Friday, September 12, 2008

Brandon Sugden Fights to come out of Retirement

Ok, here’s the latest pile of hockey related horseshit to slide across my desk...

Picture this: You’re an NHL calibre enforcer. You’ve been close to cracking the NHL for about 10 years, but never made it. Not a single game in the big show.

Then, your Dad gets cancer. You return home to help out the family business and be with him. In the meantime, you’re a hockey player, so you join a part time minor league.

A year later, a real live NHL team actually comes calling, inviting you to training camp for the upcoming season! The dream is at hand!

However, because you signed so-called ‘retirement’ papers two years ago and then played in the most minor of minor leagues, now the NHL (just 3 possibly 4 teams out of 30!) will not let you participate in camp.

Welcome to the Brandon Sugden Story. Only the latest in a long line of public relations nightmares for the NHL, and I would advise them to make this situation right ASAP. I’ve signed the petition, but unless the NHL feels they’re going to lose significant money on Brandon Sugden merchandise, it is assumed they will do nothing.

The team with the invite is the New York Islanders, so it’s believed that the other teams in their division do not want Sugden on the ice against their teams. Pure class. As if Sugden playing a few games this year would make any sort of long term difference to their success, either on or off the ice.

How many shifts is he really going to get? How many fights? If he does fight, he’ll only be fighting other fighters...what’s the big fucking deal? The NHL loves fighting. Fighting sells tickets, gets on YouTube, ESPN (Bettman’s dream network!). May I suggest that Sugden may even help sell tickets in other cities were he to travel to them! Ah, got your attention now, don’t I, you greedy fuckers!

Unacceptable. I’m not even that big of a hockey fight guy, but I know when I see something that is not fair. I don’t know why I’m so passionate about this, but it just strikes an absolute chord with me as soon as I heard about it. It’s just such a common sense thing I guess.

You add in the cancer angle of this story, and it is an absolutely shameful disgrace that anyone would ever possibly feel the need to block Brandon Sugden from going to training camp. If absolutely nothing else, for the sake of another human being, just let the kid’s dad finally see him make the big league! That’s all I’m asking. Jesus Fucking Christ.

Lemme tell you something about hockey dads and moms. They are the salt of the earth, I sound like Don Cherry, but seriously. Well, not the ones that go nuts in the stands and fight other parents...those ones suck. But I'm talking about the good ones. The ones you don't hear about. These people sacrifice, they work hard, they forfeit about $200k over the course of your development, all for the potential and minute chance of the dream to see your spoiled ass make the NHL. Show them some bloody respect!

Those three teams know who they are, and I bet the managers or whoever it is in charge making this wrong choice, once played hockey when they were a kid. Even if they didn't play, they sure as hell have watched games growing up, and now they watch games for a living! So they know what it's like to dream the dream, and think someday I can do it too.

It is up to them, and only them, to change their minds and do the right thing. The NHLPA can’t fight the battle, Sugden isn’t a member...yet. Best of luck man, and a lesson to all us, especially Mats Sundin: Don’t sign anything that says ‘retirement’ on it!

Go here for more on this story.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

NHL 09 - Proud Owner for the past 6 hours...

Well I whipped over to the mall after work and plunked down the $60. So far, so good!

I've only played the much hyped "Be a Pro" mode so far...I'm hooked! Took me a good while to create my guy, I went through every option and every piece of gear. Good stuff. Nothing like seeing myself suit up for my first game on the Marlies! I'm not usually one for Create a Player modes, but this year is the exception, cause this mode is very revolutionary and it's not like you just make yourself and pop onto the NHL team. You start out in the minors and work your way up, kinda like real life!

