2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 850 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 14 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Upgrading My Motorcycle Helmet Sound System

I got another awesome Christmas present from my wife this year, I received a Sena SMH5 Bluetooth speaker and mic system that attaches to my current Scorpion helmet that I use for riding my motorcycle. I pulled out my older wired system from my helmet and installed my new one in but I haven’t had a real chance to try it out yet on the road.

The unit itself is pretty compact and it fits on the side of my helmet. The headphones are still wired but they just plug into the bluetooth unit. I can control the music and answer phone calls with the system but I primarily only intend to use it for listening to music while I ride. I tested it while I was in my home office to see if I could pair it with my iPhone, control the music and volume, and see how loud it is. Everything is controlled by the knob on the side. I just have to press it to start music, answer phone calls, etc. and then I just spin the dial to increase the volume. I still have to become more familiar with the functions so I can do things like skip songs or use Siri while I’m at a stop light.

I do want to try answering or making a phone call while I’m stopped so I can see if I am clear enough to talk to. This would make it easier when I’m away and I need to return or place a phone call without having to remove my helmet. It doesn’t happen often but it is a real inconvenience to find someplace to park, take off my helmet, whip out my phone, and then place a phone call and then put everything back so I can start riding again.

I have one more week of vacation but I’ll be spending it at Disney, so I have either this weekend or next weekend to give my helmet speakers a try.

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Logitech Keys to Go is Awesome!

Yesterday I received a new Logitech Keys to Go courtesy of my wife for Christmas. It was one of the items that was on my Christmas list for this year since I wanted a faster way to type on my iPad than by using the software keyboard like I always used to do. This is more to make my iPad more like a laptop than it is for work or anything else I think although I can see myself using this for taking notes at work though.

I’ve only had the keyboard for a really short time but already my typing has improved in speed to almost as fast as typing on my laptop or desktop. Now the thing that was really cool is that I just paired the keyboard with my iPhone 6 and I’m continuing to write this blog post on my iPhone while my daughter watches Netflix on my iPad while she eats some breakfast. I haven’t gotten used to any of the short cut keys just yet so I still reach for the screen pretty often while i’m trying to correct some of my spelling mistakes. One of the things I did notice is that the auto correct doesn’t work anymore while I type. That can be a good thing and a bad thing. ON the one hand, it won’t type crazy things but on the other I have to correct my own spelling on my own.

I can see this keyboard being really useful to me as I travel. I like the fact that its pretty much sealed from crumbs and other nasty things that might get in between keys on a keyboard and apparently its also spill proof but I don’t want to test out that feature since I just got it. They keyboard is really thin and it has a single switch to turn it on and a micro USB port to charge it. Keyboards don’t get any simpler than that. It doesn’t have a stand to prop up my iPad Mini but I already have a smart case and a smart cover that can make it stand on its own. This differs from the other Logitech keyboard I was considering which doubled as a case. I considered it but there were more instances where I would use my iPad for watching something rather than for typing something which is why I chose the Keys to Go keyboard instead.

Overall I’m very pleased with they keyboard that I received from my wife, I was able to write up this blog post fairly quickly compared to using the soft keyboard on my iPhone or even on my iPad. Depending on how much I use this keyboard, I might be able to reach my blogging goal again in 2015 since I fell very far from the goal this year due to work and other things that took up my time. Time to enjoy the rest of my vacation, can’t wait for Disney in a few days!

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Trying out Plex

The black Friday deals were so good this year that I was able to pick up a portable 2TB drive on eBay.  I decided to make a copy of my media drive and attach it to my desktop computer and install Plex Media server on it.  I’ve been trying it out for the past week or so and overall its pretty good.  It was able to correctly name and add movie posters to the videos that I have but it missed a few here and there and some of them are incorrect but thats not really a big deal to me since I know what its supposed to be.

I can’t change some of the media data so that it can correct itself but overall its ok.  I bought the Plex Media player for my iPhone so that I could try it out on the road but I haven’t really done that yet since it requires my home computer being on.  My computer is about seven years old so it probably sucks down a lot of power so I’ve only been using it while I’ve been at home.  So far its been working like a charm.  It connects to my Chromecast just fine and I can also run it off of my iPhone and airplay it to my Apple TV.  My home computer sounds like its struggling a little bit as it decodes the videos but I don’t see any slow down on the Chromecast when I play my vidoes at 720P.

