All posts by Tenny

Don’t call it a resolution

I suck at New Year’s resolutions, like so many others I just lose motivation. However, I am good at personal challenges. My last successful personal challenge was to go alcohol free in 2013. I wasn’t necessarily a big drinker or anything, I just wanted to see if I could do it and how it would affect me (weight, emotionally, socially, etc.) and was proud to accomplish the feat with very little issue (I did order a drink once that I thought was non-alcoholic and found I was wrong part way through it). Anyways, in 2014 I think I will enjoy the occasional drink, but don’t feel the “need” to drink as much as I used to. I will however be trying to accomplish a few things this year:

  • Photo-a-day – I tried this once before and failed, but I really want to push myself to see if I can complete a full year taking a picture everyday. While easy for some, for me this is a bit of a challenge, I am not a big photo guy. You can track my progress here: Tenny’s Photo-a-day
  • Pound-a-week – So I have had similar goals in the past and have been pretty good about hitting them. Of course in time and diet I have added some of that weight back. Plus losing 52 pounds would be awesome and would put me right at my target weight. As of 1/1/14 I tipped the scales at 225 lbs. My results will auto-post on my FitBit profile.
  • Be a better logger – No not that kind of logger… as a compliment to my Pound-a-week goal, I am going to make every effort to log everything I eat in a year. I have done a decent job in the past when trying to do this, but  always end up stopping. All food will also be recorded on my FitBit profile.

Happy New Year!

2013 Year in Review

This year has been crazy; a wild roller coaster of ups and downs. At times emotional and draining, at other times overwhelming elation. The year started much like any other year. The first couple of months were slow, but showed great promise. I was in a job that was very taxing, but the prospect of a new opportunity had my spirits up. I eventually landed the new job which has been extremely exciting and rewarding.

However, around the same time I was offered the new position, I learned that my closest brother Joe had passed away very unexpectedly. As I type this I realized I never wrote about this happening on the blog. I guess I internalize things like this quite a bit. Joe was smart, funny, and one of the most social people I have ever known. He could work a room with the best of them. I have always had a very frank view on death; it happens to everyone and after it happens there is nothing you can do to prevent it. I grieve quickly and believe more in focusing my energy on helping to keep the legacy of the person alive. This has never been more true than with my brother, who was expecting his first child with his longtime girlfriend Molly, when he passed away. I will always love my brother Joe, may he rest in peace.

Several months after Joe passed, I received news that my cousin Paul had passed away. As an oldest child I had never had an older brother, but I definitely viewed Paul as an older brother figure. Some of my earliest memories as a kid involved hanging out with Paul. He taught me so many things (some good and some bad) that you would expect an older brother to teach a younger brother. Even though he was technically my cousin, to me in just 3 months I had lost both a younger brother and an older brother. But the sadness I felt for my lose was matched by the sadness I felt for the children of Joe and Paul. I hope they know how awesome their dads were and will do my best to remind them as long as I am living.

However as the year has closed out I was blessed to have two beautiful nieces born in the last few months. On Sept 11, Joe’s daughter Ivy Tennyson Jasper (left picture) was born. Then on Dec 17, my sister-in-law Mandy (and Greg) delivered Julia Irene Gintz (right picture). It has been wonderful spending time with these two little ladies and I am excited to be an uncle to both of them. This is made sweeter by the fact that we have moved back to Wisconsin. As I outlined in the post Farewell Ohio, I’ll miss you Cincinnati, we have moved back to Wisconsin to be closer and more involved with our families.

Other highlights in 2013 include getting a new car, celebrating Gabe’s 8th birthday and Oliver’s 3rd birthday, celebrating 11 years of marriage with Marcia, participating in Stuart and Courtney’s wedding, getting back into curling, finally getting my first deer during deer hunting, and so much more. This year has taught me to do a better job appreciating the people in my life. To keep a positive outlook and focus as much on the now as I was on the future. Here is to a memorable 2013 and an exciting 2014.

Farewell Ohio, I’ll miss you Cincinnati

I can’t believe that I have moved away after only 2 1/2 short years. Cincinnati; you have been good to me. I was welcomed with open arms and honestly felt like I fit in right away. Within our first 3 months in the Queen City we had done so much to embrace the local flavor. Since we have kids we took many trips to the Cincinnati Zoo. We also became members of the Cincinnati Museum Center and spent many hours wandering through the various exhibits; the kids especially loved the Duke Energy Children’s Museum (as an added bonus we even made it to COSI in Columbus a few times). There were many Reds games, a few trips to Paul Brown Stadium to catch the Bengals, and we even ventured to Dayton to check out a Dragons game.

