Friday, February 26, 2016

TAX REFUND POST & BEST AND WORST TECHNOLOGY PURCHASES




So, I just got my tax refund, which means it's time for a big-ticket-item purchase. Usually, it's either technology or home improvement. Last year was both, as I bought a new bigger TV, wire shelving and CD storage. This year, I'm finally replacing Big Iron, my 2007 MacPro tower, with a new iMac. Big Iron was starting not to play nice with current software, not to mention he blows his fan at me sometimes for no good goddamn reason. 

Of course, one purchase often leads to others, so I might also try to update my "home office" set-up, maybe a new little table for peripherals, since I won't have a hard drive tower to keep them on, possibly the kind that the Google calls "C". I have this fantasy of getting selected for Lifehacker's Workspace Show & Tell even though I don't have 6 monitors and a desk made out of a plank from Blackbeard's pirate ship.

In honor of tax refund time, here are some of my best (beyond the obvious ones) and worst technology purchases.

Best:

Computer desk: Maybe this isn't technically technology, but I just love my desk so much. This baby is all metal and almost impossible to damage, even when they were fixing my HVAC and I had to keep moving it around. It has cool extension shelves for storing peripherals that likewise are nearly impossible to break. Its smooth lines and brushed metal finish fit with my modernist style, and the triangular shape squeezes into a corner just right.  While it was clearly made with CRT monitors in mind, that just means you can't buy your own, so there. You can buy a boring ol' rectangular one if you want, though. 

Toaster oven: Maybe it's weird of me, but I just like baking things in my little toaster oven so much more than my regular oven. I even bake potatoes in there and set the timer twice. Before, I just heated up bread and pizza rolls, but now I make stuff every week (from a mix, but still...).

Universal remote: It's hard for my sweetie to pry my Logitech Harmony out of my hands, I love it so. It just fits right in my hand. And when you have the amount of devices I have, you need a serious remote. I use my iPad to search for things, but when actually watching, I don't want to have to look at my device. The software is slightly crash-y, but it's pretty easy to add a new device, as it walks you through the steps.


Worst:

Antenna: I just can't get a good signal with anything for either radio or TV. I might try one of those flat ones you hang on the wall, but it's hard to face more disappointment. I've gotten used to watching everything on demand anyway - the last time I watched live TV was when I was sick and the Internet went out.

Nook Glowlight Plus: When my old Nook Simple Touch finally died, I thought I'd try the fancy new "deluxe" model, but its new version of Android broke compatibility with Adobe Digital Editions, which is how I get my library books - my main use of it. It's fixed now, but the bitterness lingers. Anyway, I don't like how heavy and hard it is - you could kill somebody with it. So, I went back to the soft light rubberiness of the slightly earlier version. I just hope it lasts until they come out with indestructible color e-ink tablets, or a brain chip or something. 

Roomba: Probably one of my worst ever purchases. Maybe I just have too much stuff in too little space, but it just sat under the couch and cowered in fear. Sorry we don't all live in lofts with tons of empty floor, Roomba.

BONUS TECHNO-BRAG:

I got a Twitter reply from Sun-Times technology columnist Andy Ihnatko. Wee!



Monday, January 18, 2016

JFRO'S 2015


PIZZA RAT/ CIGARETTE CRAB 2016: MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN

https://twitter.com/peter_fries/status/646062337833627648

Format once again ripped off shamelessly from the Librarian in Black

Books -- Station Eleven, The Incident Report, The Haunting of Hill House, Tipping the Velvet, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, Wolf in White Van, Dread Journey.

Comics -- Museum of Mistakes, New Lone Wolf and Cub, Order of the Stick: Blood Runs in the Family, The Age of Selfishness: Ayn Rand, Morality & the Financial Crisis.

