Google Fiber Installed

 

I finally have Google Fiber installed and it is fast … very fast. The service technician was very clueless about the networking side of the technology but was well versed in the TV and physical plant used by Google.

Here is one of the speed test results:

The above results are fairly typical. I have run the tests several times. In fact it is so fast that it breaks the normal Ookla speedtest. It actually generates a weird error. You have to use a special site provided by Google. http://provo.speedtest.googlefiber.net/ It runs the Ookla software so I don’t suspect any shenanigans. Here is an index of the various tests. http://www.speedtest.net/isp/google-fiber I suspect that most of the tests were done via a wireless device. The WiFi APs in the house are only capable of 600 Mbps. When I had great signal strength I could only manage about 250 Mbps through wireless. I suspect with TCP overhead and driver overhead the MacBook Pro I with a Thunderbolt to ethernet was using couldn’t drive the connection any faster. Given typical TCP overhead of around 3% that would be 30 Mbps on a 1000 Mbps connection. It’s funny that that the wasted bandwidth of TCP overhead exceeds most peoples internet connections.

The best part about Google Fiber is that it replaced Comcast. The Comcast service was terrible. Truly undeniably awful.  The customer service was downright bad. Every CSR I ever interacted with was clueless and knew nothing beyond “reboot” your modem. You got completely difference answers depending upon whom you spoke with. You can add my vote to the “worst company in America.” Earlier this year Comcast fearing significant customer loss to Google Fiber came through the neighborhood and upgraded all the STBs in the house to the latest and also upgraded the Internet connection speed from 20/5 to 250/100, all with no cost increase. The true speeds were nowhere near what you were paying for at all. In fact they lowered the price by $75 per month. It was such a joy to send back all that crappy Comcast equipment. When I called to cancel service with Comcast they tried to keep me as a customer. I explained there was no offer that could match the Google offering. The local Comcast office transferred me to a retention CSR. She tried anyway; all in vain. She said she could offer me $99 per month service for TV, phone, and Internet for six months. I told her I needed gigabit speeds and it would have to be free for six months. She thought I was joking, I wasn’t in the slightest. It was obvious she was getting quite a few of these kinds of calls. I have no sympathy for Comcast.

It is really quite amazing what happens when a monopoly faces some competition. Even if Google Fiber is not available where you live you have to appreciate that Google has really stirred up a fairly stagnant market. Almost all ISPs had very little incentive to increase the connection speeds. Centurylink is a major ISP in the Utah area and they now are advertising that Gigabit speeds are now available. Of course it is all marketing and I can’t find a single address or person that is eligible for the service. But at least someone has kicked these companies butts into gear. Google may track and record everything you do like a mini-NSA but at least they provide a good service. Good riddance Comcast.

There are a few annoyances with the service. First the TV STB’s can act as WIFi Access Points which is great. However you cannot have separate SSIDs for the 2.4GHz and the 5GHz frequencies. It is pretty annoying. You can have separate SSIDs on the network box. Having the STBs act as WAPs is a great feature but is hampered by some lack of functionality. There are basically no advanced options for the TV STBs. They are disabled as APs by default.

Screen Shot 2014-11-01 at 5.30.23 PM

The Storage Box provides 2 TB of storage space, which allows you to store up to 500 hours of HD programming, and connects to the TV Boxes using MoCA or Ethernet. If MoCA fails it will fall back to ethernet.

A complete list of devices is here: https://support.google.com/fiber/topic/6005232?hl=en&ref_topic=6063014

The TV UI is pretty polished and highly responsive. In fact it is so responsive that if you rapidly click buttons on the remote control you can outpace the UI and it will queue up all those commands and execute them all which can lead you somewhere you didn’t intend to go. The Comcast IR remote was so unresponsive and slow to respond to input that you would furiously mash buttons in the hope the UI would react only to be disappointed and frustrated. It would ignore all other commands as well. The Google TV remote connects to the STB via Bluetooth. It also does IR for your TV. The Nexus 7 tablet is also a pretty nice little device. You can fling content like YouTube to your TV from it. The TV control interface on the Nexus is really pretty bad and hard to figure out what to click on. The flat UI does not lend itself to intuitiveness. I found myself often looking around for where to push an Okay button as it would be in random places on a particular page. The lack of contrast in the interface causes lots of issues. The Google Fiber TV app needs a lot of work.

