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Catchup post: Memorial Day edition

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

I’ve been busy the last week and haven’t been doing much long form writing and Futurist Now has suffered for it. What’s been keeping me busy?

My new EeePC
I picked up one of Asus’s delightfully tiny new netbooks, the EeePC. A netbook is a new category of sub-notebook device with low end specs designed primarily for browsing the web. The EeePC clocks in at a measly 900Mz, but at 9″ and under 3 lbs it’s easy to forgive it’s specs in lieu of it’s ultimate portability. So far I’m finding it an ideal email machine for use at meetings at work, and as a great bedroom/couch machine for keeping an eye on the tubes while relaxing or watching movies.

Being entirely solid state (the EeePC 900 series comes with 12GB of flash memory rather than a hard drive with spinning platters) it’s shock resistant, and gets surprisingly good performance for it’s diminutive specs. Due to the random access nature of flash memory the EeePC boots quickly and gets great battery life (3 hours of real use). While solid state drive (SSD) technology is still not competitive in price or storage capacity to typical hard drive (HDD) technology I can see the potential and am starting to get excited about the predictions that in 2011 or so SSD will all but completely replace HDD technology in notebooks and desktops.

While the EeePC 900 I picked up came pre-loaded with Windows XP I’ve done some experimentation with putting Ubuntu on it. As with my typical annual cycle I attempt to put some variant of Linux on my computers to see how the OS X/Windows competition is doing. This time however I was surprised – the latest Hardy Heron (8.04) release of Ubuntu is slick, polished, and works ‘out of the box’ on all the hardware I had laying around. While Ubuntu might be getting attention as a decent desktop alternative where I think it really shines is on a low end PC like the EeePC – it’s limited feature set and lean architecture work perfectly on a device with CPU and memory constraints.

Being a 3 day weekend I took the opportunity to see a couple of movies with Brien and Brian. We saw both Indiana Jones 4: The Crystal Skull, and Iron Man. Both movies were excellent (if not over the top) and fun movies to see while on holiday. I was never the hardcore fan of the Indy series that Brien was, and much to his horror I actually liked the newest one best from the series. It captured the fun essence of the earlier flicks while maintaining a fresh and modern feel even while being set in not so modern times.

Iron man also kept a modern feel, although it did so with a very modern setting. Having never read the comic book I assume I missed out on a lot of the back story, but still found the story presented in the movie touching and engaging. Having grown up idolizing gadget superhero (Hello, Inspector Gadget) it’s nice to see a modern take on a technological super-hero. Final note on the movie: I need a flying metal suit, that looks fun!

Lensbabied sneaker opus
Last but not least, a quick shot I took with my Lensbaby 2G while out on a photo walk on Saturday. I’ve been using my 18mm and 50mm primes a lot and decided to take the Lensbaby out and go for a stroll. I’m certainly glad I did as one of the resulting shots is a clear winner in my odd little abstract world.

Footwear abstract

Hotel Rwanda

Thursday, May 1st, 2008

As a part of my quest to see 100 of the 250 top movies of all time I’m first going through all the ones I own on the list, but somehow haven’t seen. Tonight brought a viewing of Hotel Rwanda with Brian and Brien.

I have to say – I’m stunned. Hotel Rwanda is a fantastic movie – a beautiful portrait of humanity in the worst of circumstances. It’s the rare kind of movie that can be depressing and uplifting to the soul at the same time. Seeing Paul Rusesabagina’s courage and compassion in the face of such an brutal genocide reminds the viewer that the human race just might have a chance of making it after all.

Quest for the IMDB 250

Monday, April 28th, 2008

As part of my 101 in 1001 project I set myself a goal to see at least 100 of the top 250 movies of all time as voted by the seething masses at IMDB. In taking stock it would seem that I’ve already seen 73 of them meaning I have 27 left to watch in roughly 27 months leaving me with an entirely manageable cadence of one a month.

A quick glance through the collection shows I have 8 of these movies unopened in my collection so those will be first up on the viewing list:

Barry Lyndon (1975)
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
Hotel Rwanda (2004)
Juno (2007)
Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998)
Magnolia (1999)
Reservoir Dogs (1992)
The Shining (1980)

Which leaves 168 remaining movies to select from, listed in the full post. If you have a suggestion of a favorite movie from below that you particularly like and think I should prioritize onto the list leave a comment and let me know!

Read the rest of this entry »

Home theater lighting project complete

Sunday, March 9th, 2008

Lutron Maestro IR SmartSwitch pre-installCompleted Lutron panel

That day has finally come – my Lutron smart dimmers arrived, have been installed, and are now hooked into my Logitech Harmony home theater automation remote with great results. With a little help from Brien the dimmers are installed, and the wiring is now again safely hidden away behind nice looking wall plates.

The Lutron Maestro IR smart dimmer intelligently fades the lights up and down to preset levels at the touch of a button on my Harmony remote. With the track lights dimmed properly and pointed away from the TV screen it bathes my movie goers in soft warm light while avoiding distracting reflections on the TV.

Next up: painting the living room a darker color to help reduce light bounce around the room. The question has become deep midnight blue, or rich royal red?

