the rest of him. He said, “See? This is just how my skin is.” And, again, a lighter colored palm meant, to me, that it got lighter from washing his hands. So, I asked if he could just wash it off. And, again, he just smiled and laughed some more. He just said in a soft voice that it doesn’t wash off and that the color of his skin was natural.

I think it pretty much ended there. This might be in error, but I thought I heard him say he was going to see some friends. Although I wish I had been old enough to figure out what he had meant at the time. Back then, he made no real impression on me. I didn’t know he was Jessie Owens, and won gold in the Berlin summer Olympics. I’m sure I just went on home, ate dinner, and forgot all about it. The memory of that day didn’t come up again until my parents had said he’d lived near our area in my teenage years. I told them what I remembered though I’m not sure they believed me.

Now, forty years later, what I do know is that he was very gentle, smiled and laughed at what I said, and wanted me to drink milk. I think he also figured out, right quick, that I wasn’t going to get down the idea of skin color no matter how much he tried to explain. It is one of the earliest memories I have, and it most certainly is truly awesome. He had been truly an ambassador of goodwill because that sums up, exactly, how I feel about my memory of him.

Friday, October 31, 2014

TWIT: Kicking puppies or The firing of OMGChad

I'll be honest here...

I really haven't been spending that much time with TWIT lately.  The house that Leo built continues what appears to be a slow slide into oblivion which isn't news.  That more and more people agree with that assessment isn't either.

It's not good to fixate on negative things for any length of time unless you're trying to learn to avoid them.  At this point the writing's on the wall for TWIT and fans and detractors alike are growing weary of the whitewash every time the network takes another misstep.  

It's like trying to find something positive to say about a train wreck by mentioning the scrap value of the mangled cars.

The latest round of "changes" as former bookkeeper now CEO Lisa Kentzell likes to call them is the...ummm....

Firing? removal? change in status?  Well, whatever they're calling it these days, "former" protege' Chad Johnson is no longer a full time employee.

Apparently Johnson, whose OMGCraft show had already left the network, has been removed from TWIT production duties on all TWIT shows including MacBreak Weekly and TWIT among others.

Which means he was fired...

In the October 29th "Inside TWIT" Laporte cited the need for a producer whose time isn't split between their own endeavours and those of TWIT's cash cow programming.  He followed up with expressions of affection for the newly unleashed Johnson not unlike those bestowed on Brian Brushwood and Justin Robert Young earlier this year.

Those "changes" became most evident, however, after Johnson had his own "Erik Lanigan-esque" moment (meaning he said he got fired but wouldn't elaborate.)  It came about during an impromptu call-in on longtime friend and mentor Brian Brushwood's "Night Attack" show during a discussion about his termination.

Much like the now "banished to the ether" NFSW 218 where Brushwood and Young praised TWIT for their help in nurturing the fledgling show,  Johnosn remained professional in his discussion of the events surrounding his dismissal and appreciative of Laporte's tutelege.  Hopefully we'll see that professional courtesy reciprocated instead of the Night of 1000 bans leveled at the former hosts of NSFW.

NOTE: Skip to 1:07:27 to hear from Johnson himself...

Johnson will continue as co-host with Dick DeBartolo on "The Giz Wiz" although that may have more to do with DeBartolo's pull than any act of magnanimity by Laporte. 

With the continuing drain of talent at TWIT, Laporte needs to retain the few popular hosts he has left.  With successful endeavors of thier own and fame earned long before TWIT even existed, DeBartolo and  others like Security Now's Steve Gibson have little need of the exposure TWIT affords them.

Meaning that after DeBartolo was effectively abandoned by Laporte to be replaced by Johnson it's likely he wouldn't tolerate another host change.  Of course it could also be that Laporte just didn't want to take back hosting duties on The Giz Wiz like he had to for Before you Buy when Morse left.

That or Laporte is just running out of hosts.

Speaking of Shannon Morse...

She's even closer to "out the door" now.   Her departure from co-hosting duties with Fr. Robert Balacer on Coding 101 was announced on the October 15th Inside TWIT page.

The change is reportedly the result of format changes to the show which for all intents and purposes is going to be less about learning to code (the show's premise BTW) and more like a "Triangulation" for coders.  (That's my phrase not TWIT's)

You have to wonder just how much more of this the ol' Padre is going to put up with...

