Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Rise of the Tablet

I had a talk with my wife the other night. (For simplicity's sake I'll refer to her as 'Red Leader' from now on.) Red Leader is not big on getting new gadgets all the time. Take it as pragmatism, not as technophobia. (She's almost always online, I've been unable to convince Red Leader to start blogging as of yet though.) Usually Red Leader just nods and says 'mmhmm' as wives do when their husbands insist on spouting off tech specs of this, that or the other. Tonight however, Red Leader was on point as soon as I started blathering on about tablet computing. I mentioned the iPad and how it was likely future models would be able to do Facetime. Quoth Red Leader, 'The iPad doesn't even do Flash, besides, your arms would get tired and you'd look stupid holding it up.' She went on to say that Android tablets were currently underdeveloped and all current tablets are over-priced. After I wiped a tear from my eye (she does listen to me!) I got to thinking about the role of tablets in the future. Tablets are gonna be a pretty big deal. (As a side note: I know that there is a difference between tablets, slates and e-readers, but for simplicity's sake I'm going to refer to them all together here.)

The Home

Tablets will make a big splash in the home. A few things will have to happen: the interfaces must be simple, any syncing must be wireless, ebooks must be supported well, and the must be rugged.

The thing about tablets is that they can be many different things to the same person. To one person it could be a TV remote, an e-reader, a gaming device, a web browser, a calculator, a social media platform, a recipe card database and editor, a media player, a home indexer and on and on. What to take away from that is that someone may be using it as a remote, then go into the kitchen get flour all over it, wipe it off and watch an episode of Good Eats while the cake bakes. Beyond all that it's not inconceivable that the same device will be made off with by a two year old when you're not looking.

The School

Students could use the heck out of tablets. They'd need a few things too though: everything from the home list, stylus input, palm rejection, e-textbooks, mic-in for recording lectures, et. al. As a student you juggle a lot, keeping track of class materials is no small part of that. Another issue is mobility. Get a few books in your bag and it starts to feel like a ton, in addition to being bulky. To me, replacing all that with a single tablet is a very very exciting proposition.

The Workplace

Carrying a lot of student requirements over like palm rejection is crucial. Throwing in PDF reading and note-taking sweetens the pot. With this though, wireless syncing becomes critical. Device backups are incredibly important. Mobile e-mail and calender alerts and updating are important too. I recently read about a hospital giving doctors iPads recently, to use for accessing patient's charts etc.

Red Leader's the one that really needs to be sold on tablets. When you can make them cheap enough and functional enough that everyone has to have them. That's when I'll know that tablet computing has really arrived.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Way Our Kids Will See Tech

One generation always seems to lament the direction of the next.

Those damn kids and their telegraph.
This is the way we age. We see the world slip away from our influence and call the next generation 'self-entitled.'

I bet he printed this himself
I think about this as it relates to my daughter. Mostly I'm excited fr her. I grew up in a time when tech adoption was on the rise. People had computers, not everybody, but it wasn't unheard of. Some people even had the internet. I remember the excitement when my Dad got cable internet. Being one of the lucky few with 'Roadrunner.' Playing 'Warcraft,' Wolfenstein 3D and Doom.

I remember the first time orcs invaded.
You won't see any naked female trolls dancing on mailboxes in this world.

I saw the rise and fall of Napster, the rise of the iPod, the ubiquity of the cell phone. I'm really excited for what my daughter will see in her lifetime. I grew up less information saturated than my daughter will. I used encyclopedias in grade school. My daughter will grow up with an entire world's worth of information at her fingertips. Obviously, how it will affect this generation will depend a ot on how they're taught to treat it.  I fully expect to not understand her thought process.

hurr durr derp face - HURRRR
see more Durr

Yep, that's me.

With the rise of tablet computing on the horizon, all this information will literally be at her fingertips. That combined with coming advances in biotechnology make for a very exciting future.

If we can cram a hard drive into sad Keanu's head,
imagine what we could do with someone happy.
All in all the future is looking pretty exciting. When I get old, I'll try and keep my mouth shut about how the next generation is screwing everything up.

Edit: Thanks to Jeremy for the updated Warcraft image.

The Reason Tech Support Insults Your Intelligence

Anyone who's ever called tech support for anything has been frustrated to the point of introducing your phone to the nearest solid object or a relatively innocent sounding young woman to colorful American swear words. Sometimes it's the long hold times, sometimes it's the inane questions the support people ask you. "Have you tried pressing the power button?" I've heard this question send people into a murderous rage.

Why the hell would they ask you a question like that? Do they really think that you are that stupid?

