Wednesday, November 27, 2013

1 Second Everyday

While rehearsing for The Foreigner back in October, I caught wind of a neat little Android app called 1 Second Every Day. You use your android phone to take a video every day, and, after you've taken some, you use the app to create a compilation video that samples one second from every video you've recorded within a specified date range. I'm sure there are better uses for the app than what I had come up with, but, for what it's worth, you'll find my 1 Second Everyday video below:

Monday, November 25, 2013

Another Production Is Behind Me

Being a part-time actor certainly takes its toll on me. I had the male lead role in a local production of a heretofore unproduced play written by a local celebrity who has been deceased for some time. The challenge in working on a play that has never been performed before is that you have no reference upon which to base your performance.Rehearsals were rough for a while as everyone started to build various aspects of their characters and there were points when I thought that we wouldn't be able to pull this show off. But, we did, and it was all worth it when we performed to a full house Saturday night which included the playwright's son who traveled all the way from New York to see our show. I'm told that he was so moved that cried at the end. And I got a standing ovation at curtain call.

Every night, I'd get caked in ghost make-up and have silver hairspray blasted all over my hair. I'm going to be scrubbing this stuff off of me for days to come. My skin was starting to react adversely to the blithe spirit make-up and I had nightmares about tearing my face off while removing the make-up. There was a small amount of behind-the-scenes drama as egos clashed and opinions were thrown around, but that happens in nearly every production. And, of course, there was a lot of hard work involved in memorizing the lines, memorizing the blocking and reaching inside my mind to dig up emotions that I could apply to my character's situation.

In the end, it's all worth it, not just for the applause, but for the chance I had to make new friends and re-connect with old ones thanks to being in the show.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Google Chromecast Pros And Cons

If you're not already familiar with Google Chromecast, you soon will be, as it's promising to be the next big thing in streaming entertainment to your television.  Chromecast is basically an HDMI dongle that plugs into the HDMI port of your television and receives streaming media from your computer or tablet, which acts as the remote. So, you can stream media from certain apps on your computer or tablet into Chromecast via your wireless network and onto your television set.  I got mine in the mail the other day and was able to give it a few good test runs and while there are some great things about it, there's definitely room for improvement.

Pros And Cons of Google Chromecast

Chromecast Pros:

  • At $35, Chromecast is an inexpensive way to get into streaming media
  • You can cast anything from your computer so long as you can open it up in your Chrome browser. If you want to stream an MP4 or AVI movie file, just hit CTRL O, in Chrome, browse for the file, open it and hit the Cast icon.
  • You can cast Netflix, Hulu, Google Movies, Google Music, Pandora and Youtube from your mobile device
  • It's a much more portable device than a Roku or Apple TV. It fits in the palm of your hand. 

Chromecast Cons:

  • There's currently no way to cast locally saved videos from your mobile device to Chromecast. So, all those movies you ripped and put onto your micro-SD card are not currently usable.
  • There's no security to speak of. Anyone who has access to your wireless network can take control of your Chromecast.

As of right now, we're on the cusp of realizing the true potential of Chromecast. Once Google releases the API and third party developers begin making apps for it, Chromecase will truly be a versatile streaming media solution. It's not there yet, but I'm confident that it will be soon. If you've already got a streaming media device like a Roku or a gaming console,  you can probably skip Chromecast for now. However, at only $35, why wait?  

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Bitstrips Sucks

Leave it to the Facebook community to find something even more annoying than posting photos of your breakfast via Instragram or changing your profile picture to a giraffe. I'm speaking of Bitstrips, the annoying app that encourages people to post comics of themselves in contrived situations with other Facebook friends. The Bitstrips app was recently released for the iPhone and went straight to #1 due to the abundance of soccer moms discovering that they no longer needed artistic talent to create an annoying comic. And, of course, Bitstrips caters to the need that some people have to idealize themselves.

Although Bitstrips comics start out pre-captioned, the app does let you edit the caption and add speech balloons. The thing is, most folks I know don't even bother with those two options. They just post their Bitstrips comic pre-captioned, tag their friends and go merrily on their way, blissfully ignorant of the shitstorm of annoyingness they've contributed to. The net result is a Facebook News Feed jam packed with dozens of different versions of the same comic. If Bitstrips comics look like they're a bit of an anachronism, with their Seinfeld references and aging clip-art, it's because Bitstrips has been around since 2008. Blackstock started Bitstrips five years ago as a website for people to create their own comics without having to redraw their characters over and over again. The comics didn't truly become popular until the Bitstrips app allowed for easy sharing on Facebook. And now, Bitstrips has become the Crocs of Facebook.

The good news is that you can easily keep those Bitstrips comics off of your Facebook News Feed so that you won't have to see them. Here's all you need to do:

 How To Block Bitstrips From Your Facebook News Feed

  1. Click on the Facebook Account Settings icon, and click the Blocking option on the left side of your screen.
  2. Scroll down to the Block Apps option at the bottom.
  3. Type in Bitstrips.

Or, you can just you hover over a Bitstrips post on your News Feed, click on the drop down menu in the top right corner of the post and click Hide all from Bitstrips

What's With The CRT Monitor Here? More Evidence That Bitstrips Is Stuck In The 90s.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Wanna Taste My Mr Bumpy?

It has been a while since I've featured some inappropriately named food. I found these in the discount aisle of my local grocery store. According to the Global Brands website, Mr. Bumpy wafers are cookie sticks "with a vanilla creme surprise filling". Come on. Tell me that Global Brands didn't intend the Mr Bumpy name to be suggestive.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Android 4.3 Comes To The Samsung Galaxy S4

Over the weekend, the Verizon Gods smiled upon my device and sent out the Android 4.3 update to my Samsung Galaxy S4. It comes with a number of improvements including:

  • Autocomplete for the dial pad
  • Restricted profiles
  • A tab for disabled apps
  • TRIM support
  • New Samsung Keyboard
  • Move-To-SD card feature
  • Bluetooth 4.0 (aka "Bluetooth Low Energy" for use with devices such as smart watches) 
Of course, since Verizon is involved, some crap has to come along with the update. They've bundled a new version of the NFL online app which means that it re-activated itself after I had it disabled for so long. Also, there's the Samsung Knox app which is supposedly useful for people who use their phones for both business and personal data.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Minecraft Mobs Wear Pumpkins For Halloween

How Cute! How Physically Impossible!
After taking my daughter around trick-or-treating, I settled in and relaxed by playing a bit of Minecraft. I went out to check my mob spawners and was met with a frightening, yet festive sight. Apparently, zombies, zombie pigmen, skeletons, and wither skeletons have a chance of spawning with pumpkins equipped as head armor if you play on Halloween. Baby zombies and baby zombie pigmen will also have a chance to spawn with pumpkins equipped, but they won't wear them correctly; the pumpkins will float over their heads.

Ever since Minecraft version 1.4, the game automatically checks the date on your computer, and, if it's Halloween, all naturally generated mobs will wear pumpkins. It's also worth noting that, when a zombie wears head armor, they are immune to sunlight, so this Minecraft Halloween easter egg is a bit more insidious than you'd imagine, especially with the baby zombie mobs. Those little buggers were overpowered to begin with. Adding sunlight immunity to them makes them that much tougher. However, the pumpkin does add a 1 block height to the hit zone of the baby zombies and baby zombie pigmen, so they will be easier to hit. Keep in mind, though, that while the pumpkin adds height to the hit zone, it does not prevent baby zombies and baby zombie pigmen from entering spaces with only a 1 block high entry way.

Trick Or Treat! How Do You Like My Jack Skellington Costume?