Movies --Snowpiercer, Chappie, Mad Max: Fury Road, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, The Babadook, Ant-Man, Ex Machina, Tangerine, What We Do in the Shadows 

TV Shows -- The Americans, Archer, The Killing (US), Black Sails, The Bridge (US), Danger 5, Silicon Valley, Ray Donovan, Broad City, Sons of Anarchy, Veep, The Blacklist, Nurse Jackie, Mad Men, Brooklyn 9-9, Agents of SHIELD, The Code, Halt & Catch Fire, RuPaul's Drag Race, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Community, Parks & Recreation, Orange is the New Black, Adventure Time, Penny Dreadful, Sense8, Homeland, Person of Interest, Daredevil, Jessica Jones, The Walking Dead, The Knick, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Master of None, Transparent, Continuum, Ripper Street, High Maintenance, @Midnight, LARPs.

Albums --The Wolf Council: S/T, Valkyrie: Shadows, Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats: The Night Creeper, Torche: Restarter, Sweverdriver: I Wasn't Born to Lose You, Sacri Monti: Sacri Monti, Royal Thunder: Crooked Doors, A Place to Bury Strangers: Transfixiation, The Lucid Dream: S/T, Kadavar: Berlin, Graveyard: Innocence & Decadence, Ecstatic Vision: Sonic Praise, Brothers of the Sonic Cloth: S/T.

Songs --Violet Chachki:"Bettie", Major Lazer: "Lean On", Celiac: "Promised You a Miracle", The Blind Shake: "Mildew" Sia: "Big Girls Cry", Shamir: "On the Regular", Tunde Olaniran: "KYBM"

Apps --Artstudio, Flickr for iPad, Postmates, Instacart, Alien Blue, Tunein, Slice.


Devices --iPad, AppleTV, USB turntable, Nook Glowlight, 42" television.  

Events --Anime Detour, Convergence, Game Night @Library Technology Conference, Shogatsu in San Francisco, Bash 15 with Melvins/Run Westy Run/Cows, Art-A-Whirl with Blind Shake & Mrs., Hapsburgs/Mark Mothersbaugh/Mary Griggs Burke Collection @MIA, WMCN Reunion Radio Show, Minnesota Valley Nature Refuge.

Items of clothing --Panda blouse, Badtz Maru hoodie and Kugurumi.

Games --Plants vs. Zombies 2, Candy Crush Soda, Tetris Blitz, Neko Atsume, Interface Zero, Takenoko, TimeZero, Cards Against Librarianship, Castle Panic, Eclipse Phase, Fiasco.

Web sites --Gamerghazi, We Hunted the Mammoth, Awful Library Books, Bandcamp, The Obelisk, 8Tracks, Fast 'n' Bulbous, Florida Man.

Twitter Twerps -- @RealGDT, @skullmandible,@MrGeorgeWallace, @SwiftOnSecurity, @iglvzx, @arthur_effect, @WernerTwertzog, @josephscrimshaw, @TokyoFashion, @Snarkysmachine.

YouTubers -- Kevin Logan, Nerdist, Geek & Sundry, Diamanda Hagan, Jay Smooth, William Belli. 

Substance- Sugru.


Boyfriend --Jseux wins again!

Monday, December 28, 2015

PLEASE CONSIDER WATCHING CONTINUUM










Continuum is the best show you've never heard of with all of its episodes available on Netflix, so go watch it now.

Do you want a show that deals with time travel and stopping a bad future like the Terminator franchise, but in a way that actually makes sense?  Do you like the idea of Minority Report dealing with technology's possible misuse by government, but wish the show was actually well-done? Do you want a cutting-edge exploration of technology as both problem and solution like Mr. Robot, but from four years ago and starring Canadians? Well, here you go!

Not to mention, the cast is refreshingly diverse and non-stereotypical. No character is totally good or bad -- everyone has their reasons. In fact our heroine has been happily serving an evil corporate empire, while the "terrorists" she fights (who are pretty damn ruthless) are trying to prevent a dystopian hellscape future. And, thank Cthulhu, she is too busy with her goals to spend much time on juvenile romantic angst (looking at you, Flash and Arrow!).

The only issue I have with the show is that the actors are fine, but a little bland. It's not like watching Orphan Black and thinking, "OMG GIVE TATIANA MASLANY ALL THE AWARDS!" So, it may take a few episodes to grow on you, but give it a chance.

