Monday, September 19, 2011

Blog has been moved to my new location

This blog is frozen time, but the good news is you are cordially invited to check out my new blog that is solely concerned with technology at......

Sunday, September 18, 2011

How to Have an Amazing Home Network for maybe a little less than you think

My house doesn't have giant stacks of Compact Discs, but I have over 10,000 songs that I can access instantly.  I don't have massive piles of physical DVD's, but I can access 10s of thousands of movies instantly.

There are many different ways to do what I have done, but let me walk you through how I choose to do it, and if you're looking to do it yourself, and maybe you feel a little technically challenged, my hope is after you read this, you will see that it is a little easier then what you may have previously thought.

MUSIC-  In the late 1990s portable MP3 players emerged that let you carry around about 500 songs.   The iPod was launched in 2001 with 1000 songs in your pocket, and then the iTunes store, all this set about a revolution in how we acquire, store, and listen to our music.

  I have my entire iTunes Library stored locally on my main computer, a beautiful IMac with a 27 inch screen 14 GB of RAM with a 2.93 GHZ quad core i7 processor.  (As beautiful as it is..soon it will be "just a device" with the advent of ICloud as Jobs said in the most recent apple keynote)  Anyways the files are all on the main computer and the software that manages and runs the music files is called iTunes.

I can listen to my music many different ways, I can sit in front of my computer, launch iTunes and just instantly search for the song/album/artist that I want, and play it.  My Computer is listening Zone 1 and what I am going to describe to you is called "air tunes"   (similar but not exactly the same as 'air play')

OK now here is where it gets really cool.  Apple makes 2 amazing pieces of hardware, the Apple TV and the Air Port Express(both cost $99).  Both of these plug into the wall and connect to your network automatically.  Once the air tunes device is plugged into the wall you can connect speakers to it.  Now when I sit at my main computer and launch iTunes I can see my ATV or Air port devices and thus can control them.  I have 4 Different Zones of music in my house.  Bedroom, office, family room, and living room.  Of the 3 zones that are not my computer, one of them is an ATV, and two are air port expresses.  On these two I have connected a pair of Bose computer speakers, they are small, yet provide rich sound.  The Apple TV is connected to my bedroom TV speakers.  OK so sitting in front of my computer using iTunes, I can now turn off and on four different speaker zones, this is awesome, but the problem is, every time I want to hear something different, or if I want to turn off the music, I have to run to my computer.  But what if there was a way to control your computer remotely?  Here's where it gets double cool:  The Apple IOS devices (iPod touch, iPad, and IPhone) have a free app available called "remote" and with guessed can now control your computer using a device that is always very close by...your iPhone.  And it's a beautiful experience, reaching out and touching your music, seeing the album artwork, and tapping on what you want to hear....and where in the house you want to hear it.  

To have this experience Your computer doesn't have to be as new or as powerful as mine, ...if you already have a computer and an IOS Device, you can add a zone to your house for only $99.

Movies   I have been collecting DVDS for 15 years, pretty much since they were launched in the mid 90's.  So how do we get all of these physical DVDs into my computer?  Unfortunately it is not as easy as music CDs, but it can be done.  It does take longer, but the end result is well worth it.   I am a Mac enthusiast and I am going to recommend a free piece of software that will rip your personal Dvds for you.  (I don't know/care about advice to anyone who owns a windows computer is to throw that computer in the garbage and buy a Mac.)  LOL, anyways the App is called "Handbrake"  Once all your DVDs are ripped, you can then put them in a folder and point iTunes towards that location.  Since each movie is about 1 to 1.5 TB in size, I strongly recommend going to Costco and picking up at least a 1 TB external hard drive to store these movie files.  I personally have a 3TB drive connected not to my computer, but to my Air Port Extreme Router.  So now we've got all our movies ripped and iTunes recognizes them.  Once again I sit in front of my computer and find any one of them and start watching it right on my computer.  Or I could do something much better.  Apple TV will take the contents of your iTunes library and stream it to your Television.  Since we already know that IOS devices have a "remote" app, I'll bring it to everyones attention that not only can the IOS device control your computer, it can control your Apple TV as well.  So I sit down in front of my TV and browse through hundreds of DVDs that I have made personal copies of!  The Quality?  Near DVD quality.  I have two TVS in my house and an ATV connected to each one of them.  Built into the software of apple tv I can also flip through all my photos, Rent HD quality new releases instantly, watch any MLB baseball game, watch netflix on demand, etc. etc.  Again, if you already have a newer TV with an HDMI input, a computer, and an internet connection, then for $99 you are Golden.

