BlogFestivus: Command Presents
This story is the third installment for “Ghost of Christmas Present” in a five-part series of 200-word stories for BlogFestivus, A Christmas Carol. Check out the links (at the bottom of this post) to all the participating “ghost” writers for this year’s challenge. I suspect you’re in for some dark, yet jolly, days. -BD
by Tom B. Taker
Scrooge doubled-over and braced himself as the nausea that proceeded Christmas-based time travel gut-wrenched his innards. Here we go again, he thought in dismay.
He undissolved and rubbed his eyes with gnarled knuckles as eyesight slowly returned. He blinked and his watery eyes dried and the world became clear.
Immediately he recognized the R&D department of his very own company. At last, a chance to see what those slackers did behind his back. Always the opportunist Scrooge was already planning to take advtange of these teleportations.
The ghost was about to speak but Scrooge silenced him with a gesture of his hand. He didn’t want to miss anything.
At a computer that mealy bastard Cratchit was putting the finishing touches on a colorful graph. It would be the basis for denying all Christmas bonuses. With alarm, Scrooge saw the graph was trending up. No worries, he realized. For the memorandum he’d simply display it upside down.
Moving along, he came to a table where his nephew Fred worked feverishly at some bizarre electronics. For the first time, the ghost seemed troubled. “What is your man doing?” the ghost asked.
“Oh, you’ll see,” Scrooge replied. “You’ll see.”
Click on the links below for more takes on A Christmas Carol from our other BlogFestivus bloggers:
Linda penning at linda vernon humor
Steve from Stevil
Maria-Christina blogging at MCWhispers
Dylan of Treatment of Visions
Sarah from Parent Your Business
Dawn blogging at Lingering Visions
K8edid from k8edid
Dave bringing it at 1pointperspective
Eileen from Not The Sword But The Pen
Lindsey at RewindRevise
Kandy of Kandy Talk
Sandra writing at In Love With Words
Natalie from So I Went Undercover
Jen at Blog It or Lose It
Amelie from In the Barberry
Cee Cee blogging at Cee Cee’s Blog
Ashley from LittleWonder2
BD writing Blogdramedy
And now, on a more personal note, I’d like for you to taste my heart.
There are many definitions, perhaps, to be found on the internet for “nerd rage” but this one is mine:
violent, uncontrollable anger, usually in response to electrically-powered modernized technology: in a terrible fit of nerd rage she smashed the DVD player to pieces.
Source: Demotivational Dictionary, Spew Edition, Filth Version, Unabridged, Fully Reviled and Updated
Courtesy notice: This word doesn’t usually appear in our free dictionary, but the definition from our premium Unabridged Dictionary is offered here on a limited basis. Note that some information is displayed differently in the Unabridged. To access the complete Unabridged Dictionary, with an additional 42,000,000 words that aren’t in our free dictionary, start a free trial.
Our DVD player had been giving us fits. It was so sensitive. Checking out TV shows from the library would result in marathon sessions of watching pixelated squares dance across the screen and/or chewing, grinding noises emanating from the DVD unit that delighted and entertained the cat.
Operating on the theory that, perhaps, our 15-year-old player didn’t offer the latest in playback technology, I dragged my ass into the nearest Best Buy to
be boiled alive and have my skin removed go shopping.
Continue reading →
Misguiding In Cars With Boys
Transportation increases the odds of accidental fatalities. However, remaining stationary does not reduce the odds to zero.
–Tom B. Taker
In other words, getting from Point A to Point B can be inherently dangerous. Any method of transportation that moves your body through the physical universe increases the chances you’ll take it in the shorts. The moment you begin to move your odds of dying increase. This can take many forms. It may be a flight from Los Angeles to New York City. It might be your morning commute to work in your car. Or it could be as short of a journey as stepping into the bathtub. Or even just getting up out of your chair.
So you might think to yourself, “I’m not moving. I’m going to sit right here and remain safe.”
A nice thought. Except that death may still find you.
For example, you could be on the bed in your very own home when a sinkhole suddenly opens up and you’re just gone. Or, ripped from the headlines just yesterday, you could be standing in your home when the ceiling violently gives way from the impact of a jet aircraft. There are no reports of deaths on the ground in this latest incident, but a young boy did get nicked on his forehead. Come to think of it, the last time I wrote about this theory, I used the example of a jet aircraft engine landing on a house. As always I hate being right.
Being alive can be dangerous.
Maybe it would be a good idea to go for a walk, clear my head and think things over. (Hint: It’s not.)
Continue reading →
iLife’s an iBeach
Not too long ago I took a wee trip to an old-growth forest where I frolicked in a shady glen with frisky elves. (See: Forest Grump.)
But that’s not the only place I went. Driven as a lemming I set off on a quest to find where America ended. (And I got the answer I was seeking in more ways than one.) But, alas, there weren’t any cliffs from which to jump onto craggy rocks. Only a beach. A remarkably flat and wet piece of transitionary property where if one tried to throw himself down people would only laugh and children would point and ask, “Mommy? I thought whales swam in the water?”
As always I had to settle. Dammit. I can’t blame the children, though. It’s not their fault I was born with a blowhole.
And yet it turns out that I given the gift of photogenic scenery for a travelogue pictorial post. And this is that very post. If the subject line didn’t provide enough iClues see the inset image for a preview of the journey that awaits.
When he arrived in the New World, Cortez burned his ships. As a result, his men were “motivated.” If you click the link to make the jump you’ll be doing exactly the same damn thing. Beyond here there be iDragons.
Continue reading →
What I’ve been trying to say
This report is filed under “Did you give them your fucking money?”
Roku: A New Hope
Say hello to my little friend!
