Sunday, June 27, 2010

So Busy!

The past couple of months have been super busy for me. We moved into a much larger apartment and we had two different sets of family come visit us recently, so my free time has been sparse!

I did want to talk a little bit about the obstacles I ran into when setting up the network throughout the new apartment and ensuring that the Internet penetrated every room of the new place.

Our apartment complex was built back in the early 1960s and the construction materials used then were a lot less wireless friendly, so I got the Linksys E3000 in anticipation of this move, and it works perfectly, but the 802.11-N 5GHz spectrum that is the fastest doesn’t go all the way to the back of the apartment into my bedroom, and the slower 802.11-G 2.4GHz spectrum is in use by everyone else, so it is pretty slow when that far from the router (that is in the front of the apartment in the living room with my entertainment center), so my solution was to use my older Linksys WRT54G router as an access point in tandem with a Belkin A/V Homeplug adapter. Here’s what I did

Set up my Linksys E3000 router and plugged the Belkin A/V Homeplug adapter into an open ethernet port, then I plugged the Homeplug adapter into a naked wall outlet (not into a power strip/surge protector, the homeplug adapter doesn’t like the filtered power), then in my smallest bedroom that is doubling as an office, I plugged the second Homeplug adapter into the wall and I plugged it’s ethernet cable into an empty port on my WRT54G router (NOT into the Internet/WLAN port—that doesn’t work either), logged directly into the WRT54G and changed it from being the DHCP server (so it doesn’t assign IP addresses on its own), and put it into ROUTER mode. I gave it a different SSID so it doesn’t compete with the other router (that may be a nonessential step, but I wanted this to work with very little hassle), and VOILA, I have a solid blanket of wifi throughout the new apartment, and they all play nicely. Any computer connected to the router in the back of the house can fully see and access the Windows Home Server in the living room, and the wireless printers in the small room can be used anywhere in the house.

This was my solution, and it worked for me. If you have any ideas about how I might make it better (without voiding any warranties or without hacking firmware), let me know in the comments. If you have any questions, ask away!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Review of Cisco-Linksys E3000

E3000**WARNING*** This is a TECHNICAL review of a device that I have  and this review speaks to MY experience with this device.

Ok, so this one might not be quite as exciting, but I wanted to let you guys know that I got the new Cisco-Linksys E3000 wireless router. I did a lot of research on this router before I decided to make the purchase, and I’m very glad that I got it. Let me give you the low down on the specs. It’s a wireless B/G/N dual band gigabit wired router. This means that all of my older equipment with the wireless G connectivity goes on one radio band (2.4 GHz), and my new wireless N devices go on the second radio band (5 GHz) so that they’re not competing with each other. With this router, my wireless N devices can actually achieve speeds of 300 Mbps (for those of you not so technical, wireless G devices can usually get 54 Mbps), and my wired devices that are gigabit capable will connect at gigabit speeds (~1000 Mbps). I decided to go with this one because of my Windows Home Server being connected to my network, I want to be able to stream HD video and music over the network without any hiccups, and this bad boy gives me the fattest pipes I can have to get the data through.

Now that that’s out of the way, let me go over some of the neat features that the E3000 has that some others don’t. Because of the dual wireless bands, I  have each band on their own SSID, one is labeled as 5GHz and the other is just the regular SSID. This avoids confusion for me when connecting the devices. The E3000 also has a separate “guest access” option that broadcasts a third SSID that allows guests to access your Internet connection, but not your other devices/files on the network. This is pretty sweet, and this SSID unencrypted so when guests connect, they’re met with a webpage asking for the guest access password. Kind of like when you go to hotels. This keeps the neighbors from stealing my bandwidth, but lets me give the access to people I want to. There’s also a USB port on the back of the E3000 for a media server function. I tried this with a 40GB external hard drive. The router recognized the drive and it was available on the network, but the file transfer speed was slower than if the drive were shared on another computer on the network.

For those of you who are not very technical, the router comes with the newly revamped Cisco connect software on a CD that allows for a very easy setup option. It doesn’t allow you to access all of the features of the router, but it’s a very simplified setup method. The usual web interface is available for more advanced settings.

There has been one major concern of mine with this router: it gets hot. I don’t mean a little warm, I mean hot. It’s concerned me more than once, I even considered turning the router upside down to allow it to dissipate heat a little better, but I nixed that idea because it was unsightly.

Over all, I’m very impressed with this router, and if you’re in need of a dual band router with gigabit Ethernet, I would recommend it in a heartbeat.

