Great Ingress article…including nostalgic photo

gamers-on-couchCheck out this very good article on Ingress.  After I viewed the big photo at the top, however, I noticed it’s just a “little” outdated.  It brought back a ton of memories though–check it out–the gamers on an Atari 2600 playing Pac-Man.  There are also a bunch of full-sized 33 RPM LPs stacked on top of the (probably 300-lb.) dinosaur console television.  You can even see the slow refresh-rate of the TV screen captured in mid-refresh in the photo.  Ah, the memories!  I just can’t quite make out exactly what product is on those blue and white shopping bags everyone is carrying in the background though… any idea?

Review of the Wii-U

Wii-UAfter a few days of playing with the Wii-U (once I managed to pry it out of the hands of my 14-year-old) I thought I’d post my thoughts.  An HD Nintendo console has been overdue for quite some time, so it’s a relief to finally see them catching up (somewhat) to the “big boys”–PS3 and X-Box 360–though new consoles from both of those companies are now in the works as well.  But Nintendo reminds me a lot of Apple in the way they evolve.  They’re slower in movement, but over time they do get it right for their particular audience.  Anyway, the Wii-U is an excellent replacement for the Wii.  I am very relieved to see that we can still play our old Wii games on it, so we can get rid of the old thing completely.  It was a pain to have to bring the TV down to a standard definition video image to use the Wii.  Now everything can remain in full 1080p HD.

The Wii-U comes with a huge “GamePad” controller, which is much like a small tablet combined with a Wii controller.  It has a decent-sized touchscreen–at least it’s bigger than the Nintendo DS screen–and feels very comfortable in the hands.  It’s nice and light, with nice finger grooves in the right places underneath and a stick on both the left and right sides.  Many games allow their gameplay to run on either the Gamepad screen or the TV screen, and some allow both simultaneously.  Unfortunately this doesn’t apply to all games–and doesn’t apply to the old Wii games at all–but hopefully this will change in the near future with an update.  Being able to play on just the gamepad–even if you can only go up to 40 feet away from the console–is HUGE for our household.  To Kevin, it means being able to still play the console games he wants when he has time, while we can still watch the TV shows we want.  If Nintendo adds this feature into the classic Wii software, I think this feature alone could justify its price for a lot of families!

The good ole “Mii” universe is alive and well on the Wii-U, and there are always hundreds, if not thousands, of other users visiting our system and posting comments about all of the games.  We even see posts from others as we finish levels of some of the games, and I’m always wondering if the comments are actually directed toward OUR game or just generic comments… Can other users watch our gameplay?? Can we watch theirs?? I haven’t found this out yet.

For the old Wii games, there’s a “Wii” option provided as a separate app, which takes you to the classic “Wii Menu” and provides the exact same interface as the old Wii system.  In fact, you have to put down the Gamepad and pick up a standard Wii controller to play any of the Wii games and use the Wii menu interface.  We did the “Wii system transfer” before completely taking our old Wii out of service, and that was pretty flawless, once we got it going.  This was a lengthy process though, probably because we had accumulated a lot of game save data, Mii’s, and games from the Wii Store over the years.  The process is fully animated once you start it, and kind of plays out like a little cartoon, with “Pikmin” characters (from what Kevin says they are) carrying your data through the old Wii systems, out to a rocket ship and loading them up for the transfer.  One little pikmin character almost gets left behind, ala “E.T”, but they realize it before blastoff, and re-open the ship’s bay door and let him in at the last second.  Once the data is saved to your SD card, the ship takes off and your’re ready to insert it into the Wii-U, switch to that system and continue the process where the ship then lands and the pikmin unload the data into the new system and setup the icons.  It’s an amusing little cartoon, but pretty monotonous if you have a lot of data like we did.

The Wii-U also has “TVii”, which I originally thought would be a streaming TV service from Nintendo, but unfortunately it’s not.  All it is, is a “remote” for your existing TV and cable box.  You select your TV remote by answering a few simple questions based on whether the TV responds to the signals the Wii-U sends, and it sets up the remote for it.  This is definitely the simplest “universal remote control” setup I’ve ever seen, by far.  Totally painless.  Then it does the same for your cable box and cable provider.  Once that’s done you can completely control your cable box and TV with just the GamePad, replacing your two remotes.  Unfortunately, WE have much more than that to control, including our stereo, PS3, X-Box, etc., and the Wii-U doesn’t go any further than the two devices.  If someone could just make a 15-device universal remote app for the Wii-U, I’d gladly pay for it…that would be bliss!