The program guide on the TV UI is pretty nice except on thing. The program description is crammed vertically between the channel numbers and the times. It is awkward to read. This really needs to be displayed horizontally instead. Also there is a vertical bar that covers all the program descriptions to indicate a more precise time indication. It should be shortened to display in the row of time blocks instead of covering the whole UI.

The remote is connected to the STB via Bluetooth. It performs very well. All companies should stop selling IR  remotes immediately. Not having to aim the remote is not only enhancing my already significant laziness it makes me feel even more in control. However, if you have a receiver providing audio out to speakers there is no way to program the remote to change the volume on the receiver. This is a a major oversight. It would be nice to just use the Google TV remote for all functions. In the help section for Google Fiber there is no help about how to program it with a receiver except this annoying line:

“If you are familiar with electronics, you can certainly come up with your own creative way to connect!”

The page also says, “… supports only controlling the volume on your TV …”

They even say it won’t work, “…the Google Fiber remote control is not programmable to control external audio equipment.”

Google please fix this.

The Google Fiber website integrates nicely with your existing Google account. Unlike every other TV service provider out there, there are no annoying ads for movies and Pay Per views. It is typical Google clean and well designed. Companies like Comcast and DirecTV could learn a thing or two. Instead of hiding useful features behind upgrade links they should make the web site useful.

NFO Creator for Boxee Box

I’ve had a few movies that BoxeeBox has been unable to identify lately. It is really annoying especially if you ever move source files around on your LAN. I have so much content I can;t cram it all onto a single source without paying a fortune. A while ago I started using my own cover art because BoxeeBox would lose them from time to time. Now, when BoxeeBox has a tough time identifying a movie I use NFO Creator for Boxee Box. This has proven to be pretty flawless. This site is highly recommended. Handwriting your own NFOs is just plain silly and a waste of time. Having your own NFOs allows you to also add the information of your choosing instead of relying on BoxeeBox. For the truly anal retentive you can tweak your descriptions to your heart’s content.

With the future of BoxeeBox very uncertain this may become a necessary tool in the future. My hope is when the first generation BoxeeBox is abandoned by D-Link, they make it usable for LAN content and ditch the Internet streaming features which are the cause of a lot of trouble. This seems almost improbable given D-Link’s history. One can only hope.

Comcast voted worst company in America

Somehow I missed this, silly me. Comcast was voted the worst company in America at the Consumerist. Oh Comcast, surely you have a special place in hell reserved for you for all the pain and suffering you have caused people. From refusing to believe your customer has died and can no longer pay his bill, to making arbitrarily inane rules for your CSRs to foist upon your innocent customers, the hilarity never ends.

I also noticed there is a Facebook group called “Comcast Sucks!!!” which has almost 2000 members. Reading through some of their stories make me laugh at the ineptness of your company and cry because you screw so many people over on a daily basis.

Here is the lovely award they were given:

Comcast Tortures People

Ever wonder just how bad Comcast is? Well, I got the chance to experience Comcast up close and personal the other day and let me tell you it was not fun and it was not pretty. I was taking back a DVR for a friend. So I enter the office and am immediately awestruck at how many people are sitting and standing around waiting for Comcast to help them. I quickly count 37 unhappy people. Next I notice that there are now serving number signs all over the place. I locate the take a ticket box which has three large buttons on it. There is a fourth button but it is covered up for some reason with paper and scotch tape. They are labeled Internet, Cable TV, and Telephone. I push the Cable TV button and am rewarded by a letter and number combination printed in lovely thermal ink. You know the stuff, you touch it and you get ink all over your fingers. One of the best technologies ever, oh wait, no it isn’t, it sucks.

