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Geek Dad: Things My Father Never Had To Worry About, The iPod Edtion

When I was 7 probably the worst thing I ever did was drive my little sister insane and by extension my parents. Sure as I grew up I broke stuff around the house by accident with or because of my little sister but that was expected. Kids had getting into trouble like that for literally ever.

Welcome to the 21st century.

Two (very unaware how really lucky they are) 7 & 5 year boys got 8GB iPod Touches from Santa this year in our house hold. While Santa gets all the praise and adulation, geek dad gets all the work.

While Apple stuff “just works” exceptionally well for 20 something hipsters with lots of money and no kids. I have discovered that so much of iOS was really not meant to “just work” with a family sharing only one Apple ID. Sorry I’m on a budget and I’m not buying Angry Birds 5 times.

Facetime & iMessage

Like any geek dad I have created respectable gmail accounts for my children so that when they are older it will help them get into the right schools, get the right jobs and marry European supermodels. You are welcome boys. In the meantime I’ll be associating them with the two different iPods so that both Facetime and iMessage will work. I was not impressed the first time I sent a test iMessage to my iPhone from my son’s iPod and it appeared on every iOS device and it looked like I was having a conversation with myself.

Game Center

As Facetime & iMessage was fun to setup, getting Game Center up and running nearly had me sacrificing live stock on the alter of Apple to get things up and running.

Since I had used the first email with Facetime and iMessage I was foolish enough to think I could use it again to create a Game Center account for each iPod. Game Center said that those email addresses were already associated with accounts and could not be used. So I had to then create two more gmail accounts to associate with Game Center. That’s when I realized that I had to create one for my wife as she had been playing on my Game Center account for the pass year on her iPhone.

Passcodes

What could be cooler for little kids than to have a secret password that only they know. It’s normal and probably natural in their psychological development to grow up to be self sufficient adults and marry those European supermodels. The downside? Geek dads getting a call at work saying that one of the kids figured out how to enable a pass code on his iPod Touch and to just as quickly to completely and utterly forget it. After following a few steps I was able to wipe the iPod Touch, restore it to factory settings and use the iCloud backup.

iCloud

But it’s not all night Google searches for iOS help and sobbing children. iCloud has already been a god send in having a recent backup of the passcoded iPod Touch. I knew that I would not be able to back up the kid’s iPod Touches and my wife’s iPhone on a regular schedule so knowing that iCloud is backing them up almost daily has at least taken one burden off my back.

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Free Comic Book Day is May 7th 2011

May 7th 2011 is Free Comic Book Day and it’s 10th anniversary. Check out the list of comics that are up for grabs this year and the previews for almost each one.

The two issues that I’m looking at getting this year are The Mouse Guard / Dark Crystal Flip Book and the Misadventures of Adam West for the obvious man child reasons. Also maybe I could get Adam West to autograph it this September at the Montreal Comic Convention?

I know my son’s eyes lit up when I told him Geronimo Stilton was going to be one of the titles available (as we are currently reading the books).

Remember that your local independently owned and operated comic shop forks out the money for these books so if they seem stingy with handing out the comics willy nilly they are  just trying to make sure everyone gets one.

My iPhone Telephoto Lens Review

Rarely do I buy completely completely frivolous things for myself but when all the tech/ apple  blogs posted about the iPhone Telephoto Lens on Photojojo I had to give it a try. Thanks to Billy @ Photojojo customer service  for answering my questions about photo and video quality I clicked buy. They even posted a video so I could see it in action. At 35 dollars USD plus shipping to Canada I felt there was very little to lose on this purchase.

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First off this will not replace your DSLR with a real telephoto lens or a high end point and shoot (or even a low end point and shoot). I know it’s the iPhone but it’s still just a cell phone camera people.

For the most part the photos are quite good considering you’re using a $35 attachment but with no image stabilization in the lens you really have to keep still over you’re all over the place.

In a well lit area and keeping still you can really get some clear photos but you are still held back by the cell phone camera limitations of the iPhone. Great for people standing still, not so good filming kids playing sports.

Video is pretty good but  there are a few limitations. The video seems a little under exposed, not a major problem. Also around the edges of the frame the video can at times look slightly distorted or out of focus.

Even with all the short coming the iPhone Telephoto Lens works pretty good for the price. It has certainly saved me a couple of hundred dollars this year that I was planning to spend on a HD video camera and best of all I got a little dinosaur in the box.

Doctor Who 2011 Series Ramps Up

If you have even a passing interest in Doctor Who you might want to know that our time traveling Time Lord is returning to earth in time for Easter with “The Impossible Astronaut & Day of the Moon” (See who many times I slipped in time? Oh there’s two more). For us Canadian’s that means April 23rd @ 8pm on Space.

Less than a month away to air and the BBC has been releasing quite a few videos and photos that they hope obsessive fan boys will post and tweet to build up some hype (d’oh!).

I’m not going to break all this stuff down as others have a full time job doing that and do it well. Let’s just say I’m excited and looking forward to watching a new series of Doctor Who with the kids. To bad I don’t have a totally awesome Doctor Who t-shirt to do it in. 😦

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Netflix Canada Offers Video Quailty Management

You might have heard stories of people with low internet data caps incurring overages due to the 1 to 2 GB of data used by Netflix per hour. It is unlikely that Bell and other internet providers will increase their caps, Netflix now offers the ability to manage streaming quality to reduce the amount of data consumed.
This might make the difference to some Canadians who are looking at Netflix Canada as a valid way to consume content online in HD. But if you have a 2GB a month cap, forget it and keep renting the DVDs.

Since I refuse to give up my unlimited (that’s real unlimited with no data cap) Bell DSL account this doesn’t affect me personally but it’s nice to know they are thinking of us clients. Or at the very least trying to build out their market share in a country that has limited data caps in place.

