Posted on Sunday, June 1st, 2014
Don't press that back button... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Leaving. And so my quick trip to Tampa has ended and I'm flying home today. Early. Way too early. Because I'm just not smart enough to stop booking early flights. But at least it's ultimately my choice. I feel sorry for these puppies who didn't have a choice but to fly...
Poor pup. At least he has decent legroom.
• Movies. While looking for something to watch on Delta's entertainment system, I ran across THIS hot mess...
Holy shit! How messed up is that?!?
I settled for watching Veronica Mars for the fourth time...
Or I would have if I could have found the movie playing. Delta is just a big ol' tease.
• I'M BATMAN! Already clearing a space on my Fall schedule...
Two of my favorite things on earth are LEGO and Batman. To have them combined in something so awesome gives my life meaning.
• Man-ual. If you're a fan of the Iron Man movies, you NEED to get The Iron Man Manual. It's a book... but not really a book. It's meant to be a dossier prepared by Tony Stark's computerized butler, Jarvis. The result is more "scrap book" than anything else, and it's really well done. Pages have tickets, post-it notes, schematics, drawings, and other movie prop goodies pasted to them. As if that weren't enough, the book is jam-packed with info from the films, including a complete look at all the various armors...
Surprisingly good book and a must for Iron Man fans. You can get a copy here.
• ILLOGICAL! ILLOGICAL! Watch the video to continue... but the video cannot be loaded... but you have to load the video to continue but...
Thanks a heap, SeaTac Free WiFi!
And... my plane is going to be landing in a few minutes, so I'll be shutting down now.
Posted on Monday, June 2nd, 2014
I came back from Tampa too soon.
Or not soon enough.
Despite driving 2-1/2 hours directly from the airport to work and then putting in six hours at the office before going home yesterday, I was still swamped today. I was so buried that I ended up working from 4:30am to 1:00am.
Needless to say, writing in my blog is the last thing I want to do after 20-1/2 hours of work.
Well, maybe not the last thing.
But close to it.
Posted on Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014
Because my entire day yesterday was spent catching up on work, I had the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference keynote running... but couldn't pay very close attention to it.
And so... today's the day I get to channel my inner Mac Whore and talk about new happings at everyone's favorite fruit-named tech company. If the thought of that bores you, here's your chance to escape! But don't come back until the day after tomorrow, because that'll be Part Two.
OS X YOSEMITE
The successor to OS X Mavericks, OS X Yosemite, was presented by Craig Federighi, the Senior VP of Software Engineering at Apple...
The guy is incredibly charismatic and engaging... reaching to near Steve Jobsian heights with his presentation skills. He's also darn funny, injecting wit and humor into his speech at a breakneck pace.
The look of Yosemite is very much a continuation of iOS7. All aspects of the OS from the controls to the icons have been simplified, saturated, and flattened. In addition, transparency effects have been liberally sprinkled all over the interface elements. Which is something I'm not thrilled about because I find it unnecessarily distracting. Hopefully users will have the ability to disable the transparency like they currently can with the menu bar.
Federighi seemed especially proud of the new look for Yosemite's trashcan...
Personally, I don't give a shit what the trashcan looks like... I only care that it works. Which it currently does not in Mavericks. It will show as "empty" even when there's files inside. Hopefully somebody bothered to fix this incredibly basic and incomprehensibly ignored bug.
After talking trash, we moved on to the system font, which is no longer Lucida Grande. I don't know what the new typeface is called, but it's very pretty and easy to read. And as exciting as that improvement is, the next improvement is something I've been begging for... DARK MODE... where the menu bars and menus are darkened so they don't distract from what you're working on...
The window model for Yosemite continues to add functionality for title bars and devote more space to content, which is nice. Apple has also changed the way window controls work... with the green button now taking the window full-screen. Something I could get behind if they WOULD ONLY HAVE AN OPTION TO KEEP THE MENU BAR VISIBLE! I frickin' hate going full-screen because fighting the disappearing menu bar drives me insane. I need to be able to see my clock... my battery level... the date... all that important stuff that's so handy to have available... at a glance.
Notification Center is getting the ability to add widgets, which will finally make it useful to me.
Spotlight, Apple's search system for OS X, is getting an upgrade... and this time it looks more than just cosmetic. All I care about is that it's not a flaky pile of shit like the interface is now (How many times do you end up launching the unintended result? For me, it's practically daily). The addition of Sherlock-esque internet data for searching is a welcome throwback.
Next up, Apple puts the smack-down on DropBox by releasing an online storage option of their own called iCloud Drive. I don't know how it will be an improvement over DropBox, which makes cloud storage so drop-dead easy, but I'll definitely be taking a look.
Federighi then took a look at Yosemite's update for OS X Mail... currently the most-hated app I use every day. It is a buggy, slow, and overall shitty email client that looks downright embarrassing when compared to what Microsoft has going on with Outlook. He promises that they have worked very hard to make improvements with the basic functionality, which would be very nice. A new feature for Mail is "Mail Drop," which allows the seamless sending of files up to 5 gigs via iCloud Drive.
Safari is a world-class browser, but Apple's not resting on their laurels. They've added a number of new features for convenience, speed, and improved battery life... but the standout for me is being able to spawn separate windows for Private Browsing instead of it being an "all or nothing" game.
And then came the first surprise of the day... something Apple is calling "Continuity"... which works towards providing a seamless experience between MacOS X and iOS. The crowd erupted in applause when Federighi announced that FINALLY you can "Air Drop" between MacOS X and iOS. This omission has been categorically absurd and, if I had been in the audience, I would have been screaming "IT'S ABOUT FUCKING TIME!"...
But Apple didn't stop there, because next came a new feature called "Hand-Off." This nifty bit of tech means your Mac and your iPhone (or other iOS device) now has proximity awareness of each other. You can start composing an email on your Mac, then hand it off to your iPhone so you can keep composing as you walk out the door. Additional features, like being able to answer an incoming call from your iPhone on your Mac or use your Mac to make calls through your iPhone is dead-sexy. That Federighi demoed this by calling a "new employee" — Dr. Dre — was just the icing on the cake.
