Tag Archives: Evo Terra

How do I stack up on twitter? Infographic showdown

Infographics of me vs @tcar, me vs. @beattyj, and me vs @evo_terra. Due to Evo’s popularity and social media presence I thought it would be interesting.  In any case,  a fun little twitter bug. I like how it knows I like beer. And that it thinks Jason is a rapper. HAHAHA

The infographics after the jump. Continue reading How do I stack up on twitter? Infographic showdown

In defense of the AppleTV

specs_dimensions20080925Last week the 3.0 software update for the AppleTV came out.  On-line there was a lot of grousing about it, and that has inspired this post.

The Roku SoundBridge that we had in the family room was taken out by Thor.  We didn’t realize how much we liked having a digital music player there until it was gone.  We let it go for a few months, but it felt like something was missing.  In the meantime, my buddy JD was talking about how much he liked his AppleTV and was going as far as dropping cable due to it.  While out visiting, I got to see Evo and Sheila‘s AppleTV playing music with the photo montage screensaver gliding by as we chatted.  All that together, plus some reading up, planted the seeds for my purchase of an AppleTV with the 160GB drive earlier in the year.

Upfront I should make it very clear, what I was looking for initially was a replacement digital music player, and the AppleTV provided that.  I considered it a bonus that it had the ability to show photos, youtube, and video content on a screen more conducive to group watching that any of our laptops or monitors, our 42″ DLP HDTV.  Overall, we’ve been extremely happy with it.

Maybe its because we came into it with the proper expectations.  It is in a really weird product space that not many consumers understand.  Many companies have entered it with similar (and even less featureful) products and left the space.  An example would be my once beloved Turtle Beach Audiotron.  Others keep plugging along like Logitech’s Squeezebox line.  Apple has called it their hobby, and I think that may be because its difficult to tell consumers why they might want one.  Or it could be I’m just the weird person who wants it and consumers in general don’t want one.  I do think its poorly named, though.  The name implies, to me, you can watch TV on it, instead of purchased/downloaded/sycned content.  I can see people thinking its a DVR based on the name.

A lot of the bitching I’ve seen about the AppleTV has been about what its not.  Its not a Media Center PC, it isn’t a DVR, it can’t play every format under the sun, its underpowered, it can’t play DVDs, it can’t do better than 720p, it has to be slaved to iTunes, etc.  Except for the format issue, I don’t care about any of the rest of them.  In fact, the fact it syncs to iTunes like any other device is one thing I like about it.  When I’m modifying playlists, etc, for my iPhone and other iPods, its reflected in the home media player.  Anyway, how it is now, works for me and my family, and we get a lot of use and enjoyment out of it1.

99% of the time we’re playing music and enjoying the mosaic of photos that goes by.  Actually, the photo montage screensaver has increased the enjoyment we get out of our digital photos.  Every once in while we see a photo we’ve almost forgotten about and its a pleasant surprise. The other 1% of our usage time is playing back video that I’m slowing ripping from our DVDs library for the kids. Having whatever they might want to watch without switching DVDs or getting them scratched or forgetting them in the car, etc, is pretty nice. I ripped all the Disney Classic Cartoon Favorites we have so far, and the kids can easily watch any one of those in any order.  Its playback is good enough for what I’ll use it to play back, despite people’s wanting of more.  Maybe in the future we’ll want more, but it does what we need, again.

Anything could be better, so what could be better for me?

  • Mostly supporting a wider array of formats.  It plays MP3s and AACs fine, so I’m good on audio, but the video is kinda limiting.  However, I can rip right to the MP4/M4V/h.264 format it wants but random longer non-youtube things off the web require conversion.
  • Maybe some better cooling.  That box runs hotter than hell when its playing back video.

