Today I will review an eclectic collection of stuff. I don’t know why you would care.
Best Television Shows
Modern Family is the best comedy of all time. (Yes, of all time.) Happy Endings and The New Girl are in the top tier right behind it. Up All Night, Whitney, and Big Bang Theory are always solid.
The best shows you might not be watching are Justified and Sons of Anarchy. They both work best if you start from the beginning, so you get to know the worlds they create and their multi-year story arcs. If you were a fan of the TV show 24, you would enjoy both Justified and Sons of Anarchy.
When Game of Thrones returns to HBO, don’t miss that either. I’m not a fan of the swords and castles genre, but this series is a home run.
The best movie you might have missed is The Descendants. It grabbed me in the first minute and made me curious and invested in every scene that followed. It accomplished that rare feat by never being predictable. In that way, it reminded me of real life and made the characters feel like friends whose adventures would naturally interest me. I feel sorry for whoever had the job of making the trailer for the movie. There was no way a few clips out of context could captured the feel of the film.
All DVD Players
My DVD Player has black control buttons on a black faceplate. Yes, the designers intentionally made the user interface invisible to the user. Even with the lights on, I need to search the house for a flashlight to operate the unit.
When I press the eject button, I get no feedback that something happened, or is about to happen. Apparently there’s a ten second delay. And if you get impatient and press the eject button again, it cancels the first press. About half the time, nothing happens when you push the eject button, no matter how long you wait. It took me months of experimenting to figure out I need to push the eject button, count to ten, and try again, for up to five times before the disc tray decides to open. It might have something to do with the unit being in sleep mode, or not powered on, but I can’t tell by looking at it. Sometimes I think it helps to hold the power button down while cursing at it.
You might be wondering what brand of DVD player I’m talking about. I’m not going to tell you because it’s my tenth DVD player in a row with the same characteristics, and the units spanned several manufacturers. The last nine devices malfunctioned within months. Based on my experience, I’d say all DVD players are bad. My question to the DVD player industry is this: Are you even trying?
All Computer Printers
I’ve owned dozens of printers over the years. None of them worked for long. And they’re all prone to some form of software rot. Last night, as often happens, my printer decided to stop working for no obvious reason. If it were a car, you would label it “totaled” because calling a tech support service to the house would cost almost as much as a new printer. The smart path was to try a few obvious fixes, and if that didn’t work, drive to Best Buy and get a new one. But I am sometimes more stubborn than smart, so I spent hours narrowing down the problem to a software glitch. If history is my guide, the fix will last two weeks before some other part of the software rots. Based on my experience, I’d say all computer printers are bad.
I think the candidates for President of the United States are stronger than in any year I can remember. Both Romney and Obama are brilliant, experienced, pragmatic, and invested in the best interests of the country. They differ on the details, and details matter, but in terms of pure baseline competence and character, you get an A+ with either one. I feel good about that.
Huffington Post and Fox News
As a form of entertainment, I love the Huffington Post. I read it every day. But apparently they have a strategy of manufacturing news by taking things out of context. Sometimes their content comes so close to unintentional parody that I have to read the articles twice to figure out if they are joking. But I give them a pass for the same reason I enjoy watching Fox News: Both are entertainment vehicles first, political vehicles second, and informative only by accident. If you judge them on their intended strategies, as opposed to what you might want them to be, they are both terrific.
The battery in my HTC EVO 3D phone only lasts a few hours. It took me months of experimenting with different combinations of apps and network services to learn that the culprit is the WiFi function. If I only turn on Wifi when I want to use it, the battery lasts all day. And with my spare battery and charger, I always have a backup. That’s still a soft fail, but it’s better than my last iPhone, which was useless for voice calls in my area. At this point in the evolution of smartphones, all of them fall short in one important way or another. We’re probably three years away from a phone that does everything well.
Wacom Cintiq 24HD
I do all of my drawing directly to the computer screen of my Wacom Cintiq 24HD. I literally feel sympathy for any artist who still works with pen and paper. The system cuts my production time in half and allows me to do better work too. If you’re an artist, and you’re still drawing on paper, you’re like the seventy-year old author who swears by his manual typewriter.
My automobile has one unique feature that is the sole reason I chose it over all others. When you put the car in reverse, you have the option of seeing on your display screen an animation of your vehicle as if viewed from above, juxtaposed on the real road, thanks to cameras on the sides and back. When I park the car, I can maneuver the animated version of my vehicle into the space as if I’m playing a video game, without ever turning around. I can parallel park within an inch of the curb, in one clean and quick line. Don’t buy your next car until it has that feature. I assume it will be a common option in a few years, just like GPS.
That’s all you need to know for today.