You see, when we came here a few years ago, we knew very little about the area. It was a job that brought us here in the first place. We knew we would need to totally immerse ourselves in order for this to work, since we were leaving our home town, our families, and our entire network of friends. The first month here we subscribed to Cincinnati Magazine and have been getting it ever since (which I highly recommend). We followed many of the leading local tweeters and started venturing out and exploring. We wasted away hours bargain hunting and people watching everywhere from Treasure Isle to Traders World to The City Flea.

We also got to try a lot of foods (Goetta and Cincinnati Chili) and restaurant chains that were new to us; Skyline Chili, Gold Star Chili, Blue Ash Chili, LaRosa’s, Jeff Ruby’s, Graeter’s and so much more. We had our fun too, whether at King’s Island, the Keith Haring Exhibit at the CAC, Trammel Fossil Park, or at the Newport Aquarium.

Add to that, the many incredible friends we gained in the process. Cincinnati will forever hold a special place in our hearts. Thank you for being so kind, I plan to visit often!

 

Unboxing the Belkin @TV

In planning a recent extended trip for the family, the issue of accessing our home DVR content came up in a conversation with my wife. I was going to go the industry standard Slingbox route, but decided to do some additional homework to see if the remote viewing market had evolved at all. I am also very weary of the 2 things that Slingbox users (including a number of friends) complain about (1. HIGH cost of add-ons such as a $30 iOS app and 2. The issue of boxes flaking out, usually due to patch problems) that I wanted to avoid.

Belkin's @TV Plus

Anyways, after some research I decided to go with the very budget friendly (around $130) Belkin @TV Plus – Mobile Television Anywhere. All in all it was fairly well received for being a newer device, seemed easy enough to setup, and the apps are more reasonable for iOS and Android (the tablet apps are free). I the device last night, so decided to share my experience so far….

 

 

 

Unboxing the Belkin @TV

First, let’s talk about the unboxing experience: everything inside the box is nicely arranged. The box has everything you would need in order to set this up: the power adapter, an Ethernet networking cable, component and composite cables, and an infrared blaster.

But there was no software included, just a link in the setup guide. As someone who generally likes a cloud-based setup, this didn’t bother me at first, but I found the @TV Plus setup to be a bit clunky.

Those who are unfamiliar with placeshifting (basically the concept of watching your content which is stored on one device but accessed from another place through another device) will likely be asking, why doesn’t the device support HDMI? Sadly, this is due to HDMI being somewhat unusable when placeshifting because of copy protection technology called HDCP (High-bandwidth Digital Copy Protection). Sure some placeshifting devices come with HDMI options (such as the Slingbox 500), but anytime HDCP is enabled, your stream will not work. Honestly though I have found the 480p via Component signal to be totally sufficient so far.

 

Setting up the Belkin @TV

Belkin @TV’s greatest weakness in my opinion is the setup. It is disjointed, the download is kind of large (at 80+MB, but I suppose if you intend to stream video you need a connection that can easily handle an 80+MB download easily), and honestly I found it a bit slow.

Hooking the @TV Plus up to my set top itself was very simple. 30 seconds after starting I was finished. But then to setup and install it I had to load up my computer (versus using any old devices with web access).

Belkin @TV Setup ScreenThe setup wizard on the PC verifies the network connection (and despite having the @TV connected to a wired Ethernet connection it still wanted to configure on my wireless network, which I thought was a little pointless). After (several minutes) waiting for the connection to establish it checked for the latest firmware and updated the device. I did appreciate that, it is nice to see they are following best practices for new devices with new customers and getting them up to date first.

All said and done (over a 50 Mb Internet connection) the setup wizard took about 15 minutes, perhaps I am somewhat spoiled by the near-real-time technology world we have been presented, but this just seemed too long and while not overly technical, I wouldn’t trust my parents (in their 50’s and 60’s) to properly setup this device.

One of the final steps during setup is setting up your username and password. Once you have done this, you are all set and ready to use your Belkin @TV.

 

Belkin @TV on Tablets and Smartphones

Next, you’ll likely want to setup a tablet and/or smartphone. There are Belkin @TV Apps on all of the standard app stores out there, the good new is that most of them are free! Here is is a breakdown of the various apps and pricing available:

 

Using the Belkin @TV Plus

Once the Belkin @TV Plus is setup and your devices are configured (which is basically entering the username/password to connect), the experience is simple and works very well. I had no issues streaming my set top to all my test devices. One thing that annoyed me a little was that out of the box the default video input on the @TV was Composite, so in order for HD content I had to go into the settings on each device and change the video input manually. This was particularly important to me because I have DirectTV and their guide controls (and DVR menus are not shown when the video input is set to Composite) so the only way I could access DVR and guide remotely was by switching to Component.

