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The year in review

Friday, January 2nd, 2009

Tomorrow I’ll post my top 10 lists, but here I’ll discuss general (blog/geek) stuff. The blog has now finished five years in existenence, and I like it. It frequently functions as offline memory (what did we do for Valentine’s Day in 2004?) and way to post interesting web things (although my shared Google items took over some of that this year).

Forcing myself to read at least one book and watch one movie a week was an interesting resolution, successfully completed. I may still have piles of unread books, but I read 80 this year, and that’s nothing to sneeze at. The only problem was getting way behind on periodicals at points, but I plan to be caught up on those by the end of our upcoming vacation. I’d like to keep up the pace, but don’t want to keep the one a week thing going – maybe an average of four a month. I won’t be directly blogging them anymore, I’ve started using two sites, goodreads.com and gurulib.com, both of which I think I can make blog posts from. The latter’s not as nice, but it also covers DVDs and CDs, while just look at the former:

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While I didn’t come to a halt buying new things in 2008 (like Popless for music), I was pretty restrained, so much so I had to order about 10 CDs to do my annual mix in December. I sold off vast amounts of DVDs, partly to get some cash, but also to prepare for my eventual conversion to glorious Blu-Ray. I didn’t buy many books, new or used, as I had too many unread. I was a little surprised to sell off as many books as I did once I read them – many more were one time reads than I thought at first. I did keep up on comics, but whittled down some titles as the year progressed.

It was a fantastic year in video I shot, as I finally found the software that did exactly what I wanted, and I got a number of videos converted to DVD and uploaded. I wanted to get some recent ones out of the way, but this year I’m starting from the beginnning (2000) and working forwards.

Not much else to report, although I did join Facebook as a result of my high school reunion (already on MySpace and LinkedIn):
Kerry Frey's Facebook profile

New way to encourage me to watch TV

Tuesday, December 16th, 2008

I was already thinking of watching TNT’s Leverage – good writing & producing pedigree, as well as Timothy Hutton and Christian Kane (ex-Angel). It’s an excellent time to start a show about crooks doing to companies what the companies have been doing to us for years (think Ocean’s 11 on a mini scale). And encouraging reviews didn’t hurt. But what made it stick in my head was being sent the first episode on a 1GB USB drive with the first ep like this guy. I didn’t watch it on my computer (umm – that’s what the HDTV is for), but I’ll never turn down storage, and it’s more eco-friendly than sending a DVD that gets tossed in the trash. Oh yeah, the show’s pretty good – sharp writing and good acting, recommended to fans of Burn Notice.

Geek Public Service Announcement

Thursday, September 18th, 2008

Add &fmt=6 to the end of any YouTube link to watch high quality (if available) by default.

Weekend in Maryland

Sunday, September 14th, 2008

Friday was a quick night, I made taco salad and we watched some TV. The two shows both of us are watching right now are Dead Like Me and Gavin & Stacey, both excellent (one from Showtime, one from BBC).

Saturday I had a busy morning on the computer, started some auctions and worked on a DVD. We left around 5 for Annapolis, and got there with time to spare before our reservation at O’Learys Seafood Restaurant in Eastport. I wanted to try something outside of the docks area, and we hadn’t been to Eastport. The restaurant is very nice, and we were seated promptly. I had the lobster bisque and Jill had seared scallops to start. The bisque was excellent, rich with some lobster chunks. For main courses, Jill had the fried grouper (nice light breading) and I had the crab cakes. Unfortunately, while the food was very good, it also wasn’t quite as good as our meal last week at Hooked, and it was more expensive.

We headed over to the Rams Head and got seated. We had dessert there, an ok peanut butter pie, but the best part was the show. I’d seen Paula Cole once before as part of the H.O.R.D.E. Festival, but she hadn’t left a big impression – Jill’s a big fan though. She was great from 10 feet away, really had good stage presence, and I’d been cramming with her newer songs and enjoyed the show.

Paula Cole at Rams Head

We had a fun ride back as I’d downloaded the Torchwood radio episode set at CERN, ended just in time. The DVR wasn’t working when we got back from the show, but I ignored it. I regretted that early Sunday morning as there was a scratching at the door. I followed Illa down to the source, which turned out to be the FiOS box. Nothing seemed to help, so I called tech support. Unplugging it seemed to work for a little while, then it stopped working. Eventually I figured out that even though the main box seemed to have power, it was only using the battery, and the battery was drained. So I took it apart, and the power wires came right off. I plugged them back in, reassembled everything, and we were good to go.

