U2 To Stream Pasadena Concert Live on You Tube

u2ubeU2 fan page @U2 reportsU2 360 that U2’s concert on Sunday will be streamed live on YouTube.  It won’t be available for me in the Czech Republic (it’d be 5:30 am, anyway) but it might be available where you are.  The good news is, it’ll be archived on U2’s YouTube page afterward.  Oh, and if that doesn’t float your boat, you can sit around and wait for the DVD release in a few months.

Frankly, I think this should happen a lot more.  Also, there’s a killing to be made stitching all of the fan-made hi-def video of all of the shows over the tour.  Just give us a good digital soundtrack and let the fans do the rest…

Hofbräuhaus Goes 21st Century (For the Kids)

Hofbrauhaus SpeisenKarte 2009The family and I were in Munich this weekend and made the requisite trip to one of the seven beer wonders of the world – the Hofbräuhaus.  It was about my 10th time there and it appears to have grown up as much as I have while still maintaining an intense love of beer.

The Hofbräuhaus is now 98%  kid friendly.  That fact might have bugged me a few years ago but now I love it.  My wife and I sat there for a As a result, it has become a real gathering spot for families.  We saw kids of all ages there.  I could actually feel good about showing my daughter a little “beer culture” while not subjecting her lungs to the ravages of second-hand smoke.  Plus, she got a chance to try out her Spanish and German and we got to dance and clap for the band.  Silly tourists?  Probably.  Mountains of family fun, definitely.

One more sign of the 21st Century rebirth and the Hofbräuhaus was the Dyson Airblade installed in the bathroom.  Gone are the dour looking women standing near the sink handing out towels to drunken tourists in exchange for inflated European coinage.  I’m glad to see that tradition gone.  Why on earth would I want to stick my freshly washed hands in a grubby pile of money?  Not to mention, the Dyson worked like a charm.  And if there’s anything I like better than drinking beer in Germany, it’s drinking beer in Germany and then washing and drying my hands with über-expensive gadgetry after I pee.

How the Zunepass Changed My Life

Zune in the Living RoomI’ve only had it for a week and already the Zunepass has changed the way I listen to music.  I was in a rut with my music collection.  It was expansive but really, really stagnant.  I hadn’t found any good bands in quite a while using my Emusic subscription and I was in a musical funk.  As a matter of fact, I dreaded logging into Emusic and doing the “work” it took to find something worthwhile among the obscure bands on their roster.  To make matters worse, as I live in Prague, I had to log in via a sluggish, kludgy VPN connection in order to fool the service and make it think that I was logging in from somewhere in the US.  The final straw that broke the camel’s back on Emusic they raised the monthly charge and lowered the number of credits.  I just hated the hassle of going into the virtual store and not finding anything worth getting.  So, I made the switch.

But a bad user experience with Emusic alone doesn’t make Zunepass worth the switch – the Zunepass does that all itself.  And the lynchpin between a “cool” experience and an “unfriggin’believable” one was the ability to use it in the living room.  So, earlier this week I fired up a copy of the Zune desktop software and marketplace on the living room media center PC.  This is an 8 year old PC, running Vista and the Zune software ran like butter.  The only hiccup was changing some of the more graphics intensive transitions to a lower setting in the “settings” tab.  After that was sorted out, I just enjoyed my newly downloaded collection pieces.

The real plus of the Zunepass for a music freak like me is the ease in which it helps you make true music discoveries.  I haven’t heard this much new music since my older brother Zune Desktopcame home for Christmas after his first semester away at college.  When he returned, he had a boatload of newly dubbed cassettes in his suitcase with names like Siouxsie and the Banshees, Bauhaus, Joy Division, and Hoodoo Gurus.  My world was forever rocked and my tastes took a wild turn.   No, I didn’t like everything I heard but I listened.  The Zunepass does the same thing.  There’s no more, “Yeah, I’ve heard of ’em but never actually heard ’em.”  With this chunk of code on my computer, I go to the marketplace, download it, listen and, if I like it, I keep it.  Actually, I just “keep” the rental as long as I’m subscribed.  But looking back on some of the albums in my collection, I think that’s just fine.  I mean, did I really need all of the stuff I downloaded in the heyday of Napster?  (The Vines, anyone?)

It’ll be interesting to see how things progress as the novelty wears off.  I have a feeling that for fact that there are always new possibilities, it’ll take awhile for that to happen.  I’ll let you know…

Zunepass First Impressions

zunelogoI finally started my trial period of the Zunepass this weekend.  I was impressed by the new Zune software and all of the coverage for the new Zune HD’s has helped to build in a little more brand loyalty.  The 4.0 version of the Zune desktop software is really slick and stable.  Adding the Zunepass is just icing on the cake.  I spent an hour surfing the “marketplace” last night and ended up with 3 new bands that I’d never heard of and really ended up liking.  I’ll have more impressions as the days go on but I think my e-music subscription just got cancelled…

Slingbox in the Vienna Airport

Slingbox Screen CapMan, I can’t get over how much I love this chunk of tech.  It’s 7 in the morning and I’m watching Fox News in the Cafe Bistro Johann Strauss in the Vienna Airport.  I’ve got Russians slurping beers to one side and goodness knows what else to the other side and I’m focused on Newt Gingrich right in front of me.

I’m all ready for the Nebraska – Virginia Tech game as well.  First, I’ll have to get to Belgrade and hope for a good Internet connection from my hotel.  Then, I’ll just sit back and enjoy.

