Category Archives: GeekStuff


Rush’s 40th Anniversary Tour at KeyArena

IMG_7013

It’s not often that I put this much media in a blog post, so call this a special occasion. You see, it’s not every day you get to see Rush live. In fact, it’s been almost 20 years since I last saw them in concert. I always knew they couldn’t tour forever. I always said that I had to somehow get into the front row for one of their concerts. When I heard that this might be The Last Tour of this size for the Canadian Trio, I grabbed a fist full of cash and ran to Ticketmaster.

I stood in front of Geddy from the second row for the entire show. And it was worth every. Single. Fuckin’. Penny.

My only regret has been not going to see them in Portland two nights later but I have no way to get these kinds of tickets again.

Videos – and there are 33 of them! – are on YouTube and unlisted, so you’ll only find them from here.

You still here? Thanks! It gives me a chance to put a bow on this geekout I’m having, a full 24 hours after the show.

You see, the very first time I heard about Rush, it was from my mother. She was teaching at a middle school in 1980 and a group of “burn outs” walked by. My mother took me aside and said, “Don’t you be like those boys!” and pointed to a couple of the long haired boys that were wearing a jean jacket that had a red star in a circle and a naked man, painted on the back of it.

Moth, meet flame.

During high school a couple of friends and I started listening to the 70’s incarnation of Rush, with our interest stopping with Signals. In fact, I recall lamenting that “Spew Your Fire” was a waste of their talents. Of course, it was a poster from the Grace Under Pressure tour that educated me on the fact that there are just three guys in the band. And have only been three guys in the band. Oh and that guitar riff I love so much in YYZ? That’s from the bass player.

I don’t think I’ve ever recovered.

Sometime during high school, I moved up on from the heavier and artsy rock and moved into the 80’s version of the band, realizing that every four albums there’s a live one which somehow magically reboots the band. And now – as poor Geddy can likely attest to after standing in front of him for 3 hours – the entire catalog is forever percolating in my brain with pretty accurate recall of every fill, lyric, and standing out riff or bass slap. After college, I stuck with them through the re-mastering of the catalog and new discs as they came out.

I saw them for Presto, twice for Roll the Bones, twice for Counterparts, once for Test For Echo; two of those tours were kicked off in Connecticut so I saw them in the raw and again when they had tightened the show up. As I got older old I found that optical discs and streaming HD got me closer to the band compared to when I actually went to a show…

Until this show.

Boys, if you never tour again, enjoy the retirement and thanks for the memories.

GoPro: A Mini Review

I make no claims to understand a lot about photography. One the only things I’m certain of is that a good photographer can capture an awesome picture regardless of what technology they use and you can spend thousands of dollars on camera equipment and still take shitty pictures.

I had heard of GoPro before and said “Wow, that’s a pricy camera I don’t need.” I’m as removed from an athlete as I can be; the most extreme sport I participate in involves bacon and lunch. Neat device, but I said eh and moved on. Then one day I was at the park with Jolene and Kyle and I saw a 7 year old run by with a GoPro attached to his chest, with a harness. My head exploded. I thought this was the most amazing thing evar. Think about it: you put one of these things on your kid and you can show your kid what the world looked like when he was young. Three days later I had the required hardware in hand; almost three weeks later before I finally tried to set it up and was some time after that before we used it on Kyle…

Basically, about a week before the kid turned two, we put a GoPro on his chest and send him down Main Street at Disneyland.
Continue reading GoPro: A Mini Review

Console > PC

Fans of PC gaming chide me from time to time about why I game on a console (or hand held) rather than a PC…

Recently I saw that Rocksmith 2014 was on sale at newegg.com as a download. Since Jolene gave me the 360 version which came with a cable (and a new guitar!) I thought it would be neat to have the ability to move around the house with a laptop and play.

Some sales are more trouble than they’re worth but it’s good to have a modern reminder why consoles are simply better at all the things.
Continue reading Console > PC

Apple: Workaround to get video titles on iOS7 devices

Have videos that you want on iOS7? If you don’t have boxart for every video you own – and I for one always make box art of the videos I take of my son – then you are going to be pissed at iOS7: they stopped putting text labels on videos in the video player. It’s funny too because I noticed this happen back in 2010 with iOS4, when TV Shows stopped showing titles, but it’s only with iOS7 that it started causing problems for a lot more people. At least there’s a workaround.

In iTunes, if you want a video to show up with it’s text title on your device, select the video file in question, then right click and select Get Info. Select the Options tab and change the Media Type to Home Movie. Now sync your device. In the on-device Video app, you’ll see that there’s a new group called Home Video: in there you’ll have a list of your videos with *gasp* names under them!

Sad that there needs to be a workaround for this bug. And I’m calling it a bug. There’s no reason at all why the code can’t check for box art and make a decision based on whether or not it’s there. iTunes downloaded content wouldn’t suffer from this issue if they didn’t shove a piece of box art into the file: they don’t show you a thumbnail from a film and make you guess what video it is… Amazon does something similar with Kindle, but at least they show you a default bit of cover art with the name of the file when you copy over personal documents. This is like “if you didn’t get it from iTunes, that’s your problem.” The code should be checking for box art and if it doesn’t have a file, it should be displaying the name from the metadata, plain and simple.