Other apps included with the Wii-U are Netflix and HuluPlus, which both work great.  I’m currently using both services and comparing them.  Using the Wii-U interface, Netflix easily outshines HuluPlus, in my opinion.  In the Netflix app the interface on the Gamepad screen matches the TV interface, so you can use either one to select a movie or TV show and watch it on either the TV or the GamePad. Excellent!  But in HuluPlus on the GamePad, it only shows you the currently-selected option, very large, in the middle of the GamePad screen.  You have to look at the TV to scroll and select what you’re looking for.  Unless you memorize the layout of the menus, you can’t use just the GamePad to find a movie or TV show to watch, so it’s rather limited.  I’m guessing Hulu will fix this in an update though.  In comparing the Netflix and Hulu services themselves, it’s pretty much a draw.  They both offer little of the same content.  They seem to each have their own contracts for the content they offer, and both have good solid YV series offerings and movies.  It’s a tough split.  One minus on Hulu is the fact that its TV shows include “limited commercial interruptions” throughout its TV shows.  Sometimes this seems like a bit much, with hour-long TV shows sometimes having numerous 3-commercial breaks.  And there’s no fast-forwarding through the commercials either–you’re stuck with them.  I did find, several times, when I did several fast-forwards and rewinds to rewatch a part of an episode, that it can get confused and then lets you fast-forward through commercials, but then thinks a later section of the actual TV show is the commercial block!  Then later it seemed to realize it was messed up, and when I went to fast-forward or rewind the show it reset it back to the beginning again.  Pretty irritating, but it didn’t happen often and I couldn’t repeat the glitch at will.  Most of the time it worked fine.  Both Netflix and HuluPlus also have an autoplay feature for TV series playing, so you can seamlessly watch a series without manually having to start each episode.  But since HuluPlus has a commercial block before every episode and after, you have to site through a huge block of commercials (usually 6) between each episode.  A big PLUS with Hulu, however, is with current TV series playing.  Hulu gives you the current episodes of TV shows, while Netflix only provides you with previous seasons, only releasing new seasons of a show long after the next season is airing or long after the series is completed.  I guess you have to weigh the value of this with whether you watch a lot of currently-airing series’ or not.  Both services are $7.99 a month, so it makes me wonder if Hulu is worth it for all the ads when Netflix is ad-free.  But, like I said, there are enough differences between the two services to warrant having both of them, for those who can afford it and are avid movie and TV buffs.

But back to the Wii-U: The Wii-U store currently offers a very small selection, but that’s just because it’s new.  They haven’t added any of the classic Wii games to the store yet, so only Wii-U games are there at the moment.  When they finally get the games from the old Wii store into the new one, there will be a much better selection.  And it’d be even more awesome if they also add all of their classic “boxed” Wii games as digital downloads as well!  They would certainly make a fortune, especially on those hard-to-find classics.  I know they can do it–they already offer most of their new “boxed” Wii-U games as digital downloads, and the classic Wii games are much smaller in size, I’m sure.

We played a bit of Mario & Nintendoland for the Wii-U as well as a couple of the new downloadable Wii-U games that were on sale this week in the Wii-U store, and what does Kevin come back to the most?…. wait for it…. a cheap download called “Little Inferno”!  This game is just plain “WRONG”.  It teaches kids how to burn their toys.  It’s aimed at older teens, obviously, and always warns you not to play with fire, but it provides you with a safe environment to do so, allowing you to burn everything from all kinds of toys imaginable, to batteries, to a school bus full of screaming children, or an angry elf (yes, Jay–an Angry Elf) who has a belt of dynamite strapped around his waist.  It’s totally wrong, but I must admit it’s very addicting to but everything and see the way each item responds to a flame.  How this game got past the Nintendo approval process I have no idea–I guess it’s a good test of the parental controls on the Wii-U–you can block your kids from playing it if you want.  But, if they gotta play with fire, I guess doing it on the Wii-U is tons better than anywhere else!

