Wednesday, August 21, 2013

JOBS Review: Not That Bad


Let me get something out of the way. Director Joshua Stern’s Jobs was not well-received by the public. Not by a long shot. It was overhyped, underdelivered, and vastly unpopular to critics and fans of Steve Jobs alike.

The film sold seventh in its opening weekend, bringing in a mere $6.7 million in the box office compared to Lee Daniels’ The Butler, which brought in $24.6 million dollars in the first weekend. To add insult to injury, Jobs scored a 25% on Rotten Tomatoes.

But I’m willing to look past what critics and other viewers said, not only for the sake of an honest review, but because the movie wasn’t nearly as bad as it is being made out to be.

Criticisms of the acting or plot would be wrong, to say the least. This was a very good film, and as someone who has read five books on Steve Jobs, seen a few films about him, and watched and re-watched every Jobs Keynote, not to mention having idolized the man my entire life, I felt this film was what I was looking.

Ashton Kutcher was probably the best pick for Steve Jobs. Most viewers may be skeptical in the first few minutes of the film, which begins with Steve, an aged gray-haired man, introducing Apple's now-ubiquitous iPod.

The camera cuts immediately to a sleeping young Jobs at Reed College, where Kutcher plays Jobs just the way he has been described by many of his peers: arrogant, unpredictable, erratic-- but genius. If you didn’t know about Jobs and his vision for Apple, this film does its part to fill you in.

The film progresses from that point to when Jobs and lifelong friend Steve Wozniak started Apple Computer in his parents garage, building 50 units of their first product to be sold to a technology hobby store, the Byte Shop.

From there, everything known about Apple and Jobs in the 80s is revealed, including his relationship with his past girlfriend and mother of his daughter Lisa Brennan Jobs. The movie also shows the removal of Jobs from the very company he started.

One thing I wasn’t so happy about was the complete omission of Jobs’ founding of Pixar Animation Studios, now one of the most successful teams at the Walt Disney company.

Other than that small oversight, the rest of the film is pretty accurate, sans a few reportedly unrealistic conversations between Jobs and his associates.

There is something to be said about the music selection in the film, which actually follows a chronological placement. Perhaps the most notable musical nod to Steve Jobs was the inclusion of “Boots of Spanish Leather” by Bob Dylan off of his 1964 release The Times They Are ‘A’ Changin’. Jobs was a die-hard Dylan fan, and the location of the song in the film was very fitting.

It was very pleasant that the makeup and visual teams worked so hard to make each and every actor resemble their characters as they do. Between makeup, costuming, and performance, Ashton Kutcher becomes a mirror image of young and old Steve Jobs.

It is interesting to note that early scenes were filmed in Jobs’ childhood home, made to look as it did at the time Jobs and Wozniak built their first Apple computers.

One of the largest complaints about Jobs is the heavy focus on the professional life of Steve Jobs, not on his personal life. I found this focus appropriate, however, as viewers of the film are more interested in the man who envisioned and launched the most successful lines of personal media players, mobile phones, and tablets.

Although his ability to innovate is second to none, Stern makes it clear that Jobs was a hothead and was very cruel to many of his employees. This real-life no-fluff approach makes the film more believable and certainly more interesting.

Overall, if you’re a Steve Jobs fan or just curious about the man who envisioned many of the devices most of us use in our daily routine, Jobs is a must-see film to end summer 2013. 

bleichscore: 7/10

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Chromecast Lightning Review



INTRODUCTION
On July 24, 2013 Google revealed two essential products: the new Nexus 7 tablet to update last year’s popular release, and a new product called Chromecast. Immediately upon reveal and pre-order release online, Chromecast was sold out. The device, which costs a paltry $35, allows users to stream content from most devices to any given television. However, instead of yanking a feed from the device in question, Chromecast instead pulls up the media file independently, resulting in extremely fast and uninterrupted streaming that is ultimately more ideal than anything that has ever been available for purchase.


WHAT IS IT?
The Google Chromecast is a small usb-powered HDMI connected dongle that allows you to project multimedia from any device running Chrome or Chrome OS. This means iPhones, iPads, Android phones and tablets, laptops both Mac and PC, and Chromebooks. It’s very small, taking up as much room as a USB drive, but in the back or side of your television, meaning that the device is almost non-existent. Setting up the device with an HD TV is also very simple and quick to do.


WHO IS IT FOR?
This device is great for anybody wishing to share content from their phone or laptop or tablet to a larger screen. Since most people have an HDTV and one of the three above devices, the $35 price tag is very reasonable and definitely qualifies as an impulse buy.


WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT IT?
I really like how easy it is to set up and use and the size of the device. Knowing that I could easily connect any of my devices to my TV with almost no effort is a pretty awesome feeling, and being able to stream music from my terrible Acer C7 Chromebook speakers to my TV is something I am already using daily. Again, the size of the device is ideal because it remains tucked away behind the TV and doesn’t get in the way of any of my other devices.


