Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook


Forgot your password?
Television Media Technology

The Screen Savers Reunited 191

HABITcky writes "Leo Laporte, Patrick Norton, Kevin Rose, and Robert Heron have gotten together and recorded their first podcast of The Return Of The Screen Savers (ROTSS) It's a 56kbps MP3Pro file weighing in at around 14MB. Join them for 34 minutes of Skyping fun as they discuss driving in the dust, cell phones, Kevin's new webcast, Systm, and the demise of TechTV. They plan to make this a weekly broadcast."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

The Screen Savers Reunited

Comments Filter:
  • Very cool.. (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Very cool..

    Now all they need is a few DV cams and a QTSS (QuickTime Streaming Server) and a big pipe.

    Viva la Revolution!!!!

  • Cool (Score:4, Interesting)

    by nocomment ( 239368 ) on Saturday April 23, 2005 @12:40AM (#12320579) Homepage Journal
    Sounds like it might be cool. But not as cool as Slashdot Radio [] was.
  • They should get Kate in on it. I never cared for Patrick when I knew Kate is still around.
  • While I was never a huge fan of the show(back when it was decent), it was pretty entertaining and worth watching. What G4 has done to the channel drives me crazy. I want the old TechTV days back!
  • hmm (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by Tomfrh ( 719891 )
    sounds fascinating doesn't it..
    • "sounds fascinating doesn't it.."

      I thought Mr. Spock couldn't use contractions!
      • "I thought Mr. Spock couldn't use contractions!"

        Good lord. There's a question that should be on the Slashdot registration form, right under the "are you over 13" bit.
      • I thought Mr. Spock couldn't use contractions!

        You are probably thinking of Data. But the actor did accidentaly use contractions several times, which didn't stop Wesley crusher from realizing that Lore, Data's evil twin, was posing as Data in one episode.

        Surprisingly, I do not live with my parents.
  • by Sebby ( 238625 ) on Saturday April 23, 2005 @12:42AM (#12320594)
    Ever since G4, I've basically stopped watching "TechTV" since it's no longer, well, 'TechTV'. TSS was just about the only info show I watched on it (besides battlebots etc), and pretty much the only raison d'être of the station. Glad to see they're back in this format.

    US stations have such a knack for taking great channels (or TV shows), and totally foobar them in a vain attempt to 'improve' them.

    • Ever since G4, I've basically stopped watching "TechTV" since it's no longer, well, 'TechTV'. TSS was just about the only info show I watched on it (besides battlebots etc), and pretty much the only raison d'être of the station. Glad to see they're back in this format.

      BattleBots was a Comedy Central production. The show that was on TechTV was rebroadcasts of BBC's Robot Wars, I believe. Yes, I know, I'm probably nitpicking.

      • I'm probably nitpicking.

        Of course you are!

        Naah!, I'm kidding. It's also rerun on other channels too. What I meant was that TSS was *the* show worth getting the channel for; the others were just icing on the cake. Not sure I would've gotten it if TSS hadn't been there.

    • by Soko ( 17987 ) on Saturday April 23, 2005 @01:00AM (#12320663) Homepage
      If you can get Canadian cable, you can catch Leo on Call for Help []. Almost like the Screen Savers, and Amber is hawt.

    • Well you got to understand the fact you have to carefully cultivate idiots so that you can manipulate them later on.
    • by green pizza ( 159161 ) on Saturday April 23, 2005 @01:42AM (#12320814) Homepage
      Laporte and Ziff Davis started their TV venture in 1995 with "TheSite" on MSNBC. Awesome hour long daily show hosted by Soledad O'Brian and a bunch of over very talented folks. MSNBC canceled the show during a big programming change in 1997. I really miss that show.

      In 1998 ZD started their own TV channel. The Screen Savers started out as a very crappy replacement for TheSite. I still enjoyed it, but you could tell that the company was now using the same resources to make about 5 hours of TV a day rather than 1 hour.