If you’d like to purchase this router, get it from my Amazon aStore here: http://astore.amazon.com/rathofage-20/detail/B003B48UQ8

If you’d like more detailed specifications, visit the Linksys-Cisco page at  http://home.cisco.com/en-us/wireless/linksys/

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Ooma Telo

Ooma-Telo-phone I’ve been on a gadget buying binge lately and I have a LOT of new toys to write about, but I thought I’d start with the Ooma Telo. I know, it sounds like a reference to Kill Bill, but it’s not, it’s actually a new-ish VoIP device that is actually pretty awesome. I first heard about the Ooma Telo from Cali Lewis at Geekbrief.TV, so I did some research and decided it might be for me. I had Vonage for several years as my phone of choice, partly because I’m a techie geek, but mostly because it was a heck of a lot cheaper than the alternatives for landline phone service. The quality was good, but their customer service was atrocious. I finally cancelled the service and thought I’d try MagicJack because it was cheap, and the bad reviews I had read on it, I thought it might be because of lack of Internet speed. I have a 20mbps down internet connection (which is really fast), and the connection sounded like I was talking on a Zach Morrison brick phone. There was static and an echo. The call quality was basically unusable, but it was only $30 for a year, so I wasn’t too upset. The final straw came when I tried to fax something to someone and the MagicJack wouldn’t allow my fax machine to dial out. I started doing the research on the Ooma Telo and everyone who has one loves it, but I had to psyche myself up to spend the money for it. If you buy it from Ooma directly, they want $250, but Amazon had it on sale for $200, so I bought it. The initial investment is quite steep, but the service is free for at least two years, after that, I’m hearing rumblings that it might be something like $12 a year afterward, which I have no qualms about, because landline service in my area costs around $50 a month.

I got my Ooma Telo and was very impressed with the packaging, it was very reminiscent of how Amazon had packaged the Kindle. I opened it up and followed the little quick start guide and had it up and running in about 10 minutes. I had their cute little dial tone that reminds me of the Owl City song “Fireflies” every time I pick up the phone. But that’s kind of trivial. The real question is: “How is the quality?” It’s exceptional. I am amazed at the clarity of the calls. I haven’t heard a single echo, everyone I’ve asked has said that they can’t tell I’m using VoIP. I think it even sounds better than my cell does. The Ooma Telo comes with all the standard features like call waiting, caller ID, and voicemail, but if you want anything beyond that, you have to get Ooma Premier for $10 per month. That gives you a bevy of features that you can check out here. The Ooma Telo has several buttons on the device that allow you to interact with it like an answering machine which I find quaint, but you can call into your voicemail just like any modern voicemail service. If you opt to get the Ooma Telo Handset, which I haven’t yet, but am seriously considering it, you get even more features because it gives you an instant second line, so if someone is already on phone, you just pick up the Ooma Telo Handset and you have a fresh dial tone to make your call, and a whole bunch of other features I’ve listed here.

While I have been immensely impressed with the overall quality of service I’ve had with the Ooma Telo, I did have one hiccup, which come to find out, was my fault. I added a “virtual number” to use with my fax machine (I’m a gadget guy, why wouldn’t I have a fax machine?), and I noticed a beta feature to incorporate the system with my Google Voice number, so I thought I’d see how that worked. It didn’t. For whatever reason the Ooma Telo kept picking up the calls to that number after 1/2 ring, and it was acting as a speakerphone. I called their technical support and immediately got to a live person (of course I did have to navigate a brief IVR). She did have an accent, but I cannot assume she was from overseas. She went into the system and immediately noticed that the Google Voice Extensions option was enabled in the system (even though it was not showing on their website), so she disabled it, had me power cycle my Ooma Telo, and she offered to call me back in 10 minutes on the virtual line to ensure it was working. She actually called me back (which was impressive in and of itself), and it worked. Now I have two numbers, one is dedicated to my fax, and the other is my main voice number.

Now, you might be wondering if the Ooma Telo will work with a fax machine. Yes, it will. You do have to do a few things if you use the service for voice, too, but it works. If you dial out using your main voice number, you have to dial *99 first, and then your number, if your main number is dedicated to faxing, you can enable fax mode in the account preferences area of your Ooma account online, and it will work without any issues. Since I have mine on its own line, I have to tell the machine to dial from the fax number (I hit **1, then dial the number), and it goes through with no problems!

