Tuesday, November 11, 2014

How I got Tickets To Big Bang Theory

I don't watch much television, but I've been watching the Big Bang Theory show for years.  I love it because I can empathize with several attributes of the characters and it reminded me of several childhood encounters with my geeky friends.  I though I had found my show, but it turns out that nearly 15 million watch this this top rated CBS show.

For the past couple years, I've been trying to get tickets to see a live taping at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank.  The TVTickets website provides audience tickets to the Big Bang Theory taping, but they are not showing because they are "sold out".  The website states:
The show schedule and this order form automatically update by 8:30am (M-F Los Angeles time) to display shows scheduled for the next 30 days. Shows/dates that are "sold out" or are more than 30 days from today will not be included in the drop box.
So I've been repetitively checking the website.  After a while, I relegated to fact that I'd only see the  be able to see the TV that the rescinded to the fact that I'd never

  I've been checking routinely, but after two unsuccessful seasons, I decided to kick things up a notch by creating a HTTP monitor for the website. I configured it to look for the keyword "Bang" on the webpage, which would only appear if the show has available time slots for ticket reservations.  I first set this up as a wget script, with an email notification and attached it as a cron job.  The email notification was potentially unstable due to DNS failures and slowness.  So I decided to use dotcom monitor which has a feature to send a text message.

There were a few false alerts when the TVTickets site was down or unreachable.  Anyway, after a few months, it finally triggered!

Attending the filming today!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Google Talk Down for the Count

Google Talk services are out across the board.  It all started this morning and was out for several hours; it took a while for Google to acknowledge that Hangouts and Google Talk were having a service disruption.  This isn't a typical partial network outage either since it affects all users in many regions; although Google didn't formerly admitted to be a service outage.

Users attempting to login were stuck in a continuous looping cycle leaving them with the uncertainty that it might be due to their Windows machine.   Rebooting of course didn't work; so some people here thought it was a problem with their station and tried to re-install Google Talk only to discover that it is no longer available.  I too learned this lesson the hard way after having to re-installing Windows due to an audio problem (which incidentally was triggered by Google Hangouts).

For those unfortunate soles who thought it was a problem with their computer, I'm proving a download for Google Talk here.

It seems to be an all out withdrawal from supporting the Windows platform; similarly Google Sync which allowed Outlook users to synchronize Google calendar was formerly ended last July.  It's well known that within the Googleplexes of the world, that Mac & Linux usage far outweighs Windows; in fact a contact of mine said that you'd practically need CTO approval to get Windows.  Over/under bets are currently being made as to which year Chrome support will be dropped from Windows ;)?

It's tough to start the week off with this outage, and while I'm happy to see it running again, the concern however that support for this product may permanently go away since Google declared that the Talk would be deprecated (done away with), in favor of Google Hangouts.  Our office relies upon it significantly and will need to find a replacement if Google Talk support completely stops.  Google Hangouts is just plain clunky: prone to having video complications, poor quality & delayed audio and the text chat feature is not well integrated.  The simplicity and quality of Google Talk is usually spot on; both within the desktop app, gmail integrated pane and the Android app.

For now, I'll be holding my breath to see if another viable replacement comes along for Google Apps based communication.

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