Web offers content that's worth the dig
A LOT of would-be tech experts are trying to upgrade traditional TV out of existence. But your so-called "ISPs," your so-called "Telcoms," your so-called "me last week," always forget one thing: TV is easy.
Power button -- boom, done. Channel up, channel down -- boom, boom, done, done. Channel surfing -- boom, boom, boom boom, boom, done, done, done ... well, you get the point.
"According to Jim" may not be Shakespeare, but at least it's on a network that doesn't have compatibility issues with Firefox.
Sure, a lot of venture capital is trying to pave a more direct route to online content, but on Web forums you'll still read stuff like "all you have to do to get podcasts on your TiVo is set up a Wi-Fi network, buy a wireless hub, download software, recreate a 159-character Web address using your remote and cut interference by unplugging all microwaves built before 1987 -- it couldn't be simpler, really."
Oh yeah? Know how I prep for "The Simpsons"? Insert a couple of AA batteries into a remote twice a year and, lessee, what else ... oh yeah, call my cable installer 13 YEARS AGO when I moved in!
As primed as Digital Slobs are to be addicts for user- created online content, the barriers to habit-forming are still too great. It's like going to Disney World just to play Monopoly (OK, the new one with a credit card -- but still).
That said, here's some more online stuff that's fun to see and hear -- don't let "podcast" throw you off. Just go to the sites and click -- once hooked, you won't mind learning how to train your hardware to come back for more:
The Show with Zefrank (video): Humorist Ze Frank is "thinking so you don't have to," producing short, intense, funny videos capturing his wide-eyed, contorted face every weekday (apparently, he needs the weekends to catch up on his blinking). Topics include politics, telemarketer defense strategies, the sexual orientation of 'N Sync band members and troubles in the Middle East. Somehow, as Ze will explain and you will completely understand for at least 45 seconds afterward, it's all related. Ze talks with the secret-to-life insights of an Oprah who's got only five minutes to live (zefrank.com).
Daily Giz Wiz (audio): Mad Magazine writer Dick DeBartolo and tech broadcaster Leo Laporte highlight gadgets both useful and ridiculous -- occasionally both. Recent topics include a state-of-the-art digital video recorder and a beer cooler/scooter hybrid. I can only afford one ... decisions, decisions (twit.tv/DGW).
Hometown Tales (audio): Since the 1800s, every town has had a ghost/ phantom/ headless torso in residence wearing a wedding dress/ poncho/bow tie/ searching the woods/seashore/ballroom for its long-lost fiancé/donkey/dry martini -- for all eternity. Such stories added texture and color to the lives of idle townsfolk in the days of yore -- in this case "yore" refers to a period before we had "Inside Edition" scrambling to give us the first photos of Tom Cruise's half-alien spawn. Make sure your night light is operational, then follow Gene and Bryan as they uncover all the spooky mysteries that our ancestors used to turn boredom into near homicidal mania in the quaint towns of a young America (hometowntales.com).
Next week: More favorites.