One other thing that is kind of quaint with the Ooma system is that it requires you to dial “1” when you’re making a long distance call (which are free), and you can just dial the seven-digit numbers locally, so it works just like a traditional landline in that sense.

In summation, if you’re sick of being robbed by your telephone company, need/want a landline phone and have high speed internet, the Ooma Telo may be just the answer you were looking for. Despite the initial investment for the equipment, with no long-term commitments and excellent quality service, I don’t think I would have any issues recommending this to my friends!

Check out the Ooma Website at www.ooma.com for more information!




Sunday, March 14, 2010

Random Thoughts on the Nexus One

download-01-nexus-one-540x442[1] I've put this review off for far too long. I didn't want to make any assumptions and I didn't want any preconceived notions sway my review, so I'm writing it now. On February 23, 2010 I got Google's Nexus One. I won't bore you with the specs or any of the other readily available information that clogs the tubes about the Nexus One, I'm just going to give you my thoughts on this phone.
Let me start by saying, I knew I was going to love this phone before I ever got it, so I took advantage of the free engraving Google offered. Not necessarily out of vanity purposes, but I took the opportunity to create kind of a calling card with my Nexus One. I put my Twitter information, my Google Voice number and my email address on it like so:

@Zephyr757 · 757-967-XXXX
Stephen.Condra@gmail.com

I received my new "superphone" the day after I ordered it. Even though the site said that the engraving would take 72 hours. I got the smallish package and was so excited. I actually recorded the unboxing with my webcam. I may upload it after some fine-tuning of the video. That also may never happen. But I digress, I opened the unassuming brown cardboard box that did not mention "Google," "HTC," or anything else that might have indicated that a $500+ phone was included in the slightly-larger-than-shoebox sized box. I opened it very carefully, not knowing what to expect on the inside. I found an even smaller white box with the trademark Google colors of blue, red, yellow and green along each of the four sides of the box. It was very reminiscent of the packaging that contained Darrell's Amazon Kindle. I very carefully opened the stark-white box to find the Nexus One very gingerly wrapped in a layer of protective plastic. I unwrapped my newest obsession and proceeded to the next layer in this small box. It included the battery and all of the accessories. Google was very generous with the included accessories (and rightfully so, for over $500). A micro USB cable was included, as was a wall charger, a neoprine pouch and a wired headphone/headset combo. I immediately noticed that the neoprine sleeve and the headset had my favorite green Android on them. He is on the right earphone and is also screen printed tone-on tone on the pouch. While traditionally he is green, in neither case is he green on the pouch or the headphones, which makes him look far more classy, while giving the user a very distinct Android feeling. The headphones have a control section with buttons for media navigation/playing, and the play button doubles as a call button for answering calls or presumably redialing the last number.
Needless to say I was impressed from the start with the way Google and HTC packaged the Nexus One, but once I powered on the superphone, the amazement kept coming. The feel of the phone is so sturdy, the menus fly in with ease, the touch-sensitive buttons along the bottom of the screen can be quirky, but overall once you get used to them, they are very responsive. The unlock/power button on the top can feel awkwardly placed at first, but again, once you get used to it, it becomes second nature. The responsiveness of the touch screen is phenomenal, and the accuracy is spot on. I believe the high resolution of the display helps the accuracy of the touch screen, but I'm no engineer, so I'm not sure of that. The camera takes excellent pictures, but the flash does leave something to be desired. It is very powerful, so sometimes the middle of the image you're capturing can be a bit blown out, but overall the images are very clear and are more than I expected for a 5 megapixel camera built-in to a phone.
Keep in mind that this not my first, but my third Android powered phone, so the operating system of the phone is very familiar to me, however Google has hit several home runs with Android 2.1. The new menu fly-in is very polished, and is a huge step forward from the menu "drawer" from Android pre-2.1. Since the phone has such a powerful processor, I have seen a lag only in a few places, and normally it's when several apps are running in the background. Remember Android is a multi-tasking operating system! I have downloaded more apps to this phone than I had on either my G1 or my MotoCLIQ combined, and have yet to run into any storage problems, so the added storage capacity has come in very handy. I've installed Google Earth and have amazed everyone who has seen the fluid animation of the globe spinning and flying in to our exact location via GPS. Speaking of GPS, the Car Home application that comes built-in to Android 2.x has enabled me to use this phone as my primary navigation system, rendering my Garmin Nuvi 200 obsolete. The turn-by-turn spoken navigation with spoken street names outperforms my Garmin in every way, plus it includes live traffic and because it's Google Navigation, guess what? It's FREE! Also, the Car Home application makes using the phone's speech search and dial system even better because if it knows exactly whom you're trying to call, it will give you a 10-second countdown to correct it, or it will automatically dial, thus enabling true hands-free dialing of the phone, which leads me to the next new feature of Android 2.1: speech input. This feature is AWESOME! You can literally text by speaking to the phone. Anywhere you would type, you can talk to it. And it is eerily accurate. I find myself using the speech-to-text more often every day. You can talk a heck of a lot faster than you can type, even on the much improved stock on screen keyboard.
You may find on the interwebs that a lot of people are giving the Nexus One a lot of flack over some of the phones having issues with the touch screen, or with the signal dropping out of you hold the phone a certain way. I haven't had any of these issues with my phone. I've TRIED to duplicate the problems people have had, and I've not been able to make it happen. Don't think that I would just write it off either. I had my MotoCLIQ for one day before I called T-Mobile and asked them to replace it due to a flaw I found with the phone. I had my G1 replaced 3 times within the year I used it due to one thing or another (once for a dead pixel), so I am very stringent what I consider to be a quality phone, and the Nexus One has met all of my requirements thus far.
In all, I give this phone a 4.8 stars out of 5. The reason I'm not giving it a full 5 stars is because of the quirks I mentioned before with some of the awkwardness of the placement of the power/unlock button and the strange behavior of the touch buttons along the bottom of the screen. Another quirk I'm not so fond of is the automatic brightness. It doesn't seem to do a very good job at determining when to adjust the backlight, so I manually adjust it. This is something that can be fixed with a software update, so I'm not too worried about it.
If you're thinking about getting a new phone, I would strongly recommend ANY Android device. All the major carriers have them now, and there are slated to be several new Android phones to be released this year. If you're able to get the Nexus One (will be on Verizon sometime within the next several weeks and is on T-Mobile or unlocked for AT&T), then by all means, get the Cadillac of Android phones, but if not, the Open Source Android OS is an excellent choice for any phone, no matter your needs. I've even convinced a friend of mine to give up his iPhone for a Nexus One. Yep, the Nexus One is better than the iPhone, and it's UNLOCKED, so you're not tied to any specific ANYTHING!!!