So there are all these people waiting around now numbering about 40 people. There are seven CSR stations only two of which have people actually doing any work. There are these sort of hatches that go to a back room where one or more nerds are working away on the hardware. I notice that some of the people waiting are older and some have handicaps. Most of the younger people like myself give up their seats so the older people are able to site down while waiting. I notice there is a sofa an flat screen TV on the other side of the room. So I start to wander over to it. The TV is off. This being a Comcast office I figure all of us suffering can at least watch a bit TV to escape the boredom. I turn on the TV, nothing. I turn on the DVR, nothing. At this point everyone is watching me, there really is nothing else to do, so I’m fully committed to getting this thing working. I find that they are using component cables to give the TV a 1080i signal. Never mind the fact that both the TV and DVR have a DVI port and an HDMI port. Go figure? Only one of the three component cables is plugged in and it is not in the right spot. I plug in all the cables in the right order and I get a screen that shows the hideous Comcast GUI with an error message.

Now I see why the TV is off. The DVR is non-responsive to any input. Both the front panel and remote are useless. I unplug the DVR. Plug it back in. It starts to reboot. I wait a few minutes. I get a GUI but no A/V signal. I try a few channels, still nothing. Then I notice the Coax in is in the out. I swap them, oh now I get a picture. I start to see smiles on people faces. We can cheer up this miserable place.

I ask the watching crowd around, “Sports or News?” News is the answer I get back. So I think CNN should be fine. I ask what channel, some says “41” Okay then 41. The channel tunes in and then we get an error message, “Not Authorized.” Oh joy they have not activated their DVR. Fox News, 49 it comes right in. Strange. But this isn’t HD. I go to Fox News in HD at 690. I get the unauthorized error message again. So I look for CNN, I find it a few channels away. It comes right in. I ask everyone, “does this happen much?”

“All the time.” people tell me. Wow, I can’t believe how bad this stuff is. After talking with a few people they tell me sometimes they have to either restart their DVRs or call Comcast and have them be told to restart their DVRs in order to get rid of the error message. This company and these products are nuts. How do people put up with this crap?

Meanwhile, the line of people continues to grow and not much is getting accomplished. At least we have some CNN to watch. At this point I’m feeling awfully rebellious, subversive if you will, even destructive. I start asking people if they have had a better experience dealing with the DMV? People start getting riled up.

“And we’re their customers! We pay them for this crappy service.” A number of side conversations break out with lots of grumbling. I suggest to the nearby folks to mention that we need to make sure these Comcast employees know how we feel, will otherwise nothing will change. Oh I’m the devil indeed. A older lady is called up, she has a cane. I go over and grab her arm to help her to the counter when her number is called. I remind her to tell the Comcast employee how bad the service is that she is paying for. She begins an awesome tirade about being treated so badly, the government doesn’t treat her this bad. She is old and sick. It was awesome. People are really starting to get ticked off now. I suppress a smile.

At this point our derision is so high no one bothers to whisper any more, and we talk openly about the employees right in front of them. Another younger man goes to the counter and I can hear him ask why does it take 25 minutes to help him. He has better things to do with his time.

Then, two more employees walk in the front area to take up some of the empty CSR positions. I start clapping. People look at like I’m crazy. Several other people join in the clapping. The employees look up like, WTF? Those looks are crusty. It was hilarious. Even better, a lady who drives a taxi and looks like she doesn’t take crap from anyone shouts out, “It’s about time!” I try to hold back my grin but it is hard now.

The whole time I’ve been watching the test bench area behind the CSRs, the back of house as it were. There are little windows where a guy will shove out DVRs and tuners based on the requests of the CSRs in the front of house. All he is doing is running diagnostics, upgrading firmware and then turning the DVR right around for someone else to use. This is one of the major problems with Comcast You just get whatever they decide to hand you. I can only imagine how many of these people are here because the Comcast tech support person on the phone was clueless and unable or unwilling to help them. They probably gave up and told them, “you need a new cable modem sir.” One lady complained that the DVR they gave her was ugly and all scratched up. Too bad. They wouldn’t give her a new one. If after watching this “back of house” area you really think that Comcast is interested in nothing more than the bottom line and in some ways cares about you, the paying customer, I have some oceanfront property in Idaho I would like to sell you really cheap.