I've played just 5 games so far, 5 minute periods, on "All Star" (2nd highest) difficulty..."Pro" is probably too comfortable, but "Superstar" (highest) would have the CPU pulling all kinds of cheat moves I bet. I want it difficult, but not impossible. :)

"Be a Pro" mode features a couple different ways to play. I'm playing the mode where you actually have to sit on the bench in between shifts, hoping your teammates can get it done! :) Using default settings so far, dunno what I would change yet. I've seen a few penalties, haven't taken one yet, but I assume I'll have to sit in sin bin for 2 minutes or less at some point!

It's fun to get used to calling line changes when you're on the bench...I totally blew it in my last game, left my goalie high and dry and Bridgeport scored a tying goal two-on-none in the last minute. :(

I've only scored a couple goals (really have to work for them!): one I was left all alone in front of their net after a turnover, and the other was more of an own-goal that one of their guys put home for me. :P LOTS of different ways to score in this game! Mostly I whip it wide of the net, if I make contact at all, but I'm getting the hang of it.

Most importantly, no show-stopping bugs so far. 4 hours of gaming and no freezes. I'm hoping Dynasty mode is as robust as this seems to be, but I don't wanna jinx it!

The menus are so much better than NHL 08...nice and smooth, not the jerkiness of last year. The goalie animations are much improved, I love them. The atmosphere of the arenas are also well done.

The only wacky thing I saw so far was Marlies goalie Justin Pogge making a save and then the puck shot out of our zone at it here if you like. I'm going to make good use of the new replay editor, long overdue feature! Finally I can show off the wacky stuff without digging out my digital camera. You can also take screenshots, nice.

As far as negatives, the file system is kinda odd when you go to save pulls up a keyboard interface so you can name your file, but you can't seem to give your files a useful name. They get named "Beapro1", "Beapro2" and "Video1", Video2" etc. It is possible to erase the text, but then you can't type in any letters, only numbers, so "01", "777", etc. Maybe I'm doing something wrong, but all the alpha keys were greyed out. I'd much rather label a replay as "turbopuck" than "video3". And "BAPWellwood", instead of "Beapro02", if I want to play Be a Pro with a current NHLer, alongside my created guy, etc. Oh well, I can write them down I guess...?

Anyway, extreme nitpicking aside, I truly love this game! Bravo EA, you have rescued the franchise in a Big Way! This could be the year that succeeds longtime champ NHL 2004 as my favourite, but I'll have to put several more hours into it before we go crowning anything around here. Fortunately, the weekend is approaching.

I didn't check out any online stuff. But even if that's all a complete train wreck, the offline alone could well be worth the purchase.

I can definitely tell the AHLers have less skill than the NHLers. Slower, less accuracy, etc. Awesome. Crosby is much better than some minor league rookie.

Anyway, that's a taste. Ahh, so nice to be able to talk hockey again, even if it is a video game. Judging by the Leafs roster this year, I'll probably be playing more than watching...

See you next time with more thoughts.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

How To PS3 Hard Drive Upgrade, My Epic Journey from 80 to 320

Ok, so there’re plenty of PS3 Hard Drive Upgrade how to guides on the tubes. Just Google it, or check out CNET's coverage, that's a pretty definitive guide, and great photos. However, I’m going to let you in on a little secret that I couldn’t find ANYWHERE ON THE NET...keep reading! As there is a lot of incorrect information out there, I will try and debunk some myths and share some helpful facts as we go.

A few weeks ago, I decided it was high time to upgrade my “user-serviceable” PS3 hard drive. With the average game demo weighing in at 1.5GB, an annual subscription to Qore, arrival of the PSN Video Store (assuming it comes to Canada) and more and more games supporting Custom Soundtracks, I’m gonna want more room on this baby.

Fact 1: Upgrading the PS3 Hard Drive DOES NOT void the warranty.

So, I ordered up this giant 2.5“ drive from NCIX. Took a couple weeks to get it in stock, but it finally arrived Wednesday.

Segate Momentus

Fact 2: Not just any 2.5” drive will has to be 9.5mm tall, and not 12mm, as some models are. However, speed and cache can be whatever you like. You can even throw a solid state flash drive in there, if your name is Richie Rich.