Praised be the workaround.

:X

Sorry folks – that is if there’s anyone still out there :) – but I’ve turned off comments for now.

After many, many days of my not posting, feature requests for products that have been turned loose on CodePlex, and getting at least 5-10 pieces of comment spam [getting through the filters] a day… well, if you have something to say, shoot me an email.

I’ll likely turn them back on someday… just not this day.

Dave Winer: Never The Same Ass Twice

Gizmodo on the closure of Google Reader: I won’t miss it. Never used the damn thing. Didn’t trust the idea of a big company like Google’s interests being so aligned with mine that I could trust them to get all my news. And besides, I didn’t think the mailbox approach to news was right. Who cares how many unread items there are. I like the river of news approach and I have a very fine set of rivers that keep me well supplied with news and podcasts. …Next time, please pay a fair price for the services you depend on. Those have a better chance of surviving the bubbles.

Nice quote, you jack ass. You completely miss the fact that Google Reader was more than a reader: it was the RSS backbone for a number of products and projects… maybe if you co-built RSS a little better – and remember, you didn’t do it alone so you can shove that “creator” title out the window – then we wouldn’t need a sync engine and clients could inherently know how many things are unread. Unlike you and your “endless river of news” some of us work for a living and don’t have the time to twittle OPML files or jump between rivers.

As to “please pay a fair price” how exactly should we do that for Google Reader when Google didn’t offer a paid for option? I paid for FeedDemon years ago and now – with Google Reader closing – I will lose some of the key functionality that made the app great. I paid for the app because of the feature and now you’re going to tell me that I should pay for services? Or are you still saying that we should have paid you for defining an XML schema?

You, sir, continue to be a waste of bandwidth and close to a waste of oxygen.

AGILE2012: Guess Who’s Speaking?

Come see James Waletzky and I give a talk about Agile with the an experience report called “Slow Down to Go Fast: Lessons Learned Shipping Bing Voice Search on Xbox” .

For more information on the conference go to the Agile Alliance’s Agile2012 website: http://agile2012.agilealliance.org/

For a synopsis on the talk, keep reading…
Continue reading AGILE2012: Guess Who’s Speaking?

Dollar Shave Club

Earlier this month I saw an ad campaign go viral across Facebook: a guy claiming that they could best Gillette in terms of razors. Something Schick has been trying to do for years and continuously coming up short… Bic? Does Bic still make razors? Anyway, I LOL’d: Gillette has been at the top of the food chain for years and for someone to bump the king off the throne… would take more than Ned Stark.

I’ve been using Gillette “advanced” razors from around 1990. I don’t remember what I used before the original Gillette Sensor but I’ve been with them through the Sensor straight through to the Power Fusion ProGlide line… I have not looked into the 3-in-1 styler because… well, that just looks too big or silly, but the rest of it I’ve been using for years. Decades, even.

Now I’m a member of the Dollar Shave Club – what the hell happened?
Continue reading Dollar Shave Club

Uh… What?

Petition: No Netflix Parties, No Way.

Target: Petition for Microsoft to bring back Netflix Parties.

Sponsored by: The Community.

On December 6th, 2011, Microsoft updated its dashboard to the metro style look. With this update came a new and “improved” Netflix app. For us Xbox Love members paying $65 a year for Xbox Live and ~$100 for Instant Streaming Netflix we deserve the right to watch movies with our friends in a simple and easy way. Sign this petition to convince Microsoft to give us back our original Netflix App’s functionality with Xbox Live Parties. For more information follow @NetflixParties.

Uh… what?
Continue reading Uh… What?

Unsung iOS5 Features

In the interest of recycling bits, some random observations about iOS5… some of which have been a long time coming for the iPhone:

  • Ringtones are now supported for alerts: you can finally use your own m4r files for reminder tones
  • Syncing over Wifi: great to have, but slower than the cable. Also of note: turn off the “start iTunes when you connect a device” option if you don’t want iTunes to pop up on your desktop just because your iPhone is charging
  • Emoji enabled: I’m not sure if this is available without the old hack, but it’s still in my available keyboards, so it might be… either way, good to still see it supported
  • Quick camera: even with my lock screen requirements due to my IT department, I find it great that I can double-click the home button and have access to the camera without having to unlock the thing
  • You can now manually refresh the calendar! At least I think you can… while looking at your calendar, hit the Calendars button on the upper left and you’ll be shown a list of available calendars. In the lower left, there’s a refresh icon, that seems to refresh the data of all the calendars. If you only have one calendar installed, I don’t know if this is available… maybe the “Calendar” button becomes “Refresh”.

And in the still needs improvement area – maybe for iOS6:

  • Shuffle by Album: still missing since the release of the iPhone
  • Video App: I still don’t understand why (or how) to turn on Series names in the TV Show section of the video application

More as it is discovered.

And Now It’s Time for an Apple PSA

Yes, I’m alive. Long story short: I’ve been too busy at work to be pissed off by anything that I couldn’t unload on Facebook… Go figure.

That aside, I thought I’d offer a small Public Service Announcement around the release of iPhone 4S: if you have a Bumper from your AT&T iPhone 4, go buy a new one.

Go on – I’ll wait until you’re back from the Apple Store before explaining why.
Continue reading And Now It’s Time for an Apple PSA