Visiting Comcast was like going to the DMV and having a dentist drill on your teeth while you wait. It was horrible. I feel bad for the older people especially the ones with handicaps. Comcast has a monopoly around here and it needs to end. Both the local and federal governments are to blame for this mess. Without competition the consumers get screwed over by Comcast who are focused solely on the bottom line. There should be several providers each offering you competitive rates for service. That simply doesn’t exist here. Making people come into the Comcast office to repair their broken service is truly disheartening. Is all this mess a function of Comcast being evil and heartless, or the result of a giant mismanaged organization with a bureaucracy out of control?

Jeff Zucker tossed out

This is Jeff Zucker. He is the man responsible for destroying NBC. Remember how NBC used to own prime-time television? Remember how they had the number one network news broadcast? Remember how their programming used to not suck? In 2000, he was named NBC Entertainment’s president. A 2004 Businessweek Profile stated that “During that time he oversaw NBC’s entire entertainment schedule. In December 2003, he was promoted to president of NBC’s Entertainment, News & Cable Group as well. Following the merger with French media empire Vivendi Universal, he was promoted to president of its Television Group in May 2004. Zucker’s responsibilities, which already included NBC’s cable channels, were expanded to include TV production as well as the USA Network, Sci-Fi, and Trio cable channels. During Zucker’s tenure, NBC slid from first place to fourth place in the ratings. Shows that Zucker championed such as Father of the Pride and the Friends spinoff Joey were considered failures. It just continues downhill after that. One thing to remember this is the idiot who created the Conan Leno nightmare.

Read this for a full shredding of Jeff Zucker. written by Maureen Dowd. Dowd says that “Zucker is a case study in the most destructive media executive ever to exist… You’d have to tell me who else has taken a once-great network and literally destroyed it.”

As I predicted back in January, Jeff Zucker has been fired. They can call it whatever they want, he was thrown out. You can read about all the gory details of his firing. I’m happy to finally see the USS suckage has sunk as are these guys.

The Comcast NBC Universal merger is continuing its way through the government bureaucracy and now looks like it will succeed.Perhaps there is a chance NBC programming might not suck but that is only wishful thinking at this point. For Comcast to not take a cost benefit analysis to each and every show would be a real shocker. At the end of the day COmcast is full of bean counters who will be unable to withstand the temptation to tinker with NBC Universal.

HD Channel List

In the continuing race towards the most HD channels the updated list is now available on AVS Forum. Sadly, DirecTV is getting slaughtered. I’m glad that they have a quality picture and all, but there a still a few key channels that are missing for me. These days if it’s not HD I don’t watch it. I’ve become an HD TV snob. I wonder if back in the sixties people thought of themselves as color TV snobs?

What is the deal with D12? It was supposed to add 200 national HD channels. Instead we got a bunch of PPV HD channels. I would really like my BBCA and AMC in HD please. Thank you.

I’ve reproduced the list because the old ones are removed and I like to look back and see how little progress has been made.















DirecTV Upgraded

DirecTV

I recently moved into a new house and I upgraded my service and equipment from D* while doing the move. I added a HD DVR and a HD receiver. I left the old dish at the old house, a non-SWM slimline. FYI, I’ve been a D* customer since 1997.

I am happy with the installation and the service with a couple of caveats. I’m going to mention a few things I did to make sure I had a successful install. First, I made a list of every part I thought I would need for my install. I know not everyone can do that but that is what I did. Then, I called to schedule the install three weeks in advance on a Saturday morning. When I called in I asked some probing question about DECA setup and the newer ODU to gauge their knowledge level. Like any organization there are people who are better at their job than others, so I wanted someone who I could converse with easily and not be challenged. The first person I spoke with was pretty clueless, he kept saying let me look that up for you. I ended up politely telling him I’ll call back later. I then called back in and got a lady who was terrific. She knew everything, was really friendly and was thorough.

I also requested a lead installer. I requested they call me in the morning before coming out to review my install request order with me. I asked for an email copy of everything. The person was great and she really knew what she was doing. After the initial phone call with installation, I then called back three times to confirm every single detail of the order. I went over it line by line. I asked them to read the instructions to me. Two of the times the people were really helpful, but once a person was not interested in answering my questions. She kept telling me everything will be fine, you don’t need to worry about anything, yada, yada, yada. After reading this forum for years I have read about the horrors of installation. In the end a successful installation comes down to two things. First, making sure you understand what you are requesting from DirecTV. Second, getting a good installer. It always comes down to people.