There is plenty of debate about 5400rpm vs 7200rpm. I went with 7200rpm...if there is a speed upgrade to be had, even small, I want in. And the heat doesn’t worry me...I believe at worst it’s a few degrees hotter. The one I got also has 16MB of cache, which should help I guess, I’m not an expert, but I play one on my blog. But to each his own, buy what you can afford, then you’ll be happy with it. I’m sure someone will throw a 10k rpm drive in there soon enough...

But, before you can install the new drive, what about the precious data on your current drive? Well, there’re a couple options:

New Hard Drive Found

1) Forget about your data, install the new drive, and simply start over in MGS4, GTA, Pixel Junk Monsters and Uncharted! You can at least re-download your PSN content for free. I didn’t say it was a good option!

2) Copy each game save one at a time to a flash memory card (if your PS3 has the card reader slots, or if you have a USB card reader, etc). HOWEVER, some games have COPY-PROTECTED, I’m not kidding! Rock Band, for example, does not let you copy the save...they’re worried about you unlocking songs for your friends I guess? So, this option is out. I want ALL my data, please!

3) Sony has conveniently included a “Backup Utility” in the PS3 menus. This option allows you to Backup your PS3 hard drive onto external storage (USB drive, etc). I recommend you use it often, depending on how much gaming and content you chew through.

So you’re maybe asking, what good is a Backup without a Restore function? No good, Zero Good, in fact. A backup is not a backup if the restore process doesn’t work...that's Page One of the Little Golden Book of I.T.! Page Two says if it's not backed up twice, it's not backed up!

So, the PS3 Backup Utility includes a Restore function. Or, does it? Well, yeah it does, DEPENDING on what USB drive you’re restoring from!

Yes, that’s right dear reader, based on my first-hand experience, the PS3 appears to be somewhat finicky when it comes to Restoring Backups. Oh, it’s all well and good during the Backup process, but it’s only during the Restore process that you find out if You’re in Business or not.

Anyway, after the hour or longer process of backing up the PS3 hard drive, I popped the current drive out (more on this later!), and popped the new one in.

Start the Restore function. It allows me to browse to my external USB drive, and select the backup folder I want to Restore. Then, it waits for a couple minutes, apparently counting the size of the backup data. stops cold. There is no backup data found, it says!

I was horrified. However, I still had my current drive, so I hadn’t lost anything. Time to hit Google up for some easy answers. After searching about 40% of the Entire Internet, I found maybe 1 or 2 people having the same Sony’s credit, I’d say 99% of people are having no issues with this feature of the PS3. That’s good for them.

To those other 1%, I offer this information (this is the secret I hinted to): TRY RESTORING FROM A DIFFERENT USB DRIVE.

As luck would have it, I was able to borrow 4 USB drives from my work. Over a few hours, I copied my PS3 Data from the backup drive that doesn’t work, to the 4 borrowed ones. Then I randomly picked one, and tried the Restore option once again...

PS3 System Information

SUCCESS! 90 minutes later, my new 320GB drive is happily storing my previous drive’s hard-earned content, and has hundreds of fresh GBs to spare.

Fact 3: ALL my data was restored. This includes demos, PSN purchased games, saves (including COPY-PROTECTED saves), videos, music, pictures (with folder thumbnails), and even my PS2 saves. Outstanding! This is exactly what I was hoping for, and precisely what I would have expected from a Utility called “Backup Utility”...

Fact 4: The USB drive that DID NOT work is this one: MacAlly G-S350SUA - This is a fine enclosure otherwise though, I use it to backup my Mac regularly.