Morse already had one foot out the door when she ceased producer duties at TWIT this year and now has been reduced to the cameo role of "reviewer" on TWIT's Before You Buy product review show.

One can only surmise that OMGChad's future at TWIT will follow a similar path as TWIT "contractors" tend to have short tenures.

The official explanation is below on the inside TWIT Oct 15th announcement page...

A big thank you to everyone for their support of Coding 101, because without our fans it would not exist. A show about programming has always been a part of our vision for TWiT, and starting this week we are making changes to the format of the show.
Instead of focusing on teaching code and jumping from one language to the next, we will be interviewing developers/programmers/coders and taking a deeper dive into their work. We plan to cover everything from coding to programming philosophy and plan to integrate more projects on the show.
With this shift in focus, Shannon Morse is leaving Coding 101, but she is not leaving our network. I am happy to announce that Shannon will be returning as a contributor to Before You Buy with weekly product reviews. While I know that Shannon is very busy with her work outside our network, we are looking forward to keeping her presence on TWiT.
Stay tuned as we continue to improve our existing shows and announce new ones!

And why not?  After all, we tuned into Coding 101 for the stimulating conversation right?  Yes, of course, Coding 101 will now be the Tavis Smiley of coding podcasts!

Ok, by now we know the "changes" that happen at TWIT these days are largely driven by Lisa Kentzell with Laporte blithely following her lead.  There's no doubt who's in charge of the network and the visiion is clearly not Laporte's regardless of his claims to the contrary.

Much like Brian Brushwwood on Night Attack 35, I'm having issues not mentioning what part of the anatomy I believe  Laporte's decisions are likely being made by.

All I can say at this point is that shafting Chad Johnson is like kicking puppies while drowning kittens.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Prosecuting Youtube

Let me preface this article with the following statement. 

I firmly believe that content creators have an undeniable right to profit from their work. 

That said, I do have a problem with a copyright system that allows "owners" (which are usually not the content creators) to assert claims on anything they "believe" to be infringing without question by spineless "services" like YouTube

I also have a major problem with services that employ a hostile process for redress of the "accused."   
You're guilty with little opportunity to prove your innocence.  It shows up in dire legal verbiage designed to scare away any challenge and immediate penalties that effectively cripple the medium for the accused user.  

In short, on YouTube a copyright strike makes you guilty until proven innocent.  It's a  process that demands all but an admission of "guilt" before allowing you to do anything further on the service while the "infringement" is active.  In the end unless you live with a copyright attorney it's virtually impossible to mount an effective "defense."

So in case you haven't guessed, I just had another run in with YouTube but this one put the proverbial nail in the coffin...

I'd been using the service (notice the tense there) for over 3 years and had hosted almost 300 videos at one point.  I have an active adsense account that allowed me to participate in a revenue sharing agreement with YouTube by allowing them to place ads in my content.  A mutually beneficial arrangement although the benefit was decidedly slanted toward YouTube.

Over the years I'd dealt with a few copyright claims for music and game footage but none were ever elevated to the level of being an outright DMCA copyright violation.  My response was fairly routine.  

I'd either remove the "alleged" offending content if I was feeling generous or if I felt the claim invalid I'd contest it with varying degrees of success.  Over the years I had actually won a few disputes and got the so-called "owners" to back off.  If I lost I usually just deleted the offending video and was done with it.

I never intentionally tried to infringe anyone's copyright but if somebody thought I was trying to take their bone I wasn't going to risk any of my dogs fighting in a rigged game. 

But this was different...

The videos in question were about 2 years old and were simply some footage of a friend of mine testing Windows 8 Enterprise Evaluation edition in a VM.  

There was nothing about the videos that was a privileged information even when they were initially posted.  In fact I never saw anything obvious in Microsoft's EULA that mentioned a restriction on recording footage of the OS.

Unfortunately for me, Microsoft decided yesterday that it didn't like seeing footage of someone actually using their operating system and subsequently filed a take down demand with YouTube.  

Of course that's just supposition as YouTube almost never informs you of the exact "infringement" leaving you to guess.  Only recently have they began testing of an editing tool capable of removing alleged copyrighted content identified by their ContentID system.  Making every upload a coin toss...

