Tuesday, September 18, 2007

What I Did On My Summer Vacation (err... Monday after work)

IMG_2603, originally uploaded by arwild01.

So Shannon saw that Houston Plants and Garden Centers was having their annual fall clearance sale... she didn't find any plants there she liked, but she did find some crape myrtles on sale at Lowe's. So Monday she planted one of them in the front flower beds while also ripping out some of the flowers we had and replacing them them with some mums and fire bush.

However, Monday after work we went crazy and built a new flower bed. We dug out all the sod, installed plastic edging, added dirt, mulch and planted 3 more crape myrtles. We literally worked into the night. I dug up the sod so I didn't feel too bad letting her dig the holes for the plants while I held the flashlight :)

Tuesday she purchased the rocks to line the edge of the patio. They were only about $2 at Dirt Cheap Mulch.

Now we have something to look at outside our bedroom window.

IMG_2616, originally uploaded by arwild01.

I had to get photos of the results. The first photo above also gave me an opportunity to use my new wide-angle lens for my digital camera. I also went ahead and got some photos of our other landscaping. You can see that our Knock-our Roses are really growing.

Our flickr site has more photos, but their only accessible to flickr members we've marked as Friends and Family. If you don't have access, send me a note (My e-mail address is available on the sidebar to to the right) and I'll send you an invite to our photos.

Monday, September 10, 2007

More HD Media discussion

If anyone is interested in following it, Newton and I have continued our HD Media discussion via a post (and subsequent comments) on his Blog here.

Finally, to muddy the waters even further... a new HD Media format has been announced that undercuts everybody. I highly doubt this format has a future given its backing, but frankly I don't think the waters need to be any murkier then they already are.

Friday, September 07, 2007

The State of High Definition Media in Home Theater

A recent post on a friend's blog indicates that the state of HD media may be looking up with the introduction of two new "combo" players that can play both Blu-Ray and HD-DVD media.

I'm sorry to report that I feel differently.

Back when I was single, I was clearly crazy enough to lay down $1000 for a player, but these days I don't even get interested until there's something below $400 and baring special circumstances, I think I player has to be less than $200 before I would drop my hard-earned cash on it. Now of course, all new electronics start out at a ridiculously high price point geared toward enthusiasts and then eventually drop into the realm of affordability, but that takes time, and it's not clear if the general consumer is even interested in a "combo" Blu-Ray/HD-DVD player. In fact, it's pretty clear that consumers, in general, don't care.

This recent article, on arstechnica.com, analyzes the state of the market.

As I've posted before, I recently purchased a Sony Playstation3 to use primarily as a Blu-Ray player, and I don't regret my purchase at all. I also don't regret my SACD player purchase or my DVD-Audio player purchase, but I don't know too many people that own those players either.

As thedigitalbits.com as been arguing for years now, a format war does nobody any good. It generally creates confusion in the market and often nobody wins just like what's happened with SACD and DVD-Audio.

After seeing Transformers in movie theaters recently, I walked out thinking that I needed a "High Definition" player because this was one movie I didn't want to re-buy later on in a High Definition format. When it comes out I wanted to buy it on High Definition right away. I wasn't sure which studio produced Transfomers, and I did realize that with the current format war it was possible I was going to buy the wrong system, but the Playstation3 ran its pricing promotion shortly after that and I was sold. I was also presently surprised after connecting to the Playstation Store for the first time that the trailer for Transfomers was downloadable... I thought that was a sure sign that Transformers was coming to Blu-Ray.

Since then, Paramount (studio behind Transformers) and Dreamworks got a big check from Toshiba (primary supporter of HD-DVD) and now those studio are HD-DVD only for a year and half (at least).

And I lose.

Consumers are staying away in droves from High-Definition media for situations just like this despite increased sales in High Definition televisions.

There are some people that feel that the "next generation" video format is going to be downloadable "on-demand" services and not media at all. We've heard that promise before and its failed to really come to fruition. Besides, I think that smells of a clever way to milk more money out of us all.

This format wars needs an end.

For the record, thedigitalbits.com is sticking with the recommendation that Blu-Ray is the format that will ultimately win if either of them does, but they concede that there is a 3rd possibility and that's neither format will win... and that means all of us lose.

RSS? Readers? What?

I've struggled to explain RSS to even my more technical friends.... never mind the "less technical" people in my life like my wife and extended family members.

However, this video post is about the most straightforward explanation I've seen:

I'm a big fan of Google Reader. I started using it, because there is an "embeddable" gadget version that can appear on your "iGoogle" page... or in other words, every time I go to Google, I glance to see if any of the sights I like have new content.

I later discovered that Google Reader has a mobile version too. So if you ever seen me staring at my phone and clicking buttons... that's what I'm probably doing... catching up on my favorite web sites. Between Mobile Gmail and Google Reader Mobile I've run down my phone's battery MANY, MANY times.

If you use an RSS reader, you'll see a link at the bottom of this page to subscribe to this blog (it says "Atom" next to it).... feel free to do so.

EDIT: I also added an Icon (as described in the video) to header up above.

Last night we were the Carinals...

no D.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Clean Fishtank!

So Shannon and I did a bit of chores this weekend including "rebooting" the fish tank. We moved the fish to a separate tub, removed all the old plants, drained the tank, scrubbed it, rinsed the gravel. Then we bought new rocks and plants, a new filter and a new air pump/bubble bar for the tank.

The new filter is twice as powerful as we actually need for our little tank, but hopefully it will overcome some of our laziness and keep it a bit cleaner then it was. We also learned some basic tricks (rinse the filter media once a week) that we weren't doing that should help things our over the long haul. Here's a shot of the entire tank layout as it was on Sunday.

IMG_2582, originally uploaded by arwild01.

I would also like to point out that photographing fish is actually a little challenging. Since the tank is glass you can't shoot with a flash (and of course there's still the risk of reflections as this shot will attest). Then, because it's indoors and your not using a flash you have to worry about exposure. I used a tripod and used the camera's two second timer so that my pushing of the button wouldn't shake the camera during the long exposure times. Of course in two seconds... who knows what fish will do in that span of time. Finally, at least with cats and dogs you can make a noise to get their attention... fish don't care or even comprehend. :)

IMG_2592, originally uploaded by arwild01.