Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Hopper from Dish Network

We have had our new Hopper and two Joeys for almost a month now and it's time to update this blog with my opinion on this device. First, it has a lot more storage than our previous DVRs and I've had a DVR since my ReplayTV was new, a long time ago. A 2 terabyte hard drive with half reserved for a single feature, PrimeTime Anytime. One terabyte is still a lot more than my DirecTV or Comcast DVRs offer. I added a 1.5 terabyte external drive via USB since the eSATA port didn't recognize it, so that's even more storage. It's not just added to your other storage, which I'd prefer, you have to manually transfer media from the internal to the external drive but it's there if you need it. Secondly, every primetime offering from ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC are recorded onto the PrimeTime partition without you doing a thing. They're available for you to watch them 8 days or you can save them to the other partition of the DVR. I wish you could choose the networks to record with this feature since we watch very little from some networks and watch a lot of USA and Turner programming but it's still great. I don't know how they compress all four networks onto a single tuner but it will be handy this fall. One of the best parts about this is when you start playback you can choose to have it skip commercials for you (as long as it's not in real-time I think) and it's pretty good at doing so. This is even easier than skipping forward in 30 second increments. Third, you get on-demand and Blockbuster-on-Demand. Neither is half as good as Netflix but you do get DVDs by mail (you can return them in-store if you have one nearby), including games. That might be nice but I doubt we'll pay $10/mo for it. A feature they don't even talk about is one of the best in my opinion. You can connect to any DLNA device on your network and stream media from it. You can pause, fast-forward, rewind, and if you have Plex server you can even see the IMDB or other info about the program you're viewing. It is laggy and a bit inconsistent but it will probably improve. I have Playon, the old premium they no longer sell, and I can even stream Netflix with it. It's easier to use the Wii or a PS3 though. The last feature that I like is volume normalizing which keeps those pesky overly loud ads from blaring out at you. Congress has been working on this for years so I assume by 2020 or so this feature will be moot but until then it's one I appreciate. All in all this is much better than any other DVR we've had so far with features I'm still exploring.

An awesome ad for a Chinese restaurant

Friday, April 29, 2011

Movies & TV Extravaganza

I like movies. And I like tv. But most movies are weak, derivative or poorly-done and tv is about the same but on a weekly/daily basis. But some movies are good and some tv is also good. How can you know what's good though? I can help.

Hop was okay but kind of dumb so unless your tastes are similar to Kathy's, don't go. Source Code was good but maybe you saw it under several other names over the last few years. Derivative.

Battle: LA was also good but more of an empty-headed summer flick. When will aliens learn that direct invasion and warfare isn't as good as using a virus or sterilization agent in our water? Or maybe just find a planet without nukes to take over? (Same problem with V, The Event and others). Wouldn't terraforming be cheaper than intergalactic invasion?

Rango? Just plain fun and not at all like any of other talking lizard in the wild west movies I've seen lately. There were a lot we didn't get to see since they seem to like to release 5 good movies in one week, then wait 2 months before releasing another, thus making you pick 2 good movies followed by several weeks of junk.

TV? You didn't ask but I like Rules of Engagement, Big Bang Theory and Justified. I really like Justified, it's like very violent poetry with a southern accent. Nearly everything we watch is from the DVR or hard drive, mostly the hard drive in my case. Or Netflix where I'm watching Dresden Files yet again, wishing it was better (more like the books) and hadn't been on quick-to-cancel-SyFy. And Game of Thrones on HBO!!! Based very closely on the novels by George RR Martin it's the best tv fantasy series ever with amazing production values. There's been nudity in every ep so far so be warned but even worse the author is very tough on his favorite characters so don't get too attached to any of the Stark family if you do watch GoT.

Well, I'll try again to get Kathy to blog but so far she's refused.

Monday, March 14, 2011

March and Spring are here

It's been awhile but it's finally getting warmer, not global warming though. Just in this hemisphere.

I found a new iPad app that's great for videos called Azul. Just install it and then when you use iTunes select the app on your iPod and drag videos into the app. So far it's played every format and codec I've tried without re-encoding which makes things easier. The controls are adequate but not as extensive as video LAN for the pc. Definitely worth the app cost.