And there's where Apple wrapped up their look at just some of the new features that will be available with the new MacOS X.
The beta for Yosemite has been released to developers already. Non-developers can join the beta program later this Summer. Then everybody will be able to grab a free copy come Fall.
Tune in tomorrow when I unleash my commentary on Part Two of the keynote... with iOS 8.
Posted on Wednesday, June 4th, 2014
"Android fragmentation is turning devices into a toxic hellstew of vulnerabilities."
— Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, ZDNet
This is the second half of my notes on Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference keynote, this time focusing on what's coming down the pipe in iOS 8. And something else entirely, which was an unexpected surprise.
To start things off, Apple CEO Tim Cook was back on stage to drop some rather startling statistics on iOS update adoption vs. Android update adoption...
89% of iPhone users are on the latest version of iOS. A mere 9% of Android users are using the latest version of that mobile OS. For developers, this is a pretty big deal. If you are counting on new OS features for the functionality of your app, you have to be assured that your users have a version of the OS which has those features. From the looks of things, Android developers are going to be very slow to implement new stuff in their apps, because the vast majority of their users are on some older version where they are unsupported. Add to that the heinous fragmentation of the Android OEM variants, and Apple has made a very good case for developers to choose iOS as their platform of choice.
After Tim Cook's intro, Craig Federighi comes back to show everybody what end-user features and improvements we can expect with the next update.
One area where iOS has always been pretty horrible is dealing with interruptions. Get an alert, and you have to dump out of whatever you're doing to deal with it. iOS 8 takes a big leap forward by allowing you to handle common interruptions (like text messages and calendar alerts) without leaving the app you're in...
This is very cool, but it would be pretty useless if it were restricted to Apple-only interrupts. Fortunately, interactive notifications are available to 3rd-party apps, which is fantastic for people like me who communicate primarily through Facebook Messenger or other non-Apple services. What remains to be seen is how far the interactivity goes. Can developers customize the controls available to best fit their apps? Or does Apple limit interactivity to internal iOS buttons and text fields? Time will tell.
Taking a page from Windows Phone 8, iOS 8 now has some people-centric additions... like being able to access frequent and recent contacts on the app-switcher page. A terrific use of some wasted space...
Unfortunately, the usefulness of this feature is hampered by Apple deciding how you can interact with these people. Right now you can text, call, or Facetime with them... but there's no option for Facebook messaging or a slew of other 3rd-party apps that people use to keep in touch with the people in their lives. So, ultimately, a step in the right direction... but not a very big one.
Next up was a beautiful new grouped tabs interface for Safari on the iPad...
I do three things on my iPad... 1) Watch movies when I travel... 2) Read comic books... and 3) Surf the internet. The area in most need of improvement is Safari for web browsing, and it's nice to know that Apple is at least trying to make it a better experience.
One of the most exciting pieces of news at the keynote was Apple's announcement of an improved keyboard... now with predictive text. As you type, words appear above the keyboard where iOS is trying to guess what you're typing. Kind of like what happens now as words appear above your input cursor while you type... except now you get more than just one word, which should be a lot more productive. iOS doesn't stop there though... it also tries to predict words you'll use in response to emails based on the content and whom the email is from! The keyboard learns context, and tries to be smart about how it assists you...
As if all that weren't enough... Apple is now going to allow you to install alternative keyboards! This means terrific technology like Swype, which allows you to slide your finger from letter to letter in a word... and Fleksy which has an amazing word-guessing algorithm and cool gesture controls... can be installed and used system-wide. This is fantastic news, because now users can test keyboards and find the one that will allow them to type the fastest.
And then, AT LONG LAST, Apple has finally given some love to their texting app, "Messages." I don't know what the heck took so long, but now we can finally manage users on group messages... and even dump out of a conversation if you want. If that's too extreme, you can put a thread on "do not disturb" so it won't keep buzzing your phone. Even better, iOS 8 has even more ways to communicate... allowing you to share your location, and even add voice memos and quick videos...
Now if Apple would only get off their ass and give the same attention to VOICE CALLS. I mean, come on... PC call center software has been around for decades which allows you to do simple things like record custom voicemail messages and selectively route callers... why in the hell is iPhone so far behind in this? It IS, after all, primarily a PHONE, isn't it? Oh well, I suppose I should be thrilled that we at least get to block a caller from calling again... how long did we have to wait for that?
And then we have HealthKit... Apple's portal to managing all your health apps...
The ultimate promise of the idea is that one day you will be able to monitor various aspects of your health (like blood pressure and the like) which can automatically be transmitted and monitored by your automated analysis software and you doctor. If there's a problem detected, your doctor's office can then contact you to get it sorted out. It's a fantastic idea. In theory. In reality, I wonder how many doctor's offices are going to implement this stuff any time soon. I also wonder when we're going to get Apple's "iWatch" which will have health monitoring and syncing that makes HealthKit actually useful. Who knows.
From there we moved on to photo storage (in iCloud, of course) and the idea of Apple's "Smart Adjustment" technology which gives you the ability to perform comprehensive edits that are smart enough to do a lot of "behind the scenes" work to give you much better photos with little effort...
It will be bundled with iOS 8 and be added to Yosemite in 2015. Which is great and all... but I have to wonder where this leaves Aperture, Apple's high-end photo editing and storage software. How will it be able to handle edits made in iPhoto on iPhones, iPads, and Macs? Will they integrate, or be a separate set? Will flattened edits in Aperture be saved out so that devices reading from your iCloud Photos can actually view them? All of this is up in the air. And since Apple won't comment on future software (natch) it's tough to tell if Aperture is even going to be around in 2015. This is very, very frustrating... but so typically Apple. I honestly don't expect them to tip their hand and tell people what's happening with Aperture... but it would at least be nice to know that it's still going to be around.
