I’ve written quite a few “first post” blog posts but I’m hoping to make this one the last one. The plan is to consolidate my meaningful (and not so meaningful) blog posts here and have this be a bit more substantial and substantive than past blogs where I post a few times about miscellaneous topics and then stop forever. Only time will tell if I hold to that plan but here we go.
Dear Ms. Clyburn, Mr. O’Rielly, and Mr. Pai,
I am an internet user just like you. I check email, send a few tweets, shop on Amazon, watch enjoyable but stupid Youtube videos, and look up symptoms on WebMD when I get sick. As an internet user, I believe in privacy and the net neutrality protections currently in place.
With all due respect to Chairman Ajit Pai, his proposal to deregulate ISPs like Comcast, Spectrum, Frontier, AT&T, and his former place of business, Verizon, would effectively give them the legal latitude to create internet fast lanes and sell personal user data for the sole purpose of making them more money. They already charge users for internet service. To roll back the previous administration’s net neutrality protections and allow an ISP to then sell your private browsing history is both an invasion of privacy, and a crushing blow to small business owners who use the internet to make a living. Allowing ISPs to discriminate against certain types of data or websites, robs us all of innovation and a diverse Internet
At present, our current net neutrality rules ensure that Internet providers can’t slow or block our ability to see certain websites or create Internet “fast lanes” by charging websites and online service money to reach customers faster. Chairman Pai’s proposed repeal of the rules would transform ISPs into Internet gatekeepers with an effective veto right on innovation and expression. His op-ed that laughs at a digital dystopia and claims that the regulation has halted innovation is, at best, misinformed (see Freepress’ paper “It’s Working: How the Internet Access and Online Video Markets are Thriving in the Title II Era). Do you remember when Comcast and other ISPs charged Netflix a “toll” to deliver their streaming videos in 2014? I and the many other internet users do. This is no fantasy dreamed up by alarmists behind a computer screen. That happened, and corporations whose sole purpose is to seek profit should never be deemed to be the guardians of the public interest.
I plead for you to consider not just your party or corporate interests (I’m looking at you Chairman Pai) but the American people you serve and to keep Title II net neutrality in place.
I’ve been looking for a good way to pull the information from all the business cards I get and easily put the contact details in my iPhone.
The best app I have found thus far is ScanBizCards. It does a very good job of scanning the information from a business card and immediately putting the person as a contact in your phone. The pro version is $0.99. Honestly, that is all I want from a business card scanner.
Something to look out for on other pro version of business card scanners is a subscription. Some of them look like they’ll charge on a monthly basis, and some on a yearly basis.
As Twitter gets more serious on abuse and trolling, I’ve given some thought to how Twitter could handle the troll/abuse problem.
As a premise, Twitter has trolls. Trolls abuse the open forum that is Twitter. If you need further clarification, this article is a helpful summary.
Proposal: The Blue Check
I propose that Twitter use the blue verification check mark that they already have in place in addition to a simple option in settings to help stem the tide of trolls that have increasingly become an issue. Essentially, you connect the person with the speech.
The way that I see this working is as follows:
- Twitter adds a setting that allows users to only receive notifications by verified accounts and accounts which they follow. This means that accounts can choose whether they would like to receive notifications from (option a) EVERYONE or (option b) all verified accounts + unverified accounts they follow. By limiting notifications to the verified accounts and unverified accounts a person/company follows, you continue to allow open discussion while discarding the interactions from accounts that are anonymous or meant solely to agitate others.
- Thus, in order to elevate the level of conversation, Twitter would have to be more open with the verification process and allow those who want to verify their identity on Twitter to do so. Verification is the process by which accounts get that blue check mark as proof that their account is authentic.
- Once an account has been verified, it then has the ability to contact any other account unless it is specifically blocked; the way Twitter currently works.
The idea is to connect the people with the speech and while that doesn’t stop harassment, it does at least help hold people accountable for the speech they put out there, especially abusive and threatening speech.
While this proposal would likely create a division between verified accounts and non-verified accounts, overall, I don’t think it would change the open forum nature of Twitter, but rather help people filter the responses they receive.