Prior to D* coming out to the house I hired an electrician to remove all the plant that was used by both a previous Comcast install and a Dish Network install. I also had him provide both Ethernet and power in the attic for the SWM splitter. The electrician did all the wall fishing and wire running of the new RG-6 and Cat 6 tough work that a D* installer is probably not going to want to do or be as experienced at doing. The D* installer only had to setup the Dish, SWM splitter and the receivers. Like everyone else I wanted HR24s. I managed to get those, I won’t mention how I did that. 😉

Looking at the diagram the only thing that is different is the LNB. The installer said it was brand new and they only got them that week. I can’t find a picture of anywhere on the Internet. I checked all the sat retailers for it as well. It looks a lot like the one in my diagram but the “wings” are chopped off. I’m sure some of you will know what it is. It is very similar to the AU9-SL3-SWM but it doesn’t have the bands on the top.

Things I am happy with. The speed of the H/HR24s is great. Using the guide is not as painful. Although while the guide was downloading on the first day on the HR24-200 the whole GUI was painfully slow. It had current firmware installed. It is fine now. I really want to get rid of my lone H21 because of the DECA. It is a whole lot of cables that are not needed any more. I’ll have to figure out how to get it swapped out at a later. The wife is happy with the size of the newer boxes as well as they make it easier for her to hide them. She doesn’t like that you can’t turn off the D* backlit logo. I turned off the other lights on the front panel.

All the recovers are setup on DHCP and don’t seem to be having any issues. They are in the main DHCP scope with a 72 hour lease time. The media player capabilities of the D* receivers are pretty weak. I have everything in Popcorn Hour A-200.

In order to get TV Apps to work I had to allow out [URL=”https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Layer_2_Tunneling_Protocol”>L2TP traffic from my LAN on UDP 1701. It is understandable but I had to pull out a packet sniffer to see how it was trying to connect before I got it working. I don’t really use TV Apps much except maybe the game scores. None of the receivers are connected to a telephone connection (because I don’t have one). I don’t get the NFL package so I don’t think I need it.

The whole home DVR (MOCA) technology works pretty well. When fast forwarding and rewinding on a remote receiver it is a little annoying because of the high latency response time before the function occurs. My wife is still complaining about it. There is no problem when viewing on the local reviver. Also, there have been a few recordings that refuse to play remotely at all or just sometimes with the error message, “Playback failed. No audio/video data packets received from server.” Sometimes making repeated attempts yields success. Local viewing is never an issue. I have not been able to nail down why this is happening yet as I lack visibility into the MOCA network. One feature I would very much like is a global Series Manager. I wish I could see the series manager information from all DVRs in the house at the same time much like the play list. The same goes for the To Do list. I really want to be able to see a global view of the To Do list not just the local DVR. This would make recording management much better. My wife has scheduled a program to record on one DVR and I did on the other one. Although I do have to say the interface for the WHDVR is much better on DirecTV than DISH. Also, the iPhone app allows you to specify which receiver to record on. I wish the app would download a copy of your Series Manager and your To Do list so I can view it remotely. I know I’m never satisfied.

Overall I’m pretty happy with the new features. Like anything if you want it done right you need to take the effort to do it right. So this is my write up on my recent install, I hope you enjoyed it.

Here is a diagram of my new setup. I’ve left off other things like AV receivers and speakers. (Yes I know “DECA adapter” is redundant.)

Geek Checklist

The Geek Dad Blog at Wired has come up with a great list called 100 Essential Skills for Geeks (GeekDad Wayback Machine). Being the geek that I am, I thought I would see how I measured up against this awesome list of essential geek skills and see jsut how much geek cred I have. If you are normal (yes you S.) then some of this might seem strange, if you have some geekness or even a bit of nerdiness in you then you should feel right at home reading through this list.