Fact 5: The USB drive I borrowed that DOES work is this one: IOGEAR Tri-Select Ion Drive

I don’t know why one works and the other doesn’t, even though they both work for the backup part of the backup process. I’d hazard a guess of something to do with the various USB controller card chipsets in the enclosures, but that’s as far as my knowledge of such things goes. Anyway, as long as you can find one that works, you’re golden! I was interested in testing the other 3 enclosures, but would have had to restore over my fresh drive, or my old one (if I put it back in) interest in wasting that kind of time, sorry. I’m all set, so that’s as far as I’m going with it.

Other stuff worth mentioning:

Fact 6: With the blank 320GB drive installed, my PS3 System Information page shows 263GB of 298GB free. So, just be aware, due to whatever FAT (file allocation table, or method of drive formatting) the PS3 uses, you’re left with less drive space than you thought you were getting, much less in this case! All computers do this, so don’t freak out about it.

Fact 7: I don’t have any Trophies, so I can’t tell you first hand if they are backed up and restored. However, Sony themselves have the goods on this one. When you earn trophies, sign in to the PSN and check your "Trophy Collection". This will “sync” your trophies to your profile online, and then when you install a new HD, you can simply fire up a trophy-supporting game, and the PSN will then sync them back down to you. w00ty.

Lousy Screws

Fact 8: The screws used to hold the stock PS3 hard drive in its metal cage thingy, are horrifyingly impossible to remove. I stripped 3 out of 4, not a good percentage. Most of the forums I researched said the same, soft screws, can’t get drive out, stripped screws, can I drill the hard drive free, etc. Anyway, use a good set of pliers by gripping the edge of the screws, and hopefully you can get them out. Some people have got replacement screws from Sony, FWIW, YMMV. If you have the exact right size screwdriver in the first place, perhaps you'll have no problem.

Ok so that's all I know of it. Good luck, and may all your enclosures be PS3 Restore-function compatible. Click here to see the entire photoset on Flickr, since I just learned how to do that.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

ZAGG invisibleSHIELD

So, there's this company called ZAGG. They make the "Invisible Shield", which is an outstanding new product.

As usual, it all starts with the US Military. Story goes they had developed an indestructible plastic cling wrap (the kind you and I would use for sandwiches) to apply to their helicopter blades...not sure what grade meat they make their sandwiches with, but rest assured, the bread will be protected!

My buddy recently ordered and applied Invisible Shields to his camera, Blackberry and iPod Touch. For the cost of a few albums on iTunes, all his devices are now protected from the worst the elements have to serve up (pocket lint, dust, loose change, gravel, sidewalk, etc). Should have taken some pictures of the application process, but alas, I have none.

The Invisible Shields don't hurt your gadgets in the least, and can be removed at any time. With a lifetime warranty, how can you go wrong? These shields let you protect your swag in style...yeah, I used to work in radio, why do you ask?

Anyway, check em out. If I get a new device, I'll definitely want to protect it's multitouch screen...looking at you, Apple. Check out their website for more details and helpful videos, or read a much more detailed review here. They have versions for all your gear, PSPs, iPods, laptops, phones, even the PS3!

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Silverlight vs Mac, Round 2, FIGHT!

Ok, well, I'm calmed down since that last post. And can even offer a little speculative clarity, now that I've done hours of research (Google is my friend).

In the interest of being right all the time, first I have to admit I was wrong. Silverlight does in fact work on the Mac. Long story short, based on what I know now, it looks as though TSN/CTV doesn't have an up to date SDK which contains a better "Silverlight.js" file they need in order for Mac users to not get the beloved "please install Silverlight" screen of death every time. For more on this, check out Tim Heuer's blog on why this file makes peace instead of war. Far be it from me to tell Big Media how to run a web site LOL...but up to date software sounds like good sense, especially in these days where video on the web is as common as spam. And since Silverlight is beta to begin with, those updates are very very important.

Now, whether or not TSN will someday update their Silverlight, who knows. Hopefully for Canadian Mac users/TSN fans, they will soon. Maybe they'll even read this post, and hire me on as Director of Not-making Ourselves Look Ridiculous Online, if such a department exists.

