Tag Archives: Google

Lindsey Stirling: Brave Enough #YouTube #Movie #Review

YouTube Red presents Lindsey Stirling: Brave Enough, a look inside the emotional journey and roller coaster ride of Lindsey’s recent album and tour.

Turning 30 and recently losing her best friend, all while dealing with family problems, Lindsey takes you behind the scenes as her tour gets underway, as well as playing at the famous Dolby Theatre, home of The Oscars.

From the age of five, she has played the violin and it hasn’t always been fun and games. She played on the streets and in the subways after college, as well as going to LA on America’s Got Talents before getting chewed out and eliminated, which only made her want it more. So she turned things around and started experimenting with dubstep and EDM, and her quickly growing YouTube view count took off.

Lindsey shares so much more with the viewers, as her journey and story are worth the watch. Watching it makes you feel the emotion that went into the album, something usually only the band members know about and understand. It also lets you hear how she got where she is today and what drives her to keep carrying on.

One other interesting part is hearing the backstories to some songs, including one of my favorites in Shatter Me, which is one giant metaphor for her fight with anorexia.

For those with a subscription to YouTube Red, give this one a watch, and I’ll give it a 7.5 out of 10.

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.

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.

Buying/Renting Movies Online

When you go to watch a legitimate movie on digital, you are presented with many options, from Apple’s library to Amazon Prime and Vudu to Crackle.

But the biggest issue is: After you “buy” or “rent” the movie, where can you watch it?

If you bought it from Apple, you are stuck to watching it on an iPad, iPhone or Apple TV.
Bought it on Amazon, and you turn to the Prime Video app on iOS, Android, Xbox, Etc.
Similar for Vudu and Crackle.

But recently I started using a different service, one that we all use tens of times a week, but don’t think about.

Google Play Movies. The first thought is that these are only available in a browser or on Android devices.
But if you go to YouTube, log into your account, and visit your “Library”, your purchases all show up there for your viewing pleasure.

This means your iOS and Android devices, gaming systems (such as Xbox One and PS4), as well as your WiFi enabled DVD/Blu-Ray players can all access these videos.
Even devices that don’t allow app downloads, but have a built-in browser, can get to YouTube and access your purchased videos.

Now back to Rogue One and the bonus features…

Google Home + WiFi

Three weeks ago I brought up the point that Google should combine “Home” with “WiFi”.

It just made no sense to me for them to be two separate devices.

Well it looks like recent Google patents have them combined for Home 2.0, and that might be the cue for consumers to buy it.

Imagine that you have a device that can answer all your questions, play all your music, and has the ability to give you a better WiFi signal in that room.
It’d also make for speedier searches, as instead of looking to connect for a signal, it should always have its internal connection as an internet hub.

Google Assistant

Google Assistant is now rolling out to more phones, replacing the typical Google search bar and voice commands.

With that in mind, here are some tips and tricks to try with your fancy new tech toy:

  • “OK Google” – Those two magic words will wake it up and bring the assistant to life.
  • Go thru the settings and customize it to your favorite sites
    • Home Control: Connect that smart house to your Assistant so that she can flip those switches off as you go to bed.
    • News: Sort through which news sources you trust most, and which ones you want to hear from more frequently.
    • My Day: Let Assistant know what to include in your daily summary.
    • Shopping List: This feature utilizes Google Keep
  • All valid practical commands for Google Assistant:
    • Play Bohemian Rhapsody on Spotify
    • Watch Family Guy on Netflix
    • Did the TrailBlazers win last night?
    • Wake me at 8:15
    • What time is my flight?
    • Call Prince Al-Waleed (must have the Prince’s number in your contacts first)
    • Show me pictures of my car
    • Take a selfie
    • Turn on flashlight
  • Bored? Let it entertain you, just say “I’m bored” and it’ll provide the following (or you can ask for them directly):
    • Tell me a joke
    • Play a game
    • Play trivia
    • What have I got in my pocket?
  • “Sing Happy Birthday” and she’ll do it in the right tune…no more Aunt Edna croaking it out.
  • Have some fun and tell Google Assistant: “I’m feeling lucky”

Go aWaze

About a year ago I figured out why Waze didn’t work well for me, but like a glutton for punishment, I always try things again to see what else can go wrong.
And Waze didn’t fail me.

For starters, signing in without Facebook was more of a hassle than it needed to be (and the amount of apps that require Facebook activation these days is ridiculous, but that’s another story), but thankfully I’ve gotten Google SmartLock straightened out for the next adventure.

For a map app, they are pretty bad at giving directions…not offering the shortest or fastest routes. This is proven by actually driving (the same routes I took every day) and was originally given to me by Google Maps, and getting there ahead of their “estimated time of arrival” on the original route.
Now some may argue that “the time changes as you drive”…and I’ll argue with: Google Maps is spot on 95%+ of the time on their initial “arrival time” guesstimation.

On that note, even though they are owned by the same company now, the maps from Waze are super clunky, they don’t look good, and aren’t ideal to look at while driving.
They don’t make it easy to see your future route and are insanely difficult to plan “alternate routes” on, especially since they don’t relay other times to you in the same ways that Google Maps does.

Lastly, they are a major drain on data plans. In three days of standard usage it drained through 50% of the data that Google Maps did in 21 days of usage last month…at that rate it would use 350% of the data that I would use for a normal useful mapping system.