Short answer: Yes. Yes, they do think you're that stupid.

Unfortunately, most of the time when a user reports something as 'broken,' it's not actually broken. They're just using it wrong. Yeah, yeah, that might sound crass and elitist, but it's true. You could say that if the engineers designed it better so that using the latest gadget was more intuitive then people wouldn't have so many issues. You'd be right. Taking it out on your low level, low paid tech support person won't help the issue though.

Ok, so they ask me if I turned it on because that's often the problem?


This is an example of just that.

Getting Ready to Call Tech Support

So how can I make this process smoother?

It's pretty easy most of the time. The first thing ou should do is consult the troubleshooting flowchart.

That is the process that all your local geeks will go through if they don't have experience with the device your asking about. It never hurts to consult this cheat sheet. 

The next step is to ask your local geek for help, that friend or family member who you go to in times of trouble. If they can't figure it out it's time to call tech support.

Before we actually call, it's best to do a little reconnaissance. Gather the name of your gadget, serial number, tag number, model number and any other identifying markings.

It's also not a bad idea to go ahead and write down a description of the problem beforehand. Of course, double check all your cables too. Just to make sure they're tight and plugged into the right places. It's surprising how often a cable inexplicably gets loose. Once you have the phone number give tech support a call. Often they have a script to go through before they can escalate your call to a more experienced tech. At least this way you've eliminated the simple stuff like loose cords and unpressed power buttons, so you don't waste twenty minutes on hold.

Hopefully this will save you a little time in the future and maybe even a little hair.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Why the Mac App Store is kind of a big deal

Anyone who has used an iOS device knows that the App Store is a great way to get applications for your iPhone or iPad. In fact, it's the only way, unless you jailbreak. In many ways this is a good thing.  It provides for a better (arguably) user experience. It keeps buggy programs out (HA!). It provides the user with a central location to get new apps, and keep their old ones updated.
It's not all roses though. Thing is, for a long time Apple didn't tell anyone why they were rejecting Apps. They only recently published guidelines. Even then, it appeared to be out of pressure from consumers. Yay! Logical guidelines! This means that if someone follows the rules their App will be allowed right? Wrong. A lot of these rules are subjective. This is what concerns me about the Mac App Store. Mac users are a growing segment of the computer-using population. Giving them a dedicated place to check out new apps, buy them, update them and review them, is, on the surface, a great idea. The problem is that it also transfers more control to Apple. Here's the published guidelines (thanks to Engadget). My concern ultimately stems from laziness. Once people have this one place to go, installing apps "manually" will become the domain of the geek. Meaning that great software may not be allowed into the app store, due to some guideline that had different meaning from reviewer to developer. These guidelines range from the plain stupid to anti-competitive.

2.19 - Apps that require license keys or implement their own copy protection will be rejected
Really? Come on. (They must really hate Adobe and love software pirates)

2.20 - Apps that present a license screen at launch will be rejected
Apple's single-handedly trying to rid the world of the EULA? I think not. That's one of the stupidest rules I've ever heard of. Especially when you recall launching any Apple app for the first time.

2.21 - Apps may not use update mechanisms outside of the App Store
This means that if any exploits are found in software you downloaded from the App Store, you better hope that the App Store reacts *extremely* quickly. If you have to wait for something like a patch for pdf's that can remotely execute arbitrary code, you're in a bad spot. Prepare for the onslaught of Mac viruses.

3.1 Apps with metadata that mentions the name of any other computer platform will be rejected.
This one just seems anti-competitive. For example, "Parallels Desktop 6 - 'The Windows Applications you need, on the Mac you love'" would be rejected for including that text in the description. Come on. That's retarded. "Maybe if we just don't say the name, it won't exist!"

4.3 - Apps that use location-based APIs for dispatch, fleet management, or emergency services will be rejected
Apple doesn't want anyone managing a fleet of trucks NEAR their products, let alone using one.

5.3 - Apps which appear confusingly similar to an existing Apple product or advertising theme will be rejected
This one all depends on how easily confused the reviewer is. Ridiculous.

6.4 - Apple and our customers place a high value on simple, refined, creative, well though through interfaces. They take more work but are worth it. Apple sets a high bar. If your user interface is complex or less than very good it may be rejected
Another really subjective one. I guess Photoshop is out. I think it's complex.

11.1 - Apps portraying realistic images of people or animals being killed or maimed, shot, stabbed, tortured or injured will be rejected
No first person shooters on Mac. Depending on how you read it, you could eliminate most strategy games too.

