Reviews

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Bacon!

Thursday, May 15th, 2008

Something bacon this way comes

Inspired by this man and his bacon-filled Whopper I decided to try a burger with wonderfully excessive bacon myself. Having seen that even a man of such awesomeness that he could think of such a thing not be able to finish it I decided to back off on the bacon for a first time experience and go for what was described to the puzzled cashier as "as much bacon as beef please".

Clearly, I got what I asked for.

More bacon than beef

Unlike my bacon hero I was able to completely conquer my tasty bacon sandwich. This is a feat that was a complete dismay for my arteries and assault on my tract. In the best interests of my long life I regretfully doubt it is an experience I will allow myself to repeat.

Check out the bacon set on flickr for additional bacon goodness!

Twitter is down again

Thursday, May 1st, 2008

Is it just me or is Twitter down almost as much as it’s up these days? I realize they have a very difficult technical challenge presented to provide a service like Twitter, but I mean ultimately if IRC has been able to do basically the same thing for the last 20 years why can’t they?

A shiny new PS3

Sunday, March 16th, 2008

In the wake of the crushing demise of the HD-DVD format I’ve been ‘forced’ to get myself a Blu-ray player to keep myself comfortably on the cutting edge of media technologies. I decided to opt for a PS3 as it’s the only upgradeable Blu-ray player so far, and plays games to boot.

My first impressions are mostly positive. The PS3 obviously has a bit more horsepower under the hood than the Xbox 360 and sports a cleaner and more modern UI to boot. Unfortunately Sony seems to have made a few odd user experience choices, but overall I’m highly impressed. I have yet to toy with the PSP Remote Play functionality but I plan to dive deep into that in the coming weeks to see just what my new toy is capable of.

As far as games go I’ll likely still do the majority of my gaming on the Xbox 360 platform, but the Sony Store has a few interesting downloadable games – most notably is PixelJunk Monsters. Monsters is based on Element Tower Defense (which I’ve been addicted to before) but sports high def graphics, open gameplay levels, and even more addictive-like-crack gameplay. I lost a good 3 hours to it this afternoon and will likely spend much of the next few weeks trying to master each of its 20 levels – not too shabby for an under $10 purchase (console not included obviously).

Two Union Square by Aperture 2.0

Saturday, March 8th, 2008

I recently discovered Apple Aperture 2.0 and have simply fallen in love with it. It’s hands down the most performant and powerful photo management software out there. Coupled with Adobe Photoshop CS3 (technically the entire Creative Suite) my workflow has been entirely revolutionized. Aperture makes managing a set of 5 photos as easy as managing 10,000. By stacking and grouping photos it’s possible to quickly triage a shoot, find the good shots, and archive the bad shots all with GPU accelerated speed.

Unfortunately I’m come to realize just how unorganized my photos were in iPhoto and am being forced to go on a holy reorganization quest – luckily a not quite as monumental now that I have Aperture to help me out. As a bonus I’m finding lots of old photos that with a little tweaking come out great. It’s like finding rough jewels in a mine, only I don’t have to get all dirty and sweaty – I can just dig away at my desk.

Two Union
A new entry into my series of Two Union Square

Adult lighting project – 99% complete

Monday, March 3rd, 2008

Track lighting 1Track lighting 2
Track lighting 4Track lighting 3

I’m a week late with the post, but better late than never. My adult lighting project has finally made a major splash on my living room. The new track lighting offers beautiful even lighting for the seating area without casting reflections on the TV screen thus bringing my home theater one step further to completion (thanks Brien!).

Sadly it’s still not 100% complete – I’m still waiting on Seattle Lighting to deliver on the Lutron Maestro programmable dimmer switch that I ordered. Without the dimmer switch the lighting is somewhat unusable as the full on setting is almost blindingly bright. Once the dimmer switch arrives I can hook it in to the rest of my home theater automation and allow the lights in the house to dim when I go into movie mode with my Logitech Harmony programmable remote.

While on the topic I have a mixed review of Seattle lighting – they have an amazing selection and access to some equipment nobody else in Seattle can get, but on the flip side they have horrible customer service. I placed my order in late December and was told that my whole order would take 2 weeks (3 tops) to arrive. Nearly 3 months late the bulk had arrived, and now over three months later the last dimmer switch is still pending. I wouldn’t have minded so much, but they did a terrible job of managing my expectations – constantly telling me it would be ‘just a few more days’ every time I called in for status updates.