Which means anyone who chooses to show a Windows desktop in their video could soon find their content ripped off of YouTube without warning, receive a copyright strike and never know why.

To me, this is nothing short of abuse of the copyright system.  It's bad enough that perpetual copyrights have become the norm effectively shutting anything remotely commercial in the past 50 years out of the public domain.  Now anything that even resembles or has elements of a copyrighted work can be suppressed. 

We're not talking about someone posting some unreleased Hollywood Blockbuster or the latest music video featuring Beyonce's... assets. 

It's about corporate bullying facilitated by a broken copyright system with lapdogs like YouTube doing their bidding. 

And I've had enough...

YouTube always sides with the accuser and as I already mentioned you're given feeble mechanisms for rebuttal. 

This latest insult was the final straw and my response was to delete the entire channel.  I'd rather sacrifice 3 years of work than suffer the Scarlet Letter foisted on me.    

Now some may say I'm in the wrong and list the myriad of ways a copyright holder can claim the exclusive right to distribute anything related to their "property."

Perhaps as things are now that's so but again I reiterate, this was not content that denied anyone their payday.

I like analogies so let's try one that is a little less ambiguous than a video of some geek clicking around a  Windows desktop for an hour...

Imagine you've just bought a brand new car.  It's the first one you've ever had and it's exactly what you wanted.  You're bursting with pride and want to show it off to all your friends and family on the Internet. 

So you record a video, spend hours editing it till it's perfect, upload it to YouTube and send everyone a link who cares to have it.

A month goes by and suddenly your video gets a takedown notice and you get a copyright strike against your account.

Why?  Because the manufacturer of your brand new car claims that they have the exclusive right to any  exhibition of it. 

Seem ridiculous?  It is but that's how the copyright system currently works.  All an "owner" has to do is make a claim and YouTube will dutifully begin prosecuting you.

Which is why I've deleted the channel and removed all the content.

It's bad enough that Google's acquisition of YouTube has resulted in the mass suffering of its users by herding everyone into Google Plus whether they wanted it or not.  

Add in constant attacks by prepubescent teens and quasi-sociopaths determined to destroy your self esteem and your dreams of PewdiePie fandom soon evaporate.

All of that I can deal with.  When you put your stuff out there for all to see you learn to develop a thick skin. 

But when I get branded as a criminal with YouTube as proxy Judge, Jury and Executioner to pass "sentence" it's a step too far. 

YouTube's copyright enforcement system is flawed, ambiguous and to my mind designed that way.  

Hiding behind the shield of "Safe Harbor" they fail to define what constitutes an "infringement" in order to profit off the legitimate work of millions of YouTube creators.  At least until such time as someone makes a claim against you be it legitimate or otherwise.  Leaving a bewildered user base potentially branded as criminals without recourse.

This is one content creator that's had enough.

I'm tired of the constant badgering of copyright trolls with YouTube's blessing and no recourse.  I'm tired of finding my videos mysteriously losing monetization without warning or reason.  I'm tired of YouTube's flawed "ContentID" system throwing innocent users into copyright disputes based on false positives. 

But ultimately, I'm just tired of participating in an abusive relationship.  

Or maybe I'm just tired of writing about A-holes...


Apparently I wasn't the only one getting screwed over by Microsoft and thousands of other YouTubers including some Microsoft employees suffered the same treatment at the hands of a 3rd party marketing agency called "Marketly." They decided to slap a takedown notice on just about anyone with "Windows" in their video's title.  

When I checked my account today, I no longer found a copyright strike although I'm unsure whether that was because I deleted the channel or the takedown was released.  I will risk uploading the same "offending" videos in a new channel focused on IT this week and see what happens.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

TWIT: NSFW 218 becomes night of 1000 redactions!

Talk about circling the wagons!

This will be short but it seems I and others may have touched a nerve at TWIT as it appears that all evidence of the final NSFW show #218 has been removed from popular media outlets.  That apparently includes me as the link to the final NSFW broadcast now only offers up "This video is Private" when the embedded video link on my February post is activated...

I know I've had to change the source link 3 times since publishing the article on NSFW's final broadcast on TWIT and now the show is nowhere to be found.

On Sunday October 5th's This Week In Tech there was some discussion concerning the possible "banning" of NSFW hosts Justin Robert young and Brian Brushwood from the network but little more was said.