After some consideration I'm hanging onto the 1st gen iPad as the new model just doesn't offer anything I have to have.Yeah it would be nice to have a much thinner and slightly lighter toy but it still is heavy and big enough I'd use the stand anyway so it's a moot point to me. Dual cameras are nice if I skyped much but I don't so another feature I don't really need. It's faster but I doubt any developer is going to abandon the 15 million original iPads anytime soon. What does that leave? White instead of black? I already have a case much better than the new slipcase. If it had a micro-sd card or USB port I'd probably want this enough to trade up but it lacks both. I'll wait for the next gen.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Life with an iPad

It's big and heavy. It has a great screen that has been magnetized to attract fingerprints and smears. It's great for gaming and streaming movies/tv over the home network or watching Netflix. It's only so-so for reading ebooks even though the screen is great - it's just too heavy to hold for too long and despite the capacitive screen it often misses taps for page turns. Overall, it's 9/10 for videos, 5/10 for music (the built-in speaker is mono and not impressive) so I use my Nano instead, 8/10 for books but I have to use the stand that's built into my case.

Accessories I've bought include the great Scosche leather case with built-in stand and a mirror-finish screen protector. The case is 10/10 and I couldn't be happier with it. The mirror was a mistake as it makes it very hard to see the screen as it becomes so reflective. When the screen is off it's ideal for looking at yourself but in my case that is not a plus. When it's on fingerprints show up even more and it's hard to do anything with the iPad. I took it off the first day. I also picked up a spare charger since it needs more amps than the standard iPod charger delivers.

It only plays two video codecs and even they are pick so the settings must be perfect. But if you stream over wifi with the Air Video app that doesn't matter as it transcodes on the fly and you can stream nearly any format without a hiccup. This is a great app! It will be great for trips but I still use my Sony 600 to read books most of the time. The iPad is great for reading comics but I'm not a huge comic fan other than Pearls Before Swine and Calvin. XComics works fine for this. It's a tie between the Kindle app, Stanza or iBooks for reading books but iBooks is shiny and nice. It's easy to add any book with all three apps. The main drawback to iBooks is it's limited choices of fonts, sizes, colors and backgrounds. Kindle and Stanza are better but as Stanza has been bought out by Amazon it doesn't get bug fixes now and it's starting to show.

Kathy got my old MID (the Witstech A81) for trips but she hasn't used it yet. I did get Android 2.1 to work on it but couldn't find many apps that didn't require hardware buttons so it's gone back to Wince 6.0. My sister got the Archos 605 and she thinks it's the most amazing thing which was true when I originally got it but it's a bit too heavy, thick and limited today. Good for surfing or watching video, not much good for anything else. My only old unused gadgets now are my Tapwave Zodiacs and my GP2X game handheld and a few MP3 players that are really old.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Oh noes it's April

April. Originally the second month of the year and now the fourth, April is from the Latin aperire, to open, as in opening Spring? Then again it might be named after Venus who was based on the Greek goddess Aphrodite (Aphros). Maybe we should rename it Taxos for obvious reasons. Thanks to wiki I now know that the word Easter Eostur-monath or possibly based on the goddess Eostre

It's tax day eve which means I expect Tea Parties and bashers to flood the tv. I don't understand the lemming-like way of the mass media, blithely ignoring the sentiment of most Americans in order to cater to the minority liberal viewer/reader. They cover a "Coffee Party" of five to a much greater extent than a Tea Party gathering of 500 or more and claim there's no bias in their coverage. What sort of idiot would believe that? Maybe we need a new term, how about Lib-iot?

Conference was very good and uplifting but I dvr'd part of it and haven't watched all of it yet.

It finally got warm enough (and dry enough) for me to mow the lawn. Yay! /sarc off It did need it but this is just the first of dozens of mowings to look forward to so my enthusiasm is muted. But it was a really nice day out of the house.

We saw Alice in Wonderland last week, great great movie. This week we saw Date Night and it was funny but flawed, much less entertaining than Alice. We really liked How to Train Your Dragon but Alice was even better. And I'm a long ways from being a Tim Burton fan.

I just completed my Star Trek tv collection, every episode from every series, including the barely watchable animated series. We already have the movies we liked, which is pretty much just the even-numbered films. I wonder if they did this on purpose?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Is it almost March already?

We took a cruise. Western Caribbean. Fun was had. Food was so-so. Chin-Chin's was great though.

Four excursions. Roatan - snorkeling where I had a little panic at first for some reason so on the first stop I got out early. The second stop was fine and I had fun. Kathy was a fish the whole time.

Belize City - cave tubing via where they like to keep it real for you. Hehe. It was fun although the cave itself was hard to see with the poor headlamps they provided. The guys who took us were a lot of fun. This was Kathy's favorite stop.

Costa Maya - visited the ruins at Chocchoben. This was the best one for me because I'm a history dork. Or is it nerd? No, nerds like math and science so let's call me a buff. We had a guide for just the two of us which meant he had to answer all of my questions.

Everglades - back in Miami. We spotted several gators, I think a total of 5 on the tour and one by the bridge on our return. The airboat was huge but still fun and very very loud.

We probably won't cruise with NCL again since we haven't gotten around to Costa, Royal Caribbean or Celebrity yet.