The Art of Politics

Allison McIntyre – Life Will Stretch You

This past week my daughter Allison had the honor of being recognized at the United States Capitol for winning first place in her district at the 2014 Congressional Art Competition.  Her work, along with several others from all over the nation, is on display in the hallways of the US Capitol Building.  On June 26 we attended a presentation and reception where Allison met Congressman David McKinley, representative of West Virginia’s first district.

On behalf of my family, I would like to thank Representative McKinley for taking the time to talk to us and converse with Allison about her work and passion for the arts, and for taking a genunie interest in our visit.  We often picture congressman and senators as distant suits who are too busy to speak with constituants, but his conversation was genuine and included statements like “What do you think?” and “What would you do?” It felt sincere and I was pleasantly surprised.  I would like to thank members of Representative McKinley’s office, including his staff and interns for their assistance in guiding us around the Capitol and for pointing out some places to visit (and eat) while in Washington.  I’d also like to thank the competition’s sponsers, Southwest Airlines, the Savannah College of Art and Design, and Adobe along with the Adobe Education Team, who can be followed on twitter as well.  Join Adobe’s conversation on twitter about keeping the arts in education and turning STEM to STEAM with #CreateEdu

For more information about the Congressional Art Competition, visit the House website or the Congressional Institute’s website. The House website currently displays artwork from 2013 competition, but the Congressional Institute’s website has been updated with the 2014 artwork.

Caleb and Jena

American Idol Season 13 — It’s Finale Time

So, once again we are down to the final two on American Idol… It’s definitely true that Idol is not what it used to be but I think that’s got more to do with the oversaturation of music talent programs on TV at the moment, and not really to do with the talent that Idol still produces.  Although I think they’d be hard pressed to have another season finale like season two, when Ruben and Clay went head-to-head.

The only thing left to determine this year is who will come out on top.  Will it be the dark horse, “everyone-get-those-glow-sticks-up” Jena (not Jena) or will it be the rocker Caleb, who was finally reached the finals after trying out for Idol on three occasions? I honestly believe Caleb will win this evening because he will have the most supportive fans and there’s no doubt he’s talented enough to win.  But as far as being the next pop star goes, I think Jena has a better shot at success.  She certainly has the voice to take her far on radio, and she can command a performance.  

As far as Season 13 goes… well, I liked it better than last season, but that’s not saying much.  Last year was just a hot mess of freaks, led by Nicki Minaj. (Zoanette, anyone?)  I read that next season Idol will be cut back to one night per week.  Can’t really figure out how that’s going to work, when performances are one night, and results are the next.  What, are going to have to wait a whole week before learning the singers’ fate?  “Ten singers prepare to sing on Tuesday, but first, let’s see which of these ten is not going to have the opportunity to sing for America.”  I can’t imagine that…

Keith, JLo, and Harry have performed well as judges.  I had been rooting for Harry to be a judge since he mentored last season.  He knows what he’s talking about and provides constructive criticism.  Of the three, he is my favorite judge.  Keith and JLo both provide appropriate commentary and are entertaining on their own, and much more tolerable than.. “some past judges.”

So now all that remains is to announce a winner.  But either way, the Idol machine will roll on…

Listen to a preview of the final two’s first releases below:

 

The OneDrive Troubleshooter…

The OneDrive Troubleshooter…

I’ve recently become a big fan of Microsoft’s OneDrive (formerly SkyDrive) service.  Apparently, the renaming conincides with Microsoft’s new “One” rebranding.  You know… XBox One and all… Well, anyway, I do like the service, and thanks to bing I have about 109gb of storage “in the cloud” that integrates well with the OS.

Or I should say Did integrate well with the OS… After my most recent computer purchase I noticed a small problem…

So for a little while now I’ve had an issue with Microsoft’s OneDrive that prevented me from regularly accessing most of my files from within Windows 8.1.  The error message itself was not very helpful:

Error: 0x800040A41: No description available

That is, of course, one of the least helpful errors of all… A little bit of searching revealed a little-known tool called the OneDrive Troubleshooter. This tool provided that step-by-step guide that I needed to get my files available within Windows 8.1 again.

Click Next to continue the troubleshooter.

The troubleshooter will ask if it’s okay to send information to Microsoft. Your call.  That doesn’t bother me any, so let’s move on…

You’ll then have the capability to Reset OneDrive which is what I chose that led to resolving my problem.

There’s not much to it, but after running the OneDrive troubleshooter my OneDrive documents are once again available to me straight from my desktop!

This link provided the help that I needed.

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.