A surprise to no one, Siri is being updated...
I use Siri all the time, so naturally I am thrilled to have improvements to his/her functionality. What bums me out is how far behind the Mac version is to the iOS version, and no mention has been made as to whether or not any love is going to be spent improving the Macintosh side of things. I would hope so, because the crappy dictation functionality on the Mac is pathetic. Why Apple can't keep up with the iOS side of things is a complete mystery. Why can't you ask Siri questions on a Mac like you can on an iPhone? It makes -zero- sense. And yet here we are.
And here's where things start to get interesting.
Very interesting, if you're a developer.
First of all, Apple is going to finally allow permission-based data sharing between apps. Something that is long overdue and will makes for some incredible extended functionality possibilities. Sure, the functionality will be limited so as to keep data safe... but this is such a massive leap in the right direction that I find it hard to not get excited at the prospect.
Game developers will get up to a massive 10x speed bump in their apps thanks to a new technology called "Metal" which allows them to get closer to the raw power of the iPhone/iPad processor than ever before.
And, lastly, something that took everybody by surprise... a new development language called Swift that takes the best parts of past programming languages and marries them to modern programming concepts while leaving all the antiquated baggage behind...
Without being able to see it and play with it, there's no way I can really comment on how useful Swift might end up being. But it certainly sounds promising. And powerful. And easier to use. And smart. I can't wait to take a look.
And that was that.
No new hardware. No new AppleTV. No new iWatch.
Just some interesting new features and a promising new future for Mac developers. Which is what I guess we should expect from a Developer's conference.
So I guess I'll try not to be disappointed with the lack of new toys.
Posted on Thursday, June 5th, 2014
I have been a lot of places and seen a lot of horrible traffic. Every major US city has some traffic problems due to the sheer volume of cars and trucks and things that go on the roads. But there are definitely cities worse off than others. Los Angeles is pretty much the gold standard for horrible traffic. San Francisco isn't much better. Boston has ensnared me more times than I can count. Some of the worst traffic I've ever seen was spotted as I was trying to drive into Atlanta one day. New York is an obvious target but, to me, never seems to be as bad as people think.
But, in my humble opinion, none of these cities compare to Seattle.
Seattle traffic is hellaciously bad and in a league of its own.
Most of the reason is simple geography. The bulk of Seattle is surrounded on three sides by water... Lake Washington to the East, Lake Union to the North, and Puget Sound on the West. You can't add "ring roads" around Seattle to alleviate congestion because there's no place to put them. The rest of the problem is just the sheer volume of vehicles on the road. Auto density in Seattle is absurdly high, and no matter how the city tries fix the problem, people love their cars too much to give them up.
And the problem isn't limited to Seattle, as the traffic there bleeds out into surrounding areas as people do whatever they can to avoid driving in the city.
Which makes driving to SeaTac airport a real crapshoot.
Technically, the drive takes 2-1/2 hours for me if the traffic isn't horrible. But since the traffic almost always is horrible and you never know how many times you'll have to stop for road construction, I leave anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes early. Most of the time I'm glad I did. But today the traffic was merely "bad" and not horrible at all...
18 minutes to drive 12 miles is practically lightspeed so far as Seattle traffic is concerned.
And so here I am, sitting at the airport with two hours and 45 minutes to kill before my flight. If only I had known, I would have stayed in bed an extra hour.
But you just know the day I sleep in is the day that a truckload of fish overturns on the 405 and backs up traffic for an hour.
The good news is that I have plenty of time to eat at Qdoba for breakfast. Sure the line is always long but, unlike Seattle traffic, it moves fairly quickly.
Posted on Friday, June 6th, 2014
A short trip to Pittsburgh and one of my favorite people on earth!
Usually I stay at the Sheraton, which is across the river to the South side of the city. It's next door to the Hard Rock Cafe, which is usually the reason I'm here (like the pin event I attended last year). But this time I stayed at the Westin downtown, which is an older hotel... but still a nice one. And my favorite part of the hotel is the lobby where they have a mosaic of Pittsburgh in the floor that's just fantastic...
Despite the low resolution, it's surprisingly recognizable.
It's PNC Baseball Park! LET'S GO BUCS!
Becky and my first stop was for lunch at Market Square... and margaritas...
That'll be $46 please!
One time I got incredibly sick off of tequila and had to stop drinking it. Ever since then, I've hated even the smell of it. Recently I discovered it's not tequila I hate... it's cheap tequila I can't stand. Spend $10 a shot on the good stuff, and a margarita is about one of the most refreshing and delicious drinks on earth. The bad news is that a tall margarita with two shots costs $23 each. But it's money well-spent, because it tastes amazing. So now I'm going through kind of a tequila renaissance.
The weather was so beautiful that we walked down to the Three Rivers Arts Festival to see what was going on...
Smack dab in the middle there... it's THE MOON! Don't believe me?
HOW ABOUT NOW?!?
Market Square is directly across from PPG Place, "The Crown Jewel of the Pittsburgh skyline"...
It's like a castle or Camelot or something... if it were made of glass.
There's a LOT of glass around. Nearly 1 million square feet, in fact...
It's very shiny...
The glass is so shiny you can see yourself in it.
PPG Place also has Ketchup Dinosaur...
And a Disco Dinosaur...
Eventually we met up with The Verdant Dude himself, B.E. Earl, for a crawl down Carson Street in the South Side. Starting with Jack's...
So many signs... I don't know where to look!
Ah, there you go then.
Then we stopped at the Rowdy Buck, where I was tempted by a Pickleback, but the combination of whiskey and pickle juice sounds like it could be toxic...
Ride 'em Cowgirl.
After dinner at Piper's Pub, Becky took us up Mt. Washington for a view of the city...
Annnd... I'm going to drop into a beer-induced coma now.
Posted on Saturday, June 7th, 2014
Today was all about the Pittsburgh Pirates.
