Monday, March 3, 2014

New music from a new artist: MOTHERFOLK

Motherfolk is a brand new band who just released their first records. Great tunes:

Here was the Kickstarter video that got them their initial funding:

Thursday, January 23, 2014

My Budget Home Media Server Setup

[Originally Published March 23, 2013, Updated January 23, 2013]
I made one purchase on Black Friday 2012, and I didn't even leave the comfort of my own home.  I fought off the online crowds at Amazon to pick up a Roku HD for $40.  We have Amazon Prime and the Roku works great for streaming Prime video.
My Roku HD

I also, though, have a USB TV tuner for my computer, which I use with Windows Media Center to record TV shows or movies.  After it is recorded I use MCEBuddy to compress the video (which is usually a couple GB) and remove the commercials.  MCEBuddy runs in the background and works automatically after the initial setup.  Needless to say I have a decent collection of movies and TV shows in video file format.

This lead me to search for a solution to use my Roku to watch the videos I recorded earlier.  Since my tube TV does not have any HDMI connections, I can't plug my laptop directly into it.  Plus, that isn't the most convenient.

The old laptop-turned server, fits nicely under my TV
I came across a free channel for the Roku called Plex.  It works in conjunction with the free Plex Media server application that runs on your computer.  After I got it working on my main laptop, I thought it might be nice to have something running that can always be on and not have to run from my main laptop.  I decided that my wife's 6 1/2 year old laptop that was just sitting around in a drawer would be the perfect candidate.  It is slow, the power button needs excessive force from a screwdriver to use, and it was not being used by us. I stuck an extra hard drive I had that was 3 times bigger than the one she had, installed JoliOS Lubuntu (I switched from the no longer supported, Ubuntu 10.04-based Joli OS because I was having performance issues and the new Jolicloud2 interface is slow and annoys me...so far Lubuntu has been much faster and aside from one bug that I had to override, it has worked great), and set it up as a shared server on my home network.  I then installed the Ubuntu version of Plex, and got my media server up and running.  I use the free home-use version of Teamviewer if I ever need to log into the server to restart it or change some settings.

The other feature with Plex that I love, is the ability to "Publish" your server to the internet for access via Plex's website or one of their mobile/tablet apps.  I can watch my content anywhere with an internet connection, just as long as my server, router, and home network are all online and functioning properly.

Finally to make this all seamless, without the manual transfer of files from my DVR setup on my laptop, to my server, I use SyncBackFree to sync my files over. (MCEBuddy has a save to server option, but I couldn't get it work reliably).

Someday I hope to build a media server that has the DVR functionality built into it, but my Tuner only has drivers for Windows and I'm fine with my current setup for the time being. 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Both sides of the war in Vietnam

Many war movies stylize war, glorify it, or soften it.  We Were Soldiers (2002), thankfully, isn't this type of film.  Vietnam was a brutal war, and this movie really gives us a small glimpse of that brutality.

The film follows Lt. Colonel Hal Moore, and his cavalry in the Battle of Ia Drang.  The US really wasn't prepared for the war, especially since the Vietnamese were fighting on their own rugged home turf, with years and years of experience.  Ia Drang was the first major battle for the Americans in the war and really set the stage for the rest of the war.  The US was actually letting family members know about their deceased via telegram at first, that's how unprepared they were for this very deadly war.

While the film primarily follows Moore and the US, occasionally it shows opposing Vietnamese soldiers, writing in a journal or mourning their losses.  This technique further depicts the brutality of the war. People are on both sides, and no matter what side they are on, they really do believe they are fighting for the right side.  People fighting against people.

I'm not sure about the historical accuracy of this adaptation, but I do know that it accomplishes its goal and making war realistic for the viewer.  It really makes you appreciate what you have, and the many people who died defending it.  Thank a veteran and thank God.

We Were Soldiers runs 138 minutes and is rated R.  This film is not family friendly, it is quite violent with some language.  I give it 8 ramheads out of 10.



Monday, June 10, 2013

Jimmy's Movie Preview and CONTEST: Copperhead

I got an email last week asking if I would cover another book-to-film adaption, in exchange for a book and a poster.  I did a similar thing for Life of Pi.  Before committing to it, I looked into the film, and once again, I'd be interested in seeing it, so I have no problem previewing it.

