Christmas 2014 Events

I’ve been putting off my post about Christmas for awhile. I was busy spending time with my family during Christmas break and didn’t set aside time to write then, but I am now!

My wife and I went home to visit our families. Her parents and mine live in the same town, so its easy to see both families when we have a break. We stayed with my family this time and brought our cats, Lucky and Carmelita, along.

We got to spend some quality time with both families, chatting, going on walks, playing minigolf, and playing card games.

The big news of the break was that my wife’s uncle (my uncle-in-law? Is that a thing?) is moving to Taiwan. He’s a doctor right now. He’s in his late 50’s, but he doesn’t have any kids. It’s likely that he’s saved enough for retirement at this point, although he isn’t calling this retirement. He plans to work on something else in the future, but it isn’t clear what that is.

His wife is from Taiwan and they’ve gone there plenty of times to visit her family, so it makes sense for them to move there. She works over the internet which she can do just as easily in Taiwan as she can in the USA until she chooses to retire.

The crazy part of this whole plan was that they plan to keep some sort of residence in Nevada even though they currently live in California. It was a little confusing to us, but it seemed to be for tax reasons.

And of course the most important part of any Christmas break, WHAT PRESENTS DID I GET?!??

First, we got two huge bags to carry all the loot in, one for my wife’s stuff and one for my things. We got a decorative glass apple which we’d like to display once we move to a place with more room. Our space for decorative items is filled up in our current apartment.

We got an ice tray specifically made to produce long and thin pieces of ice to put into travel bottles. A lot of candy, some candied popcorn, and my favorite, a chocolate orange.

I got two movies, one is a favorite of mine, Forgetting Sarah Marshall. The other is Pirate Radio, something my dad claims I said I wanted a while back, but I have no memory of. It has a lot of my favorite actors in it though so I will most likely enjoy watching it.

I got a new iPad keyboard which I am using to write this post. It’s amazing and I love it. I got the Villainy board game that I played at Fake Chinese New Year’s Eve. I got an Imagine Dragons CD. I got a cool book, On Killing, that was recommended in the Harcore History podcasts. It’s about the costs and methods of training people to kill in modern society (soldiers mostly, but it touches on the media influence of other forms of violence as well).

I got an electric razor to give myself the 5 o’clock shadow shave that I’ve been wanting. I got a pair of bacon and egg magnets for my fridge. I got a Snow Wars t-shirt. It shows Han Solo and Chewbacca having a snowball fight, only they are illustrated in Calvin and Hobbes art style as if Han Solo is Calvin and Chewie is Hobbes.

I got a puzzle and a new pair of scissors (I did want these things). I got a new lab coat to wear at work. I got a hand blender due to a mixup on my Amazon wish list (might still use it!). I got all of the Hardcore History podcasts that are no longer available for free on iTunes (Awesome!). I got a cookbook solely for making stuff in the microwave. I’ve looked up recipes like that in the past and I’m very happy that there is a whole cookbook devoted to microwave recipes.

My wife got us a pair of shirts to wear. She got me a bread knife. I also got her a bread knife. There was a miscommunication. She got me Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods which I’d been wanting for a long time. She got me a ton of funny hats as well. I now have a pizza hat, a viking helmet, and a Poro hat (Poros are cute and fuzzy League of Legends animals).

Soooo many presents. Fortunately, most of them are small and I was able to find places for all of them. Let me know what presents you got! Or just your favorite one!

-Mister Ed

The Death Knell of my iPod

Here lies a dying breed, the iPod classic.
Here lies a dying breed, the iPod classic.

Alack and alas oh readers of my blog! For my iPod is slowly dying!

I got this iPod about six years ago back and it has served me well in its lifetime.

But now… Now it refuses to connect to my computer!

I can still charge it using the cable, but iTunes no longer registers that the iPod is connected.

I looked the issue up and found a post on Apple’s support pages from 2012 which listed a number of solutions to my problem, none of which worked.

I probably reinstalled iTunes a dozen different ways in an attempt to fix this issue, but it still refuses to interface with my iPod.

And I’m sure its not the iPod. My computer still sees the device. I could remove and add things to the iPod manually, but the music is coded and difficult to rearrange. Plus, that process is a whole lot harder to deal with than using iTunes like I have in the past.

My reading on the issue makes me think something got messed up in my computer’s registry when I updated iTunes from version 11 to version 12. The registry of my computer is some internal programming section that I can’t normally access to fix and if I did go through the steps to access it I might irreparably damage my computer for ever and eternity.

I could go to the Apple Store for help, but since the problem is with a Windows PC I don’t think they’d be able to help.

Likewise, because the problem is with my computer, getting a new iPod might not necessarily work either. Plus, they don’t even make the iPod classic that I have anymore! It’s all iTouch, iNano, and iShuffle now. None of them have the same storage capacity as my six year old iPod which is frankly a little shocking. My collection is sitting at 45GB right now and the largest iTouch is 64GB, so I wouldn’t have to make any hard choices. I’d still be missing the assurance that a new device would even work with my computer though.

