The place I call home is equivalent to what most of my friends would consider a weekend getaway. A New England home out in the country on a small piece of land, on a dirt road that is dusty, muddy and covered in foot deep snow depending on the season with slow Internet, a power generator that kicks on twice a week when the wind blows in a town that has a population just shy of 1,700 inhabiting 54 square miles. SF is 7 times small but 700 times more people. The town I grew up in has 60,000 people and two Wal*Mart locations.
It’s hard to believe that I’ve lived here for 3 years this coming September. I’m 2 months away from my 27th birthday and, at this point in my life, would imagine that I’d be pretty set in my ways. I’d have a hobby that was for sure something I was extremely passionate about, I’d be pretty settled in where I lived and maybe even be married. None of these things are true. One thing that is true is that I ponder life a lot less than I used to. I feel less nostalgic now than I did 10 years ago.I have less regrets, more friendships but I do have a lot of ex-friends and ex-lovers and am driving my 4th car and living in the 6th house as an adult since I moved out of my dad’s house at age 20.
It felt like I was on the path to write an introspective quarter-century biography on my 25th birthday. I started that project but ended up throwing it away not because it wasn’t important to me but I finally gained some perspective and a proper value of my life and realized a quarter-century biography did nothing but serve my own ego so it was thrown out. Good riddance. It was a boring read.
Elizabeth and I have been living together since a week before New Years Day 2013. Prior to that, we dated since October of 2010 and lived separately about 15 miles from each other. my commute to work is a bit longer now but we both made compromises to find a place that worked for us. I’ve known her now for over 2 and a half years. That’s pretty cool. Moving in, combining our stuff and working on a household budget was difficult. We’re both very independent so each day feels like a compromise. I think we’ve found our rhythm.
I still fail to fully grasp the extent of things. It’s a left-over trait from my childhood I guess. I don’t take things as seriously as most people do. I decided to take my current job and move across country within a moment of being offered the position. No deliberation, just an instant visit to craigslist to start selling my stuff. I flew to SF mid-May of 2010 to look for work and 2 weeks later, I had a few garage sales and as there in June. I make big decisions a bit too easily. So far, they’ve worked out. Now that I’m over 25 and soon approaching 30, the habit of jumping into things has bigger consequences. I just hope I’m not wasting Elizabeth’s time. We’re both adults but she certainly considers choices a lot more seriously than I do. She knows of my impulsiveness. I think that overall, getting older hasn’t changed my swift decision making. Overall, I’ve had good luck with the choices i’ve made. So far, us living together is going pretty well.
When I returned from Denmark, I had a cold that lasted over a week. This was in March. After a few tests were made, my doctor said the only possible option was that I may have HIV. Eliz was with me in the doctor’s office. We both thought it was funny but then, over the next 3 days, I actually got worried. I’m not a self-diagnosed hypochondriac but I did the test as my doctor recommended and waited for results. By the time my results came back, I was feeling better and the results were negative. Of course they were. Why wouldn’t they be? Those of you that read the blog since it’s inception including my other blogs dating back to 1999 (wazzzup LiveJournal?) know of how preposterous any STD is for how I’ve lived my life but I spend slightly more time worrying about my future now than I used to. I say slightly because I still am impulsive and sometimes impatient but I’m working to make more decisions or at least consider things that may have an affect on my future and the people I love.
My sisters are getting older. I was telling my Dad a few months ago that he’s always going to be 35 in my eyes. I don’t see him aging. To me, he’s always the same. I wonder if my sisters see me this way? I was there in the hospital room when both of them were born. I was almost 10 when Cheyenne was born and, 3.5 years later, Marley was born and I was practicing for my driving test. Now, they’re 16 and 13. Cheyenne will be 17 in 2 weeks. Mind blowing. I hope they look up to me and look to me for guidance, advice and that they see my mistakes and don’t make them. A dream that I’ve succeeded in accomplishing is to have my own experiences shape my perspectives in a way that expands my mind. I hope they can do the same.
An anonymous commenter on the Internet said something along the lines of people who travel aren’t any smarter than those who don’t. Just because you can afford $300 for a plane ticket doesn’t make you a better person.
