Archive - Jan 2011

January 26th

Wordless Wednesday

20110122_001s.jpg, originally uploaded by Aldon.

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January 25th

Further Roku Explorations

The other day, I wrote about a new Roku Player that we recently got. I mentioned, that you can connect to port 8080 on the Roku to send commands, similar to what you do with the remote control:

press up
press down
press left
press right
press select
press home
press fwd
press back
press pause

I mentioned getting an Android app, RoMote that uses this to make the Android a Roku Remote. It works pretty nicely. However, there are other ports, 8085, 8086, and 8087 that are open that no one seemed to know what they were.

I received various comments about what other people are doing, much of it around YouTube. Playing around with the Roku, I couldn’t find YouTube, so I searched online, and found out about private channels. Private channels work like the regular channels on a Roku, but you have to go to the Roku website, login, and enter a code for a private channel there. Then, the new channel will show up in your channels on the Roku.

thenowhereman has a list of a couple of the key private channels, including YouTube,, Twitter, UStream, NASA, and PodTV. PodTV is a neat channel that gives you lots of different podcasts to chose from.

To me, this raised the question, how do you create a channel? Can anyone do it? Well, it looks that way. Roku Developer gives you information about becoming a developer. It is free to be a standard developer. On the site, you can download the developers kit, the developers guide, and lots of other fun stuff.

In the developers guide are two interesting tidbits. The first is how to get into developers mode. On the remote, you enter “Home 3x, Up 2x, Right, Left, Right, Left, Right”. I had problems the first couple times I tried because I entered back instead of Up. When you get Developers mode running, it starts a webserver on the Roku that you can use to install programs. It also mentions that port 8085 is the debug console, so you can see what is going on while the programs you are testing run.

There are lots of other interesting combinations, such as one to turn on tcpdump, etc.

So, what are developers doing? One idea that I find interesting is to use Roku as a MythTV front end. I’m not running MythTV right now, but it seems like an interesting thing to try. To push things further, people are writing about Boxee and Vudu and Mubi. Perhaps I’ll figure some way to tie together some of these different pieces.

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January 24th

Music Monday - Michael McGarrah

Man, it’s cold. The thermometer tells me it’s 1 below. That’s 18 below for my international friends and others that prefer the metric system. Even our dog, who normally likes the cold didn’t want to stay outside very long this morning.

In the news, I see that the Superbowl will be between the Steelers and the Packers. Both teams are from cities where it can get mighty cold. I’m not much of a football fan, but I like to watch the Superbowl. I think of cold weather, football games and the like as part of that rough and ready American spirit; the spirit that turns up the collar bends forward into the cold wind and forges on. Steelers and Packers. They capture that spirit.

A lot of my friends wanted to see the Jets or the Patriots. They’re both great teams, but they don’t have that same feeling. At least it isn’t something like the Washington Lawyers taking on the New York Bankers, nope, it’s steelworkers and meat packers going at it.

What does this have to do with Music Monday? Well, I thumbed through the Sonicbids submissions and picked out Michael McGarrah.

McGarrah sings the songs of American’s that turn up their collars and bend forward into the cold wind. He starts off his biography saying,

It began when I was quite young, bumping along the blue highways of the Pacific Northwest in the bed of my Dad's 1955 Chevy pickup truck, watching the clouds scroll across the sky, humming to myself and fooling around with words and little melodies in my head

It kind of sounds like he’s still an old pickup truck driving around the states. Love Boat to Reno starts off

Let's catch that love boat to Reno
It leaves at midnight tonight
I'll bring the whiskey
You bring a suitcase
Filled with your favorite delights

Another song starts off,

It's a hot sticky summer night somewhere deep in the heart of middle America listen real close and you can hear the strains of a fender esquire drippin out like the bead of sweat on a hillbilly preachers brow shimmering guitar chords breaking like waves across the hoods of starlite coupe devilles and double mint perfumed girls with round asses like the fenders on 1958 chevy impalas pose and poke at poison dos as they gaze off into the blue haze impaled on their own personal dreams of post war picket fences

I wish I could write like McGarrah. I could spend hours just listening to his tunes, soaking up the rhythm and wordplay. He has a voice that can carry off his great writing and simple guitar picking that provides a great backdrop for his words without getting in the way.

So, the next time you are thinking more about steelers and meat packers and pickup trucks heading across the country, the next time you want to hear words of the American experience put together elegantly, find a Michael McGarrah CD, open a Lone Star, pour yourself a shot of Whiskey, and just listen.

I couldn’t find many videos of McGarrah, but I always like to end off with one, so let me sign off this week’s Music Monday with this.

