Technology

Wiitopia

Saturday Morning in Matt Manor

20 August 2016

Amazon Pilot Season 2016

So, what'll it be? It's been a tense couple weeks. There were training sessions on open source technologies last weekend. Health concerns about my mom are pesistently permeating my thoughts. Vacation travel plans are in limbo.

How about a change of pace? How about taking it easy?

What the heck does that look like?

I still need to unbox LEGO Dimensions for the PS4. Yeah. Got that at a bargain price from Best Buy (a $90 list down to $30 after sale pricing and sundry rewards discounts). It'll replace my prematurely squashed obsession (well... it was more like an obsession in the making) with Disney Infinity now that the mouse himself has canceled that avenue of gaming creativity and interactivty.

I also need to crack open the Guitar Triller I got as a backer of the project on Kickstarter. Hmmm... They never arranged a time for a one-on-one webinar class for that one.

Nah. Both of those are too much "work."

Maybe have Alexa read Ron Chernow's Alexander Hamilton to me via Audible on Amazon Echo?

Do I want to have to pay that much attention right now? Not really.

I could tune out and listen to some music with my new Bose QC20 in-ear noise-cancelling headphones. They're spectacular. Ultra portable. Perfect for traveling. Spotify's audio quality seems to be sharper and less noisy than Amazon's music streaming offering.

Or what about streaming a show or two on Amazon Prime? Check out Pilot Season, maybe?

And so I did.

I'm a long-time fan of The Tick, even have the original comic books stashed away in the vaults of the Mattsonian. It was extra cool to see the show was directed by another personal favorite, Wally Pfister (cinematographer on The Dark Knight Trilogy. It's a show with quite a bit of potential. I hope it moves forward.

Another nice surprise on this rather beautiful Saturday morning was Jean-Claude Van Johnson, a parody of Jean-Claude Van Damme movies with the added bonus of actually starring Jean-Claude Van Damme as himself, retired from the biz — with the "biz" meaning starring in silly action movies as a cover while actually working on Black Ops missions. It's frickin' laugh-out-loud funny. The scene with JCVD waking up, going outside on a Segway to fetch the morning paper (and using mechnanical tongs so he doesn't have to bend over) — all backed by French music — is absolutely hilarious. It's produced by Ridley Scott; he also produced The Man in the High Castle on Amazon. They've gotta turn it into a series.

Sigh. Chill time's over. Now it's time to go pump iron. I need to make sure I'm tour worthy ahead of anticipated big plans for U2017.

Dreaming out loud, as usual...


Capt. Jack Sparrow? A Jedi?

31 December 2015

Capt. Jack Sparrow surrounded by Jedi

Thanks to some great sale prices, Best Buy's Gamers Club Unlocked discounts and rewards points about to expire, I decided to check out Disney Infinity 3.0 Edition and the new Star Wars offerings on PS4. Now I'm hooked.

It's quite a sleek approach to gaming and use of technology. Individual playsets, such as The Force Awakens, are compatible with the relevant characters (Rey, Finn, Obi-Wan, etc.), which can be purchased individually and offer unique gaming capabilities. But outside of the franchise-based (Disney, Marvel, Star Wars) sets is a toy box in which players are allowed to run amuck, create their own worlds and mash-up characters across the franchises. Savvy?

And so it happens Capt. Jack Sparrow (one of my mentors) entered the Hall of Galactic Heroes and met up with legends such as Obi-Wan Kenobi (another one of my mentors).

I doubt Capt. Jack has the patience to become a Jedi. He craves adventure and excitement. He's more akin to a smuggler, one skilled enough to pilot the Millennium Falcon. Nonetheless, it was endearing to see Cap'n Jack strike a pose with his classic sword while in the presence of Jedi brandishing lightsabers.


BB-8 in the Mattsonian

16 October 2015

BB-8 has started exploring the Mattsonian's extensive collection of artifacts, gaining lots of smarts in the process.

Sphero's BB-8 explores the Mattsonian

In the Religious Studies wing, BB-8 warms up to a Buddhist candle holder from Bangkok.

Sphero's BB-8 explores the Mattsonian

In the Archaeology wing, BB-8 encounters a crystal skull, part of the Mattsonian's permanent collection courtesy of Dr. Jones. Um. I'm particularly proud of this photo. The skull's eyes are illuminated by candlelight and the glow on the side of the skull is a reflection of the Death Star attack sequence from Episode IV.


Sphero and BB-8

7 September 2015

Sphero's app-controlled BB-8 was virtually an instant sell-out on Force Friday, 4 Sept. 2015. I grabbed one from Brookstone and it'll arrive merely hours after I take off for the Zooropean leg of the U2 i+e tour. I'm looking forward to checking it out when I return; I've got some cool ideas for photo opps.

In the meantime, here's a neat video from the Denver Post about Sphero, based in Boulder, Colo., and the new BB-8.

Stay tuned, true believers.

Sphero's Star Wars BB-8 droid toy comes to life

Boulder-based toy robot company Sphero releases their toy version of the new Star Wars BB8 droid Friday, September 4, 2015. CEO Paul Berberian shows the Denver Post what the household robot is all about.


The MINI and More Mobility

1 August 2015

MINI Cooper S
The Mattmobile, a 2015 MINI Cooper S, with Dale, the co-pilot

Before I explain the above MINI photo, this site has now — mostly — completed its mobility overhaul after a lenghty hiatus. The last big piece is now in place, a splendid new menu system from Design PSD to HTML by way of Envato. It's working great on laptops, my iPhone 6 Plus and the iPad Mini with Retina display. There's also a little extra polish thanks to the Ubuntu font from Google Fonts.

The other major MINI — and mobile experience — in my life is an exquisite, built-to-order 2015 MINI Cooper S. I traded in a 12-year-old PT Cruiser, which featured an AM/FM stereo, CD player and — yikes — an audio cassette player. The MINI sports AM/FM stereo along with Bluetooth and USB connectivity. No CDs. No cassettes. It's awesome. Piece of cake to listen to Audible books or Amazon Prime Music - or Spotify and many others - via iPhone apps.

But more importantly, I now understand what it means to drive a "fun" car. The MINI Cooper S is the ultimate in "fun" cars. So much ao, I'm reticent to even call the MINI a "car." It's somehow borderline insulting to the MINI. It's so much more than a car. It's a motoring experience. There's no turning back!

With three driving modes — Green, Mid and Sport — I currently average 33 MPG. I'm sure if I focused on the finer techniques of driving and the Green mode, I could push an average of 40 MPG. It's an incredible motoring experience.

Oh. I almost clicked "save" without explaining Dale.

Way back during college, when I was an intern at IBM in Connecticut, I visited a friend and her family in New Jersey. One morning we had cereal. Fruit Loops, I think. Within that cereal box was a little Dale figurine. He's been in every vehicle I've owned since and I'm delighted to have him continue as my co-pilot in the MINI.

Every time I step into my garage, I smile when I see my MINI. And every time I see that Dale figurine, I smile and think of all the adventures we've had together. Cheesy? No. Not really. It's all cool in my book.


This Wiitopia Technology section is being refashioned for better, more relevant content. In honor of its history, though, check out some of the older posts.


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