Overall the  Belkin @TV Player is simple and easy to use. I have tested from PC, Mac, iPad and Android Tablet. I have found  all of them worked similarly.

Streaming was pretty much flawless over my home network and honestly worked almost as well remotely. However, I have not tested over 3G or LTE, so I cannot speak to the quality (or impact on your data plan) over those methods.

 

Limitations for Belkin @TV

There were several Belkin @TV limitations that were uncovered during use:

First, as mentioned above the default video input is Composite, so there is an additional step (which might not be so obvious to the less technical user) in order to get a decent experience.

Second, is that the maximum resolution it provided with my setup was 720X480. If you are expecting higher end HD resolutions, you will be disappointed. For me this wasn’t such a big deal since my primary use will likely be over an iPad and the 480p was super watchable.

 

Screenshot of Belkin @TV Plus in use

@TV Start Screen on an Android Tablet
@TV Start Screen on an Android Tablet
@TV Remotely Accessing the DVR
@TV Remotely Accessing the DVR
@TV Live TV Viewing from a Tablet
@TV Live TV Viewing from a Tablet

Tenny’s final summary of the Belkin @TV Plus

There are not a lot of products in the placeshifting space and one product has really owned the market for the last 5+ years. Belkin’s entry into the space with the @TV Plus product offers consumers a great alternative that works quite well at a more reasonable price. Even though set up is clunky, I would recommend the product, the Belkin @TV Plus is a good device that does its job well.

Purchasing Options

I buy most of my tech from Amazon, so if you’re interested I would highly recommend doing the same. Here is my Affiliate link to the Belkin @TV Plus:

I miss my Android phone…

So I have been a loyal Android user since the iOS vs. Android smartphone war started. That being said a month ago, due to a new job, I switched (based on several recommendations)  to an iPhone 5. While I was super excited about somethings, namely having access to iOS-only apps such as Vine, I am not in love with the phone as much as so many others are.  Now don’t misunderstand me, I don’t hate the phone, I just don’t love it either.

My biggest iPhone issues are as follows:

  • I miss the amount of Google integration I have on my Android devices. If I am a fan boy of anything I guess am a Google fan boy. Certain things work ok on iOS, such as gmail, gdrive, gvoice, ect… But others are missing altogether such as gTalk.
  • Speaking of, there is no great Google Talk app for iOS. There are a bunch of mediocre 3rd party apps (Vtok, IMO, IM+, and more…), but compared to Google official Talk app for Android, none come close.
  • Lack of iOS customization… I have always applauded Apple for locking things down so that people couldn’t ruin the experience that Apple was trying to provide them, but I want my customization!
  • Battery eater! Yes I know you need to turn off apps when you are not actively use them, but come on, you couldn’t build that intellegence into the iOS?

Again I don’t hate the iPhone or anything. Maybe I just miss how perfectly customized my Android phones were to my user needs. Maybe I am over looking something, but to me the iPhone seems second rate compared to Android.

Nissan Xterra Wipers not working, how to fix (with pictures)

So a couple of weeks ago on one icy morning my passenger side wiper got frozen in the off position and from that point on the wiper wouldn’t move. I could see and hear that it wanted to but it just wouldn’t. I researched online and found everything from replacing the wiper motor to tightening up a screw. Luckily one of the various articles said if it looks like it is trying to move and you can hear it, the most probable fix is to tighten the wiper nut.

To fix the problem, use the following steps:

1. Remove the plastic cover at the base of the arm. On one of mine I was able to pop it up with my fingers, on the other I had to use a pliers to pop it off

Xterra wiper with cover on Removing Xterra wiper cover

2. Tighten the bolt underneath the cover with a 12mm socket. I tightened it as much as I pretty much could physically exert, figuring that it was designed not to be loosened.

Xterra wiper nut and bolt
Tighten the xterra wiper nut

It was as simple as that. A 5 minute “repair” to be fully operational again.

new music from Tenny

I just sort of realized that it has been far too long since I have posted any of my music. I am still spending anywhere from 5-10 hours a week playing, but just haven’t been overly happy with any one project for a while now. Well over the course of the weekend I kinda got into an old school techno vibe and was really pretty satisfied with the results. It was a total throwback with a few wobbly additions here and there. In the end I can still listen on repeat and not hate it, so I thought I would share…

The song is available for download over on my SoundCloud page.