Category: Reading

What We’re Reading/Watching/Buying in December

It’s been a busy month and Christmas is less than a week away (so is a much-needed week off work for yours truly).  As I get older the years just keep speeding up & I don’t know of any way to slow them down!  It’s just the opposite feeling from when I was a kid where the years dripped slower than that bear bottle full of honey.

The Great Cord Cutting Project of 2015 is going better than I could have ever expected & there’s no going back.  I’m spending some of that old evening TV time trying to keep up on the articles I’m always collecting via Pocket.  Some items recently clipped include:

pcq8qzR9iThe Kindle is getting a workout too with several books being read in parallel.  Just depends on what I’m in the mood for.  Stephen King’s 11/22/63 and Andy Weir’s The Martian are both fighting for my attention.
I’ve also taken the opportunity to really dig into what’s available on the streaming services I subscribe to, particularly Netflix and Amazon:

  • The Man in the High Castle (Amazon) is an alternate history story that has the Germans and Japanese wining WWII and taking control of the USA.  It’s a pretty dramatic series that’s full of twists and turns.
  • Narcos (Netflix) depicts the story of Pablo Escobar and the DEA agents assigned with bringing him to justice.  I’m not going to lie, you have to pay attention to this show.  Mainly because it’s 90% Spanish with subtitles.  And a Gringo like me needs them.  No Sprecken la Espanola

belkin-be-F5L171tt-1I’ve been helping keep USPS, FedEx and UPS in business with lots of holiday purchases for friends and family.  Along with those items I picked up a new Keyboard/Case for myself and my iPad Air 2.  The Belkin Qode Ultimate Pro is a great replacement to the Logitech keyboard cover I was using with the last iPad.  It’s a little pricy $150 but It’s currently on sale now for $130.  I’m working on a review but let’s just say that after a few days using it I’m a fan.

25475-inset13After a glowing review from a co-worker I also ordered the Hamilton Beach Breakfast Electric Sandwich Maker.  Seriously, I did!  I’ve see this gadget before but didn’t think it would be any good, especially costing under $30.  Well I’m told this thing really works so I had to see for myself.  When I happen to eat breakfast the egg and cheese (with various meats) is my regular go to.  Delivery is scheduled for Monday so we’ll see how it goes Tuesday morning when I fire that baby up and make my first sausage, egg and cheese muffin.

No matter your religious preference (or not) I hope everyone is gearing up for a fun holiday season with friends and family.  If you get any good tech gadgets or kitchen toys let me know!  I’m always looking for ways to give Amazon more money.

What We’re Reading This Week (Nov. 22, 2015)

reading20It’s about an hour before kickoff of the Colts vs. Atlanta game and time for another installment of what we’re reading this week.

  • Yesterday TV Chef Mario Batali came to town for a book signing at the recently opened Market District in Carmel. Liz Biro at the Indy Star had the chance to speak with him and ask a series of great questions from her readers.
  • A NY Times journalist made the trip to Cuba to try and snag a box of hand-rolled smokes from the source and wrote an interesting piece on what it’s like to visit.  Cuba is on my bucket list & I want to make it there before it gets commercialized.
  • The anti-encryption debate heats up in the days after the Paris attacks.  It doesn’t help that ISIS claims to be using Apple’s iMessage for communication.  Wired has a piece on the state of Operational Security (OPSEC) and what the recently released guide being used by ISIS could mean for all of our privacy going forward.
  • And finally this week Medium has a Long Form article about a depressed photographer and his 40,000km trip around the world that took an amazing 4 years to complete…  On a bicycle!  Great images in this one.

That’s it for now.  Fingers crossed that Matt Hasselbeck can pull off a win this week!

What We’re Reading This Week (Oct. 31, 2015)

I love to read and I find myself tagging a lot of online articles to read later.  My first method (a long time ago) involved copying links and creating bookmarks.  After that I progressed to using the Reading List option in Safari.  After that I tried sending everything to Evernote.  That worked for a while but I found it created too many issues when I was searching for other reference items.