Monday, December 21, 2015

MY LATEST WEIRD ART PROJECT

Victorian & Edwardian Horror

I've been having fun with the Artstudio app for iPad and the Sensu stylus lately. It was coming up on October, and Guillermo del Toro was talking about his favorite horror stories on Twitter (Dude must have been a librarian in a previous life, because his Readers' Advisory game is ON POINT. Go follow him). That inspired me to read 31 of my old favorite Victorian & Edwardian horror stories and draw illustrations for each of them for Halloween. Of course, it took me longer than that, but they are finally finished. I was inspired, in my lazy and casual way, by great illustrators like Aubrey Beardsley, John R. Neill, and Alastair.

 Here is the list of stories:


  • “Caterpillars” -E.F. Benson
  • “Casting the Runes” -M..R. James
  • “The Horla” - Guy de Maupassant
  • “How Love Came to Professor Guildea” -Robert Hichens
  • “Afterward” -Edith Wharton
  • “The Great God Pan” - Arthur Machen
  • Yuki-Onna” - Lafcadio Hearn
  • “Green Tea” - J. Sheridan LeFanu
  • “The Monkey’s Paw” - W. W. Jacobs
  • “Luella Miller” - Mary Wilkins Freeman
  • “Rappacini’s Daughter” - Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • “The Picture in the House” -H.P. Lovecraft
  • “The Yellow Wallpaper” -Charlotte Perkins Gilman
  • “The Open Window” -Saki
  • “The Phantom Rickshaw” - Rudyard Kipling
  • “Ancient Sorceries” -Algernon Blackwood
  • “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” - Ambrose Bierce
  • “The Yellow Sign” -Robert W. Chambers
  • “The Voice in the Night” - William Hope Hodgson
  • “The Beckoning Fair One” - Oliver Onions
  • “The Tell-Tale Heart” -Edgar Allan Poe
  • “Adam and Eve and Pinch Me” - A. E. Coppard
  • “The Way It Came” - Henry James
  • “The Captain of the Pole-Star” - Arthur Conan Doyle
  • “The Body-Snatcher” - R.L. Stevenson
  • “What Was It?” -Fitz-James O’Brien
  • “Dracula’s Guest” - Bram Stoker
  • “Good Lady Ducayne” - Mary E. Braddon
  • “The Dream Woman” - Wilkie Collins
  • “The Ghost Ship” - Richard Middleton
  • “Man-Size in Marble” - E. Nesbit



I downloaded all of them from reliable public domain e-book sites like Project Gutenberg, Internet Archive, and University of Adelaide E-books to read on my Nook. (remember, never pay for an e-book published before 1923, folks). You can download them to read here.





 

Friday, September 18, 2015

PLEASE CONSIDER WATCHING PERSON OF INTEREST






It's on streaming, finally!


If you had told me 5 years ago that my favorite network show (and right up there with more highly-praised cable shows) would be a show on CBS called Person of Interest, there would have been scoffing involved. I associate CBS with bland-but-comforting investigation shows that exploit some technology (usually inaccurately) to give the story a little twist, then tie up a mystery all nice-&-tidy, with occasional breaks for truly cringeworthy depictions of the investigators' personal lives. Except for a few bad apples, all authority figure have our best interests at heart.

Well, this is not that. Getting murdered or almost-murdered by corrupt authority figures is one of the top concerns for characters in this universe. When you're one of the few people who know about an all-seeing AI that watches us for the government, it's kind of an issue (and yes, social media was created to get us to give up our personal information so the authorities can spy on us).


All the main actors are great in this. Jim Caviezel is slightly "off" in an interesting way, like Lee Pace or early Nicholas Cage, and it really works for him here. Person of Interest has some similarities to Burn Notice, in that an ex-spy helps "regular" people using as much con artistry as martial arts and high tech, but it's a bit darker. For all the hints of Michael's dark past, I just couldn't buy that he was only a short distance from being a cold-blooded killing machine. I can totally see Caviezel killing people, though. I never got into Lost. so this was my first exposure to Michael Emerson, and he's amazing. It's really hard to play a super-genius, but he pulls it off. And I've been impressed with Taraji P. Henson's emotional range since I saw her play a lesbian hitwoman in Smokin' Aces. Do we even need to talk about Amy Acker, AKA Fred from Angel, who should be in all the things?

