Archive for category Personal

HD Movies: Blu-ray or iTunes?

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I feel like I’ve already ranted about the trend of Blu-ray movies including Ultraviolet digital copies rather than iTunes digital copies, though it apparently wasn’t here on my blog. I haven’t tried an Ultraviolet movie, though I’ve heard bad things, as it doesn’t fulfill one of my main requirements for digital movies, which is to be able to watch them via AppleTV (without having to use AirPlay).

This post isn’t about that.

Recently, a viewing of the Iron Man 3 trailer led to my father mentioning that he had yet to see Iron Man 2. Post haste, I queued it up on my AppleTV and we proceeded to watch most of the movie before he left for the night. At some point it occurred to me (or possibly it was pointed out to me) that we should have been watching the Blu-ray version as the digital version wasn’t HD.

Yesterday, while killing time during my daughter’s cheer practice, I watched The American President on my iPad, having previously loaded my ripped-from-DVD copy via iTunes. The quality was terrible and I made a mental note to re-rip it when I got home, with the presumption that it was an old rip using suboptimal settings or software. Coincidentally, I had also mentally implanted a scene from Dave that was therefore missing, so I went exploring the DVD to see if it was a deleted scene or something. This led to the discovery that the DVD itself is of terrible quality (subsequently confirmed by reading reviews of the DVD on Amazon).

I checked, and the movie is available on iTunes, which the HD version being the same price that Amazon is charging for Blu-ray. I decided to to buy it now, since I had just watched it. Instead, I added the Blu-ray to my Amazon wish list. However, I do not currently have a method of ripping Blu-ray movies, nor do I anticipate acquiring such a method. Therefore, it seems like buying the iTunes version is likely a better idea. However, I am aware that this effectively locks me into Apple’s devices for playback (plus iTunes on Windows systems I suppose).

So which way to go? Get non-combo-disc-non-digital-copy Blu-rays that lock me into using physical Blu-ray players? Get Apple-only iTunes copies that are of known lower quality (though perhaps not usually noticeable)?

Plus, even when a DVD and/or iTunes digital copy are included with the Blu-ray, that still results in the Iron Man 2 situation described above.

At present, it’s pretty clear that the iTunes HD version is my best choice, but what about the future? Or perhaps I can rely on the iTunes DRM being crackable (is it already?) and let that be my escape hatch should the need arise.

Do you think putting a comment in my Amazon wishlist entry for Blu-ray movies that says “I’d rather have iTunes credit” is likely to be effective?

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Home Screen

homescreen

For no reason in particular, I’ve decided to post a short overview of the apps on my iPhone’s home screen. As you can see in the image, I also have six folders on my home screen; I’m not going to go into detail on those. I’m also not going to detail the other two pages, though I will volunteer that the second page contains less-frequently used apps and the third is all games (none of which do I play with any regularity at all).

flashlight_clock

Flashlight’s portrait clock

Flashlight – This is an oldie that I had long ago stopped using, but I’ve since rediscovered it as the best bedside clock I’ve found.

FitnessFolder

Occasions – By far the best birthday tracking app I’ve found. Bonus feature is that it allows curated syncing of contacts from Facebook (as opposed to the all-or-nothing version offered by the official app).

Reminders – I’m still not completely sold on Apple’s app, but its superior integration with both Siri and the Notification drop-down keep me using it for now. I also use Toodledo for tasks that I want to repeat based on completion date (it’s on my 2nd screen).

Music – For a long time, I relied on the Music app usually being accessible from the player controls in the multi-tasking panel, but this fell apart when Podcasts were split into their own app. Now, it’s much more likely that the wrong app is active. If I were a more regular user of something like Pandora, this would’ve already been a problem.

Podcasts – I’m pretty happy with this app after Apple’s last few updates. In fact, the only real problem I have is the issue described in the previous entry, along with the fact that the Music app is still the real default. This means that very often when I get in the car I have to manually restart the podcast that was playing earlier.

FinanceFolder

ShopFolder

Movies/TVFolder

Camera+ – There are so many reasons to use this over the built-in camera that it deserves its own post. Simultaneous sharing to Twitter, Facebook and Flickr is probably the key feature for me, but others are nice as well.