And that ladies and gents, is my home network!  Any questions, type them into google!  How do you manage/store/consume your entertainment media?  Let me know.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Will Netflix become the next Yahoo!?

Netflix shares dropped 40 points points today to close at $169.  Why?  Well for a couple of reasons..number one they lost 1 million subs this fall because of their price hike, and in addition to that they lost a good portion of their Starz catalog, taking away a good chunk of their streaming movie offerings.

Netflix had an amazing run, they took out Blockbuster video and their absurd "late fees", lame selection, and lines that you had to wait in on Friday and saturday nights.

I've brought it up many times before that in my perfect world we have everything available to us instantly anywhere we are and on any device we want and all of this for a fair price.  For example lets say that for $40/month we have access to every song ever recorded, every book ever written, every TV show, And every movie.

Netflix gives us a good selection of movies for $7.99 streaming, but it's fragmented..we don't get everything.  Because major cable companies are scared and they are pressuring netflix (they probably influenced the starz take away deal)  I hate the cable companies like comcast and time warner!!...

It takes a one in a lifetime visionary like a Steve Jobs or Jeff Bezos from Amazon to break these pressures.  The day the Kindle was announced all paper publishing became obsolete and ridiculous, thanks Jeff for helping to wreck these lame publishing companies...Steve Jobs took out the record companies with his iTunes Library.  (Sony et al had no idea that iTunes would take off like it did)

Apple and Amazon will use their magic to incorporate netflix like capabilities into what they  have.  (they already do as a matter of fact with Amazon streaming)  Amazon is already trying to get a deal for a monthly all you can eat "netflix for books" and it's only a matter of time.  We're still in the Wild Wild West, and in fascinating times....If I were to guess who gets that's future $40/month?

AMAZON...and netflix will be relegated to great tech things of the past like Yahoo!, and the Netscape browser.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Reflections on Apples Keynote

About 15 Years ago, soon after he regained control of Apple, Steve Jobs had an interesting Q&A at a Developer Conference much more low key, then it was today.  He talked about how he could with his company intranet login as himself and have all his stuff served up to him instantly.  He could do this because all of his files were stored on a central in-house server, and if he made a change to one file, in one location, it was changed to all locations.

This was always in the back of his mind, and it is what Apple has been evolving towards ever since.  And today they have announced...ICloud.....  What this means is......

  • We never have to worry about our files being lost
  • When you enter or modify an address book on your Iphone it is automatically changed for all devices..and it never gets lost.  (it works this time, unlike with mobile me)
  • When you take a photo with your is saved forever without having to do anything
  • All your music is now scanned and saved... able to be downloaded again forever on any device
  • We don't have to update our iphones or ipads anymore by connecting them to a just does it for us (no more connecting our iphones/ipads to a computer)
  • You don't even need a computer anymore to use an ipad or iphone
  • When you buy a new ipad, iphone, or mac, you login and then all your stuff appears.
  • When you buy an app, an ibook, or a song from one device, it instantly goes on all your devices.

All that and more is available this fall, and I can't wait that long folks!!

Watch the keynote yourself at

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Scan and Toss and NFC Payments

Paper, Paper everywhere...but it never needs to be that way for any of us..

====Garrett in 2011

All my books are in the cloud

All my music will be in the cloud on monday

All of my movies and tv shows are stored on harddrives and not dvds (and soon so shall the blu rays)

With the nice scanner that I have, I can take all of my paper records and scan them and toss them on dropbox...when we get letters from the boys schools, or anything paper, I just scan and toss the dead tree.  Once it is scanned I can access it anywhere, from my Iphone, Ipad, or computer.  But the revolution has growing pains...papers can pile at times, and when they do, I sing my "scan and toss" song.

When I walk into a dental practice and see all of these paper records I want to grab the doctor and scream!  "Scan and Toss!!"   But slowly and surely there are more and more paperless offices emerging.

So to conclude......CLOUD CLOUD CLOUD......Put your papers in the cloud!  Tra la never need to have a bunch of papers lying around your house...

And now part two:  NFC payments (not football)

What could be more obsolete than your wallet?  Really all we need is our Iphones....Cop stops you and asks for your license?  Wave your phone at his mobile scanner...Need to pay for something?...wave your phone at the scanner..(I already do this at Starbucks)  Within a few years this will be standard.  (Except for the old lady who still writes out a check at the supermarket)

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Cloud

2011 is the year of the cloud.

