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Our New Toy

November 4, 2010 Leave a comment

Well we got Kinect late last night and I must say I am very impressed. It aint perfect. But its damn good. And It will get better.

If you haven’t heard of Kinect its Microsoft’s venture into Motion Gaming. Kinda Like the Wii or Sony’s new Move system, But with Kinect there is no controller. The controller is your body. You set a sensor bar up that has some cameras and a microphone(the sensor bar system is actually Kinect) and calibrate to your house and your body and go play. Not every game is Kinect ready there are special ones that can take advantage of this new system. I list a few below.

The set up was easy and not technical at all. Took 5 min for me to unpackage, set the sensor in place, connect the wire and reboot. There were a few updates I had to run through but the whole process probably took 10 min. After the last update it rebooted and Dorothy took over. She loved it. It was easy as hell to configure and tune to each person.

The UI control needs a bit of work. But that’s to be expected with any 1st iterate technology. I really think they will tighten it up quickly. To be honest Playing with Kinect was kinda like realizing a dream that I first saw in minority report. It was fun, fast easy to use and very responsive.  We were able to test the video chat and it was very easy and the camera was smart. 1 person in the room it would zoom in and follow you as you walk around, 2 people in the room and it would stay zoomed out to get everyone in frame, all with no setup and just plugging it in.

The games are where it shines. We bought 2 – Dance Central and Kinectimals. It comes with Kinect adventures. We experienced each game for a few minutes spending the majority of the time laughing. It was good times. The photos that Kinect takes while you are playing are gold.

In Dance Central There is a freestyle zone in the middle of each song where the “dancer” can do what ever they like and after freestyle ends they show the pictures that were taken in a stop motion style that is very seemless and enjoyable. if the player falls out of synch the screen dancers body part will start to glow red to indicate where the player needs to tighten up a bit. It seems very good at determining correct body position and Dorothy was able to learn with out much frustration.

Here is a video of D knocking it out with Dance Central. Tonight supposedly I am having a “Dance Battle” with her. Not sure how I am gonna survive but I am guaranteed to laugh alot.

Kinectimals is just nuts. I cant say enough about it. The cats are cute, graphics are fab. They recognize faces, respond to voices, act like cats and my little girl loved it.  We didnt play it much(it was after 1 am) but with the bit we did I was impressed with how they seemed to bring every aspect of the Kinect experience together in the game.

Kinect Adventures was a blast. I am terribly out of shape and almost died from playing 1 round with my overly energetic 8 year old. We were in a raft and you have to work together to navigate down a river. You can collect different points as you do so. The fun comes in when you are both jumping up and down like maniacs and yelling “Left! Left!” and a picture gets taken of yall together.

We obviously have alot more exploring of this new technology to do but the impression that I was left with after 2 hours was……WOW! It is a fun system especially for families. I will be interested to see how they get hardcore gamers into it but really they have that segment well covered. They needed the Wii demographic and this will bring them in droves.

Stand alone Kinect costs 150 but you can buy the new Xbox Kinect bundle for 299.

One thing that I did notice is you need alot of space. Like a good 6.5-9ish feet from the sensor.

My Lakeland vid

October 30, 2010 2 comments

This is a video I made for Show us your City. I am pretty happy with it. Wish i had used a filter for the filming but Oh Well.

Recovery

June 25, 2010 Leave a comment

I am not a fan boy or anything but sometimes I find things that  need to be brought to the attention of folks that might not take a looksy otherwise. If you haven’t heard it already you should at least give Recovery a once over. Most of us are familiar with Eminem, for the last decade he has been a controversial figure in music that hasn’t been overly positive. Many of his songs have been devisive and laden with violence and hate,  but hes changing and you should take notice because I believe it is a herald of music to come.

The most important thing about Recovery is its tone. For the most part it is not about bling or shooting other rappers or how much money he has or bitches or any of the normal fair that so many rap songs are comprised of today. Its about him and us and failure and depression and success. Its about the life that we all go through.  There is a fair amount of cursing but they are easy to get around by getting the albumn from wally world or itunes.

Check it out.

Categories: Reviews

Nook/Kindle vs IPad as Ereader

April 6, 2010 22 comments

So D(my 8 year old), received her iPad today. It was her birthday gift from the family. Needless to say she’s stoked about the device and to be honest so am I. It’s much cooler than I expected. It’s fast as hell and does most things  a computer can do without the headaches.