I think Nintento has a great start here.  As long as they get busy with updating and keeping on top of the issues in a timely manner, this will turn out to be an awesome Wii system.  The GamePad features alone can make it almost as useful as a full tablet, if they make the right improvements.  We’ll see what happens.

Random pile o’ crap

38 bags of garbage38 bags of garbage.  Over the past few years I had a sneaking suspicion that we were slowly becoming hoarders… Now i know for sure, as we continue to empty out our old house.  Fortunately, this will be one of the last bulk pickups we’ll need.  I wish I had documented it with more photos, it sure would have been interesting to look back on.  We started with a 30-yard dumpster, filling it to the top in two weeks.  And even after that, we only thinned things out.  There was literally TONS more.  And there’s still some left.  This was tonight’s haul to the curb.   It’s all from 17 years of living (for me) and over 20 years for Sandy.  I guess it’s good to move once in awhile just to clean up completely.  I wonder what it does take to be labeled a real “hoarder”.  We weren’t quite as bad as the hoarders on that TV show, but we were getting there.

My apologies to our old neighbors… we hate creating such an eyesore, but we’ll be out of your hair soon.  Several loads back, we were taking things directly to the curb as we cleaned… Garbage pickers quickly put an end to that though–they spread our trash all over the neighborhood!  So now we have to stack all the trash on the porch, then I have to go to the old house on Tuesday evenings and haul everything to the curb at once to minimize the spread.  I had to do a panorama just to get all the bags into one shot, but there it is.  I’m guessing we’ll have at least 2 or 3 more pickups before we’re completely done.

Don’t eat before bed

I usually have a snack while I watch a little TV in the evening, and a lot of the time I’ll wake up the next morning dragging like I got very little sleep, even though I got my usual 6-7 hours.  Sometimes, however–like this morning–I’ll get up, fully awake, and feel great.  I’ve been trying to figure out what is causing this difference.  I’d like to feel this way every day when I get up, if possible!  Everyone’s always giving the advice of “don’t eat before bed”, but they all specify different times– 1 hr, 2 hrs, 3 hrs before bed… so I question the thoeries.

Last night I stopped eating about 2 hours before bed (not on purpose, I was busy with something).  Eating is something I enjoy WAY too much, I know.  That’s probably one of the biggest parts of my weight problem.  But knowing I can wake up feeling this good–good enough to even write a blog entry before going to work–could help a lot!  There’s definitely something to it.  I found a pretty good article that explains it all.  So this is a reminder for me–and anyone else asking themselves the same question.   Looks like it’s good advice after all!  http://www.illpumpyouup.com/articles/eating-before-bed.htm.  I added this one to my link list (on the bottom of the sidebar).

My next problem is related to this one too: I’m getting old… Sometimes, after a busy day, I’ll pass out watching TV… how do I make sure I don’t eat long enough before THIS happens??? Hmmm.  Or maybe this doesn’t count… I do, eventually, get up and go to bed for reals.

Sometimes things work out

Dual Monitors (sorta)This week one of our monitors died.  No big surprise—EVERYTHING has been dying or breaking lately… Over the past couple weeks, Sandy’s cell phone broke, our laptop died, the PS3 died, and our expensive Harmony Remote died.   It’s like Karma knows we got our tax refund checks and wants to just eat that money up as fast as possible.  The thing is, we need that money to fix up the house in the spring so the city doesn’t fine us!  Yes, the neighborhood inspectors nailed us last season, and we have a big list of things to fix on our house and property now.

Anyway, back to the dead monitor.  I can’t stand seriously working on a PC with just one monitor.  There’s just so much I do at once, I can’t fit it onto a single monitor, or, even if I could, it gets too confusing switching back and forth between open applications and windows.  With 2 screens (minimum) I can separate things enough to work smoothly and get things done efficiently.  Just ask Randy Pausch from Carnegy-Mellon University.   Once monitor on a PC just doesn’t cut it.

So anyway, it died.  The backlight constantly flickers and repeatedly goes black, rendering it useless.  Yes, it was very old, so it’s not worth fixing.  It was just a standard, cheap 17” LCD monitor that I had broken the base off of so it would fit into the little right nitch on my desk to use as my right monitor.   So I scrapped it.  Not sure what to do next, I took some measurements and checked many vendors for monitors that would fit in that spot.  It’s not an easy task to find the FULL dimensions of a monitor (including the stand) when you need it.  Some sites provide it, but most don’t.   What to do?  I found a few monitors that came with removable stands, which would be perfect, but their size without the stand attached was then questionable.  Arrggh.

