Sunday, February 8, 2009

OK, I did it. I succumbed to Facebook. And so did my wife - actually she was on Facebook a week before I signed up. If and when you get a chance look me up there. If you know me well, you know my name - see you there.

I will continue to post here as well - but not as frequent as I did here, which is not saying much:))

I am going to do KW Spring training which starts tomorrow- hopefully my toe will hold up.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Been a rough two weeks at work - what with the reduction in force (euphemism for layoffs), voluntary retirement etc. Really sad to see some great people and friends leave the company.

Running wise, however, things have been good. Been running 3x or 4x a week consistently for the last three weeks ; 8 miles being the longest, so far. My foot is still mildly sore after the run, but nothing unmanageable. Doc wants me to continue to run as long as it does not get worse. I am cautiously optimistic - we shall see. Kenyan Way's spring training starts Monday - I may sit out the hills on Mondays but run do speedwork on Wednesdays and long run on Sundays.

Wall-E rocks on Blu-ray! Talking about Blu-ray, Bourne Trilogy Blu-ray was released two Tuesdays ago - need to but it soon.

Seriously considering getting on Facebook as I can post shorter, brief updates - blogging takes time - but am I too old for Facebook?

Friday, January 23, 2009

I'm back, back in the saddle again. Well, kind of. Ran 3 miles on Tuesday and Thursday this week and so far so good. Gonna try running 5 miles tomorrow and see if my toe/foot can tolerate that distance. If it bothers me, I will have to back off for some more time. We will see. It was good seeing Claire, Frank and Ana after a long time on Thursday. They were recovering from the marathon soreness well ; am looking forward to seeing the rest of the gang tomorrow at the park.

On a different topic, did you hear that the digital conversion may be pushed out to June from Feb 17th? It seems the FCC has run out of coupons for the digital converter box, since they underestimated the number of people who would need the converter boxes. Seems like a terrible planning job to me. Several of the TV stations had already planned on shutting down their old analog equipment and hauling them away on the 17th of Feb. Now they have to make alternate arrangements. I was looking forward to the all-digital transmission for a while ; now I have to wait longer.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Weekend Getaway! Yes, we are B+Bing in Brenham for the weekend. We travel a lot and when we do, we always stay at B+B's rather than the hotels. We like interacting with locals and there is no better way to do that than staying at someone's house.

Brenham is so close to Houston that we never think of spending a night or two there. Its usually a stop for lunch on the way to Austin or something. You know how tourists that visit a town have seen more places in the city than the locals? The locals always put off seing places in their own cities because they can always do that later. Brenham was like that - its so close that we never think of it as a place to spend the weekend. Galveston was the same deal - until a couple of years ago when we spent the weekend at a nice little B+B in the Strand. Same thing with Brenham.

I wanted to spend this weekend out of town with my wife, as its her birthday, tomorrow, Sunday and since we had done the hill country in December, Brenham took its place.

We are staying at a very nice B+B close to downtown and its really, really nice. I will post link to place we are staying at, later.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

What a horrible way to begin the new year. My throat was sore and scratchy on Friday last week and over the weekend it progressively got worse and by Monday evening I had severe cod, cough - the works. As if that wasn't enough, I now have pink eye on my right eye. Pink eye - This is the first time ever in my life that I am getting this. It looks horrible and I am worried that its going to spread to the other eye. Consolation? I am not running the marathon this weekend. Whew.

What profession comes to your mind when you think of Indians? Doctors, Techies and Call Centres? Well if you have heard of Slumdog Millionaire, you'd think again. This movie is raking awards like crazy for every category that its being nominated in. A.R.Rehman, the music director, who hails from the same city as I, has, so far, won the Golden Globe, Viewers Choice and a few others. He is serious contender for the Oscar in February. Go see this movie, if you haven't already - otherwise, you will wonder what the buzz is all about as it sweeps the Oscars in every category.

Monday, January 12, 2009

I was having the case of Mondays until I realized that 24 is on tonight and that got me thru the day! 24 - what a great show. On which other TV show do you get to hear techie terms such as Firewall, video feed, workaround etc!

But somehow I cannot picture Janeane Garofalo as a FBI agent in 24. I can only see her as a comedienne. Also, is it just me or the audio on 24 is low that you have to turn up the volume on the TV? Dont know what it is but we have to turn the volume up by at least 5 notches for it to be audible and clear. Weird.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

CES 2009 is over. Lots of new products worth discussing in this blog but I seem too busy to write. The problem is I go into too much depth, especially when it comes to technology, and that takes a long time to write, which I don't have. I will still try to make a brief mention of a few things worth mentioning, some time this week. Lots of new TVs, Blu-ray players, iPod accessories (although Apple does not participate in CES), thin laptops, big announcement by Microsoft on their Windows 7 Beta, tons of streaming applications which let you download and watch content on your PC, HDTV etc, were some highlights of the show this year.