But first it was all about tailgating in the parking lot, which seemed to be a great excuse for people to eat a lot of cheese...
I promise there's a burger under there somewhere.
If nothing else, it turned out to be a beautiful day to stand in line for the toilet...
It's only a matter of time before tailgaters start bringing their own toilets.
And then? LET'S GO BUCS!
Today I am tattoo appropriate!
The game was against the #goddamnbrewers. Last night the Pirates slaughtered Milwaukee 15 to 5, so everybody knew that the Brewers would be out for blood. And though my heart will forever belong to the Boston Red Sox, there's nothing quite watching a home-game and rooting for the Bucs, because PNC Park is easily one of the most beautiful ballparks in the country with some of the most devoted fans in baseball. I love it here...
Lovely weather for a bloodbath, I think.
Oh... and if you look up, the moon was out again...
Why is it that the moon always photographs smaller than it looks in Real Life?
And here's the obligatory panorama shot...
Seats directly behind home plate? Yes please...
Hoping for another run from Neil Walker.
The game may have been a bust for the Bucs since they lost 3 to 9 (I overheard the term "shit the bed" more times in the last hour of the game than I've heard in the past year), but I got to spend time with one of my favorite people on earth, so it was all good...
That's right... bask in our adorableness!
After the game was a concert by the Goo Goo Dolls. I pretty much lost track of them after Dizzy Up The Girl, but they played a lot of their older (i.e. more popular) stuff, so it ended up being a pretty great set...
"PLAY IRIS! PLAY IRIS!"
"SERIOUSLY, DUDE, PLAY IRIS! PLAY IRIS! PLAY IRIS! PLAY IRIS!"
After a terrific day at the ballpark, Becky took us to the original Primanti Brothers, which is a Pittsburgh dining institution...
How about a sandwich at Primanti Bros.?
Now THAT'S what a greasy spoon diner looks like!
The eatery has been featured on television several times, mostly due to their unique sandwiches. They use this amazing thick-cut French bread, pile it high with a number of different meat choices, and always top everything with a scoop of coleslaw, French fries, and tomatoes. I had a Double-Egg & Cheese, skip the coleslaw, which was delicious. But it looked a little boring compared to everybody else's sandwiches... like Becky's, which is the kind of thing you're supposed to order here...
Mine Egg & Cheese Sammy on top. Becky's Monster Sammy on the bottom.
And... that's the end to one fantastic Saturday in Pittsburgh.
Posted on Sunday, June 8th, 2014
Take time to be kind... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Window. My first time visiting Pittsburgh... back in 2002... I flew into the airport, rented a car, then headed into the city. Unlike most cities where you can see the buildings in the distance and know what you're getting into, Pittsburgh is hidden. Mt. Washington obscures the skyline so you have no idea what to expect until you drive through a tunnel that leads to the city. And for somebody like me who was expecting a run-down, dirty, old steel town, it's a spectacular surprise. Which I've finally managed to film on my fourth try...
Pittsburgh is a beautiful city filled with terrific architecture and lots of green spaces. That it has one of the most amazing reveals of any city on earth is just the icing on the cake.
• Hard Rock. The bulk of my Sunday was spent kidnapping Becky and driving to Ohio so we could visit the new Hard Rock Casino and Hard Rock Cafe in Northfield Park, Ohio. Sadly, it's a franchise property, so it's not in the same league as other Hard Rock properties, but they still did a very nice job...
I ended up winning $40 on my first pull in a slot machine, so that pretty much paid for the cost of getting here... how cool is that?
• Bridge. On the way back to Pittsburgh, Becky navigated us to Banks Covered Bridge, which is near Wilmington Township, Western Pennsylvania...
It's a nice old bridge that's in really good shape... having been "rehabilitated in 1999, 110 years after it was built in 1889.
• Bridge Deux. Not far from Banks Covered Bridge is McConnell's Mill Covered Bridge, which has a state park built around it...
The bridge is unique in that it uses something called a "Howe's Truss" in its construction... something that's apparently rare for Pennsylvania bridges.
• Meal. After an afternoon of excitement, it was back to Pittsburgh for dinner. This time to the Squirrel Hill neighborhood, where even the hipster mannequins are battling receding hairlines...
Killer goatee though. Apparently that's the default facial hair configuration in the greater Pittsburgh arean.
And now? Time to lapse into a coma of relaxation...
Posted on Monday, June 9th, 2014
Today was a Pirates night game, so I decided to work in the morning.
Well, that's a lie... I decided I had to work in the morning.
But I did escape into the city early enough that I could finally... finally... visit Point State Park. Something I've been meaning to do for years, but never seem to get around to. It's called "Point State Park" because this is the point at which the Ohio River, the Allegheny River, and the Monongahela River converge...
Apparently the area has quite a history, because the comemmorative medallion for the park says "Point of Conflict... Point of Renewal... Point of Confluence."
At the very tip of the park is a giant fountain...
Prior to being a State Park, the French had built a fort here called Fort Duquesne...
The French ended up destroying their own fort rather than let the English Army take it back in 1758.
After visiting the park, I wandered around the city a bit because art is everywhere...
Even trash is an art opportunity for Pittsburgh... like with this awesome RecycleBot...
One of the best pieces of art I saw all day was on a construction screen for a new taco restaurant that's going in downtown. Absolutely beautiful...
Oooh... Chaka Khan is in town next week for Pride!
And now? Time to get excited for the Bucs!
As usual, Pittsburgh closes down the Roberto Clemente Bridge so people can park downtown and walk across to PNC Park for the game...
There are statues of famous Pirates from days past scattered around the ballpark. Here's Becky posing with Willie Stargell's...
The weather wasn't as glorious as it was for Saturday's game, but it's a night game and it didn't rain, so we couldn't complain...
I, of course, had to have my $5 Cracker Jack. Which somehow tastes better than it does when you buy them for 99¢ at the supermarket...