Well, another completely unrelated task that Sandy had during this whole dilemma was with a client of hers.  She needed an inexpensive TV and wanted to know if it was possible to get a new flatscreen LCD TV for as little as $100.  So I looked around and found a couple at Best Buy—one for $89.99 and one for $99.99.  She ended up choosing the $99 one, which was on sale from $150, so Sandy had to pick it up for her.

Yesterday, while the TV was sitting at home waiting for Sandy to deliver it to her client, I got an idea.  I wondered how something like this would fit into our desk cubby.  So I carefully removed it from it’s box and did some measuring.  It looked pretty close!  So I attached the stand and set it in place.  It fit PERFECTLY!  All of Best Buy’s smallest monitors (18”-19”) were around the same price, but none of them would fit in this space on our desk.  This TV was on sale, $50 off, so it was normally $150.  It was a 15” screen, so it was a bit smaller, but it had all the right ports—a VGA port, HDMI, and all the others.  I even had an extra AT&T box I could use on it that I haven’t used since 3 PCs ago, because I didn’t have a TV antenna or HDMI input on any of our replacement PCs.  The only other issue I could foresee would be with its resolution.  I know TVs are not quite up to the specs of monitors, so I expected the resolution to be lacking.

I went ahead and unboxed the rest of the package and set everything up.  I connected the cable box to the HDMI, and the PC to the VGA input.  Everything worked perfectly, and it has quite a nice image!  Yes, the quality is a bit less than a monitor, but I was expecting as much.  Surprisingly, however, the specs say it has a maximum resolution of 1366×768, but when I set that resolution in Windows 7 it told me that it’s not optimum and recommends 1920×1080 as the optimum resolution, and when setting the TV’s resolution to 1366×768, the monitor went black and displayed a “Not Supported” message!  I tried other resolutions, but only 1920×1080 and 1600×900 would work, so I compared the two with a standard web page displayed.  1600×900 is what my main monitor is at as optimum, and it turned out that looks exactly the same on the TV, but leaves about a 1” border around the edge of the picture area, resulting in a LOT of wasted screen space and simply eliminates the extra pixels from the 1920×1080 resolution instead of “stretching” to use the full screen.  So 1920×1080 it was.  It’s kind of bizarre that this TV is actually smaller than my main monitor, yet I have to use a higher resolution on it.  It worked well enough though, fit perfectly in its spot, and I can now optionally watch cable (or our DVR recordings) on it by simply switching from the VGA port to the HDMI port on the remote.  That’s awesome, especially since a lot of the time I will drag a Netflix browser window over to my right screen to watch a movie while I work anyway.   And 15” isn’t as small as it sounds sitting next to my 20” main display.  In fact, there’s only about a 2” height difference in the actual screen displays.    So it really goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway) that I then had to return to Best Buy and pick up another of these TVs for Sandy’s client.  Sometimes things work out in strange ways.  But after having so many things die unexpectedly, this seems like little consolation.

Happy Holidays!

We”re having a great holiday season!  It’s the day after Christmas and this is my day to recover enough to be able to go back to work tomorrow and be productive for another week.  I woke up early this morning to find Sandy already gone off to work–or so I thought.– I looked out front, and there she was, trying to shovel about three feet of snow out of our plowed-in driveway!  I dressed quickly and went out to help her.

Looks like we got about 8-10 inches of the dreaded “lake effect” snow here overnight.  So it really was a White Christmas after all.  After the driveway was cleared enough, Sandy was able to leave for work, and I finished the rest.   I’m a little sore right now, but recovering with a hot cup of coffee (it’s no Vente Quad White Mocha, but it’ll do) and sitting at the desk next to the radiator.  I’m uploading 170 Christmas photos to Flickr right now. Here’s the link. Kevin got the Playstation Move AND the X-Box Kinect!  Sheesh, was side of Santa’s naughty-and-nice list was HE on?!?  The Move was pretty easy to setup, just pair the controllers and go.  The Kinect, on the other hand, was one of those projects that just didn’t want to go right.  It uses NO controllers–YOU are the controller.  Instead, it’s a big bar that sits above or below your TV and includes a high-def camera and a bunch of sensors.  It also moves on it’s own to find the best position to track whoever is playing at the time.  It looked easy to setup at first–and it probably is for people with large living rooms–but for us it was tough.  Apparently our living room is just a little too small for it, so placing it above or below the TV wouldn’t work.  After some thinking and a playing around with it, we ended up having to mount it on a shelf on the wall behind the TV.  This gave us a few extra precious inches, which was apparently just enough to allow it to function properly.  After that, Kevin and Matt had a blast tubing down the whitewater rapids and bouncing in zero gravity in Kinect Adventures.