Now it appears that copies of the final NSFW broadcast have been withdrawn leaving viewers with only Pre and Post show video captures.  

I've recently been informed that this move wasn't an isolated event as archives of past TWIT shows featuring departed TWIT hosts have reportedly been removed from public view.

The move seems retaliatory which is unfortunate.  Considering NSFW 218 was nothing but conciliatory and praising of Laporte it makes no sense to withdraw it from public view.

But then, this is the "new" TWIT.

Stitcher still has an active link to the audio MP3.  
You can find it below, at least until someone yanks it down too....

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

TWIT defines the news

It's official...

This Blog is NOT, I repeat, NOT a news site.

Not that I ever said it was but I digress..

I was informed of this fact by a "helpful" TWIT chatroom moderator who goes by the mysterious moniker of "Dan" during the Sunday October 5th edition of This Week in Tech (TWIT).

The whole exchange came about whilst happily participating in the "G-rated" revelry that is the TWIT IRC chatroom.  As the messages flew by, I noticed somebody asking if a popular TWIT show called, "The Social Hour" was still on.

Realizing that I had recently written an article on the topic I responded to the inquiry with a link and moved on.

Apparently, that was a mistake.

After a few more exchanges on unrelated topics covered in Sunday's show I noticed that TWIT Chat Moderator "Dan" was requesting that I check my "PM's"

So I complied and upon entering Dan's private little IRC channel he informed me that, " Only links from a news site were acceptable in the IRC channel." and " that your blog was not a legitimate news source."  Considering I'd seen this rule violated on more than one occasion by others including show producers, hosts and even moderators I knew I was again running headlong into the TWIT delusion. 

But I let it pass as I knew it was just the grumblings of yet another TWIT chat moderator with an inflated ego.

He went on to inform me that this was my only "Warning."

A little stunned but not really surprised given my checkered past with TWIT chatroom moderators I replied, " I'll keep your warning in mind

That wasn't enough for good ol' Dan, however, and he proceeded to go into half a paragraph of how he set the rules for the TWIT chatroom and was the final say in all things TWIT IRC, and he alone set the tone etc, etc...

Which after a brief pause brought out my inner 12 year old resulting in a response of...

"You really enjoy your little power trip don't you?  You know what Dan, Fuck Off...bye"

Being a mature male I probably could have handled that exchange better but I tend to respond as a child when treated like one.  Especially when it's undeserved....

To hell with turning the other cheek...

I'll be damned if I'll let some IRC moderator with a Napoleon complex get the better of me.  Besides, it's the first opportunity I've had to blindside the SOB the same way he blindsided me the last time I got kicked for some unknown, ambiguous sin.

I'm probably banned for life from TWIT chatrooms now but to be honest, the quality of TWIT programming has me finding less and less need of the convenience.  What it does bring to mind, however, is just what the definition of news is.

Dan's little admonition to me reeks of hypocrisy.  A close look at TWIT's "news" coverage finds it  largely comprised of rehashed content from other so-called "legitimate" news sources like TechCrunch, Engadget, Reddit and the occasional tweet.  TWIT's "news" programming is best described as a collection of editorial magazines aggregating someone else's content.  Which may have triggered my response. 

The articles in this blog that have been written about TWIT are no less valid if TWIT's "news" coverage is held up as the standard.  While they may be more editorial in nature they're always researched, sourced and unlike much of TWIT's news content, original reporting.  The difference is, the subject is TWIT which is likely what got dear old Dan's feathers ruffled.    

Dan can do whatever he wants with his chatrooms but his motives appear less about upholding journalistic integrity than censorship of anything that denies the delusion that currently pervades TWIT. 

The definition of "news" no longer meets the definition that "Dan" subscribes to.  How a "progressive" medium like TWIT fails to realize that is hypocritical bordering on the ridiculous.  Hey guys, we're not limited to 3 TV networks and some disembodied voice on the radio to tell us what's going on anymore.   

As far as TWIT goes, I've yet to see anything original come from them that had a Reuters or Associated Press tag attached to a story.  Meaning if we accept TWIT's definition of "news" coverage then what they provide is little more than editorials aggregated from so-called "real" sources.

Leading to the conclusion that they have no more value than what you'll find here...