11.3 - 'Enemies' within the context of a game cannot solely target a specific race, culture, a real government or corporation, or any other real entity
Wow, they really don't want Modern Warfare on the Mac platform, huh?

12.1 - Apps that present excessively objectionable or crude content will be rejected
I find anything I disagree with to be excessively objectionable. (Really though, what concerns me on this one is the same thing as on the iPad and iPhone, media being censored to Apple's liking.)

So, here's the thing, I'm concerned about the power this could allow Apple to wield over it's users. Not just them though, developers too. As long as OS X doesn't end up like iOS, in that it's so locked down, the only way to install Apps is through Apple, everything will be fine. I just don't think that it'll stop there.

Coming soon! "How to Jailbreak your iMac"

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Some Things I've Come Across That I Like

I saw Beta Dad because it was listed in the "Blogs of Note."  This article is an excellent read, I'm sure I'll be listing his posts long into the future, as things I like. This particular article is about Landlords, Tenants, and the Sheriff. Go check out the Worst Landlord Story Ever at Beta Dad.

Who doesn't love a little Conan?

This is Not Helpful is a collection of unhelpful and typically bigoted Netflix movie reviews. Just browse the collection and enjoy.

Of course, there's also Jeremy's House of Trivia and Pancakes. There's usually something good to be read over there as well.

Another "Blog of Note" is My First Dictionary. You just have to see it. It's wonderful.

I'll put more out here as I encounter it. For now, savor these.

The Best Way To End The Day

Today has been a particularly long day. I am reminded though of one of the best parts of being Dad: coming home. Even if I'm getting home late, like tonight because of a test, my daughter is always clamoring, trying to open the door. "DADDY, DADDY, DADDY" is one of the best phrases you'll ever hear. Even now as my daughter sits here with me eating popcorn and watching me compose a blog post, it's about a million times more relaxing than work or class. Seeing as how it's getting rather late in this part of the world, it's probably about time for her to head to bed. Maybe though we can sit and eat some popcorn for a little while longer...

Facebook Phone

Lot's of people are talking about the idea of a Facebook phone. In my opinion, Facebook won't create it's own platform like iOS or something. That's too much work. My money is on Facebook modifying a version of Android, using it to mine data and advertise, and slapping a Facebook logo on a phone, right next to the Google logo. Mark my words, cell phones are the next Nascar Stock Car.

For the doubters:

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

30 Year Old Cotton Candy

So seeing Michael J. Fox in a DeLorean makes me want a cure for Parkinson's worse than anything else I've ever seen before.

"Back to the Future" has caused that car to be added to my "list of things to buy if I ever get rich." That's right, I've got one of those in my back pocket, just in case I win the lottery or invent something amazing or rob a bank and flee to Mexico...

Ha! Just kidding. Who'd flee to Mexico in this political climate?

While I'd love to see a new "Back to the Future" flick, we know that Michael J. Fox just can't do it. It's not his fault or anything, but it's pretty obvious that it's not gonna happen. At least not with a Fox McFly. Maybe we could see his son doing something with a Fox Cameo. Who knows? It could happen.

I think that my recent resurgence of 80's movie love has a lot to do with the fact that I watched "Hot Tub Time Machine" with my wife the other day. Yeah, it wasn't like an epic movie or anything, but this flick was loaded to the hilt with 80's themes and John Cusack. John Cusack produced the movie, and even seemed to be responsible for a nice little reference on the front end of the movie: "I WANT MY TWO DOLLARS."

I'm not saying I need a bunch of 80's movie remakes or sequels. I really don't want to see the brat pack in 3D.

I've always been a big fan of 80's flicks, even though they were a little before my time. I'm having this huge upsurge of what I'm gonna call fauxstalgia. That's right, not nostalgia, fauxstalgia. (Blogger keeps telling me I'm spelling it wrong, well fuck you Blogger, I can spell my own words however the hell I want. Edit: found it on Urban Dictionary after I 'made it up'. LAME)

Still though, I guess you could say I technically experienced the 80's, but my memories really start around the early 90's.

This presents me with a bit of a quandary. I love 80's movies, but I suppose you could say my 80's 'cred' is lacking.

Is that any worse though, than liking a certain type of art? It's not a big deal if somebody says "I like early-renaissance art." (Well it is in some circles, but let's assume we have an open-minded crowd here.)

I'm not saying that 80's flicks are by their very nature better than movies from other decades, far from it. In fact, I consider those 80's movies that I enjoy so much to be cotton candy flicks. There's really not much there, but they melt really easily in your mouth and just taste like sugar.