The Pirates have a lot of activities scattered between innings. The first major non-baseball event is a giant bird shooting hot dogs out of a gun into the crowd...
Which is almost as entertaining as Andrew McCutchen hitting a home run. Which happened just seconds after this photo was taken...
The next non-baseball event of note is the Pierogi Race... where people run around the outfield dressed as giant pierogis...
While nothing compares to how beautiful PNC Park is in daylight hours... I have to admit it's a great-looking ballpark at night too...
After the Pirates beat the Cubs 6-2, we headed back over the Roberto Clemente Bridge and downtown... where I saw that I missed a piece of the fantastic taco shop construction stand. Around the corner is Holy Mary, Mother of Taco!
And that was that. So sad to be leaving Pittsburgh so soon... but oh so happy that I had such a fantastic visit!
Posted on Tuesday, June 10th, 2014
As usual, my flight home from Pittsburgh was insanely early. The up-side being that between my ass-crack-of-dawn flight and the time change from Eastern to Pacific, I arrived back in Seattle at noon. The plan was to see a movie... maybe have dinner with a friend... possibly exchange the power adapter for my laptop... all the little things I never seem to have time for anymore.
But nooooooo... I grabbed a quick lunch, checked into my hotel, then called it a day.
Or so I thought.
Since every hotel in Seattle I could afford was full-up, I had to stay far south of the city in a remote hotel that's not very accommodating to the business traveler. Or any traveler, really. My room smelled like a combination of vomit, mold, and burning hair. I thought that was about as bad as it could get... until I found out there was no WiFi. All internet access is via ethernet cable.
Except modern computers, like my MacBook Pro, don't have an ethernet port.
Which meant I had to drive to the Apple Store so I could purchase a $30 ethernet-to-thunderbolt adapter... AND some ethernet cable with an RJ45 coupler so I could extend the cable to the bed so I could at least work comfortably.
Dinner was at Subway, because apparently I hate myself.
But don't go being finished feeling sorry for me yet...
When you exit the bathroom in my hotel room, you turn right to head back to your bed. If you walk straight ahead, you end up in the closet. Which happens to be behind by a giant door that's entirely covered by a mirror. In the daylight, this is not a big deal. But in the middle night when the room is dark and you're half asleep... some kind of optical illusion happens where you can't tell it's a mirror. Which meant I ended up walking into the thing not once... but twice! The first time I hit with the side of my face. Lesson not learned, the second time my nose smashed flat into it. I hit so hard that I thought for sure I broke it, but apparently my nose will live to smell another day.
Which is in two hours.
What are the odds I can get a little sleep before my alarm goes off?
Posted on Wednesday, June 11th, 2014
Since I didn't get around to seeing a movie yesterday, I made sure that tonight was the night. My intent was to see Million Dollar Arm since everybody I know that's seen it says it's a must-see movie. Unfortunately, it wasn't playing at the SouthCenter AMC, so I ended up seeing another movie that was on my radar... Edge of Tomorrow, starring Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt.
In the near-future, Earth has been invaded by hordes of vicious aliens who slaughter humans at a horrific pace... eventually taking over most of Europe. They seem unstoppable, but a glimmer of hope arrives when a new battle suit technology emerges that allows a woman named Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt) to almost single-handedly win a victory at the new "Battle of Verdun." Confident that an army of humans in battle suits can win the war, Earth's allied commander General Brigham decides to send Major William Cage (Tom Cruise) to record the battle for a propaganda campaign to get more people to enlist in the military. This horrifies Cage, a former ad exec who has absolutely no combat experience. In a last-ditch effort to avoid going into battle, he attempts to bribe the General.
This does not go over very well.
Cage is arrested, branded a coward and a deserter, busted down from a Major to a Private, then sent to the front lines of the war, where things are definitely not going as planned. In his first battle he is killed within five minutes.
But then, just like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, he wakes up to start the day all over again.
Eventually he gets pretty good at being a soldier, and all humanity might just have a chance...
The movie is highly entertaining with terrific performances and some unexpected humor. The visual effects are incredible, and almost worth the price of admission alone.
But, alas, the story itself makes little sense. There is no internal logic at all. You never fully understand how the characters know what they know about the aliens or how they work. The mechanics of how time resets is equally inexplicable. It's as if the filmmakers are saying "Well, it's aliens..." as a catch-all excuse to explain away every senseless plot device. As a sci-fi geek, I was hoping for something... more.
That being said, Edge of Tomorrow is still a really good movie experience and well worth your valuable time if you're into this kind of thing.
Just be sure to turn off your brain when you enter the theater so you don't think too hard about what you're seeing.
Posted on Thursday, June 12th, 2014
It's Throwback Thursday!
Ah to be young and carefree again.
Posted on Friday, June 13th, 2014
Today I had the great joy of calling a customer service line for assistance with a product I purchased.
Of course I'm lying... because having to endure "customer service" today is far from a joy. With rare exception, I hardly ever have a satisfactory experience. Most every time I call or write, it's as if they don't listen to a word I'm saying. Maybe they're overworked. Maybe they just don't care. But whatever the reason, I might as well be talking to a brick wall...
It's days like today that I wonder why companies even bother with customer service in the first place.
Posted on Saturday, June 14th, 2014
I haven't been to a Mariners game in six years.
Would have been great if the Mariners had won.
Posted on Sunday, June 15th, 2014
Hope your dad wanted a half-dozen bullets for Father's Day... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Fathers. And, speaking of Father's Day... happiest of holidays to all the dads out there... especially mine!
Wow! I look so young in that photo!
• Radio. Growing up in the 70's and 80's the voice of music was Casey Kasem. He was also the voice of our cartoons, as he was Shaggy in Scooby Doo and the voice of Robin in Super Friends! I was sad to hear that Mr. Kasem passed away today...
"Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars..."
• Feline. Three marines saved some kittens in Afghanistan, bringing us one of the best things I've read all week...
The story is worth a look over at Love Meow.