  1. Properly secure a wireless router. WPA2-PSK with AES, everywhere, no exceptions. DD-WRT is a must as well.
  2. Crack the WEP key on a wireless router. Oh please, two minutes flat, not a problem.
  3. Leech Wifi from your neighbor. Been there done that. Thank you neighbors with a different ISP.
  4. Screw with Wifi leeches. Yes you will suffer indignity for not asking. You make it so easy when you run Windows XP unpatched.
  5. Setup and use a VPN. Everyday. Oh look, I’m in a tunnel right now.
  6. Work from home or a coffee shop as effectively as you do at the office. This is my mantra. Why are so many places so old school in their office environments? Probably because they hired crappy people and they don’t trust them. Good employees will get the job done no matter where they are.
  7. Wire your own home with Ethernet cable. Of course. Wifi just doesn’t cut it sometimes, especially some of the Faraday cages I’ve lived in.
  8. Turn a web camera into security camera. Yes I like to spy, especially on coworkers.
  9. Use your 3G phone as a Wi-Fi access point. Many times. Check.
  10. Understand what “There’s no Place Like 127.0.0.1” means. I like looping things back on myself.
  11. Identify key-loggers. What is this strange process that starts every time I boot? Why do I have this strange connection? etc …
  12. Properly connect a TV, Tivo, XBox, Wii, and Apple TV so they all work together with the one remote. Yes, and when you do it is a wonderful Harmony.
  13. Program a universal remote. Yes of course, but sometimes finding the codes can be a pain.
  14. Swap out the battery on your iPod/iPhone. Yes, but I cheated and used online tear down instructions.
  15. Benchmark Your Computer Constantly
  16. Identify all computer components on sight. Yes of course.
  17. Know which parts to order from NewEgg.com, and how to assemble them into a working PC. Done this a ton of times.
  18. Troubleshoot any computer/gadget problem, over the phone. Ever so painful, but I’ve had to do it several times. I don’t know how tech support people at hi-tech companies cope.
  19. Use any piece of technology intuitively, without instruction or prior knowledge. Hmm, I’m thinking yes unless it is like Stargate Ancient technology or something like that. Then I might be stumped.
  20. How to irrecoverably protect data. Usually DBAN but sometimes the drill press is necessary and ever so much fun.
  21. Recover data from a dead hard drive. Yes. Recovered a book for a professor, who seemed to think it was really not a big deal. I walked off without trying to explain to him that it took me over a hundred hours of work to recover the book he was writing. Did I get a mention in his book? Noooo. I’ve done it a few other times as well.
  22. Share a printer between a Mac and a PC on a network. pretty trivial really. As long as the printer talks TCP/IP. If it only wants AFP, well then it is a bit more fun.
  23. Install a Linux distribution. (Hint: Ubuntu 9.04 is easier than installing Windows)These days this is pretty much a no-brainer. Back in the version 1.2 days it was a lot more work to get it working. I remember the first time I heard sound, boy that was awesome.
  24. Remove a virus from a computer. Usually not much of a challenge but one in a while you get some really nasty piece of malware that just won’t go away. The Storm worm was pretty nasty back in the day. Sometimes you just get so pwned and rooted that you just have to format and start over.
  25. Dual (or more) boot a computer. I laughed when I saw this one. I have a single computer with at least 12 different OS’es on it right now.
  26. Boot a computer off a thumb drive. Puh…lease.
  27. >Boot a computer off a network drive. Seriously? Is this list supposed to be challenging?
  28. Replace or repair a laptop keyboard. Yes, not by choice. It was the easiest path to resolution. I know that see,s strange but it is a long story.
  29. Run more than two monitors on a single computer. I loves the screen real estate.
  30. Successfully disassemble and reassemble a laptop. Far too often in my lifetime.
  31. Know at least 10 software easter eggs off the top of your head. Not counting games this one I think I fail at.
  32. Bypass a computer password on all major operating systems. Windows, Mac, Linux This is far easier than people think. BIOS password, a bit more of a challenge, usually just adds a screw driver to the mix
  33. Carrying a computer cleaning arsenal on your USB drive. I didm’t use to do this but these days you realy have to. SO many people are part of a botnet or a zombied host and they don’t even know. Please stop using IE and Windows XP.