But this is not really about the iPad as a device, there are a ton of articles touting its good points and its flaws. For this comparison I am really looking at it as just an eReader. A replacement for a Nook or Kindle. I think the Nook is the less known of the 2 devices and I am very partial to mine. The nook has a flashier interface than the Kindle but besides that they are very similar.

A couple of things stand out immediately when looking at the iPad as a eReader.

First, its cost. We got the cheapest version and that was $533.00 shipped. That is the 16gig wi-fi version. The Kindle on the other hand is $189.00.

The Nook is $199.00 for 3g/wifi while the wifi only is $149.

Second, it’s size, it’s bigger than the regular version of the Kindle or the Nook.

Kindle DX,Kindle2, Nook, iPad

Nook, Kindle2, Kindle DX, iPad

Even though it’s not a ton larger, it’s too large to carry in a pocket, which I can do with the Nook. It is also substantially heavier than the Nook and it sure looks less durable, even though I have already broken 1 Nook. I feel like I can bang the Nook around, with the iPad I feel like I am holding a wee little baby and am damn careful not to drop it or scratch it or do anything that might upset it. I wouldn’t feel comfortable slinging the iPad into my back pack and running for a plane. The nook i will just toss in there without a second thought.

The interface. Man the interface on the iPad is just so slick, I feel confident that anyone could learn to use it in 5-10 min. The nook, meh not so much. I am not saying the nook is hard to use but there are some significant differences. Heres a video, how to pick a book on the nook(rhymes are cool) ,a book on the iPad and  a book on the kindle.

So picking a book is pretty simple and straight forward. I don’t think there is a significant advantage that any has in this regard, except, the iPad does everything with style and in a way that is fun to use. The Nook and the Kindle’s interface just isn’t that fun. Both are very usable but I don’t know that anyone would say fun.

Lets look at another example of this, simply turning the page.

As you can see the iPad just has a very polished feel and look to it. And it is interesting and entertaining to use.

Another example of something that is often brought up with eReaders is the ability to quickly define words that you might not know, unfortunately it is not all that simple to do on the Nook and it is extremely easy to do on the iPad.

Something that all eReaders can do that normal books can’t is change the font size when you want. Maybe you have older eyes, or maybe you really like teeny tiny letters but each allows you to change the font size with little effort.

Once again you can see that when it comes to user interface the iPad wins all day.

Of course the main purpose for the manufactures to make these nifty devices is so we can spend money at their stores no matter where we are physically located. At home, at your kids soccer game maybe at church or wherever you might find yourself, they want to make sure you can spend that hard-earned green with ease. Here is how you purchase books on these devices.

Now that we have seen many functions that people will need from any decent eReader lets look at the devices as they perform as eReaders.

One of the key things for any eReader is where it can be used. Can you take it to the beach, can you lay poolside or are you stuck using it in the house under perfect lighting conditions. Another major concern is battery life. A book is an awesome companion for anywhere, camping, boating or climbing big ass mountains in the arctic, they are the ideal portable entertainment. So your eReader needs stay powered as long as possible. These two points favor the Nook/Kindle over the iPad. We explore the differences in the next video.

As you can see the Nook wins out in both these categories. The battery life is probably more important than the glare issue but either issue can be a huge annoyance. The upside to the iPad is when it runs out of batteries you now have a really slick-looking paperweight. I am getting 6-7 days worth of reading(wireless off) in a charge on the Nook/Kindle, on the iPad it is laptop like. I bet after a few months, getting a solid 8 hours off the iPad will be good.

Another concern with any electronic book reader is the form factor, how large it is and how easy it is to hold and just read on.  I have also thrown in the Kindle DX.

The nook and kindle wins here as well. It is much more book like in its shape and appearance. You can easily hold it one-handed and will have more options for laying or sitting in different positions as you read, the iPad is simply not a one-handed device. The Nook also hurts less when it hits you in the head if you ever fall asleep reading.

What formats each device can handle is another area that needs to be paid attention to. Here is a handy dandy chart that lists what can go where. It’s from this wikipedia article.