I really disagree with that. My personality is not solely shaped by a flight to Europe. That’s not the point. The point is the more you put yourself outside of your comfort zone, outside of what you know and think and perceive, the more you’ll grow. I hope my sisters find that same path. So many people in my family are married at 18, pregnant at 19 and they’re happy with that life and I love them. They’re my family, they’re great people. However, I don’t hang out with people like my family. I don’t connect with people who don’t travel, didn’t go to school, didn’t take risks or wander strange towns in foreign countries at night. the sort of people I get along with are the explorers who take risks. Very few in my family did that while we get along, the people I’m friends with and those who are in my family are a different group of people with different politics and ideals.
I remember one of my greatest memories while traveling was learning how to play Rugby in the slums of India while in Mumbai. The area felt unsafe, I was wearing flashy clothes and had a camera and did not fit in at all. I made some great friends that day, some spoke english and it was just a fun day.
I hope my sisters have these kind of experiences. Travel can be cheap and the world is smaller than you think.
Something unthinkable has happened over the last few years. I care less about Technology and more about culinary. Beer especially has become a big part in my life. It’s only a small bit of my pursuit to become more self-reliant. Just this weekend, I made pork that I raised, slaughtered, processed, cured and smoked myself. The hogs I raised last year is still some of the best tasting meat I’ve ever had. It’s a shame I can’t have animals where I live currently. Everyone should experience gardening, raising animals and slaughtering them, making beer and cheese and wine.Making your own cheese and churning butter is very easy. So many people I know don’t even feel comfortable at a stove. The art of sustaining ourselves is being lost. It’s pretty sad.
Beer as a hobby has taken such an unexpected hold over me that I’m still grappling to understand what it means. The obvious assumption is that I’m an alcoholic. I’ve taken some very important steps to limit that possibility. Taking breaks from beer, hanging out with my beer friends and not drinking, pouring beer that’s not A+ down the drain because I don’t want the calories and other things have helped me understand that I’m not an addict. Of course, there are both physical and mental addictions. As long as I keep a handle on the relationship I have with alcohol, I should be okay. I actually don’t drink all of the beer I brew. Most of it is given away. Brewing and exploring yeast and various hops has been an extremely fun addition to this hobby. Also, seeking out rare and special beers and sharing them with friends is also fun. like any hobby, beer is very expensive. Some of the bottles I have cost $300 just to acquire. Yes, some of these beers are cellarable for many years as long as light is absent and the temperature is in the 50s but it’s a hobby and I just have to keep the expenses within reason. Things like harvesting my own yeast and learning how to brew some of the beers I like the most has helped me keep the budget in check.
My job is as great as the day I started almost 3 years ago. Every day is a new challenge with teams all around the world. The successes at my company over the last 3 years are too many to list but some I had a hand in and that’s a great feeling. I still do some side-work outside of the day job. That and beer and culinary hobbies keeps me very busy.
I didn’t have a point in this blog post. It’s just nice to sit here outside among thousands of chirping birds and the smell of flowers and write what’s new.I’ll do a yearly birthday update like usual but this was more of a rambling bit.
This blog isn’t updated as much as it should be. This is for a few reasons. The first is that my interests in technology often collide with my job. I can’t post my opinion here as often as I’d like. The second is I write more about beer and there’s a blog for that separate from this one. Finally, I stay pretty busy with work, friends and hobbies. I’m sure you all understand. Besides, too much of me is never a good thing.
I’d like to lose some more weight this summer which means drinking less beer. It also means cutting out more meat from my diet and spending more time at the gym. I’d like to buy some new clothes which I haven’t done in over 2 years. I remain stubborn that I won’t buy 38 waist jeans..therefore I wear 36 waist jeans like an idiot and pretend that these are the correct size. Things like that need to change. Either I lose 25 pounds or I buy the right jean size. Don’t sit in limbo, right?
Well, I’m going to go for a hike and listen to the new Kanye West album which I hear is a bit mixed on how good it is. We’ll see.
Last month, I bought an iPod Classic at Best Buy. It was expensive but I thought the iPod classic was bulkier, larger and had a larger screen. I held the iPod in my hand and thought, this is tiny.
The iPod seemed huge when I was young. The screen also seemed bigger but then the iPhone happened and now the iPod looks short, thick and the smallest screen I think is even possible for a mobile device. I have to squint my eyes to see the screen. It’s pretty remarkable how much of a game-changer the iPod was compared to every other MP3 player of its time I proudly owned every iPod that was ever released from the first 5GB FireWire model that had a click wheel that actually spun. The 3rd Generation iPod with the touch sensitive bright red buttons as my all time favorite iPod. I never got into the Mini / Nano models. My iTunes library was always too huge for those devices. Even now, the 160GB iPod Classic can’t hold my iTunes library.
