Monday, November 28, 2011

STUFF: Thanksgiving Weekend


Thanksgiving day came and went and I have to say I had a great thanksgiving weekend.  There was lot of great food and there was lots of friends and family time.  I am specially thankful for that last one, my family and friends are just the best out there.

One of the things I found funny is how packed all the stores parking lots were around here when I was coming back from my sisters Thursday night/Friday morning.  I know it happens every year but it just seems like each year it gets crazier.  On black Friday I did stop by Best Buy at around noon after a nice ihop breakfast just to see if there was anything left.  Honestly I was hoping they still had some of those $200 Blackberry playbook tablets.  I had been wanting a 7 inch tablet for a while because sometimes my 10 inch tablet is too big.  But I wasn't totally convinced on the Amazon Kindle Fire.  Don't get me wrong, for $200 it's a nice price, but it's really more for people who aren't familiar with Android OS or iOS.  I already come expecting certain things from a tablet and the fact that this one is only $200 doesn't seem to blind me from the other things that I wish it had no matter how unrealistic my expectations may be.  But a Blackberry Playbook for $200 would have been nice.

Well, surely enough there were no Blackberry Playbooks left,  however, while looking for a playbook, I saw something that caught my attention.  They had a bunch of Asus A100 tablets for $190!  These are 7 inch Android Honeycomb tablets that are in my opinion much better than even a Playbook.  So I was very happy to get a hold of one!  I've been using it probably more than my 10 inch.

Another thing that I got to do this weekend was play the Super Metroid game with my friends Luis, Victor and Elijah.  Now, I'm not saying we played the game on an emulator, noooo, I had purchased a Japanese Super Famicon version of the game (because a Super Nintendo version costs too much in good condition).  So I modified one of my spare Super Nintendo consoles so that it could play the game (really it's just cutting two things), and we played the original game on the original console.  We spent a good chunk of Friday night playing and a bunch of time on Saturday.  In total we finally beat the game in 7 hours.  Of course not in a row, we took breaks.  We took a moment to enjoy some good food at the Tilted Kilt. . . yea. . . the food. .. .

On Sunday I got to enjoy another Thanksgiving dinner at my sisters house, a smaller one this time because we wanted to do something with my brother in law whom was unable to join us on Thursday.  It was just a very good weekend and I just wanted to share some of it with you all.



Tuesday, November 22, 2011

iTunes Music Match & Google Music

So last week I talked to you guys a bit about iTunes Music Match and Google music.  I’ve been testing both services for a few days now and I thought I’d share my overall impressions of both.

iTunes Music Match:

You have a computer with iTunes at home and you have a collection of music there.  You can p ay $25 a year (less than 3 bucks a month) to use iTunes Music Match.  This looks at all your songs and it decides which ones iTunes already  has, if it has them, it doesn’t upload them because it already has them.  If you have any files that it doesn’t have then it uploads them.  This then allows you to go on your iOS device (iphone, itouch, ipad, another mac computer) and download the songs and play them from anywhere as long as you have an internet connection to download. 

Good: Price is actually not bad, it saves you a LOT of time by finding the files you don’t need to download.  If you have a copy of a song that you ripped from a CD but it didn’t quite come out right, it’ll download the iTunes version of that song on your other devices so you’ll have a great sounding song.  If you rate a song in one device that rating travels to all the devices.   Same with playlists.  From my 13,000 song collection it only needed to upload 3,000 songs.

Bad: No streaming, it downloads all the songs you play.  Until you play them they stay in the cloud be once you play a song on your ios device, it’s downloaded.  This makes playing it later better but also takes up room on your device.  I have yet to find an easy way to delete specific songs from the device after they’ve been downloaded.  I also uploaded all my songs from my laptop using my external USB hard drive, once I removed the hard drive, the original laptop can no longer play the songs, but the other devices can still download them from the cloud, I kind of wish I could do the same with the laptop as well.  You can only use it with your iOS devices.