Today I would like to introduce Roku. I don’t often gush about electronics but this little guy has got me all hot and bothered.
I think it was maybe a year ago when my wife and I stopped by the local home theater store. Those are always fun places for me. We were looking for a nice set of speakers.
My current home theater consists of a $5 receiver my wife found at a garage sale, a set of used speakers that were a gift from my gerbil (also from a garage sale), and an older smallish TV since our ultra-cool 42 inch plasma died a few days out of warranty. The cable box from Charter Communications is also in there somewhere but I detest the bloody thing.
At the home theater store the salesperson gave us a demo of a device that would play internet music on your home stereo and even included on-screen menus. I believe it played Shoutcast radio stations. It was love at first sight!
Since then I’ve also fallen in love with Pandora and I pay the $3 a month for “Pandora One” which includes higher-quality streaming and removes the limitation of 40 hours per month that comes with a free Pandora account.
So, when my wife recently asked what I wanted for a present, I spouted off the usual logical and responsible ideas: A remote control helicopter that would fit on my hand, a gaming keyboard that glows in the dark, and bottles of Kahlua, Baileys Irish Cream and Grand Marnier – something I have affectionately have dubbed “The B-52 Kit.”
Aside from such practical ideas, however, another thought began to tickle my brain. Perhaps, just perhaps, the time had come to find one of those little devices to play Pandora music through my home stereo. That would be the bomb. I’ve seen Pandora boom boxes and such, and something like that would be cool, but playing Pandora music through my home stereo would be so much cooler.
My search criteria was simple: It had to work through my wifi, would not require my computer to be turned on, and would absolutely not require any subscription service with monthly fees. (Like a Tivo.)
I began to scour the internet but quickly became dismayed by how complicated things seemed to be. There were too many choices and too many horror stories of products that seemed to be almost what I wanted but also difficult to work with your computer, hard to configure, etc.
So I gave up. It wasn’t long after that when, completely by chance, I heard of something called a “Roku.” (Which is also the Japanese word for “six.”)
I quickly learned more and became very excited. This is a device that hooks into your home theater system (both stereo and TV) and grabs music and video from your local wifi router. (It also has a jack for a network cable.) And your computer does not need to be left on, either.
This thing does everything I wanted and more. So we got it.
It’s so small it was easy finding a spot in the cabinet. There is a power adapter and luckily I had room on the power strip. Then two RCA cables connect the audio out to my receiver. Lastly, a yellow “composite” video cable connects the Roku to my TV. (It also supports HDMI but does not include the cable. Unfortunately my TV is too primitive for that.) Installation done!
The thing hooked up, we turned on our TV. We selected our wifi using the remote control (also provided) and setup was a breeze. I did have to go to my computer to create a Roku account, and a computer was required to connect channels, like Pandora. But there were no glitches and it went amazingly fast. Within 5 minutes of power up we were listening to Pandora through my home stereo and never had to do anything excessively geeky. It was great!
The Roku account was completely free and did not ask for credit card information. I can understand why it is required. It is how they tie channel access to your device.
I love listening to music through the Roku. Not once has it ever glitched or paused to “buffer” or anything like that. I like to listen to music when I do the dishes and switching out CDs is a pain. Now my wife says I can do even more dishes! (Curse you, Roku!)
The extra fun, though, it how much other stuff the Roku can do. We were already Netflix subscribers and now we can stream Netflix movies right to our TV. And it works way better than Charter’s “On Demand” ever did. The only bummer is that only certain movies and content are available for streaming. If you can watch something from Netflix on your computer then you can watch it with your Roku. We watched an episode of Saturday Night Live and with no commercials!
There is also something called Hulu Plus. I’d never used Hulu before, but apparently Hulu Plus (which costs $8 a month) does NOT include all of the Hulu content. I signed up for a one-week trial and found very little that I was interested in. In my opinion most of the content is pure crap. Plus, even after paying $8 a month, the content still includes commercials. Yuck! I doubt we’ll be keeping Hulu Plus at this time. I think it still needs to improve.
We also found a free channel called Vimeo, which seemed to be a lot like watching someone’s home movies. We found a video of a family riding around in a boat. I think it might be like another YouTube, but it was a little hard to find anything interesting to watch.
Even more fun – there are lots of free channels. You just select a channel you want, and it adds it to your channel bar. One of those we found is called “Chow.” It’s a channel about food and has even won a James Beard award. And it’s completely free. We watched a show called “How to eat Sushi” and it was pretty good. Something tells me that more free content may show up over time, too.
There are three different Roku devices to choose from. Roku HD is $59.99. The Roku XD is $79.99. (This is the one we got.) And there is one called the Roku XD|S for $99.99. (Which is discounted by $10.00 if you order online for the next day or so.) You can learn more here.
We’ve only had the thing for a week now but we love it. I think it is one of the coolest electronic devices I’ve ever owned. We’re even buying another to give out as a gift. If you like this sort of thing I don’t think you can go wrong with a Roku.
Roku is going to enable me to dump my cable box from Charter Communications once and for all. Yeah!
Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with Roku in any way and received no compensation in any form for writing this post. These are all just my opinions and my actual experiences with the device.
Did you give them your money?
I guess you could call this the next chapter in the saga I’m loosely calling: Did you give them your money??? You’ll find my first volley on this topic in a previous blog post entitled: Chip Clip – The Power to Fuck You.
My general theory goes like this:
Giving someone your money is giving them the power to fuck you.
A few months ago my wife bought a Faberware 8-cup percolator coffee pot from Amazon.com. It looks like the product pictured here.
It seemed to have nice reviews. It was $44.99. It was Faberware, which, I admit, I don’t know much about, but that seemed to be a nice name brand. I’d at least heard of them before.