A Day Of Sports

For the Phils pitcher Roy Oswalt scored from second on a play where he ran past the third base coach’s very visible stop sign then slid into home wearing a warmup jacket and gloves! The only thing missing was a red cup full of beer!

As you might imagine the Foxes spent the day watching the Eagles then the Phillies. We weren’t disappointed. Both teams won.

Interestingly neither game was carried to Cablevision customers in some of the Philadelphia suburbs. I hope Cablevision paid their customer service operators hazardous duty pay today. Let the cursing begin!

Both games had interesting moments. Kevin Kolb the Eagles quarterback aired it out and played like the passer he’s supposed to be, but disappointingly never has been. For the Phils pitcher Roy Oswalt scored from second on a play where he ran past the third base coach’s very visible stop sign then slid into home wearing a warmup jacket and gloves! The only thing missing was a red cup full of beer!

On a day like today it is difficult not to take advantage of technology. The Eagles game wasn’t on TV here so I borrowed a friend’s DirecTV to-go package. Computer quality is good, but not yet as good as a broadcast channel.

We watched the Phils live on Fox through the DVR allowing us to pause the action. Actually that’s where technology came back to bite me!

As Ryan Madson pitched to the Giants in the ninth I opened Facebook. For me there were two outs to go but on Facebook a friend had revealed the game was over. Oops.

I tried to tell Helaine I didn’t know, but it’s not the kind of thing anyone hides well. Certainly not me.

A Part Of The Cablevision/Fox Story I Almost Forgot

Cablevision has long since sold its Boston system. It’s safe to say inflation has trouble keeping up with cable!

Last night when I was writing my entry about Fox versus Cablevision I wanted to include an interesting piece of history… but I forgot. Better late than never! I’m including it because it’s about one of the parties, but it really isn’t part of this current dispute.

Cablevision was the original cable TV franchise holder in Boston. Boston was the last major American cities to receive cable service. The franchise was presumed to be very lucrative. The bidders were aggressive.

Back in 1981 Cablevision promised 52 channels for $2 a month. Seriously. They offered another 20 channels for $5.95 more plus eight added pay channels.

Cablevision has long since sold its Boston system. It’s safe to say inflation has trouble keeping up with cable!

Here’s what the New York Times reported Mayor Kevin White saying the day the franchise was granted nearly thirty years ago:

”It seemed possible that Cablevision might be offering more than they could deliver, but the more I studied the company, the more I came to appreciate their intellectual integrity.”

You don’t hear a lot about company’s having their “intellectual integrity” appreciated anymore.

For his part I wonder if Cablevision chief Charles Dolan would say this today:

The Mayor made it clear that he didn’t want just another luxury service for people who could afford it, but rather something that was inexpensive enough to reach everyone and could make a difference in their daily lives.

Murdoch Versus Dolan: The Two Least Sympathetic Figures In Media Are Fighting

It’s a pissing match. In a pissing match everyone gets wet.

Cablevision and Fox are fighting. It’s tough to take sides. This is like the old commercial where you had to choose between a headache and upset stomach!

Seriously, it’s Rupert Murdoch versus Chuck Dolan. These are the two least sympathetic characters in media!

As of this moment WWOR and WNYW have been removed from Cablevision systems serving millions of viewers. It’s a pissing match. In a pissing match everyone gets wet.

The New York Times reports:

News Corp. quickly issued a release headlined, “Cablevision Drops Fox.” At the same time, Cablevision began posting a message on the screen that accused News Corp. of “pulling Fox 5 and My 9 off air” and declared it was News Corp.’s decision, “not ours.”

I work in TV so I’m not quite an unbiased observer, but I can give you an idea what’s going on.

For the longest time TV stations were thrilled to be on cable. Cable brought our pictures into people’s homes more clearly. It was a marriage of convenience on both sides. Cable served the overwhelming majority of our viewers and we in turn provided the most watched stations.

As cable began to sell local advertising and the cable networks began to pour money into new programming the marriage became a little more strained. We were still cable’s big dog, but the cable systems themselves were becoming our competitors!

Then local TV revenue began to shrink and TV station owners looked at cable and wondered why TV stations weren’t getting the cash they were paying money to CNN, USA, TBS, The Weather Channel, and all the others. TV station owners began to demand money from cable systems to carry our signals. Our marriage of convenience was turning ugly!

Over the past few years there have been a few showdowns like the one between Fox and Cablevision. Stations have been pulled from cable systems taking away popular shows and even more popular sporting events. In New York City this weekend Fox will be carrying the baseball playoffs and the NFL. How unhappy do you suppose Cablevision subscribers will be to lose the Yankees&#185 and football Giants?

At some point one of the parties will cry “Uncle” and a truce will be declared. It could happen tomorrow. It could happen months from now!

In the meantime both Cablevision and Fox are calling each other names and trying to look like the good guy. Like I said earlier, it’s Dolan versus Murdoch. This fight has no good guys!

Here’s the video Cablevision has been running on the channels formerly occupied by WWOR and WNYW.

