Oregon Wine and News

When we went college shopping in Oregon last May, we did some last minute wine shopping at the Made in Oregon store in the Portland Airport.

One of the bottles we picked up was King Estate 2006 Oregon Pinot Gris, which we had with dinner recently. We liked it a lot; it was crisp, with lots of fruit (I’ve gotta get better at writing down descriptions of wines while drinking them instead of waiting a couple of days!).

Sadly, we only bought one bottle. But we should have the opportunity to buy more; we already have planned a trip to take a closer look at Willamette, and now Jeff’s been accepted at the University of Oregon. We’d bought the Willamette tickets before hearing from U of Oregon, so it’d be expensive to change them; I think we just might have to make another trip instead.

Leaving the fold

I remember when my brother first told me that he’d bought a TiVo. It seemed like a silly idea; why would you want to spend hundreds of dollars to record no more than 14 hours of TV when you already had a VCR?

Then I visited my friend Sam, who had one, and who let me play with it a little bit. And then I realized that TiVo, like some other joys of life, needs to be experienced, not just talked about.

Soon, we, too, owned a TiVo. A 30-hour TiVo. With Lifetime Service. And life was good.

For a while. Then we decided to leave the cable company and go to DirecTV. That, of course, meant buying a new TiVo, one which worked with the satellite signal – all digital, from start to finish. I was able to sell my old TiVo for a good price (Lifetime Service was no longer available except via buying an old unit), so life was again good.

But it didn’t take long to fill up the TiVo’s disk. Fortunately, it was easy to add a second disk, courtesy of Weaknees. And life was good.

In 2003, we moved up to HDTV. But we didn’t have TiVo on HD, so we mostly watched standard definition TV except for the few things worth watching in real time (mostly the Superbowl).

Eventually, however, TiVo caught up with our needs, and we bought the wonderful HR10-250 DirecTiVo – HD and TiVo in one terrific box. Sure, I had to replace the disk once, and sure, the HDMI card went out, but it did its job for us.

Until DirecTV and TiVo parted ways. And then DirecTV announced that they were going to move to MPEG-4 for their HD offerings, including a couple of channels that I thought it would be nice to be able to watch in HD (notably SciFi, for the final season of Battlestar Galactica).

I thought about going back to the cable company, but they didn’t offer SciFi in HD. In fact, it wasn’t clear just what they offered in our area — every time I called, I got a different story about the coming “rebuild”. And the phone company doesn’t offer TV here.

So, after much agonizing, I called DirecTV and told them to bring me a new, non-TiVo HD DVR. I originally was going to hold out for the unit which was capable of receiving over-the-air HD and continue to use the antenna on our roof — but then came the New Year’s storms. We no longer have an antenna on our roof.

I decided to take that as a sign and agreed to take the HR-21 – without over-the-air capability. It was installed today.

I haven’t actually used it to watch anything yet — it’s taken me a couple of hours to move it where I should have had it installed in the first place, as well as to convince the Harmony (Logitech) 688 to talk to it. But we’ve successfully recorded a Simpsons (which Jeff has already watched and deleted), so I guess we’re committed.


This just in!

I was wandering through TiVo Community just after compiling this post, and discovered that the AM21 will soon be available, providing over-the-air capability to users of the HR-21. Hmmm….

Charlie Wilson’s War – the book

Back on December 24, I wrote about going to see Charlie Wilson’s War, a movie I enjoyed and highly recommend. Turbo Todd suggested I read the book.

He was right.

The book (unlike the movie) claims to be true — and it makes the movie look tame. Like the movie, it starts out in a hot tub in Las Vegas, and it has Gust Avrakotos telling his division chief to do something anatomically impossible (I try to keep this a family blog, but the precise phrase ends with “You”) — twice. And there’s plenty of sex and drugs (not much rock ‘n’ roll, though), not to mention guns and roses.

It’s hard to believe that the US Government works the way this book claims. Or maybe it’s easy to believe and hard to swallow. Read it and judge for yourself.

The book does have some weaknesses, especially when it’s being repetitious. But I found it hard to put down, and I strongly recommend it.

Fluid Twittering

On Monday, I read a posting on 43 Folders about using Fluid to create site-specific browsers. The author created a browser for I Want Sandy (a tool I plan to check out one of these days), but I thought it would be perfect for Twitter.

But since I was at work and mostly busy when I read the posting, I contented myself with posting it to del.icio.us for “later”.

That evening, though, I was on Twitter and noticed that Firefox was suffering from Spinning Beachball Syndrome — it didn’t die on me, but it spent a lot of time gazing at its own navel. Restarting it helped, but only for a short while. Then someone mentioned Flock, which I’d tried early in its life but hadn’t looked at since (I even managed to pass by their booth at Macworld, though it wasn’t intentional on my part). I didn’t really want to install Yet Another Browser, but the conversation made me think of Fluid.

I downloaded it and fired it up; less than a minute later, I had a Twitter-specific browser on my system. Since it’s Webkit-based, it doesn’t have the extensions and add-ons that I’ve laden Firefox with — and it’s fast. And since it’s an independent browser, it survives when I forget myself and close Firefox (or when it closes itself).

I just wish I could figure out how to make F5 the refresh key; instead, I have to remember to use Cmd-R. Which doesn’t work in Firefox.

Highly recommended, and the price is right: free (as in beer). That’s http://fluidapp.com — check it out!