I agree, there are a lot of media-focused samples out right now. A few others that have been released that are different include:
The Podium '08 - an information aggregator
ComponentOne Controls demo - a demo of upcoming controls
Windows Vista Emulation - a lot of items loaded, but interesting to look at as far as possibilities go.
Its a shame that the SQL 2008 demo didn't work out well for you, it play as a rather nice video brochure here. I'm guessing it has to do with the availbility of the media itself. You can find the path to the videos in the playlist xml, if you're interested in testing.
I hadn't seen the Ch8 interview or heard of the Big Screen event, I'll take a look at those.
Next week one of my sessions at REMIX Boston is focused on the idea that there is more you can do with Silverlight beyond building a better media player for WMVs. About two-thirds of the talk is covering 1.0, so I'd be interested in getting your feedback. Not sure I'll jave a video to share, but I will at least blog about the different samples and concepts.
You do make a great point though, Silverlight is great way to learn XAML and WPF concepts.
I agree, selection is sometimes tricky in the current showcase. I look forward to an update. I think it was orginally written to support one row of samples. If anything you can click the small preview picture directly and skip clicking the "see it!" button.
What version of Silverlight do you have installed?
Yes the popup blocker can be quite sticky to work around. Part of it has to do with the fact that its plugin asking to open a new window, another part has to do with how click new windows are requested and also the amount of code that is run before the new window request is made impacts the popup blocker's decision as well.
I spent a fair bit of time investigating and its getting around popup blockers isn't really something the creators want you to do easily. My idea is to only use new windows if you really need to. Most people get the Back button concept and will come back to your site if its worth it.