      The Screen Savers was really starting to suck by the time ZDTV became TechTV.

      Soon G4 got involved and totally ruined what little was left of the original ZD venture. Thankfully they finally changed the name of the show.
      • Laporte and Ziff Davis started their TV venture in 1995 with "TheSite" on MSNBC. Awesome hour long daily show hosted by Soledad O'Brian and a bunch of over very talented folks. MSNBC canceled the show during a big programming change in 1997. I really miss that show.

        Wasn't CNet (the TV show) on around this time? I think I was watching it on USA. It had Solidad O'Brien and some other guy.

        • Wasn't CNet (the TV show) on around this time? I think I was watching it on USA. It had Solidad O'Brien and some other guy.
          That was Gina Smith. She later joined up with Larry Ellison to market the N|C (New Internet Computer).
      • I remember them demoing the original blue BeBox (not sure if the original was PPC or if it used the AT&T Hobbit). Was pretty darned cool.

        Also don't forget their little virtual reality type guy they had on the show... what was his name?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      It is hard to understand the thinking at G4.

      Why does G4 not relent and give us techie types just a little more tech than games and the fluff?

      Why does PBS or some other channel not pick up on the concept. Seems like there might be a demand for a TSS like program (more tech and less fluff).

      TSS is really missed!

    • by GeorgeMcBay ( 106610 ) on Saturday April 23, 2005 @03:19AM (#12321153)

      US stations have such a knack for taking great channels (or TV shows), and totally foobar them in a vain attempt to 'improve' them.

      The blame really belongs to the viewers, not the stations.

      If these good shows were doing at all well in the ratings, the network execs wouldn't dare to change a thing. Generally when they "screw up a good show" it is a last ditch effort to try to find a viewership when everything else has failed. Since they aren't in the business of losing money, there is really nobody to blame but the masses.. for not tuning in to quality shows.
      • > there is really nobody to blame but the masses..

        No... we can blame the Neilsen Families. I say we round 'em up and lynch 'em.
      • by ekwhite ( 847167 ) <ekwhite1&verizon,net> on Saturday April 23, 2005 @09:04AM (#12322077)
        I don't believe you are correct in this case. TechTV actually had HIGHER ratings than G4. Comcast Cable, the owner of G4, bought TechTV from Paul Allen with the express intent of getting rid of the competition. What I can't understand is why G4 did not keep the best shows,as it would have only improved their competitive position. They must have the WORST programmers ever.
        • Its a cable company. Just like Reality TV, they look for the most profitable venue, not the best venue.

          That is one reason why I still firmly believe that distributors of content and producers of content are an unholy marriage.


      • If these good shows were doing at all well in the ratings, the network execs wouldn't dare to change a thing. Generally when they "screw up a good show" it is a last ditch effort to try to find a viewership when everything else has failed.

        I see your point.

        But one must wonder if the sampling technology used to determine a shows viewship is hopelessly inadequate sometimes.

        If the data says that 5,000 geeks watch it, then perhaps instead of trying to make the show appeal to the general "more people," they s
    • ...pretty much the only raison d'être of the station

      There was an extremely cool series that TechTV used to show called "Big Thinkers," with each episode on a modern geniuses like Michio Kaku, Scott Adams, and Neal Stephenson. That show became my 'other' reason to watch TechTV. It was only on for a while though....

      I keep wishing the show would come out on DVD. But I'm betting that since G4 that possibility has gone from bad to worse.
  • My only hope.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Y-Crate ( 540566 ) on Saturday April 23, 2005 @12:43AM (#12320595)
    ....being that they can get Kate Botello to make a few guest appearances. Then it will be a true reunion.
  • Leo Was Good (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 23, 2005 @12:43AM (#12320597)
    He was what made that show watchable. And, as far as I know, he was the only one with any previous experience in that field. Kevin and the new batch are kinda' out of their element on Live TV, in my opinion.

    Leo knew when the guest was becoming uninteresting, and would switch the subject - fast. The new breed kinda' drag on, and commit the most cardinal sin of Live Broadcast: stand in silence.

