SH Sean Harding/blog
Ebert I ain’t
Wednesday, February 21st, 2007

Call me crazy, but I like almost every improv exercise and game I’ve ever done. I’m better at some than others, but I nearly always enjoy them. That streak of improvisational bliss ended last night. I came to the realization that I hate the “Movie Reviewers” game. I’m not saying it’s just not one of my favorites — I actively hate it. This is a new experience for me, but there’s no denying the truth.

If you’re not familiar with Movie Reviewers, the basic idea is that you have two people who act as movie reviewers and a number of other people to act out the movie. It usually starts with a suggestion (often a movie title). Then the reviewers start out with an opening like the beginning of a movie review show, and then they intro a “clip” (ideally with some good offers for the movie actors), generally from early in the movie. The other players act out the clip, bringing in their own ideas. Then the same thing happens with a clip from the middle of the movie and again with the end. Simple enough. It doesn’t seem evil. It’s easier than a lot of other games. Yet for some reason, I just can’t stand it. I don’t like playing the reviewer, I don’t like playing the actor and I don’t even really like watching it.
This is all really too bad, because Movie Reviewers is a favorite of a lot of people in my class. And far be it from me to be the party pooper. I’m sure there are things I love that other people hate. So I’ll suffer through it. But no one can stop me from complaining about it in my blog!

TIBTIL: TiVo Series3
Wednesday, February 21st, 2007

There are two types of people in the world: people who take their TV watching seriously, and people who don’t. If you know me at all, you know I’m in the first group. TV is serious business, and it requires serious gear. I don’t fool around. That’s why I swear by TiVo.

I’ve had TiVos since early 2000, and I can’t live without them now. I would literally keel over and die if I didn’t have a TiVo in my life. I told you this is serious. Didn’t you believe me? Anyway, last year, we finally decided to join the revolution and upgrade to HDTV. We went to Costco and got an awesome new TV (likely subject of a future blog). Great idea, right? It sure seemed like it, but there was one little problem: TiVo didn’t make an HD-compatible DVR. However, Comcast has its own HD DVR, and I really wanted HDTV. So I forced myself to ignore the warning bells ringing loudly in my head and I swapped out my main TiVo for a Comcast DVR. BIG MISTAKE. Wow. What a piece of crap. It’s (marginally) better (in some ways) than using a VCR (if you ignore the splitting headache it will give you). But really, it’s a pale imitation of a real TiVo. So I was thrilled, nay, overjoyed, nay jumping up and down with excitement until I passed out when I heard that TiVo was finally releasing an HD unit, the Series3, late last year.

Getting my hands on a TiVo Series3 was not an easy feat, but I was able to track one down at a BestBuy 30 miles away. When I got it home, I hooked it up and I was immediately in heaven. I was back to the same great TiVo experience, with the same polished interface, but all in HD with more storage space than any TiVo I’d ever had. Add in digital cable, full Dolby 5.1 audio, THX certification (I’m not sure what that means other than a cool startup sound, but what more do you need?) and a nifty new front panel display, and you have the best TiVo ever made. I kicked the Comcast DVR directly to the curb, and I haven’t looked back.

Yes, the TiVo Series3 is expensive. Much more expensive than a cable company DVR. But the experience is just that much better. I think it’s worth every penny. Besides, didn’t we already agree that TV watching is serious business, worthy of serious equipment? Yes, we did. So you know what you have to do. Go. Now. You can thank me later.

TIBTIL: The Gadget Edition
Tuesday, February 6th, 2007

I enjoy Ms. Mindy’s Things I’ve Bought That I Love. But there’s a serious lack of gadgets and other geeky accoutrements happening there. It’s really been getting me down. So I’m going to step up to the plate. I’m taking one for the team. I’m providing a community service. I’m filling the void. I’m bringing home the bacon (does that one work?).

Yes, I’m going to tell you about things I’ve bought that I love. And most of them will probably be gadgets. Hold on to your hat. Today’s winner is the BlackBerry Pearl.

Every cell phone I’ve owned has had something I hated about it. The MicroTAC was way too big and heavy, had horrible battery life and could heat a small apartment. The Nokia 8290 was nice and small, but had no Internet features at all. The Samsung SGH-E105 had a nice screen and a web browser, but the pointy antenna always probed me in undesirable spots when it was in my pocket. Finally, a couple of years ago I decided to move to a BlackBerry for better web and email support. I got the 7290, which was a big leap in functionality over my previous phones. It was also huge, clunky and had a pretty crappy screen. Suck.

I got the Pearl the day after Christmas, and it’s awesome. Ok, it still has a couple of things I hate (why must the camera suck so much? Why must the memory card slot be in such a stupid place?). But on balance, it’s the best phone I’ve ever had. It’s nice and small — it slides right into my pocket without making it look like I’m smuggling 8-tracks. The screen is bright, sharp and easy to read. It’s better for reading email than the 7290 because it separates out my work email and personal email (when I’m on vacation, I really don’t want to have to look at my work email to check my personal messages). Even the tiny little not-really-QWERTY keyboard is very usable.

I’m hard to satisfy (that’s what she said), but the Pearl makes me happy. What more can you ask of a cell phone?

Did you mean “incompetence”?
Friday, February 2nd, 2007

I’m sure you’ve all seen countless spelling and grammar errors on signs, fliers and other printed materials. It’s really amazing how many people are apparently happy to send their writing out to the world without so much as a single proofread. Some of those errors are more amusing than others. This specimen, which we received the other day, scores pretty high on the humor scale.

I obscured the details to spare the author from embarrassment. However, you have my word that this is real — we received it as a serious communication. No humor was intended by the person who sent it. The lesson? A spellchecker is not a substitute for a human proofreader. Butt you already new that, write?

Two years
Tuesday, January 23rd, 2007

Yesterday was our two year wedding anniversary. It doesn’t seem like two years ago that we were walking down the aisle, but the calendar doesn’t lie. To celebrate, we went to Alderbrook Resort on the Hood Canal. It was our first time there, and it’s a really beautiful place.

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