Until then!

Go Big Red!

Nebraska NYeah, I may be jetting off to Bosnia tomorrow but that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy my last few hours in civilization as I please.  I’ve chosen to stream the Nebraska Cornhuskers pre-game show (and eventually the game) on the bedroom and living room computers.  So, as I’m back and forth putzing and packing, I can enjoy a Husker football Saturday.  Scampwalker covers the mood best in his recent post but even all the way over here, Big Red Fever is catching.

The cool thing is, I’ll be doing more or less the same thing with the addition of video next weekend.  Yes, I plan on watching all the action via Texas-based Slingbox – from Serbia.  Ain’t technology wonderful?

Some Interesting Tech Links

Swiss ban Google’s street-view feature over privacy concerns. I am having fun taking virtual tours of Paris in advance our our visit there.  Not sure how I feel about this one-  I could argue both sides.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles-  the future of the Air Force.  Cool stuff.

Energy for Europe to be provided by world’s largest solar power plant in Africa? Maybe I am crazy, but this doesn’t seem very smart from a national security perspective.  Then again we in the U.S. do import 60-70% of our oil for energy production…with fully 44% of that coming from Africa and the Middle East.  So what do I know?

Zune HD TV Interface

Those of you that have been paying any attention know that I am a HUGE Windows Media Center fan.  However, I think I just may have found a chunk of software (and hardware) that outdoes it.  It’s the new Zune HD hooked up to a TV and running what looks like a beefed up Media Center application.  The thing is, it’s not a dual core machine powering it, it’s the Tegra-sportin’ Zune HD in a cradle rocking a 720p output.  Very nice.  Glad I saved up my birthday money!

Surround Sound in My Vista Media Center

I’ve had my Vista Media center running on a seven or eight year old Sony Vaio desktop for a little over two years now.  It has been an alternately exhilarating and maddening project.  A while back, I got a new TV and a new satellite box and nearly drove myself mad figuring out how to get the IR blaster to change the channel while I’m asleep so my daughter can get daily doses of Sesame Street.  With time, all of the hurdles that presented themselves were solved.

This weekend, I think I finally solved the last (known) hurdle and am enjoying my living room setup as it was meant to be enjoyed.  I finally have 5.1 surround sound thanks to a $10 sound card and a $3 cable + shipping.  It took me two agonizing years to jettison the Creative Audigy 2 card that came with the computer.  Vista didn’t like it and hell, either did I.  The card I got is cheap, simple, and has an optical output that solved all of my problems after a painless install and about 10 minutes of software tweaking.

Now, with about 150 concert DVD’s and Audio DVD’s ripped to the hard drive, my entire collection (with the exception of the DTS only audio discs – but I’m close to solving that one) is there at the touch of a button on my Logitech Harmony remote.  Like all things worth having, it’s been a lot of work but hugely rewarding.  This weekend, the rewards came in the form of 5 speakers and a sub all humming together in sweet unison.

Hands Free Soap Dispenser

soap-pump

I’ve quit buying kitchen gadgets because we simply don’t have the room in our apartment.  Drawers and cupboards are full to the brim with the essentials and we only still own the garlic press because my wife uses it.  So, I know I don’t need this but as a man with 2 robots to clean my floors, I’m finding the prospect of a hands free soap dispenser kind of hard to resist.  If it wasn’t $50 I would own it already.  Not exactly a recession-wise buy, though.  At least I can dream.

The folks over at the Kitchn turned me on to this.  It’s a great food blog, by the way.

Font of Information

I did a lot of things on my “putz around the house” list today.  One of them was to come up with the totally illegible font below.  I made it using yourfonts.com.  For free.  Any whack-o can do it.  Now you know why I learned how to type.  It kind of looks like a ransom note, don’t you think?  Be thankful I can’t figure out how to make it work in WordPress.  My blog would get even less traffic.

font

Garmin and Google – A Sync Match Made in Navigation Heaven

So I’m busy planning a trip to Spain with my brother that starts next week and am having fun “walking” the streets of Madrid using Google’s Street View feature.  Along the way, I save all sorts of points to my map.  By the time I’m finished, my map of Madrid is dotted with more tenedores y copas than one can count and I’m wishing that there was a way to make it portable – on my Nuvi 770.

Well, there is.  Thanks to the folks at takeitwithme.com there’s a great little on-line tool to sync most any device to Google Maps.  I tried the standard Garmin Communicator Plug-in download but it doesn’t support European maps – at least in the cities I tried.  But you should still download it.  It ends up being the bit of software that lets your Nuvi talk to Google Maps.  After you have your “MyGarmin” account all set up and the plug-in installed, just go to the link above, cut and paste your map link and, booya, you’re all favorited up.

So, now you know what I know.  If you just want to plot your favorite haunts in your US hometown, the chipper dude in this video will show you how to do it.

Obama and the Federal “Tech” System

The President’s folks are setting up shop at the White House and seem appalled with what they are finding.  Now, just imagine coordinating the relief effort of one of the largest hurricanes to hit the USA with this technology.  Then, consider that you are using that tech to command a largely Federal work force with the same, or lesser technology.  Yeah, you see my point, it’s a recipe for KATRINA.

Reminds me of Pink Floyd’s “Welcome to the Machine.”   From Mac’s to a PC.  The horror.

“But there were no missing letters from the computer keyboards, as Bush officials had complained of during their transition in 2001.”

Count your blessings, Mr. President.  Welcome to the machine.