two evenings

Just a little short thing tonight.

Two evenings sacrificed rebuilding and and lovingly re-configuring my HTPC just so it can play old Nintendo, Super Nintendo, Nintendo 64, Genesis, and Playstation games.  Two evenings where I monopolized the television doing so, frustrating my wife.  Two evenings where I was able to forsake actual work, as in sawmill stuff, in favor of a “fun” kind of work.  Two evenings where I went to bed too late because I’m OCD and have to have things working perfectly or all figured out before calling it a night.  Two evenings just spent nerding-out for hours on end, painstakingly configuring something I don’t really have the free time to indulge in all that much.

So what did I get?  In the end what was I after?

That’s my five year old daughter just whomping-up on Mario 64.

That’s right.  She picked up the controller and started directing Mario like she’d been doing it forever.  I sat and watched her play, giving her tips on how to avoid the Bob-Ombs and Goombas, showing her how to do the slam-jump thing using two fingers at once, and in general just enjoying her enjoying something new.

So maybe Sharaun wasn’t entirely bought-into the “need” for another source of entertainment… but man we sure had a blast racing in Mario Kart.

Tomorrow maybe I’ll show her the 8-bit Little Mermaid game… goodnight.

a few proud minutes

The other day Ben pointed out to me that I’m nearing a significant milestone.

See, I use this great open-source application called Subsonic to stream all my media.  For you non-techies, this means that I run a small program on a computer at my house which can “beam” my music and movies to wherever I happen to be.  If I’m on the road, I can use my cellphone; if I’m somewhere else, I can use any web browser.  The awesomeness of this software is not to be understated – it is, quite honestly, the media solution I’ve been dreaming of for a very long time.  In fact, it’s what finally moved me off the hard-disk based iPod model and into “the cloud.”  For you techies, I run Subsonic on a four-drive NAS, running Windows Home Server in a JBOD redundant configuration.  I keep this tiny machine in our master bedroom closet, where it has a dedicated line to the internet.  The machine provides me with a whopping 4.66 terabytes of storage for my pictures, music, movies and saved television shows (a separate  repository than our DVR).  Using folder mirroring I am fault-tolerant against any single-drive failure.  It’s a nice setup.

I use Subsonic daily; I drive to work while streaming music, I listen to music at work, etc.  One of the neater features of the application is that I can enable any number of friends or family to also have access to the server and likewise stream all my content at will to their mobile devices or PCs.  In this way, I’ve enabled a dozen or so music-minded folks who make regular use of the streaming server.  Oftentimes I’ll be logged in listening to music and see a friend or two also streaming this or that.  Subsonic even supports a rudimentary chat interface, so we can talk back and forth as we enjoy my growing library.

In fact, that “growing library” is what I stopped by to write about, for that’s exactly what Ben called my attention to.  I hadn’t even noticed, but he sent me an instant message in the Subsonic interface yesterday saying “You’re close to cracking the 1TB mark!”  I’m glad he did, because it seems like an important milestone to me.  Check out the screenshot below from the Subsonic interface, where the application summarizes the available listening library:

For a few minutes I was so happy that I almost reached a terabyte of music.  Then I realized that full-on 50% of this is movies (Subsonic doesn’t differentiate in its count).  The real music-only size hovers just over 500GB of disk space.  Nothing to be ashamed of, I suppose, yet still not quite as exciting as the ten minutes where I thought I was on the verge of library-size domination.

Guess I’ll just have to continue legally purchasing music from iTunes and Amazon in a reach for that next goal.



$100 easy dollars

Tuesday night on the internet and I’m writing right up until my 9:30pm call from Shanghai comes in.  I’ll take what time I can get.

In January of 2007 I decided to integrate some small Google ads into a couple of my more “highly-trafficked” websites, namely my blog and a now ridiculous-looking page I made back in highschool which I maintain partly because it’s got a decent pagerank, partly because it gets hits, and partly because it’s such a funny example of my 1995 webpagin’ skills.  Despite my meager readership and small search traffic, I figured some unobtrusive Google ads wouldn’t hurt – and I might even make a little money over time.

Once upon a time I used to check my progress, but slowly forgot I even had ads on the pages.  Last week I got a $100 payout from Google.  It took me three and three-quarter years to earn that $100, which is something like 2¢ per day.  (As an aside to that sentence, I always found it confusing that the dollars sign goes before a number and the cents sign goes after.  Just seems needlessly confusing.)  I guess that falls in line with my “might as well; might earn some money” attitude about the whole thing… but man that’s some sloooow earning.

I’m already looking forward to my next $100 (they only pay once you hit that mark) in July 2014.


musty smut

Sometime back in 2009 I started a draft entry about finding dirty magazines in the woods.  Wait; stick with me.