Agree or disagree? Let me know what you think.
TL;DR: I had to wipe everything and set my phone up as a new iPhone. No restoring from backup.
When I updated my iPhone 6 to the new iOS I was very excited. I was looking forward to all the cool new things that iMessage would be able to do now, from the cool new ways to send texts (Loud, Slam, invisible ink), to the new apps that would work in iMessage, and yes, even the sticker packs.
I updated both my work phone and my personal phone and have had drastically different experiences. This blog post contains my notes on my fixing the slow typing issue in iOS 10. I hope it helps you.
- So I updated to iOS 10 over a free hotel wifi in London. Maybe that was the problem? I thought it might fix itself but no dice.
- Fix: I updated my phone to the new release of iOS 10 (10.0.2) when I got back a week later.
- Outcome: It seemed to make my phone better for a few hours but it still lags when typing anything.
- It was still lagging so I called Apple Support
- Fix: They told me to backup my phone to my computer and do a full restore and that would definitely fix the problem.
- Outcome: I did. Despite trying to delude myself that the issue wasn’t as bad, there really wasn’t any change.
- I called Apple Support back a day or so later.
- Fix: The support person was very pleasant and had me change a few settings on the phone.
- Under Settings > General > Accessibility > Increase Contrast, I turned on both Reduce Transparency and Darken Colors.
- Under Settings > General > Accessibility > Reduce Motion, I turned Reduce Motion on.
- Outcome: Neither of these made much of a difference.
- Fix: Since we were in settings, I decided to turn off Assistive Touch (under Settings > General > Accessibility > Assistive Touch). This isn’t something everyone has on, but I gave it a try just to see what would happen.
- Outcome: This was definitely helpful and seemed to almost cure the problem. At least, it did while I was on the phone with Apple Support.
- Fix: The support person was very pleasant and had me change a few settings on the phone.
- After a few hours, the problems were back. Not nearly as bad as before, but still there. I tried ignoring the problem for a few days but when you can’t text anyone back and you want to tweet as much as I do, you can’t ignore it for long. I started tinkering around with the iMessage apps.
- Fix: I disabled all but two of the iMessage apps. No more Mario Run stickers for me. I had 11 or so active apps.
- Outcome: This helped marginally but the lagging remained.
- This was really bugging the hell out of me. I would go to type an email, text, tweet and I could get only a few words down before the phone would lag and act nonresponsive. I called Apple Support back and set up a Genius Bar appointment.
- Fix: They told me to NOT restore from the backup on my computer but rather backup to iCloud and restore the phone from iCloud and if that didn’t work, to set it up as a new phone.
- Outcome: I restored my phone from my iCloud backup. It still has a subtle lag. Dammit.
- One day later, I am beaten. I caved and deleted everything.
- Fix: Finally set it up as a new iPhone.
- Outcome: Aside from having to re-download all my apps, put my password back into almost every app I own, lose all the photos on my phone as well as my most recent set of contacts, at least the typing is finally back to normal.
Conclusion: While my incremental steps were frustrating and it’s been four weeks of extreme annoyance, I’m glad I was able to finally fix the issue despite the hassle of setting up a new phone. The Genius Bar employee said that sometimes, issues can be underneath the surface and a new iOS can bring them to light. While I was annoyed to be told this in the store, I suppose there is some wisdom to that statement. I have been quite good about not losing my phone [*knocks on wood] and so have not set up a new iPhone since I got my iPhone 4S in October 2011. As inconvenient and aggravating as it is to have to set up everything again, maybe a 5 year reset is a good thing.
*These gifs were shamelessly stolen from George Tinari’s post on the new iMessage Bubble Effects post.
[UPDATE] – I’ve found the biggest difference by deleting extra Siri voices and especially extra keyboards. Keep only your main language and the emoji one and no others.
So for the past few years, I have run a contest picking the Top 10 Summer Movies. I’ve written about this before elsewhere, but thought I would post it here as well so others can start their own competitions. The gist is that everyone ranks the top 10 summer movies that they think will make the most money at the box office (1 = will make the most money over the summer) for the summer season, generally the first weekend in May to Labor Day, and the person whose list is closest to the actual Top 10 at the end of the summer, based on points (see below), wins.
