Just Like Yoda

On a morning in which I was taking my cat, Bennie, to the vet for a check up, my daughter wonders aloud to me why the cat is getting so upset about getting in the travel crate.

“Well”, I explain to her, “the cat knows she is going to the vet for a check up. And maybe she is worried that she won’t be coming home.”

“Why would she not be coming home?” She questions.

“Well, maybe she knows that when pets are old or sick, they go to the vet and do not come home. Maybe she is thinking about Huffy.” Huffy being our recently deceased cat, who did not come home from a pet visit after a particularly aggressive cancer.

“Why do they not come home?” Again, she questions.

“When a pet is really old, or in a lot of pain, or really sick, sometimes the decision is made to put the pet to sleep. That way they can die in their sleep peacefully and not feel sick anymore.”

She took this in for a moment, looking at me and asked, “Did Pop Pop die in his sleep?”

“Yes, sweetie. Pop Pop died in his sleep.”

Again, she thinks about this for a second and makes an audibly sad sigh before she quietly says…

“Just like Yoda.”

She is definitely my daughter.

Where I Rewrite Anil Dash’s Fantasy Press Release

Anil Dash re-wrote the recent Twitter press release, now know as the Drop Dead Developers release, so that everyone could understand it better. Because since we are all so upset, it is obvious that we didn’t understand how reasonable these changes were and, in reality, they won’t impact most of us at all.

I realize my thoughts are probably going to be dismissed because I have no real skin in the game and just like to pile-on, but I thought I would try and rewrite some of the parts I think he misrepresented.

For Developers

How much do you hate Marketing? Worrying about growth, and worrying about how much to invest in your company?

Well, with Twitter API version 1.1, we answer those questions for you.

We know how much you would like to start developing new products for other services, so in Twitter API version 1.1 we have added a new feature called ‘Growth Cap’ which allows you to see just how large your application pool can get. No more wasting time and resources to get new customers because when you hit your limit, you’ll know it’s time to sit back and relax.

Furthermore, we are all developers here, am I right? Who has time for designers anymore? We have solved this problem for you by giving you what we are calling, ‘The Suggestions API’. With these powerful new tools, you can work on your app and websites knowing that the look of tweets you want to display has already been worked out for you.

You are not required to use these new API’s, of course. If you decide not to, great! You can continue as you were for 6 whole months.

For Users

We don’t want users of the Twitter service to think that they are being ignored in all of this developer talk. All of this is really for them and would like to highlight a few key improvements.

Send to Instapaper, Readability, Pocket, Email Tweet, Copy Tweet… We have all seen these long confusing lists of options of what we can do with the tweets in our timeline. But we all know, we really just want to READ them. So we are going to do our best to pare this list down to the bare minimum, which is NOTHING. Why would I want to send or share my tweets. That seems unnecessary.

Have you ever missed a Tweet that you knew was in your timeline? We have too. And what is the culprit for this you ask? Mute filters. That’s right, mute filters. How do we really know if we want a tweet muted if we haven’t seen it yet? That’s why we are now allowing you to use your Twitter clients mute free. No longer will you miss something exciting because of some overly aggressive filtering.

Did you know that users of the Twitter website are privy to offers and contests that are hidden by Twitter clients by default? We’ll no longer! Twitter’s new Twitter API version 1.1 now allows, encourages, and forces Twitter clients to bring these special offers to you too. No longer will you be in the dark, hidden from these important tweets. Furthermore we encourage you to interact with them.

Now, From Me

I am a frequent Twitter user. Much more for consumption than creation, but I use the service constantly, because it was great. It allowed access and conversation with people inaccessible to you in a way that blogging and email didn’t. Now, it is turning Google-ish in it’s drive towards advertising.

For the longest time, we were Twitter’s customers, and now we are becoming the product.

Well, I still use Twitter and will for a short while. I was a backer on app.net and assume that I will be moving there eventually. I will continue to use Twitter under a few conditions. As long as Tweetbot still works… Until my timeline becomes filled with ads… As long as my Send to Instapaper link works.

If one of those things comes to fruition, I will leave and move on. Maybe app.net, maybe back to RSS and Blogs.

iTunes Match is Not There Yet

I signed up for iTunes Match on the day it became available and continue to use it happily. It solved a problem for me. It allowed my music collection to be available to me at any time and in any place with an internet connection, which today, with an iPhone, is just about anywhere.