Google Music:

I have all my music in a folder called Music in an external USB hard drive.  I downloaded the Google Upload manager program to help me upload my songs.  I told it to upload everything in that folder.  About 13,000 songs.  From those 13,000 songs it couldn’t upload about 200 because they were protected files, understandable.  However it did have to upload all the other ones.  So I really don’t think Google does do any type of music match.  Maybe it does once uploaded, but certainly not for uploading.  It took about 3 days to upload all 13,000 songs.  However, now that I spent the 3 days uploading I have all my songs in the cloud and I can play them all I want on other computers or other devices. 

Good: It’s free storage for up to 20,000 songs!  It allows me to stream my music or download it so music only takes up space in my device when I decide it will.  The Google Music app is working better than ever as well.  I can log in to the google music web site from any computer and play my music.  You can access the website from iOS devices as well.  It can look at your iTunes library and upload that so even if you are an iTunes fan, you can still take advantage. 

Bad: It doesn’t match your songs, this makes the upload process take a lot longer.  No iOS app. 

Conclusion: I think these are both very good services.  A lot of people do mention the fact that Google Music is free and iTunes Music Match is not.  I honestly don’t think this will be a huge deal for anyone, less than 3 bucks a month won’t kill anyone.  I guess the benefit of either service comes before or after the upload.  With iTunes match your upload is much faster and you can store up to 25,000 songs.  So the $25 just seems worth it that first year after saving all that time, not to mention that you just gained the ability to convert all your songs to good high quality DRM free songs.  With Google Music you took longer to upload them but you no longer have to worry about doing that again and now you can stream like crazy without having to worry about the songs taking up space in your device.  Personally I’m more a fan of being able to download or stream, so I seem to be enjoying Google Music the most so far.   But to be fair, I don’t have that many songs I’ve downloaded from iTunes. 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Movie Review: Immortals


I went to watch Immortals today so I figured I'd let you know what I thought of the movie.  I will start off right away letting you know that it is a rated R movie and even though there is only one short nude scene, there is quite a bit of gore, so you certainly don't want to just take your younger kids to see it.  

I didn't go expecting much from this movie because in the past most movies based on Greek mythology always ends up being very much the same.  However, I'm glad to say that I came out rather glad I went to see it.  I caught the 3D version of the movie and I must say it looked great.  Normally I'm not a big fan of 3D movies and I would have enjoyed this movie probably just as much in 2D, but it was nice at the same time to see that they were not trying to force the 3D to work, as in, I didn't notice them trying to make any special shots in the movie just to show off the 3D.  The 3D was simply there and it looked nice, it wasn't a gimmick.  

I don't know why but looking at some of the sets right away my mind started thinking they were just miniature sized sets and they just added people to it to make it look bigger.   Like I seriously started thinking some of these may as well be made of Lego.  And it's not that they were bad, they weren't, and maybe it was the 3D making it feel like I was just looking at a box with a model in it but that's just what some of it felt like.  With that said, most of the movie looked amazing, it had some really good special effects, the gore at times seemed a little unrealistic but still fun to watch if you are into that.  

Story wise there really isn't a whole lot going on here.  You have this King who at some point had his family sick and he prayed to the gods but they never answered his prayers, so now he wants to release these Titans so that he can kill the gods.  There is also a mortal man who is destined to save the world.  Zeus believes in this man and he himself goes to earth as a mortal to help train the man.  Then there is War and love and all that good stuff.  Actually there wasn't much love going on in this movie, they focused more on action, which was nice.  The thing that really makes you think about the story is, you are a mortal king who has all the money you could want, and have all the women you could want and you have an army that no army on earth could stand a chance against, but you want to release these Titans so that you could try and kill the gods.  However, who decided that these Titans were so loyal that they'd do what you want them to do and not kill you?  Sure, you could argue that the Titans would want to kill the gods anyway, but then they'd still want to go kill you.  

To watch and enjoy the movie you don't really need to know anything about the Greek gods, they hardly mention them, so as long as you understand that these are gods, you'll be fine.  However, knowing some basic mythology sure does make it a lot more interesting.  Hearing familiar names like Zeus, Aphrodite, Athena and Poseidon is always nice.  Towards the end there is quite a fight between the Titans and the gods and if you know the gods then it becomes even more enjoyable.  If you are a fan of Athena for example she does some major ass kicking.  The fact that they don't mention all of these gods by names makes it a bit difficult at times however because you are just wondering which one it is.  For example on this one scene Ares gets disciplined by Zeus, but I didn't learn it to be Ares until later.  

One thing I really didn't enjoy was the casting for some of these gods.  Zeus for example: 

How am I supposed to see that and think "Zeus"?  I think of Zeus and I think older big strong powerful guy, not THIS!

Here is one worse, Ares!!

How am I supposed to see this and think "god of War"???

All joking aside, this was a pretty good movie.  Not a Great movie in any way shape or form, but still very much enjoyable.  It did have some interesting points that can certainly be brought to normal day Religion.  For example, Zeus mentions that he doesn't want to intervene with humans because he has faith in them.  A lot of us are always talking about how we have faith in God but we never think about God having faith in us as well.  

Action on this movie I'd give it a 4 because it's certainly got plenty of that. 
Story I'd give a 2 because there just isn't all that much there. 
Cinematography I'd give another 4 because it does look very good. 

I'm not going to count Drama, Comedy, Romance or anything else like that because this just isn't that type of movie. 

Final Score: 3

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Google Now sells Music!

Ok, been wanting to get back to writing for a while but I just haven't really had anything interesting to talk about.  There are a couple of things that I will want to talk about later but right now I can't really talk about them much.  One is a new camera I bought, a Canon Elph 310, once I use it for a bit longer I'll be able to tell you guys more about it, but so far I'm pretty happy with it.  The other thing is the Super Mario 3D Land game for the 3DS, bought that last week and I've been having a lot of fun with it, but I need to play more before I know if it's a game I'd recommend or not. . . . .ok ok I already know I'll recommend it but darn it I need a reason to play more :)

Google Music

Anyway, today Google announced their Google Music app is available to everyone and they now have a music store.  There are quite a few labels already in the store so finding the music you like shouldn't be too much of a problem.  The big question is, are they too late?

We all know that this is Apple's land.  There are many music stores out there but for a lot of people i-Tunes IS the place to go for music.  On top of that, you already have Amazon who has been in the market for a bit as well and then you have companies like Spotify also competing.  So, why would Google even want to get into this market?  Well, why does Google do anything they do?  They tend to just try things.  They seem to believe that if you never try then you'll never know if you could have done it or not.

Honestly I don't see Google now becoming the place to go for music, I see music services like Spotify becoming more popular than music stores.  But fact of the matter is that a lot of people out there hate Apple, and if they can go buy their music elsewhere they will.  I may not see Google taking over this market, but I can certainly see them becoming a big player.

Prices of songs vary anywhere from 99 cents to 1.50ish.  Just like on Amazon when you buy a song it automatically goes to your cloud drive where you can then listen to it on any of your devices.

Cloud Music

Remember, Google Music started out as a cloud music service where you needed to upload all your music files to them and then you'd be able to stream them to your phone or pick some to download to your phone.  They were allowing you to upload thousands of your songs to the cloud for free as a beta tester.  Well now that it's off beta, the service is still free!

The other good news is that just like Spotify and iTunes Match, if you have a song that Google already owns, it will not need to be uploaded, it will simply let you stream the one they already have, which should be a nice high quality 320kbps song.  That should save a lot of time!

Google Plus Integration

A lot of times we have a Song that we want to share with friends.  Most of us tend to go to youtube and find some video with the song and post that on our social networking sites.  With Google Music you will be able to share your music in Google +.  Your friends will be allowed to listen to the song only once however.  So I'm not really sure how this will work out.  Yea it's nice that you'll be able to easily share your song, but the whole friends only listening to it once thing kind of sucks.  And yes I understand that the music labels wouldn't want to have people sharing music like crazy and have Google + become some sort of Kazaa or Napster, but again that's what people do with videos in Youtube and that seems to be ok.

Google Music is probably not the best music service out there, but it's 100% free, so if anything I'd at least try it :)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Religious Arguments

Ok, normally I make very long posts and Religion is one thing I actually do like to talk about.  So get ready, here I go.

Religious Arguments are Stupid, so quit fighting with people about them.

Ok that's all I have to say about that one.  Ok I'll elaborate a little just to make the click worth it.

I have my beliefs that I feel very strongly about.  You probably have your beliefs that you probably feel very strongly about.  They may not match on everything or anything.  Nothing makes my belief better than yours.  Nothing guarantees me 100% that what I believe is true.  That's why it's called a belief, because you just believe in it.  When God himself shows up to the whole world and makes it very clear that he is God and he tells us things himself, then we can go and call those things facts.

So have your believes, it's great to believe in something, even if your belief is that you don't believe in anything.  But quit trying to force everyone to have the same belief as you.  I'm not saying don't preach and don't have debates.  Debates are fun if both parties can remain civilized.  And when preaching, it would be really helpful to learn the difference between saying "If you do this you'll go to hell" and "It is my belief that if you do this you will go to hell".


Thursday, November 3, 2011

STUFF: Do we think for ourselves?

It's time for another one of my little rants here.  Today I want to talk a bit about how much I dislike the 24 hour news stations that we have now a days.  You know, the people who are constantly telling us what to think about what.  They tell us what is "cool" to think about also.

The Biography of Steve Jobs is now the number 1 selling book.  Now, don't get me wrong, Steve Jobs was certainly an interesting character and all, but do all the people who buy this book really care?  Or are they buying the book because that's what the media has been talking about?  Is Steve Jobs even the person we should be trying to learn more about?  The man cared about his company and making money, that was his whole world.  He worked there till he could no longer work.  Meanwhile you have people like Bill Gates out there who decided to leave his company and start spending Billions of his dollars helping his wife try to solve world problems.  Bringing much needed medicines to poor countries, hospitals, education.  The things that Bill and Melinda are doing for the world are amazing and extremely needed, but no one cares, no, lets focus on the guy who said he'd spend all 40 Billion dollars in Apples arsenal in trying to fix the wrong that Google did to them by "Stealing" their ideas.

Now we also have the Herman Cain thing.  I don't really care if he had to settle a sexual harassment allegation in the 90s.  Hell I wouldn't care if he had to do it last year.  I mean seriously, we all do stupid things at different points of our lives.  If you look deep enough you'll find something bad about anyone.  Also I've seen plenty of people get away with large settlements for things they didn't really have much of a case on but they lied good enough.  Point is, I don't care about this, but I've had to hear about it over and over and over for way too long already.

Then there is the Kardashian thing, I mean, seriously, who cares.  I don't care about her.  I don't care to know if Michael Jackson killed himself or not either.  These are all things that really are not in any way shape or form important to me.

I want to hear more about things that do matter.  Like the stupid things politicians say and do that we hardly hear about.  And I'm not talking about tweeting a picture of their penis to anyone, I don't care what they do in their private time, I'm talking about dumb decisions they make in their jobs.  I want to know about why certain laws pass and why others never make it.  I want to know more about just how much profit companies make from the stuff we buy.

Why is it that lately if you want real news you have to look for bloggers online rather than the big news networks?

Remember people, don't allow the 24 hours news stations tell you what you should be thinking about, reading about, watching.  I don't care what color, religion, class you are or what political views you have, you should always remember to think of something because you want to.


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Amazon Kindle Fire

I've been meaning to talk about this Tablet for a while and I think seeing how it releases on November 15th, it's about time I do it.

Lets start off however with a little bit of History.  As we all know, Apple made the current tablet system we have now popular with it's iPad.  Ever since then all these companies have been trying to make an iPad killer.  Just that tablet that will make people say "I want that instead".  And just like with the cell phone market, these companies have looked towards Google and Android to help them with this vision.

The biggest problem in my opinion is not that these tablets they are making are not good, I have a Motorola Xoom and I love it.  I think the real problem is that they keep wanting to make as much money off them as Apple does.  I feel the main purpose of a tablet is to read emails, browse the web, maybe read some books and play a few movies.  And the iPad does all this just fine.  So when I'm trying to tell people why an Android powered tablet is better for them, it makes it a lot more difficult when the option I'm presenting costs as much as the option the media has been telling them to get.  You can not try to fight Apples marketing department with a product that costs the same.

Now, int he past there have been a lot of Android powered tablets out there that were cheap, brought to us by companies like Archos.  But it's hard for me to recommend such devices because I'm not even sure where to go buy them myself.  Not only that, but I used to have an Archos Internet Tablet and the updates were always so behind where everything else was.  They also tend to get abandoned pretty quickly.