  34. Bypass content filters on public computers. SSH proxy.
  35. Protect your privacy when using a public computer. A browser with private mode and know how to clean up plugin cache.
  36. Surf the web anonymously from home. TOR or a VPN service.
  37. Buy a domain, configure bind, apache, MySQL, php, and WordPress without Googling a how-to. Where do you think yo uare reading this?
  38. Basic *nix command shell knowledge with the ability to edit and save a file with vi. I used to create and maintain my resume in VI.
  39. Create a web site using vi. Yup, sure thing.
  40. Transcode a DVD to play on a portable device. My 160 GB iPod is out of space. 🙂
  41. Hide a file in an image using steganography. Getting content and files in and out of freedom hostile countries like China makes this a necessary tool.
  42. Knowing the answer to life, the universe and everything. 42, but what is the question?
  43. Share a single keyboard and mouse between multiple computers without a KVM switch. Synergy, gotta have it.
  44. Google obscure facts in under 3 searches. Bonus point if you can use I Feel Lucky. I usually fail when I try to go the Lucky route. Otherwise it is rarely a problem.
  45. Build amazing structures with LEGO and invent a compelling back story for the creation. You are talking to the king baby! I even made a DNA double helix out of LEGO once. I think my dog destroyed it shortly thereafter. I cried a little, mostly because I did not want to clean it up.
  46. Understand that it is LEGO, not Lego, Legos, or Lego’s. You are also supposed to call them “bricks,” no one does. If I try to enforce this the normals look at me like I’m crazy so I avoid the conflict, but it is understood.
  47. Build a two story house out of LEGO, in monochrome, with a balcony. Full scale, no? Small scale, yes.
  48. Construct a costume for you or your kid out of scraps, duct tape, paper mâché, and imagination. Hmmm, this question might be a bit embarassing. I’m not into COSplay or anything but I haven’t done
  49. Be able to pick a lock. Success!
  50. Determine the combination of a Master combination padlock in under 10 minutes.I’ve tried and failed miserably. My combination-fu is low.
  51. Assemble IKEA furniture without looking at the instructions. Bonus point if you don’t have to backtrack. I think I must be a masochist because i actually really like doing this. It is like LEGO for Grownups.
  52. Use a digital SLR in full manual mode.Yes, but sometimes the pictures are all wrong and I have to adjust.
  53. Do cool things to Altoids tins. Mousetrap, and a ramp for hot wheels. Whee!
  54. Be able to construct paper craft versions of space ships. Utter and complete failure on this one.
  55. Origami! Bonus point for duct tape origami. (Ductigami) More failure.
  56. Fix anything with duct tape, chewing gum and wire. Much like knowing where your brown towel is when you travel through hyperspace, you really have to know where your roll of duct tape is at home.
  57. Knowing how to avoid being eaten by a grue. Walk into the light otherwise it’ll be gruesome.
  58. Know what a grue is. Silly monsters that live in the dark! Light is for kids.
  59. Understand where XYZZY came from, and have used it. I always thought it just meant no-op. Not sure though. Half point?
  60. Play any SNES game on your computer through an emulator. MAME forever.
  61. Burn the rope. I totally don’t get this one.
  62. Know the Konami code, and where to use it. Although I am a PC gaming snob I totally this one.
  63. Whistle, hum, or play on an iPhone, the Cantina song. I have had so many Cantina scene dreams it is scary.
  64. Learning to play the theme songs to the kids favorite TV shows. Not applicable, no points.
  65. Solve a Rubik’s Cube.It is a mighty epic struggle but I get the job done.
  66. Calculate THAC0. Of course. And I will break your sword.
  67. Know the difference between skills and traits. Oh man that takes me back.
  68. Explain special relativity in terms an eight-year-old can grasp. Mission accomplished. Do they still remember, I highly doubt it.
  69. Recite pi to 10 places or more. I did this just the other day. I scared my wife, and she asked, “What’s the point?”
  70. Be able to calculate tip and split the check, all in your head. Yes but I’m lazy and round heavily. Plus I’m a good tipper and you should be to. Don’t be cheap.
  71. Explain that the colours in a rainbow are roygbiv. It’s called a spectrum being refracted by moisture in the air.