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Random Thoughts on Dear John

Dear%20John%20%282010%29[1] Yes, I know, another chick flick, but @DarrellSykes and I went to see “Dear John” today. It was actually a very good movie. It had Channing Tatum (as John) in it, which I’m not a huge fan of his acting, but it also had Amanda Seyfried (as Savannah), whom I love (from two of my favorite movies: Mean Girls and Mamma Mia!), so I thought I’d give it a shot. From the beginning I really liked the characters, and I felt the chemistry between them. Young, new love. It’s magical, and they made me feel it with them. Then there were some bumps in their newly formed relationship and we got to experience some of the military life of John. There were some slow moving scenes in that part of the movie, but in the end it all worked out for the best of the story. During the military stint, September 11th happens, and he re-enlists in the Army. His extended absence creates even more relationship issues between John and Savannah. During this whole thing, there are actually two other mini-storylines that are going on and are intermingled with the main story.

I’ve gone way too far into a synopsis, which I promised I’d never do. Ugh. Well, there are a LOT of twists and turns in this movie, it reminded me a lot of The Notebook, which was an excellent movie. In the end, I left the theatre in tears. Were they happy or sad? You should go see the movie, then you’ll know.

I can recommend this movie for a very romantic date night.

Here is the trailer:

 

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Random Thoughts on “When In Rome”

when_in_rome_ver2  The other day Darrell and I went to see another chick flick, “When In Rome.”  This one stars Kristen Bell (you’ve seen her in Heroes as Elle Bishop) and Josh Duhamel (the hottie from Transformers). Again, I’m not going to re-write a perfectly good IMDB synopsis, so hit the link for that.

This movie was extremely cute. There was some decent music in the soundtrack and the scenery was gorgeous. There was a brief art history lesson, too! A lot of the story was kind of silly, but overall, it ended up being a really good movie. Again, it was a complete chick flick, but we saw it during the week as a matinee, and apparently that’s when all the straight dudes get their romantic comedies on. There were at least two single guys there (the looked straight anyway), and there were a few couples. Overall, the guy-to-girl ratio was pretty even in the theatre, but I digress.