Comparison of e-book formats

Comparison of e-book formats

After all is said and done it really comes down to need. If I were to only be able to pick one device I would choose the iPad, just for the fact that it can do so much. It can play music, movies, surf the web, etc, etc, and you can read on it. But if I was to pick the device that is the better eReader I would have to go with the Nook/Kindle. The ease of readability, the battery life and the size favor one of those two devices. You can’t lay in bed and 1 hand the iPad, you can’t take it to the beach and easily read, you can’t have it on for 10+ hours without charging and these are key points to any eReader.

Here is a little summation video and shows a few neat things the iPad can do that the Kindle/Nook can’t.

I do believe that in one area of books the iPad is a much better fit. For reference materials, or learning books, or programming manuals I think it would be impossible to effectively use a Nook/Kindle. The iPad makes it so easy to flip between sections and pages and with its gorgeous large display I feel that these kind of books will be way more usable on the iPad than the other two. We use programming manuals a bunch and are constantly flipping through them to get what we need, mark a spot and go to another page, you can do this much faster with the iPad. So if you are also planning on using one of these to study make sure you take that into consideration.

Ok I have to add a few minor annoyances that I have been dealing with while using the iPad. First the battery just doesn’t last very long. I am getting 6-7 hours right now off a full charge. And the full charge seems to take forever, as an example I had the iPad at 15% plugged it in to charge and 90 min later it was at 30%.  And the only thing that works so far to charge it is the damn usb charger it came with. No other usb charger I have, and I have a bunch will do it. When they are plugged into it, the iPad just says “Not Charging” in the upper right hand which means it cant be used while charging.  While these are not show stoppers they are major pains in the butt especially when looking at the iPad as just an eReader.

And once again as time evolves who knows what will happen. Take a look at alice in wonderland on this thing. Now this is fun. Hell i am excited as heck because my 8 year is gonna go crazy when she see this. It will get her excited about reading even more than she is now. And this is something the other 2 devices will never be able to come close too. I am really impressed and this is just the beginning. We are going to see such neat stuff from here on in I believe.

Thanks for reading, I hope the review was helpful to you.

Avatar and our night out

December 19, 2009 Leave a comment

So we just got back from Avatar. It was a full house with no room to spare. We got there about 30 min early and waited in line but got decent seats. Unsurprisingly, there were a lot of male adolescence present but I was surprised by the number of families that were in attendance.  Its a badass movie. Go see it. It’s a fun show that everyone can enjoy-if you like totally action packed, beautiful,  kickass genre defining SCI-FI movies that is. If you are into half cat, half human, tall blue scantily clad women you will be in heaven. There was a little language and some basic non gory violence. The plot is a little tired but it is packaged in a spectacular way. You will see things that you haven’t seen before. We saw the 3D version and I really enjoyed how the 3D was used to pull you into the movie. There are lots of scenes with small particles, like ash, or embers that seemed to just float around you.  You can tell Cameron cared about his artistic  vision and took his time with the movie. Its long 2+ hours but didn’t seem so the first go round. Both Dorothy and Sarah thought it was an awesome movie, so it was well worth the moolah.

So at our theater, the Cobb here in Lakeland they have a wind machine, its bright yellow and looks like a fancy time machine. It has cylindrical tube that you pay 2 bucks to stand in and the wind blows up to 80 miles per hour. It is covered by windows so you can see all the goodness that goes on inside to whomever decides to face its evil windy wrath.  Well D saw this tube thing and got all excited. She said “Please, Please, Please Let me go in there.”. I mean she was adamant, she really really wanted to go and I couldn’t figure out why she wanted in so bad because she had been to something similar to the one at MOSI in Tampa. So after a few moments of her pleading and giving me the puppy dog eye treatment I caved, gave her the 2 bucks and watched her step inside. Well the wind started picking up and Dorothy’s eyes kinda popped open, She looked at me quizzically through the glass, shrugged her shoulders and asked “What the heck is going on!?”. I had to shout back to her since the wind was picking up a pretty good pace and she was looking more and more freaked out every passing second, “What?” I hollered.

She replied very loudly, shrugging her shoulders and holding her hands up in frustration-“Where’s all the money? Where’re the dollars I’m supposed to catch?”. She thought it was a money spewing wind machine like you would see on a game show. Her face was to die for. She had this puzzled expression that was marred by the force of the wind and her anger was increasing with every passing second that didn’t present greenbacks floating in the wind. Man when she got out she was pissed. She had her hair all jacked up, had been freaked out pretty well and didn’t have a dollar to show for it. Plus she was mildly embarrassed by her misunderstanding.  It was very funny and her ego was salvaged with a large popcorn and a cup of pure sugar in the form of a blue slushy.