Of course, when Apple renamed the iPod app on iOS to “Music”, we all knew what that meant. iOS is bigger than the iPod ever was. You no longer needed an iPod app on iOS to make it appeal to people. The iPod has a music player, not an iPod and that’s all that matters.
I kept using the iPod for music until 2011 when I purchased the iPhone 4 in San Francisco which had access to 32 gigabytes of storage and Pandora. I relied on those to get buy and only stored my music playlists on it. Yes, only the playlists in iTunes fit on that iPhone. Disappointing but I was tired of carrying multiple devices. Since the iPhone 4, I’ve had the 4S and 5 and each of those have 64 Gigabytes of storage. Paired with a 64 gigabyte iPad, I can keep a lot of my music on them so that’s what I’ve dealt with. When I bought a car, it had a 30-Pin Apple connector that works with the stereo. So, on the day I bought my car, I picked up an iPod Classic. It’s been a great experience but I experienced the same unfamiliarity as I did when getting my first iPod back in November of 2001. I was lost.
The first thing about the iPod Classic I had to overcome after 6 years of iOS is the lack of connectivity. I forget how being disconnected feels. It wasn’t scary, but my habitual behaviors had me expecting to have access to streaming music or at least iTunes Match. I’d grab the iPod Classic and go for a run and when I started the run, I’d go to start my running tracker application and realize the iPod didn’t have that. It couldn’t even link up with my Nike running shoes and, if I really wanted some Beastie Boys, I couldn’t rely on iTunes Match to stream it because what was on the iPod is all you can listen to. There’s no other way around it unless you connect to the Mac and load up Beastie Boys.
Where does the Classic fit in 2013? The iPod Classic reminds me of an external hard drive. Sure, there’s cloud storage which is portable, flexible and never gets corrupted or fails but the external hard drive at home is cheaper, accessible and feels more rugged. It feels like something you can trust. There’s no delay to your files due to Internet access and the price per gigabyte is insanely cheap. Accessing those files from your iPad while you’re in Amsterdam isn’t very easy though so cloud storage is obviously the winner. The connected iOS devices I own (iPhone 5, iPad 3) are greatly superior to the iPod Classic. They’re more expensive, you can’t really work on them to replace individual parts and there’s a new one every year but the Classic is that external hard drive. Affordable, reliable and useful. It can’t play rented 1080P videos or iBooks but it plays podcasts just fine just as long as I remember to sync the podcasts before I leave the house.
For a device that goes into my glove compartment in the car unseen and out of sight, the iPod Classic is perfect.
As for what my headphones plug into, well the iPhone wins that battle. I can use Pandora, Spotify, iTunes Match and YouTube. It has my books and I can stream podcasts. The iPod Classic wins because 80% of my iTunes library is in my car at all times. It’s fast and gets the job done.
It’s no surprise that iPod is called ‘Classic’ at this point.It still has it’s place. I had 5 external hard drives at home and I keep a USB keyboard around for diagnosing problems when Bluetooth is not available (such as the BIOS) and the iPod Classic is sort of like that. It’s a lot of fun to own though. The battery life is insane!
Back in my day….yeah, that’s how this one starts but I’m really curious. Am I just getting old or is the music situation still a mess?
Two years ago, I wrote about the Boxee Box and how it was overall a disappointment creating problems for me but not necessarily blaming Boxee. The IPTV market is still crap. You pay for the pipe and then pay for content, you could steal content but then you’re..well stealing and then you have to encode and title all of the content. Cable TV is cumbersome and expensive and I personally have 5 boxes at my entrainment center in order to watch all of the content I want to watch but, due to a slow Internet connection where I am, I still am stuck paying for cable.
Let’s talk about music.