&#185 – I’ve got an error to correct. The Saturday Yankees game is actually on TBS and not affected. The Phillies game Saturday night is on Fox and will be missing from Cablevision’s New York area systems. In addition the Fox station in Philadelphia is part of this dispute, so Cablevision subscribers near Philadelphia won’t get to see tonight’s game nor the Eagles game tomorrow.

How Do You Deal With It?

I like Noah Finz, our sports guy at the TV station. I like his wife, Kendra, too. I’ve known her a lot longer than I’ve known Noah. They are both technophobes.

Actually, being a little skittish in the face of technology puts them in step with most everyone, which leads me to what happened today.

Noah’s laptop was old. He wanted to upgrade to faster hardware, especially with a two year old, infant and very nice camera for picture taking.

Most people would have unplugged the old machine, plugged in the new and then forgotten what was left on the laptop. Sure, they’re networked together, but how many people know how that works? Few!

I popped in the car and headed to Fairfield County.

His Dell desktop machine was the most quiet PC I’ve ever heard – startling, since the trend has been in the opposite direction. It needed a Firewire and wireless network card. No sweat, except it only had two slots, one of which was already filled by a dial-up modem.

“Put this away,” I told Noah as I handed it to him in an anti-static bag. Truthfully, it will never be used.

The Firewire card was effortlessly installed suing native Windows drivers. The wireless card was more trouble. It didn’t conform to Belkin’s instructions!

It finally installed because I ad libbed. How do they sell and support these things when the installation process isn’t remotely connected to what’s in the instructions?

As with Helaine’s computer, this Dell came loaded with ‘nagware.’ I don’t want programs bugging me. Some are difficult to remove. Others are confusingly described. Most have limited lifespans, meaning you’re later expected to shell out more money for the software that came on your PC!

Hats off to Cablevision, Noah’s ISP. Their Optonline cable modem service has an automated configuration tool which set up Outlook Express correctly on the first try.

We installed Picasa, MS Office, the new free AOL anti-virus suite and a few others. Then it was time to move photos and documents. I couldn’t get his computers to speak to each other. I have no idea why, nor do I know how I finally encouraged them to have limited access to each other.

It just happened.

You never accomplish 100% on a mission of mercy like this, but we came close. Again, I have no idea how Noah or Kendra could have done this themselves, and they can’t be alone.

What do most people do? Or do people like me just drive around on weekends helping out and playing with little kids – they couldn’t have been cuter.

College Shopping 2.0

I woke up early (for me) Saturday morning. We had another appointment to visit a college. This time Hofstra University. As with C.W. Post, we were going to Long Island.

The day was gray and gloomy with showers as we pulled out of the driveway. Within 2 minutes, we were back to get the instructions.

We used to make the Connecticut Turnpike, New England Thruway, Throgs Neck Bridge trip all the time. We still make it occasionally. It astounds me that no matter when we go, there is construction… and always in the same places.

I’m sure there are places in the Bronx that have been torn up for the twenty years we’ve been in Connecticut! OK – maybe a small exaggeration… very small.

The biggest improvement in this trip is the advent of E-Z Pass. E-Z Pass is a little white box with some sort of radio transponder, that signals the toll booth you’re there. So, no more change. No more stopping.

It doesn’t work 100% of the time, but it’s pretty good. I can’t remember the last toll booth tie up at the Throgs Neck. It used to be jammed all the time.

Our trip to Hofstra was painless, and we got there 15 minutes before our appointment.

Back in the late 60’s, while I was a high school student, I used to take a series of busses to Hofstra College and hang out at the radio station. Back then, it was WVWH. The campus was small and close to the center of Hempstead.

Now the campus is huge. Hofstra has become a university. Covered walkways and security separate the campus from Hempstead, which has seen better times.

For some reason Stefanie’s name wasn’t on the list, but that didn’t pose a problem.

After a few minutes we entered a small theater and watched a presentation on the school. An admissions officer (who reminded me of our next door neighbor Margie) spoke before and after a nicely done video.

This was a much more polished presentation than C.W. Post, though that probably speaks to the economies of scale a larger school provides.

The tour, conducted by a student named Emily, was fine. As much as the Post campus is known for its beauty, I was more impressed with Hofstra. The buildings were understated and appropriate. The grounds, though not as spread out as Post’s, were full of mature plantings and lots of sculpture. I’m a sucker for sculpture.

Emily took our group, probably a half dozen or more families, to her dorm… and her room. That was impressive, because while I was in college my dorm room resembled a battle scene from World War II.

The dorm buildings we saw were high rise structures of cement and brick. The few open doors I passed led to tiny rooms. But, for college, this is what you want. Rooms have cable and high speed Internet connections. The buildings have washers and dryers, and the bathrooms in the high rise dorms are cleaned, daily, by the school.

There were other dorms with suites of rooms. Those have clean-your-own bathrooms. I would have perished to some dirt borne disease before Christmas break!

On our way through the school, passing the radio station (now WRHU), I noticed a sign with staff names. At the top of the list was Bruce Avery who used to be our weekend weather anchor at the station. I knew he had become the general manager of the station at University of New Haven station. He has moved up – and he still does weather – now for Cablevision’s News 12 Long Island.

I have created a small photo gallery of some of the sculpture I saw on campus. Click here to take a look