There was a twist at the end that I didn’t see coming, probably because I wasn’t looking for a twist, and there were definitely a LOT of laughs! I whole-heartedly recommend you get with your other half and go see this one!

 

Here goes the preview. Check it out! (In case you’re wondering, the song playing is called “Starstrukk” by 3OH!3 ft. Katy Perry. Watch it here)

 

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Random Movie Reviews

Hello everyone! I'm sorry I haven't written in a while, but with work and life being what it is, I haven't made time to blog. Sorry! I've seen a couple of new movies recently and wanted to jot down a few thoughts on them.

I'll start with "Leap Year." It was a feel good chick flick to the core, and I predict it will be a staple of your chick flick collection within a couple of years. It will be synonymous with "Steel Magnolias," "Pretty Woman," and other non-Julia Roberts movies I can't think of at the moment. It was a bit predictable, but most movies in this genre are, but there were a lot of moments that made this movie an original, and I genuinely liked it. SO, if you like romantic comedies/dramas, and want to see a great movie (perfect for date night or a girls movie night out), then this one is for you. I will say that in the theatre where I saw the movie, there were a total of about 10 guys, and the rest were girls. All of the guys were there obviously at their girlfriend/wife's request (except for me and Darrell, the only gay couple at this particular showing), so if you're a macho guy, you might want to sit this one out until it comes out on DVD, or get your girl to go see it with you. She'll appreciate the sentiment!

The second movie I wanted to talk about was "Legion." Ok, this one had the potential to be an awesome movie, but fell short for me. It kind of upset me in the end, because I felt like it was one of those M. Night Shyamalan bait-and-switch religious movies. Granted, I KNEW it had angles in it, but it seemed to draw several parallels to the birth of Jesus. Maybe I was reading more into it than I should, but it seemed more interlaced with biblical mythos than I was comfortable with outside of church. It did have some action scenes, and honestly, you saw the best ones in the previews. Some of the fight sequences seemed silly to me. I think I might have actually giggled when Gabriel wrapped his wings around him and started spinning and they were deflecting bullets. I mean, come on. Obviously I recommend waiting until this one is out on Netflix before you see it.

In case you were wondering, I don't plan on going into storyline detail on anything I review. I don't do this on purpose. One reason is because I don't want to spoil it for you if you want to see the movie, read the book or play the game, the other reason is because synopsyses (I don't know what the plural for synopsis is, so if you do, help me out!) have been written over and over again for literally anything that has a story, so if you don't want to experience the story for yourself, hit up IMDB.

That's it for now. Let me know what you think in the comments, and stay tuned for the next installment!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Random Thoughts on Missing My Family

My entire family lives in Southern Indiana, while I live in Virginia Beach, Virginia. That puts them all precisely 693 miles from me at all times. It can be rough sometimes, because my family is very close-knit. My mom and dad are still married after nearly 32 years of marriage, I have two sisters who still live at home with my mom and dad, and one sister who is married and lives on her own with her husband. They all live within 20 minutes of each other. We used to stay with my grandmother nearly every weekend, so I am also very close to her. I speak with my mother nearly every other day, and I speak with my grandmother at least twice a week, sometimes more.

In October 2008, Darrell said he wanted to relocate to the Louisville, Kentucky area (which is where my family is).  I had dreamed my entire childhood of getting away from there, and when presented with the opportunity to move back, and I was excited beyond my own imagination. In preparation for the move, I quit my well-paying job as a licensed automobile insurance agent and moved to Indiana to stay with my parents while Darrell stayed in Virginia Beach and began the job search. This move took place at the exact time of the economy crashing, which meant there were no jobs to be had.

It was very difficult being away from my husband for so long, and I was depressed much of the time, but I was with my family every day for the first time in nearly 12 years! I got to spend time with my mom and dad, get to know my sisters Toni and Sunni as adults, and get to know my youngest sister, Baili (pronounced like "Bailey") who was 9 at the time, on a one-on-one basis and face-to-face, rather than over the phone. She and I hit it off famously. We were immediate best friends, and we spent a lot of time together. Darrell doesn't understand the bond we made and have, and he says that sometimes he feels like I treat her as if she were my daughter rather than my sister, and I suppose in some ways I do, because I don't think I'll ever have the privilege of having my own daughter.

I decided to make the move back to Virginia Beach and put moving back to the Louisville area on the back burner until the economic crunch is over in February 2009. This was almost a year ago, yet I miss them all as if I just left them yesterday.