WHAT DON’T YOU LIKE ABOUT IT?
I sort of wish I could connect the device to Wifi directly instead of setting up the device through a laptop or phone, but this a pretty minor complaint. Another thing I don’t really like is the current lack of official support for my Acer Chromebook. Although I am still able to do pretty much everything, video is a bit laggy from my laptop, which becomes frustrating, depending upon the speed of my laptop.


WRAP IT UP BABY!
I’m going to make this short and simple: buy this device. It’s cheap (really cheap), easy to use, compatible with just about every device you may own, and for the most part, it just works. At the end of the day, isn’t that what all these streaming devices are supposed to do anyway?


bleichscore: 9/10

Thursday, August 15, 2013

A Little Rebranding Never Hurt Anyone

So, I've changed the site a bit. The change is modest for now, but big for the future.

When I purchased this domain and switched away from TheTechTile, there was a reason. I'm breaking away from the old brand. I'm making a clean break, actually. There may be some stylistic remains of the style of TheTechTile brand, but beyond that, this site is primarily focused on being my personal blog.

This isn't a tech news source anymore. At least, not how it used to be. This is a personal blog with a consumer electronics focus- and I hope you're all okay with this.

That being said, I'm very excited to start publishing new and different types of content in the coming years. Sometimes change sucks, but I'm sure this is for the better. For both of us.

Anyways, thanks for listening.

-Max

Amazon Shipping Chromecasts Soon


Good news, Chromecast fans! The device beloved by cheap Google-loving bastards everywhere will now be available in all of its glorious beauty very soon. For me, mine is expected by the 19th. For many people, that date, or dates close to then is being released by Amazon. Those of you not familiar should enjoy the quote from a previous article below:

The Chromecast is a tiny, 2 inch thumbstick that fits in the back of ANY HD television with its HDMI port, and is compatible for device to television streaming from any Mac or PC running Chrome, Android, iOS, and the Chromebook Pixel (although other Chromebook will soon be included as well). The device, while it doesn't mirror screens, will throw content directly from the Chrome browser or Android phone or Chromebook directly onto the television.

For an extremely reasonable $35, the Chromecast is way too reasonable to pass up. Think about it, what else have you spent thirty five dollars on? A shitty little USB thumbdrive like ten years ago? Yeah. And how did that work out for you?

That's the gist of it. The official Max Bleich-approved Chromecast review should be posted within the next week. I'm very excited, and you should be too. Until them, check back here for the latest and greatest in my opinions and reports back from the magical land of tech! I like magic tech. Mmmmm...

Monday, August 12, 2013

Apple's New iPhone Lineup Coming September 10th



Just in case you haven't heard it yet- AllThingsD reports that Apple's new lineup of iPhones, the 5S and 5C, should be announced September 10th. This timing is nothing new for Apple, who switched their release schedule to the early Fall right before the death of former CEO and founder Steve Jobs nearly two years ago.

The new iPhones are not that well known in the world of specifications, but rumors suggest that the 5C, where the C stands for "color," will be the cheaper model of the iPhone (haha 5CHEAP) and will come with last year's hardware and tons of popping colors. Because, you know, Apple will do anything to keep you from buying a case. The 5C will also include a plastic backing, being the first iPhone sans Glass and Aluminum since the iPhone 4 was released three years ago. Along with the iPhones is rumored an iPad mini with a retina display and of course the release of iOS 7 to all non-developers.

Check back here as the updates flow in. I'm pretty excited, to say the least.

Source: AllThingsD

Image Source: Sonny Dickson

Thoughts on Breaking Bad 509 "Blood Money"


***WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS BELOW***

"Tread lightly."

Those were Walter White's last lines on last night's episode of AMC's hit show Breaking Bad. There were many important moments and new concepts established in last night's episode that will change the approach of the show forever.

For one, Walter now knows that Hank is on to him, and nothing makes this more evident than the swing Hank took at him last night. He's angry. His brother-in-law, a man he had confided in and trusted for years, had dealt to him the ultimate betrayal. Perhaps Hank's biggest struggle moving forward is how to deal with his own family being his biggest enemy. Walter had done a lot to keep Hank off his tail- almost killing him in the process. And now that Hank knows who Walter really is, it's only a matter of time before Walt's world comes crashing down. One thing is for certain though, Walter isn't going down without a fight. Then again, neither is Hank.

Although the ending scene of this episode was probably the most shocking and powerful, there was something really curious about the other forty minutes of the episode.

Again, we were thrown a year into the future, with Walter obviously on the run and in the car he had purchased from his gun-man eight episodes prior. And again, we were left wondering two more things: to what point had Walt gone to defend himself against Hank and the DEA, who left "Heisenberg" painted over a wall of his house, and who does he plan to take out with the ricin he removed from his old home?

Whatever extent Walt went to, we know it was something serious for it to cause his neighbor to drop her groceries on the ground and cower in fear from his simple hello.

Then we have the loose end of Lydia: begging for Walt's return to the business after only being able to achieve a 68% purity in her meth as opposed to the cook's 99%. But as sure as he is happy to have his old life back, Walt doesn't intend on looking back, and neither does Skyler. Seeing her threaten Lydia definitely reveals how defensive she is to retaining her restored life with her family.