First, let’s review our options:
- iTunes (Purchase songs, import stolen music, iTunes Match allows you to stream music to other devices)
- Spotify / Rdio / tons of copy cats ($10 a month to listen to any track you want at any time and store 2,000 – 3,200 devices offline)
- Pandora (Create stations based on songs and artists you like. Pay $25 a year to get ad free, you can’t choose what song plays)
- Amazon / Google Music (copycats of iTunes)
- Steal music (free, sometimes low-quality, sometimes you have to manually add album artwork and tags..it’s stealing)
- Buy CDs (None of my computers have CD drives, CDs for some freaking reason still cost $20 in music stores or $12-$15 online + shipping)
The fundamental problem I have is two-fold and this is a personal problem that technology can’t really rectify:
- I live in a part of the country where the Internet sped is very poor. I can’t stream music on Spotify at my house and almost 75% of the places I drive don’t have cell-service
- I’m getting older so I want a mix of “music I love and grew up with” and “new stuff that doesn’t sound like crap“
My iTunes library is 22,000 songs but for some reason, ‘hits of the 90s’ isn’t a Genius playlist that’s available to me despite a lot of gems in there. So while there’s a lot of music in there, I don’t have enough time to curate it into a playlist that fits my mood without staring into my phone or Mac for hours a week putting together playlists.
So I decided to get Spotify…With Spotify, most of the songs I listen to, I own but I’m relying off playlists like “Top 90s Grunge” that someone else curated or subscribing to a playlist my friend created. Music discovery is at an all time high and I can play new-release albums for free (I’m paying $10 a month for the subscription) without committing to a new album purchase. I liked Rob Thomas growing up, let’s play his new album to see if I’m interested in buying it. I can stream new music but I still buy the CDs from artists I like because I like supporting the artists more directly. I’ll buy every album from BT or Armin just because.
Spotify has a problem.
You can have up to 3,333 tracks from the Spotify streaming catalogue synced for offline use, on each of up to 3 computers/devices at any time.There is no limit to the number of your own imported local files that you can sync to offline playlists on any device
3,333 is not many songs. I LOVE iTunes Match when I do have cell-service because I can stream a song that I am thinking about that I haven’t heard in a long time since it rests in iCloud at all times for me to listen to. Because I am without good cell connection, Spotify doesn’t work for me when traveling..the only way it’ll work is by syncing a playlist for offline access and that many tracks seems like a lot but it’s not really. Honestly, my Internet is so slow, I end up spending all night syncing my Spotify over Wifi and then deciding I want to listen to something different the next day and just using iTunes Match instead.
So Spotify really only works when I’m at work or with the playlists I specifically have decided to sync offline.
So Spotify helps me discover new music and iTunes is really where it gets played. However, most of the time I’m traveling through Vermont, I use SiriusXM on my stereo because it’s reliable.
I think things would be easier if I just started buying CDs again. I’d keep a book of albums in my car and grab a specific CD I want. Digital music is too much work. Discovery is nice but streaming is not. Also, the quality of iTunes and Spotify cloud music just doesn’t compare to the physical media.
Two years ago today, I wrote this blog post. It was an overall update where the weather had warmed up and I was blogging by the river. I miss that little gazebo by the river. It was so relaxing. In that post, I wrote this:
Next week, I’m picking up a brand new, never driven Toyota Corolla. My salary sort of means I could afford any car on that lot and I’m not bragging, it’s just true but, being a first time car buyer who traveled from 17-24, I don’t have much credit so I had to get a cheap car to prove that I can pay payments on time.Believe it or not though, I kind of love the car. I don’t need a huge SUV (nor do I want one) but I’d love to drive a Mercedes off the lot but my credit said no to that. So, this $21,000 Corolla with leather trim, bluetooth, upgraded sound system, larger engine, extra bod kit and all kinds of features like a mooon roof and steering wheel car controls is mine. I’m paying for it over 36 months and I got a great deal on it considering I’ve never had a car before or a credit card for that matter.
My first new car and it was a fun one. While I enjoyed the Corolla, it wasn’t my choice, it was the only option I had with the lack of credit history. It was also a lease, so the car was due back or I had the option of buying it when the lease was up but the buyout was considerably higher than the worth of the car after paying $315 a month for the past 24 months, that’s $7560 and then they asked me to pay $15,000 or $22,560. Not much over the value of the car but for a car I didn’t want, it was a lot.
In January, the search began for a new vehicle. I was pretty set on a Mini Cooper S, a Toyota Avalon or a Toyota FJ Cruiser. They are 3 radically different vehicles (sports car, luxury and 4×4 truck) but each catered to a desire of mine. I love going fast, I love luxury / comfort and I’m tired of getting stuck in the snow / mud on my dirt road here in New Hampshire.
