The HTC One M8 and Sense 6 – Ask the Internet

So, if I were looking for a SmartPhone today, I’m certain that the all new HTC One (M8) would be at the top of the list.

I’ve had the HTC One (M7), last year’s model, since the day it came out last year. I’m not in a contract position to be able to upgrade to the M8 now, and there will probably be an HTC One (M9) by 2015, so I’ll probably be skipping a generation of phones.

There are some things I’m able to take advantage of now, with a download of HTC Sense 6 from XDA Developers specific to the M7.  Sense 6 is an improvement over Sense 5.5 in several ways.  I like the theme capabilities, and the ability to change system wide fonts.  The built-in apps (Calendar, Contacts, Mail, etc.) are all improvements over the previous versions.  The first Custom ROM I loaded from XDA was the Elegancia ROM which seems to work well enough.  However, one app I do have a complaint about is Gallery, which, for some reason, no longer has the social aspects (Facebook, Flickr, Dropbox) that it had in Sense 5(.5).  I don’t know why this was functionality was removed, but it reminds me of when Microsoft did virtually the same things with Windows 8.1.  Windows 8 had the same type of photo collection ability.  Want your Facebook photos? They’re there.  Flickr? Yup.  I wonder if making these collections available somehow violated Facebook/Flickr’s terms of service…. Just a thought.  At any rate, I think I’m gonna reflash and go with Android Revolution 61.1 which is also based off of Sense 6 and see if that behaves any differently.  Also, live wallpapers did not work in Elegancia either.

At any rate, back to the M8.  If I were starting from scratch, which I’m not, and if I had unlimited funds, which I don’t, I would be picking up an HTC One M8 as my next phone.

Next-Gen Peabody and Sherman

So, I’ve been looking forward to this movie since I saw the previews a good while back.  I enjoyed watching Mr. Peabody and Sherman along with Rocky and Bullwinkle while I was growing up.  Of course, it is a little odd that a dog adopted a boy, or went to Harvard, or invented a time machine, but if you can get past all that and just believe it all, then this is a fun movie to watch.

“Our story begins” like our story always begins. In fact, the first few minutes of the movie are pretty much based on this original episode of Mr. Peabody and Sherman:

One thing I enjoyed about this movie, though, beyond the nostalgia, is watching how time travel is handled. Mr. P & S had a few adventures along the way in the movie, and Sherman even takes a few adventures of his own with his new friend, Penny.  There is one scene where there were two Mr. Peabodys and two Shermans, and the resolution to restoring the space-time continuum is a little bit contrived, but, hey, I’m already buying the intelligent talking dog raising a boy, so I can let the technicalities on time travel slide, I suppose.

Call me a little naive, or at the very least hopeful, but I would like to think that the time travel sequences in this movie might make some kid out there want to learn more about history. Visiting the pyramids, the Trojan war, Ben Franklin and several other famous figures might just make some kid watching the movie want to find out more.  Like I want to know if DaVinci really created a fake freaky baby made out of wood.  No evidence on that one yet.

But, overall, Mr. Peabody and Sherman was a fun, entertaining movie, with enough humor and nostalgia that parents will enjoy watching it and remembering their childhood, and still relevant enough today that kids will find it funny as well.  I still enjoy Peabody’s bad puns, even if nobody else does. :)

College Hunt — Full Sail University

So, we just returned from a trip to central Florida over Christmas break that included a trip to Full Sail University in Winter Park. Allison will be off to college in no time at all, and with her artistic talents we’re looking for a media-rich school for her to attend. Full Sail certainly delivers on all counts.

This video provides a quick tour of the campus. Many of these places we visited during our tour.

Our tour guide, Jim, was very knowledgeable and full of information about the course offerings. There were a few grade school children along for this tour and Jim handled them all amicably. I had felt a little odd about taking Allison as she is just a freshman in high school, but after seeing the younger kids there on the tour, those worries quickly disappeared.

This would have been a top choice school of my own had I known about it in the early 1990s. I was interested at that time in attending Virginia Tech, as they were using Commodore-Amiga computers. I would have leaned toward television and movie post production, I think. I ended up staying local, and getting a well-rounded education here in West Virginia.

The education from Full Sail is very specific to digital media arts, and upon completion, 72% of students wind up working in their field of study. That’s a real-world education. I was impressed by Full Sail’s list of graduates who went on to work for film studios, audio engineering companies, gaming studios, musicians, etc. There are a few awards (Grammy, Emmy) on site that backs up the quality work their grads are capable of.

As I said, Allison still has a couple of years to get things sorted out, but hopefully we can keep Full Sail at the top of a short list.

Pics are scrollable above the post.


Turkey day

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving! This holiday started out for me with a running in the annual Shinnston Turkey Trot, where it was a “crisp, cool” 26° for the duration of the race. It wasn’t my fastest time, but I’ll take it simply because of the poor weather. Here’s a short clip from the local news: (If you look closely you’ll catch me at around the :13 mark…)

(OK… Well, the video link no longer works, so here is a link to a story on

Shinnston Turkey Trot 5K Held to Benefit the Marie Gaston Scholarship Fund

That was followed by a great meal and time spent with family. There was the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade to watch, followed by the National Dog Show, and then a presentation of “Shrek: The Musical” on DVD.

Summer 2013 Reflections

So, we’ve reached the end of a wet, cool summer. It came and went very quickly… (Kind of the opposite of “Long Hot Summer” by Keith Urban.) Since we’ve reached the end of the season, over the next few days I’m going to look back and pick my five favorite photos from the past few months that seemed to summarize the summer. (I’m actually going back to May, which is technically still spring, but the pool was open, so in my mind it counts. :))

Number 5:

So, speaking of May, that’s where I’m going for my first picture.  It was the day we uncovered the swimming pool and it was rainy.


Friday, May 10, 2013 – Taking the cover off the swimming pool on a rainy day.

Number 4:

For the next picture I’ve decided to head to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania… PNC Park specifically, and the June 29 game between the Pirates and Brewers. This was a trip to Pittsburgh with several family and friends from church.  The Pirates have electrified the city this year with some outstanding play that we haven’t seen for over twenty years.  At this point in the season we knew it would be special. And now the Pirates have their first winning season since 1992.  I really like the framing of the Jolly Roger in this particular photo.


Saturday, June 29, 2013 – PNC Park. Pirates 2, Brewers 1.

Number 3:

I’ve gone with an easy one here… From Ocean City, Maryland on the first night of our vacation, this is the bay side view from the Sea Bay Hotel. It was the first night of what was the best week of the summer and if I could pick one moment to go back to, it would be this one. :)

July 14, 2013

Sunday, July 14, 2013 – Sea Bay Hotel

Number 2:

More fun in the sun with this picture, taken when the kids were swimming in the back yard pool. I think we spent more time draining and/or cleaning the pool this year than we did actually swimming in it. This was one of those rare occasions where we could actually be in the water. The “fun fact” about this picture is that it’s actually a frame grabbed from a video taken with the Zoe feature of an HTC One cell phone.

Summer Swimming

Thursday, July 4, 2013 – Summer Swimming

Number 1:

Okay, well, I’ve been combing through some photos to decide what would be the final picture I posted in this series, and I’ve gone with a photo from Father’s Day dinner at the Olive Garden in Morgantown. I really enjoyed having everyone together for dinner that evening. We also made a visit to Best Buy that evening. A nice dinner, pleasant company, a tech store visit, the beginnings of summer… What more could you ask for?

Sunday, June 16, 2013 - Olive Garden

Sunday, June 16, 2013 – Olive Garden