Tag Archives: The Throwing Madonna

My 2013 Reading List – First Six Months

I started the year with another ambitious goal of 100 books (using the Goodreads site to log and track), as last year I read 119. Through June, I’ve managed 58.

I’m grouping the books as I did in last year’s recap by the month in which I finished them (and fiction/nonfiction subgroups.) As the list is already quite long, and I’ve decided to tag all of the authors and titles, I’m publishing the first half of the year as a standalone.

Some quick stats for the BLUF (Bottom Line Up Front): heavier on the nonfiction (again) for the six months so far this year:

  • 34 nonfiction
  • 24 fiction
  • 9 of the fiction were Arthur C. Clarke novels. The last of the Big Three (Asimov and Heinlein being the other two, though Heinlein doesn’t warrant the distinction…IMO), I think he did well with science fiction and not so well with things that involve people.
  • I’ve rated 10 as five-star on Goodreads
  • I gave 2 books a one-star rating (not-only-no-but-really-no)
  • I’ve linked all of my Goodreads reviews (even if only one line) to each title, in case anyone is interested in what I thought.

And, now to the books of the first half of 2013…

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Wilson…still! (oh yeah…and dances, movies, books and beer)

It’s been a tough few weeks for us. A lot of unwanted drama, mostly from a particularly toxic person but I’m reserving my observations on those issues for another, more serious blog post. I haven’t even checked on my blog stats lately and imagine my non-surprise to see that Mr. Robert Anton Wilson still drives the google search hits. So guess what? I’m mentioning him again.

And with that gratuitous search engine plug, moving on…

Roku and Plex Media Server

We’re really happy with our Roku player and last night, Andrea commented that we haven’t changed our watching habits…so why did we take so long to cut the cord? Comfort with the known, I guess. Now, we’re comfortable with the Roku, and I’m working around the quirks of Plex Media Server so that we can watch both our recorded shows and the ones I’ve extracted from our DVDs.

And now that I’ve completed my collection of Bugs Bunny shorts…and I do mean completed – every Bugs Bunny cartoon, including the proto-Bugs shorts…, I can now watch them all in order of release: from April 30th, 1938 to Bugs’s birthday (July 27,th 1940) all the way to July 16th, 1964. I’ve also got all of the lesser specials, collections and others that came later. As for watching them in order, well, I like to do that. I took two years to watch all of the Twilight Zone episodes in original air order. The “complete” is not without additional work, though. I discovered, though, that several are in .FLV format which I’ll have to convert to something Roku and the Plex team can understand.

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Over the Verizon…and down rabbit holes…

A coworker likes to say, “It’s never boring”, and around our house, that’s an appropriate phrase. This week we made a radical jump: no more cable television. Yep. Cut the cord…or cable as it were. While we have a few issues with Verizon since we moved back to the states in 2007 (their customer service is deplorable), this one was totally on us.

We haven’t really been watching television, save for a couple of shows, for a long time and to pay the amount of money we were shelling out for a DVR and two set tops boxes and no movie channels was absurd. We DVR’d two shows for everyone (The Big Bang Theory and Modern Family), Once Upon a Time for Drew (though I would watch it with him), NOVA, and a few shows for Andrea that she never seemed to have time to watch. Not worth it at all.

As with many of life’s changes, Andrea makes the decision first…and I more often than not must socialize the concepts for a while before I come around. And when she sets her mind to something, she runs with it. She can spend a couple of long nights researching options and then one day I come home to a small box on the counter containing something even smaller that I have to figure out how to make work for us.

RokuThe magic little device is a Roku streaming player. And little it is, as you can see in the picture. Andrea looked at Apple TV, but we nixed that pretty quick. Too many limitations – content, recurring costs, etc. and it’s wedded to the dreaded iTunes. To be fair, Roku and Apple TV do have a common limitation that I hope someday somebody will figure out: neither can stream from VIDEO_TS folders. DVD content has to be converted into something palatable.

Connecting the Roku is simple. HDMI cable into our receiver, network cable from the router (they do have wireless versions as well.) That’s it. Then you start setting up your channels. They make it pretty painless. Now, some of the Roku channels might require fees – Hulu Plus is one we’re looking into – but the rates per month are fractions of what Verizon was charging us.

How many readers remember television antennas? All but forgotten I’d venture. It probably never occurs to the aluminum foil hat folks worrying about cell phone radiation that they are being bombarded with a constant stream of digital over-the-air broadcasts. But all those local television stations make their content available to anyone with an antenna and a digital decoder.

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