A couple of things happened. The first is that Mini Cooper would require I drive 2 hours to Boston when i needed car work done since there is no BMW or Mini dealership in my area. The Avalon I was laughed at for wanting a grandma car and the body was huge, it’s a full-size and a lot of wasted space especially considering the back seats don’t fold down aside from a small hole for skis, I can’t put anything in it and the FJ cruiser well, I think it’s going away or at least no Toyota dealers in my area could get one for me. “They’re all stuck at port. we don’t know when we’ll ever get any in” and that lasted for 2 months. My dad has an FJ and I love the look of it but, trucks eat gas and have bigger tires, brakes and other parts. It’s a pricey car and lacks the technology and conveniences. It was a practical choice but I couldn’t drive any of the new models since none were available locally.
While my friend Justin was here from SF on the 17th of March, we looked at the Volkswagen Golf R. He told me it’s the perfect car for me, all wheel drive and a lot of fun to drive. I thought Golfs were cheap cars that kids bought used and added a ton of modifications. I thought Volkswagens were the black sheep of the German car makers where Audi shined and BMW / Mercedes were the crown German vehicles. I see Audis all over town but I don’t see many VW vehicles.
A few days after Justin and I peered at the Golf R through a window on a Sunday at the local VW dealership, I went to the dealer locally. Thank goodness there’s one near my work. After test driving the Golf, we set up the paperwork and I finally took it home 2 weeks later. That was 3 weeks ago and now that I have finally received all of the paperwork to register the vehicle, insurance squared away and a few tanks of gas later, I wanted to express the excitement on this blog and share with you a few photos. First, here’s the Golf R in a nutshell:
The VW Golf is the original hot-hatchback. Golf vehicles spend many thousands of miles on the road, retain a nice resale value and each generation is followed quickly by many aftermarket parts, modifications and tweaks that can be made. The VW GTI is a Golf on steroids and it’s faster, slightly larger and more fun to drive. The Golf R is a vehicle that comes around every few years (previously called ‘Golf Rabbit’ or R32) and it’s basically a wickedly improved GTI but with the Golf name. This forum post breaks than down better than I can. While the Golf R is around $6,000 more than the VW GTI, this Autobahn race between a Stage 2 GTI and a stock Golf R shows an idea behind just how much faster the Golf R is.
The Golf R is dangerously fast and the German engineering is awe-inspiring. Every little thing is special. When the wipers aren’t in use, they hide so you can’t se them and engaging the front windshield cleaner also sprays wiper fluid on my front headlights. The lights move as I turn the steering wheel making it easier to see around corners. The steering wheel is ergonomic if that’s even the right word for it and the built in computer manages the entire driving experience. Did I mention how fast it is?
By default, I’d say this car prefers going 90 miles per hour. That’s the normal speed for it. If I am on an interstate in Vermont, cruising along with not a car in sight (happens more than you think up here in the woods), I’ll realize almost once per day I’m going 90. Cruise control is your friend and keeps you in check. If the speed limit is 55 and someone on a single lane road is going 40, passing them is a breeze. You drop the gear from 6 into 4, realize you’ve just hit 80 miles per hour and then turn on your blinker to get over and let off the gas until you get back to 55. I’ve never passed a car so easily before. It’s pretty remarkable.
Also, I’ve never driven an all-wheel-drive vehicle before. This video explains VW’s 4-Motion system. On Friday, there was an inch of ice on the ground and another inch of snow. In just the stock factory all-season tires, I was passing cars in the lane on Interstate 91 that had not been plowed. In fact, the snowy lane was easier to drive in than the lane covered in black ice. I’ve never before driven the speed limit during a snow storm. I didn’t slip or slide or feel at all that I was driving in a snow storm. The car just drove and I did a few tests in a parking lot covered in snow to get a feel for the handling. Each time the car loses control, I can steer a tad and recover easily. The all-wheel drive makes driving fun again in both snowy and dry conditions.
The 3300 pound car with all wheel drive and a heavy all metal frame means lower gas mileage than my Corolla. It averages 24.8 MPG versus 31.3 in the Corolla. Not only that, it requires premium gas and maintenance will be treated like a sports car…we’re talking sports car brakes, air filters, windshield wipers, clutch and fuel pumps. Turbocharger repairs aren’t cheap. I mentally prepared myself for that cost and hope it remains within my budget on par with how much fun this car is to drive.Right now, the gas + monthly payment are in line with just how much fun it is. Every time I get behind the wheel, I’m happy and in love with every aspect of it.