But, I've tested some of the sample sites Microsoft provides links to on the Silverlight page, and they indeed work, in Firefox 3, and Safari, on the Mac. Glory Be.

Nevertheless, at this point I can't say Silverlight is any better than Flash, not sure what the hype is about (I'm not a developer, just a simple content consumer). Microsoft always seems to come in to markets that are already dominated and make outlandish claims about 'innovation' and promising the moon (and delivering a stalled rocket), but because of their massive install base (mostly pirated copies), gain just enough traction to cause these kinds of headaches. We, the end-user, then have to put our lives on hold while web sites around the world try and play nice with MS' new file formats, plugins, 'standards', etc.

My guess is that Silverlight provides the ability to do live event streaming, so TSN would be interested in that, what with their shiny new NHL streaming rights. Well, they better get on the ball, cause right now, their implementation doesn't work. I'd sure hate October to roll around and sure enough, "please install Silverlight"...I need a t-shirt with that on it, after all this.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Microsoft Silverlight worst plugin ever? Why yes, yes it is.

So, how did you spend your Draft Day? Cause I spent mine FUCKING AROUND WITH BULLSHIT SOFTWARE FROM BULLSHIT PEOPLE!

Title says it all. All week I’ve been caught up in the hype for the NHL Draft, live streaming on at 5pm. This may be the last chance for the Maple Leafs to offer any hope of really rebuilding their cruddy franchise.

Sure enough, 5pm rolls around, click the link...15 minutes later, after un/de/re/installing Microsoft’s shame of a web-experience plugin “Silverlight”, and that includes running it in Windows XP in Parallels, by the way...I FINALLY get to start watching the show. You must know “Silverlight”’s the new “cross-platform” super-duper streaming media plugin that never let’s you down, even during your favourite sports draft day!

Tampa Day picks Steve Stamkos 1st overall, big surprise. Few more picks are made, life is good again.

What’s this? The Leafs and New York Islanders are about to announce a trade! Sweet, please tell me the Leafs managed to unload McCabe!



(stream dies)

(click click click click click click, refresh, refresh, refresh)

(uninstall, reinstall, reboot, restart, rename, delete, defrag, format, erase, buy new Mac, buy new Windows machine)

...good times. I wish all web sites could use Microsoft products, forever until long after I’m dead and buried.

Wish I had some screenshots for you, but I must’ve forgot to take some during all my blind Hulk-esque rage.

I’ve left several entries on their FEEDBACK blog, not that it’ll do any good.

Anyway, that fuckin sucked. Time to regroup, and figure the best way to catch up with what I’ve missed.

MS can eat a bullet...right now. In fact, why not make it a Silver Bullet...for all your bullshit Silverlight miserable web content experience needs. Silver would take care of whatever misguided hell-beast that created this chunk of software. Then we could all drink to it's demise.

UPDATE, approx 1 hour later: Ok...I've calmed down, and more importantly, I've got this crap actually working (except in Safari...guess I owe Apple some grief too...on the other hand, if these content creating web sites would use Quicktime/Darwin Streaming Server, I likely wouldn't even be typing about this right now).

Here's a screenshot...this shows Firefox (left) and Internet Explorer (centre) in WinXP in Parallels, and, Firefox 3 in Mac OS X (right), streaming the 2008 NHL Entry Draft live from Ottawa, all at the same time. I win. All the frame rates are smooth, video is very compressed, and the audio is clean. You can even hear famed NHL Commissioner Gary "the blind rat" Bettman getting booed, which is the best part of the whole show of course.

For those keeping score at home: Firefox on the Mac is still using the Flip4Mac plugin, since Silverlight refuses to acknowledge it's installation. When incorrectly mis-identifies that you have not installed Silverlight, they thankfully offer a link to use the older (and much more robust, it even looks better) Windows Media stream, which triggers Flip4Mac, which does actually work, at this point in time.