What is the cloud?  Basically its a term describing the notion that all of your digital stuff is no longer stored on a local device like your computer.  Instead it is stored on the internet, in the "cloud", able to be streamed to any one of your devices, like your iphone or ipad.  The advantage of this is that there is no longer the need to synch or transfer any files, once they are uploaded once, you are done.

A lot of us are already using cloud services, like google docs, dropbox,  i disk from mobile me and others.  But these are mostly for documents, and not optimized for music and video streaming.

Amazon got to the market first with what they are branding their "cloud drive" and today they went right at Apples throat in undercutting them significantly by pricing the new Lady GAGA album for 99 Cents.  As you can see in the graphic they are giving a free upgrade of 20 GB (enough for many peoples entire music library) to anyone who buys the album.  Why are they doing this?  Well because Apple is rumored to come out with their own cloud service in the coming 60 days or so.  Amazon is thinking that they can get a good headstart and pull enough people away from Apple by getting them used to their service and making it worthwhile to pretty much give away the hottest album in the last year and a half.  Amazons regular music "mp3 store" is also being priced about 2 dollars cheaper per album then the equivalent on Itunes.  And once you buy from them, it is backed up forever in their "cloud drive" I am buying all my music now through Amazon until Apple meets their price.

Apple and Amazon are two amazing companies both run by genius visionaries (Jobs and Bezos)  and I love both of them, use both of them all the time and I love the competition!!

May the best Cloud win!!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Rapture!!

Whether you are a post millennial dispensationalist, or a mid tribber....doesn't it feel good to know that as of now 6:01 PDT on May 21st 2011..We are all still here!

Whooo hooo!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Goodbye to the local Blockbuster

Yes I know that I have posted variations of this post many times over the past few years on the blog but almost not a day goes by where I do not think about this revolution in media happening before our eyes.  Thanks to boneheaded decisions and failure to adapt to the marketplace, Blockbuster is in bankruptcy and the majority of its several thousand stores are shut down.  Including the one on Lyons Ave and Orchard Village Road.  It was once a thriving location filled with people hoping that the latest new release wasn't all checked out, or trying to talk their way out of late fees.  Here is what the store looks like tonight

There are many reasons why this store is gone but let me tell you my personal reason why it makes no sense to ever rent a physical disc anywhere.  

I have Apple TV---one of the apps is Itunes, and one of the apps is Netflix instant.

Netflix:  For $8/month I can stream 15 thousand movies directly to my tv, my iphone, ipad etc..(yes it picks up where i left off)

Itunes:  I can browse all the new releases and basically 95% of the movies that are out there and rent anything that I want in HD.  Not sure if the movie is good or not..well I can check Rotten Tomatoes which is next to all the movies..I can read a synopsis...and I can view the trailer....  Just a tad bit better then asking someone at Blockbuster "Is this a good movie?"   Of course movies are never checked out..and there are no late lines to wait in..etc.

Blockbuster never adapted....they got killed by Apple, Netflix, and redbox...and I don't feel the least bit sorry for them...

Good Riddance!  Now please can we get a good tenant in there so it's not such an eyesore!!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


Matt, my Dad and I went to Chicago for 2 days for Matt's 35th birthday..

Here is my take on the city.....Amazing City!  Great food and culture..midwestern hospitality and all of that.  

The Highlight of the trip was Wrigley Field which is probably in an exact tie now with Fenway park for coolest baseball stadium outside of the Ravine.  We sat through a 1:15 min rain delay in 30 degree wind chill and then the entire game as well but it was worth it!

Cross this off the "bucket list"

Waveland Avenue

We took a 2 hour bus tour of Al Capones Chicago which was good..then we got to walk around and do some sightseeing and look at the river, the lake, millenium park, the outside of the Sears (too long of a line to go in) and we got to do this on a sunny day with about 65 degree weather on Saturday.  

In Front of the River on Michigan Avenue

Other than the amazingly bad weather that Chicago gets my vote as one of the best cities in America

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Thoughts on the Ipad2

When I first got the original Ipad last year I wrote that it was very cool, but not quite a revolution in the way that IPhone revolutionized our smartphones.  The reason is because it was not quite a computer, and not quite a phone, but something in between.  It was an amazing device to consume media....but not much in the way of a productivity device.  (at least that's what I thought at the time)

And then slowly but surely I realized the revolution....which is..... bye bye paper!  As a pdf reader with apps like "Goodreader" which is the gold standard of pdf apps...and "Iannotate" which lets you legally sign contracts with your finger.  It goes a long way in marginalizing those pesky cluttering stacks of dead trees.  Now with a high speed scanner, cloud based storage like "Dropbox" and a 3g connected IPad I have all my records with me, able to instantly call up...and reference whenever I need to.  The vet needs Raven's rabies record?  Well instead of digging through a file cabinet I can e-mail it  while I am standing in front of them.  And on and on it goes.  It totally replaces the briefcase.  Everything is archived and saved, not in dusty boxes that create clutter and get pooped on by rats, but in the cloud, able to be called down to the Ipad in seconds.

