My Boxing Day present arrived

December 27, 2012

 

 

For quite a few years, I’ve been in the habit of getting myself a Boxing Day present. I don’t always get it on Boxing Day, (the day after Christmas,) but it’s usually while the Boxing Week sales are still around, and often funded with gift cards, cash, cheques, or the promise of money given to me for Christmas. Two years ago, the Brother laser printer was a Boxing Day present, and a very good one that I’m still getting a lot of use out of.

Going back to September or so, I had my eye on a SmartTV, a flat screen television set that could connect to a wireless network and play digital video from internet sites or other devices on your home network running media streaming software. I asked my friends and family to get me Futureshop gift cards for my birthday and Christmas to help fund it – they didn’t actually, but my Mom gave me some cash and promised to write me a cheque for more, as she was giving away so much cash that she ran out of bills. When I got back home on Christmas Day, I researched smart TVs on a few websites and placed my order – a 32″ Samsung from Best Buy Canada, with free delivery.

And it arrived today!

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At the moment, I’ve got it all hooked up, checked that I can watch from the LG DVR or the DVD player, browsed YouTube just a little, and experimented a little with Samsung’s own video library service, but I haven’t actually registered for it yet. My Netgear Stora NAS box is apparently already running a media streaming server that the SmartTV recognizes – but it doesn’t have any of my video files set up to stream. So I figured out how to browse to the NAS admin page – it told me that a software update was ready and I wanted to apply, so I figured, why not?

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Sigh. It’s been stuck on ‘Applying update’ for half an hour now, and while it applies the update, the network share drives are offline, so I can’t even copy any videos to a flash drive and try playing that on the TV. But it’s good to be patient. While waiting, I’ve gone and read a fun ‘Six Sentence Sunday’ snippet, edited a few pages of ‘Won’t somebody think of the Children’ to reach my revision target for the day – and got this blog post up for y’all.

Happy Boxing Week!

 

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Minor driving woe

May 11, 2012

I got some bad news – a call from my car insurance company – today. Sigh.

I didn’t blog about this because it happened in April and didn’t really fit with the Script Frenzy A-Z-ness, but I managed to back into the side of a company van after getting a new stereo installed in my car. Gave them my insurance info and my phone number, and they said they’d call me after having the van looked at.

They didn’t call, apparently. They just reported it to their insurance, so my rates are probably going to go up at some point. I still don’t really know when or how much, I didn’t even get a chance to really talk to my insurance guy.

I’d hoped to do some critiquing or ‘How to revise your novel’ revising work on the bus home from work today, but getting that call just sucked any creative energy out of me for a while. Ended up watching ‘Community on my iphone until I got home, then having a little DVR marathon. I did get out driving in Ghost again – down to Rosedale, to do some shopping and collect my new passport – whoohoo! And I got a new scene started for a short story I’ve been working on this week, ‘A Prayer for Healing.’

Life goes on, one way or another.


Not my ideal writing machine: Asus Eee Pad Transformer

September 23, 2011

I’ve been playing around for a few days with a new gadget – the Asus Eee Pad Transformer. It sounded like a great idea – an Android tablet with a touchscreen, that docks onto a keyboard to form a machine with an ultrathin, ultralight netbook form factor. I thought it would be great for writing, revising, working with simple spreadsheets, and as a multimedia machine to watch videos and listen to music on.

It’s not a bad machine. It can handle all of that stuff – sort of. But I’ve found that the available Android office and productivity software is awkward and doesn’t exactly play nice with the keyboard interface. The pre-installed suite, Polaris Office, won’t open Rich Text Format files, doesn’t offer a word count function or show comments, and it’s awkward about text entry and navigation in spreadsheets. I downloaded a trial for another office package, OfficeSuite pro, and that was a little better, but I still found some issues – like no spell checker or ability to actually see the contents of comments.

More than just the office software, there’s all kinds of things about Android that I don’t like in the netbook keyboard experience – the complete absence of scrollbars in scrollable lists, for instance, since Android things that being able to push the list up or down on the touchscreen is so completely intuitive. The movie player doesn’t show titles, just sample frames; the music player is locked into a kind of a circle flow interface, and the Market application (to find and install new apps) seems very buggy, often getting stuck at the point between downloading and installing my app.

And wait, there’s more issues! The mouse touchpad is incredibly sensitive while typing, although to their credit, Asus had foresight enough to include a dedicated button to turn the touchpad on and off. And the browser doesn’t seem to want to let me scroll up and down inside a text area as opposed to scrolling the page up and down – which is incredibly frustrating when I want to compose a blog post. (And the WordPress android app is still stuck and won’t install.)

I know that I could probably sort out some of these annoyances by experimenting with other Android apps, but at the moment, I don’t have the patience for it. The entire package is going back to Futureshop, probably tomorrow. Thanks for the test drive, Asus, but this latest product wasn’t worth it – nearly $800 canadian, with the 2 year warranty plan and taxes. No thank you.

PS: And the web browser won’t even let me paste in text from OfficeSuite, so I won’t be able to post this to the blog until I get home. Grr all over again.


My Fold-out PDA keyboard

July 3, 2011

I don’t actually remember where I got this Targus keyboard, if I ordered it online or found it in a shop like Futureshop. It’s a bit of an ungainly thing when it’s all set up, though it looks compact and elegant while folded away – the keyboard itself is in two segments, and then there’s a third piece that’s used to prop up a palm-pilot or pocketPC, with a wireless arm that you put over the IR transceiver for the PDA. This arm works well for my Palm tungstens, but keeps me from even trying the keyboard with the hp iPaq pda, because its IR transceiver spot is in the bottom, which is great if you’ve got a keyboard that’s built that way, but anyway.

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