Oscar winners I have yet to see

Wednesday, February 27th, 2008

Time to get my ass to the video store – I’ve heard enough about the following three movies to be bugged that I have yet to see them:

In particular I need to see Juno – I’ve heard a majority of it was shot with the new motion version of my favorite camera lens, the Lensbaby.

Michael Clayton is already available for hi-def rental on my AppleTV so that should be an easy one. The other two have yet to be released so it may be a short while before I get the chance to see them. There will be blood is still technically in theaters so if I manage to get the motivation and energy up to leave the house this weekend I might still be able to catch it in the theaters.

AppleTV/Hairspray review

Wednesday, February 13th, 2008

Yesterday Apple released the AppleTV Take2 software update. Of course upon getting home I immediately installed it and started playing with some of the shiny gooey goodness and I have to say I’m impressed. I really liked the first version of the AppleTV and they really have knocked it out of the park this time.

The entire user experience is re-envisioned to be more flashy – much more fun to use. The fact that the AppleTV can now independently sync podcasts, buy music and TV shows on the iTunes media store, and rent movies makes for a most delectable icing on an already moist and delicious media cake.

For some strange reason I decided upon Hairspray as test of the new HD rental service. The rental experience was a breeze – two clicks of the remote (plus a one-time password entry) and the HD movie was playing with surprisingly good quality within two minutes.

I went into Hairspray with low expectations and came away impressed. The movie is fun, engaging, and oddly thought provoking. Don’t get me wrong – it’s completely campy and over the top, but really well executed. The music and choreography is well thought out and the cinematographer did a great job of showcasing some of the dance moves without distracting the viewer with too much camera movement.

Featuring fantastic performances by John Travolta, Christopher Walken (it had been so long since I’d seen the Weapon of Choice music video I’d almost forgot how good a dancer he is), and new to film actress Nikki Blonsky who leads the film with confidence and flair.

For the record: John Travola in drag is just plain wrong, but wrong in the kind of way that I can get behind. Travolta in drag for President 08!

You know you have become an adult when…

Sunday, December 30th, 2007

…you spend more than $1k on lighting equipment for your home. I’ve made a few big home improvement purchases and yesterday added lighting to the fray. I’m replacing all of the lighting in the living room with theater style lighting as another step towards my eventual home theater living room. All this home improvement is very adult, very unlike me.

The new lighting will arrive in 2-3 weeks and consists of track lighting over the couch, decorative accent lighting for near the screen, and Lutron Maestro home automation switches to let my Logitech Harmony programmable uber-remote control the lighting for home theater macro’s.


Best part of it is this light, the Lightstik. The base is electrified (very weak current – you can’t feel it with your fingers) and the LED sticks just sit in there. The moment they make contact with the base unit they light up.

Renewed and renowned

Thursday, December 20th, 2007

Funny how getting my car detailed can kick my auto-passion into high gear. Tuesday evening I picked up my A6 from Mirrorworks from having a full detail and some paint work done. It’s shiny and like-new again – I’m swooning all over my precious car again!

Aside from the car life has been good. Traskpro has his a solid and stable 0.9 (and graduated from alpha to beta) and is rocking my task list right and left. I even have acquired a few other heavy users which is oddly gratifying. I’ve still got 31 remaining features/tweaks to make, but those can happen gradually over the next few weeks as I continue to ramp up on JavaScript.

Also in the world of good things Scott came over last night. He hadn’t experienced a proper viewing of Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End so we did dinner and a showing of that. As silly and overly-Disney as the film is I really do enjoy watching it. I really do hope that big budget swashbucklers never die – they are just so much fun to experience.

Right – back to work now. I have to finish up a ton of stuff today and tomorrow to be ready to take off a few days to be home for Christmas!

What a week

Sunday, November 18th, 2007

POTD 02/9/07 - The horror

Things have been pretty crazy of late and I’m stressed out as a result. Work has been and explosion of activity and my personal life has been busier than I would like. It’s all added up to me being stressed out. After last week I decided I needed a plan to get things back under control at work, as well as a plan for getting better control of my other commitments.

My boss has been somewhat unhappy with the performance of the team. I’ve decided the only way to make things better is to reapply myself to my job and focus on keeping my eye not only on the project’s current status, but also looking ahead a release or two making sure we don’t paint ourselves into a corner or repeat old mistakes.

I’m making a few modifications to my typical productivity style and adopting some of the more extreme GTD behaviors to try and better segment my time and plan better. I’m also going to get more into my backpack for tracking little tasks.

Luckily I have a few things to keep me distracted. Earlier in the week I purchased all 5 seasons of Mythbusters on iTunes and am slowly perusing it on my AppleTV. It’s funny that these days a single click can cost $100 and take 2 days of bandwidth on my fast connection to deliver 58Gb of content. 48 hours might seem like an excessive download time, but for perspective bear in mind that my Mythbusters collection spans over 80 hours of content so leveled out to be nearly a twice-realtime media acquisition.

Super Mario Galaxies came out this week for the Wii. It’s a load of brainless fun and in typical Nintendo fashion it’s quite rewarding for the player. The spherical level concept is fresh and new – a blast to run around the puzzling little worlds finding the start that rockets you to the next one.

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