I did add in my music too to my Plex account but I haven’t tried using that yet.  I’ll give it a try during the next two weeks while I’m off from work.  What I really wanted was a NAS that would support Plex but it was just too expensive for a backup solution and a media server.  I’m thinking that I should probably just get a micro PC or a Mac Mini and make it a home media server (no backups) and use it for iTunes and for Plex. This way I don’t have to turn it off all the time and I’ll have a central location to put all my files.  I can run a time machine backup of the machine too which should be fairly helpful.

I’ll have to wait a bit until that can happen, right now the desktop should do just fine and I have enough Netflix movies and shows to binge watch while on the road but its definitely coming in handy at home when I want to watch a new movie i’ve acquired.  Until then, i’m going to enjoy being able to stream all my movies at home to my TV or my iPad.

Only Vacation for the Rest of 2014

The rest of 2014 should be awesome since all I have to do is relax.  I decided to take the last two weeks of the year off.  I already got the last week off through my firm, I decided to take the rest of the time off since I had plenty of vacation in the bank to burn through.  My daughter also doesn’t have any school for the next week so it will allow me to spend some quality time with her while she’s out of school.  What felt really good was to throw my work back pack with my work cell into my closet in the office never to be seen until January 2015.

I”m ending my work travel for 2014 with 175K American Airlines miles, around 970,000 Hilton HHonors points and another 87,000 Starwood points.  Now that I have a nice bank of points to burn through, I’m going to start looking for places to go with the family in 2015 and 2016.  Summer vacation is already booked except for the flights but everything else is set.  Overall, I’m looking forward to doing some leisure travel instead of work travel next year, maybe to some place international this time since its been quite a while since I’ve done that and the Caribbean doesn’t count in my book really since its so close to Florida.

Now its only days until Christmas and the tree is full of gifts this year.  Most of them belong to my daughter but I know a few of them under the tree are for me and my wife.  It should be a fun Christmas this year since I’m spending it at home with the wife and child.  I’m hopeful that 2015 will be a better year than 2014 was.

Two Weeks of Travel Left for 2014

It’s almost the end of 2014 and I am only two weeks away from being able to stay home for the rest of 2014. I’m looking forward to spending more time at home with the family and to open some of the Christmas presents waiting under the tree.

I’ve gotten my Platinum status with American, my Platinum status with SPG, my Diamond status with Hilton, and Presidents Circle with Hertz. That should take care of my status for 2015 while I travel. I’ll have to do a lot of travel once again for 2015 to keep my status but with my current client load that shouldn’t be a huge problem. I’m still considering if I should hold on to my Hilton status or if I should just completely switch over to SPG in the future.

The holidays should be fun filled and maybe I’ll actually get to drive my car around. I already have some time at Disney planned which should be fun, the difference being is that I’ll be at an actual Disney hotel rather than my customary Hilton. The wife and I did this primarily so that our daughter could enjoy seeing the animals from our room. Also it was a way for us to stay on the property and be closer to the attractions and also be able to enjoy just the stuff the hotel has to offer. Unfortunately Disney does not have a rewards program for hotel stays or partners with any of the major ones (they kind of do, the Swan and Dolphin are considered Sheratons) but those hotels are really blah when you consider how cool the real Disney hotels are.

I guess traveling to Orlando is a little different than my normal stuff. It will be with my family for one and on the other hand I’ll be driving instead of flying. I guess when I first started this post I really meant two weeks of work travel left for 2014, road trips weren’t included. Either way, I’m going to be glad to get off of planes for a while with all its cramped seats and recycled air. Only 3 more flights and then sweet freedom!

Christmas time is here, let the spending begin!

Thanksgiving has come and gone and it’s now time for Christmas. Myself and the family were able to get the tree up in record time by using Black Friday to trim the tree and decorate the house instead of going outside to shop with all the crazy people. Just like in years past we did most of our shopping online to take advantage of our Amazon Prime membership and all the other free shipping deals that were available.

Today being Cyber Monday, some of the online deals are even better than Black Friday. I’m flying out this morning so I can’t take advantage of everything that I see online. Before I took off I did get some Lego’s that were dirt cheap that I can use to play with my daughter and of course it’s also for me to have some fun and relive my youth. I have more things to get but they’ll have to wait until I land. I definitely like shopping on my iPad, it makes it easier to spend my money and I can see all the latest deals using my DealNews app.

The only part I’m bad at is wrapping so I’ll have to get them wrapped by the place I buy them from or have my wife so it for me. Well except for her gifts of course, I can’t her wrapping her own Christmas gift. The hard part about traveling is that I have to ship everything to the house and it will most likely get there when I’m not. I might change the wrapping if it’s cheesy or something but hopefully it will hide what I’m getting the Mrs.

Time to relax for the rest of my flight before I touch down in freezing Chicago for work.