Firefox and IE are using Silverlight in that screenshot...not the V2 Beta though, use V1. V2 starts to stream, but no video is seen, and no audio is heard...basically you download air. So, to sum up, MS has written an low-performance, unnecessary, platform-specific, media streaming plugin, and sold it to (and as the future of media streaming. Man, I'd have loved to be a fly on the wall in that boardroom meeting..."Hey guys, how can we fuck up the future of online content streaming in Canada? Hmmm, Microsoft has a brand new platform that doesn't work outside of Windows? Where do I sign?!"

If I was that fly, I'd be screaming "NOOOO!" at the top of my fly lungs.

Next step is to try it out in Linux...Gawd help us all.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Clicky Mouse in "Stream Both, Will He?"

Ah, been a while. Anyway, I’m back to wrap up my experience with the NHL Centre Ice Online package, let this serve as research for any other Canadians out there who may consider this deal in the future, I’m giving you exclusive content here, circa the 2008 NHL season.

In April 2008, the Maple Leafs began their annual Spring attempt to sneak into the 8th spot in the Eastern Conference. Didn’t make it, as is quickly becoming tradition, but it was an exciting ride nonetheless, depending how die-hard you are.

However, in order to see the weekday games of said playoff drive, I decided to finally pony up for Centre Ice Online. It was $50 for the last few weeks of the season, I’m not sure when that price point started, but I figured if I watch the remaining Leaf games, plus any Vancouver (who was also making an ill-fated playoff drive), it’d be worth it.

So, you log in/create an account, pay the money, and they let you onto the streams.

Remember all those warnings about ‘blackouts may apply’? Well, I’d change it to “warning, most games will be blacked out, most of the time’...

First of have to use Firefox. Safari resulted in bizarre behaviour at best, strange buffering issues, and if you try and use the 'mosaic' mode to watch up to 4 games at once, you get all the AUDIO FEEDS AT ONCE. In all fairness, they do warn you not to use Safari. I suppose I’m happy it works on Mac at all.

As you can see, I couldn’t watch ANY of the games on Wed April 9 2008 through NHL Centre Ice Online. Now, to explain but not excuse, Sens @ Pens and Flames @ Sharks was a rare Wednesday Night doubleheader on CBC. Rangers @ Devils and Avs @ Wild were a double-header on TSN. Thus, nationally broadcast, and therefore ”blacked out“ on Centre Ice in my ”region“. If the Flames @ Sharks (or any Oiler game) was on Sportsnet West...then that’s my ”region“ too, so no streaming allowed there either.

However, online hope was not lost. As part of CBC’s new deal with the NHL, they can stream all their games online. This was a new innovation for them this year, and a welcome one, as it allows fans to pick the game they want to watch, instead of suffering as the Leafs get raked up every Saturday, or conversely, allowing Leaf fans to see games even if you live out West.

Now, I guess the argument from the NHL’s side of things is ‘why do you even need to see a game online in Centre Ice that is shown on a ‘local’ channel in your ‘region’? Well, what if I don’t have cable, Mr. Smartass League-Rep? What if I want to move away from cable/satellite TV altogether, since all the good content is online except apparently for LIVE NHL Games? Otherwise, I’m PAYING TWICE! Once to the cable company to get the channel (although you can get low quality CBC over the air) so I can watch the game ‘locally’, and once again to ‘not’ be able to watch it online. THREE TIMES if I signed up for the cable/satellite NHL Centre ICE. The local broadcast has ad breaks, although on Centre Ice Online, the ads are mercifully blocked with a ”back in a minute“ screen. Here’s a couple pics of the lack of ads online...may it live forever:

Not a single Subway, Tim Hortons or Home Depot ad to offend the eye.