Google Maps – I’m a big fan of Waze, and for a long time that held this spot. But I’ve concluded that Google Maps is just better. Sure, I miss the social aspect of Waze a bit — in particular, the possibility that someone marked an upcoming hazard with a description of what lane to avoid — but it wasn’t enough. I still reach to mark items occasionally, before remembering that I no longer can.

UtilitiesFolder

Phone – It is a phone, after all.

Photos – I do like showing off my pictures, though I’m much more likely to do so with my iPad.

Safari – I’ve toyed with using Google as my browser, but I appreciate the iCloud support in Safari. Plus, I know Javascript is faster in Safari than anything else on the iPhone, even if I may never notice the difference.

Week Cal – I’ve tried lots and lots of calendar apps and, for me, this is head and shoulders above any of them. This is another one that deserves its own post. A couple of my oft-used features are templates and copying events. Multi-select is also very nice.

NOOK – This spot changes to whichever reader has the book I’m currently reading. At the moment, I’m reading Magyk (Septimus Heap Series #1) which I think was free when I first installed the app. When I finish it, I’ll likely delete the app as I don’t think I have any other books exclusively there.

Gmail – Direct access to searching all my mail is the killer feature here. It also looks nice. That being said, the iPad app is much worse and I still use Apple’s app primarily there. I am on the waiting list for Mailbox (182,886 and falling!), so that may change. I used Sparrow for a while, but gave up on it for reasons I don’t recall.

Social/NewsFolder

Settings – Previously, my most often use of Settings was to adjust brightness. However, I’ve found with the iPhone 5 on iOS 6, the auto brightness works much better than it used to, so I rarely need to adjust it. On the other hand, my cellular connection seems to go wonky every so often, and I’ve found that turning LTE off and on (and/or Cellular Data) usually resolves the issue. Having just written this, though, I’ve decided to swap it to the 2nd page, replacing it with DataMan, which tracks my cellular data usage in real time.

That completes the first page, leaving the privileged four apps that get to be on every page. In the past, I favored apps that I wanted to be sure and notice notification bubbles. However, I’ve since changed my habits such that I’m almost always on the home screen (if not in an app), so that need no longer exists. Now, it’s just my most launched apps.

Messages – Probably my most frequent method of remote personal communication.

MoneyWell – Great for on-the-go tracking of spending, but requires the desktop version to actually work. If you are a fan of envelope-budgeting, this (the desktop version, that is) is the best implementation of it I’ve found on any platform.

Tweetbot – I’ve used lots of Twitter apps, and while there are some features I miss from some of them, Tweetbot tops them all in many ways. I’d say the killer feature for me is being able to Mute via regular expressions. My most-missed feature is being able to optionally post any update to Facebook (in addition to or instead of Twitter).

Foursquare – I’m not sure what to say here as you either get it or you don’t. I certainly preferred Gowalla before they broke it and then killed it, but either way, I’m a fan of the concept.

And there you have it!

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Inevitable

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I didn’t feel like staying up ’til 2 AM, but I awoke briefly at about 3:50 AM and just before I fell back to sleep it occurred to me that I could order my iPhone. I grabbed the iPad and did so with no difficulty, but as the confirmation above shows, I missed the first batch for next Friday.

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Jack’s Generic Tri

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It’s been a few years since I (we) did a Triathlon, but I’ve been swimming and, I had thought, running a lot more than before, so I expected a significant improvement. Did I get it?

My last Tri (5 years ago!) was longer, so doesn’t compare directly. I’ll try some sort of normalization. Likewise, even my first triathlon, while closer in distances, wasn’t quite the same as this one. There’s some information to be found on comparing runs of different lengths, but not applicable for the small difference here (3mi versus 3.1mi). Likewise, the bike distances are close enough based on my level that a direct conversion seems acceptable.