One product worth mentioning is Boxee. Boxee is a PC based application that is a portal for all media based content including the pictures, songs and videos that you have on your harddrive AND streaming content from sites site hulu.com, Netflix etc (see the post below for more info on steaming). Rather than visiting multiple sites and needing an internet to view content, with boxee, you can do this via a simple program on your PC. Its like Quicken to manage your finances, for those of you that are familiar with quicken. Really cool application. You can download their beta version free ; so check it out if you want to give streaming a shot.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

So we like watching movies - both renting on Netflix and at the theatres. We average a movie a week and with the addition of the blu-ray player at home our viewing habits have changed somewhat as we rent more science fiction and action movies these days. We also like indie movies and we have been renting some of those lately, as well. We have had a long streak of renting good movies ("good" is relative - good here is our rating) continues. Some of the ones we recently watched are:

Just Cause
Into the Wild
Rendition
Stranger than Fiction
The Visitor
3:10 to Yuma
Ironman
The Dark Knight
Deja Vu
The Jackal
Indiana Jones/Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Netflix lets you rent Blu-rays for just a buck more a month. They will also ship the movie in Blu-ray format, over standard definition DVD, if the title is available in both formats. The number of movies on the Blu-ray format is not as extensive as DVDs yet, but its definitely growing. Now that the format war, between HD-DVD (which uses a red laser) and Blu-ray (which uses a blue laser, duh) has been settled, all the studios are making their titles available on Blu-rays.

To be honest with you, I think, distributing content on media such as DVD, Blu-ray etc and will face a very stiff challenge from network streaming. Content producers will rely on the fast interent to stream media and the consumers will rent streamed content over the internet. No need to rent or buy physical media. Think about it : if you can watch a movie instantly with a click of a button, why wouldn't you do it instead of waiting for it to arrive in mail or going to the local Blockbuster to rent it? I think the days of Blu-ray are numbered, as streaming becomes more and more popular. There are several streaming services in place already. Netflix let's you watch movies instantly on your computer, which you can connect to your LCD HDTV. There are several Blu-ray players (and XBOX 360) that will let you "rent" streamed content from Netflix directly. While streaming is not a new concept, it has not caught on with the consumers yet, as streaming a movie in HD takes up a lot, heck a lot, of bandwidth. Which means you gotta have a super fast internet connection - unless you want the movie to stall often as it waits for content to be downloaded. As the network technology improves (Wi-Max, Fibre etc, which is a different topic), we we will see more and more HD content available via network streaming, which will kill Blu-ray and other media.

Talking about streaming and watching content over the internet, you probably already know that most of the TV shows can be watched on the channels website. Miss your favorite show - and dont have a TiVO ? Want to watch the show with few or no commercials? No problem, you can watch it on the channel's web site. Or use hulu.com. Hulu is a one-stop shop for all the TV channels, so you dont have to visit multiple web sites to watch your favorite shows. Check out Hulu, if you haven't heard about it already.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Getting back to work after a two week break was hard yesterday! As if getting back to work was not hard in itself, I had conference calls with Asia until 9:30PM last night, which made for a very long day. Whew.

This is another exciting week for hi-tech gadget junkies as several manufacturers will be unveiling their new and upcoming products at the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, this week (Thursday thru Sunday). So if you missed out buying your favorite gadget during the holidays, don't despair; You can always get a better and newer version this year. Needless to say I will report on the ones that are worthy of mention in this blog later this week. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Craigslist has come through for us again this year - that's three years in a row! Couple of years ago, we got rid of one of our analog TVs, last year it was time for our huge entertainment center to go (to give way for our 52" LCD TV) and this year we put some of my old audio/video electronics up for sale and it sold within a couple of days. Wonder how people got by before the internet was invented :)

So transition to nothing-but-digital transmission is around the corner ; but the word is that there is still confusion on what that exactly means to several people. So who is gaining from this : your local electronics stores - it is really sad to see how they take advantage of less-knowledgeable people and sell expensive HDTVs (and accessories) to them. Digital transmission does not mean you need to throw out your old analog TV. As long as you can find a way to convert the incoming digital signal to an analog signal before feeding it to your old analog TV, you are good to go. How do you that? If you have cable or satellite dish, the service provide is already going to make the conversion for you, so you don't need to do squat. If you watch TV with an Over-the-air Antenna, then all you need is a converter box which can do the conversion for you. You dont have to buy a HDTV, if you don't want to. You absolutely don't need to buy a HDTV to continue to watch TV after the digital transition as your local Brick and Mortar electronics store would lead you to believe.

On the other hand, if you really want to buy a HDTV and need buying advice, I'd be happy to help you any which way I can.