Archive for February 24th, 2010

The AppleTV as a headless audio server

It’s been months now that we use the AppleTV exclusively as our audio server, so I wanted to report again on the topic, based on that long term usage. All I can say is this: it beats the hell out of any other system.

We have it hooked in our TV via HDMI, but we never turn ON the TV (the AppleTV must be connected to a video cable, otherwise it wont’ start up). We simply use our iPod Touch to control the Apple TV, via the “Remote Control” application, and it works a treat. Only things missing in the Remote Control application is the ability to rate new songs (but ratings already on songs are perfectly usable in smart playlists), and turning the AppleTV OFF (which can still be done blindly using the AppleTV remote control: hit twice the “menu” button, and then long press on the “play” button). A few more gripes remain, but they are not that important really.

Overall, we have found that this is the most enjoyable way to listen to music in our case, and our 85 GB of music. And given that an AppleTV costs a little over $200 these days, and most people in the our area already have either an iPhone or an iPod Touch, it makes it — by far — the best solution for music listening in the digital age.

This is a highly recommended setup.

FCC Disclaimer: Apple is not paying or asking me to write the above. It’s my own personal experience with the setup.

UPDATE: I wrote an article, comparing the Apple TV music experience to MPD’s.

Greece in shameful protests

Greece saw lots of protests and strikes in the past few years, as part of the social unrest that governs the country lately. However, the country is now in ruins financially, and yet, Greek people STILL don’t fucking get it. They want their cake, and eat it too. They somehow think that “the government should bail the country out”, without realizing that it’s the CITIZENS who should give up some of their benefits in order for that to happen. The government doesn’t have a hen with golden eggs, unfortunately.

The people who mostly strike are the civil servants. I have written about them before here. Professionally, civil servants in Greece equate with a king or queen in another country. They have so many benefits, they get so much more money than freelancers, and they can’t get fired (they have their jobs for life). Civil servants are the people who CAN give away some of their benefits in order to fix Greece back. “…many government workers enjoy preferential tax rates, can retire at the age of 54 (in some cases earlier) and enjoy 14 months of pay for 12 months worked“, writes CNN. Think of that for a moment!

All the new government is trying to do is bring some balance between how civil servants are treated in the EU and US, in order to help the country save money and pay its dues. Who else is going to pay for that 30 years of European Union cheating? The freelance unskilled workers who have to also compete with the Albanians’ ultra-low wages? Won’t happen! The only major social cast that does have enough money to give back are the civil servants, simply because they have been milking it since 1920.

Many Greeks have had this problem in my experience: they can’t really understand themselves in a bigger picture. They can’t understand that for something to happen, everyone must contribute. Instead, they see it as “the other guy’s problem, not mine”. Not to mention that some Greeks have a VERY snobbish approach against the Europeans. It’s “the Europeans”, and then there’s “we, the Greeks, who gave these stupid Europeans the Light of Civilization”. They think that a family in Sweden, or in France should bail out the corrupted Greeks just because they’re Greeks. Because they think that other countries STILL OWE THEM.

News flash: THEY DON’T.

Get a good look in the mirror Greece. I do hope that you don’t get a bail-out from EU. You don’t deserve it. Not until your government has the fucking balls to remove most of the benefits from the biggest MENACE of the country: civil servants. Saving the country should be the No1 priority for all, no matter the cost. This is no time for strikes! Going on strike when the economy is so bad, shows citizens who don’t understand what the hell is going on. Strikes don’t help the economy, they destroy it even further!

And then Greece has a problem, and it creates a diplomatic incident when someone tells it like it is? Sorry my compatriots, but that magazine cover was WELL DESERVED. It’s the fault of every one of you for letting your own country fall into such situation (I’m mostly looking at you recipients of European funds back in the ’80s). Not just some government that came and passed. Accept responsibility and dug yourselves out of the hole. Do something that’s admirable, for the first time in 2500 years.

Band of the Week: We Are Wolves

This is one of my favorite electro-rock bands, the Quebec-based We Are Wolves. Their new album, “Invisible Violence“, was released in the US a few days ago. Download some legal mp3s to sample their music here.

LOST: “Lighthouse”

I got disappointed with LOST’s “Lighthouse” episode last night. Three reasons:

1. This episode is AGAIN about the Losties learn that they are “candidates”. The previous episode dealt with the exact same thing. I simply found the episode redundant because of this. That’s what happens if you don’t plot ALL your episodes and seasons at the very beginning and based on the story you got, and instead you have to listen to the network about “how many episodes they want this season” or “how many seasons”. In my opinion, LOST should have ended last year. The second part of the 2nd season and first part of 3rd season should have been merged. Ideally, LOST should have only been 3 seasons of ~24 episodes each.

2. So there’s a lighthouse. CLOSE to the fucking caves. That no one seen before? What type of bullshit is that? That was a total cop-out. Even the writers knew that this is a total cop-out, and that’s exactly why Jack was put to say “how come we never seen it before”, and then they had Hurley to say “I don’t know dude, maybe we weren’t looking for it before”. Total fucking cop-out.

3. And Jack has a kid in the alternative universe. Like we care. The 6th season is too late to bring such characters into the main character’s lives. Even Dogen is. He should have at least been *mentioned* in the past by Richard or Ben in order to stomach him in the 6th season. Like the bomb last year. Another such major element that should have been mentioned before the 5th season (cryptically, of course).

All that shows not poor planning, but how that industry works. Yes, the writers have written the GENERAL story of what’s going on in LOST, but not the details. The details are written when each episode is written (usually 3-5 months before the episode is aired). And that’s where the problem lies. For a show like LOST to be REALLY cohesive, everything, every important detail, had to be written by 2004 already.