YouTube Red and Google Play Music

I am in the midst of changing over from Spotify (which I’ve been a big fan of over the years) to Google Music, and while only a day or two in I already have some thoughts on it.

While Google Play Music is the same price as Spotify, the benefits are seemingly much greater…the only downside I can see is the “Discover Weekly” playlist that Spotify offers which gives a great view into new songs similar to those I already like.

Google Music gives a lot of the same features, such as a large library of music, no advertisements, and the familiar ability to download songs for offline play.
On top of this Google also allows you to upload 50,000 of your own clips to the library, which in my case means a resting place for the tens of hours of “Abbott and Costello” that I have saved on a hard drive.

But the real deal is that Google Music also gives access to YouTube Red (which if revenue is Google’s goal (it is) will get split off at some point) and a variety of perks including:

  • Offline Playback: You can download movies for offline viewing, which when riding the subway or just being in places with no Internet, and watch it as you’d like. Yesterday I absorbed some music videos and sports talk TV while drowning out the NYC dregs of the subway.
  • Minimizing YouTube on a phone: So you’re watching a music video and you get a WhatsApp message…the ultimate dilemma…do I go respond to the message, or do I stay here and finish my video?
    Well, on Android Nougat you can just reply from the notification bar…but putting that aside for a second, you can now switch to another app or even shut off your screen entirely and you’re watching videos on YouTube.
  • Exclusives: YouTube has signed some of its top stars to make content just for them, as well as some of YouTube’s own content…one example that I am looking forward to?
    Today’s release of “Lindsey Stirling: Brave Enough”, a look into Lindsey’s life as she prepares for shows, battles through tough times off the stage, and of course the electricity that flows when she is performing on stage.

Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes #Game #Review

I’ve finally found my first VR experience that I just don’t want to leave.

It’s a game called Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes, and they aren’t joking when they say to keep talking.

Keep Talking is a MultiPlayer game with one player in the VR (the bomb defuser) and the other players in the real world (with a manual).

The bomb defuser is locked in a room with a bomb. The bomb has a countdown, a limit to how many mistakes can be made, and an X number of modules.
These modules range from colored wires to word games and from buttons to mazes.

The catch is that the defuser doesn’t know how to solve any of them without the manual…which is in the hands of the real world people, and with constant communication, the two parties try to solve it all before the bomb explodes. The defuser can’t see the manual…and the manual readers can’t see the bomb.

I’ve spent 7+ hours playing this over the last few days, and am immersed in the experience.

Be sure you and the other players have good communication, and won’t get annoyed when you’re screaming at each other for failing at seemingly simple tasks.

Master of None #Season2

Master of None is back for another whirlwind season, as Aziz Ansari’s Dev continues his pasta making in Italy.

The season starts with Dev getting a birthday text from his ex, Rachel, sending him off into another tailspin and world traveling adventure.

The show touching on everything, from religion and dating to Clash of the Cupcakes and pork.
But it’s Aziz’s humor and supporting cast (and cameos) that keep this show a step above some of the other ones.

I’m a kid, I don’t watch Netflix. -Mario

Alessandra Mastronardi stars as Francesca, Eric Wareheim is back as the ‘big to his little’ Arnold.
Meanwhile, John Legend shows up for a musical performance, and Bobby Cannavale has a recurring role as the loud Chef Jeff.
And of course, the underrated stars of Season 1, his actual parents, make their return, this time with more tech issues for him to solve, and make him feel a little guilty for living his life.

Aren’t you two grown a** men? – Denise
Yeah, but we’re scared of our parents! – Dev

My favorite episode actually doesn’t star any of our main characters and is entitled New York, I Love You. The episode cycles through the lives of a few New Yorkers and highlights the ups and downs of working the needed jobs of NYC, from a doorman to a deaf grocery clerk to a taxi driver.

The show was thoroughly enjoyable and holds up its 8.5 out of 10.

Paramore – After Laughter

Paramore has taken a turn, and after bursting onto the scene with their first two albums, and their highest charted alt song of Misery Business, they leveled off into comfortable ground on their next two albums, producing great music across the sounds from The Only Exception to Ain’t It Fun.
But now comes their latest album, After Laughter, with sounds of the 80s mixed throughout.