My sister Baili and I have been writing letters back and forth at her request. It's quaint, and it's sweet, and I love it. She feels like it's more personal than writing emails or sending text messages. I don't disagree in the slightest. It's actually fun writing letters by pen rather than by Microsoft Word!

I got my second letter from Baili today, and she mentioned in her letter that every time she thinks about all the fun we had she wants to cry because she misses me so much. I feel the same way. I wish I lived closer so we could spend more time together, and hopefully someday soon I will be able to make that jump, but for now, I'm in Virginia Beach and I'm homesick.


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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Random Thoughts on The Sookie Stackhouse Novels

I've been a fan of HBO's True Blood since it debuted in September 2008. I enjoyed the first season immensely and when it was over, I waited anxiously for the second season. It came and I was equally impressed with the new iteration. It was during the second season that I learned that the whole television series was based off of a series of books. I thought it was interesting and let it be. A few months ago I got an Amazon Kindle for Darrell and since he was in school, I started using it to read during downtime at work. I chose to read the first book in the Sookie Stackhouse Novels, or The Southern Vampire Mysteries by Charlaine Harris, which was the basis for the first season of True Blood.

I was immediately enthralled and even addicted. Several people have asked me if the books are better than the TV series, or vice-versa, and I have to say that they are different. The show is very close to the book in most aspects, however, the books are all written from Sookie's point of view. While she is a telepath, she is not omniscient. What I mean by this is that the show goes into details of the lives of some of the other characters that the book does not go into. The characters are all the same people (for the most part), but you don't know what Sookie doesn't know. There are also some differences in how some of the stories are played out. Are they better or worse, no, they are merely different.

I believe that the show has helped me to envision the characters a little more roundly, if you will. What I mean by this is that I know exactly what Sookie looks like and what her accent sounds like, her mannerisms, and so forth.This is also true for Bill, Arlene, Jason, Lafayette, and most of the other characters. There are a few glaring differences, like the relationship Sookie and Tara have in the show is not the same as it is in the book, also Tara is white in the book. Another major difference is the way Sookie describes Sam over and over in the book, he is different in the show, but I just kind of overlook these differences and take them as kind of a "side story." It can be distracting, but overall, I think that the books benefit the show and the show benefit the books.

In total, there are (or will be) twelve Sookie Stackhouse books, and I'm currently reading the sixth one. These books are so well written that I feel like I know Sookie Stackhouse, and I feel like I've been to Bon Temps, Louisiana (which I just found out last week is a fictional place), and had drinks at Merlotte's with Jason and Hoyt, and even been to the "Fang Banger" bar in Shreveport, Fangtasia and gawked at Eric in all his splendor while Pam looked down on me for being a human.

I often say (jokingly) to Darrell, "you won't believe what trouble Sookie's been in lately!" I say this, because, that poor girl is ALWAYS getting into trouble. Now I'm leaving out details on purpose. I want you to go read the books, and watch the show. Don't be disappointed when the plots are slightly different, the stories are all excellent, and the character development is superb. I also have to warn you that there are some steamy scenes in there, too, so if you're faint of heart, or kind of weird about that, you might want to steer clear.

I also have this to say: HBO is filming the third season of True Blood, and it is supposedly falling inline with the books as far as some of the characters are concerned, so if they keep on the direction I hope they are, we're in for one hell of a ride with Sookie and the gang from Bon Temps!

Thoughts of Changing This Site

The original intent of this site was to be a 365Project where I take pictures every day and upload them to the site. Right from the start I started incorporating blog-like items with the pictures, which I think was a mistake on my part. I actually found that I enjoyed writing the blogs, but doing it daily along with a picture feels like a chore rather than something I should like doing. I got a comment from a good friend of mine that brought to my attention that other people might feel the same way. Here is her comment:

Disclaimer: this is constructive criticism; not an attack in anyway. I believe that your blog is a little lacking in substance. I read many of my friends’ and acquaintances’ blogs, and I rather enjoy them. The reason for this being that their blogs contain book, movie and music reviews, opinionated political essays and so on and so forth. Entries that recall things like daily activities are better served on a platform like LiveJournal.com. These entries, or at least this one in particular, seem to me like emphatic and loquacious Facebook status updates. Being the self-proclaimed tech nerd that you are, I’m surprised that you’re not writing compare/contrast essays on new pieces of portable technology or commenting on the usage of computerized special effects in say the newly released Avatar movie.

Just thoughts of mine. I applaud your effort to write – I just think it might behoove you to give us more to read so that we may want to return to see what more you have to say.