I think Lydia is too dangerous of a loose end, and cannot be trusted. She will definitely come back and she will definitely be an obstacle for Walt to eliminate.

And of course, we can't talk about this episode without talking about the title, "Blood Money." Jessie's guilt lies not in the blood money but in the blood itself. Jessie and Walt were ultimately responsible for many deaths. And for Jessie, the only lasting glint of morality on this show, these deaths are tearing him apart. Jessie struggles throughout the episode as to how he should deal with his riches, but the way he deals with it is probably the only thing he can do: help everyone he might of hurt. He shares his fat stacks, something Walt could never fathom, with those way worse of than him, and as viewers of the show, we can't ignore this to be a natural position for Jessie to take. Whereas Walter was far more civilized and proper in the beginning of the show and Jessie was the dumb addict who couldn't stop yelling "yo" and "bitch," Jessie has matured immensely into that which Walt once was.

Before I leave to talk about tech again, let me leave you all with this: next week is going to be the beginning of Hank's persecution of Walt. I can feel it. Can't you?

Drop a comment below, like us on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, and remember to check back here at TheTechTile for the Max Approved opinion on all things tech.


Thursday, August 8, 2013

A Week With an iPhone

For those of you know me, I have had many smartphones, but (up until now) none of them has been iPhones. My first phone was a Nokia 1100. That thing  was a beast. I miss it, because I could do anything to it, and it was survive no matter what. It took a licking and kept on... uh... letting me play snake. After that, I had a few flip phones. Nothing special. My favorite among them was probably my handed-down Motorola Startac. It was pretty durable and pretty easy to use. All I really ever needed was the ability to store a few contacts here and there, and this phone more than delivered. Eventually a Smartphone became something I both needed and wanted, so I picked up a Palm Pre Plus. It was pretty cool. It had the beauty of OS X coupled with the functionality of Android. At the time, there was no such thing as an iPhone for Verizon, so I waited. And I waited. And then, when the time came, I didn't opt into the iPhone 4 on Verizon. What?! You mean to say I wanted all this time and didn't get an iPhone 4, which came out under the big V a month before my contract was up for renewal? Well, kids, I didn't get it. Why not? I didn't like how fragile it was.

Every phone I have ever had before the iPhone was available for Verizon was awesomely built to be tough and stand up to what a clumsy person I am. So instead, I opted for the only viable dual-core phone at the time, the Motorola Droid X2. I hated it. With a passion. So when the time came for me to upgrade, I got one of the first 4G phones, the Droid Charge. Guess what? I hated it. It was slow as hell, supported for like two minutes by Samsung and Verizon, and had a terrible and I mean TERRIBLE battery life.

So a week ago Wednesday I asked for an iPhone 4S as one of my birthday gifts. I got one. It is the best handset I have ever had. But there are some things I don't like. I'm going to talk about them now.

What I Like:

The iPhone 4S is fast. Very fast. Everything feels buttery smooth and there hasn't been one moment where the phone couldn't handle something I was doing. This amazes me, coming from Android 2.3 phones, where every little task took minutes, not seconds to complete. The iPhone does things in milliseconds. It thinks faster than my Chromebook or my desktop computer. It does what I need it to do and doesn't crap out. And I love that.

iOS is very intuitive. Everything, from the UI to the basic icon design makes sense. It all looks so good you can lick it. Yes, that is what Steve Jobs said about Aqua when OS X Cheetah was introduced. Bite me.

The iPhone 4S is thin and light. It doesn't take up nearly the amount of bulk in my pocket that the many Droids did. It isn't a Nokia 1100, but it'll do.

It looks gorgeous. Seriously. There isn't a sexier phone (except the iPhone 5) than this.

Siri is pretty useful but she's also a total bitch. Don't be as mean to her as I am.

What I Don't Like:

I really really really hate that Apple built this thing out of two panes of glass. A phone is a valuable thing, and it should be built with more durability. Luckily, I use a Lifeproof with my iPhone, so I don't have to worry about small drops (although it survived a 15 foot drop from the top of my stairs when my toddler brother threw it) or water or any of the elements. But I wish Apple built the thing with more durability.

3G is very slow. But 4G was an option and I didn't take it. That's my fault, not Apple's.

Overall:

This phone is great. It does what I need it to do and doesn't give me trouble. I have always used other iPhones, but using one for a long period of time that is my own is a different experience. This is in no way an iPhone 4S advertisement. But I'd like to point out how useful and awesome a phone with a powerful UI and a sleek design can be. But if you have the money to spare, by all means grab an iPhone 5. It is just as incredible. Seriously. Do it. And stay the hell away from Android phones with a version under Android 4. You won't be sorry for taking that advice.

Damn You Google



Damn you Google.

How dare you create an easy to use, inexpensive device that will allow me to easily stream my content from my Chromebook, my PC, and my iPhone to my HDTV.

Damn you Amazon.

How dare you create this amazing, easy to use service that makes ordering anything a click away, and then make me wait until October to receive what I ordered the day after it was announced.

Damn you. Seriously.

At least it will be awesome when it comes.