- Everyone picks the 10 movies that they think will make the most money over the summer and rank them in order from #1 to #10 (with #1 making the most amount of money).
- Then, everyone picks three additional “Dark Horse” movies. These are movies that you think *could* make it into the Top 10 but don’t quite make your Top 10 cut. Basically, movies that you think could be break-out hits.
Only movies released from the first week in May to Labor Day, count. (This means you can’t include any movies released prior that date, though I generally include the ones that open the Wednesday before). Only the box office grosses from that period in the US & Canada are counted.
Ranking are based on domestic box office grosses which come from boxofficemojo.com.
– If your #1 or #10 are the same as the actual #1 or #10, you get 13 points (each).
The rest of the scoring goes like this:
– 10 points if your #2-9 are the same as the actual #2-9
– 7 points if your movie pick is only one spot away
– 5 points if your movie pick is two spots away
– 3 points if your movie pick is anywhere in the Top 10
– 1 point for each dark horse that makes it into the Top 10
The scoring is tabulated so that you get the single highest point value for each pick; that means if you get #10 right, you don’t get 13+3; you only get 13.
I generally send out updates throughout the summer to let everyone know who is in the tentative lead but it’s the final points at the end of the summer that matter.
I’ve been musing all week about potential blog post topics. I want to post often and I want those posts to be interesting but I had been having trouble coming up topics. I thought about writing on some of the new goals I’ve set for myself and what I’m working towards but by themselves, they would barely amount to a tweet.
However, I’ve been trying to do quite a lot lately and it feels like a new beginning. While I’m the guy that enjoys re-committing every January 1 to my resolutions, I’ve learned that one doesn’t need to wait until then to work on something new. There is never a bad time for a start, right?
So what am I working on?
Well firstly, this blog. I’ve fallen out of writing anything but business email and short notes and I wanted to stretch my personal prose muscles, thus, this blog. I’ve blogged before but aside from my first blog, which lasted a couple of years, I couldn’t really get back into it despite trying a few times on different platforms.
Secondly, reading for pleasure. After law school, and aside from reading the rest of the Game of Thrones series (excellent and well worth your time if you enjoy reading fantasy books at all) and a few New York magazines, I haven’t really read for pleasure. One of my New Years Resolutions was to read 4 books. That’s not a lot, I know. But I wanted to read for pleasure and not just to beat some arbitrary goal. Thus far, I’ve crushed David Wong’s John Dies at the End (weird, excellent, and a quick read), abandoned Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice and John Updike’s Rabbit, Run, and used my 3 month free trial for Audible (since I’m a Prime member) to listen to Aziz Ansari’s Modern Romance. I’m currently listening to my favorite author, David Foster Wallace’s, Broom of the System as a borrowed audiobook from the NY Library and just started (literally on page 8) City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg (which is cheaper as a paperback than on Kindle, which I don’t understand). City on Fire already reads as fluidly as Infinite Jest (by David Foster Wallace) so I’m excited for the rest of the book but trying to keep expectations at a reasonable level; something extraordinarily difficult given the 5 pages of quoted praise as the intro to the book.
Thirdly, I’m working on making more money. This drive has taken several forms. At the forefront, I’m making sure to stay on top of everything at the office since I enjoy the work. Maritime law is probably as much fun as the law can be and I feel lucky to work where I do. I’m also working getting my digital consulting side business up and running. It’s been a bit of a chore finding the time and drive after a long day or week of work.
I’ve also been working on getting healthier. I’ve been counting calories with the Lose It! app on my phone and trying to run more often. I tried the running in the morning thing but despite my best effort, my 6:45am-self prefers sleep over exercise. I’ve also just started using Headspace, a meditation app. I definitely felt more relaxed after just a few minutes so I might stick with it. A free app definitely beats paying for yoga classes.
I think that’s enough to start.