We had our traditional great Christmas dinner with Mike, Rick, George and the family, a great ham, and some great homemade Au Gratin Potatoes that Sandy made.  And this morning, since Socks absolutely refuses to go outside at all, it looks like we’ll be doing another of our traditions–the annual Doggie Deck Toss–where we throw the Chihuahua off the back deck and into the tallest snow bank in the backyard, then watch him tunnel and hop his way out.  I’ll try to grab a picture.

Update: We had a successful Puppy Launch this morning.  Here’s the photo.  See the flying Chihuahua!

Where were you on that fateful day?

9/10/10 – It’s the anniversary again.  Below is the entire cumulative contents of all of my previous postings on 9/11, including the old comments posted by users.  Please give it a read and feel free to post your own comments and experiences.  We’d love to hear from you.  I have temporarily enabled public commenting for this, so you don’t even have to sign up for an account to post a comment.


Where were you on that fateful day

Originally wrtten by Jim Trottier – Thursday, 09 September 2004

When huge historic events happen that seem to effect everyone in the world in some way or another we seem to remember everything about that day in our lives much more vividly than most other days. So let’s discuss where we were and what we were doing on that fateful morning of September 11th, 2001. Here’s MY recollection: I was working at Cirqon Technologies in Gurnee, Illinois. I was a PC Tech there, and had recently moved to that department full-time after 6 months of working half-days in the chem lab and half-days in the IT department. I was at my workstation in IT, next to my boss, Mark Stricklin. Mark and I got along great as co-workers, and he was an awesome boss. He was also a Man of The Cloth, and is very respected in his community. He does a lot of charity work, and enjoys helping everyone he can, so this event seemed to hit him extra hard. Anyway, we were working at our respective workstations when a co-worker came over from another cubicle and said a plane had just ran into the World Trade Center! To us we began to assume some sort of accident where small aircraft struck the building. We wondered, but weren’t overly concerned. A while later the same co-worker returns–more excited now–and says ANOTHER plane hit the OTHER tower now! Ok, now we began to get concerned. It was certainly no accident now. Next we learned that ANOTHER plane had struck the Petagon. I got the chills. The events ran through my head over and over as if to force me to memorize them forever, as I sure will. Shortly thereafter we also learned that yet another plane was still flying and possibly hijacked. Jeff, Cirqon’s V.P., sent our Plating Surpervisor out to buy a small television so we could watch what was happening. He returned with one, and set it up in the conference room. We didn’t have an antenna except the small one included with the TV, so the reception was pretty bad. We managed to rig up a better antenna though, using some wire and the window frame in the conference room. Still fuzzy, but at least you could see a halfway decent picture. We watched the rest of the day as they re-ran the two planes hitting the towers over and over again, the Petagon burning, and the eventual Pennsylvania field crash of the fourth aircraft. I dug out the boombox that I had stowed away in IT (I put it away after boomboxes were banned from every department a few weeks earlier) and tuned it to an all-news channel so we could keep up on events when we weren’t able to watch the TV in the conference room (when we needed to get some actual work done). I remember quite a bit of debate that day on the radio with structural analysts who insisted that the towers could absorb that type of impact, and since they still fell there must have been some other “inside” event as well which contributed to their collapse. As it turned out, that was totally false, and the towers were actually designed to absorb the impact of much smaller planes containing much less fuel–they were, after all, designed at the turn of the century when planes the size of today’s weren’t even imagined. Overall it was an incredibly moving and horrifying day. My boss was deeply saddened, and consoled a few of his friends on the phone during his free time that day, and for several days after. Let’s hear what your experience was. Here are all of the responses that users have submitted from the two other times that I posted this article:


Jayson and I were actually sleeping. He was off work because he had just had his appendix removed. His mom called and said we were under attack—so we ran to the TV and thats basically where we sat for the rest of the day. It just seemed so unreal–I remember looking at the TV and thinking —this has to be a bad joke–it really cannot be happening. I was also calling my family and friends–knowing they were ok, but just needing to talk with them because so many did not get a chance to talk to theirs after that day.