I had seen a funny thread that someone started online about the very subject, and was surprised at just how many folks chimed in to say that they, too, had seen some of their first pornography by virtue of “discovering” some mildewed magazine half-buried under a pile of rotting leaves.

Back in my day (wow, that makes me feel old), finding and then hiding your dirty magazines in the woods seemed to be a common thing (look on the internet here and here if you don’t believe me).  In fact I can remember we would go strolling through the woods with eyes on the ground for the express purpose of stumbling upon porn.  And we found it when we looked, too; if you were a pack of twelve year old boys in the 80s, you had some kind of Playboy sonar… and no camouflage could hide a Hustler from that.

As I wrote back then, the whole “chase” of porn is lost on today’s young men.  Porn is on your TV at night, no watching through snow required; porn comes to you on the computer; porn is on your cellphone.  There’s no looking anymore, there’s no “discovery,” there’s no state of un-knowing.  Back in my day, we relied on our found porn to reveal to us the magical secrets of sex.  Someone in that online discussion I read over a year ago, and that inspired this entry, put it best with the following:

We found an issue of Club in a garbage can, and in it there was a picture of a woman sticking her nipple into another woman’s vagina.

We acted all knowing with each other, like “Yeah, that’s something people do. You didn’t know about that?”

In this modern internet age kids have probably seen worse than that by 3rd grade computer lab.  Whither have the innocent days of thumbing through a tattered Jugs in a draining ditch with a couple friends gone?  Our poor young men today have no chance… Gone are the days of having to muddle through not understanding every other word in those Penthouse Forum articles,  having to guess from context and later being embarrassed whilst employing it incorrectly after getting up enough courage to dare use one as you’d self-defined it.  Oh man that was embarrassing to find out that “woody” doesn’t always mean a paneled surfer-mobile… kids can be rough.

I suppose I’m not really lamenting some great lost innocence of my day here, I mean there’s plenty more to be sad about aside from the mechanics through which our youth are introduced to smut.  In fact I’ve quite forgotten if I was driving to any point here or not.  I think maybe I just wanted to talk about finding porn, quote that hilarious nipple thing, and maybe opine about “kids these days.”  Mission accomplished?


what sucks about android

Had this post binned for a while so thought I’d publish.  Back to new baby stuff ASAP.

While I love my new HTC Evo (which is running Android v2.1 as of writing), some features are really lacking.  Coming from the iPhone perhaps I’m spoiled, but the list below is what bugs me most about the OS on the new phone.  Now, there may be some apps that I haven’t found yet which might address and/or fix some of the below, but this entry was meant to be more of a rant anyway.  Here’s my list:

  • Browser bookmarking sucks

Why it sucks #1: Browser bookmarking could be vastly improved; the stock browser  just has one long flat list of bookmarks, offering no way to organize via folders or item-ordering.  People have suggested making folders on one of the desktop screens but this also sucks, and is not a real solution.  iPhone had this down.

Why it sucks #2: No bookmark-sync back to other machines.  This is Google’s OS, right?, I love Chrome’s bookmark-sync feature and have my favorite sites sync’d across my several PCs – why can’t I sync my Android device’s browser too?

  • Contact management sucks

Why it sucks #1: Contact sorting sucks.  May seem like a small thing but I hate that I can’t order my contacts by last name.  Furthermore, I hate that I can’t sort contacts within a sub-group.  I like the idea of having a “Favorites” folder with my starred contacts for easy-dialing, but not being able to arrange contacts in an order of my preference is annoying.  iPhone did this.

Why it sucks #2: Syncing contacts with Google ends up compressing the crap out of your contact images, ruining them and making them look like dookey.  This is a known, Google-acknowledged issue and it makes my phone look stupid when someone see this blocky pixelated image pop up when a contact calls.

  • Using media sucks

Why it sucks #1: Videos don’t resume playback where you last left-off (in the stock player, and most 3rd party media player applications too).  What?!  This is a ridiculous problem to have in my opinion.  How this was not implemented baffles me.  Makes continuity while watching a movie or TV program near impossible.  Just stupid.

Why it sucks #2: No “marketplace” where a user can purchase and download content to the device.  When I had iTunes on my iPhone, I could easily purchase and download a few episodes of Scooby Doo from the airport just before boarding a cross-country flight with my four year old.  Not having this easy-access to for-purchase content is crappy.

Why it sucks #3: Getting media on the device is less than intuitive.  There’s no dead-simple synchronization mechanism (DoubleTwist is OK… but 3rd party and not native) and while dragging-and-dropping content is nice for tech-heads it’s not entirely obvious where anything should go on the SD card or internal storage.