Just a couple of general thoughts on the 3.0 upgrade:

  • The 2.x software had some quirks and slowness, and I’ve noticed in the past 5 days a lot of that are cleared up.  It still stutters when iTunes connects to it, but the going catatonic while you sync when is playing has gone away.  Overall, syncing is more pleasant.
  • The menus seem to be MUCH faster
  • The menu placement of “My Music/Movies/Etc” being first is much better. I’ve got the AppleTV to play my stuff, not always rent stuff.
  • I’ve been loving the Genius Mixes on my iPhone and iTunes, I’m so glad to have them on the AppleTV

The Remote app that Apple released for the iPhone and iPod Touch is also a great addition.  You can use it to follow control the AppleTV with an interface similar to the iPod app on the iPhone/Touch.  It also will pop up a keyboard for when you want to enter text into things like the YouTube search box.  This is really useful when using it with the next thing I talk about…

There is one other feature I’ve set up, but I haven’t had a chance to fully use is the fact that the AppleTV can act as an AirTunes host.  When paired with my Airport Express (and it is in turn paired with some speakers) we can have the start of whole house music.  Next party we have I’m going to put this to a practical test.  Walking around controlling the tunes from my phone through the whole house… It doesn’t take much to excite me these days.

In any case, my main point here was to address that the AppleTV does work as it is for some people.  It’s not a media center, and that was okay for me as I wasn’t looking for one.

[1] And…because of my nature, I have hacked it to run boxee, but I didn’t use that all that often. So there is some under the cover upgradability that isn’t too bad.

7 Things You Hate About Me

I’ve been meaning to do some blog posts, but I haven’t had the motivation.  It doesn’t help that I’ve also been distracted by all the video games I got the past week.  (More on those in a future post.)  In any case, I got some motivation in the case of being tagged by a meme.  Evo called me out and I guess I should respond.  By the way, I loved Evo’s #3 as I share a similar outlook/philosophy/happenstances.

This meme requires me to share seven facts about myself.  The hard part about this will be coming up with 7 facts that will be interesting to people not me.

  1. I too often accept things the way they are. This description will be mostly slanted in looking at myself as a pogrammer, but this is where I can identify it best.  On a day to day basis this acceptance often makes me feel stifiled in creativity due to my lack of skill in identifying problems.  I can come up with great and creative solutions, but actually finding the interesting problems to solve if difficult because I accept that’s how things are, and don’t find shortcuts/solutions/whatever to make them better.  Eric Raymond described that as the “itch” that drives programmers to create…  As a programmer, I’m not itchy enough.
  2. Beer snob: I iz one. To anyone who’s been reading this blog or watching my twitter feed this is not news.  Part of the blame lies with Jon Roma who introduced me to the good stuff first when I started drinking.  I never went down the good old fashion macrobrew route.  I’ve learned to tolerate the macrobrews so I can drink beer at ball games or social events when something better isn’t available, but its rough going.  I’m no Charlie the Beer Guy, but I’m working on being on his level.  I’m just too lazy right now to take up my own brewing.  Maybe once the kids are older.  In any case, give me a Duvel, something from Stone, Goose Island, etc.  Don’t offer me anything named Bud, Miller, etc.
    Bonus fact 2.5:  I didn’t start drinking until I was in my junior year of college at age 20.  Given that when most people think of me they think of beer, this is probably a surprising fact.
  3. At heart, I’m a Geek’s geek and I’ve come to accept it. A few months ago, I finally accepted If there is a stereotype for being a geek, I probably fit it.  Again, not news for those who have been playing along at home for awhile.  There are exceptions, but all in all, I’m a geek.  I full embrace the geekiness and let it wash over me.  There are much worse ways to view yourself so it works for me.  (Notable exception: I have never played any desktop roleplaying type games such as D&D.  Not sure why that never happened, but it didn’t.)
  4. Needles piercing my skin send me into panic attacks. Its weird, I don’t mind blood, I don’t mind seeing myself cut, and I don’t mind looking at needles, but knowing one is about to pierce my skin turns me into a sweaty little girl.  It doesn’t matter if its the dentist, a lab tech taking blood, or whatever, I get tense and sweaty.  When having blood drawn I’ve learned to mitigate the effects by getting them to take it while I’m lying down, but that’s about it.  If I’m sitting up, I’ll pass out.  Its probably an anticipating thing, but I’m okay when I get cut when doing yard work or making dinner or something like that, but know I’m about to get a needle stuck in just puts me over.  I’m not sure what the deal is.  I guess the good news is that this is yet another sign that I’ll never get addicted to heroin.
  5. I hate small talk. I just can’t stand it.  It could be that I’m just not very good at it and that’s why I don’t like it, but the whole idle chit chat thing does nothing for me.  I’m good and I look forward to actually connecting with people and having deeper discussions, but if I have nothing in common with someone, its very painful for me to try to force the small talk.  I am faced with the slight challenge of how do you know if you have something in common with someone without having the small talk, but there are ways around that and I get by okay so I don’t worry too much about it.
  6. I love presenting and educating if I know the material and/or have a story to tell with it.  One of the great things about my old job and my still-employeer was that on a more than monthly basis I was giving presentations to our members on subject matter I had down cold.  Once I know the “story” I want to tell to educate others I love putting the presentations together, guiding discussions around the material, and generally helping people see the light.  Nothing made me feel better than to see the look of realization and/or understanding on someone’s face.  Or the look of horror once someone realized that they’d have to change their ways to make something work for them, but that’s a different story…  Either way, it means the message got across.  Someone would say this somewhat contradicts #3, as geeks aren’t well known for being showman, but I’ve always had a bit of an extroverted streak in me.  I guess I’m only extroverted in the right circumstances…
  7. I watch way too much TV and my reading and video game playing suffer due to it.  Part of it is the young kids and the job that just leave me energyless at the end of the day, some of it is I just really like good TV.  Heck, I probably like shitty TV too, but I try to keep it on the good side with things Battlestar Galactica, CSI, and Lost.  But I do have the mindless popcorn like Eureka and How I Met Your Mother.  I’m not sure where to put Heroes on the scale these days, but I think its falling in mindless popcorn.  I still love to read, but I manage to only really do it on the commuter train or just before bed as long as Sarah is okay with me leaving the light on.  The video games, those have really suffered, but I’m trying to make up for it now.