I had been kicking around the idea of setting up my own personal cloud for about a year before actually investigating how to do it. This was primarily because I didn’t really think I needed one and partially because I was to busy to look into it. Well I finally did and laid out how I did so below. Hopefully, you find it useful if you’re trying to do the same thing.
I had wanted a personal cloud as a way to watch my hundreds of DVDs I spent my high school and college years collecting. Years ago I had discarded their boxes and stored them in a Case Logic binder but I had never actually taken that binder down to my parent’s place for the holidays and the oft “I have definitely have that movie, but it’s at my place” was getting old. Of course I had a Blockbuster membership back then (rest in peace Blockbuster), but as many Millenials will remember, the overdue charges were astronomically ridiculous. It was far cheaper to go to Wal-Mart, Target…etc and buy the movie for $5 than rent it for $3 and be charged $10 for a late fee after inevitably returning it late because your friend or roommate “had” to borrow it.
Redbox didn’t really start springing up around my area, at least as far as I’m aware, until 2010/2011 and by then, after a year of freeloading off my friend Ryan’s Netflix account, I finally got my own in the summer of 2011. Which, unsurprisingly, is when my DVD collection basically stopped getting bigger, with the exception of the Harry Potter movies and some vampire/zombie combo packs.
As I was looking into setting up a personal cloud, I wanted one that would let me access my files anywhere, would let me play my ripped DVDs on my Amazon Firestick, had a large storage capacity for all the DVDs I intended to rip, had mirrored drives so that if one failed (as they do) I wouldn’t lose all those files, and was as cost efficient as possible.
[Yeah, yeah, yeah…. I get it. You have a bunch of DVDs lying around. How do I actually do this?]
Here is what you’ll need:
- A NAS (network attached storage) device – $450
- Plex (streaming software) – $0
- Streaming device (Firestick/ Google Chromecast/ Apple TV/ Roku…etc) – $30 to $200
- DVD drive – $33
- DVD ripping software – $25
- Your DVDs – Priceless
- Patience. A lot of patience
NAS: A networked attached storage device is, in uncomplicated parlance, is a hard drive that can act as a server; essentially a drive where you can store data and access online. I did a fair amount of research and the NAS I thought was best, was the Western Digital 8TB My Cloud EX2 Ultra. The reasoning behind this is that it had sufficient storage (8 terabytes), mirrored drives (two 4TB drives – NOTE: this means you only actually get 4TB of storage capacity despite buying an 8TB drive), it had a good processor for streaming and while not as cheap as I would have liked, I was willing to overlook that because of the quality.
Plex: Plex is the software whereby you can stream your DVDs from your NAS to your streaming device. You will want to sign up for an account.
Streaming Device: I have both an Amazon Firestick and a Google Chromecast and they’re both great. I hear good things about the Apple TV and Roku. There are plenty of comparison websites out there but overall, I like the Firestick since I feel it is less glitchy and is more of an entertainment device than the Chromecast. The Firestick also has a Plex app which you can download and makes accessing your movies/tv shows a lot easier. Chromecast lets you throw your media onto your TV via the Plex app on your phone/tablet but the browsing is done on the mobile device, not the TV.
DVD Drive: I have a mid-2009 Macbook Pro which means it still has a CD/DVD drive but knowing I was going to burn 100+ DVDs, I didn’t want to burn out my internal drive. As a precaution, I bought what seemed like a decent but cheap DVD drive. It is a GlowGeek DVD drive, which I’ve never heard of but to date, has burned 160+ movies and at least 4 different TV series and is still going strong. It connects via USB 3.0 which I thought was important for ripping speed. I don’t actually know if it is, but given the amount of data it has to transfer, I figured better safe than sorry. Each DVD takes about the length of the playing time to rip, which I understand to be pretty good.
DVD Ripping Software: I used to have Handbrake and VLC to rip DVDs before but since upgrading to Mac OS X El Capitan, they haven’t worked. I tried a few free programs but ultimately didn’t want the hassle of trying to configure everything perfectly every time given the number of DVDs I would be ripping. To that end, I used my free trial and afterward bought the license for MacDVDRipper Pro. It has worked like a charm and is worth way more than the current $25 price tag. I’m sure there are plenty of good Windows options out there but I don’t have any good recommendations. Sorry.
