powar!

so this is the first post of this year.  i guess i missed that whole resolution boat by almost a month, but i don’t make resolutions, so it makes no difference to me.  hopefully you folks won’t mind.

i have not played any pool for a while now; work has occupied most of my time since i perpetually need money for expenses.  but although i am not physically playing, it still takes up a good piece of real estate in my head, if you subscribe to the mind-is-an-attic-slash-storage-space theory.  if you believe that memory is like an elastic, expandable band, then pool takes up approximately 24 GB of . . . never mind.  wayyy off topic.

like i mentioned in the past, power has been a pool ability that has eluded me for years.  i have consistently had trouble with power in pool.  being able to generate power, and thereby having a powerful stroke, remains a topic that i pursue.  unfortunately, i don’t know anyone who can teach me a powerful stroke, so i decided to watch alot of videos to figure out what the deal is.  i concentrated on players who are known to have a powerful stroke so i can try to figure out what i am not doing.  the process took me some time and alot of thought, but i was able to generate more power now.  to be more precise, i am able to use my existing power more efficiently, thereby increasing my power on the table.  so i did not change physically, but i improved my technique to get a better result from what i have.  now that i have started playing again, i was able to put my research to the test.  glad to say that everything works.

since i’ve been busy, i’ve only had time to watch a few movies.  the wolverine was surprisingly decent; it’s a side story, so those who are really into the orthodox wolverine canon may scoff at this film, but it’s a fun action flick if you don’t take it too seriously.  man of steel is another surprise hit; the special effects in particular are awesome.  watch it on your brand new hdtv to really take it in.  i also watched drug war, a movie from mainland china.  this film was a bit disappointing; the story is a pretty linear police drama, with a few twists inserted in between.  if you missed this one you didn’t miss much.

one final note.  allie brosh of hyperbole and a half has written a book titled Hyperbole and a Half.  it’s probably one of the most endearing book you’ll read, so pick up a copy.

so it’s almost the end of the year

it has certainly been a very long time since i last posted anything on this blog.  i don’t have any good excuse for this except for sheer laziness, which is no excuse at all.  i would apologize, but since you (plural) have probably given up on this little corner of blogosphere, the effort would probably be wasted.  therefore i offer no apologies.  instead, i hope we can catch up on things.

things have been busy.  due to my perpetual lack of money, i’m working a lot more than usual, so most of my time is spent making money that i don’t got.  i have not played any pool at all; i miss it sorely, but time is a precious commodity when you are broke.  alas, i must allocate that precious time away from pool.  it saps the spirit, but i hope the situation is temporary.  pool, like any good drug, is addictive to its core.  addicts like me are eventually drawn back to its lovely embrace, not unlike the grimy roustabout squatting at the street corner eagerly puffing on cheap weed with some jug wine.  perhaps some greasy mcdonald’s after the binge.  i could use some mcdonald’s myself.

i have been loosely following some tournaments here and there, but it seems pool is halfway to its grave, at least presently.  throughout the years we always hear some talk of resurgence, a renewing of the sport, a reboot, something–an injection of freshly minted cash, perhaps.  sometimes pool feels like a gold digger, forever looking for its sugar daddy to pay the bills.  but like any exchange of services, there has to be a take AND give, and pools seems to be long on taking and short on giving.  that sort of relationship just don’t last.   i think for now, pool will limp along on local tournaments and challenge events, until the situation improves–how, i cannot hazard a guess.  time will tell.

on the technology front, the tablet market has completely exploded with new products.  any tablet at any price point can be had by all and sundry; it is no longer a luxury item, but an everyday tool people use for just about anything we can think of–shopping, banking, web surfing, reading, gaming . . . you name it, there is an app for it.  even the cheapie tablets have become useful mini-computers instead of a novelty.  during black friday, you could find android-based tablets for under $50.  high-def it is not, but i think they are supremely useful as your daily web surfer and email checker.  laptops and ultrabooks continue to decline as the popularity of tablets rise.  i think in another five to seven years, laptops will probably languish in the bargain bins and fade into history shortly after.

due to my lack of pool, i’ve been watching more tv.  a couple of really great shows you may be interested: person of interest and almost human are my favorites right now.  they are on cbs and fox respectively, so you won’t need cable to catch the shows.  a lot of people are raving about the walking dead and sons of anarchy, but i’m done with them.  continued human depravity is not really my form of entertainment, and those two shows are the epitome of depravity.  maybe i’m soft, but i’m just turned off.  i’ll leave those shows to the zombie fanatics.

so that’s what i’ve been up to.  absolutely nothing.  just working, and hoping to play pool again when i can manage to free up some time.  but absence makes the heart grow fonder, or whatever the f~* cliché you feel like using.  i hope you’re having more fun than i do, gentle readers, if you’re still out there.  in the meantime, go buy a tablet or something.