It’s the swim were I’m not sure linear is appropriate. 800m versus 500m is an appreciable difference. I’m going to just make up a conversion factor of 15%. So converting the two previous results to match the current distances gives:

Times normalized to 500m/13.8mi/3mi
Event Swim T1 Bike T2 Run Total
2007 Couples Tri 13:18 3:52 51:21 2:02 34:28 1:45:01
2007 Brunet Tri Hard 13:13 3:52 48:01 2:02 32:51 1:40:20
2012 Jack’s Generic Tri 12:14 3:28 49:23 5:45 32:56 1:43:46

For the Burnet Tri, the T1 time was included with the swim time, so I’ve used the Couples Tri value as it was likely relatively similar. This may mean that the bike time wasn’t quite as good as represented here.

As anticipated, the swim is where I had the most improvement. I had hoped to do much better on the run, but I knew that I hadn’t as I ended up walking much of it due to being tired from the first two activities and from the heat.

The most telling piece of information to be garnered from this table? My T2 time sucked. I knew this at the time because I was futzing with my iPhone getting two different apps running and I decided to apply sunscreen.

The run sucked so much that I’ve lost my run motivation. Combined with the addition of Body Pump to my workout routine, I’m not sure I’ll be running much in the future. Oh, well.

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That was quick…

Well, due to an error in judgement during a run last night, I ended up running further than I had intended. (Reminder: I need to investigate why my “half way” notification didn’t trigger.)

Thus, to the best of my knowledge, my new personal run(+walk) distance record was set last night as 6.69 miles. Yay! I still expect this to be beaten soon, though probably not for at least another week.

I had recently lamented that I was struggling with my runs and that it might be that my pace was too fast. I’ve experimented with my pace over the last few runs and I’m no longer so sure. I think that I typically struggle with Tuesday morning runs, for some reason, and that leaves me with a skewed opinion until Thursday’s run.

That being said, hills suck. 🙂

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Longest Run… or Not!

Written yesterday, but my blog was down.

I had thought today’s 6.22 miles was my distance record. A bit of research revealed my error.

2011-02-05 6.68 C210KW6D1
2006-04-10 6.62 from auto shop
2005-10-02 6.34 IBM Uptown Classic 10K

My current record is from when I was doing the Couch-to-10K program early last year. Oddly, I made it through week 7, day 3, before taking a break and yet none of those later days were longer. Week 6, day 3, is, however, missing from my data.

I knew about the Uptown Classic 10K, but I naively expected it to have been shorter than 6.22 miles. The 6.62 miles from an auto shop is from one time I dropped the truck (pre-Prius; actually, maybe pre-truck-Durango).

While doing this research, I had to consult three separate sources of data: my old GPS logs (linked to from my Blog in the “Also See My” section), my Garmin logs (linked as its own MY GPS LOGS section), and my Nike+ logs on my iPhone (though I suppose I could link to those as well). Clearly, some consolidation is in order. I’m not sure what the best choice is for storing the data or how easily it will be to migrate the other data to that choice.

Week 4 of Bridge-to-10K is coming up soon with 3 extra minutes of running, but that’s probably not quite enough to set my record. Week 5, Day 3 is the run that will almost certainly set the new record. Interestingly (to me), that run is likely to hold the record unless I make the decision to move past 10K. The Week 6 runs are just a tiny bit shorter than Week 5, Day 3. There is no Week 7.

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Bun Run

Last Sunday, Hershey and I participated in the 30th annual Bun Run 5K. I had recently completed the Couch-to-5K training program and decided that this would be a good opportunity to make use of that training.

I’ve been training with about a 9:00/mile pace, probably a bit slower. Additionally, since completing the C25K plan, I’ve switched over to a Bridge-to-10K plan that starts off with shorter stretches of running, though more of them. (Three 10-minute runs instead of one 30-minute run, for example.) Because of this, I was a little worried that my stamina would have dropped a bit. Therefore, in preparation for the run, I set my target pace as 8:45-9:45/mile.

A key factor I had not considered was that the presence of the other runners would encourage Hershey to run faster. We ended up with an average pace of 8:35/mile, smashing my previous 5K PR (over 30 minutes) with an official chip time of 26:55! (I just now looked it up and was surprised to see it under 27 minutes; my GPS time was 27:16.) I placed 265/1236 overall and 20/62 in my division.

There was an option to have a chip for your dog as well, but I chose not to, as I expect may have been a common choice. From the results, 27 dogs were timed and 6 of them finished faster than Hershey, though only 1 female was faster! Good job, Hershey!

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