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January 23rd

Exploring the Netgear Roku Player

I’m a fairly frugal sort of guy, especially during these difficult financial times and particularly when it comes to electronics. My primary desktop computer is a salvaged 1996 era server. My primary laptop is also salvaged, about a 2004 vintage machine that I reformatted to run Linux. Other computers around the house are from different groups I’ve worked with and are mostly in various states of disrepair. I have a digital camera. A refurbished 2007 device that was my third upgrade of refurbished versions of a gift I got probably around 2001. We have not upgraded to HD TV or to Blu-ray player.

Yet yesterday, Kim and I went out and purchased a Netgear Roku Player (NTV250). Fiona was having a sleepover at a friend’s house, so it was going to be date night. I checked through the movies playing nearby and none of them seemed all that interesting, especially if it was going to end up costing somewhere around $30 between tickets, popcorn, etc.

Kim has been watching movies from Netflix on her laptop, which she has enjoyed, but gathering around a small screen to watch a movie just might not cut it for date night.

I’ve been interested in the Roku player for quite a while, and I saw that there low end model starts around sixty bucks. That is would be about the same as two date nights at the movie theatre. So, I searched around to see if there were any for purchase near where we live.

We did find a slightly higher end model at a radio shack in a neighboring town, so we went out and picked it up. One of the things I like about the Roku player is that you can connect it to your old fashioned TV using composite cables, or to an HD TV using an HDMI cable. What this means is that I can use it with my old TV right now, and later, if we ever upgrade to an HD TV, we will still be able to use it.

Reviews online said that it was easy to setup, but some people said that customer support is a bit lacking. Plugging in the cables and powering things up took but a few moments. It took a little longer to register the Roku player online and get it connected to our Netflix and Amazon accounts, but within minutes, we were ready to go.

The design is very simple. It is a small box with a few ports in the back to connect cables. The remote has eight buttons. Navigating the Roku is very simple. The downside of this is that if you want to search for specific movies on the Roku, it can be difficult and time consuming.

On the other hand, if you use your PC to select movies and put them in your queue, it becomes very easy to play them on the Roku. So, we sat and watched a movie last night, and the Roku worked great.

We also spent a little time configuring other things. I added a news channel and listened to some BBC and NPR programs. I set up Pandora and listened to my Pandora station. I even hooked up Facebook and looked at some of my Facebook pictures.

Being the geek, I was interested in finding out how open the device really is. Much of it is open source, but the operating system is fairly well locked down. You can telnet into the device on port 8080 and execute a handful of commands, like ‘press home’, ‘press forward’ etc to control the device. There are even android apps that put a nice front end onto this to make an android work as a Roku remote. It looks simple enough that I could probably even create an application for the Nokia N900. However, given my other time commitments right now, I suspect I won’t get a chance to try that any time soon.

So, I’ve been pleased with the Roku so far. We’ll see what else I can do with it.

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January 22nd

Managing Personal and Corporate Brands Online

When I first started establishing my identity on the Internet, nearly thirty years ago, managing personal and corporate brands wasn’t an issue. The only people on the Internet were from universities and research institutions. There was supposed to be no personal or corporate use of the Internet. My identification was my initials and the host machine I was using, which was a weird amalgam of the location, operating system and on information about the machine.

Things have changed a bit in the past thirty years, and I’ve been thinking a bit about this as I read reports about Keith Olbermann leaving MSNBC and Geoff Fox leaving WTNH. Both of these people have very well developed personal brands, probably more developed as a result of their on air personalities as opposed to their online personalities, but the online persona plays an important part. Online communities have sprung up criticizing MSNBC and WTNH for letting go of these popular personalities.

Most of my work is online. Some people have faces made for radio. Others have voices made for writing online. I have focused on my online personal brand. ahynes1, Aldon Hynes, and Orient Lodge are the three primary aspects of my brand, and I try to tie all of them together, as much as possible using similar avatars, color schemes, and anything else that can make my personal brand consistent.

Now that I’ve taken a position with Community Health Center, Inc. in Connecticut, I need to manage both my personal brand, and what my contributions or to CHC’s brand. What I write here on Orient Lodge is promoting my personal brand. It is expressing my own opinions. What I write on the CHC Facebook page, is intended to promote the organization’s brand.

Different organizations have different relationships between the personal brands of employees and the brand of the organization. For media where an individual’s personality is important, the individuals brand get a lot of focus. For consumer goods, there is less likely to be a personal brand associated, unless there is some sort of celebrity endorsement. For realtor’s the individual’s brand is often more important than the agency they are working for.

The medical field seems a bit more complicated, in that both the brands of the providers and the brands of the organizations are important.

So, as I work on establishing the best relationships between personal brands and corporate brands where I work, I would encourage all my readers to think about their personal brands, the brands of the organizations they work at, and how they relate.

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