UltraViolet

now that we are in the digital age, things like cd, dvd, and even blu-ray seem quaint and antiquated when you sit them next to your shiny tablet.  and because of the movement toward digital, contents like music and movies have begun their march to the cloud for years now.  nowadays it is common for people to watch a movie on computers, tablets, and smart phones in lieu of tv and theaters.  enter Apple and UltraViolet (UV), two major providers of cloud services.  both of these services have been heavily discussed by all sorts of tech writers, so what I’m offering is from the perspective of a lay user: i give a first-hand account of my experience with both services.  your mileage may vary.

with either Apple or UltraViolet, you’re able to buy digital contents and consume them across multiple smart devices.  UltraViolet is the younger of the two, so Apple enjoys a healthy advantage just for being around way longer than UV.  one distinction between Apple and UV is that UV offers movies only, while Apple offers multiple types of digital content.  if you still buy dvd or blu-ray movies, you’ve probably seen stickers on the case telling you the movie contains a digital copy of the film, whether for Apple or UV.  so besides buying movies directly online, you can also get them as a package from buying physical discs.

let’s say you’re going with Apple products.  one of the biggest limitations, and perhaps the biggest gripe many people have about Apple, is that you must live within the Apple ecosystem.  when you buy a movie from Apple, you’re locked into the Apple service––which means you have to use Apple products in order to use the Apple digital contents.  i think this is why some tech users like to compare Apple to a cult; once you’re in, you’re in for good.  another complaint is that Apple is notorious for not offering refunds, so make sure you buy only what you really want.  you likely won’t get your money back if you just don’t like your movie.

and then there’s UV.  the process seems similar: you get movies online or through redeemable codes found inside your dvd/blu-ray movies.  that’s where the similarity ends, though.  to me, UV seems to be much more ambitious than Apple––they want a cross-platform reach, meaning you can watch your movies across different devices running different operating systems.  so if you own an iPhone and an Android tablet, UV wants you to be able to watch your movie on both devices.  good idea, right?  but then you run into the actual practice of the idea.

in order to set up everything for UV, you have to set up multiple accounts and download multiple apps for your smart device.  for example, say you bought Inception on blu-ray (a Warner Brothers movie), and it comes with a UV code for the digital copy.  in order to watch it on your iPad or iPhone, you have to set up a free account with UV first, roughly a 15-minute process.  then you need to set up another free account with Warner Brothers (WB) so you’re authorized to download the movie from WB.  finally, you have to set up an account with the app that plays the movie so you can link everything together.  hopefully, everything works after all your efforts and you can finally start to watch your film.  total time invested: 40 minutes to an hour.

if that sounds like a lot of work, it is.  from what i can tell, UV does not own the rights to any digital content.  they only provide the service to link and distribute your movies across platforms, but they don’t make any apps that will play movies on your device.  unfortunately, YOU are responsible for tracking down everything necessary to watch your movie.  if things don’t work, you have at least three entities to deal with, and they tend to push responsibilities around so issues don’t get resolved.

Apple, on the other hand, makes everything seamless.  once you buy the movie or enter your redeem code, your movie starts to download instantaneously.  you can buy the movie or enter your code on any of your Apple smart product as well as your Mac or desktop.  once downloaded, there are no additional apps to install; everything is built-in so you can watch your movie right away.  the process is as painless as breathing air.  if you have technical issues, Apple tends to be very good at fixing them.  true, you’re locked into the Apple ecosystem.  but with solid products and painless user experience, why wouldn’t you?

i think UV has a good idea, and if the company improves its process, UV may be a viable alternative to Apple.  for now, it’s a sucker’s bet.