The most frustrating part of this whole experience has been how long Apple has known about this error in iTunes code. The support page I found indicates they’ve been aware of this issue or a similar issue for the last two years and haven’t fixed it. Peter Jackson’s finished two movies faster than that!

The core of it is that Apple won’t fix an error when the error only occurs on their competitors machines. Its turned me off so much to their company that I’m now looking into getting a different MP3 player.

So… Any suggestions?

-Mister Ed

The Giver Movie Review

The Giver Movie Poster

My wife and I went on a date last weekend to see The Giver and we both really liked the movie.

It was a faithful adaption of the book and I felt it was a good movie on its own as well.

There are a few additions to the movie and a few things removed as well. Of course this sort of thing always happens in movie adaptions of books.

For example, Two scenes that I really enjoyed were not present in the movie, Jonas tossing an apple and seeing it turn red in the air, and a more direct explanation of precise language that Jonas receives from his parents.

In the book, Jonas says he is starving. His parents correct him and say that he is only hungry, not starving.

The movie skips that scene, but contains plenty of other pieces of dialogue that illustrate the precise use of language the people have developed in The Giver‘s utopia.

My wife was disappointed that the movie did not include the variety of gifts the children receive for each year of advancement. Only the bike at year nine is in the movie.

The special effects and acting in the movie were excellent. I loved that it switched back and forth between black and white and color. Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep were amazing as always and the young actors put forward impressive performances as well.

My wife’s major complaint (and I agree with her) was that the movie was too short. It’s only about an hour and a half long. The movie could’ve easily been lengthened and included all the things that we missed from the book.

I’d definitely recommend the movie for those who enjoyed the book or for people who get as excited about utopia/dystopia stories as I do.

Oh! And fair warning, Taylor Swift is in this movie and it utterly destroys your suspension of disbelief when she shows up.

-Mister Ed

Thoughts on Hearthstone Streaming

An image taken from one of the streamer's I like, AppleJacked.
An image taken from one of the streamer’s I like, AppleJacked.

I did my first stream on Friday and it went pretty well.

I’d expected to get 4 or 5 viewers, but I got 9 at the peek of interest in the stream.

I’m not sure how well I did on other aspects of it though besides popularity.

Was I talking too much or not enough? Should I have been playing music? Should I have had more interaction with the people watching the stream?

I feel like interaction is the way to go.

Part of the reason I didn’t do much interaction was because I had the game in full screen mod so I had to alt-tab out just to look at the stream comments.

Next time I think I’ll keep the Hearthstone game in a small windowed mode and have the stream chat open in a browser window to look at.

Then I can see what people are posting as it happens and reply as soon as I can.

I was frustrated by the stream delay, but that happens to every streamer I think.

The stream is about 10 or 20 seconds behind what I’m actually doing because it has to go out to the Twitch server and then from there to your computers. This means that when I respond to comments it will be 10 or 20 seconds behind if I respond by talking.

I could respond by typing in the chat, but I haven’t seen any streamers do that. I can only assume that no one does that because it isn’t popular with the people watching. They want to see you talk to them, not type to them.

It’s also important for me to enjoy streaming. Right now I’m just doing it for myself. If it’s not fun, I should stop.

I won’t lie, it was more stressful than just playing Hearthstone on my own.

I tried to keep talking constantly about what I was doing and that was tiresome.

The next day I felt like I didn’t want to do anymore streaming at all.

But now that I’m a bit removed from the tiring aspect of it, I think I liked doing it a lot.

So I’d expect more Hearthstone streams in the future. Maybe League of Legends, Faster Than Light, and Skyrim as well once I figure out a good stream look for those games.

Oh, and AppleJacked is a cool streamer in the picture above. If you like interaction between the streamer and the audience then he’s your guy.

He plays songs, shows off his muscles, and says his to new people. Really cool guy.

That’s all for tonight!

-Mister Ed

Bible Videos

A still from one of DarkMatter2525's videos on Genesis.
A still from one of DarkMatter2525’s videos on Genesis.

Today I found this series of videos on Youtube made by DarkMatter2525.

His videos look at Biblical stories from a modern perspective.

Is the same logic that was true thousands of years ago true today?

What happens if you look at the mythological stories from a different perspective?

One of the ones I’ve watched so far is about how the world would’ve turned out if Adam and Eve never committed original sin.

Since death doesn’t exist without sin, the world just fills up with people until there is a second crust around the Earth made of animals and people.

The people don’t need to eat because they can’t die.

Eventually God gets fed up and force feeds Adam the apple.

The point DarkMatter2525 was trying to make is that Creation makes no sense if original sin isn’t included.

People would multiple with no end and a lot of the carnivorous creatures that are designed to eat other creatures would seem odd in a world where such an act isn’t possible.

Why does a lion have sharp teeth and killing claws if it doesn’t hunt its prey?

I grew up watching Veggie Tales videos at my friend’s house, so its especially interesting for me to see cartoon Biblical stories from a more adult perspective.

That’s all for tonight!

-Mister Ed