  72. Understand the electromagnetic spectrum – xray, uv, visible, infrared, microwave, radio. Okay, strange one. Yes I understand it. Anything else?
  73. Know the difference between radiation and radioactive contamination.
  74. Understand basic electronics components like resistors, capacitors, inductors and transistors. I can tell you what everything is on a PCB.
  75. Solder a circuit while bottle feeding an infant. (lead free solder please.) Not applicable. No points.
  76. The meaning of technical acronyms. Yes, even TWAIN.
  77. The coffee dash, blindfolded (or blurry eyed). Coffee [cream] [sugar]. In under a minute. Not a big coffee drinker, so no.
  78. Build a fighting robot. No.
  79. Program a fighting robot. Negative.
  80. Build a failsafe into a fighting robot so it doesn’t kill you. Nope.
  81. Be able to trace the Fellowship’s journey on a map of Middle Earth. That maps is burned into my skull.
  82. Know all the names of the Dwarves in The Hobbit. Dwarves, probably not. Hobbits, most of them.
  83. Understand the difference between a comic book and a graphic novel. Yes of course.
  84. Know where your towel is and why it is important. I’m always prepared for hyperspace.
  85. Re-enact the parrot sketch. I actually have no idea what this one is.
  86. Know the words to The Lumberjack Song. Maybe the first verse. Half point?
  87. Reciting key scenes from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Every time I try to talk to someone it’s “sorry this” and “forgive me that” and “I’m not worthy”…
  88. Be able to recite at least one Geek Movie word for word. Hmm… This would probably be either Star Trek IV or Empire Strikes Back.
  89. Know what the 8th Chevron does on a Stargate and how much power is required to get a lock. Make sure you have an Icarus planet.
  90. Be able to explain why it’s important that Han shot first. Greedo did not shoot first! George Lucas has betrayed us all.
  91. Know why it is just wrong for Luke and Leia to kiss. Ewww. Just gross.
  92. Stop talking Star Wars long enough to get laid. I even managed to get married.
  93. The ability to name actors, characters and plotlines from the majority of sci-fi movies produced since 1968. I can go back to Forbidden Planet. Pfft.
  94. Cite Mythbusters when debunking a myth or urban legend. Daily.
  95. Sleep with a Cricket bat next to your bed. Umm … what? You mean baseball?
  96. Have a documented plan on what to do during a zombie or robot uprising. Joed about it but never written anything down. Fail for this one.
  97. Identify evil alternate universe versions of friends, family, co-workers or self. He he yes and sometimes it is scary.
  98. Be able to convince TSA that the electronic parts you are carrying are really not a threat to passengers. Tried and failed on this one. Just put in the bag with a million other computer parts and the TSA won’t care.
  99. Talk about things that aren’t tech related. Yes but it is an effort. The wife’s eyes glaze over when I get techie on her.
  100. Get something on the front page of Digg. Yes, but that was like ten years ago when no one used Digg.

Blockbuster woes continue

More trouble for Blockbuster. They need to act now and act boldly, as their debt is crushing them. Blockbuster Will Be Delisted.

This of course is good news for both Netflix and Rebox. Having the Blockbuster nightmare removed from the scene will force the studios to make better deals with these two strong performers. Unfortunately, the studios are still dumb and slow and they still think the Blockbuster model will continue to work. They continue to resist change and embrace the business model of the 90’s, that made them so very rich. The only notable exception seems to be Paramount. Hopefully when Blockbuster finally does implode, the studios will hop on board the clue train and work with Netflix, Redbox, Hulu, and the like. Its in their best interest. Will it happen? Doubtful, especially given the awful track record the studios have for an unwillingness to change. Worst case scenario is they continue ignore these “new” media outlets, the not-as-worst case scenario is they try to build their own Netflix competitor. It wouldn’t surprise me if that is exactly what they try to do. Remember the many failed attempts of the RIAA members to do exactly that? Even the RIAA has finally seen the light, suing your customers is bad for business.

It is only a matter of time and it looks like my prediction of Blockbuster folding by the end of the year is holding strong still.