On my first listen-throughs, I enjoyed the early single of Hard Times, but it was the album’s third and fourth songs that pulled me in.
Told You So is a catchy tune (video below) and Forgiveness may be the one that got me hooked and starting to feel the changed tunes of Paramore.

And you, you want forgiveness
(I can barely hang on to myself)
But I, I can’t give you that
And you, you want forgiveness
(I’m afraid that I’ll have nothing left)
But I, I just can’t do it yet

I still go back and listen Brick by Boring Brick and That’s What You Get, but I don’t know just yet that any of these songs will crack my “Paramore” playlist.
(Yeah, I have playlists with top songs from most of my artists…that sounds like an idea for another string of posts…)

I wish they had crushcrushcrush’d it with this album, but it’s still a solid 7.5 out of 10.

Gear VR With Controller #Review

Just over a year ago I talked about my first VR headset, the Google Cardboard.
Well now I have a newer, more costly, VR headset: The Gear VR with Controller.

The Gear VR is an Oculus piece of technology, and they’ve always been ahead of the VR game, and this one is no exception.

The Gear VR is very comfortable to wear, even with a pair of glasses on, using straps around the back and over the top of the head, as well as thick cushioning all around. It also has a dial that allows you to adjust the depth (bringing the screen into focus, important when wearing glasses).

With previous editions, you had to use the touchpad on the side of the device to select items or scroll thru, but with the new controller, the world is in your hands, letting apps give you a “trigger” to help with a lot of games (or simply choosing your movie of choice).

From elaborate depth in games (such as “Land’s End”) to comfortable settings to watch movies (Netflix, Hulu, or even Google Movies via YouTube), or just using your hands to help you build things (such as models in Monzo VR).

Meanwhile, the Google Cardboard would make me a little dizzy after a few minutes (maybe because I was using a hand to hold it to my face), but I don’t feel that effect with the Gear VR.
I’ve also taken their advice and will use it sitting in a revolving chair, that allows me free spinning, and no neck turning, also minimizing dizziness.

Oculus, together with their new owners Facebook, provide a space to play games with friends, building virtual rooms to sit in with your created characters.

The Gear VR + Controller came free with a Samsung Galaxy S8/S8+ and compatible with the S8, S7, and S6 lines, and the Note5
If you are looking to get it it’ll set you back $130. If you already have the Gear and just want the controller, it’s just a $40 expense.

Weed Wackers Anonymous

Every once in a while we just need to do a little yard work, and when you live in NYC that usually means taking care of a plot of land 5’X5′.

With that small sizing in mind, most people turn to gardeners and get them to mow and rake, and plant grass seeds once a year, all for $20 a month.

We aren’t that picky about ours, as it recently became an empty space after a car drove through it taking out all the bushes, and didn’t feel a need to add that expense…so that meant that lots of weeds and growths started to sprout.

So a year ago I turned to Amazon for help and ended up with an electric weed wacker (this one to be specific), and it works great.For only the cost of a month or two of a gardener, this thing demolishes anything in its path, and when done frequently enough (once every few weeks), there isn’t anything left to even rake up.

For only the cost of a month or two of a gardener, this thing demolishes anything in its path, and when done frequently enough (once every few weeks), there isn’t anything left to even rake up. Total garden domination.

It’s also light, easy to hold, and even simpler to use, without whacking and bruising your shins.

Next frontier to approach? I’m thinking electric snow blower…stay tuned.

Crosswords With Friends

Crossowords With Friends is the latest Zynga word experience to hit mobile devices, and it’s a fun play…for a few minutes.

I’ve had the game for a couple of days, and am hit with a problem. They give you a daily puzzle for free…but it only takes me about four and a half minutes to finish it…so of course I head to the calendar and play older puzzles.

But like most games, older puzzles aren’t free and cost “10 coins” a piece. Thankfully they start you off with a nice sum of coinage, but it wasn’t long until I plowed through all of that too
It’s only been since the weekend, and I’m already 88 puzzles in (thankfully they let you earn coins as well).

The good news is, while all of them are Entertainment themed, due to a partnership with “People”, there is also a daily overall theme, and don’t let the names fool you…the clues and puzzles are just way too simple, regardless what day of the week it is.

  • People Sunday
  • Movie Monday
  • TV Tuesday
  • Wayback Wednesday
  • Top 40 Thursday
  • Sports Fan Friday
  • Smartypants Saturday

The app is available now on Android and iOS.