During the past 5 months using Netflix I have doubled my internet usage from 30 GB a month to between 60GB and 90 GB. My first month of Netflix I used a wopping 140 GB which I haven’t reached since my bittorrenting days. If Netflix keeps adding a-list content I can only see my usage increasing.

Now if only Zip (who I use their DVD rental service extensively) will hurry up and enter the streaming game in Canada we would have some competition.

Facebook Tip: Block Applications

If Moses had access to Facebook one of the plagues upon Eygpt would have most assuredly have been application notices in your news feed.

I made the off hand status update of blocking Facebook applications (200 and counting) the other day and understandably some people were wondering how such a feat was accomplished. What I think most people do is just  (myself in the past) have just unfriended (it's a real word) people to cut out the spaming of news feeds. Remeber block applications not friends.

Here are the step by step instructions.

  1. Your friends spam your news feed with applications.
  2. You click the HIDE button on the right of the notice.

  3. You can hide either all news feed notices from that person (without removing them as a friend) or hiding the particular application.

  4. The application has been hidden from your news feed.

That's one way to increase the usability of Facebook.

I'd love to know if you have you found any tips or tricks that makes Facebook more useful, like not playing Farmville. Leave a comment with your favorite Facebook tip below.

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Remember Your Winter Tires

Next time you bitch about how it's now a law in Quebec to have winter tires between December 15th and March 15th, there might be a reason for it. I should mention that this photo was taken on December 8th, a full 24 hours before the 35cm of snow that the Montreal region received on December 9th.

This is probably the most unique car in ditch poses I've ever seen in person. 

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Olympic Torch Relay

This morning I took the three kids to watch the Olympic Torch relay as it passed through town on it's way to the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

Before you think I'm the best dad ever, just to let you know I did totally lose it on them getting everyone ready and out of the house on time. In the end think we got there 5 to 10 minutes before the relay arrived.

It was pretty exciting to actually see the flame coming down the street. We have been watching the daliy updates on the local news so I think with ET being the oldest he understood what was going on.

I'm glad we saw it at the town hall since with the kids being so young I think just watching along the route would have been too quick for them.

I was hoping that we might have seen some of the mascots as they are super cute and kids would have enjoyed it but they probably save them for the big end of day celebrations. Or not since they seem to be currently on tour in British Columbia. This weekend I'll try to make some folded paper mascots with the kids.

When the relay arrived the crowd of course swarmed and left us on the outside so quickly (because I knew this whole was just going to last a few minutes) I put Carts on my shoulders, put a foot up on the carriage and balanced ET up on my knee so they could see the flame. I would love to see a photo of that, I must have looked crazy.

And like that it was over.

The boys seemed to have enjoyed it but noticed people had little Olympic flags and like a Norwegian Blue were pinning for the fjords wanted one (we did do an arts and crafts before bedtime and they made there own). We went in the city library to see if they had any but unfortunately they were all out. They had refreshments but the boys didn't want any so we started walking back to the car.

On the way back I noticed the relay bus was parked around the back of city hall and some people were milling about. So I headed over. I'm glad we did since one of the relay runners let the boys hold a torch and posed for a photo. Best advice I can ever give my kids; you want to meet someone after an event, run the around back.

I even got AR in there so she can't come back in 20 years and ask why she wasn't in the photo; even though she just started standing up last week not holding onto anything. Dad's still one step ahead of you kids.

While it might not be something the kids remember when they are grown, it was a fun event for them in the short term and as a parent you get excited to see your kids excited. When I picked up ET at school today he had two drawings of the mascots holding Olympic torches and he told me how one of the torch bearers had visited the school today as well and talked to his class. It's still strange for me when he recounts things that happened that I wasn't there with him for. You get excited because he's growing up and sad since he doesn't need you around.

And of course the last time the torch came to town was in 1988 for the Calgary Winter Olympics games and who knows the next time we'll get a chance to see it.

Plus I have to thank my boss Cindy for letting me take the time off work.

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Happy 3rd Voxiversary

Well it's been another year here on VOX for a total of three and I hate to said to say it but I think my blogging honeymoon is over.

This blogging thing is a lot of work.

In previous years I did a round up of (what I felt were) my best posts, photos & events that happened here. Unfortunately this year you're not getting it. I really dropped off the map this past year and only posted 10% as many posts as my first year on VOX. Of course I did sleep more, so there's an upside to everything.

My initial reason for blogging here was to document all the happens of the family, but once I realized that people actually check Facebook, I started to move stuff over there.

Secondly last year I really started trying to post on stuff that I had first hand knowledge or effected me personally in some way. That really brought down the number of superfluous posts but it also broke me from daily posting and like going to the gym once you stop going it's hard to start again.

So for this coming year I'll going to make an effort to post at least once a week, if nothing more than for the fact I enjoy writing and I really miss doing it. Plus I've totally missed out on my neighborhood here. Children have been born during the time I've been away!

The mistake parents can sometimes make is to put everything they enjoy on hold and defer to their children and with an ever growing family that's been the case. But a lesson I've learned is that you've got to make time for yourself or you'll go crazy and VOX is a great outlet for me in that regard. Plus (hopefully) children move out.

So here's to another year on VOX. I just wish they would let us export / backup our blogs.

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Toy Window Shoping

This is why I love going to Wal-Mart without the kids so I can stop and window shop and enjoy awesome toys. It's a rare occurrence and I totally have to thank my parents for looking after the boys for a few hours on the weekend.


Sadly they are both $50 each and I fear they would never survive in our house very long. I learned that lesson by letting the boys get their hands on my Jedi Starfighter and Slave 1. It's a miracle they have kept their hands off my Doctor Who Dalek which hangs on the basement wall.

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