When I am driving with my daughter and she says she wants to here something specific, I no longer have to tell her that she needs to remind me later to put it on the phone. Which in retrospect seems so old and outdated. “Sorry honey, we have to load that song onto the phone.” “What does that mean, daddy?”

But as great as it is, there are a few kinks that still need to be worked out. They are mostly little OCD type things that just bother me as iTunes Match as a whole works pretty well, but that doesn’t mean these things don’t need to be fixed.

Album Doubling

I don’t know why this is happening, but it manifests itself in a couple different ways. I will have an album in iTunes on the computer; one album, ten songs. On the iPhone, for a few select albums, this shows itself as two albums with five songs each. Occasionally, I will get two albums with all of the songs in each one. Or two separate albums, with a mismatch of songs in each one, sometimes duplicating songs. And as I said, it looks perfectly organized on the computer.

Explicit Songs

This is pretty well documented at this point, but iTunes doesn’t properly note that you may own the explicit version of a song and will give you the clean version.

Device Won’t Update with Current Content

On more than one occasion, my iPhone just would not reflect any of the changes I had made in iTunes, even after I shut down and restarted the phone. In these times, the only thing that works is to turn off iTunes Match and restart it, which can take 20 to 30 minutes to complete.

Running Out of Space on the iPhone

Part of the reason iTunes Match is so great, is that because you don’t have to keep your library locally, you can have access to your library even if it has outgrown the storage on your device. Well, the downside of this apparently is near daily iPhone alerts that I am currently out of disk space. iTunes does not seem to be managing the saving of files in the background properly, not discarding them when space is at a premium.

Losing Songs

Yes, I have lost music. I can get it back by reloading it onto the computer, but after my first go-round with iTunes Match, I had a number of songs and albums, now greyed out and ‘waiting’. Well, who knows what they are are waiting for, but weeks later, they are still waiting, they are not in iCloud, and they can no longer be played on the computer. So for all intents iTunes Match just ate them. And they are gone.

That is all that I have to say right now. I will update this with problems and solutions as I find them. iTunes Match at this point is a great idea with ok execution. I expect it to improve over time as most online services do, but if you are trying it for the first time, be ready for the occasional issue.

Some Tips on the SodaStream

The SodaStream talk is running rampant on the 5by5 network of podcasts. Merlin has been farting into still water for years now and is pulling the rest of the hosts into the mix, one by one. This has brought up on the shows many basic questions that I have decided to try and answer here.

The Bottles and Caps

  • SodaStreams come with a 1-liter bottle by default. For some people, like Marco, this was too much, which is why they sell a 20oz. bottle for making less seltzer at a time.
  • You CAN buy bottles that are dishwasher-safe, and I would recommend that, as the cap area can sometimes get a little moldy and hard to clean.
  • For that reason, I would also recommend buying extra bottle caps, which they also sell. Even with diligent cleaning, the caps seem to get mold on them after a couple months. And I don’t know about you, but even if I clean off the mold, once I see it, I don’t want to use it again.

The Flavors

  • Skip them for the most part.
  • The Natural Flavor Ginger Ale and Root Beer are not too bad, and contain no corn syrup.
  • Your best bet for flavoring is probably mixing in regular fruit juice with the seltzer.

The CO2 Canisters

  • They are easily found at many stores, you are not required to mail them back and forth. I use Bed, Bath and Beyond.
  • Buy an extra canister for $30 to have on hand.
  • When the canisters are empty take them to your local store of choice and exchange them for a full one for $15. Leave the shipping to the stores. You didn’t stop hauling cases of seltzer from the car, just so you could start going to the post office every couple weeks.

How Long Will a Canister Last?

  • Well, that’s different for everyone. If you are like Merlin, just a couple days. But at this point it sounds like he is adding water to the co2 and drinking that, as opposed to adding the co2 to the water. He may have a problem.
  • For most people, I would guess that a canister will easily last you a month or more. My wife and daughter, drink the seltzer regularly and and we are only on our third canister after 4 months.

The Dispensing Unit

  • I would save your money and buy the cheapest one available. They all do the same thing. If it turns into an important addition to you life/kitchen, upgrade later.

That’s about it, unless I am forgetting something. If I am, email me and I will add it.

After putting off the purchase of a SodaStream for years, I finally got tired of lugging cases of seltzer from the store every week; I could kick myself for waiting so long. It was worth every penny, and actually saved me a lot of money.

DeSean Jackson vs. Fred Barnett

So DeSean Jackson wants a new contract. We all know this, he has seemingly been a baby about it all year. He thinks he is one of the elite players in the league and deserves to be paid like one. Well, in his first three years, I see him a very much like a former Eagle and the stats seem to back this up.