Enter the App called “Pocket” (which I blogged about back in 2012).  It still  does one thing and it does it very well.  It allows you to aggregate online content, tag it for the corresponding categories, and save it for later.

If you sign up for Pocket Premium ($4.99 a month) it keeps articles forever in a digital archive even if the originating page gets removed.  You also get access to some nice search and indexing features.  I’ve found this useful as many of my old saved articles are no longer available online.

Here are some of my favorite articles from the past week:

I’ll try to post some of my favorites on an ongoing basis.  Hope you enjoy them as much as I did!



Specifications and How the World Works

While working on one of several projects today I found myself pouring through a set of specifications that was nothing short of mind boggling. These were specifications used to construct buildings and they covered everything from light fixtures to door knobs to acoustic tiles (and data distribution).

This got me thinking about where we would be without this kind of structure.  When you have several industries and trades all working together to design and build a finished product everyone must be on the same page.  You can’t connect glass to wood or steel, run electrical cable anywhere you want, or put a stairway randomly within a structure.  All of this takes coordination and guidance.  That guidance almost always comes from specifications (and experience no know what can, and should not, be done).  My job in this particular project is a lot easier than others.  Some people have to worry about Life Safety and others have to make the structure visually appealing.  I just have to get all the bits and bytes flowing throughout the building in the most efficient, and cost-effective, way possible.

I could just wing it and use the tried and true ‘path of least resistance’ but experience tells me this is not the best solution.  I have to navigate my connections around huge open spaces, stay away from electrical interference and, most of all, keep everything out of sight.  All connections must end up in a central area but still reach the farthest corners of the structure.  After all, just about, everything is “connected” these days.

In addition to the “hard-wired” cabling I need to account for wireless connectivity throughout the environment.  Radio waves have a tendency to act like they’re not supposed to.  In theory everything is line of sight and spreads out in a spherical pattern.  In reality signals will bounce off the strangest objects and end up providing less than desirable results.

This is the kind of project I can really sink my teeth into.  It has all the elements I enjoy and many challenges to go along with them.  As I pour through the paperwork that I’ll eventually need to manipulate into a document instructing others how to create my vision, I can’t help but think about how this can even be accomplished without the structure and limitations that a good set of “specs” can provide.


Miep Gies who helped hide Anne Frank dies at 100

The last surviving member of a group who helped to shelter Anne Frank and her family from the Nazis in Amsterdam died last night.

National Security Presidential Directives

POTUSNational Security Presidential Directives [NSPD] from the George W. Bush Administration.  This is interesting stuff, especially NSPD #51!

The CIA World Factbook

cia-sealI’ve been downloading the CIA World Factbook for almost a decade. It’s one of those unusual publications that’s full of all kinds of information about every country on earth.

The Factbook dates back to 1981 (at least publicly) and can give you some great background on the politics surrounding world events.  The electronic version is free to download and the print publication can be purchased for $80.

Check it out and see what you think!

Data Center Overload

DataCenterThe New York Times Magazine has a great article that details the “behind the scenes” word of the data centers that make our online world possible.   Data Center Overload starts out with a question I’ve asked myself lately…  How are all of these online games possible?

It used to be next to impossible to play a computer game with once person on the other end of the modem, let alone hundreds!

It’s a pretty long article, but definately worth the read!

IMPD Using YouTube to Catch Bad Guys

1The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) has started posting unsolved crime videos on YouTube with the hope that citizens can help identify the subjects.

You can subscribe to the IndyUnsolved channel & check it out!

Wanna Buy a Watch?

flavaflav11I clicked on this ad on the New York Times front page & was taken to a really cool website for The Watch Avenue.  I’m in the market for a new watch but this place looks like it’s out of my price range…

I’ve had my eye on an Omega Seamaster (300M Quartz) for quite some time.  If 2009 goes as planned I hope to have one of these on my wrist by this time next year…

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