–ishellbell


2004/09/09 19:51 I was in downtown Chicago about a block away from the Sears Tower at a client. At that time details were still sketchy and they thought another plane was on it’s way to Chicago. All buildings were being evacuated. I had no choice but to head back to the train station and get as far away as possible. Unfortunately that’s what the entire loop was doing. The station was wall to wall people. Metra handled everything perfectly. Under the circumstances, schedules were history. They just started loading trains up and running them out as they filled up. They never even charged anyone. I always meant to send Metra a letter commending them and their conductors for going above and beyond on such a frightening day, but never did.

When I got back into town, I just went home and spent the morning watching the coverage with my wife.

It will be forever etched in my memory.

–chad


2004/09/09 20:01 I was also at work(DaimlerChrysler). When a co-worker of mine came to me and told me about the first plane hitting the building, and that it was a passenger plane. Right away I knew that this was big news, having been to New York and I’ve seen how massive those 2 buildings were. So right away I went to my locker and got my boombox. We all kept working (on the assembly line) and listened to the radio as the horrible events of history were revealed. Some of my co-workers that were near me also started paying attention to the radio. It was a day that I will never forget. It is right up there with the day that Kennedy was shot in Dallas Texas. Even today I still remember where I was and what I was doing on that fatefull day.

–wainer53


2004/09/12 10:13 I had just come downstairs and turned on the TV. There was this horrible site of a plane hitting the first tower. I called my sister in Waukegan immediately, and she told me about the pentagon crash. Then while talking to her the second plane hit the second tower. It was devastating. This was the first attack in the United States.

I was 7 years old and walking home from a movie at the Vogue Theater, with my mother and sister when the paperboys were yelling “Extra”, “Extra – Japs bomb Pearl Harbor”. My mother was shocked and I in turn was also upset, but being only 7years old, I didn’t even know what a Pearl Harbor was what’s more where Pearl Harbor was ….

This attack brought back that 7 year old fear, and was a real eye opener about how vulnerable we all are. I continued to watch TV and of course they kept replaying the horrific crashes and live voice recordings from the victims in the air. The shock and grief were unavoidable. The tears and prayers were also unavoidable.

What brave people aboard those planes, and especially the victims whose actions diverted the fourth plane from the White House, as they all knew they were victims of terrorism and going to die.

Pearl Harbor, The assassinations of Martin Luther King, President Kennedy, and Senator Bob Kennedy, the attack on the Twin Towers, Pentagon and White House, the attack on the children in the Russian School, will always be unforgettable hurts in our hearts and souls.

We must always remember the victims in this tragedy and all victims of terrorism, and do everything in our power to avoid a reoccurance. Do not be afraid or embarrased to be vigilant and observant of anything out of the ordinary. Be alert and report anything that looks suspicious to the authorities. We must do everything in our power to not be victims of any wrongdoing. Support our brave servicemen and servicewomen and law enforcement personnel. Help eliminate wrong doings.

–mahirose


2007/09/13 11:31 Well where to start… I got married on the 9th of September and was in Vegas on my honeymoon. I was of course in bed late and woke around 11 am, we began to walk the town and went to New York New York. As we were walking through i notice there werent very many people. Then we walked by a TV and i saw the events and since i was in New York New York i assumed it to be a movie plug, so we kept on walking and i ran into a man who was watching a small tv with others crowded around him and they were all in tears so i asked them what was going on when they all looked at me and at the same time they said we had been attacked. Well we hurried back to our room to check the news to confirm what had happened. Before you know it the streets of Vegas were empty as well as the casinos. Of course there were no flights going in and out so we could not leave to come back home until flights resumed because everyone had jumped on buses and rented cars by that time so we had to stay a few extra days, the flight home was one of the worst and scariest flights ive ever been on, as we landed everyone stood and cheered, happy just to be home safe.

–WhoDunIt

Netflix adds instant streaming to iPhone & iPod!