• Halloween. In what looks to be the best thing to happen to Halloween since Tim Burton's A Nightmare Before Christmas, here comes Guillermo del Toro's The Book of Life...
Absolutely beautiful. I can't wait.
• Dreams. Kevin Costner and other cast members assembled in Iowa at the Field of Dreams movie site to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the film. Needless to say, I am pretty crushed that I didn't get to go...
Photo copyrighted by the Associated Press
Yep, still my favorite movie of all time.
• Bat-Cave. My second choice for a place to watch Field of Dreams? THE ULTIMATE BAT-CAVE THEATER, OF COURSE!
Photo courtesy of Elite Home Theater Seating
When a friend sent this link to me, I poured over the photos for a long time. The detail and thoughtfulness that went into planning this room is amazing. It feels very authentic to the style of the Christopher Nolan trilogy of films, though I can't fathom the $2.5 million is will cost to implement. If only I had too much money to know what to do with it.
Now we return you to your previous Father's Day activities...
Posted on Monday, June 16th, 2014
Posted on Tuesday, June 17th, 2014
Today was sure a good day for videos!
Starting with the international trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy, which is shaping up to be a must-see film. This pleases me, because I was highly skeptical when Marvel announced it was on their development schedule. The comic book has all kinds of weird ties to the "galactic" side of the Marvel Universe, which needs a lot of subtext to be fully understood.
It also features a talking raccoon.
But with each new sneak peek and trailer that gets released, I love the idea a little more.
Especially the talking raccoon...
Can you imagine if we get an Avenger or two in the sequel? Holy crap is Marvel doing absolutely everything right in their film properties.
My love of The Daily Show is well-known. A lot of that has to do with Jon Stewart's genius delivery of the "news" stories he reports. But he's not the only talent on the show. His supporting reporters are all pretty darn good. One of the best was John Oliver before he left to do his own show... Last Week Tonight.
Now he's even better.
He is able to distill complex topics to bits that are as easy to understand as they are funny. His latest story on Fifa is an excellent example...
His take on Net Neutrality, one of the most important topics in this country today, was genius...
The YouTube Channel for Last Week Tonight is well worth a look.
In music news... OK Go has done it again. They've crafted an incredible video for their latest track, The Writing's on the Wall...
What's great about OK Go is not just that they know how to make uniquely great music videos... but that the music they put in those videos is really great too. This song has been stuck in my head from the minute I heard it.
If you've ever wondered what would happen if Trey Parker and Matt Stone's brilliant Broadway musical The Book of Mormon were mashed-up with Trey Parker and Matt Stone's brilliant cartoon South Park... well, wonder no more. Simon Chong has flawlessly animated exactly that...
I'm no fan of musicals... but The Book of Mormon was absolute genius, and this just makes me hope that we eventually get a movie version of the show.
The Brian Williams rap mashups that have been appearing on Jimmy Fallon are amazing because they're so brilliantly crafted. The latest installment for Baby Got Back is no exception...
In case you hadn't seen it, my favorite of all of them is Rapper's Delight...
If you can't get enough, here's a link to more.
And lastly... such a cool rescue catch by Brock Holt of the ever-awesome Boston Red Sox...
How sweet was that?
See? A pretty good day for videos!
Posted on Wednesday, June 18th, 2014
"It's not like anybody is blogging any more."
"I still blog every day."
"Good lord, why?"
Posted on Thursday, June 19th, 2014
When marriage equality was put on the ballot here in Washington State, there was much hand-wringing and doom and gloom speak against it. Then it passed. And, for a while, the doom and gloom escalated to a fever pitch. Those who opposed marriage equality forecast utter ruin for Washington, saying that God would punish us for defying His definition of marriage.
And so I braced myself for plagues of locusts, fire raining from the sky, cats and dogs sleeping together, and Seattle sliding into the ocean while the Columbia River dried up... but it never happened.
That was back in 2012.
Now I sit waiting for the nut-jobs to climb out of the woodwork every time a natural disaster happens so they can say "SEE! I TOLD YOU SO!" Which, of course, they do. It seemed that every story on the internet about the recent tragedy at Oso had at least one comment blaming the mudslide on Washington spitting in the face of God by passing marriage equality.
Why God waited so long to show His displeasure is never explained. I mean, if marriage equality becoming law was so offensive to The Almighty, you'd think He would have acted immediately... sending a massive earthquake to rip our state apart (or whatever). But He didn't. Despite being omnipotent, I guess God likes to think these things over and dole out punishment little bits at a time?
And it never works the other way, does it? Thomas Peters spent every waking moment railing against marriage equality... until he had to take a break because of a horrific swimming accident that left him paralyzed. But was this considered God's punishment for Peters' bigotry and homophobia? No. No it was not. That Peters signed up for Obamacare when his National Organization for Marriage employers (assumably) dumped him off their insurance was not seen as ironic either... despite him railing against The Affordable Care Act as well.
Hypocrisy: It's what's for dinner.
Actually, with these people, it's for breakfast and lunch too.
Today the National Organization for Marriage took the money they saved by canceling Thomas Peter's insurance... along with a shit-ton of money from supporters who inexplicably donate despite NOM's non-stop parade of failures... so they could organize their "March for Marriage." An event to condemn marriage equality which was headlined by such luminous visionaries as Mike "The End is Nigh" Huckabee, Rick "Piece of Shit" Santorum, and Brian "We Must Continue the Fight so I Get Rich" Brown.
Chalk up another pathetic embarrassment for NOM...
Look, it's over.
Marriage equality is becoming a reality in more and more states. The momentum is undeniable. People are coming to realize that adding marriage for same-sex couples doesn't in any way affect "traditional marriage," so they want their gay friends, co-workers, and family to have the same rights they do. And as the homophobic bigots continue to die out faster than new ones are created, the pool of people willing to deny rights to gay couples is rapidly diminishing.