  • The app store sucks

Why it sucks #1: It’s full of spam apps, crap apps, it’s disorganized and it’s confusing.  I mean, there are multiple versions of the same application compiled or optimized for specific phones, CPU instruction sets, etc.  There are font packs for apps listed as apps.  There are tons of apps that do illegal things (download MP3s from shady sources, etc.).  There are apps that slow-down or crash devices, don’t run on certain devices, etc.  I know part of this is owed to the multitude of Android hardware and software versions that are in the wild… but a lot of it is just poor housekeeping and policing.

Why it sucks #2: There’s no way to browse and install apps from a web-based storefront (again, iTunes gets this right).  Luckily, AppBrain has this down – but there still needs to be a native solution.

  • Gaming sucks

Why it sucks #1: Compared to the iPhone, gaming on Android blows. The graphics suck.  Comparing the exact same games from the same developer, the graphics on Android are noticably worse.  You can verify this yourself with games like Doodle Jump or Zenonia.  Why this is the case, I don’t know – but it’s a noticeable deficiency coming from the better-looking platform.

Why it sucks #2: The selection of games sucks.  Now, I do have to give Android points here for allowing emulators in the app store, because if it weren’t for my NES/SNES emulators and ROMs this device would suck completely at gaming (instead of mostly sucking, as it does now).  Again, however, even the presence of emulators speaks to the above bullet about the proliferation of shady and grey-area software on the application marketplace…

  • Random small things suck

You can’t arrange/re-order application icons within a folder.  Yep, folder support is great for organizing and being frugal on screen real estate – but having app icons ordered as they were dropped into a folder is dumb.

There’s no concept of regular or centralized backup and restore.  With an iPhone, if your device died or you bought a new one you could plug it into iTunes and 30min later you’d have a carbon-copy of your previous phone.  With my Evo, if it breaks or I lose it I have to start from zero.  You lose all applications (unless you’re synchronizing with AppBrain), all customizations, and unless you’re syncing contacts with Google or Facebook or Exchange or something else – you’d lose them too.

Landscape mode only works on one “edge.”  At least on the Evo, I only get landscape mode in a “turn it left” horizontal position.  This may seem dumb, but if you’re using the phone while plugged into power and you’re right-handed, it’d be nice to have the option to turn the phone to the right and have the cable on the short-edge you’re not holding.  iPhone does landscape regardless of which “edge” you point down.

The funny thing is, reading this back it almost seems like I’m bagging on Android for not having a native client-side “management” and “content” application ala iTunes.  Odd indeed because I hate iTunes.  But I do have to admit that having iTunes for things like purchasing/renting content and backing-up/restoring/upgrading a device is a real plus for Apple hardware.  So c’mon Google, do iTunes but do it right.


early adoption

Good evening folks.

An incredibly productive day at work gave way to some work in the evening hours at home.  Sometimes when you get on a roll you just get too zoned to stop and things just carry into the evening hours.  Maybe this makes up for how much I’ve been away from things lately, by choice or not.

I need something quick and dirty to write about.  Ideas?  The stink in Sharaun’s car is still there.  Writing is still hard.  I haven’t finished the halfway-mark best-of 2010 entry yet, and Sharaun is still successfully incubating Cohen.

Oh wait, I have one…

Last week I ditched my beloved iPhone and bought an HTC Evo 4G, an Android OS based device.  Here are some things I miss about the iPhone:

  • Doing things in Android can be slow, jerky, or jumpy – even with the Evo’s horsepower.  The iPhone OS is so smooth.  All screen transitions and animations are slick and pretty.
  • The iPhone could do simultaneous voice and data over 3G (technically this is an AT&T vs. Sprint network limitation).
  • The iPhone’s Safari browser was better than any of the many browsers available on Android.
  • The iPhone’s default sounds, while extremely limited, were actually decent.  Every default sound on the Evo is terrible.  Yes, every one.
  • The iPhone did a good job at being intuitive.  If you wanted to do something, chances are Apple considered you might want to do that something and made a quick way for you to do it.  Android is much less intuitive.
  • The keyboard.  This may just take getting used to Android, but I can’t for the life of me stop typing periods when I want spaces.

Here are some things I really like about the Evo:

  • I can view Flash content on the web.
  • I can drag and drop files right onto the thing rather than being tied to iTunes.
  • Everything is customizable; everything.
  • I can do multiple things at once, like stream music from home while surfing the web.
  • It has Nintendo and Super Nintendo emulators and I can install illegal ROMs and play 8-bit Zelda on the crapper.
  • The 8MP camera takes pretty nice pictures, at least with decent lighting
  • The monthly cost, which is a good bit cheaper than the iPhone and comes with truly unlimited data.


awww dang…

When’s the new iPhone come out again?

Dropped this on the ground from pocket height this past weekend.  The thing is still 100% functional so I guess I’m going to use it like this until Jobs and crew release some new hardware.  It’s a little rough on the fingertips but I tried to get rid of any loose shards by rubbing it on the carpet.  How the “touch” part still works is a mystery to me.