Look, I don't know how we got here, but thanks Michael J. Fox, for your years of service.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

NaNoWriMo (With Space-Nazi-Zombies)

So I've been seriously considering doing this NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) thing. Basically you have to write 50,000 words of fiction. The emphasis is not on good writing or anything crazy like that, it's just on cranking out a novel. You start on November 1 and must finish by November 30. For those who aren't quick with the calculator that's just under 1700 words per day. The idea is that you stop giving a crap about good writing and just give a crap about writing. It is against the spirit of the contest to write ahead of time, but they do encourage outlines and plot notes. So in that vein I've had a few ideas.

I think that any good novel should include the following.


Because Hitler is funnier as a cartoon.

Every good novel needs a bad guy. Besides, who doesn't love crapping on Nazi's?


An Example of an Author Who Knows What's What
You've gotta include the Zombies just for that WOW factor. You know like "WOW! The author was really reaching on that one!" That goes double if you can make it a Zombie Redemption Tale...

HA! Just kidding, we all know that the only way to redeem a zombie is to shoot 'em in the head.


Hmmm... I don't see any eyeliner on this guy.

Not fruity Jack Sparrow type of pirates. The kind of pirates that would sooner cut out your tongue than look at you. (Somalian pirates must pass an AK-47 maintenance and marksmanship test before being allowed to apply.)


I'd like to see Scooby Doo unmask this guy.
Obviously the bad guy is the sum of his parts. So one zombie-nazi is worth one zombie and one nazi. Giving you two for the price of one. There are modifiers that can be considered multipliers, though.


Space-Nazi-Zombies?!?!?! Our hero doesn't stand a chance.
Adding the prefix space- to your bad guys makes them twice as effective. (Same goes for good guys.) So that means that one Space-Nazi-Zombie is worth 2 Zombies and 2 Nazis. Making one Space-Nazi-Zombie worth four bad guys total. Now there's some bad guy density for you. It also instantly increases your credibility as a writer, to be able to come up with creative combinations such as these.

Alliterative Names

Now that's some alliteration I can get behind!!!
Let's face it. People who read books are dumb. The only way that they'll remember your character's names is if you make them alliterative. Like Dak Daksterston, Dudley Dooright, or Frankie Feelgood. All of these are excellent protagonist names. 

Antagonists and Higher Education

This guy looks perfectly trustworthy... Until I tell you he's a doctor!
Professor Moriarty, Dr. Kevorkian, Dr. Evil. What do they have in common? That's right, higher education. Again, I really need to stress the fact that people who read are stupid. They like to see the smart people fail, so if your bad guy has a doctorate in astrophysics, you're doing it right. (As an aside it helps to have a protagonist who's as dumb as possible. Maybe have him be a high-school dropout, who smokes crack. If he smokes crack though, it's got to be in a lovable way.)

The Flawed Protagonist

We all know that Han shot first. He's a killa.
People are not perfect. To identify with your protagonist it's important to have them be flawed. It's a good idea for your hero to maybe have a chemical dependency, because we all know that 87% of Americans are in fact addicted to meth amphetamine. If your character is popping oxycontin every 3 paragraphs, you know you've got a winner. (Protip: Avoid Cocaine, it was really only popular in the 80's and it's pretty expensive. Most of your readers are poor, so talking about Cocaine will only confuse them. The only exception to that rule is if your Hero is fighting Nazi Columbian Drug Cartels. In that case, Cocaine addiction provides a depth and richness to your hero. But seriously, he can quit any time.)

The Wasteland

The Queen of England called him 'lugubrious.' I call him pansy.
Everyone knows that mankind is doomed to kill themselves. Probably in 2012. Including the wasteland makes people feel better about their crappy lives. You'll forget about the leak in the roof of your trailer if you're reading about the nuclear holocaust.

Easy to Read Dialogue

These movies are well known for their excellent dialogue.
First off, dialogue is over-rated. As Junkie XL so eloquently put it, "a little less conversation, a little more action." People hate reading whiny conversations between people, who just beat around the bush. Get right to it. You could spend 60 pages of a character hemming and hawing about telling someone they have AIDS. No-one wants to read that. Just say it: "Jack Jargon has AIDS." There. I just saved you and your reader a hell of a lot of time. (Protip: Replace all that lame dialogue with word explosions. Kerpleweas;ldkfjasl;kdjf;alskdjfhgobcxvn.zx,mcviluqwehytiopuhasdkl;fghasiludhf;aklsdnlhjdfg;izxhc,hoaksdgh. I understand if you can't continue reading, because I just rocked your eyes right out of their sockets.)