As the first car that I picked and am stoked about, the car continues to impress me. It has ever amenity I want (except for cooled seats and auto-retracting mirrors). It’s insanely fast, looks sexy on the road and has every bell & whistle of the luxury offerings from BMW. It is expensive but I see myself in this car for a long time. It has been a huge pleasure to own and I am thrilled to have it!
My review of the Nike FuelBand that was posted in July of 2012 is mostly unchanged. The software is still clunky, the band heavy and the overall data collected is minimal and often inaccurate. Driving in a car for 8 hours and reaching my fitness goal is not what I’d call accurate but, the graphs show I’m very active with the most activity being while I ate a box of french fries at a truck stop. Lifting bag to mouth counted for 200 Nike Fuel points or about 5 minutes of sprinting. Yeah, not accurate.
On the last leg of my trip to Europe, I banged the fuel band against the door of an airplane and broke the band. It snapped but the rubber held it together until I got home. A call to Nike and they replaced the band in-warranty with a brand new one with the box, accessories, everything. That was pretty cool and, the new unit has a new 1 year warranty. I figured it was because the overall satisfaction people have with the device is low but a free brand new unit with a new warranty is nothing to complain about.
The new 1st generation FuelBand is heavier, thicker, more rigid and holds to the wrist must better. It’s harder to take on and off which should mean it holds up much longer. Besides, a water-tight fit means you really shouldn’t take it off unless you’re going to go swimming. I did go skiing at the lake last summer and forgot to take the band off and it was fine even while submerged in water but Nike doesn’t recommend that.
Primarily, aside from the stiffness of the new unit, not much is changed but the battery life has blown me away. I’m in awe of how long this unit has lated on my wrist. It has stored data just fine, logged my movements and told me the time. The unit has been functioning normally but, instead of the normal 3 days between charges, I’ve been wearing the Fuel Band for 4 weeks. I have an inquiry into Nike asking if this is normal. I just plugged in my device for my once a week sync and it’s showing 25% battery remaining, the same thing the FuelBand showed 3 weeks ago. It seems like the device isn’t aware the battery is running low. Is his normal?
So, I’m very confused as to why the battery lasted so long but a 4 week battery life on an activity tracker is very impressive. Although, I still think this is a bug because the device has been charging on my macBook via USB for an hour and still hasn’t gone above 25% battery life. But, if it’s still tracking my movements, what’s the big deal what the battery reads, right?
Update: I just did a force reset of the unit and now it’s show 79% charged. How odd though that it’s holding the charge so long. I will promise myself not to charge it again and only sync to my iPhone weekly via Bluebooth and see if this thing will keep going and going for months. If so, and it’s not a bug, great job Nike on improving battery life on these things.
According to EnergyFiend, Red Bull is being slowly caught up with by Monster’s huge line of energy drinks. In order to diversify, Red Bull is releasing flavors. Cranberry, lime and blueberry flavors are available nationwide and I grabbed a can of each to see how these taste.
Elizabeth liked all three flavors but I think she preferred the cranberry. I liked blueberry but neither of these flavors was good enough to get me to stop drinking coffee or the occasional standard Red Bull. These have been tested for the last 6 months in the hottest clubs in Vegas and NYC and I’m assuming they were tested mixed with Vodka or some other liquor. The tastes are too sweet and really feel like they’re designed for Vodka.
With that said, if you’re looking for a flavor mix for your Red Bull & Vodka, just get flavored vodka or flavored extract to add to a drink. these cost the same as regular red bull and the formula and caffeine amounts of identical as well.
Everything I wrote a year ago still applies. A year later, my situation is worse. Watching or listening to every SF Giants game in 2013 will not cost $119. It’ll cost me $570. At an average price of $27.21 per ticket (source), I could go to nearly 21 home games in San Francisco..well, assuming I lived there. Also, if I lived in SF I couldn’t get MLB.TV because I’d be in the Giants’ blackout region. So, why is watching one team play baseball costing almost 5 times as much a year later?
I moved to a new house.
My drive to work and the drive I make every 2 weeks to northern Vermont lacks reliable cell phone service and my new house, despite being 15 miles from an Ivy league college has a maximum Internet speed of 3 megabits. No cable provider, just DSL and 3mbps is the best I can do. My last setup allowed me to watch SF Giants games at home via a ton of devices but mostly, I watched all of these games on my AppleTV in HD streaming. The Apple devices all share one common theme, they don’t allow MLB to inject advertisements into their stream. Using an MLB application for Android or within a web browse and you will have advertisements during commercial breaks. The Apple devices don’t have those on the video streams. If you’re streaming audio, you’re tuning into the local AM station (KNBR in SF) which does have ads on their broadcast.