So rather than spending money in a losing battle on the wrong side of history supporting hate, it would be nice if organizations like NOM would put it to better use. Like spending it to feed the hungry and heal the sick. Since most of their money has religious ties, I'm guessing that's what Jesus would want anyway.
Oh... no... according to The Bible, that's exactly what he would want!
Funny how things all work out in the end.
Posted on Friday, June 20th, 2014
Today I was hungry enough to take a late lunch and decided to walk over to the local barbecue restaurant. Not the best option for a vegetarian, but I really like their tater salad and ribbon fries. As I was crossing the street to get there, I noticed a heavy-duty pickup truck from a local tire company was approaching and not stopping. After having been run down by inattentive drivers on more than one occasion I’m overly-cautious playing pedestrian, and stopped half-way across the street. At the last second, the driver saw me and slammed on the brakes. Hard. This caused all the equipment… and a couple of tires... in the truck bed to go flying forward, smashing into the cab. The sound was horrific. A lot of metal-on-metal action. I'm thinking some stuff had to end up broken... possibly including the rear window of the cab.
I spent all of my lunch feeling bad about what happened, even though it wasn't my fault. Heck, had I not stopped, I could have very well been run down in the street (again). I don't know if the guy was talking on his mobile... texting... daydreaming... or what, but he clearly needed to be paying more attention. I was in the middle of the street for heaven's sake. And I am still trying to figure out how he didn't see me until the last second. Perhaps I have an unknown cloaking device like Predator, and that's why drivers don't see me. Scary.
Lunch was good though...
And I managed to get back to work without dying, so I'm calling today a win.
Posted on Saturday, June 21st, 2014
"Don't grow old, Pyotr, nothing but pain and disappointment wait for you there."
"I will try, grandfather! Truly I will."
"I promise, grandfather!"
"Good!" said grandfather with a cackle that quickly collapsed into a fit of dry, hacking coughs.
Seven hundred and forty-six years later "Peter," as he was now known, thought back on his promise and cursed his grandfather roundly. Turns out it's not growing old that leads to pain and disappointment, it's existing.
Though, to be honest, that may have been seven hundred and forty-six years trapped in the body of a six-year-old boy talking.
Posted on Sunday, June 22nd, 2014
It must be Sunday... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Paws. It won't be easy to watch... but if you care about our furry feline friends, you'll want to see The Paws Project, now available to stream on Netflix. It documents the horrifying effect of declawing cats, which is far worse than taking off a nail on a human. It's more like taking off the finger-tips down to the first knuckle on a human...
Declawing is just awful. And yet there are still veterinary hospitals that promote it because it's profitable... even though there are far more humane alternatives. Hopefully this barbaric practice will be outlawed nation-wide if enough people start speaking up about it.
• Pledge. I have no idea where this photo comes from. But it's genius, and every time I run across it I love it even more. Because: 'MURICA!
I've finally decided to blog it so I can look it up easily every time I need a laugh.
• Silence! As if this video wasn't already freaky as hell with the sound...
Of course, anything featuring Jagger and Bowie is bound to be freaky as hell.
• Kare! As a huge, huge, mega-huge fan of Susan Kare's work, I was thrilled when Foodiddy sent me this link...
I wish she would have had time to go a bit deeper into her creative process, but this is a must-watch video for anybody interested in graphic design.
• Cozy My Ass. Of all the "Hitler Dubs" floating around out there, THIS is by far my favorite: Hitler tries to rent an apartment in San Francisco...
• Perry! I've grown so accustomed to Texas Governor Rick Perry being a raging douche that the insane shit he says doesn't phase me any more. Comparing homosexuality to alcoholism... while repugnant, ignorant an fucking stupid... is a relatively mild offense for him. I'd argue his pathetic attempt to write that off as a mistake after doubling down on it is even more ridiculous. Regardless, Funny or Die has a brilliant commentary on this particular bit of Rick Perry idiocy...
Can you believe the piece of shit is probably going to run for president again in 2016?
And... that clicking sound you here is me out of bullets in my blog-based six-shooter. Until next week...
Posted on Monday, June 23rd, 2014
ZOMFG! IT'S TACO NIGHT!
And here's my recipe...
You. Are. Welcome.
Posted on Tuesday, June 24th, 2014
There comes a point when you just can't function any longer.
I worked last night until 1:00am... woke up at 4:30am to work some more... took a quick nap from 7:30-8:00am... got cleaned up and went to work at 9:00am... came back home to work at 5:30pm... now it's 9:30pm and I've hit a wall. My brain just won't work any more.
Which is unfortunate, because I'm not even half-way through all the things I really needed to get done.
I either need to clone myself or seek a medically-induced coma.
The good news is that I had grape Kool-Aid and a cheese sandwich for dinner. I had been dreaming about them all day long. And now... it's just five hours until 4:30am rolls around again. It would be nice if I could sleep for most of that but, well, you know...
Luckily, I don't require my brain to blog.
Posted on Wednesday, June 25th, 2014
For me, EVERY DAY is National Chocolate Pudding Day.
But today is the actual day DAY, so now everybody else gets to celebrate by eating the earth's most perfect food!
I've been a fan for a very long time...
You would think that stores would have chocolate pudding on sale today so I could stock up but, alas, no.
I will not let that diminish my holiday, however.
Posted on Thursday, June 26th, 2014
It's Throwback Thursday!
Ah to be young and demonic again.
Posted on Friday, June 27th, 2014
So Apple has stopped development on Aperture, their professional-grade photography organizer and editor.
As somebody who has invested an incredible amount of time and money in Aperture, I am understandably pissed off. But not the least bit surprised.
This is par for the course with Apple and their professional software. They build something incredible, eventually lose interest, then either dump it... or downgrade it to the point that so-called "professionals" are left behind. I've been through the whole thing before with Final Cut Pro and DVD Studio Pro.
You'd think I'd have learned my lesson by now, but nope!
