Geeky/Programming Product Reviews

How 20$ Saved Me 100$ + A Month – HDTV Antenna

I really hate TV. I don’t even watch it. It is something that you should be able to pay for what you use, not pay for everything and use a little bit of it, so here is what I did.

I went to Best Buy and picked up and HDTV Antenna.

It rocks. I just plug it in to the coax, do a search and it finds the local channels. ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, WB, PBS, and Weather Plus. Picks up the regular versions and HD versions. Since that is all that Emily wants, to see weather alerts and crap, it’s good enough for me.

I have PlayOn setup on my Vista box so I can get Hulu, YouTube and Netflix streaming to my PS3. I can rent movies, buy movies and TV shows on the PS3, Xbox 360, and AppleTV, and I can get podcasts and YoutTube on the AppleTV. What else do I need? And if I really want something, I can get it using rapidshare or whatever, or stream it on my laptop.

So, yeah, “Hello, Charter? Cancel my cable, I don’t need you anymore, kthxbye”

It’s liberating, and adds more $$ to my bottom line every month.


The Apple Fandom.. Continues

Woah, well it has been a while since I talked about my “Media Center” experience I am trying go for, but I will get into that later.

First, yes, I have the iPhone 3G. I was off Friday for other stuff and decided to “camp out” since I had the time, hoping I would get out early. I went to AT&T on the East Side at 4:30 AM with a chair and my laptop and waited until 8:00. I was 6th in line. It was a good time, Einstein Bagels opened at 5:30 so we had coffee and bagels, and just had fun talking with fellow iPhone geeks. I already had the 2.0 Firmware beta loaded because I am in the dev program, and I was running iTunes 7.7 Confidential Beta as well.

Anyways, getting the iPhone, they let the first 9 in, and out of the 9, 2 people got activated and went home. Mine wasn’t working so they just let me go, and since they upgraded my SIM, I left with 2 bricked iPhones. Ugh. Once home I connected it and let it sit and it finally went through. Cool! I like the GPS and the 3G, Exchange Sync, MobileMe sync, the apps, it is all good. Battery life could be better, and there are always ways to improve, but my biggest gripe with the iPhone (no SDK, etc) is now gone. I find myself using my computer less and less, since I can do most “personal computing” stuff on the iPhone (read feeds, facebook, etc)

In between getting my Mac Book Pro, and the new iPhone, I picked up two other things on my Apple wishlist. First, the Time Capsule. 1 TB and AirPort Express N – this thing is sweet. The best part is my MBP is backed up every hour on the hour to the Time Capsule. I feel way more “secure”

The other item is AppleTV. I used to be a HUGE fan of Netflix and would watch 10-12 movies a month. But once you get through all the ones you want to watch, it gets stale. Also, not being able to get all of them in Blu-Ray, it is kind of a downer. I still have Netflix, but I reduced my plan down to like 1 at a time, I might re-look at Netflix now that Xbox has native streaming, and also the plugins for using MCE as an extender, but for now I am good there. The PS3 announcing downloadable movies TONIGHT!!! and with the Xbox 360 streaming, and Netflix discs and streaming, PLUS the AppleTV, I am pretty much set.

What does AppleTV bring? Well first, the HD movies , downloaded direct, and other movies, which is nice. TV shows, Music, Photos and YouTube. I have found myself watching YouTube on the couch now for like an hour straight, crazy. I really like being able to get Flickr pix or MobileMe pix as a slideshow, and also syncing with my MBP iTunes, and even better, the iPhone 2.0 firmware has the iTunes Remote which rocks, and controls iTunes on your laptop or Apple TV.

My guess is I will be cutting back my Charter lineup (I wish I could just get the HD channels, that is all I watch anyways!)

So, finally , some iPhone apps that rock.

Midomi – I use this to tag songs and buy on iTunes

GuitarToolkit – must have for any guitarist

iTunes Remote – I already talked about this, it rocks

Tuner, VisuaRadio, AOL Radio, Pandora, Last.FM – all your music needs, taken care of (check out Tuner… they have a Beatles Radio station – lovely!!!)

Loopt, Whrrl, iFob – pretty cool LBS based social networking

Others? Pownce (ok), Twitterifc (I am not impressed)

Facebook, Myspace – meh is better than the Facebook app!

MonkeyBall – hard, but fun

I am sure there will be more, but right now I am surrounded by Apple, never would have thought (although I am writing this post on Vista on my Dell Laptop, which I fixed the Hard Drive on :))

Product Reviews

Can't Play A Video? Try VLC

One application that I always install when I set up a new machine, is VLC –

What is nice, is that it will play just about anything. Video, Audio, whatever. It will play AVI’s, DVDs, Mp3s, FLV’s, and any other 3 letter acronym you can think of.

You can set it to be default for all these types, or just use it when you need it. It is open source, and free. Other apps are built on VLC as well (Miro for one)

What is nice, is that it is cross platform, so I can use it on Windows, Mac, and Linux!

When in doubt, install VLC 🙂


Discovery Channel has Jumped the Shark


The Discovery Channel used to be the place to go to just “learn” instead of watching TV. Between the Discovery Channel and History Channel you could just learn all day and night. Well, it seems the Discovery Channel has just become the place for continuous runs of the same 4 or 5 shows.

