Monday, April 29, 2013

The break-up

I'm not sure I expected this day would come, but it has. And break-ups, despite their necessity, are never easy.

I fell in love at first sight. We were so compatible, it seemed. We went many places together, and I found the whole relationship to be very satisfying.

Oh, sure, there were the occasional problems. Many times, it was because when the situation required my input, I would totally screw it up. But, on those situations, I'd realize my mistake and make it right.

However, the misleading things from the other in the relationship began to gnaw at me. And, one day, I had simply had enough. I knew a break-up was inevitable.

And, being a guy, I did what any guy would do: I began looking for ... well, let's just say I wasn't entirely faithful.

Now, I'm moving on. The relationship is over and I've severed ties.

Despite everything, I'm not bitter, and I truly believe I would be welcome back. But, I really don't think it'll happen.

So, Waze, you were a pretty good GPS for my iPhone, but I'm now with Google Maps. Still, I truly do wish you the best.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

These are not the doctors you're looking for

Calling Dr. Killbot
Robots have been in the news lately. There's a robot that's been operating on people, and killing some of them.

I know. You're thinking that the Three Laws won't let that happen. Well, guess what? The Three Laws are just fiction. Killer medical robots are real.

There's an AP report out of Chicago that tells of one busy robot:
... a million-dollar, multi-armed robot named da Vinci, used in nearly 400,000 surgeries nationwide last year ...
Did you know that? Some multi-armed robot has been doing surgery all across the country, at the rate of over 1,000 a day.

And, if that's not enough, it's a killer robot:
... the high-tech helper is under scrutiny over reports of problems, including several deaths that may be linked with it ...
If I had told you when Congress was getting ready to pass Obamacare that in 2013, we'd have killer robots operating on people, you'd've said I was a right-wing nutcase.

Yeah, well, the Associated Press backs me up. We got killer robots playing doctor. And not in the fun way.

You thought all you had to look out for was drones. But now you have to be wary of multi-armed killer medical robots.

If I were you, I'd play it safe and avoid all multi-armed robots. For a while, at least.

Monday, April 8, 2013


Photo: Ramon Espinosa/AP
Seems some folks are getting their panties in a wad over Mr. & Mrs. Shawn Corey Carter's trip to Cuba. You may know the Carters as Beyoncé and Jay-Z. Or, you may not.

Mrs. Carter is the one called Beyoncé, in case you aren't familiar. She's a singer or something. She also acts. You may have seen her in the Austin Powers movie Goldmember where she played Tamara Dobson.

Mr. Carter is a singer and part owner of the Brooklyn Nets, a former ABA team.

Anyway, now that you know who they are, they're catching a lot of grief over their trip to Cuba. They went for their fifth wedding anniversary.
"So, where do you want to go for our anniversary, Sweetheart?"

"Well, I've always dreamed of walking the streets of a city where there are chickens running around loose."

"How about Cuba? Lots of places like that down there."

Okay, maybe that's not how it went, but then again, maybe it was. You don't know.

A couple of Florida Congressmen (okay, a Congressman and a Congresswoman) are all up in arms over it, according to the Washington Post.

Personally, I don't have a problem with their trip to Cuba. I'm all in favor of them going there. I'm even more supportive of them staying there.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Simple.TV vs TiVo

In my quest to find the best cable-cutting setup, I'm looking at something called Simple.TV (that's not just its name, it's its Website).

Simple.TV is a DVR. Only, it doesn't connect to your TV. Which sounds kinda odd. But, here's how it works.

The idea is to connect the Simple.TV box to your input (cable, or, in my case, antenna). Note that it only works with unencrypted (ClearQAM) digital channels. That means if your cable provider is sending analog signals (some still do), then it won't work. It also won't work on encrypted channels (Comedy Central, AMC, HBO, etc.). But, since I cut cable and am using an over-the-air (OTA) antenna, I'm good.

You need a hard drive for storage. They don't include any onboard storage, but the device will work with most USB external drives. But, you gotta buy that extra.

The Simple.TV box also has to be connected to your network via ethernet port. That is, wired. As in not wireless. Which means you either need to have a cable/antenna connection near your router, a good network extender, or a really long LAN cable.

The final thing is, you need a Roku box.

Remember when I said that it doesn't connect to your TV, which is kinda odd? Well, they get around it by using Roku. That also means that a single Simple.TV box will support up to 5 TVs. Most DVRs are for a single TV, so that's a nice feature.

So, how does it work? It works okay, but it's got some bugs.

Here's the good: price.

Compared to TiVo, it's cheaper. A lot cheaper. Both a Simple.TV box and a TiVo Premier box run $149. The Simple.TV setup requires a hard drive (around $69), so that makes the initial cost more. But, it's the cost of the service that makes the savings of Simple.TV over TiVo.

A year of Simple.TV service is $49. TiVo is $14.99/month, which works out to $179.88/year. And there's your savings.

Now, here's the bad: it's not as polished as TiVo. In fact, it's barely polished at all. The TiVo interface is vastly superior. Vastly. Did I say "vastly?" Well, I will: vastly.

Using the TV interface (via Roku) to schedule a recording is a pain. The selections say "Beta" and they mean it. It's not ready for prime time. You can view what's currently playing, and what's coming up next, and ... that's it. There's a "Browse Upcoming" area that's not totally useless, but with a little work, could be.

The best way to schedule recordings is via the Website. Even then, there are some simple things that Simple.TV didn't think about. For example, you can't rearrange the priority of the shows. TiVo makes that fairly easy to do. Simple.TV? Not so much.

I won't sit here and trash Simple.TV, but I will say that it's inferior to TiVo in many respects.

What would make Simple.TV better? Multiple tuners, for one. Or, at least a way to seamlessly link two devices to one account. But, that's a nice to have. They need to fix the other stuff first.

Like what? Well, they should improve the interface. I'd like to be able to easily find and schedule shows. You can't do that via the interface. Sure, the Website is an option, but that's not simple. As in Simple.TV.

They also need to fix the Website. If you want to change the recording options for a program, the screen tells you to go to the Website to do that. Only, that page doesn't exist. And, looking around the pages that do exist, there's no readily apparent way to alter the recording options on a show.

I suggest someone at Simple.TV pony up and buy a TiVo. Use it. See how it's done. Look at the functionality TiVo offers in finding and recording shows via the interface. You don't have to clone TiVo, but you do need to look at what they offer, and find a way of offering the same functionality. Or, at least, make your functionality easier to use. You know, simple.

As you can tell, I'm a fan of TiVo. But, it's expensive. Don't get me wrong; it's a great service. But I wish there were cheaper alternatives.

Simple.TV shows a lot of promise, but they haven't yet delivered on them. I haven't given up hope. I'm not yet ready to recommend it, but I haven't sent mine to the cornfield yet.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Envahisseur étranger?

The Associated Press -- and apparently it's the political correct crowd with whom they are associated -- has decided to stop using the term "illegal immigrant" to describe an illegal immigrant.

According to the AP blog, Senior Vice President and Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll says:
The Stylebook no longer sanctions the term “illegal immigrant” or the use of “illegal” to describe a person.
So, what should they call them?

I kinda like Jay Leno's suggestion (as quoted by Andrew Malcom):
AP, the world's largest newsgathering organization, bans the term 'illegal immigrant.' From now on AP will call them 'undocumented Democrats.'
Maybe there's a better term for an illegal immigrant.

Foreign invader, perhaps?