Your DVDs: Check out the Plex guide to naming your DVDs before you start ripping TV shows. The movies are pretty easy to rename if necessary but the TV shows can be a pain in the ass.
Patience: It takes a while to rip all those DVDs but once you get the set-up right, it becomes pretty easy.
- Order what you need (NAS, DVD drive, streaming device, DVD ripping software)
- Set up your Plex account
- Set up your NAS when it arrives
- Attach the DVD drive & insert the DVD
- Close the automatic DVD player and open up the DVD ripping software
- Rip the DVD and ensure it is named appropriately based on the Plex naming guide
- Double-check the DVD ripped all the way through with sound
1. Ordering: This is probably the most painful part. As a young professional in New York, all expenses are carefully monitored but it had to be done.
2. Plex:Set up the Plex account online and download the necesasry apps for your mobile devices. You’ll need them later.
3. Setup NAS: This is the hardest part. Essentially, you just have to set it up by the directions included. I do suggest buying a CAT 6 cable to connect the NAS to your WIFI router instead of using the included CAT 4 or CAT 5 cable. I was told it transfers information faster by a tech guy I know. Make sure set up the NAS options and add the Plex app. Here is the best install guide I found that includes pictures. If you’re asked to manually upgrade, you have to download the appropriate file from the Plex website (they recommend the My Clud Mirror gen 2 package) and add that as an app.
— Plex (@plex) July 28, 2016
You’ll also have to set up your My Cloud account access which should be part of the process. The online portal for My Cloud is where you’ll upload the movies once they are ripped.
4. Setup DVD Drive: This is very easy and only requires attaching the USB cable.
5. Start Ripping: You have to close the automatic DVD player and then start the ripping program. If you don’t, it can take longer and confuse computer sometimes. I prefer the .m4v file type under the ripping options.
6. Proper Title: Make sure to properly name the move per the Plex guidelines.
7. Confirmation: Confirm the movie is completely ripped and then upload it through the MyCloud portal and you should be good to go!
*The picture for this post was unceremoniously taken from the Skipping Girl Vinegar youtube video.
To wrap up last year’s Summer Movie Wager (2014) before gearing up for 2015, see below for the actual Top 10 movies, followed by where they were in my predicted list.
1. Guardians of the Galaxy (#6)
2. Transformers: Age of Extinction (#3)
3. Maleficent (#9)
4. X-Men: Days of Future Past (#2)
5. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (#5)
6. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (#4)
7. Godzilla (#7)
8. 22 Jump Street (#10)
9. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (#Dark Horse)
10. How to Train Your Dragon 2 (#1)
The biggest disappointment for me was How to Train Your Dragon 2. I had high hopes for this one. I didn’t expect anything but box office glory. I didn’t think there was any way the other movies had much of a chance. It was a sequel to a well loved original, parents could take their kids, it had dragons, and it seemed cool enough for the crowd that had seen the first one. I dunno; I guess another Shrek-like franchise was too much to hope for. So despite the expectations, the love the first movie garnered didn’t translate as well as expected to the sequel. HTTYD2 only made $177 million compared to the original’s $217.5 million. I figured that with the extreme merchandising and hype, the sequel was destined to be a smash hit. Alas…
As for biggest surprises, both Guardians of the Galaxy and Maleficent really came out swinging. My thoughts going into last summer was that the advertising for Guardians was too character-centric and not enough plot for a Marvel comic that no one had heard of. As for Maleficent, it seemed too dark for a children’s movie and I presumed that parents would steer clear from taking their children until they heard it was okay and not too scary. My thinking had been that the hesitancy to take children opening weekend would translate into lackluster opening run at the box offices despite the hype that Angelia Jolie would bring to the role of Maleficent.