MythBusters – this show was good for the first 10 or so episodes, I would say after that this show itself Jumped the Shark

How It’s Made – a show they pulled from the Science Channel – cool show, but annoying after a while

Cash Cab – half assed attempt at a reality type show. Really, do we need to watch people in a cab answer trivia questions?

Other Shows (Deadliest Catch, Mega Builders, It Takes a Thief, etc)

What happened to the actual substance of the Discovery Channel? Most of the good shows are now on the Science Channel but that is heading towards being an “MTV2” to the Discovery Channel.

Can we get a channel that has unique programming 24 hours a day, but still intelligent and interesting? Not sure if we can these days…

Note: if you don’t know what “Jumped the Shark” is, it refers to a point in something’s life where it has outlasted its usefulness. It comes from the show “Happy Days” where the Fonz jumped sharks on water ski’s in his leather jacket. At that point, it was like “WTF are they still doing making shows here, the best they can come up with is this?”

Product Reviews

TVU Networks – more media for the "cableless"

Stumbled across TVU Networks last night,

Its P2P streaming TV, pretty cool actually, but eats up the bandwidth. It has some good channels. CBS (from San Pablo, CA), ABC News, SCI-FI, and others. Just another trick in the bag for people who have “cut the cord”.

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Geeky/Programming Product Reviews

More Online TV: VeohTV – Best Yet

Since cutting cable, I have tried many different online TV programs. Democracy TV (soon to be Miro), TVTonic, Amazon Unbox, ITunes Video Store, Joost, etc. I finally got a beta invite to VeohTV the other day, and installed it Friday night. Since I am sunburned like crazy, I am holed up in my apartment anyway’s, so why not fool around with it.

It is the best online TV program I have used yet. First, it works with my Media Center remote. Second, it has all the shows from the major networks, the ones they have online. ABC, FOX, NBC, CBS, etc – you can watch the episodes they have online but through Veoh, which is a better interface.

They have an extensive list of other programs as well, short podcasts and small shows. as an example. (TVTonic does have a beer channel though :))

I am now watching Jericho (from CBS), all the episodes, which is pretty cool, and there is minimal advertising. One thing with all online TV networks/programs is this, and it is a huge pet peeve, the advertisements volume is usually WAY higher than the show, its just ridiculous, I just end up muting it then, what do they think?

I have noticed as well, as the major networks shows are different quality and different options. ABC/NBC seem good, CBS on the other hand, choppy, lower res, and harder to skip segments. FOX seems OK as well.

I recently redid my desktop computer with Vista Ultimate (with Media Center) and I have that directly hooked up to my TV, which I have never done before, and I really like the experience – the 360 has the extender, but direct connection is much better. I have decided that I will use my 360 for Video downloads from their marketplace, and for games, and forget the extender for now. If I had two TV’s in different rooms, then maybe it would be another story.

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Life Product Reviews

New (Old) good show – Heroes

Since I don’t have cable, I really don’t watch much TV. But every now and then you need some entertainment, and when the Netflix Queue is in the mail, I usually find something online. When I first got to Portland, I crashed at Emily’s for a week, and when I wasn’t Photowalking (hah!!) or out, I was on my laptop. I found that NBC has Heroes online, the whole season, full episodes, so I started watching it. When it first came out, I watched the pilot, but then I didn’t catch any other episodes, so I was kind of out it. I always saw the “Save the cheerleader, save the world” commercials online or on TV, and I kinda knew what they meant, but not really..

Now I do 🙂

Heroes is a great show. It is one of those shows that reminds me of the movie Crash. Where everything is interrelated. ABC had a show called Six Degrees what was the same way. And Heroes has super heroes, of course! 🙂

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Geeky/Programming Life Product Reviews

Online Radio (Pandora) does make you buy music: The Generators

When I am not listening to my music collection, I usually listen to Pandora, using Open Pandora. Now, I know, no ad’s, how does Pandora make money? Well, I would gladly pay 30 bucks a year for this service, the Open Pandora app should be eaten up by Pandora.

Anyway’s, I kept hearing this song by “The Generators” – Roll Out The Red Carpet. And the lead singer sounds so much like Alkaline Trio, that I was like, yeah, this is good, so I went and bought it online, at Audio Lunchbox – 10 bucks, no DRM, mp3 format.

So, the theory that online radio doesn’t server its purpose is bunk, and that no DRM music is going to cause piracy is bunk, its just all bunk. It is just music. If people want it, they will get it. And I would rather buy it for cheap with no DRM than with DRM any day.

And with tomorrow being Online Radio Day of Silence, this is a fitting post, I suppose 🙂

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Joost is cool

I got an invitation to Joost.

What Joost is: TV but over the Internet. The interface is cool, they seem to have a lot of programming, and not just independent stuff. Looks like I just found another way to get entertainment. (XBOX 360, Amazon, Netflix, Other online video, and now Joost)

I am watching Spiderman cartoon right now in the corner of my screen, and it is pretty good quality. There are AD’s it looks like they pop up in the background, etc. Doesn’t seem to intrusive, yet. We will see 🙂


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24: Day Zero

Stumbled across this site,

It is an animated prequel to 24. There is one episode up there right now, looks like others are coming. Pretty cool idea, especially for 24 junkies like myself 🙂

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