Netflix has finally added instant streaming to the iPod and iPhone!  Last Thursday (somehow I missed this last week) they release the app in the app store.  You can now use your iPod or iPhone to watch any movie or video available on Netflix Instant!  This is huge for me–I’ve been drooling for this since the iPad was first released.  Netflix had the app available for the iPad several months ago when the iPod was first released, but they held back on releasing the app for the iPod and iPhone for some reason, until now.  My guess is that they made an exclusivity deal with Apple so they could sell more iPads for the first few months of its release.  Arrg.  Anyway, it’s here now, and I’m much happier.  I now have thousands of movies and TV shows available almost anywhere I am, instantly!–WITHOUT having to jailbreak my iPod.

April is here

A co-worker got me today with a simple, yet potentially very effective practical joke. I came back from lunch and sat down at my workstation to use the computer and the mouse cursor wouldn’t move. I moved the mouse around faster, trying to get some sort of response from it, but got nothing. Being the geek that I am–and having helped users with this same issue many times in the past–I started checking things. I guess I got lucky and did the right thing first–I flipped the mouse over to check the mechanism. On the bottom, covering the laser sensor, was a sticker that said “April Fools! :)”. Nice.

So I brought the idea home and did it to both Kevin and my wife. It didn’t quite work right with Kevin though. I asked him to check a website for me. When he couldn’t get the mouse working on his laptop in his room, I heard some violent shaking and banging around in his room, then he came out complianing that his mouse isn’t working. He looked angray and almost ready to cry. I told him to calm down and work through it. I asked him “What would you do to try to fix it?” He said “I checked, it’s plugged in!” I asked “Anything else you can check?” After a few long moments of considering this, he flipped it over to check it. Then he yelled at me, saying “You MEANIE!”. He was all set to tattle to his mother about me and I waved him off, silently motioning that I did it to her mouse as well. She was in the living room watching TV, and starting to get curious of what was going on and while Kevin was angry at me.

Kevin kept quiet once he realized what I was saying, and Sandy dropped the questioning, so I figured I might still be able to pull it off on her too. I had to go out shortly after this though, and she only mentioned passively later on that she had found my April Fools joke. Kevin says he didn’t spoil it, but I’m not buying it. Kevin’s a mama’s boy and he can’t keep a secret. I’m sure he helped her as soon as she ran into trouble. I thought she might call me on my cell while I was out if she had a problem with the computer, as usual, but no such luck. Kevin probably bailed her out, but no one is fessing up, so I guess I’ll never know.

I thought it was a neat little prank though, much better than finding out your wife got picked for JURY DUTY! Which I convinced myself was an April Fools joke my wife was just taking to an extreme…until I got home and she showed me the official letter from the court. Can you believe that? What a day to get picked for Jury Duty! Now, time to go over the postal stamp and verbage of the letter for signs of an intricate hoax…

Passing gas and digital TV

I recently heard a radio commercial on my way to work that startled me.  I couldn’t tell if it was a joke or not at first. It was about passing gas, of all things.  It was a family at dinnertime and the dad says “After a meal like that, I have GOT to pass gas!” The kids scream “No! Daddy’s gas could kill us all!” Then the father goes on to explain that the kids are right, etc., etc.  At the end of the commercial they refer you to dontpassgas.com and it’s an ad from the American Legacy Foundation.  Check their website, there’s even a couple television commercials there.  They all are really vague about their exact meaning until the very end of the commercial, but they’re actually referring to the gas passed by second-hand smoke, not the bodily function of passing gas.  Geez, if I had to step outside every time I had to pass gas, I might as well LIVE out there!

Another new site worth visiting is DTVAnswers.com.  It provides all of the information you need about the upcoming switch to Digital TV in the US, which is taking place on 2/17/09.  Everyone will be required to either have a digital TV by that time, or have cable or satellite TV.  People who still have older TVs and use over-the-air signals to watch TV will have to purchase a Digital TV converter box in order to still watch TV.  Fortunately the site also provides the details on how you can apply for a coupon from the NTIA for $40 toward the purchase of a converter box (limit 2 per household).  Digital TV is defintely a reality, so it’s time to switch or you’ll be watching snow… And we’ve certainly seen enough SNOW lately!!

I added these two links to by links list, or you can click on them in the article to visit the sites.