Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter 2013

Luke 24: 1-9
  1. Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.
  2. And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre.
  3. And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus.
  4. And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments:
  5. And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead?
  6. He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee,
  7. Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.
  8. And they remembered his words,
  9. And returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Firing up the Kindle

Upgraded my Kindle recently.

The more accurate way of saying that was I passed my Kindle -- what was a good little e-reader -- along to someone else and bought a Kindle Fire HD to use.

Why did I spend the money? I mean, the little Kindle device worked just fine. Well, if I hadn't had some Amazon gift card credits that offset a good portion of the cost, I may not have made the purchase. At least, not just yet. And, without the credits, I may have purchased the standard Kindle Fire, rather than spending the extra money for the HD version. But, I did so I did. And I'm glad I did.

Again, nothing wrong with the standard Kindle, not even the low-end cheap one I had. But, the Kindle Fire is a great little e-reader, plus it's a very good little tablet.

The one I got is the smaller, 7-inch version. It's just a little bigger than the standard Kindle devices. It connects via wifi only. The larger 8.9" Fire HD has AT&T 4G LTE capability starting at an additional $50/year. The Kindle Keyboard and a version of the Kindle Paperwhite have free 3G connectivity included.

It's kinda hard for me to compare the Kindle Fire to a standard Kindle e-reader without breaking the functionality into two categories: e-reader and tablet. I'll cover the e-reader part first.

The standard Kindle e-readers currently come in four varieties: Kindle, Kindle Keyboard 3G, Kindle Paperwhite, and Kindle Paperwhite 3G. The Paperwhite versions, which I haven't used, come with a built-in light. I hear it's nice. The Kindle and Kindle Keyboard models don't have a light. If you need a light, they sell covers with extendable light sources. Or, you can turn on a lamp.

The Kindle e-readers (the non-Fire Kindles) can be easily used in direct sunlight, just like a book. As e-readers, they're great. I love the convenience of having a lot of books available in one little device.

The Kindle Fire doesn't need a light source. Just like you don't need a light to see the content on your computer screen, you don't need a light to see the content on your Kindle Fire screen. The drawback is in direct sunlight. While the Kindle Fire does appear to do a better job at handling glare than my older iPad (1st generation), the standard Kindle has no glare, and therefore, problem at all in direct sunlight.

The Kindle Fire is a color screen, and allows to set the r-reader display to black text on white background (default), white text on black background, or black text on sepia (my preference).

With the standard Kindles, you press the buttons on either side to turn the pages. On the Fire, a touch on the edge of the screen or a swipe will change the pages.

The most obvious difference is the e-reader displays are black-and-white (just like a book) while the Fire displays are in color. When browsing the store for more content, the color is nice.

Strictly as an e-reader, the Kindle e-readers are slightly better -- but only ever so slightly -- than the Kindle Fire, in my mind.

That brings us to the tablet portion of the comparison. And, there's no comparison. The Kindle e-readers are strictly e-readers. So, it may be better to compare the Kindle Fire to the iPad. And I will.

As a tablet, the iPad is a better tablet than the Kindle Fire. But not a lot better. While the iPad is an excellent tablet, the Kindle Fire is a very good tablet. Make that a very, very good tablet. Almost excellent.

The advantage the iPad has is in the apps. The Apple App Store has a really huge selection of apps. The Kindle Fire, although an Android table, doesn't access the Google Play store. Amazon opted to go the Apple route. You get your apps from Amazon. That does help weed out a lot of really useless apps, like is common in the Google Play store. But, it also keeps out some good apps.

When I started adding apps to the Kindle Fire, it had the apps I wanted to add first. Of the apps on my iPad that I use regularly, it's primarily local news apps and games that are lacking. For the news apps, the Web browser covers adequately for my purposes.

Where the Kindle Fire shines is music and videos. The integration of those categories into the interface is seamless.

The Kindle Fire integration with Amazon Instant Video is better than the iPad integration with iTunes. Switching between your local library and the online store simple refreshes the content on the page with the Fire. On the iPad, switching from local library to the online store obviously switches apps. While it's not a problem with the iPad, the Kindle Fire does it better.

