American Idol 2007

Posted on May 2nd, 2007 in American Idol by EngineerBoy

5/23/2007 – Grand Finale, the New American Idol Is Named!

Well, tonight I felt like I entered some kind of alternative dimension where American Idol didn’t suck. At the end of the show we all sat back in awe at the…magnificence…of tonight’s production. I’ll cover the details of tonight’s excellent show down below, but first the results – the new American Idol for 2007 is:

Jordin Sparks: Thank you, American voting public, for making the overwhelmingly correct choice!!! We’ve watched Jordin grow from a wide-eyed, raw talent into a mature, composed, humble superstar. Congratulations Jordin!!!!

And Blake showed real class tonight, and seemed genuinely happy for Jordin when her name was called instead of his. Nice job, Blake!

And the show itself was simply terrific. There were two clunker notes in the show – Gwen Stefani and Bette Midler, but other than that it was a stellar production. Gwen Stefani once again lip-synced her way through a completely lame and pointless song, made even more egregious by the fantastic nature of the rest of the night’s performances. And poor Bette Midler just simply doesn’t have a voice any more – we couldn’t watch her whole song and had to fast foward through it on TiVo due to our hearts breaking.

But other than those two the rest of the performances were almost overwhelmingly good. Kelly Clarkson rocked out an intersting, edgy number, the top six men returned to the stage in matching white suits and sang a medley of songs with none other than Smokey Robinson! Later, the top six girls came out and sang a medley with none other than Gladys Knight!! I was in heaven!!!

Then, in a wonderful bit of creative thinking (not to mention artistic risk) by Idol producers, Blake Lewis traded beats and lines with the original beat-boxer himself, Doug E. Fresh, tripping to “The Show”. Now, this could have sucked and fallen flat, but they rocked the house with a fantastic interplay, strong rapping, great beat-boxing, and an overwhelmingly funky performance!

Then we had a classy performance of “For Once In My Life” by the incomparable Tony Bennett. Mr. Bennett’s voice is not quite the lyrical instrument it used to be, but he arranged the song so that he could reach the highs and lows, and then went out with a big, big, finish. Fantastic!!

Melinda Doolittle then did a commercial for God with BeBe and CeCe Winans. And that’s all I have to say about that.

Carrie Underwood did a moving version of “I’ll Stand By You”, and there was a cheerful and bouncy song by the African Children’s Choir.

Then, in another creative and risky move, the Idol producers let Sanjaya Malakar take the stage one more time, to sing “You Really Got Me” accompanied by Joe Perry of Aerosmith on-stage. They even had crying-Sanjaya-fan-girl back in the audience, and she was crying with gusto. Sanjaya still can’t sing worth a damn, but the performance sure was fun!

And then things took a very

Review of Amazon Unbox for TiVo

Posted on May 1st, 2007 in Entertainment,Product Reviews,Technology by EngineerBoy

If you own a TiVo there is a new service available to you from an Amazon/TiVo partnership called Unbox. Also, if you don’t yet own a TiVo GO AND GET ONE RIGHT NOW!!!!! I’ll wait…

Amazon Unbox is a service that allows you to locate movies, TV shows, and other video content on Amazon, purchase or rent them, and have them download directly to your TiVo for your viewing convenience. No schlepping down to the video store, no waiting for DVDs to arrive in the mail. Just an hour or two of download time, and it’s ready to watch. Sounds pretty cool, doesn’t it?

It is, kind of. You see, the technology is pretty good, with only a few quibbles, as follows:

You only get the main feature, none of the DVD extras (deleted scenes, commentary, etc)
Video quality is not nearly the same as DVD, for example, there is noticable artifacting in dark scenes
Sound quality is simply “stereo”, not 5.1 or any other home-theater-quality sound
No hi-def content
You have to wait for the entire movie to finish downloading before you can start watching it
You can’t transfer downloaded content between your TiVos or move it to a PC running TiVo Desktop

Other than that, it works pretty good – you log into Unbox with your Amazon credentials, locate a movie you like, click to purchase, tell it which TiVo of yours to download to (if you have more than one), then wait the 30-120 minutes for it to download, depending on the length of the feature and your available download bandwidth.

The big disappointment, however, is the number of titles available for download. When I heard that I would be able to download movies from Amazon directly to my TiVo, I was ecstatic – FINALLY entertainment technology that worked how I wanted it to – I figured with Amazon’s huge selection of DVDs that I would have virtually anything I wanted at my fingertips. But it ain’t so, not by a long shot. As best as I can figure, Amazon carries about 190,000 DVD titles. And how many are available for download to your TiVo? About 3,300. That’s a little less that 2% of the available DVDs. And that makes Unbox extraordinarily frustrating.

Since the service went live a few weeks ago, I’ve looked for, conservatively 150 different titles on Unbox. How many have I found that were actually available? Four. Four measly titles that I’ve wanted to get from Unbox. For this article I combined the top movies from both IMDB and the AFI to get their combined Top 20 films of all time – in other words, the twenty greatest films that have ever been produced according to IMDB and the AFI. Check the table below – one, count ’em, one of these films is available from Unbox for TiVo:

AFI and IMDB Top 10 Movies of All Time

Title

Available for TiVo