It was a good night, and tomorrow we fly to Tenn, where we hope to have a white Christmas and some good times with our families(even though mine are all sick).

Categories: Current Affairs, Family, Reviews Tags: ,

Bounce…

December 11, 2009 Leave a comment

So there is a book by Keith Mcfarland, called Bounce: The Art of Turning Tough Times Into Triumph. One of the main principles is that we often don’t find and harness our greatest strength until we meet great adversity. It is an interesting quick read and can apply to both business and personal sides of life.  Some core values of the book are resiliency and adaptability, and how we must tap into each to be able to thrive in this new ever changing landscape. The author uses a interesting metaphor to illustrate this point and I thought it would be a fun quick project to make a video that went along with it.

Motorola Cliq vs HTC MyTouch 3g

November 21, 2009 10 comments

My wife got her Cliq today and I thought I would throw up a quick comparison. Firstly the Cliq seems faster and more stable than the Mytouch 3g(hereon referred to as the mytouch). Its touch screen seems a little more sensitive in a good way. It just feels smoother I guess. The Mytouch can be a little hitchy at times. I don’t have any apps loaded on the Cliq yet and I have the mytouch loaded down with stuff which impacts its speed.

I love the form factor of the mytouch, it is small and light and just really fits in a pocket well. The Cliq is not much larger and I don’t see a problem carrying it around but it does have the pop out keyboard that the mytouch doesn’t and that adds a bit of, o I don’t know, chunkiness, not a huge deal but a difference between the two. The Cliq is a little heavier than the MyTouch and a tad fatter.

The biggest difference besides the pop out keyboard is the way the manufactures have configured the OS. When I first started the mytouch I had a phone. Then I added apps and hooked it to a few sites and my device was complete. When first starting up the Cliq you get prompted for all the social networking site logon’s by default. It quickly aggregates all the sites you are a part of and then pretty much pukes all that data up on the main screen(MotoBlur is what they call it). Initially it seems a little much but I am sure after a while you get used to it. And its face book app is much better than the one on the Mytouch.

Both the phones have all the stuff that smart phones need to have. GPS, speech dialing, speech search from google plus a ton of apps. They both run on android so the underlying OS is the same just Motorola has add a different face to theirs. The integration with google maps is amazing with both the phones and really make traveling to new places fun. Apps like sherpa help a ton.

There are a few negatives to the mytouch though. The power plug looks like it wont accept the regular usb plug but it will.  It doesn’t come with a standard headphone jack on the phone. It comes with a cable you plug into the bottom of the phone(same place as the power cable) and that turns into a regular jack. Me, I lose shit, all the time so I have already lost that little dongle so it can’t be my Mp3 player and phone, just my phone. The Cliq uses the new micro USB that most of the new Blackberries come with and it does include a headphone jack on the phone.

I am impressed with the Cliq. I like the way the keyboard feels, it has a nice spring loaded pop to it and the phone just feels a little more polished ot me than the MyTouch. If I were to choose again I believe I would get the Cliq, the only thing you lose by going with the Cliq over the MyTouch is a little bit of size but you gain a bunch: MotoBlur(not sure if this is a Gain), Pop Out keyboard, Headphone Jack, Normal Power Cable, higher MP Camera, seemingly speedier interface,  and just a better put together package.

Cliq MyTouch 3G
Camera: 5.2 MP 3.2 MP
OS: Android V1.5 Android V1.6
Battery: 1420 mAh 1340 Mah
Internet: 11.2 ounces (317 grams) 10 ounces
Standby: 325 hours max. 420 hours max.
Touch Screen: 3.1″ diagonal 3.2″ diagonal
Resolution: 320 x 480 pixels 320 x 480 pixels
Size: 114 x 58 x 15.6 mm 113 x 56 x 14.7 mm
Talk: 6 hours max. (360 minutes) 7 hours max. (420 minutes)
Weight: 166 g 116 g
Picture from Cliq

Picture from MyTouch 3G


I hope this helps if you are trying to decide between one of these fun phones.