Overall, though, I like the iPad as a tablet a little better. I don't like the iPad as an e-reader, though. While iBooks works well, and while there is a Kindle app for the iPad, the Kindle Fire does a superior job of integrating e-reader functionality into the tablet experience.

So, as an e-reader, the Kindle standard e-readers are better than a Kindle Fire, but not by much. As a table, the iPad is a better tablet, but not by much.

I suppose the best way to boil it down would be for me to assume I have none of the devices, but had experience with all the devices. That is, if suddenly, if I had to replace them, what would I do?

I'd buy a Kindle Fire.

And that's someone who really loves his iPad talking.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Microsoft condom

Bill Gates wants a better rubber. Not necessarily for him, mind you, but for people in general.

According to the Grand Challenges in Global Health project of the Gates Foundation, they want a better rubber:
We are looking for a Next Generation Condom that significantly preserves or enhances pleasure, in order to improve uptake and regular use.
They're serious about this. They're offering $100,000 to help you get the project up ... so to speak. They think that's enough to cover it.

Now, I've never considered taking on such a project, but I suspect it would be hard. But, I'm sure there are plenty of people who would love to go hands-on in such an adventure. And, if they succeed, I'm sure good things will come.

There one thing, though. Despite the fact that Bill Gates is no longer running Microsoft, there's the natural association of him with the software giant. He founded the company, and ran it for years. Bill Gates and Microsoft are still thought of as one.

Add to that the fact that one of the primary uses of a condom is prevention of disease. They're not just for stopping pregnancy anymore; they're for stopping the spread of disease. Viruses.

What's Microsoft's record at stopping viruses?

Consider this: if someone says they got a virus, do you immediately thing of a disease? Or are you wondering if their Windows computer is infected?

Heck, I recently spent a couple of days removing trojans (the sneaky virus kind, not the prophylactic) from someone's Microsoft computer. Really. It was a very serious, very hard-to-fix problem. Ended up having to reformat the hard drive and restore the computer to factory settings after all other efforts failed.

So, should you trust something from Microsoft to stop a virus? Not on your life.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Trusting Obama

Photo: AP
The Speaker of the House trusts Barack Obama.

Okay, I know what you're thinking: "What's the punchline?" Yeah, there's not one. John Boehner says he "absolutely" trusts Barack Obama:
Boehner said "hope springs eternal" in regards to the possibility of a budget deal, and told (ABC News correspondent Martha) Raddatz that he has a "very good relationship" with President Obama and that he "absolutely" trusts him. He added that the president's recent outreach — or so called "charm offensive" -- intended to woo Republicans, is a "good thing."
It's nice to know that Boehner trusts Obama. I was worried that all the lies and tricks Obama had told and pulled over his life would make him untrustworthy. But Boehner can see right through that, and know that Obama can be trusted.

And that's good news. Boehner will be able to work with the president to make good things happen. I believe he'll work with Obama and deliver a good, workable plan for the future of the country. After all, Boehner delivers. Just think about how he managed to deliver his home state in the last election.

Now, don't you feel better?

Friday, March 15, 2013

This ranks right up there with Microsoft Bob

Bill Gates has a wonderful idea: give Barack Obama more power. Because that's the problem: Obama doesn't have enough power.

Being able to kill you with a drone strike while you are sitting on your couch at home isn't enough.

Being able to take all your money and give it to people who sit on their couch all day long, isn't enough. (And, no, those aren't the one's Obama would send a drone after.)

Raising your taxes isn't enough.

Taking your guns isn't enough.

No, Obama needs more power. So says Bill Gates.

This is the same Bill Gates that released MS-DOS 4, by the way. And Windows ME. And Windows Vista.

Yes, that Bill Gates. He wants Obama to have more power.

Now you know why I have a Mac.

Friday, March 8, 2013

The new Roku are in! The new Roku are in!

Ever since I dropped cable a little over two years ago, I've been a big fan of the Roku device. It's one of the primary devices I use to watch TV. I'm such a fan that I've bought other boxes for some other family members as gifts.

The first generation Roku box -- my first -- worked well, and still does, in fact, though not for me. It became a hand-me-down (though a popular one) after I bought a Roku 2 a little over a year ago.

