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Methods of March Madness

Starting this Thursday, office productivity across America is going to tank. It's time for March Madness, which means a steady stream of college-basketball playoff games--any one of which could destroy your brackets--airing when you're supposed to be at work.

The traditional way to keep up on the Big Dance is to sneak into the break room to watch the games on TV there. But if your boss happens to be in the room, there's no pretending that you're paying attention to your job. (That may not be a problem if the both of you went to the same school.)

It can be more practical to follow the tournament from your computer. CBS and the NCAA's "March Madness on Demand" provides free streaming audio and video of every game, but it's also frequently been a victim of its own success. In prior years I've had almost zero luck getting past the site's "Waiting Room"; grabbing one of the limited number of free "VIP" site passes it's handing out may improve your odds this time around.

This year, you have another option for watching the tourney online--the free Joost service will carry live games as well. But this peer-to-peer site is warning people upfront that this venture is an experiment:

This is a test of our live P2P streaming service. It's a pretty complex technology, and we fully expect things to go wrong. The stream may stutter, slow, or stop altogether. If your stream does stop, we recommend restarting the channel - that usually works. Otherwise, you might have to re-start Joost. We apologize for any inconveniences, but your participation will help us build a stable live service!

You may also have problems running Joost at all over your office's firewall.

If you can live without live video, you can follow individual games on the interactive scoreboards of sites such as ESPN and CBS. I suspect that's what I'll wind up doing... strictly, of course, so that I can continue my research into the performance of interactive Web services in high-demand environments.

(In other news: Hoya Saxa!)

How are you planning to stay on top of the tournament? Share your suggestions in the comments...

By Rob Pegoraro  |  March 17, 2008; 12:46 PM ET
Categories:  Digital culture  
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Comments

There's the other option to "work" remotely.

Laptop + VPN + couch = bliss

Posted by: WFH | March 17, 2008 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Come on, people, just take the day off. Keep your laptop with you and if you manage to get anything accomplished, just mark it as hours worked. Trying to work and monitor the games on your computer screen means you do neither well.

Posted by: slar | March 17, 2008 1:34 PM | Report abuse

I've used the March Madness on Demand for the last couple of years now. It's great since my team is not one of the local teams that are usually given priority coverage in the area. I have a VIP pass so it never takes more than a minute or two to get on.

Posted by: mrs. jones | March 17, 2008 3:25 PM | Report abuse

I broke down and bought a Sony LocationFree so I can stream my own TV back to myself...

Posted by: David | March 18, 2008 12:47 AM | Report abuse

Unfortunately March Madness On Demand restricted their video streams to US-audiences only last year. I expect it to be the same again. All of us ex-pats are being punished.

Posted by: Andrew | March 18, 2008 8:11 AM | Report abuse

This is a computer column. when I want to find out about sports, I'll read the stupid people's section of the newspaper.

-- Faye Kane, homeless smartmouth. See more of my smartmouth opinions at http://blog.myspace.com/fayekane

Posted by: faye kane | March 18, 2008 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Both CBS and Joost will be streaming the tournament live worldwide.

Posted by: Jake | March 18, 2008 10:23 AM | Report abuse

How about the doctor in Oregon that's offering March Madness vasectomy packages? Surgery is scheduled for a Wed so you get 5 days off, a bag of frozen peas for your ice pack, a Domino's pizza coupon and a Subway sandwich. Turn on the tv and you're set.

Posted by: Tina in Falls Church | March 18, 2008 12:25 PM | Report abuse

I am a low tech guy, so I just bring in my ancient 9" color TV from the 70's with its rabbit ears and watch CBS with the sound turned down low. This TV was the only one watchable on 9/11 because every other screen was just a monitor for VCR's and DVD players. Low tech still rules from time to time.

Posted by: djuan | March 18, 2008 4:39 PM | Report abuse

Tina, I devoutly hope that you're making that up :)

- RP

Posted by: Rob Pegoraro | March 18, 2008 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Ha, Rob, she's not making it up! It might be the most genius promo I've ever seen.

Link: http://www.thestar.com/living/article/331915

Posted by: Stef | March 18, 2008 8:14 PM | Report abuse

Rob do you have an interactive bracket filled out at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-adv/tt_tracker/index.htm, The Washington Post's Tourney Tracker?
If you post the name of your bracket your faithful readers can track your progress along with there own.

Posted by: jjflash | March 20, 2008 8:56 AM | Report abuse

The NCAA/CBS online games are offered for viewing after the games. But the problem I have is that one can't go to ,for example, the second half or wherever they want to.There's no movable timeline. I have to sit through the entire game. There's a very slow "fast forward" that can often make the whole video quit working if used. Worst of all is that in order to turn the archived games on you have to try to deliactely maneuever around all the scores which they have posted right where you need to click to start. If I know the score it takes the fun out of watching the game.

Posted by: Larry L | March 21, 2008 3:21 AM | Report abuse

The NCAA/CBS online games are offered for viewing after the games. But the problem I have is that one can't go to ,for example, the second half or wherever they want to.There's no movable timeline. I have to sit through the entire game. There's a very slow "fast forward" that can often make the whole video quit working if used. Worst of all is that in order to turn the archived games on you have to try to deliactely maneuever around all the scores which they have posted right where you need to click to start. If I know the score it takes the fun out of watching the game.

Posted by: Larry L | March 21, 2008 3:21 AM | Report abuse

I had no problem streaming the wisconsin game all night last night, and I'm not VIP. I think this is an instance of cheap memory catching up with utility.

Posted by: Matt | March 21, 2008 4:06 PM | Report abuse

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