    But, they're prettier than the old ones, I guess. Have to keep the eyecandy on display for their new audience...
    • Re:Leo Was Good (Score:5, Insightful)

      by _Sprocket_ ( 42527 ) on Saturday April 23, 2005 @02:28AM (#12320942)
      I could only take Leo in small doses. I understand that he has his fans. And he seems like he's a nice enough guy. But I cringed whenever he got the bit between his teeth and started on one of his kicks.

      Having said that - I thought worked well teamed up with Patrick Norton. Patrick delivered the info. And when he was busy searching or otherwise occupied, Leo did a nice job at keeping everyone distracted. And, as you pointed out, Leo had a good feel for how (and when) to get the show moving along.
    • The whole concept is really all about conversation and information sharing. Leo is well-versed in both - so well in fact that he draws these qualities out of other people and gets them talking. Half the time I want to join in on the conversation with some info and ask a couple questions. That's the mark of a good show right there.

      I bet this can be done with only audio just as well - let's hope Leo sees what he has here.
  • Bah! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Queer Boy ( 451309 ) * <> on Saturday April 23, 2005 @12:44AM (#12320600)
    What's the point of reuniting the Screen Savers if I can't ogle Patrick Norton?
  • Ummmm... (Score:5, Informative)

    by ghoda_x ( 808190 ) on Saturday April 23, 2005 @12:45AM (#12320603)
    ...first podcast of The Return Of The Screen Savers (ROTSS)...

    In TFA it's called Revenge of the Screen Savers.
  • The Screen Savers (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Space_Soldier ( 628825 ) <> on Saturday April 23, 2005 @12:48AM (#12320614)
    I used to watch it during 2000-2002. After that, I only watched during sweapstake answers live hour:08 - hour:15 (I still didn't watch the show). After that, as you all know, it went down hill. The marketing geniuses that come from the same pool that keep bringing us crappy movies thought that they'll be able to teach us what quality is, and that they will make a few dollars at the same time. They were wrong, and a good show was destroyed. A little more time passed and the entire station was destroyed. Maybe Leo and Patrick they will make a video show like The Broken [] if the audio show is successful.
    • TV stations are really becoming irrelivant. Imagine if amature video ventures like The Broken, and the potential this has all start to take off. Now think future generation(or hack-modded) tivos/xboxes/cable boxes/whatever being able to automaticly subscribe for new shows when they come out just as easily as you could subscribe to a tivo season pass of something on cable. There will be no difference to the end user,and we'll all be better off.
      The downside of course is funding and publicity, but those arnt n
  • I think this is a great idea! Leo and Patrick ruled on TSS, and since they've gone I cancelled my subscription to G4TechTV. Only one thing is needed to make this complete - bring back Jessica Corbin!!
  • The Site (Score:3, Informative)

    by ClosedSource ( 238333 ) on Saturday April 23, 2005 @12:55AM (#12320644)
    I only watched Leo Laporte on The Site. That was back in the early days of MSNBC when they actually tried to do something different.

    In those days the motto for The News with Brian Williams was "It's not your father's news program". Then before you knew it, MSNBC was too conservative to be your father's news channel.
    • by green pizza ( 159161 ) on Saturday April 23, 2005 @01:18AM (#12320737) Homepage
      I loved The Site, I watched it almost every weekday for about two years. They canceled it after preempting it with the Princess Diana death broadcasts.

      The Site was the perfect blend of high tech news and tech-related interest stories. I never cared much for ZDTV/TechTV/G4, they were actually "too geeky" in a bad sort of way.

      Leo Laporte was the voice and actor (motion caption) for the tech gossip character "DevNull" (Laporte's old radio handle). He was also "Technical Managing Producer" of the hour-long show, so he did most of his work behind the scenes. The show was actually recorded in the same studio where all of the TechTV shows were, except they had just one huge room, a "working set" where segments were recorded all day while researchers, TV show webmasters, and others were hard at work in the background. These people were often featured in their own segments. It was very cool to hear from the show's own tech people (the show's site was originally hosted on a SPARCstation 20 running Apache and connected to a single T1). I loved the little details like that. And yet they really didn't dwell on the really technical aspects.

