Checking out the Apple TV

After dinner tonight, Debs and I went up to Short Pump Town Center to walk around and check out any sales. While there, we dropped into the Apple Store to check out the new Apple TV.

I have been interested in Media Centers for a while now – and have been looking at all the options I could find for almost a year now. Id love something that hooks up with my iTunes library, but then again, I dont want to waste a lot of money on buying a computer just to set with the TV. I also looked into getting just a Mac Mini that we can then carry to the TV when needed, but that ends up just being a hassle. Ive also thought it would be nice to get an original XBOX and install the XBMC project on it….but then again, I also would really like to get a xbox 360 soon.

The Apple TV is a great mix….but then has quite a few downfalls. Lets start off with the bad. 40GB hard drives are so 3 years ago. If I buy one of these things…thats got to be replaced. Also – the machine obviously is running a stripped down version of OS X – why not let me use some web browser or even let me show some Dashboard widgets?

Otherwise – this thing was amazing. It felt just like Front Row, but looks so much nicer (im hoping this is what front row looks like in 10.5…we will see about that). I tried out the music, movies, photos, and tv shows on it. When playing music espc…I like the atmosphere it gives with the cover art and track information. The photos have a nice clean organization as well. When looking at movies, there is an area for more details, and I think it also tracks where you have left off.

Im still debating on getting one. Microsoft just announced the Xbox Elite – and while I dont want to spend THAT Much extra money, im guessing around Christmas time this year, they are going to bump the current 360s (sell them base with the 120GB hard drive and HDMI). I guess in the meantime Ill just have to wait a little longer!

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Off to a great start!

Sorry I have been so busy to post, but with the new job, I really have not had a clue what to expect.

The new job is amazing. I love it. I feel like I fit in great, better than I did at my previous employer. Im pretty deep into my first project, which has actually been pretty interesting. The project was also a GREAT way to get back into the mix of things, since its included Windows.Forms, ASP.net, Database design, redoing ERD’s, etc. While it has been kinda hard kicking the rust off and getting back into this stuff, I have noticed that I knew more than I thought I did.

Ive got so many things to write about…of course a lot of geek topics, but also more stuff with the house, etc. I hope to get to a few of these in the week to come.

Lastly – I put some more pics up on flickr over the weekend. It was so beautiful, so we got out and went to Maymont park. I got to use both cameras, and had a lot of fun getting to know both of them. I hope to drop my film off this week, and will post those pictures when available. Please check them out by going here, and let me know what you think!

Listening To: 11 o’clock news

Changing Paths

After working here for almost two years, my last day working at mDT will be next wednesday. I have learned a LOT and met tons of really cool people, all while having a great time. But I was recently offered a job, and after thinking long and hard about it, I think I made the right decision.

Ill be starting at richmond.com (Yes, with the Monkey!) Monday the 19th. Ill be doing ASP.NET development with them, something I have been interested in for quite a while.

Its funny…Ive actually always wanted to do something like this. I REALLY like Richmond. Ive always wished richmond had a better ‘online portal’ than it does now. Luckily now I get to be a part of that (oh, and get paid as well!)

Listening To: ‘Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of’ by U2

Venturing into investments

When Debs left Ukrops, she had already saved about $5000 in her 401k. Unfortunately, she was not able to roll it into her new 401k at her new job. The money was placed into a basic cash account at the new investment firm.

Not knowing what else to do with the money, we thought it would be fun (and beneficial of course) to invest it. This would be our first time investing, and were lost at where to start. After a few calls to our rep, we decided to try 3 different investment plans!

Stocks – Your standard stock. Debs and I now own part of a company. I personally wanted to buy a few shares of Apple stock, but when working with a firm, they did not seem to interested to let me do short term trading. Eventually we may close accounts here, and go to something like e-trade, but no plans soon. We bought a few shares of Oracle, since they have a great buy flag right now. We bought a few days before the weird market crash the other week, and still have made a few bucks.

Four-Post Focus – This is a special account that M-K was advertising. We were ok with higher risk (it wasnt that much money we were investing in the first place), and wanted to do some interesting stuff. This Four-post account invests in quite a few different things, with 4 main catagories. They include energy trading, stock market, and a few others. This usually has great returns, and you only need $1000 to start.

Gold – We were not going to do this at first (did not even think about it), but buying gold def. levels out our investments so far. Basically, this let us invest in a different area from stocks all together, just to see where it can get us.

We are still VERY new in this game – and I know some of this will change over time. It was fun to set all this up, and its also great to use things like Google Finance to track our money.

Listening To: ‘A Lack of Color’ by Death Cab for Cutie

My bad, G…

Since I last redid my computer, I have been running a very small application set with nothing much more than AIM, Firefox, Office, Picasa, and Visual Studio 2005. I also have been on a quest AGAIN to find an AIM client, mainly because I have been using Google Talk a whole lot more, and wanted a multi-protocol client.

So I switched to GAIM for now, running the newest v2.0 beta. Its been great, looks really nice, and does everything I want.

But tonight, I wanted to install GIMP so I could use that and Paint.net to do any photo work. I use Picasa to organize my photos, but I like to have something that I can do more detailed touchups, etc.

When I installed GIMP, it would not start. It kept telling me that it could not find ‘libexpat.dll’. I did a reinstall really quick to make sure it wasnt missing anything, and again it failed to launch. After looking around on google some, I found this, which explains the issue. It looks like the newer version of GTK with GAIM doesnt work right with the one that came with GIMP. So after installing the GTK 2.10.8 rev A patch, it works like a charm!

Listening To: “I cant see new york” by Tori Amos

New Camera (x2)

Other than computers, photography has been one of my top hobbies for a while. Unf, with time, I have not been able to do as much as I have been wanting. Well, I decided to change that. And for my Birthday, debs got me a new toy 🙂

Thats my new (to me) Canon Rebel 2000. Its an entry level film SLR that has quite a few cool features. Its in PERFECT shape, and came with the kit lens. I have a roll of film in it now, but have not really taken anything with it yet. Ill have these scanned in when developed, so I can post pictures to flickr as well.

Before I was able to post this entry though, I got a SECOND new camera! Debs and I decided to sell both of our Canon’s (her A310 and my A510…both 3.2MP), and purchase a NEW Canon A550 (7.1MP!).

This camera is almost identical to my older one, except over double the MP now. And it has a few more features and the DIGIC II processor (they are releasing ones with the DIGIC III next month).