Since moving to California, I got DirecTV so that I could follow my beloved Patriots via the NFL Sunday Ticket package. I opted to get the DVR since it was free with the package I ordered. I quickly grew to love it and used it all the time. There were some quirks, but it worked well. Last month (I think), there was a middle-of-the-night update to the DVR software. This introduced numerous bugs and inconsistencies that have been annoying me every since. Here are some of the highlights:
- The "My VOD" menu item, which previously was the top level for all of your recorded shows, was renamed to a much more friendly yet very different "My Playlist". Since people get used to user interfaces and stop reading the text, instead looking at the size of the text, it took me about ten minutes that morning to figure out what had happened to the "My VOD" menu item. Don't change your user interface without notice!
- I used to fast forward at 2x speed. Now if I do that, the video loops. It fast forwards for a couple minutes, then jumps back two minutes and repeats the cycle. That forces me to fast forward at 3x (since 1x is too damn slow), but that is a bit too fast so I always end up missing the beginning of my shows as they come back from commercials.
- All of my series record settings were changed from recording only first-run shows to recording all shows. This forced me to reset each and every one of my 25 recordings manually...only that didn't work. I had to delete all of the settings and then recreate them all.
- When you are watching a recording and then stop it, the selected menu item isn't always the item you were viewing. This means that if you wanted to delete what you were just watching, you better be sure you double check which item is selected at that point.
As a software engineer, I just can't believe that they would ship this software with so many obvious bugs. I keep waiting for another update to fix these, but there doesn't seem to be any forthcoming. Is it really that hard to create a decent DVR? And why did you update my software that was working perfectly fine with crappy software that I'm still fighting with?
Given the bloodbath that has encompassed the Patriots' locker room over the past two offseason, losing key players left and right, my stomach turned once the season ended and it was time once again to wait and watch as the Patriots decided who will stay and who will go. Given that last year's departures alone included linebacker Willie McGinest, receivers Deion Branch and David Givens, and kicker Adam Vinatieri, I was scared to see who would be leaving this year.
With the emergence of Asante Samuel timed perfectly with him becoming a free agent, I thought for sure that he'd be gone. Today, the Patriots slapped him with the franchise tag, meaning that he'll either be paid a one-year average of the top five salaries for cornerbacks in the league, or the Patriots will lose him (if another team matches the offer) but gain two first-round draft picks. Now, he's not quite the shutdown corner that Ty Law was at his peak, but he's still the best cornerback that the Patriots have, so hopefully he'll be sticking around.
The other cornerback, Ellis Hobbs, had a great second half of the season and played really well during the playoffs, but it's still a position that the Patriots aren't very deep at thanks to injuries. Randall Gay, the starting cornerback in the Patriots' last Super Bowl, looked like a promising player until he got injured. He hasn't played a full season since that time. The Pats could also end up using Eugene Wilson, who typically plays safety, at cornerback next season (which is his natural position).
Despite this, the Patriots biggest need is at linebacker. Consider that the Patriots have lost, for one reason or another, Roman Phifer, Willie McGinest, Junior Seau, and Ted Johnson over the past few years, the Patriots are really shallow at that position (a weakness the Colts really exploited in the AFC championship game). Traditionally, that was the deepest position for the Pats, but now they are woefully lacking in that department and in need of some new talent.
On the offensive side of the ball, the only real weakness is at wide receiver. Jabbar Gaffney and Reche Caldwell will be back, and they both had great playoff performances with the exception of the Colts game. The Pats still have Chad Jackson, their wide receiver pick from last year who missed most of the year with injuries. He could turn into a big play receiver given his speed, but the jury is still out. Troy Brown may or may not return. If he leaves, he'll leave Brady without any familiar targets.
Thankfully, the rest of the offense is in good shape. Though tight end Daniel Graham is a free agent, the Patriots can afford to lose him with the emergence of Benjamin Watson and the strong performance of rookie David Thomas when called upon. They'd like to have Graham back, but losing him wouldn't be a big deal. We still have the best quarterback in the league and an explosive rookie runing back, Laurence Maroney, running behind what has turned into a strong offensive line.
I'd still like to see the Patriots pick up some good veterans in the offseason, but traditionally they haven't been all that at finding free agents that fit in well (with the notable exceptions being Rodney Harrison and Rosevelt Colvin). The Patriots seem to do much better with the draft, which they have two first round picks in this year. And if Asante Samuel is lost to another team, they may end up with a third. Who says the offseason isn't interesting?