      Soledad O'Brian was a great host, I think that job fit her better than the current news gigs she does these days. There was also a really good band of reporters for the show, Craig Miller was awesome, I wonder what he's up to these days? Lots of people from the old science show days from KRON/Discovery Channel.

      Cliff Stoll ended each weekday show with about 5 minutes of insight, rants, and stories from his home in Berkeley.

      TheSite was a nice grounded "magazine" look into the dotcom world. They interviewed a lot of visionaries and up-and-coming people in the industry. Lots of cool viewpoints and persepctives. Too bad their budget didn't allow for travel beyond the SF Bay / Silicon Valley area.

      I really miss TheSite, but there won't even be anything like it. Even in it's best days, The Screen Savers was just a bunch of unwashed geeks hanging around Leo Laporte. Lots of geek details, flash, and no substance. *sigh*
  • It's interesting to see this show returning, even in this limited form. It would be nice if they had a version with video.

    I wonder if there's still some hope of another network picking this up at some point?
  • orrent

    In case anyone is interested.
  • MP3Pro?? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Saturday April 23, 2005 @12:59AM (#12320660)


    Yeah, I know it is backwards compatible with regular mp3 players, but who just about nobody uses it, or has the "pro" decoder part installed. They should have gone with regular mp3 for backwards compatibility and a second copy with a completely different, more efficient low-bitrate codec like wma.

    (Now, who thought I was going to say vorbis?)
    • I wish I had a mod point to give you this week.

      This was my only complaint with RoTSS, their selection of MP3pro. The way Leo, Patrick and Kevin pushed Linux and open source, I thought OGG would have been a lot better choice.
      • Re: MP3Pro?? (Score:2, Insightful)

        by bawdymonkey ( 857953 )
        I'm assuming they didn't go with OGG since iPod doesn't support it (although plenty of alternatives do.)

        The MP3Pro decision was probably based on the fact that it's supposed to have better sound quality than vanilla MP3, IIRC.
        • I don't see why they couldn't provide multiple formats. Ogg for those who know what it is and know its benefits (which will help ogg's midshare grow), MP3 for others who'd rather take longer to download it because they don't know what an "ogg" is, maybe WMA.
    • efficient low-bitrate codec like wma.

      If it's just voices, speex would probably be a lot better

  • I still want ZDTV back.
  • they could call it "Geeks in Spa- oh wait, nevermind.
  • Leo Laporte was the only good talent on that channel. He was a technology fanatic first and a TV host second. He did a good job of hosting, he seemed like an average guy who knew his stuff, and not a phony TV personality. The others either tried too hard to be cool or were too nerdy. It's a shame he had to leave TechTV but I'd rather see him out there on his own than hosting the suckified version of Screen Savers that exists today.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      i hated him.. he seemed dumb as a brick

      patrick was smart but leo was always trying to be funny or silly and never got things right and was just really computer illiterate
    • Back in his days before TSS and Call for Help, Laporte did a lot of behind the scenes work for TheSite on MSNBC. Soledad O'Brian did a great job of hosting that show.

      Laporte has a long background with the tech industry and computers, he had a computer tech support call in radio show back before most people had computers in their home. He's not so much "smart" as he is a quick learner and good speaker. In this respect, Soledad O'Brian was just as good.
  • I'm a big fan of Leo and watched the screensavers even before Patrick joined--when they had that girl (sure I know her name, but ugh, why mention it.) It was a really great/entertaining show that you could catch replays of during the day and not ruin your habitual, primetime TV schedule.

    Sure, Leo didn't know everything and would sometimes say shit that wasn't right, but he had a TV personality. He was educated and talented in television entertainment. I miss him.