Friday, September 26, 2014

TWIT: Why I bother

After I wrote my last article about TWIT's latest round of upheavals I found myself pondering why it was that I bothered to pay so much attention to a tiny podcast network.

Others have wondered as well...

Hell, I even wonder at times but I think I have an answer.  So let this article serve as my explanation to anyone that questions my motives. 

Some might call the articles I write about TWIT as nothing more than trolling hit pieces born from some beef I have with Leo Laporte.  
And you would be wrong...  

Trolls only seek to garner attention to themselves at the expense of their 
target.  I don't seek a target, I have a vested interest.  One that may surprise you.

You see, I want TWIT to succeed.

Unlike the Revision 3 and 5 by 5's of the world, TWIT is not just another podcast portal with prerecorded content waiting to be pulled off some virtual bookshelf.  It's a living, breathing entity 24/7 that allows its viewers free access to not only relevant content but a chance to peek behind the curtains of an emerging broadcast medium.

Which is something most podcast aggregators don't do.  There's no life to their offerings, just a jukebox carousel of pre-packaged content. 

TWIT was something different.  It's the lovechild of Leo Laporte and TechTV both of which I was an avid fan.  Yes there were reruns but there was also live programming and interactivity with the hosts not to mention the opportunity to see what magic the Wizard (Laporte) was crafting behind the scenes.

This was the prototype for what Internet broadcasting should be.  Viewer driven, dynamic, interactive and compelling. 

It was the kind of programming that you could leave on all day in the background if you wanted to.  No playlists, no stale overproduced content, no empty headed "spokesmodels" that wouldn't know the difference between a smart cache and a Smart car...

But beginning around the early part of 2012 just after the move to TWIT's new studio, the Brick House, things started to change.  There was an increasing emphasis on even long running shows to be profitable.  

While there's no denying that someone has to pay the bills the content began to suffer as ever more ads crept in and Laporte took a less central role.  With no heir apparent to TWIT, leadership flounders and content frequently takes a back seat to the "business" of TWIT.   All the time never realizing that the focus on ad revenue is killing the soul of the network.

So why do I care? 

Because an opportunity is slipping away due to greed, hubris and indifference.  It's not so much about Laporte, TWIT or even any of the shows so much as the impending failure of an experiment that should otherwise succeed.

TWIT is the prototype for online media in a way that CNET could only dream of being.  It's the only option poised to challenge traditional and new media outlets.  If it fails it's unlikely that we'll see it's kind again and frankly there's no good reason for it.  The network continues to shoot itself in the foot and become less relevant by the day as both talent and content migrate to greener pastures.  The only response, to continue the slow slide into oblivion with denial and delusion. 

TWIT is repeating the history of its ancestor in spite of claims to the contrary.  What began as the offspring of TechTV is dangerously close to meeting the fate of G4. 

I'd rather not write its epitaph.

That's why I care.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

TWIT: Say goodbye to being social

...and the hits keep comin!

I'm starting to feel like a gossip columnist but it's an occupational hazard when one follows the sinusoidal wave of chaos that TWIT appears to be lately.

While the bulk of TWIT programming has soldiered on with little change since my last article, when changes do happen they can be dramatic.

Take for instance the latest installment of Lisa Kentzell's "Changes at TWIT" found on the TWIT.TV home page and perhaps updated a bit too frequently.  

In it we find out:

  • ·         OMGCraft is moving off the network
  • ·         RedditUp is on hiatus
  • ·         Marketing Mavericks is getting a new time slot (again)
  • ·         The Social Hour is cancelled

Let's ignore the elephant in the room for a moment and deal with the less weighty of our little punch list.


While OMGCraft's appeal was admittedly niche, it was arguably a better show than say "Marketing Mavericks" with more of a following if it's companion YouTube channel is any indicator.  

Considering what the show started out as and what it became after joining TWIT's "official" lineup it's understandable that host Chad "OMGChad" Johnson would choose to take it off network.  If it returns to the more freeform format of its TWIT "beta" days it should do well for Johnson and I honestly hope that comes to pass.


While mildly entertaining I never quite understood the point of this show.  Co-hosted by Sarah Lane and Chad Johnson, It covered the happenings of the social network that isn't, specifically Reddit.  While Lane and Johnson did their best,  the show was the equivalent of somebody building a podcast around their twitter feed. 

But at least it wasn't...