I probably should have thought through my predictions a little better. Guardians was a Marvel production and they have yet to put out a movie that has been short of awesome, at least as far as I’m aware. Well…except for the the Hulk movies in 2003 & 2008. What happened there? That aside, Angelia Jolie was incredible in Maleficent. I’m not normally one for movies where they show the “bad guy/gal” perspective on an old tale but I’ll make an exception for Maleficent. It had enough of Sleeping Beauty interwoven for reference but was different enough that it wasn’t a rehashed storyline. I thought both Guardians and Maleficent were fantastic and certainly earned their respective positions.
Despite coming in 2nd last year with my movie picks, I have high hopes about this coming summer’s movies. The second Avengers movie (Age of Ultron) will try to live up to, or surpass, the first Avengers (which currently holds the #3 spot for All Time Domestic Box Office Gross). Some of the other contenders this summer will be Mad Max without Mel Gibson, a new Terminator movie, Pitch Perfect 2, the second Magic Mike, a Despicable Me spin-off for the minions, and Ted 2. Ted 2 will be interesting because Ted was a breakout comedy hit and did quite well but compared against how another Seth MacFarlane movie, A Million Ways to Die in the West, performed (read: bombed) last year, I’m a bit skeptical. We also have another Mission Impossible, Peter Pan’s origin story, The Fantastic Four, a Guy Ritchie spy movie, and the video game adaptation of Hitman in addition to many more.
Jurassic World is probably the one I am most excited about. After watching the trailer while a bit drunk during the Super Bowl, I will admit my expectations are probably a bit high. I figure the best way to bring them down is to watch the 2nd and 3rd Jurassic Park movies.
So hold on to your butts. Summer movie season starts in 1 month!
I have not been diligent about posting, regularly or otherwise. Blame law school. Now that I’ve finished, it’s time to watch more movies and tell you all about them. As a Welcome Back Post, I thought it would be appropriate to let you all in on my Summer 2014 Box Office Predictions. As I mentioned in my first post about the Summer Movie Wager, my friends and I try to predict which 10 movies will do the best at the box office. Without further ado, below are my picks for the 10 movies I think will do the best at the box office for Summer 2014.
10. 22 Jump Street
They actually filmed part of this movie outside of my law school this past year so I would like to see it make the Top 10, although this might be a bit of personal bias. Considering how well 21 Jump Street did and how well the reception was after the DVD came, I think this is a safe bet.
I went back and worth on even including this movie on my list. It’s unclear to me who their audience is and if it is children, it seems a bit dark to be a parent’s first choice. That being said, Disney is heavily promoting it and ad budgets account for a lot.
I’m really excited about this one. It looks like it is going to be hiliarious. Comedies don’t normally do that great but I have high expectations for this one. The “Family v. Frat” premise seems promising.
I reluctantly put this one on my list. I’m personally kind of tired of big monster/alien movies (Pacific Rim, Battleship) but I still think it will do decently well.
6. Guardians of the Galaxy
There haven’t been a lot of breakout August movies but Guardians doesn’t have a lot of competition and I think people will be interested in seeing a less familiar Marvel movie.
5. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
4. Amazing Spider-Man 2
I’m pretty excited to see this one but unfortunately, I think general audiences are getting a bit tired of the Spider-Man franchise. [sigh]
3. Transformers: Age of Extinction
No Shia LeBeouf or Megan Fox? Mark Wahlberg can certainly help this movie along (in addition to the Transformer dragons and dinosaurs) but it won’t make the money that the first few did. Also franchise fatigue.
2. X-Men: Days of Future Past
X-Men is going to do well this summer. It’s bringing both the original cast and the cast of X-Men: First Class together which should already help X-Men give an Avengers-type feel but I’ve also heard rumors that there is a ad for X-Men after Amazing Spider-Man 2 which should help boost X-Men over Spider-Man this summer.
1. How to Train Your Dragon 2
How to Train Your Dragon 2 has a lot going for it. Without many contenders for children’s attention and considering how well the first one did in addition to how great of a date movie I perceive this to be, How to Train Your Dragon 2 tops my list as the number 1 box office movie for the summer.
Dark Horses – These are movies that didn’t make my list but were close and have a chance to make it into the Top 10.
A Million Ways to Die in the West
Planes: Fire & Rescue
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles