Archive for August, 2007

Classic Movies in the Square

August 29th, 2007, 9:47pm by Kelvin

A few weeks ago, they held a film festival where every night, they showed a classic movie in the Union Square park. Among the movies they showed were Casablanca, The Princess Bride, and Napoleon Dynamite.

Ridin’ in Style

August 24th, 2007, 6:12pm by Mike


If you ever get the chance to fly Midwest Airlines, do it! We’re on our way from Boston to Madison, Wisconsin for our friend Tracey’s wedding. On the flight to Milwaukee, they baked chocolate chip cookies on the plane! Then, when we got to Milwaukee, our flight was oversold — so we volunteered our seats, got free tickets anywhere Midwest flies (more cookies!), and now we’re riding in a private limo to Madison! And we’ll get there at about the same time!

Homework

August 24th, 2007, 3:25pm by Jake


Homework

I’ll be doing some draft homework and reviewing Kelvin’s dilemna on my
flight- he’s a huge Chiefs fan and has the #2 pick in our draft.

AppleTV Part 1: First Impressions

August 22nd, 2007, 10:11pm by Mike


We did it. Last weekend, I walked into the Apple Store empty handed, and walked out with a 40 GB AppleTV. This was the result of quite a bit of research, and so far, it’s working great. I started writing a long, geeky post about how I have it all set up, which I’ll post soon, but I wanted to first give some initial impressions.
It’s great!
So as you’ll recall from my recent post, my goal is to cancel our digital cable, but still be able to watch some of the cable-only shows we like. The basic plan was to drop to basic (very basic, as in network-only) cable, and get the Tivo working again for network shows. Then join Netflix for movies and TV series, and use BitTorrent and iTunes to fill in the gaps. Net savings of about $40-50 per month before any iTunes purchases. We have a DVD player, but the only way to get iTunes or BitTorrent content to the TV was to hook up a computer through the TV’s VGA port. Workable as a short-term solution, but not a long-term one.
AppleTV solves this last-10-feet problem. It’s a small box that’s not at all obtrusive, makes no noise at all (much quieter than Tivo), has a slick interface, and was designed to be used with a widescreen TV. The interface looks really good. In combination with my home computer (the one serving this page, an 867 MHz Powerbook G4), we can either sync or stream our entire music library, look at our photos, and download video using either iTunes or BitTorrent. For filetypes not natively supported by the AppleTV, we can transcode them on the computer, throw them into iTunes, and they get synced automatically. Much of this process is automated, with off the shelf software. iTunes is easier and much faster than converting filetypes, and it costs around $2 per TV episode — but with the money we’re saving from cable, that’s not a bad price. For example, Top Chef can be had for $29 for a season — 14 episodes, I think, which are broadcast over a 3-month period. $10 per month is better than the $70 per month we pay now to see Top Chef and a bunch of bad programs. Or, it’s free on BitTorrent, and only slightly less convenient.
I’ll have to talk down the road about video podcasts and YouTube, both of which are kind of fun.
In addition, the AppleTV fits really well into our New Media World Order. I can watch trailers of about 30 new movies, streamed directly from Apple’s QuickTime movie trailer site (and they look MUCH better on the AppleTV than on my computer). If I see one I like, into the Netflix queue it goes! One of these days it’ll float to the top, hopefully. Also, in combination with BitTorrent, I can watch TV shows I haven’t been able to see before, even on cable, like Match Of The Day.
The only downside so far: the Apple Remote. It’s OK, perfectly functional, but I diverge from Apple a little on the whole economy of buttons issue. I think the remote would work better with more buttons. I also wish that it could be programmed to, say, change the TV volume. As it stands now, I still need 2 remotes to control the home entertainment beast. Not the worst thing in the world.
All in all, a couple days in, I couldn’t be happier.
Click on the photo for a larger version

Photo blog test

August 20th, 2007, 1:57am by Derrick


Photo blog test

Thought I’d test out my new found photoblogging capabilities with this shot of the Apple Store from my New York trip last week. From what I can tell, you guys seem to like posting pictures of Apple stores so I thought this would fit right in…

New churros at Cinnabon

August 15th, 2007, 11:14pm by Kelvin

OK, they are not as good a value as the ones at Costco, but the new churros at Cinnabon are awesome. Good for them; they were starting to look like one-hit wonders 🙂

Sunday Ticket Mobile?