Marketing Mavericks:

So the wildly successful (that's sarcasm folks) marketing podcast is getting moved to another time slot, again.  This is the TWIT podcast that introduces viewers to those giants of industry that brought the world opt-out spam, singing chickens and pop-up ads.  

Considering the far more "niche" OMGCraft podcast consistently produces episodes that can crest 20,000 views on its associated YouTube channel, Marketing Mavericks by comparison struggles to reach 50.  Why this show continues while other more popular examples regularly get the boot is a continuing mystery.

Which brings us to the elephant in the room...

The Social Hour:

"...We are also retiring The Social Hour. Originally called net@night, it is one of our longest-running netcasts, starting when “social media” was still in its infancy. As the landscape has matured and trends have shifted towards apps, we feel that social media coverage is now a part of almost every show on our network..."

This one is almost on par with Tom Merritt leaving...

While admittedly "The Social Hour" at times seemed more like an hour spent with a couple of chattering valley girls, the content was nonetheless relevant to its audience.  With no social media rock left unturned even those with a passing interest could find something of use. 

Considering the strict adherence Laporte and Kentzell demand of TWIT shows to be profitable, it's longevity could only be a result of its popularity with viewers...right?
It's abrupt departure is likely more significant than it may seem on the surface.

The Social Hour debuted on March 30, 2011 picking up where its TWIT predecessor "Net@night" had left off with host Amber MacArthur and Sarah Lane taking over co-host duties from Laporte.  Meaning that some incarnation of the show had continuously ran for nearly 9 years on the TWIT network before being deemed "redundant."

The decision was apparently made within the last week as no indication of the show's cancellation was indicated during the most recent episode that found Lane closing with, "We will see you next week."

Apparently not Sarah...

There was no episode of "The Social Hour" (not even a rerun) during its normal timeslot this week making the hour long void between "Know How" and "Coding 101" conspicuously present. 

Even the show's icon had been moved to the "retired shows" section of the website.  A small but powerful statement as most retired shows have historically remained in the "current shows" lineup for at least a month.

The justification, " ...we feel that social media coverage is now a part of almost every show on our network..." plays to the supposed redundancy of content.  Yet TWIT still maintains not one but 3 shows based on the Apple Ecosystem with Macbreak weekly frequently rehashing content from Ipad Today, I5 for the Iphone not to mention This Week in Tech.

And what of the lackluster Tech News Today (TNT)?  Are we to infer that because a topic is covered that any other presentation is considered redundant as well?

Then we must conclude that other TWIT shows like Windows Weekly, Security Now, This Week in Tech and a host of others that regularly cover the same content as TNT are also on the chopping block.

It seems a double standard is at play here...

Perhaps this is part of a grand plan to eliminate any show on the TWIT network that may threaten the relevance of the news department. 

Although I don't see how that's possible considering the lack of improvement in Elgan's performance on TNT after 9 months.   TNT is nowhere to be found on the Itunes top 40 tech podcasts.  Which begs the question, if TNT isn't popular any more and isn't making enough money for TWIT because of it then isn't TNT itself "redundant?"

If we apply the same standard to TNT as has been brought to bear on other TWIT shows that have been cancelled then TNT must itself be discontinued.      

Don't hold your breath...

Kentzell has stated in the past that her goal was to make TWIT less dependent on Laporte's persona and allow him more personal time away from the network.  Truth be told, by and large he has backed away from all but the core TWIT shows.  In that respect she's succeeded but even a cursory examination of Laporte's demeanor over the past year suggests that the changes may not have yielded the expected results.

Watch any recent podcast of "The Tech Guy," Laporte's syndicated radio show, and frequently the lovable teddy bear of tech is instead curt and irritable.  For example, a recent caller to the show found themselves on the receiving end of the "dump button" because Laporte was unhappy with the pace of the caller's question and later justified the action by saying the caller, "just wanted a free phone."  

It's not an isolated incident either...

Even Laporte's guests aren't immune as they're often talked over or cut off mid sentence regardless of the proximity of a commercial break.  It's almost as though Laporte is in a race to the finish of every show and would rather be somewhere else.

It's likely the result of stress but unfortunately it appears that even indulging in the recreation that only Laporte's wealth can bring still can't alleviate it.

For his own sake, perhaps Laporte should consider just leaving things be at TWIT for awhile.