Manly Heroes

Pretty sure his manliness level is OVER 9000!!!!!!!
Nobody wants to read about some prissy man-boy. (The Little Prince is the exception to this rule, as he owned his own planet.) This is exactly the problem that many writers run into, they try to make a woman their protagonist thinking that all the sexy will even out the lack of manly. WRONG! This almost never works. Manliness should ooze from the pages. Take a cue from Hemingway, devote lengthy portions of your work to killing and/or maiming animals.

Treat Women as Objects

Yeah. He knows what he's doing.
This one's pretty self-explanatory. No one will respect you as a writer unless all the women in your novel are objectified into oblivion.

Write While Loaded

I love scotch! Scotchy, scotchy scotch scotch!
This one's a pretty self-explanatory one too. Don't even think about picking up the pen until you can't see straight. C'mon, don't be a wuss, all the cool authors are doing it. You could be in the company of such greats as: Ernst Hemingway, John Berryman and Richard Brautigan.

In Conclusion

Hopefully, if anyone decides to go on ahead and go through with this Novel writing thing, they'll heed my advice. Including my suggestions will make your novel shine with awesomeness.

A gift, from me to you.

Monday, October 11, 2010

How to Install Ubuntu (with pictures)


So, you’ve heard about Linux and/or Ubuntu from the geek in your life and you’re wondering what the fuss is all about. Or not. Either way, I’m here to walk you through a basic installation. An excellent way to try out Ubuntu is just by using the live CD. A live CD basically allows you to pop the CD into your computer, restart and try it out without installing anything. This is a great way to ‘get your feet wet,’ so to speak.  The only problem is that you don’t really get the experience of installing new software and customizing it to your liking. Which is a big part of living in that world. Ubuntu is one of the easiest to use and install Linux Distributions I’ve ever used.


For today we’re just going to step through a simple install. Here’s what you’ll need.

  • An Ubuntu Installation ISO (Download it here)
  • A blank CD
  • A CD Writer
  • CD writing software (I use this)
  • A computer to install Ubuntu on (I recommend using a machine that’s not your main one for homework/work, and doesn’t have a bunch of stuff that you would miss if you lost on the hard drive, like pictures of your child, or the only copy of the novel you’ve been writing for 6 years.) Just in case things go awry.)


1. Preparation

First things first, get your download done, get your machine all ready to go, get your disc burned. (It’s also not a bad idea to have a nice cold drink on hand.)


2. Restart Your Machine with the Disc Inside

Pretty self explanatory. Stick the disc in and restart. Most machines will automatically boot the disc, sometimes though you’ll have to tell the machine to boot from cd. It usually involves pressing an f-key like f1 or f2 to get the boot menu.

Once it boots up, you’ll be shown this screen. Here’s where you can make the decision to install or just try it out. For our purposes we’re going to click the ‘Install Ubuntu’ button.



3. Begin the Installation


So now we’ve committed to installing Ubuntu on our machine. The next screen you’re shown is one verifying a few installation requirements.



We’ll tick the boxes for ‘Download updates while installing’ and ‘Install this third-party software’ to save a little time after installation. There’s lengthy explanations online as to why DVD and mp3 support isn’t just baked in. It has a lot to do with the associated industries and their panties being bunched up.

Next we specify our installations. I’m installing on a clean disk, so I’m going to use the whole thing. If you’re installing on an old machine or something you can o the same thing, or you can install it side-by-side with windows or whatever.


Then we click ‘Forward’



So we click ‘Install Now’ after verifying our info. It starts installing. This is a difference between this version and the last version. It allows you to fill out information after it begins installing. So you don’t lose as much time while it’s installing.

First the time zone, it’s usually pretty good about finding you.



Then the keyboard info.



Then your computer name and account info.



After that, we get a lovely little slideshow talking about some nice new features, et cetera.



After all the file copying and installation is done, you’ll get a dialog asking you to restart your computer.



Just click that little button and we can move on.

4. Post-Installation

We’ve got some more stuff to cover as far as post installation goes. We might want to install some restricted drivers and of course I’ve got my favorite software picks and settings to change. For right now, we’ll just go over setting up your chat. In my opinion it’s one of the best features of the latest versions of Ubuntu. The ‘Me Menu is a built-in chat client, integrated right into your operating system. The notifications are pretty classy too.


So clicking on the little envelope on the upper right will give you the social drop down menu. We’re going to click ‘Set Up Chat.’


Clicking it brings up the Empathy Set Up Menu.



Click ‘Forward’



We’ll go on ahead and enter our facebook information. There’s many different protocols that are supported by Empathy, if you’d like to add more accounts just tick the little radio button that says ‘Yes.’