Obviously, TSN and other NHL broadcast partners pay big bucks to get the broadcast rights. Well, next year, Centre Ice Online will become an even bigger rip off, as TSN (to be confirmed) will stream all it’s National broadcast games online. This will come about since TSN recently re-upped their broadcast deal with the NHL to include these new media and streaming rights. They did a few games this year, including the immensely popular World Junior Hockey Championship in December. We’ll see if the NHL lowers the Centre Ice Online price, I doubt it, but they’ll make no bones about ”blacking out“ the games that TSN/CBC are streaming. At least the dollar is par now. Also new to the deal for TSN is that every game will feature at least 1 Canadian Team. They know what their sponsors want.

So, to sum up, all four games were available online...NOT NHL Centre Ice Online, but online at the CBC and TSN. This screenshot shows some dual-online-streaming action, as CBC and TSN both featured games:

Also, props (do people say ‘props’ anymore? ...mad respect?...) to TSN for revamping their online video pages...way overdue, and much appreciated. Now they just need to redo their comment system, but that's another rant. TSN uses Microsoft’s (yes, THAT Microsoft) Quicksilver, which is trying to replace Flash and the antiquated Windows Media on the web. So yeah, good luck Linux’ll need it. Barely works on Mac. Also, that’s a Quicktime window on the right side with the CBC feed. In the ”Flip4Mac“ preferences, you can set it to open videos in Quicktime Player, instead of the browser...this allows you access to the transport control (aka Play/Pause/Bathroom Break) buttons, and allows you to line them up side by side like shown.

So. What did I get for my $50? 4 Leaf Games. And I think I watched 2 or 3 Vancouver games. You do the math, but I think it would have been worth it if the Leafs had been at all entertaining...unfortunately, that’s not up the NHL. They held up their end of the bargain...they provided SOME games, and ”blacked out“ a lot MORE games.

The playoffs featured several blacked out games, since most nights in the first round the CBC and TSN had you covered. I quit logging in after the first round.

Thus ends the great Centre Ice Online experiment. The quality is just par, good enough to have on in the background while you surf the web, but it’s fairly below full screen-able quality. The log in process is bizarre and can be confusing (you get used to it). The price is debatable, based on your love of the game/team, region, other entertainment options, etc.

I’m expecting big things from CBC and TSN next season, and look forward to keeping my cable canceled for good. Yeah, I won’t get access to every game, but with CBC having Saturday nights sewn up (and over the air if I really want to watch on my TV), and TSN doing their weekday games (and if they stream like I hope they do), the Internet options for LIVE NHL games are growing better every year.

P.S. If you’re really a hardcore streaming hockey fan, why not go the extra mile? I hooked up my Mac to the TV, and watched the 2007 Summit Series this past September before I had subscribed to can see my mouse pointer on the right gray bar. Geek or Genius?’s title comes from the classic animated Mickey Mouse adventure, ”Steamboat Willie“. Congrats to those who caught that, cause it was a reach and a half...anyway I’m shocked Disney has that online, but I suppose it’s made all the money it’s gonna make...until the Blu-Ray release of course...then back in the 'vault' for another generation.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Mac Products for Her...

Hey Guys! With Valentine's Day fast approaching, why not treat her right this year?

NeuralNet is a Mac-Dealing computer store in Saskatoon, and it looks like they've got it all figured out this year:

Their website has a section called "For Her". Pink iPods, frilly iPod cases...a sequined mouse maybe?

Nope, even better! Chocolates, and a 50" Plasma!

I guess the idea is to order 1 of each, and she'll be so busy eating chocolate, she won't even notice (or will forgive) the new giant TV...

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Leipold buys back into NHL...I didn't see him leave!

Well well well.  Former Nashville Predators owner Craig Leipold, who by his own admission lost 70 Million Dollars on the Preds over 10 years, is now back as an NHL owner.  For some of us, he never left.

No sooner did the controversial Nashville sale finally go through, then he's suddenly announced as the new majority owner of the Minnesota Wild...this is a team that actually makes money, in an actual hockey market.  Go figure.

More explanation at the Globe and Mail here.