Oh yeah – and the transformer they sold me was bad. Good for them that they replaced it quickly, and not really their fault; but with bad taste in my mouth from the weeks of getting jerked around by their customer service it was really the arsenic and ass icing on the cake.

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!

Life after people

Tuesday, February 5th, 2008

Like the good little media consumer I am I finally broke down and shelled out $4 on Amazon to check out The History Channels ‘Life After People’ and I have to admit I’m impressed. It’s a 90 minute presentation about mans influence on the planet and exactly what would happen if people were to mysteriously vanish.

The show covers everything from the more immediate effects in the days and weeks following our disappearance, and continues on for 100′s and 1,000′s of years showing the effects of natures reclamation and the collapse of the great works of man. The special effects are surprisingly well done and do a great job of illustrating how important day to day maintenance and a good coat of paint are at keeping the global landmarks of today from turning into rusted heaps of metal.

While the concept is neat there is one thing about Life After People that bugs me: the lack of people. While the whole premise of the show is about what would happen if people vanished in an instant I can’t think of a good scenario which would bring this about. There are no dead bodies, no damage, nothing to explain it in the show – people (although not their pets or any other animals) just vanish. There are plenty of ways that people could vanish from the earth, but none of them would leave no trace of our destruction like the show proposes.

All in all a highly recommended watch though – check it out if you like thought-play, engineering, or ecology! Such a visceral depiction of mans greatest achievements and technology facing the true test of time really does provoke thought and give the brain something to chew on.

Something very small causing big problems

Thursday, December 6th, 2007

It’s amazing in this increasingly technical world how something so small can cause such big problems. My Thinkpad T61 laptop at work developed a single bad sector in one of it’s 2GB RAM modules (specifically a 6 byte range) which has caused endless random behaviors and blue screens. Funny how a single bad transistor, less than a trillionth of an inch across can cause an entire computing system to careen out of control.

Thankfully Lenovo was quite gracious about it and sent a new stick via 2 day air and I got it installed. Aside from perhaps an overly-aggressive feedback cycle they managed to impress me with their customer service. I just received and installed the RAM module and a quick 10 minute pass of MemTest86 revealed no errors and so far Vista seems much more stable. Here’s hoping that the stability continues – as best as Windows can provide.

Life’s little pleasures: Leopard, IMAP, and Puzzle Quest

Saturday, October 27th, 2007

The past 24 hours has brought a number of great things into my life. Yesterday night I went to the Bell Square Apple Store for the Leopard launch with Mike and picked myself up a copy of the shiny new version of OS X.

The launch event itself was an interesting experience. Apple really does know how to work a crowd, and the energy and passion it’s employees (retail and engineering alike) bring to work with them makes for a really positive experience for Apple’s customers.

Leopard itself is a neat little upgrade. The upgrade itself actually works really well – I didn’t lose any of my documents, settings, or preferences. Aside from Quicksilver being stuck in my dock (not the menubar where it really belongs) everything works flawlessly on Lanshark – Photoshop even stayed fully activated. Leopard is nothing revolutionary, but it really does add a lot of polish to OS X and makes for a worthwhile upgrade.

For the first time ever I actually kind of like the Finder. Quicklook (the ability to preview just about any document without the overhead of opening it’s parent application) is handy and makes confirmation that you have the document you are looking for brain dead simple. Spotlight is vastly improved featuring much faster searches, operators, and network search abilities.

Aside from the Leopard launch I was also thrilled to find out my Gmail account finally got IMAP enabled. The IMAP implementation is well done, and it makes Gmail’s iPhone experience as slick as their browser experience. Being able to have Mail.app cache my gmail account is handy as well for having my webmail searchable via the OS just like the rest of my personal knowledge store.

The final great thing to enter my life yesterday was Puzzle Quest for the DS. Puzzle Quest is a fun little RPG/Puzzler game that a couple of friends had suggested and it’s quite fun. It offers quick-in, quick-out gameplay – a fun addition to my go bag.

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