I tried watching Spring Training games on the AppleTV and iPad on my new home Internet. It doesn’t work. Not even in SD can I watch these games. The same goes for Netflix and even YouTube. My home Internet won’t allow me to watch streaming content. I literally am going to video stores to rent videos.
So, what do I do?
I add a sports package to my DirecTV service that includes my hometown sports station from when I lived in SF, CSN Bay Area. For the last few days, I watched every SF Giants game, it was great and worked great! I watched / listened to games at work on my iPad for the day games and I watched games at home. Tonight, I go to watch the 10:15 PM game of SF Giants versus the Rockies…”You are not subscribed” is the message I saw. The Sports package I paid $20 a month for suddenly doesn’t get CSN BA. I called DirecTV. They informed me CSN BA was not in my region therefore I couldn’t watch it. I told them it was working yesterday and now I discover that was a trial to MLB’s TV Package, a $55 a month package that allows me to watch every baseball game this season.
All in all, the package’s cost is $240. It says $199 online but that’s only for new subscribers. But I’ve already paid $130 for MLB.TV…too bad, so sad.
IT seems like the scenario so far is $130 will get me radio stream (where I have cell service) to my car via Bluetooth of games while I’m on the road and it allows me to watch 11AM / noon (PST) games on my iPad in my cubicle which is nice and helps those last 2 hours of the day go by much faster. Then, for games that start at 3, 4 or 7PM, I can watch them on DirecTV via this new package. I”m in for $370 so far which would have been avoided had my home Internet been faster than 3 megabits.
So the other $200? Well, that’s the price of getting Sirius at $20 a month and getting MLB games in my car. Last year, my only complaint about the service was that I couldn’t listen to games while driving to and from work or around Vermont on beer runs. Well, I think the $20 a month for games on the road is just going to be outside of my price range. While it’s nice to have games in great quality and always on via Sirius, I’m just not in my car enough during those hours to shoot for it..and, when my iPhone gets a cell signal, I can stream the games via Bluetooth it’s just that Vermont isn’t known for reliable cell service.
While the MLB experience sucks in 2013, it’s still the best out there among the sports leagues and franchises. The MLB.TV package at $130 for the year for new users is still riddled with blackout and game restrictions (all Saturday games are blacked out) but, with a great Internet connection, you can watch games on your iOS and Android devices, PC and on your television. Samsung TVs even have the MLB app built in now. You need the Internet. Without MLB, well there’s your TV cable / satellite provider who will charge you about $250 for a season of games, also blackout restrictions apply. Finally, Satellite radio has you set for about $200 for the programing as a part of the deluxe package( Not an extra $20 a month but included in the $20 a month package)
The NFL, MLS and NHL leagues don’t have this sort of flexibility so, MLB is doing a good job but I don’t think it’s enough. We really need a one time fee that allows he end user to select what games they want, what features and where they want to watch or listen to those games. If I want only SF Giants games on my TV, iPad and in my car, that should be one price.
So yeah, I spend $370 so far to be able to watch SF Giants games but there are over 160 of them and I never miss a game. It’s almost a full year of entertainment for that price. It’s just a shame that it costs so much and is so confusing. Most people don’t take the time to go through all of the fine print. Luckily, if your Internet is better than 3 megabits down, MLB.TV is probably the best option especially if you don’t have cable, it could be the only option.
*apologies, wrote this at midnight and didn’t proofread*
DCILY is the only coffee blog I read. Relevant, entertaining and always informative and I was thrilled to see Noma featured but also surprised. My only regret in Copenhagen 3 weeks ago was that I wasn’t able to dine at this world’s top restaurant. I tried reserving a single seat 4 weeks before the trip and realized the wait was much longer. I settled for 2 days of dining instead, Relæ and Kødbyens Fiskebar.
While I wasn’t able to snag reservations, it was great to see the dinner and coffee featured on one of my favorite blogs. Check it out.
