Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Learn Something For Free!!!

So, I've decided that in order to be happy, I simply must go back to school because I've completely remixed my career goals and am convinced that this one, the one I'm presently on, ain't it. (Oh, how I wish I'd come to these present realizations before the really expensive master's that's threatening to bankrupt me. Hey, you only live once!)

Now, in the thick of writing personal statements and filling out FAFSAs and attending info sessions and cutting checks for admissions applications, I've found myself taking inventory my abilities. You see, I'm going into engineering and we all know that engineers have to be solid on the math front. The problem is, the last time I took a math class was in the nineties. That's kind of a problem.

Enter the Internet and OpenCourseWare. There are schools, well-regarded ones, that offer online courses for the free. That's right, the free. Now I don't know about gaining credit and all that jive, but I do need some refresher courses, and this fits the bill like a money clip. Of these schools, MIT's offerings seem to be the most exhaustive. In addition to video lectures, they have sample projects, assignments, problem sets, tests with answers, and lecture notes, pretty much everything a real class would have.

(Adorable picture from TheBlackSpotBook's site on Etsy. Check out her adorable necklaces.)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Wii, Netflix, and You

Bought a Wii to work out? (*snicker*)

Find that your Wii Fit board's getting a little dusty from disuse?

Stop kidding yourself and use the damned thing as Nintendo intended, to enjoy sitting on your ass.

I started my 14-day trial period using Media Mall's PlayOn software the other day, using it to stream Netflix, Hulu, and other online content through my Box Office. Unfortunately, the Box Office isn't one of the supported devices, so there is a lot of buggy behavior, particularly with Hulu and Netflix. Often, the files won't play, displaying an "invalid file" message instead. I have a Wii, though, and PlayOn just released a beta version of their software to use with the console, so I figured why not?

It was super easy.

1. Connect your Wii to your wireless network.

2. Download the free Wii Internet Channel

3. Enter '' into the browser (and save it as a favorite).

Assuming that you've installed PlayOn on your host computer and have it configured correctly, you can watch anything you want. Beyond Hulu, Netflix, and YouTube, there are plenty of plug-ins for other channels like Adult Swim, PBS, NBC, and more. I spent the better part of the day watching Modern Family and the '91 version of Dark Shadows.

The problem with this solution is that the Wii only supports resolutions up to 480p, and if you have a HDTV, you sure can tell. Supposedly, Netflix's Wii instant streaming disc (being released this Spring) will help this a bit, but 480p is 480p. Personally, sitting roughly six feet from my television, it doesn't bother me too much.

So yeah, it keeps getting better and better. With a mini-fridge, I may never have to leave my room again.

Friday, February 19, 2010

I Feel Kinda Guilty, But...

1. Gucci Group's decision to keep the McQueen label alive despite the loss of his singular and unique creative mind is the dumbest decision in life. I get that Alexander had faith in his team and Gucci wants to continue building on the momentum the brand has gained, but no one is Alexander McQueen, has his mind, or can do what he does. Shut it down.

2. This may be a bit incendiary, but I think there should be strict segregation between the childless and child-having.

For a few months now the apartment below us has been vacant, which was fine with us. Just last week, however, some earnest brotha(ahhhh!) damn near sprinted up the stairs to greet Schmoses, I guess to initiate a preemptive strike for the bomb he was about to drop ... on our quiet, single, childless lives. So last night, in the middle of enjoying my swank media setup, I hear this bumping and running and screaming, sorta like an clan of blind dragons were break-dancing downstairs.

"What the hell is THIS?"

Turns out our new neighbors have a gaggle of loud, boisterous, perpetually moving children who like to scream and laugh at things, particularly at ten thirty at night. (Correct me, parents, but shouldn't your kids be in bed by this time?) It's terrible.

I don't have children and I don't want any, so CLEARLY I don't want to hear yours at all hours of the day (and night). And it's not like we can do anything about it. You can't tell parents to martial law their children into silence; they'll end up stupid and without spirit.

So here I am, in the apartment I thought was perfect, trapped.

Parents, if you have a shitload of kids, move into an unattached residence.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Stuff I Like

1. I just watched Ratatouille. It was soooooooooooo good. I love being late cuz I get to enjoy things like they're new, without all the fanfare.

2. Television Zombies, a fun podcast that talks about shows I love and those I probably should.

3. Vampire Diaries! Because of the great people of Television Zombies, I started watching this show on Friday. Three days later, I had devoured all 14 aired episodes. This ish is great! Ian Somerhalder (Paul from Rules of Attraction [I don't watch Lost]) plays Damon, the bad vampire brother in this modern Dark Shadows-y mash-up of awesome and schmaltz. Love it and can't wait for it to resume in march. Chuck and Tina from TZ have a separate podcast for the show, Chuck and Tina Spread VD. It's pretty good.

4. Home Theater Solutions. You may recall this post where I muddle over the home media streaming options. Well I finally got off my indecisive duff and made some decisions. Instead of a wi-fi-enabled TV, I went the media player route. And while the WD Live is ubiquitous and attractive, the Patriot Box Office gets snaps for having a wider range of media file support, a hdd bay for storage, a vocal online community, and awesome customer support.

Since I don't have an ethernet line running to the bedroom, and media players have issues playing large HD files over a wireless network, I went with this, powerline networking. It's so convenient. Plug one into your router and the other into your device in any part of the house. Apparently you should make sure that both are on the same circuit. I guess mine are cuz this is working perfectly, no stuttering or dropped signals.

This is my media player. It's so awesome. It plays all my downloaded content, has good picture quality (file dependent, of course), and is small enough not to take up much space. Two issues: the UI is not that pretty and very basic and those running Windows 7 have to manually edit their registries to access files over a network. The first issue doesn't bother me much. The second took all of two minutes to solve. As I type, New Egg is sending a 120 GB laptop hard drive to install in this baby. That way I can store media directly on the device and enable the bit torrent option. Woo hoo!

Now the problem with having all these devices--cable box, media player, television--is the profusion of remotes. Now I looked into the Logitech Harmony thing, but 70 plus for a remote is ridiculous. Instead I chose this, the NXG NX-RM505, and based on the reviews, it may be just what I need. We'll see when it gets here.

So that's it.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Alexander McQueen is Dead

I'm not sure that I have anything especially novel to say; it's just weird.

Over the years, my level of interest in fashion has waxed and waned, but a McQueen show was always something to look forward to.

A McQueen was always undoubtedly a McQueen.

Honestly, this is quite hard to believe.

There'll never be another McQueen show. It's just incredibly depressing to know that that mind will not create another thing. God, that's depressing.

(I don't care what anyone says, I loved the fall 07 collection.)