Illa was freaked out all morning (he’s pretty neurotic for a Malamute), but calmed down in the afternoon after a couple walks. We left him to go over to the Takoma Park Folk Festival. Jill wanted to see a little more of Takoma Park, and I wanted to check out at least one band there, We’re About 9 (since we missed them at FRFF). We got there with plenty of time, and checked out the crafts before grabbing a seat. They were good, playing classics like “Brooklyn” and “Weight Of The Ocean”, as well as a great new one “Write It All Down”. We headed back afterwards and Jill made fruit salad, then I did Thai Basil Chicken again.

Best album formula

Thursday, August 7th, 2008

In an intriguing objective take on what are the best albums, this article brings a new formula to the table, and it seems right. The formula is Album Staying Power Value + Sales Value + Critical Rating Value + Grammy Award Value, and while most of the top spots aren’t shocking, number 1 may be a surprise.

Subway guides on your phone for free

Friday, August 1st, 2008

I don’t know why, but it occured to me today that someone out there probably had a subway guide for Palm OS for Sydney and Tokyo. Lo and behold, there’s one piece of freeware for all platforms and most cities worldwide. I’ve just checked out the DC version, and it seems pretty decent – I’ll be adding each city as I need it.

At last

Tuesday, July 8th, 2008

I’ve had a camcorder since 2000 and have been recording concerts since then to DV tape (not to mention the number of concerts I have on VHS). But I’ve struggled to find some DVD authoring software to do what I want with them, namely have easy to make custom menus that behave in a certain way (tracks go directly into the next track after play, links automatically generated on the menu from tracks added). It’s amazing the number of hoops most of the major software make you jump through, but I’ve been determined to find something that will work. I’ve tried a number of software packages in the last couple of weeks, and finally found one that meets all my needs: TMPGEnc DVD Author 3. The wizard does exactly what I want, and it’s easy to use. I don’t know how long it will take me to go through my backlog, but I got one done tonight – it’s a start.

Wanna help set a world record?

Tuesday, June 17th, 2008

Then download Firefox today.

EDIT: Oops – I thought it started at midnight, my bad – 1PM Eastern.

Wii Fit

Saturday, May 31st, 2008

It’s finally here, the accessory I wanted to buy the Wii for. I had to again rely on technology to get one (and you have to go to the page, the RSS feed doesn’t seem to be working), but it came Wednesday night. First impressions (after an hour): The balance games are cool, but there’s not enough of them (I’ve spent most of time on the skiing ones). I’ll probably purchase the skiing game soon. The strength training and aerobics give you a serious workout, and the yoga is strange, but that’s probably because I’d never done any before. Still, I need a kick in the ass to exercise, and hopefully this will incite me to keep going.

BTW, this helps explain why even though I went 0 for 6 looking for Wii Fit, I was 3 for 6 if I wanted a Wii.

Three day, three concert weekend

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

Saturday I needed to go to Old Town Alexandria to buy a ticket for Monday’s show. Jill knew what I was thinking and came along, as we went to Eamonn’s for lunch. Not the best fish and chips ever, but still pretty tasty (and the spicy mayo helped). We window shopped a little, then headed to the Metro. I’d read that the XM Kids Roadshow was going to be on the Mall with a concert. We got there in time to see a full set from
Lisa Loeb, mostly kids songs but she included her big hit, with Robbie Schaefer as the MC. We missed Meredith Brooks, but I’m guessing she didn’t do her big hit. After a big lunch, we weren’t that hungry. Jill made a chicken tender salad for dinner we enjoyed on the deck, then we read for a while – I had a backlog of papers and comics.

Lisa Loeb at the Sylvan Theatre 5/24/08

Sunday our pal Stuart’s band was playing at Jimmy’s, and we walked over to hear them. The event was the Memorial Day Party in the Alley, and there were a lot more bikers than we expected to see in Herndon – apparently Jimmy and staff had participated in Rolling Thunder earlier in the day. The band was good, more originals than I expected with a classic rock feel. I made burgers and dogs for dinner, then we headed out to check out a little indy film, pretty good.

P.U.R.E. Band at Jimmy's 5/25/08

Monday was mostly relaxing (reading, watching TV), then I was going to see Dream Theater at Constitution Hall. I’d planned to leave at 8, but a desire to nap was all powerful and I didn’t wake up until quarter ’til. Jill offered to make a quick Asian dinner since I was groggy, and I took her up on it. Pretty good for frozen, then I headed out. I took the Metro in, then walked to the venue. There were 3 other bands playing, but none I wanted to see, so I had tried to time it for the headliner. Of course I was off, but thankfully in the opposite direction, as Opeth was still on stage. I like metal, but the growly vocals do nothing for me, and I sat downstairs until they were done. Dream Theater was outstanding, but they deserve their own post. More about them tomorrow.

Dream Theater at Constitution Hall 5/26/08