Speaking of ladies, even though most of the promotional stuff features the two dudes in front, there are a lot of great big and small roles for women, who have the same character options as men without making it a BIG DEAL. Women can be cynical political fixers, assassins with personality disorders, super-hackers, ruthless heads of intelligence operations, crack interrogators, amoral con artists, kindly children's book illustrators, and older partners who show the newbie the ropes. 

All this, and my favorite AI character in non-anime visual media. So, give it a try, already! 


 

Monday, June 29, 2015

JFRO AIRWAVES TAKEOVER 2015




For those of you who missed it, here is my reunion show on WMCN. Please forgive any glitches.


https://www.dropbox.com/s/6kjp24gbaw2hnfg/Soundtrack%20of%20our%20Lives%20-%20Andrea%20Herman.mp3?dl=0


Playlist:

"When Doves Cry" -Prince
"Bizarre Love Triangle" -New Order
"Are You Ready for the Sex Girls" -Gleaming Spires
"TV Party" - Black Flag
"Institutionalized" - Suicidal Tendencies
"A Million Miles Away" - The Plimsouls
"Puro Teatro" - La Lupe
"Mysteries of Love" - Julee Cruise
"In Dreams" - Roy Orbison
"If You Leave" -OMD
"Little Town Flirt" - Altered Images
"Party Party" - Elvis Costello
"Can You Rock It Like This" - Run-DMC
"Reckless Rivalry (Combat)" -Chris "The Glove" Taylor & David Storrs with Ice-T
"Wild Thing" - Sister Carol
"When Doves Cry" - Patti Smith
"Driving the Dynamite Truck" -Breaking Circus
"Burning Inside" -Ministry
"I Want You" -Cabaret Voltaire
"Whip It" -Devo
"Say Hello Wave Goodbye"- Soft Cell
"Kidney Bingos" -Wire
"What We All Want (Live)" -Gang of Four
"Betty's Worry or the Slab" - Hunters & Collectors
"Cavern" -Liquid Liquid"
"Shock The Monkey" -Peter Gabriel



The same week I got to DJ on Plug.dj with some people in the 80s Alt /New Wave group, playing my favorite thing, cover versions. I had a blast, even though it did not play well with my Firefox extensions. 

Plug.dj is the successor to the late lamented Turntable.fm. It's really easy to start playing music. You are limited to songs with YouTube videos, but that is most of them (make sure not to play the live version if that's not what you want.) Navigation takes a little getting used to. I'm a sucker for the gamification aspect where you get a cooler avatar the more you play.

I need some people to come join me on the wheels of steel, so unleash your inner DJ and come with me...





Monday, June 01, 2015

SOME STATISTICS




Remotes:

1. Blu-ray
2. TV
3. Receiver
4. Apple TV
5. VCR
6. HDMI switcher
7. Audio switcher
8. Universal
9. iPod Touch (controls iTunes on computer via Remote app, can cast to Apple TV, Chromecast, Blu-ray)
10. iPad  (ditto)

Items that can connect to the Internet:

1. Desktop computer
2. iPad
3. iPod Touch
4. Nook
5. Cell phone
6. Blu-ray
7. Apple TV
8. Chromecast
9. Wireless printer
10. Mobile hotspot

Items that can take a picture:

1. Camera
2. Cell phone
3. iPod Touch
4. iPad
5. Web cam

Items that can play music:

1. Blu-ray
2. Record player
3. Tape player
4. Desktop computer
5. iPod Touch
6. iPad
7. Portable CD player

Items that can play video:

1. TV
2. Blu-Ray
3. VCR
4. Desktop computer
5. iPad
6. iPod Touch

Items that need to be charged:

1. iPad
2. iPod Touch
3. Cell Phone
4. Mobile hotspot
5. Backup battery
6. Nook
7. Camera
8. Cell Phone
9. Dustbuster

Items that can be used for a phone call:

1. Landline phone
2. Cellphone
3. iPod Touch
4. iPad
5. Desktop computer