This time, the movie is a Civil War film called Copperhead.  Based on the novella "The Copperhead" by Harold Frederic and actual events during the Civil War, the film is about a man who lives in the Union and hates war just as much as he hates slavery.  Here is the official synopsis:
Inspired by actual events and based on the extraordinary novel by Harold Frederic, which the great American critic Edmund Wilson praised as a brave and singular book that “differs fundamentally from any other Civil War work,” Copperhead is the story of Abner Beech, a righteous farmer of Upstate New York, who defies his neighbors and his government in the contentious autumn of 1862. Abner despises slavery – but just as passionately opposes the war that is waging in the name of “union” hundreds of miles away because he believes the Constitution of the United States is being trampled. Abner is neither a Yankee nor a Rebel. He is what is known as a Copperhead.
The film is directed by the same guy who directed Gods and Generals and Gettysburg, Ron Maxwell, so the film is poised to be a great wartime film.

Copperhead is limited availability, so if you really want to see it, make sure to click the link to demand it come to your city.

Here are some links to the website, the trailer, and a countdown to when the film comes out:


CONTEST 

Finally, since this is a sponsored post, you have a chance to win the book, a movie poster and some movie cash.  Just comment on this post with your favorite film that features war or combat.  The winner will be picked by random from commenters and will be contacted for their name and address.  The contest ends on June 20 and the winner will need to give me their information by June 23 at 11:59pm.

Note: the countdown above is for the movie, not the giveaway.  The giveaway ends on June 20.

Good luck!

Friday, May 24, 2013

State of the Jimmy: End of May 2013

I've been lazy lately when it comes to blogging.  I've probably had time to blog, but I just wasn't in the mood.  I've been spending my time getting moved in my our new bigger place and, because of the move, catching up on TV.

TV

I got really behind on Once Upon a Time and I got slightly behind on The Office, which just aired its last ever episode last week.  It was an emotional finale, but it was one of the most satisfying finales (and overall last seasons) I've ever seen.  Steve Carrel even made a small cameo as Michael Scott!  I definitely recommend this season and the entire series to watch (or binge watch).

Once Upon a Time on the other hand is probably the most average of the series that I am currently watching.  It is good, but not as mind-blowing as similar series (Like LOST, Fringe, etc.).  It just ended a couple weeks ago and I'm intrigued, but the entire series feel so gimmicky to me.  I still like it enough to keep watching, but I don't look forward to it as much as the other shows I'm watching.

Revolution's first season will be wrapping up in a couple weeks and I've been really impressed with the grittiness of this show.  The concepts are really amazing and they've really blossomed as of late, but the execution really went in a war-like and violent direction that was a bit unexpected for me, but in a good way.  I'm also pleased that it was renewed for another season.

Another show that was renew, even though I didn't expect it to be, is Community.  The 4th season started in February and ended a few weeks ago.  It was funny, but it wasn't by any means its best season, but it was must have been good enough for NBC to renew so I'll be watching.

Psych has really been awesome.  I'm glad there was been at least a couple more seasons of this hilarious and addicting comedy.  There are a couple more episodes this season and I'm excited for what is going to happen.

My wife and I have been watching Firefly, which is a very good show that we can stream on Amazon Prime.  Space cowboys.  Enough said.

Finally, I've started watching The X-Files and I'm already hooked.  It reminds me of Fringe in a lot of ways.  (I know that Fringe came much later, but I watched it first...)  Amazon Prime with my Roku is awesome.

Movies

I haven't seen any new movies lately, but I'm really looking forward to seeing Iron Man 3, Star Trek 2, Man of Steel, World War Z, The Wolverine, and After Earth.  The only downside of having kids is that you need to get a babysitter to go somewhere...otherwise parenthood is awesome.

Camping/Backpacking/Outdoors

I'm looking forward to camping this year, we're going car camping a bunch of times already this year, starting with next weekend.  I'm pumped.

I've also been slowly acquiring some backpacking gear, you saw my tent, but I've also acquired a Sawyer filter water bottle (which has a 1 million gallon guarantee), some para-cord, and a foam sleeping pad.  I decided to go foam with the sleeping pad because it was cheap and I do like a firm sleeping surface.  I'll try it and see how it goes.  Plus, I won't have to deal with leaky air mattresses.  

I'll be getting a backpack from my father-in-law, and hopefully that fits me.  Otherwise, I've got my eye on a Kelty Trekker external frame backpack as a backup.  I'm also going to get a lightweight, compressible sleeping bag from Suisse Sport for a great price.  I'll probably also get a fixed blade knife, but for now my folding Buck knife will suffice.

Honestly, I won't have the best gear, and I don't have backpacking experience, but I've got to start somewhere.  I enjoy car camping and the outdoors, I really want to get into backpacking as well.

Finally, I'd like to shout out to my beautiful and talented wife for getting me this t-shirt (and for being awesome in general!):