Empathy has a feature for chatting in your network as well. You can disable it, but that’s not any fun.

After you click ‘Apply’ it will show you the contacts menu. Now you can change your status from the ‘Me Menu’, that’s also where you will add accounts in the future.



This is where I’m going to stop for now. We can get into a little tour in another post. I’ve got a few things that I like to do with any new Ubuntu installation. Until then, poke around, use the applications. Try it out. It’s easy to use and way less intimidating than it seems.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Christine O'Donnell

Look, I'm sure the lady is nice and all. I don't even care that she used some campaign money for rent. I get it. We're not all millionaires that can afford to quit jobs and run for office full time.

My problem is that she's not qualified for it. So there's that. Anyway, I'm no political pundit.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Jay Pharoah

Just a thought as I watch SNL. Jay Pharoah is awesome.

Just a couple of examples.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Why Netflix is Exciting



Let me start out by saying that I am not a Netflix shill, but a real Netflix customer. Of course a shill would say that…


So we got Netflix back before streaming was a big deal. Streaming? What the hell are you talking about? I’m talking about being able to watch a video without ‘downloading’ it. (You really are, but for clarity’s sake we’ll just say that you’re not.) You can get on YouTube and stream a video. Like this one!


We might as well learn a little about octopods while we’re here.


That, friends, is an example of streaming video. Beamed straight from the interwebs, right into your eyeholes. Now you’re wondering what the big deal is and what this has to do with Netflix.


Netflix started out as a DVD’s by mail setup. You enter the movies you want online in a list, then they send you whatever is available on your list. You mail the ones you’re done watching back and they send you more, ad infinitum. That was neat and all, but their big selling point then was that you could keep the discs as long as you wanted and not have to go farther than your mailbox. A nice selling point to be sure. Even Netflix knew that this was just a means to an end though.


When a company names itself Netflix, instead of something like Mailflix. You know they had a goal in mind. That goal, was to deliver content through that series of tubes to your home. No disc involved. That’s a pretty lofty goal. One that seemed highly unlikely at the time. Now though, we’re getting closer and closer everyday.


A few months ago Netflix made an interesting deal. It seemed to be that Netflix execs had gone crazy! They would no longer be getting movies for release as soon as they came out. Netflix would have to wait thirty days before they could let customers rent movies from Warner Brothers. The same news just came out about Sony Pictures. Has Netflix gone the way of Tom Cruise?


Tom Cruise
see more Lol Celebs


No, not to fear, Netflix hasn’t started mixing any kool-aid or anything. Netflix has made these seemingly crazy deals because it allows them to massively expand their online offerings. Meaning that Netflix can stream lots and lots more content than it used to be able to. Netflix ‘Instant Watch’ used to be primarily comprised of Indie films. Which is good, it got me watching some Indie and Foreign films that I might not have done otherwise.


 fail owned pwned pictures
see more funny videos


Ok, they’re not always on point with suggestions, but there’s good stuff there. The point is that now they’ve got more streaming stuff. In making these deals Netflix also secured a bunch more streaming stuff. That wouldn’t be super exciting if you could only watch ‘Instant Watch’ on your computer. Yeah, it would be nice and all, but that’s not really exciting. Good news though! You can watch Netflix streaming content on your TV! That means, that given the right equipment you can have essentially the same experience as renting a DVD from Blockbuster or Netflix. Only you have to do even less than walking to your mailbox. Now it’s as easy as picking out a flick. There’s lots of ways that you can do this, through XBOX or on a Roku box, some TV’s and blu-ray players have Netflix built-in. (Go here for more on that one.)


“Ok, ok that’s cool and all. I still don’t get why you’re freaking out about this.” The reason I’m freaking out about all this streaming goodness is because it’s signaling a real shift in content delivery. Up until this point you could get video content in your home a few ways. It started with television transmission through the air, then you could get vhs (or betamax) then laserdisc, then dvd’s, satellite, cable and blu-ray. The internet as a video content delivery system is just now starting to become a real possibility. Many people have high speed connections to their homes, and they have devices capable of playing back that content smoothly. Think about it like music. We had the same thing happen. Now almost all music is delivered digitally. Whether it’s streaming or downloaded through something like Amazon or iTunes. Sure, sure they’re experimenting with video sales like this too, but HD videos are really large files, and it would be hard to have a large collection of movies on your computer. (We’ll get more into that later.)


We are on the cusp of a major shift in the way that people get their movies. Netflix is on the bleeding edge of this revolution.


Oh, this revolution will be televised.