Now when you take all this functionality and slim down the device, make it even more comfortable to hold....and much faster.  You have something that is indispensable.  Before I wrote about the desert island where I could only have one device...I said it would be the iphone....but now it would be the Ipad 2.

Goodbye Paper!!

Monday, March 14, 2011


There are a many variations of this story..........

A whole family is wiped out in a car crash except for one little girl that "miraculously" survives.  Depending on your superstitions you may cite "God" or "someone looking out for that girl"

But skeptical and cynical me cannot listen to any of these reports whether it is on the evening news, or through a friend, family member or acquaintance and not think this thought.


Sorry to burst your bubble folks but Miracles don't exist, there is no such thing.


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Steve Jobs unveils the IPad 2

The Ipad 2 looks awesome, but what was even more heartening was after the internet rumors and reports of only 6 weeks to live...Jobs looked great.  We got to see the master at work at least one more time and hopefully for many years to come.  In his trademark outfit Jobs poked fun at the hapless copycat competitors like samsung and motorola, while pointing out some really cool new Ipad apps like Photo Booth and Imovie, and for me the one that I think will be my personal favorite..Garage Band.

Jobs pointed out that they had sold more ipads in 9 months (15 million) then all the tablet PCs in history.   Ipad 2 will be thinner, lighter, and faster, and include 2 cameras as well.  Pricing will remain the same as well as the amazing 10 hour battery life.

Jobs closed the keynote by reaffirming apples mission...the perfect melding between technology and liberal arts.  He reminded us why Apple is the most amazing tech company in history.  And he got this Apple geek all kinds of fired up!!!!!

Long Live STEVE!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Grabbaggar's Quick reviews of best picture nominees

Black Swan:  Tasha and I watched a pirated copy of this movie together in our very own Cinema Du Elisandra.   "The white swan, comes naturally to you..but what I want to see is your black swan"  It was a privilege to see Natalie become the Black Swan...very original and safe to say the best ballerina movie in history.

The Fighter:  Didn't see it

Inception:  I almost didn't want to like this movie, and I went into watching it with a bad attitude, but during the film I got sucked into the concept and imagery and the mind bending story of a dream, within a dream, within a dream

The Kids are All Right:  Good movie, it is about a lesbian couple Anette Benning and Julianne Moore and how their adopted kids find their biological father.  Tasha and I both liked it.

The Kings Speech:  Didn't see it

127 Hours:  How to make a movie interesting when everyone knows the ending?  Well they did it here, with a great performance by James Franco, and tight swift pacing....and the payoff is amazing.

The Social Network:  My pick for Best Picture.  The Godfather of Tech movies will win best film, and it will be well deserved.

Toy Story 3:  Perfect ending to the trilogy.  When Andy goes away to college and gives his toys to that little girl....impossible not to cry if you are a parent.

True Grit:  Didn't See it

Winters Bone:  Hidden gem of the nominated films, very good movie, authentic, gripping and real.  Sticks with you and well worth seeing.

So of the ones I have seen I choose "The Social Network"  although I would not be surprised if "The Kings Speech" takes it based on the buzz.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Reflections on my Mission Trip to the Philippines

In the Summer of 1995 when I was 21 years old I participated in a 27 day trip to the Philippines.  The trip was through RHCC and I had to "raise" like $1500 dollars for it if I'm not mistaken.  The raising of the money involved me sending out a letter that said that God has given me a heart for the Philippines and was leading me to go there, please gimme some money.  Here now I am going to tell you some things you might not have known about this trip.  First lets meet the players.

Jenny- A girl in her mid twenties who was the leader of our group.  She would be described as "A very Godly woman"  She is a nice person who was carrying about 30 extra pounds, but she was a cute blonde.  When asked why she wasn't married she said, "God hasn't called me into the 'ministry of marriage' whatever that means.

Dwight- Dwight was an impish creepy guy in his mid twenties who lived alone with his mother in a one bedroom apartment and had a secret crush on Jenny.  Dwight had to deal with a homosexual Philippino boy named Digoy who used to sexually harass him much to Dwights dismay.