Well, now I've bought the new Roku 3 box. And, I like it, too.

When you get right down to it, all the Roku boxes are pretty much the same. If you use it as its original intent -- streaming content from the Internet to your TV -- then the cheaper models ($49) are just fine. But, if you want the little extras that, quite honestly, I rarely use, then the more expensive models (up to $99) may be the thing to get.

Let me stop for a second and give you a rundown on the current models of Roku boxes, and the one that was just dropped from the lineup:
  • Roku LT is the $49 purple box. Straight-forward Internet streaming. 720p output via HDMI or composite (yellow video, red/white audio). It's wifi-only, This one is probably the one to get, unless you need a feature on a more expensive model.
  • Roku HD is the $59 box, and isn't very different from the LT. It uses less power (2W vs 4.5W) and comes with a slightly different remote (includes a 7-second replay button), but otherwise, they're practically the same device. Unless that 2.5W difference makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, or you just gotta be able to back a video up 7 seconds, there's no real reason to get this one -- unless you find it on sale for $49 (which happens sometimes), or unless everyone's sold out of the LT and this is the next cheapest option. It also has HDMI and composite connections.
  • Roku 2 XD runs $79. The only difference between this one and the HD is that this model supports 720p and 1080p output. It, too, has HDMI and composite connections.
  • No longer available: Roku 2 XS, at $99, was essentially an XD with a LAN connection, a USB port for local playback of video (MP4/H.264, MKV/H.264), and a microSD slot to allow more channels or games (not content), and a bluetooth gaming remote, as well as HDMI and composite connections.
The new box, the Roku 3, currently comes in just one model, and it replaces the Roku 2 XS. It's $99, has the LAN port, a USB port, and a microSD slot. The remote is wifi, not bluetooth, and includes a headphone jack for private listening (works, too). The wifi connection supports dual band (which means that 5 GHz is now available).

The Roku 2 bluetooth remote doesn't work with the Roku 3. The Roku 3 power adapter isn't interchangeable, as the previous ones were across the other models. It's also HDMI only. Roku has dropped composite output on the Roku 3.

The most apparent cosmetic difference is the rounded appearance, which is a slight departure from the previous appearance.

The most noticeable difference in using the Roku 3 is the interface. The previous interface, while functional, was in dire need of an update. The new interface looks very nice, and is very responsive.
The new menu looks great.

The channel selection layout is much improved.

The Channel Store redesign was needed, and works.

Search finds content on Amazon, Blockbuster, Crackle, HBO GO, Hulu Plus, Netflix, and VUDU.

There is good news for owners of the older models, or for those looking at buying one of the cheaper models: the new interface will roll out to the older boxes within the next two months. The only way to get the new interface today is via the Roku 3, but if you're patient, it'll come to the older boxes soon.

If you have a Roku 2 XS, or and XD, is it worth upgrading? Probably not. But, if you're looking for a top-of-the line set-top-box for Internet streaming, the Roku 3 is a great choice. But don't fail to check out the Roku LT, HD, and XD models. They may do the job you need, and save you some money in the process.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013


The iWatch is coming!


Nobody really knows what it is. But there is all kind of speculation that Apple is building some great new fancy device that you've gone your entire life without but once you know about it, won't be able to live without.

Like the iPod did. Unless you don't have an iPod.

And like the iPhone. Unless you don't have an iPhone.

And like the iPad. Unless you don't have an iPad.

Or a Roku. Oh, wait. Apple didn't invent the Roku. They got Apple TV though, which is pretty cool, but it's no Roku. Though it is close.

Anyway, Bloomberg (the news organization, no the idiot mayor) reports that Apple is building something they're calling the "iWatch" -- as in wristwatch.

And, it'll be an Apple invention. Something nobody would every have thought of before. Ever.

And, you'll want one. You'll never know how you got by without it.

Then, it'll be racist to have one, because the fat unemployed lady with food stamps and an Obamaphone doesn't have one -- even if she's white and looks like a Honey Boo Boo family member, it'll still be racist because ... SHUT UP!!1!!!.

So, there'll be a new tax, and your Verizon bill (or whoever runs the service behind the iWatch) will go up so they can fund handing them out to useless people.

iCan hardly wait.