This is my response to her comment:
Stef,
Thank you for your candor. Quite honestly, I was thinking about this just yesterday. The hard part for me is that the goal of this site was intended to be a daily journal, particularly a 365Project where I take pictures everyday to visually document my daily activities, but I am finding that it is difficult to write something of substance every day to go along with these pictures, rather than a standard blog. I see where you're coming from with the suggestion of using Live Journal, but this site is a hosted site, rather than a site like Live Journal where it is on their servers. I wanted the flexibility to do what I want with the site rather than having to go with the restraints put on me by using WordPress.com, Live Journal, Blogger, etc.

Keeping that in mind, as I stated before, I am having a tremendously difficult time finding things to write about every day, so I think I may change the scope of the site and make it more of a blog. I believe if I changed the direction of the site, it would attract more readers, and could be a destination, rather than just someplace you go when you see the update link posted.

So yes, the site will be changing. I will take the direction of more of a blog and I will be writing about things that I find interesting, not just tech, but about the books I'm reading, movies/TV shows I've watched and enjoyed/hated, and many other things.

Stay tuned to see how things pan out!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

January 10, 2009

Today we slept until almost noon, but it's still my birthday weekend, so it's all good. We got up and Darrell made me an awesome breakfast with this egg dish he made with turkey, cheese, and I don't know what else was in it, he made these awesome fruit and yogurt parfaits, and I was STUFFED. Afterward we went to the mall to get our hair cut and then we went to Sam's Club to get some random stuff. The pic-of-the-day today is me taking a break and lounging for a minute at Sam's.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Random Thoughts About Me

Since you're reading this blog, you're probably a friend of mine, I went to school with you, we work together, or I know you from online. If not, that's cool too, but I figured I'd go ahead and give you 10 random things about me that you probably didn't know.


1. I sang competitively in high school (as a soloist, in a duet, in choir(s), and in show choir)
2. I taught myself BASIC (a programming language) when I was 14, even though I SUCK at math
3. I love to cook and to eat (obviously), but I hate the whole cleaning up thing, so I eat out a lot
4. I can crochet
5. I grew up in government housing (the projects) from the time I was 6 until I was 14
6. I've milked a cow
7. I've gotten lost walking alone at night in downtown Chicago
8. I've been in a commercial
9. My favorite home-cooked dish is spaghetti
10. I have absolutely NO sense of direction, which is why I have GPS with me everywhere



Today's picture is of the scarf I'm crocheting for Darrell. I started it yesterday!


And here's the commercial (it originally aired in March of 2006 in the Virginia Beach area). You can laugh, but I was on TV.

Friday, January 8, 2010

January 8, 2010

Today's picture is of me in my CPAP mask. It helps me not snore at night and breathe properly. I'm one sexy beast with it on, don't ya think?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Random Thoughts on My Birthday

As if you, my faithful readers, didn't know, today I turned 31. I am now officially in my 30s. Somehow, I still feel 13, so I guess it's not so bad. Today was an awesome day because I got to spend all day with Darrell. This is the first birthday I have had in as long as I can remember that we've been able to spend together all day because either I've had to work or he's had to work, but since he's been laid off, his calendar was free. We started the day off right by sleeping until 10:30, then we got up and he took me to lunch at Cracker Barrel (one of my favorite restaurants). We had an appointment at 2:00 to go see an apartment we're thinking about moving into in May. It was, in a word, awesome. I loved it. After that we went to see the new Meryl Streep movie, "It's Complicated." I laughed so hard I thought I was going to pee. Then we did some light shopping, bought a plant and then we went out to dinner at Burton's Grill. This is my absolute favorite restaurant because it's upscale, casual dining and the food is superb. Tonight, however, the food took nearly 45 minutes to make it to the table. For this, I got to have my birthday dinner complements of the management at Burton's Grill. Afterward we made the obligatory trip to Target where I got my very first pair of Converse All-Stars. Today was a no-nonsense, no-fuss birthday. No parties, no cake, no opening of presents. It was very nice to have a relaxing day that I could say was mine and I spent it how I wanted. Now the day is over, and it's been a very happy birthday, indeed.

I also wanted to thank those of you that wished me a happy birthday. I truly appreciate your thoughts.

Today's picture is the sun setting on my 31st birthday. I hope you enjoyed my day as much as I did!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

My Birthday is Tomorrow!