Life in the cloud. Google that. You’ll find a lot of results for cloud storage, computing and a few things about Jesus. Let’s talk about the cloud. My iTunes library exceeds 2 terabytes. The size of my first laptop was 15 gigabytes. It was a 600Mhz iBook 12″ and, according to my buddy Dennis Sellers in his 2001 Macworld review of that iBook, “The iBook is touted as a consumer portable. But for lots of us professional users, it can also more than fill the bill.” LOL. 15 Gigabytes works for pros? 2001 was a different time. Back then, the iPod was 5 gigabytes and I used it was a backup FireWire drive as well as for holding my measly 500 songs in iTunes 2.0.1. Times have changed and today, my iTunes library is larger than the capacity of 160 iBooks or, about how many were in use at my high school for student labs and teachers when I graduated in 2004.
Apple has done a great job with media management. There’s iTunes Match for which I’m a subscriber that holds all 25,000 of my songs in the cloud. When I buy movies and TV shows on iTunes, those are accessible via the cloud anywhere. I can sign into my Apple account on any AppleTV or iTunes installation and via iOS (iPad / iPhone) and stream / download video and audio that I’ve purchased. That’s pretty awesome.
With DropBox, everything I need for work and personal projects is accessible via the web browner and iOS and it stays in sync across my devices without effort.
There are a lot of services that make locally storage completely useless. Flickr may have all of my best photos stored but my iPhoto library is 400 gigabytes. Not every great shot ends up on Flickr so I have to store that. Also, a lot of my iTunes media wasn’t purchased from Apple so there’s storing that as well. Finally, I maintain documents, presentations and multimedia going back to 1999 when I first started blogging, taking photos and turning in electronic copies of school work to my teachers using the printers and open WiFi we had in school.
In total, I’m storing about 4.5 terabytes of data and all of my hard drives were completely full. Not even a new movie could fit on them and I was at the point where I’d have to stop backing up my computers to external drives to make space for more media. I’m not a data hoarder, I just have a lot of data from over the years and getting new music, taking hundreds of photos a month (thousands while on trips) and recording various data points about myself really adds up.
I had the chance to attend Ultra Music Festival again this year but didn’t. I decided to pay some more bills off and re-do my home storage setup. I didn’t go NAS or RAID as I had hoped to do but I did double my storage capacity at home.
I have two LaCie D2 Quadra drives. Each had a 1 Terabyte capacity and one with a failing HDD. I ordered two 3-Terabyte SATA II drives from Western Digital (green line). Nothing fancy at about $180 per piece. Upgrading the LaCie drives was a breeze with some hex and phillips head screw drivers. This didn’t take long.
I also ordered a LaCie Blade Runner which is a 4 terabyte USB 3.0 drive designed by Philippe Starck and built by LaCie. Only 10,000 are being made but considering this drive has been on sale for 3 months (since CES) and experienced price drops, I don’t feel like they’re moving these too fast. It is a beautiful drive. I wanted to order a LaCie D2 with Thunderbolt and USB 3 at 4 Terabytes but ThunderBolt drives are still too expensive. The Blade Runner was $299 and the upgradeable drive with thunderbolt was $399 for the same capacity. Not something I wanted to spend. I’ll wait on a ThunderBolt drive for when I get a new iMac.
It has taken about 36 hours but I’m finally back where I was a few years ago.
All 3 computers are duplicated with hourly backups to one of the 3 Terabyte drives. My iTunes Library is on one single drive (The Blade Runner) and duplicated to the other 3 terabyte drive. My 2 Terabyte Media Drive with life archives, projects and work is duplicated to the Blade Runner as well. I have some room to spare on all of these (about 3 Teraybtes Remaining).
What has this whole experience taught me? Well, I still love hard drives and don’t trust the cloud. Also, since my Internet is near dial-up at the house, products that rely solely on the cloud won’t work for me. I can’t buy / rent movies on iTunes because they take 8 hours to download. I can’t backup my entire iMac to Mozy or another service because it would take close to 6 months to backup my iMac to an online place. Deleting all iTunes songs and streaming from iTunes Match won’t work. I can’t even stream Spotify or watch 640 YouTube videos so I need local storage. Local storage is still a requirement for me and will be for the foreseeable future.
Maybe I’m just getting old and don’t want to rely on online storage? My home Internet is weak but there’s something valuable about having my data stored at home and the ability to grab drives and take them with me in the event of a fire. A lot of things are stored online but these backup services come and go so I don’t really trust them.
This year, I still want to get a Thunderbolt iMac + 27″ Thunderbolt display and a proper set of desktop speakers. It’s quite a bit to spend at once but at least now my data is backed up and healthy again. I was tempting my fate by having thousands of important documents and photos resting on single drives, some which were 5 years old. All is good now and I’m breathing much easier.