I can agree ‘Green Acres,’ ‘Beverly Hillbillies,’ and ‘Petticoat Junction’ will not be relevant, though.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

How To Deal With Your Kids Destroying Your Gadgets

Let’s face it, we love our families, but accidents happen. Well, they may not seem accidental but you know that your son or daughter does not know that blackberries and toilets do not go together. Maybe they got done playing with your iPod touch and chucked it onto the floor from a high chair, making that popping noise that we’ve all heard horror stories about.

I bet Luke gave his iPhone a bath. *sigh*

One of my favorite tools was my Livescribe Pulse Smartpen. One day, my daughter took it off of it’s charging cradle on my desk and decided it would make a good straw. Sierra Mist and electronics obviously don’t mix well. We tried to save it. We did all we could, but it was lost. For a moment, I felt like screaming, then crying, then I realized what would happen if I did those things. Screaming at my daughter wouldn’t bring my pen back, and Daddy sobbing uncontrollably wouldn’t do anything either. (It also helped that it happened while I was at work.) I had to take a moment and think about how to handle his. I couldn’t just punish her. She wouldn’t understand, she’s still too young for that. Luckily I didn’t lose anything, it had already synced all my recordings and notes. What to do… What to do…

 Seriously princess. Everything's gonna be ok.

You’re a parent now. Your kid is gonna do a hell of a lot more damage to your wallet and/or job/school in the future. Grow a pair and get over it.

Thus far my experience as a father has taught me at least a few gems: kids break shit, often it’s your stuff, not theirs. There’s no instruction manual for this job. Sure you can read books and crap, but ultimately, you’ll catch yourself emulating your parents. When your kids test you in the worst kind of way, you’re gonna reach inside and pull something out, it’s better a sad grunt or sigh rather than the back of your hand. Your kids are only interested in playing with your gadgets because you are interested in them and they wanna be just like you. So learn how to let crap like this go now, so that when your kid runs your car into a pole, but still has the guts to tell you, you handle it right then too. Practice makes perfect.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Why voicemail is dead (to me)

If there’s a young person or standard geek in your life, you know about the voicemail problem.

funny pictures of cats with captions
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Even if your call wasn’t ignored by the recipient. Which let’s face it, sometimes it’s necessary. Many people don’t even have landlines anymore, so you’re calling their cell phone, they may be in a meeting or class or something else respectable and important. You leave them a voicemail, and when they call you back you find that they never even listened to your carefully crafted voicemail.
It’s quite easy to take this as an affront. Please, don’t. We truly don’t mean for it to make you feel unimportant or anything like that. Allow me to explain.

As a geek and part of this new generation that grew up with the internet, I’m always plugged in.

funny pictures of cats with captions
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Some people bemoan this as the latest sign that society is collapsing and that we’re all doomed to failure. That’s just inter-generational jousting. Really. People whined about the telegraph too, I promise. One major effect that this has had on people is the desire for instant transmission of information. We didn’t listen to the voicemail because we assumed that you wanted to talk to us. So we called you back. If you wanted something specific, you would have contacted us via text message, or some sort of instant messaging platform. At this point even those are getting outmoded. Many of us use email in this way, but again, even email feels slow for certain things. Don’t be afraid to text a question. You don’t have to compromise your grammatical leanings either. Many phones can handle the breakup and re-combination of longer text messages. The idea is that you can transfer your information to us as quickly as possible. Then we can respond in kind, often you don’t have to wait that way.

Voicemail sucks. In it’s original form, as a replacement for the answering machine it was a great idea. At this point though, so many people are always available that it doesn’t make sense to leave messages in a format that feels so arcane. It takes much more time to listen to a voicemail and get the point than it does to read 140 characters. We’re just trying to be efficient.
Don’t worry, be happy. Everything is going to be all right. We can survive this together!

 funny pictures
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If you have no freaking clue why I put in all these pictures of cats, click here.

Maybe in awhile we’ll do a series on memes, what they are and some popular (if outdated) ones.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

3 Things That You Just Don’t ‘Get’ Until You Have Kids

As I look back on my teen years, I was a pretty angry teenager. Not necessarily at my parents, but like most teenagers, I had that angst fueled desire to be contrary to everything. I recall thinking at one point, “I don’t owe my parents anything! They should be glad to have me around.” Now, I have a daughter of my own. There’s something about that parent to child relationship that’s never reciprocated. When you become a parent, you realize how much you owe your parents, for not just leaving you on the side of the road somewhere as an infant. It sure would have been easier than raising your whiney ass.