August 15th, 2007, 12:30pm by Kelvin

Seems pretty ironic that they would package this with Superfan, Sunday Ticket’s HDTV offering, but according to this engadget mobile entry, Superfan subscribers will be able to access the full slate of NFL games via the internet, from either a PC or a mobile. Now you can spend all Sunday watcing games on the tube, no matter where you are.
Edit: Per DirecTV’s actual press release, Engadget got it wrong… Games will be streamed live to PCs, but mobile phones only get “in-progress highlights from NFL SUNDAY TICKET games on demand via their mobile phones.”

Lala for online CD-trading

August 15th, 2007, 8:48am by Mike


It’s great to learn that CD/DVD sized items fit in my mailbox. On the same day I signed up for Netflix, I shipped my first CDs through Lala.com.
Lala.com is basically a CD trading service — you list CDs you have (and don’t want) and also CDs you want (but don’t have), and they match up the haves with the have-nots. If somebody requests a CD, the site basically notifies all the people who have it, and the first to respond gets to send it, earning them some sort of credit in the system, such that their requests for CDs they want go higher in the queue. Until this week, I wasn’t fast enough to send any CDs (other CD providers were somehow faster on the draw). But last week I got one, and it triggered the system into action.
Read on for more.

(more…)

Changing our Home Media Options

August 12th, 2007, 2:21pm by Mike

Since our Tivo has been out of commission for the last month or so, we’ve been watching much less TV than normal. And not missing it so much, except for Top Chef. However, the fact that our cable bill still has that pesky $72.48 charge on it for “Comcast Cable Television” is starting to seem like a pretty big waste of money. So we’ve been strategizing, and taken the following actions:

  • Signed up for Netflix. They have a $14/month package that allows 2 DVDs at a time. This allows us each to have our own profile, which means that we have our own queue and recommendations — and when I send a movie back, I get the next in my queue, and Joanie has the same setup. This of course led to about 2 hours of us each rating movies and starting to fill the queue. First up — catching up on the Bourne trilogy so we can go see the Bourne Ultimatum.
  • Downloaded a BitTorrent client. I chose Transmission, based on this post from TUAW last week. I tried my first download with it, and it seemed great. I have no idea how things are supposed to work — I’m sure there’s some way to “subscribe” to torrents (like “if there’s a new Top Chef available, download it for me”), but I don’t know how. Hopefully this will address the Top Chef issue.
  • Looked into cancelling or downgrading our cable service. We discovered that we could drop to basic cable (just the networks, basically, no “digital cable”) for about $9 per month, potentially saving us over $60 per month. Joanie has agreed that for any must-see sports events on TV, I can go to a nearby bar or something if it’s not on the networks. Combined with the BitTorrent thing, and another shot at getting our HD antenna working, this might be plenty. Even without Tivo. Seems to have worked out pretty well for Jake (going totally over-the-air, that is — clearly he still has Tivo).

So — Cancel most of our cable, basic cable for basic news and sports, and maybe OTA HD. Netflix for movies, and many TV series we’ll be missing. BitTorrent to fill in the gaps. Total savings on the order of $50 per month. Outstanding problems — figuring out BitTorrent scheduling, and a better way to view downloaded videos on our TV. What do you think?
I know that lots of people out there have experience in all three of these — any tips? Particularly on the BitTorrent thing.

Hello World

August 10th, 2007, 12:27pm by Kelvin

Just thought i’d brighten your day with my newfound ability to smile :).
Lucas


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