On November 15th however here comes Amazon with the Kindle Fire!

This is a 7 inch tablet.  So it's not the bigger 10" that we are so  used to seeing.  But I've found 7" to be just great for most basic tablet uses.  I actually feel that my 10" gets a bit heavy at times. . . . and now this is starting to sound really bad. . . .

This tablet comes with a very nice screen similar to the one on the iPad, so you'll be able to really enjoy magazines and movies.  It runs Android but it runs a totally modified for Amazon android.  This tablet will not look like any other Android device out there.  You also get free cloud storage in the Amazon cloud, so you can use services like the Amazon MP3 Streaming, or just keep your books in the cloud.  You also get 8GB of actual storage to keep any MP3s you want to keep in the device or books or movies.  You have access to Amazon Prime, which is like Amazon's Netflix service that allows you to stream movies or TV shows.  Lacking a little but for $75 a year it's worth it.  With an Amazon Prime account you also get free 2 day shipping on most items.  Don't forget that Amazon is mostly a bookstore so there will be plenty of books to chose from.

There is also the Amazon App Store for Android.  Since I said this was a VERY customized version of Android, there will be no signs of Google here.  So you will not be seeing an Android Market.  Instead you'll get your apps from the Amazon App Store for Android.  Which has all the apps you could possibly want along with the Daily free paid app.  Basically every day they have a new paid app that they are giving away for free.  If you don't have the amazon app store for android on your regular android device, I'd go ahead and get it, because it's actually kind of fun to see what surprise you'll find when you wake up and check what the free app is.  Sure, most of the time it's crap, but every now and then there will be something pretty awesome. Once you download a free app, it's yours for ever.  So if you delete it, you can still install it again later.

The Kindle Fire also has a dual core processor, so this thing runs pretty fast.  It also has a new kind of browser technology where the Amazon servers do most of the hard work for the browser, allowing web pages to run faster.  Honestly I have no idea how good that is.

So what is so special about this Amazon Kindle Fire that I have to write this post about it?  The Price.  The Amazon Kindle Fire price is $199.  Paying $499 for a table that we'll probably only use for email and some web browsing may be too much for a lot of people.  But at $199, the Kindle Fire does start to look a lot more interesting.

Keep in mind, this is certainly not going to be a tablet for heavy users.  You wont be able to take pictures with it, which no one really does with their tablets anyway, but a front facing VGA camera would have been nice, at least you'd be able to skype with people.  But if you are just looking for a device to check emails, browse the web, look at pictures, listen to music, watch some movies, play some games or read some books with, then this is certainly something to think about.


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Cell Phone Batteries!

In the last couple of weeks I've been seeing more reports about poor battery life on the iPhone 4S.  You'd think that right away I'd like to make fun of Apple for this.  But I really can't, Android phones have the same problem and usually a lot worse.  If anything all I could really do is say "HA! Your phone's battery sucks too!".

Today I was reading a blog about battery life on cell phones and decided I'd like to make my own post about this because I think this is certainly something we should all be demanding.

Apple keeps adding useless stuff to phones and calling them new.  Motorola now is going to be selling the Razr, a very thin phone.  Samsung is working on Flexible displays.  You know what?  I'm pretty happy with phones the way they are now.  We don't really need quad core processors, we don't need our internet to be any faster, we don't need our displays to be any fancier right.  How about, instead of focusing on all these things right now, we take a break from all that and we all work together on making a battery that will be able to handle all of our needs?

I've made posts about how to save battery life on your Android phone.  Keep the screen light low, use less widgets, sync less accounts, bla bla bla.  These are all great things to do in order to get a better battery life, but I shouldn't have to do any of this.  If my phone can handle syncing all my emails then it should do so.  If my phone can handle a bunch of widgets then it should have a bunch of widgets.  My screen should be able to go around at 100% power showing off how nice it is.  But no, we can't do that because we'll run out of juice.

Seriously, we need to let these companies know that we are pretty happy with our phones the way they are now, they are so much more than what they were 3 years ago.  So just take a year or two off and come up with a really good battery.  A battery that will allow my phone to work at 100% power for at least a full 24 hours.