No, not Mike Quick. No, not Terrell Owens either. It’s Fred Barnett!!

Lets go to the numbers.

Fred Barnett (First Three Seasons)

  • Games Played: 42
  • Receptions: 165
  • Yards: 2752 (16.67 per)
  • Touchdowns: 18
  • Longs in each year of 95, 75, 71

DeSean Jackson (First Three Seasons)

  • Games Played: 45
  • Receptions: 171
  • Yards: 3124 (18.26 per)
  • Touchdowns: 17
  • Longs in each year of 60, 71, 91

Now, I liked Fred Barnett, he was a solid receiver, but no superstar. DeSean, you may look like you can become a superstar, but show me you are before you try and force me to treat you like one.

DC Comics New 52 Reboot

I loved comics growing up. In July of 1986, my parents and I were walking through King of Prussia mall. We walked past the ‘Comic Stop’ and I went in and there I saw it; I can still see the cover now.

“If you buy only ONE comic this month… This is it!” and “Don’t miss the 1st issue in Web’s daring new adventures into mystery and suspense.”

Yes, that comic was Web of Spider-Man #16 and it was the first comic I bought on my own and it created a comic book collector and fan for about the next 12-13 years. And as is want to happen when bills and mortgages appear in life, comic book buying left my weekly schedule. I would try and keep up with story lines, occasionally buy a few issues, and grab graphic novel collections when I saw something interesting, but for the most part I drifted away.

I always wanted to get back though, and now that I have an 8 year old girl who loves to look at anything I have, including my old comics, I was always waiting for a good time to introduce her to some comics.

When I heard about the New 52, and then realized what it was, I thought this might be the time. A new beginning with all of the biggest characters. New story arcs beholden to no history that would allow easy entrance to the DC Universe.

I wasn’t about to dive right in though. I wasn’t going to add comic book Wednesday to the calendar just yet. I wanted to sample some of the stories first and the day and date iPad publishing made that possible. So over the course of the first month, I purchased about a dozen titles, to get the lay of the land and see where this could head.

Cutting to the chase, I think my experiment is ending soon after it began. Most of what is being published can be split into two different categories. Inappropriate and crap.

Superman has been ruined. Completely ruined. At least I think so. It appears that there are two different Superman’s to follow in different timelines, which I find completely annoying. Batman is a parent (I think) and possibly the worst one ever. Aquaman eats seafood and Green Lantern is a bit of an asshole.

And DC comics seemingly produces no regular title that I would ever consider showing my girl.

My little girl just happened over when I was reading Detective Comics (with the naked Joker), and she looked over my shoulder as I flipped to the last page and asked, “Is that the Joker’s face?”, which had just been cut off and hung on a wall. Check that from the list.

You may say, hey, buy the children’s comics, they are safe for kids. No thank you. I am not buying the children’s version, or the Ultimate version or the 2099 series, or any series that isn’t canon. I like to know that what I am reading is part of the grander storyline. But then again, DC has killed any kind of grand storyline with a massive reboot.

I assume that the reason for the reboot is to bring in new readers and to get potential returning readers back to buying comics. I think that what we have here is a very large failure. There is a lot of excitement here at the launch; it got me excited. But that excitement is gone now, and I will be interested to see what it is like in the next six months.

You don’t need a gimmick and new issue number to relaunch a comic book. You just need a good creative team and a character people care about.

Afterthought: The new 52 is supposed to represent the reboot of 52 titles, but part of me wonders if it just means that it lasts for 52 weeks, and that in a year we will merge back with the original stories.

Steve Jobs Passes Away

I truly feel like we have lost the Da Vinci of our time. He brought to us the way we all learned how to interface with computers almost 30 years ago, and completely redefined it over the last 10 years, with touch, gestures and now speech.

He brought to us new ways of creating and communicating.

He will be missed.

Digital vs. Film Projection

I much prefer film to digital. It feels much more like a movie to me when it is projected film as opposed to digital and I feel that some point the phrase, “You need to see this in the theater”, will be side by side with, “You need to see this on film”.

Film is especially favorable for me during scenes with intense action. The crystal clarity of the digital projection doesn’t seem to handle motion as well as film. It is almost too crisp when I expect some blurriness.

That being said, I can not wait until my theater goes all digital. Why is that you ask? Why the contradiction? Well, I will tell you.