I guess once you're in Gary Bettman's club, everything just works itself out.  Hmm...wonder what Jim Balsillie thinks of all this.  Personally, as a Canadian and a life-long hockey fan, I find it reprehensible.  But hey, that's our Gary!

EDIT:  What I mean by reprehensible, is just that Bettman will (seemingly, unconfirmed) make any deal he can for his 'fellow' men, like Leipold...but he (seemingly, unconfirmed) killed any and all deals with Jim Balsillie, maybe because of Canada, maybe because of Toronto/Buffalo broadcast rights, who knows.

However, I've no beef with Leipold himself...hey, if somebody loves hockey, welcome aboard!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

If you didn't boo Gary Bettman will.

Here's the pitch: Gary Bettman hosts a weekly radio show on XM Satellite radio, called "NHL Hour". He is the first commissioner in pro sports to do so, offering an unprecedented way for fans to interact with the commissioner of their favourite sport, through emails or phone calls.

I actually enjoy the show, maybe I like hockey a little too much. I think it is a good thing for the NHL to do, get themselves out there, speak directly with fans, etc.

However, if you think any of those people calling in to the show are real, last week the show offered up pretty much iron-clad proof that they are not.

It all started on the January 10th episode...(that's the iTunes link to the episode)

I downloaded the mp3, and at the very end of the show, co-host Bill Clement signs off, they play the 'end music' and it fades out...then, you can hear a slight shuffling of papers as a microphone is left on, THEN you hear league disciplinarian Colin Campbell's voice saying, and I quote:

"...for these people to get on the phone, do they have to say that lead-in..." at which point somebody abruptly fades the microphone off!

So, there you have it, I am NOT making this up. The callers this week were particularly fake sounding, one guy even started off with "I think you're the best commissioner in sports!"...OH COME ON! They hadn't been that absurd up to this point, mostly it's just "Hi Gary, thanks for doing this, you're doing a great job", etc etc. I think there's been a couple "it's an honour to speak with you"'s that I found fairly questionable.

Plus, I used to work in talk radio, and fake callers for us were merely a tactic to fill the hour...on the music stations, if no one was calling in (perhaps because of the wretched music they'd play), fake callers requesting Britney Spears were fairly common, or they'd make the receptionist call in or whatever and conveniently request the popular songs of the week. Or, the callers are actually real, but they're so excited to be on the radio that they'll say whatever you tell them.

I think Colin Campbell didn't believe for a second, as none of us do, that anyone, anywhere, anytime would have that much admiration for the most hated commissioner in pro sports, Gary Bettman. So Colin felt compelled to ask if the callers are forced to pile on fake praise for Gary, before they are let on the show. I think we know the answer to that question. Maybe he should have asked that question in the elevator, instead of ON THE AIR!

Shame on Bettman, what an ego this man has. And he wonders why he gets booed everywhere he goes...even expansion cities boo this guy, remember the Columbus draft?! Fortunately, Gary wasn't on the air anywhere at the Winter Classic, the outdoor game they had on New Year's Day. I assume it's cause he didn't want to get booed on international television, with so many new hockey viewers watching for the first time.

Download the mp3 today and see for yourself. I cut that part of just the ending for myself, so I can enjoy it over and over! I'd post it here, but I think it's against Google's policy or something, dunno I only got to page 2 of 75 of the user agreement.

I'm surprised no one at the NHL caught it and edited it out before posting the show on iTunes, but maybe it's a rogue sound editor who hates Gary as much as we do just letting it through, cause it's an easy fix to cut that off. I'm assuming the same audio went out live over XM, but I don't know. Either way, embarrassing stuff.

If Gary Bettman really was the best commissioner, or at least half as good as he thinks he is, wouldn't I be posting about his latest brilliant move to help the game of hockey, instead of his latest public embarrassment? I just like knowing that Colin Campbell didn't believe it either.

Can't wait for this week's show...