My 31st birthday is tomorrow (if you hadn't gathered that information already from the title of this post). I'm not quite sure how I feel about this. I almost as difficult as turning 30 was for me because now I'm no longer 30, I'm in my 30's. Yikes. What's even more odd for me is that my mother is only 45. She had me when she was 15, but that's a story for a completely different post. I have friends that are my mother's age. It never bothered me because my my mother and I are so close, but when I actually stop to think about it, it seems like I'm creeping up on her in age, and she's more like a peer now than my "elder," as it were.

Anyway, my birthday is tomorrow. I was born at 5:27AM on Sunday, 7 January 1979, to be precise.

Below is the last picture of me while I'm a 30-year-old. Tomorrow I'll be 30-something...



In this photo my eyes look odd, I've got some sort of weird crooked smile, but eh... I've still got my youth... for now anyway.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Random Thankfulness

I know we celebrated Thanksgiving here in the US in November, but I walked into my apartment this evening, and was hit with a rush of thankfulness. My partner, Darrell, and I have built quite a nice life for ourselves, and even though he is currently out of work, we still have a lot of very nice things, and we have each other and our kittens (they're over 3 years old, but they'll always be my kittens). I look around our small-ish apartment and I'm amazed at how beautiful it is. Granted, Darrell is home during the day now and he is keeping it virtually spotless, but that aside, I'm very happy with our life we've built.

In the sprit of being thankful for our beautiful things, I wanted to share a picture of the painting (yes, it's a painting, NOT a print) over our couch.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Random Thoughts of a New Blogger

Alright. I've been doing this for a couple of days, and it's been a learning curve, getting everything sat up the way I wanted it. I'm on the way to getting everything looking the way I want, and getting the plugins and widgets to work properly in WordPress, but I'm by no means an expert. I'd barely say I'm a novice at this whole blogging thing, but I want to keep doing it, more so for my own self satisfaction, but I have to admit, having some sort of legacy on the Internet appeals to me. So far, the hardest thing has been for me to be able to get the posts on time to the site! I work until late during the week, and so far, my MotoCLIQ (running Android) doesn't have an official WordPress app.

But I digress... Today I got my very first comment. I was excited to see my inbox give me validation to say that SOMEONE is reading this pitiful excuse for a blog, and what was it? Someone being rude. I think (I'm pretty sure anyway) I know who it is, but it was disheartening nonetheless. I guess I have to realize everyone isn't going to like what I have to say, and to a lot of people, the pictures that I'm posting might just be junk, but this is my attempt at journaling my life. I'm sure the blog will get more interesting as my writing style takes hold, and if people actually read it and view my pictures then they will be getting to know me better, and I might inspire someone else to get out there and start their own blog and pay it forward.

I guess that's enough of a "rant" for tonight!

Namasté

Pic-a-day for 1/4/2010

I wanted to share a picture of one of my cats, Fiyero (pronounced "fee-air-oh") lying in the new bed we got him.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Pic-a-day Jan 3, 2010

Sorry for posting this so late in the day, but I was playing Super Mario Bros Wii and then realized my laptop wasn't working properly, so I had to reinstall Windows 7. Next thing I know it's 10:30, and I haven't uploaded my pic of the day!

Today I thought I'd share a picture of the majority of my shot glass collection. Nestled in with the shot glasses is Buddha with a red string around him to ward off evil eye. When I think about it, these items together seem counterproductive. I may have to relocate the shot glass collection.... hmm...

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Random Thoughts of a Tech Support Rep

First real blog post of my new blog. I originally had a nice, long post about some of the things that irritate me about my job, but I took it down for fear that since I live my life so publicly it could be taken in a negative way, and I love my job and don't want to jeopardize it in any way.

Keeping that in mind, I have also been given very specific rules I have to adhere to since I live my life so publicly. One of those is that I cannot mention the company's name for whom I work. Just know that I work in technical support for digital cameras and camcorders ranging from pocket-sized point-and-shoot cameras to the big professional camcorders that your local news reporters lug around.

Now that we have that bit out of the way, I wanted to share a picture of my workstation. I have blurred out any of the elements that make it identifiable outside of the company I work (I almost put the company name in there, anonymity is going to be harder than I thought).

This is my workstation. There are many like it, but this one is mine.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

Hello everyone! This will be the first post of hopefully MANY more to come! I plan on uploading a picture every day to this site and doing blog posts periodically. Check back often to see what's going on in my life!

Picture for January 1, 2010

image

Big empty spot where the Christmas Tree was. :(

Gadget

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