1. Unconditional Love

We all play that game in a relationship. “Would you still love me if…” “I was paralyzed from the neck down and you had to take care of my every need?”
There’s at least one person in your life who’s already done that for you. Care to guess who? That’s right children, it’s your parents. If you are a standard issue Earth-native humanoid, you were born to a parent or parents. Even if your birth parents gave you up to adoptive parents who could better care for you, someone loved you enough to take care of you when you were completely incapable of anything on your own. You couldn’t eat by yourself, you couldn’t clean the feces from your little bum, you couldn’t even walk at first. In the world of mammals, that’s pretty bad. The whole time your parents were doing that, you were completely oblivious. You probably threw up on them, pooped on them, and did things that you would be mortified about now. Your parents took it all in stride. Sure, they were likely disgusted the first time you smeared poop on their hands, but eventually they just said “Ugh, again?” and wiped it off. How would you feel if someone you just met two days before got poop on your hands, kept you up all night, demanded to be fed every few hours and just laid around the rest of the time? Yet, your parents did all of that for you. Still though, without being a parent, that’s something that you just won’t get.

2. People Freaking Out About Their Kid Doing Seemingly Unimpressive Things

Yeah, it used to piss me off just hearing it: “Oh my God! Robbie just grabbed for that block!” “OH OH HE’S STACKING THEM!!!”
Before you fire off that sarcastic retort, cut the lady some slack. Seriously, taking point 1 into consideration, it’s easy to see how this kid doing anything is exciting. Babies only eat, sleep, poop and cry for their first few months of life. Hell, the only time they smile at you is when they have gas. So you spend all your time with this little bundle that is incapable of caring for itself in any way shape or form and then one day, they start to see things beyond their own bodies. They start to notice that there is a world beyond their fingers and the nipple of their bottle. That, friends, is an exciting thing to witness.

3. The Baby Pictures

Everyone knows that person. They’ve got 10 albums on Facebook dedicated to pictures of their child. Everyone knows that kid is not near as cute as their parents think it is. Nobody wants to see all those lame pictures of what looks like your kid passing gas.
I hate when people overdo stuff like that too. Before you start taking up torches for the great Facebook Flame war take a second to consider the venue. Facebook is a social medium. People go there to talk about their lives. When someone has a baby, it’s a life-altering event. “Yeah, yeah, I know, I get it.” you think sarcastically. You don’t though. You just can’t understand something like that until you experience it. Facebook is a place where people talk about their lives and the important things in them. When your friend only posts pictures of their baby, it’s because 1) they don’t have time for anything else and 2) that kid is now the most important thing in their life.
So put down the weapon and step away from the keyboard. It’s annoying I know, but just let them do what they do and ignore the ten million photo albums. It’s hard, to be sure, but you’ll survive, I promise.
So this is definitely not a comprehensive list, but it’s a start. At the very least, you should go tell your mom thanks for wiping your ass for you so many times.

Monday, October 4, 2010

A long time ago, in a galaxy far away…

There was a man. A man who felt the need to get writing again. That man is me. I used to love writing. I spent a lot of time thinking that someday I might be a professional writer. That idea somehow morphed to lawyer. Then to computer scientist. Finally we’ve arrived at computer engineer. Even though I’ve long given up on becoming the next great author, I still feel the desire to “put pen to paper.” So that’s what this is about. Just scratching that writing itch.

Why are we here?

A question that has plagued mankind since we could understand speech. Fortunately, I’m going to limit the scope on that question to this blog. Why are we here (at this blog)? Easy, I’m here to talk about whatever I feel like and you’re here to listen and respond. Or not. Whatever.

What are you going to write about?

That’s the easy question. Whatever I feel like. I’ve got some fairly varied interests, so I don’t want to limit the time we have to just one or two topics. Even though it arguably makes for a better blog.

Why does your opinion on anything matter?

It doesn’t. Man, that takes a lot of pressure off of me. Really though, it’s more about a fairly unique perspective.

Who are you anyway?

I’m a dad. Still pretty green at it too. My daughter is two years old. She’s already taught me more than I ever thought I’d learn from a kid. I’m also a full time student. Working towards a degree in computer engineering. In addition to all that, I’m an IT Guy. Working full time to support my family.

Why the Star Wars references?

That’s another perspective thing I guess. I’m a technophile and geek. I have been as long as I can remember, loving things from Star Wars to anime. My first real job paid for all the parts to build my first computer.

So, let’s sum it all up. I’m here to write whether you’re here to read or not. I’m a technophile/geek/dad/student/IT Guy. I wear many hats, we may as well add blogger to my collection. Hopefully this’ll be something fun. I’ve got a few ideas for entries, but mostly we’ll play it by ear.