Scott-  A very nice guy and a confused homosexual who told me about his experiences making love with a man while in the "catcher" position.  Scott also liked to sleep nude.  I hope he is fully "out" now and enjoying life.

Rochelle-  A 19 year old Phillipino American who had family there, she was a typical teenager, nothing too interesting to report here

Erin-Erin was just a typical normal person who wanted to go on a mission trip.  She was cool.

If you have never had the chance to immerse yourself in a 3rd world country I suggest you do it.  The experience was great, from the insane humidity, to watching cockfighting, to having our hosts think they were reminding us of home by driving 1 hour to Bacolod mcDonalds and one hour back to bring us disgusting big macs.  The people who I was supposed to witness to would pretty much sit stonefaced as I would recite the basic four spiritual laws, and do evangelism 101.  But they were friendly.

Our hosts were very nice to us.  We stayed in the church which also had a house attached to it.  The Shower was a bucket and a faucet in an outdoor shack area.  We did have an indoor toilet and running water, just no shower for whatever reason.  I got to see a part of the world I would have never got to see...I got to ride a WaterBuffalo through town....I got to eat some pretty delicious mangoes....I was woken up every morning at the crack of dawn to the sound of roosters, or a pig being slaughtered.

It was a unique and beneficial experience for me.  If you are reading this and you are one of the people who gave me some money so that I could go, I offer you a heartfelt thanks!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Is it harder to give up God or Directv?

Question? What is more difficult? Accepting that there is really no god, and that we don't go to a magical place when we die....or accepting that I don't need to keep paying Directv $120/month.

They are both scary and weird...and you feel all alone when you come to the full realization!

I watch way less TV now then I used to...I don't have the desire to do it. I am mostly on the computer instead of TV. We have 3 of them in our house..there's like almost one in every room. And they have replaced the compulsion....there are only two reasons to stay with TV...Sports and maybe HBO. Sports though, is the only thing that right now cannot be replaced by TV...etc. I say right now..because in the near future mlb and the nhl will lift blackout restrictions and make there services streamable to all devices. But right now it aint worth it...I tried to lower the cost of directv per month, but if I tear down all the channels I don't of those just happens to be Prime Ticket..which happens to televise 120 Dodger games a year. Directv isn't stupid..they are a great company with a great service.....but like Tower Records, Barnes and Noble, and Blockbuster..people are waking up to a new reality.

Here are the only things I watch..
MSNBC, FOX News, and CNN
A&E (Intervention, Hoarders, Huge)
True Blood
Mad Men

But like I said before, there are other ways to get most of that, that doesn't include paying $120/month.....Stay tuned....What about you? Are you with me on this one...or could you never see yourself not paying a TV provider.

Will Grabbaggar get a bit edgier?

There's a big conflict between wanting to be open and honest about everything that I think and feel about things in our world, and realizing that everything that I put down here is saved and can be read for posterity by anyone (namely current future employers)

I put forth a straight-laced image in my corporate life..clean reputation is the key to $ and advancement. In fact my company would not have hired me if this was not the case.

So I have made my blog about as off the grid as you can will see subtle changes to things if you look hard enough.

I still have the policy of reviewing comments and deciding whether or not to post them. I will post basically any comment though, with the exception of abuse or spam..

So this blog just got a little bit of a reboot..there won't be any more discussions of things of a personal nature or about my family or friends...As Stuart Smalley would say, "Accept my anonymity"

Making my computer my home entertainment server

About 20 years ago when we had two VCRS, I used to hook them up together and copy movies that we would rent at the Wherehouse. All the good ones were always checked out and on friday and Saturday nights it was always crowded. I would copy them from one tape to time denise brought back the copy to the Wherehouse and they got mad at her LOL.

So I went from this to copying dvds through dvd shrink and then having a massive collection of DVDS in 6 binders in one of our shelves....There was always the option of leaving the ripped copies of the movies on my computer, but who really wants to sit down in front of their computer and and watch a movie? Not me.

Along comes the latest version of Apple TV, which takes content from Itunes and streams it to your TV...So now I can make backup copies of my own personal collection and house them on my computer...with the price of storage so low, I can house about 2000 movies for a couple hundred bucks. What I love about digital copies is the control that I have over it. From my iphone, I can call up any movie in my collection and play it on both of my TVs. The picture quality is near dvd and the sound is 5.1... It is fantastic.

I have also gotten addicted to renting new movies in HD on my ipad and streaming them to either tv, or watching them on the ipad if I want. The days of renting physical discs...late fees...and movies you want to rent being "checked out" are over!! Goodbye Blockbuster!!