Bonus fact so that I cannot be accused of ignoring my wife: I was asking Sarah for some ideas for this post, and she gave me “I like to uphold family traditions.“  I don’t really see that in my indentity when I think about myself, but looking at past actions and what I like to do with the kids, I can agree with this.  From eating under the tree at Field’s Macy’s at Christmas time to vacations in the same spots I went as a kid, this certainly appears to be true.

Okay, so next up I have to call out seven people:

To quote Evo who tagged me: “I subscribe to all of your blogs, so I’ll know if you didn’t do it…”

Oh yeah, the rules part:  Do not talk about meme club…er.. wait

  1. Link your original tagger(s) and list these rules in your post.
  2. Share seven facts about yourself in the post.
  3. Tag seven people at the end of your post by leaving their names and the links to their blogs.
  4. Let them know they’ve been tagged.

I go to 11

A couple of weeks ago I was in Arizona for work.  As I often do when I find myself in Phoenix, I ended up on a podcast.  This time around it was Evo@11, hosted by noted new media douchbag, Evo Terra.  (Hey, that’s his twitter description.)  Along with Evo every episode are his wife Shiela and sound engineer and Strongbow drinker Debbie Walker.  They record at the Gangplank Studios, which is a really cool place I’d spend way too much time in if it was pre-marriage and pre-kids and I lived in AZ.

The episode I was on clocks in at about 25 minutes and I didn’t make too much of an ass of myself.  A lot of random talk, and a heck of a good time.

After the podcast we went to Sheila and Evo’s place to continue the conversation and drink a bit more.  Awesome people, awesome hospitality.  Whenever I’m in AZ again, I’ll definately try to visit them.  Hopefully they do the same when they are out this way.

Podcasting with Evo
Creative Commons License photo credit: CC Chapman

Picking on American Macrobrews: You’re doing it pretty well…

This evening Evo Terra and I got a chance to have some converstaion and beer at the Orlando Brewing company (on the suggestion of Charlie the Beer Guy.)  It was a bit dicey looking from the outside, but inside it was filled with awesome from the beer to the wait staff.

The beer was excellent and I highly recommend a visit.  Just don’t be too scared off by the exterier and neighborhood.

One of the parts of the beer that really warmed my heart was the handle on one of the urinals.  It really showed what I feel to be the true heart of good old American macrobrew light beer…  See for yourself…