Quite simply, I am tired of watching movies in the theater that are completely off center. And for whatever reason, whatever the difference, this doesn’t seem to happen with the digital projectors.
I am assuming that running a film projector properly is a highly skilled position. I don’t know much about it at all, but I get the impression it requires a lot of skill to do it right and is becoming a lost art. But the theaters near me have decided that they are not investing in this art anymore.

There is probably some goofy sixteen year old kid running the projector, and this problem would be easily solved if someone, ANYONE, would actually look at the screen after they hit play, but they don’t. I hate when the theater manager tells me that it’s not off center and they just forgot to put the bottom plate up. Really. It’s just the bottom plate? Then why are the subtitles projected below the screen?

I am tired of movies that go off the top of the screen or practically project to the floor. You can see this within the first few minutes of the film, but no one bothers to check the quality of their work so it always goes unnoticed.

I am assuming with the digital projectors, that they have a nice crisp edge and once you point it properly there is no further adjustment needed. Either that or they are just so easy to work that any one can do it.

Anyway, at this point it seems, I am willing to sacrifice the quality of the movie to increase the quality of the experience.

Wired vs. Wireless Internet Connection

On a recent episode of Build and Analyze, Marco and Dan were discussing the benefits of a wired connection over a wireless connection. I thought I would chime in here.

I have had wireless coverage over my house through an Airport Express and the stock router that comes with Verizon FIOS. Haven’t had any real speed issues or problems, but with the addition of a few AppleTV’s to the house and the sending of video from the computer to said AppleTV’s, along with video transfers between Tivo’s, I decided to go wired and see what would happen.

While having an electrician run a few new outlets, I had him take some Cat cable along with it and everything is hooked up and ready to go now.

Here are the differences in connectivity wireless vs. wired.

  • Wireless – Ping 45ms, Download 30Mb, Upload 10Mb
  • Wired – Ping 11ms, Download 38Mb, Upload 31Mb

Now, you will see that the wireless connection is great and perfect for normal household use. But if you are trying to get every last bit from your broadband provider, doing some heavy duty uploading or playing games online where Ping is important, wired is where you want to be.

The Movie Tavern at Providence Town Center in Collegeville

How I wanted to love you. How I wanted you to become my new theater.

But it didn’t happen.

Everything that I had heard was good. You were supposed to be an updated version of the Alamo in Austin, TX. You would serve food and beverages and be with in 5 minutes of my normal movie theater.

I see over 100 films a year in the theater and I was prepared to move so much of my money to your theater. The promise of you reached so far, and fell so short.

I have given you a fair shot. I have been there five or six times now, with other people, both having meals and skipping meals and can only leave with disappointment.

What follows are the things that bothered me, or where you fell short. I am leaving out problems with the clientele because that isn’t your fault. A new theater brings out the worst in the public.

You want to be the Alamo so bad. And if I am wrong and you don’t want to be the Alamo, I am sorry, but maybe you should try. With all of your locations in Texas I am sure you have been there at some point. Go check them out if you haven’t.

The kiosk where the servers handle orders is practically IN the theater. I was sitting in the first row when you walk into the theater and was less than 15 feet from the order station. WAY to close. Where this becomes a real problem is that your servers like to hang out and talk during the movie while they are working. So basically, the theater employees hang out and talk during the movie IN THE THEATER.

Next, I couldn’t identify wether or not it was a rat or a mouse, but on my first visit to the theater a rodent was running back and forth along the bottom of the movie screen, comically enlarged by the lighting. This is extra skeevy when I think that you are serving food and there is a working kitchen somewhere nearby. Is it your fault that rodents like kitchens, no, and I shouldn’t be surprised that they are nearby, but you need to realize that that was a first experience I won’t forget.

You need to change the way orders are taken and money is exchanged. At the Alamo Drafthouse it is a completely silent experience throughout the entire movie. There are even lowered walkways for the servers so that they don’t interfere with the viewing of the movie if you aren’t ordering.

Here at the Movie Tavern, I might not want anything, but if the person in front of me does, the server walks right down the aisle, stands in front of everyone and takes an order. There is no effort made for silence. My favorite part is near the end of the movie when the server will walk down the aisle asking everyone if they need anything else.

You will notice that all of these complaints are related to your food services. Well, that is the draw to the theater, isn’t it. The Regal Cinema 24 in Oaks is less than five minutes away and offers no food service, but a completely civilized movie experience.

If you are going to stand out and be different, make sure what you want me to notice is something worth noticing and for the right reasons. I am available for consultations if you need help.