    I have no idea what the tv executives were
  • Ouch... it's downloading at about 4kbs. Bittorrent: rent []
  • Why does this title remind me of "Flying Toasters?"
  • sort of :) The only episode I ever watched was an episode where the presented a vulnerability I discovered in Microsoft's help center which got overhyped. It was the hcp://windows/* delete file type exploit. Pretty cool.
  • Interesting. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by BrookHarty ( 9119 ) on Saturday April 23, 2005 @03:21AM (#12321158) Homepage Journal
    I'll have to listen, I stopped my tivo for season for TSS.

    Who wants to watch 20 somethings that know nothing about tech other than "Wow that Sony PSP is cool...."

    Umm. I'm the 30 something that buys all the neat toys, the first ones to buy the new phones, pda's, and hardware. So, you insult us. Nice, we go off on the next place to get our tech news. Too bad Slashdot is about it. If slashdot could just a TV Show.
  • by humankind ( 704050 ) on Saturday April 23, 2005 @05:26AM (#12321542) Journal
    When I first saw TechTV, I was very impressed. I especially like how one of the policies that Leo implemented on TSS was to go live and if the computer crashed, show it on TV, and using Windows, many times their OS would crash in the middle of demos. They felt it was important to let people know that this happens to everybody and not just neophytes, and that ideally it should be avoidable and that was their way of sending a message to the software developers that if their products weren't stable, at least TSS wouldn't cover it up.

    One problem these days with product reviews is that the line between editorial and advertising is to narrow, you don't know who to trust. TSS and some of the other shows on the early TechTV were very good about calling attention to products that, well, sucked and didn't live up to their claims. This probably alienated potential advertisers but it generated hardcore loyalty among viewers like me who felt that many of the personalities on TechTV were honorable and trustworthy.

    When the network started running all kinds of weird fluff/syndicated crap, things started to decline. More emphasis was put on gaming and less on technology, more on goofy gadgets and less on core applications and utilities. When G4 took over the network, it was nearly dead and I haven't watched since.

    I agree with others that Leo has a good personality for television, but sometimes I felt he was a little too animated and "fatherly". In contrast, Patrick and Kevin and others were more peer-like in the manner in which they presented information and news. Leo had more of a slightly patronizing hyper-exagerated-enthusiasm that I felt was over the top and annoying at times. But I can't deny that he was very knowledgable and capable. I would love to see the old crew back together again.
  • This is very good news.

    Attack of the Show would be an embarrassment to a local cable access channel. Lame hosts with delusions of talent and comedy, pointless sketches, lame guests (Tom Green leaps to mind), and the closest I've seen them come to actual tech content is shoving a (fortunately small) web server up someone's posterior. As Dave Barry would say, I am not making this up.
  • I'm listening to the podcast right now and I'm hearing product reviews about noise cancelling headphones, cell phone companies and talk about other tech products that I'm interested in. Straight up talk and no bull without regard to what the 'suits' say they can say about this product or that product. What could be better or more interesting than that? I'll listen to further broadcasts.
  • by scupper ( 687418 ) * on Saturday April 23, 2005 @12:10PM (#12322960) Homepage
    At 23:30 into the 34:44 min podcast mp3, Kevin starts taking about a DVI lcd deal he scooped, and Leo weighs in asking if he'd seen it on []. About 24:00, Leo makes the ""Random Taco" call concerning /. editors, while discussing the differences between /. and digg. Shhwweeet! I love this podcast.
  • Too bad they can't make DivX shows and distro them via bittorrent. Perhaps come up with a low cost subscription model, say $1/month for 4 episodes. If it got popular enough, they could generate revenue from advertisements (with a please do not remove the ads from the file intro). Next thing you know, homebrew PVRs are retrieving the show weekly, and the internet is allowing us to successfully subvert the commercial broadcast & cable TV networks.
  • Official site for ROTSS: []

The first Rotarian was the first man to call John the Baptist "Jack." -- H.L. Mencken