I've stuck by Aperture despite the fact that Apple hasn't released a significant update in four years. I've stuck by Aperture despite the fact that Adobe's competitor, Lightroom, has been getting continuous upgrades and improvements all that time. I've stuck by Aperture despite the fact that Apple has such a profoundly shitty track record with the "Pro" apps.
No, I have no idea why.
I also have no idea what, exactly, Apple is thinking by discontinuing their Pro photography app (Aperture) and their Consumer photography app (iPhoto) in favor of something new (Photos). I'm guessing their new baby is going to land somewhere in-between, in which case it's going to be too much bloat for the consumer and too little capability for professionals.
So what's the play here?
What's Apple up to?
Where's the hook?
Well... the hook is that Photos will be iCloud-based and able in integrate with Photos running on iPhones and iPads. All your photos are syncing all the time. As are your edits. If that weren't enough, apparently Photos will be smart enough to catalog proxies based on your device's capacity. The bulk of the data is kept on iCloud... including RAW originals... and the pricing looks excellent.
That's quite a hook.
Assuming it works. And when it comes to iCloud, you can never really tell.
The full feature list of Photos isn't going to be known for a while yet. Will it be "professional" enough to be a worthy successor to Aperture? Who the hell knows?
So, in the meanwhile, I'll just carry on being pissed at Apple.
I'm starting to get used to it.
Posted on Saturday, June 28th, 2014
Last night I thought of an episode of The West Wing while watching the news and thought I'd watch it. Television rarely gets that good any more, and it would make nice background noise while I worked.
From where I'm sitting on the couch, my complete collection of The West Wing on DVD is about 10-feet away. But the idea of getting up, taking the season set off the shelf, finding the DVD, walking to the DVD player, turning on the DVD player, putting in the DVD, going through the menus, then pushing play... all of it seemed entirely too much effort.
So I turned on Apple TV clicked a few buttons and found The West Wing on Netflix.
After I was done with the episode I wanted to watch (The Stackhouse Fillibuster), I decided to start watching the entire series all over again from the beginning, because that's just what happens when you try to watch one episode of The West Wing. Never mind that I've seen the entire series at least three times, there's nothing better on TV.
And, because Aaron Sorkin television is more addictive than crack (or so I'm guessing), I'm sure The West Wing will be followed by yet another viewing of Sports Night and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.
Because there's nothing better on TV.
Which is something I've been saying a lot over the last couple years.
Posted on Sunday, June 29th, 2014
Put on your Sunday's finest... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Home. I am fascinated by the trend of "micro-living"... otherwise known as really, really small houses. Over the past couple years I keep seeing more and more stories of people giving up on larger homes, simplifying their lives, and moving into tiny places that are perfectly livable thanks to amazing design choices. It's all very zen, and appeals to my desire for living a less complicated life. Now it looks like apartment living has gone micro too, and an article on "The Karl" shows that micro-apartment complexes have some terrific advantages over micro-houses... like communal rooms on the top floor with space that can be used for socializing... something that's tough to do in a micro-home. I have to say, I sure like the floor plan...
Small. Yes. But it's got everything you need, really. I mean, you're not going to raise a family in there, but for a single individual or a couple just starting out, it's perfectly livable. If you're in the city, most of your time will be spent at work and out with friends... all you really need is a place to sleep, poop, change clothes, and eat a meal every once in a while. I don't know that I would want to go quite this small... but the idea of it all intrigues me.
• Onziem. John Oliver has very quickly become an essential voice on world affairs, and it's shocking to see just how easily he is able to take a serious look at complicated issues while adding a comedic slant that in no way diminishes the gravity of the issue. Tonight Oliver had a fascinating take on the horrific level of hate that has been exported to Uganda by US assholes (USholes?)... PLUS an interview with the amazing Pepe Julian Onziema.
This is essential viewing material...
Be sure you watch Part 2 of the interview.
• Fraud. And speaking of John Oliver...
Turns out that "Dr. Oz" actually is the fraudulent piece of shit everybody thought he was all along...
Shocker. I still don't understand why people listen to raging douchebags like this asshole in the first place. Wasn't his motivation for crap like this totally obvious from the start?
• Amy. As if I didn't already have enough reasons to love Amy Adams... here's another one. I've been able to swap my seat a couple times when I've spotted a soldier flying alone, and it's about the best feeling you can have. The first time I gave up my seat it was to a young kid flying back for deployment after a visiting his wife and young daughter (which I leaned from overhearing a conversation he was having with a man next to him). After getting his name off his uniform, I went to the ticket desk and had the gate agent make the swap. I thought it was an anonymous deal, but he wanted to thank me so he waited in First Class after we landed where a flight attendant pointed me out. It was such a little thing for me... but it meant the world to a soldier who was headed back to a job nobody wants to do but, for whatever reason, risks his life to accomplish.
• Falafel. The grocery store here in my little corner of Redneckistan is now selling falafel mix... something I've attempted to purchase locally for years...
Given its Middle East origins, I am sure this will be taken as a sign that sharia law will be enacted any minute now. Oh well... I no longer have to buy falafel via mail order or when I'm in Seattle, so I'll take it.
• LEELOO DALLAS MULTIPASS! I love The Fifth Element. Seriously one of my favorite films of all time. And I loved Gary Oldman in the film, where he played the villainous Zorg brilliantly for all his oddities...
Which is why I was truly hurt when Gary Oldman decided to trash the film in a controversial interview he had in Playboy. Fuck you, Gary Oldman... The Fifth Element was one of the most interesting roles you've ever played!
Enjoy what's left of your weekend, everybody.
Posted on Monday, June 30th, 2014
I'm a big fan of the television show Community.
When NBC decided to cancel the show after its fifth season, I was understandably upset.
YAHOO! TO THE RESCUE! — Thanks, Yahoo!
In other entertainment news, a trailer for The Skeleton Twins was released today. It looks pretty great. If nothing else, the soundtrack sounds terrific...
Secret by OMD!
Holy crap does than bring back memories...
I miss the 80's.