Electric Six Live: Absolute Pleasure

Electric Six are my favorite “local” band – one of my absolute top favorite bands period –  and I’ve seen them live a fair number of times.  I’ve dragged a fair number of others along to experience them as well – but for those who still have yet to experience the thrill of Electric Six live, you can get tantalizingly close courtesy of their new live album, Absolute Pleasure!

There are so many little things that make the live shows special, and Absolute Pleasure captures many of them; my spiritual twin Tait Nucleus? (you can tell us apart by the fact that he as a CS1x, and I have a CS2X – oh, and that he actually does useful things with his!)’s little Smiths reference during Future Is in the Future for example, or Dick Valentine’s bizarre injection of Monifah lyrics into Danger! High Voltage! and WJLB Read More…

Fatboy Slim in the Cinema: Live From The Big Beach Bootique

Seeing Fatboy Slim at Motor in Hamtramck was a seminal moment in my Big Beat history – eclipsed perhaps only by an even more amazing show at Clutch Cargo’s where Norman Cook escaped the typical DJ booth and performed as crowds thronged around his boxing ring.  The only possible way to top this might be making a pilgrimage to Brighton for a Big Beach Boutique event – though the chances of that happening seemed increasingly slim.  Enter Fatboy Slim: Live From The Big Beach Bootique - a worldwide broadcast of the BBB5 event from earlier this year.  Cinemas across the globe broadcast the one-day-only experience on Friday, August 31st.  The “Live” was a little misleading, since the footage was from June, and it was not simulcast, but Read More…

Google Nexus 7 with Google Now: Return of the PDA

There are plenty of reviews enumerating the Google Nexus 7‘s impressive specs, its obvious deficiencies and compromises, and flippant comparisons to the bigger and vastly more expensive iPad. Instead of rehashing these topics, this blog post concentrates on the experience of using the device.

I have carried a computing device of some manner or other about my person for close to two decades. In high school, it was the HP 95LX and 200LX DOS-based palmtops. In college, it was a succession of clamshell and “Palm-size PC” Windows CE devices, which eventually merged what was then called “PDA” functionality with that of a mobile phone. By this time, mobile computing and cell phones were becoming less of a niche, and this gave way to today’s widespread adoption of smartphones, tablets, and other specialty devices.

While a fair amount of software was available for these legacy devices, their utility was not really comparable to modern devices – without a wireless data connection, most would sync to a PC via a wired serial cable for calendar and contact updates – if that.  As such, one of their primary functions was to provide mobile access to so-called “personal data” as a replacement for Read More…

Ting FTW: Day One

Having activated my new Ting phone last night, today is the first time I’ll be using it in anger for a full business day.  The M370 is a decent little phone, but it simply cannot replace my Droid X.  Thankfully, I have a fairly ludicrous stable of other devices that I’m intending to select from in order to supplement the simplistic feature phone.  I could of course continue to use the Droid X on WiFi, but I decided to go large and test the Nexus 7 tablet as my primary mobile computing device.  I carry my Jack Spade Port Case with me most of the time, which easily fits an iPad and sundry accessories, so stowing it should be no problem – if I even choose to stow it, since it seems to be continually useful – more so than my old phone was, despite the larger form factor.

It was very strange not having access to email when I left my desk for the first time. But I had a safety net, since my wife Read More…

C U L8R VZW: Saying Goodbye to Big Mobile

I’m your prototypical early adopter.  I bought my first cell phone when I started college – at a time when people assumed anyone that age with a mobile phone or pager was a drug dealer…or perhaps Doogie Howser-style teenage doctor.  But this was also a time when landline providers charged more for long and even “local-long” distance.  So it actually worked out cheaper to get a cell phone with the area code of my hometown and use it to call friends and family as if locally than to use a landline from my apartment.  But somehow over the years my service has mutated from a cost-saving measure to a considerable expense. Unlike other technologies, cell phone service somehow seems to have gotten more expensive during the sunset phase as the market becomes saturated – between our family’s minutes, messages, data, and hotspotting/tethering, we were spending thousands of dollars per year. I had been holding out for Verizon’s rumored shared plan in hopes that it might bring things more in line with  Read More…

O’Reilly Everywhere: Safari to Go for Android

My dream of cloud-based reading came a step closer today when availability of the Safari To Go Android app was announced on Safari Books Online’s Official Blog.  The Android app was noticeably absent on the July 18th launch date quoted in their July 2012 newsletter (the online version of which appears to have changed to “Later this month”!); Safari Books Online CEO, Andrew Savikas explained the delay in a comment on our earlier post, saying “we uncovered some nasty regression bugs and just couldn’t put it out without fixing them.”  But the bugs appear to have been fixed, since the app is now available for download!

