Monday, April 28, 2008

Fans of Call For Help, Rejoice!

Back before G4 was TechTV, it was ZDTV, for Ziff Davis Television. We got that channel back in the days before the changeover and Ed, then I, got hooked on the incomparable Leo LaPorte's shows, Call for Help and The Screen Savers.

Call for Help was his live question and answer program where users could call live and ask tech questions about their computers. Sometimes, it'd be a caller who was overwhelmed by a new computer. Other times, people asking questions about ethernet , pc-mdia cards and how to create firewalls for their new BBSs. Leo handled all those calls with patience and tons of humor, too.

The Screen Savers was a show that featured all sorts of news about computers and the people who used them, kind of like a Today show for the tech world. Leo and his cohost, Kate Botello, held court for an hour each weeknight and educated and informed while making people laugh at their exploits.

As much as we enjoy our Food TV, back in the late 90's, you could find me watching either Tech TV or Food Network. It was intelligent programming.

Heck, a couple of weeks before Monsters Inc came out, Leo did an appearance at a Circuit City in Fairfax, VA. Ed, the boys and I all drove down to meet Leo and have our pictures taken with him. I had to go to work that Sunday afternoon, so I waited to meet Leo in my new CM Monsters Inc shirt. Just a few days before, they'd aired "The Tech of Monsters Inc" on Tech TV, in which they showed HOW those cool effects came to fruition (I'm still amazed by how they created Sully's hair).

When it was our turn, Leo took his time with us, admiring Chef's curls, commenting on Gameboy's huge eyes and telling me he wanted my shirt! We got pictures. In person, he was just so mellow and funny, just like on TV.

Well, Tech TV became G4 and while Ed still watches, I felt that they dumbed down the network. It appeals to sophomoric young males (sorry honey, it does). Soon after they were acquired by G4, the programming was destroyed and many of the shows (and hosts) we'd enjoyed watching were given their pink slips.

Enter the podcasts. Yeah, I know what you're thinking "big deal, a podcast." Well, back then, there weren't many people doing Podcasts. Leo is not the first, but he has one that is a roundup of news from the tech world, This Week in Tech (or TWiT).

Lucky Canadians still got Leo's Call for Help TV show. Good beer AND good tech info? Guess it's a good trade off for being cold, eh?

Anyway, when they started broadcasting TWiT( with many of the great people of Tech TV: Patrick Norton, Kevin Rose, John C. Dvorak, and others), it was produced in Leo's garage and Patrick had to sit on a pillow on the floor.

Many years later, the show is still going strong, and it's like a taste of the old days when I do catch it (Ed listens regularly, I still don't access iTunes enough to download all my casts in my queue).

Leo announced that he's rented a space and created a video production studio in Petaluma, near wine country (they're all in the general vicinity of San Francisco. He's hired a former cheese monger to help run the board. He wants to start broadcasting to the web every Sunday and asked all his cohorts to participate.

The drive is a little far for them, so Leo offered to hire a limo and pick the TWiT gang up and bring them down there. The lure of wine and cheese, without the fear of driving drunk. Fans of the old show-they're going to do it!

(I want them to webcam the limo ride back after taping the shows-that should be hilarious!)

I think it's time I start downloading my podcasts, don't you?

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