Random Thoughts

Tech, words and musings from an Englishman in Seattle

Superman Dies

Evel Knievel died today at the ripe old age of 69. I say ripe old age because I'm astounded that he was still around considering what he did to his body!

The first toy I remember having was an Evel Knievel toy…

Opening Night At Teatro ZinZanni - Love, Chaos And Dinner

On Wednesday night, Nabila and I attended the opening night for Teatro ZinZanni at their new, permanent home in Seattle. This was my third ZinZanni, and man was it great!

The show was awesome, the food (by Tom Douglas), spectacular. A real treat.

Teatro ZinZanni is a big night out unlike any other, a three-hour whirlwind of international cirque, comedy and cabaret artists all served up with a five-course feast designed by celebrated Northwest chef Tom Douglas.

An ever-evolving and constantly changing production, Teatro ZinZanni combines improv comedy, vaudeville revue, music, dance, cirque and sensuality into a dizzying and colorful new form that is never quite the same from evening to evening. The fast-paced action of the show unfolds above, around and even alongside the audience as they dine on a gourmet meal. Teatro ZinZanni is guaranteed to dazzle.

It's such a great experience - a three hour show where your waiters are the performers; superb acts in the middle of the dining area; great ambiance; incredible music; a wonderful venue that transports you back to a world of cabaret with a distinct European flavour.

What more could you ask for?

If you're in the area, you have to go.

Just buy a ticket.

Or three.

Now.

Pre-review: Back in TiVo Land

Back in 2000, I moved into Nabila's town home and was astounded by the tiny TV and less than basic cable. I know that A/V systems weren't high on the lovely lady's priorities, but something had to be done! Along with me, came by 32“ TV, so her 27” was relegated to the bedroom. Next up - what to do about the pitiful amount of available channels?

Public access TV can only yield so much amusement.

A couple of years prior I got on the local cable company's digital cable beta program. The company was TCI (then AT&T, then Comcast). The main reason for this was access to BBC America and the fact that it was “digital”. All that really meant was crappier picture quality.

Anyhow, I set up a time for an install for digital cable and crap loads of channels at Nabila's place.

They never showed.

I rescheduled.

They didn't show again.

I'm done. Time for some drastic action.

I'd heard good things about DirecTV, so I bought one of the basic Sony units, a dish and a drill. I then set about drilling holes in Nabila's house, mounting the dish and really enjoying the new picture quality.

A few months later I heard that TiVo had teamed up with DirecTV to produce a TiVo unit that recorded the stream direct from the satellite - no re-compression which had been the main thing keeping me away from TiVo. Anyhow, I picked one up and was hooked on TiVo for the next seven years.

Prior to our move to the new house earlier this year I had an HD TiVo and loved it and the DirecTV service apart from two niggles:

  1. As an early adopter of the DirecTiVo and HD DirecTiVo, I was the last person to see any of the new features such as folders. Things like TiVoToGo and network access totally passed us by.
  2. Locals in HD had to come in via an antenna.

When we moved to the new place, I decided to go back to cable and see what I was missing. The channel lineup looked good; they provide the boxes; you pay month on month - no contract. If it didn't work out, I could also go back to DirecTV.

What I missed was that the HD DVR box completely sucks!

Laggy response, bugs, crappy UI, shitty scheduling, etc… And that was before they downgraded the box from Microsoft's software to the even more shitty Comcast software.

I'd had enough. I want my TiVo back. Even Nabila green lit the idea!

Today my shiny new Series 3 TiVo arrived via UPS. I lovingly unpacked the box. I caressed the classic peanut remote. I fell in love with the unit. I'm going gooey inside with the thoughts of TiVoToGo, sleek UI and cozy nights in.

It feels like a jilted lover has returned home.

On Wednesday the cable guy arrives with two cablecards to consummate the relationship.

I can't wait.

Photos From The Wedding

I've finally finished with the photos from Steve and Rachel's wedding. You can find them on Flickr.

During the wedding, Julian was also wandering around with a camera and captured this one of me! Nice shot, little dude.

Me. By Julian.

My Second 20% Project Is Now Live

My latest 20% project at Google shipped today and as a result the blogroll on this site is now powered by Google Reader! That's right folks, get them while they're hot! Easy blogroll creation for everyone. Well, assuming you use Reader as your RSS aggregator…

Check out the post over on the Official Google Reader blog for all the juicy details:

As a blogger I like to include a blogroll on my site so that friends, family and other readers can take a look at what I like to read. It's also a nice way to give a shout out to the authors of the blogs that I like. However, maintaining a blogroll can be a bit of a pain as your subscriptions ebb and flow.

20% time is such a wonderful thing. As well as being able to actually implement my own wishlist in another Google product, I get to play around with technologies that I might not use day-to-day. As a backend engineer, mucking around in frontend code can be refreshing…

And welcome to all you readers that came here from said blog. Kick back and stay a while.

Congratulations Steve And Rachel!

Today we had the honour of attending the wedding of our long time friends, Steve and Rachel. What a wonderful time! Much merriment was had by all and I sincerely wish them the best that life can give in their future lives together.

Also, a few months ago they asked me if I would take the photos of their wedding. Talk about nerve-wracking! 'Twas a good job I picked up that extra 4GB CF card as I ended up shooting over 500 frames…

It's going to take me a while to delete all the rubbish and make the rest look halfway decent, but I know that some friends will be wanting to see some right now, so here's a few rushed shots…

Steve & Rachel

Steve & Rachel

Steve & Rachel

Steve & Rachel

More on Flickr in a couple of days…

Update: The photos are now up on Flickr.

Golf Is The Ultimate Social Network

Or so says Howard

BUT, I just realized I need some tickets…

To pull off tickets this year will require ultimate networking gamesmanship. Facebook is for weenies and posers when you need the real shit like Sun’s tickets.

That’s why while everyone is yacking about Facebook and now Google’s Open Social blah blah blah, you should remember that a friendly round of golf with some connected people is the way to get shit done.

Just so happens that I was golfing at Bandon Dunes with the head of Sun’s tickets. Random but relevant. Stay with me. He could give a rat’s ass about Facebook and Wallstrip and my personal blog and Techmeme. He does remember my sweet 74 that pocketed him $400 bucks…

I couldn't agree more :-)

Some Play Money In The Market

All my real investments are managed professionally by someone I really trust and are doing very well, thank you very much. However, I also have some play money at eTrade where I get to play the bigshot dealer.

Over the past few years I've done pretty well with it, even though I've made some tragically bad decisions (err, you sold APPL at what price!?!).

A couple of months ago I got back into the game after having the cash languish in the money market and have been tracking it in Covestor, which is a lot of fun. I bought pretty deep into VMWare and Garmin.

So how am I doing? Well, VMWare is just outstanding and Garmin had a nice run-up, but got hit on the recent news that they're looking at acquiring TeleAtlas. Personally, I think it can only be good for Garmin. Mind you, I love my TomTom GPS and you can pry it out of my cold, dead hands.

Anyhow, what do I know.

All I do know is that my little selection is up 35% since it's inception and I'm walking all over the S&P500…

Note that I'm an idiot in the stock market. I'm sure that both of these will crash and burn and the only reasonable advice based on my record is to buy anything that I'm thinking of selling, because it will undoubtedly sky-rocket at that point.

A Decade In The USA

I had completely forgotten about this until tonight, but on Halloween night 1997, a British Airways flight from Heathrow landed in Seattle containing me. That in and of itself was nothing unusual - I'd taken the trip over two dozen times since RenderMorphics was acquired by Microsoft in 1995.

But this particular time was a little different.

I had no return ticket.

© 2001 to present, Steve Lacey.