Safari to go for Android is pleasant to use on both phone and tablet form factors; in each case the amount of data being transmitted and displayed seems appropriate, resulting in a snappy, uncluttered UI.  The reading experience on the phone is vastly improved as compared to the mobile version of the site; movement between pages is fluid, with no scrolling required, though a rather disruptive “Retrieving Content…” message pops up on a regular basis – seemingly between sections – which seems like it could be obviated with a logical pre-fetch given the linear nature of reading…i.e. chances are I’m going to be needing that page soon…especially if progress Read More…

Safari Books Online (and off!): Safari to Go for Android, iPhone and iPad

I know that this is not the first post that I have opened with a reference to my O’Reilly addiction.  Yet for some reason, I can’t seem to love Safari like it seems that I should – and I’ve tried numerous times.  First I tried reading a book on my phone with the mobile site – because the content was not constrained by browser height, I found myself scrolling down the page, then advancing to the next page, then having to scroll back up – and given how few words can fit on a phone’s diminutive screen, this action had to be repeated so frequently that it took over focus from the book’s content (oh, and if you get your login wrong, it bounces you to the full site to retry, and doesn’t bounce back after, I just discovered).  I downloaded Safari To Go for iPad the moment it was released – I do not think the iPad makes a very good eReader, but it’s easier to lug around than my desktop, so I gave it a shot.  The videos I tried to watch got stuck, and the book I tried to read worked to a certain point, and then caused the app to crash every time I opened it, at which point I gave up and went back to my ePubs on my Nook Color.  Despite owning most titles that I am interested in as eBooks, I still maintain a Safari subscription – mostly as a way to search across titles that are likely also in my own private collection, and maintain wishlists and to-read lists which the main O’Reilly shop Read More…

July the 19th

TED: July the nineteenth … why does that strike me as important?

DOUGAL: Yes! (To Ted.)  Ah, July the nineteenth … I wouldn’t know Ted, y’big bollocks.

TED: Anyway … any idea why July the nineteenth should be so important?

DOUGAL: Would that be the day the Ice Age ended?

TED: No Dougal – you can’t be that precise about the Ice Age!

DOUGAL: I’ll look it up in the diary.

DOUGAL: July nineteenth…’On This Day’… ‘Galway liberated from Indians’ … ‘Marathon becomes Snickers‘ … Aha! Ted. ‘Ice Age ends’!

-Father Ted “Hell” (TV Episode)

OUYA: the $99 Open-Source Android Video Game Console

I’m not sure that any explanation of what OUYA is is necessary – on its first day on Kickstarter, it has already exceeded its goal of $950,000 handily, and broken all sorts of records.  It is being hyped for its potential to disrupt the console space, which is an exciting notion, but while millions of dollars may sound like a lot of money, we’re still only talking tens of thousands of units.  The Nintendo Wii, by comparison, sold 370,000 units in its first two days on sale in Japan.  As much as I look forward to playing whatever games are available for the system at launch, what I’m far more excited about is the notion of a hackable Android device that connects to my TV – as well as the opportunity to create and experience homebrew-style games without voiding any warranties! ( ̄ Д)=3

ThingM blink(1) Open-Source USB RGB LED

I’m a big fan of ThingMtodbot‘s Hacking Roomba was one of my first forays into hardware hacking, and his taking the time to personally reply to my questions when I ran into problems had a huge impact; in addition, I own a fair number of ThingM products, including BlinkM, MinM, MaxM, and LinkM.  So, frankly they could put a blinking LED on Kickstarter and I’d probably back it just to support them!  And…they kind of just did!  The blink(1) is sort of a LinkM and BlinkM smooshed together in a smaller form factor, and made easier to use.  The original *M products were intended for prototypers and designers, but the blink(1) opens up this kind of functionality to just about anyone thanks to its cross-platform compatibility and software.  And since it can be used with IFTTT, you could for example set up your blink(1) to flash green when your friends check into the coffee shop down the street on foursquare (or red when your enemies do!?), or range from green to red as pollen levels rise in your area.  The blink(1) allows color, brightness and pattern to be set, so the possibilities are virtually endless (OK, so realistically it’s probably something like 16,777,216 colors x 256 levels x 48 steps, but…)!  I never thought it would come to this, but I am now an Early Bird backer of a blinking LED on Kickstarter! (o_O)

Review: MintDuino: Building an Arduino-Compatible Breadboard Microcontroller

O’Reilly seems to be publishing a fair number of shorter publications recently, which I really like since it allows you to gain expertise in a specific topic in an evening or weekend vs. the broader-subject books which span many hundreds of pages. I’m pretty comfortable with a number of prototyping platforms, but was curious to learn a little bit more about the guts of Arduino’s hardware instead of it all being nicely abstracted for me. With this in mind, I purchased the Mintronics Bundle from Maker Shed, comprising a Mintronics: MintDuino and Mintronics: Survival Pack, plus picked up an FTDI Friend to handle USB to serial duties in a breadboard-friendly form factor. This blog post, however, Read More…

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