Category Archives: Movies

Really Enjoyed Jason Scott’s BBS Documentary

Like many young programmers of my age, before I could use the Internet, there were BBSs. I eventually ran one, though in my small town there were few callers.

Some time back, I downloaded a copy of Jason Scott’s BBS Documentary. You might know Jason Scott from and his work at the Internet Archive.

The documentary was released in 2005 and spans 8 episodes on 3 DVDs. I’d watched parts of it before, but recently watched the whole series.

It’s really well done, and it’s not just about the technology. Yes, that figures in, but it’s about the people. At times, it was nostalgic to see people talking about things I clearly remembered. Often, I saw long-forgotten pioneers interviewed. And sometimes, such as with the ANSI art scene, I learned a lot about something I was aware of but never really got into back then.

BBSs and the ARPANet (predecessor to the Internet) grew up alongside each other. One was funded by governments and universities; the other, by hobbyists working with inexpensive equipment, sometimes of their own design.

You can download the DVD images (with tons of extras) or watch just the episodes on Youtube following the links on the author’s website.

The thing about BBSs is that they never actually died. Now I’m looking forward to watching the Back to the BBS documentary series about modern BBSs as well.

Control Room

Have you ever wondered why so many Arabs hate Americans? Why they view us as occupiers? Why they want to be rid of both Saddam Hussein and us?

We watched Control Room tonight. What a fascinating documentary. There was no narration. Just journalists talking. Arab journalists, American journalists, Pentagon spokesmen. Lots of different viewpoints. Lots of insight.

It was hard to watch at times — they showed footage of how events were covered in different countries, and it was graphic sometimes. They also showed the journalists talking about why they covered things in a certain way.

It was very moving, and thought-provoking.

Sometimes it is useful to have a view from an outsider (to America) or an insider (to the Middle East).

Christopher Plummer

You probably know of Christopher Plummer, who played Captain von Trapp in Sound of Music way back in 1965.

Many people have this nostalgic Disney-like image of Plummer. So, I find it amusing to note what he’s been working on since:

  • Voices in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (2004)
  • Narrator in The Gospel of John (2003)
  • Dracula 2000
  • General Chang in Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country (1991) and Star Trek: Klingon Academy (2000 video game)
  • Dragnet (1987)
  • Sherlock Holmes in Murder by Decree (1979)
  • Sir Charles Litton in The Return of the Pink Panther (1975)
  • Duke of Wellington in Waterloo (1970)

Quite a varied tale. Speaks to his skills as an actor, I guess.

People Hate Netflix?

A few days ago, I wrote about my thoughts on online DVD rental, and my eventual decision to go with GreenCine.

Browsing around today, I stumbled upon a NetFlix experiences site. Apparently there are a lot of problems with NetFlix, including horrible customer service, tendencies to damage DVDs beyond repair in their warehouse, and generally very bad service. I’m always a little uncertain about stuff like this written more than 6 months ago, because changes can happen in that amount of time, but this site has reports up through last week. The person running the site also keeps a journal that makes interesting reading.

There is also a link to an analysis of the NetFlix DVD selection system, which appears to confirm experiences that many people continue to report to this day.

I somehow doubt I’ll be switching from GreenCine to Netflix anytime soon. And I say that having not yet received my first DVD from them, too! :-)