Neat IOS 16 Features

I enjoy my iPhone. There was a recent update that I also liked. It has the option to change wallpaper and has a big clock.

I chose the moon as a backdrop from the preset ones available. I’ve always been fascinated by the moon. That’s cool. But something else I noticed after doing a screenshot happened.

If you touch and hold a part of the image- it does this little “swoosh” and cuts out the background. Then you can choose “share” and send just the main subject matter via messages/texts. That’s cool.

I think this aspect of photo sharing/manipulation is kind of fun. It’s a simple photoshop style of edit. It may not be perfect, but it works.

As I explore the new iOS 16 and the features- I’ll most likely also see online some other fascinating features. It’s like having a new phone all over again.

If you know of any other neat features from the latest update- let me know in the comments.

I Turn My Camera On

Today would have marked my father’s 80th Birthday. One of the few things I have kept of my father’s is his camera. It’s nothing special to anyone but me. Valued at $40 used on eBay. The Praktica is nothing more than a 35mm chunky camera.

The reason it’s special to me is that my father realized that when I was born- he did not own a camera. He went out and bought it within a couple of days of my birth. Partly because there was some uncertainty in my living beyond a short while. I had respiratory issues from birth. But that’s another story. This camera was purchased in 1976- the original receipts and warranty card are still in the carrying case.

I ended up using this camera in high school back in the mid-nineties for my photojournalism class. I took numerous black and white photos with it as well as colour pictures. Some of those ended up in the year book. Including my favorite which was a collage overlay of four photos together making up the front of the school. Not too easy to do when there was no preview screen and had to wait to get the images developed.

Now as our son enters grade 11- he has taken up photography as his art major. With it came a curiosity of my father’s old camera. In the first week of photo classes, he went through four rolls of film just taking black and white photos with it. Soon he will develop the pictures and see what he has created.

The one picture that my son wants to take with the camera is one I am impressed he thought of. It’s nothing outrageous, but rather one that brings the camera’s journey full circle. He plans to take some photos of my father’s tombstone- using the same camera that my father had bought to take pictures of me at birth. It’s quite convenient that the graveyard is merely steps away from the school grounds.

I’m not going to lie, at first I had a tough time allowing my son to use the camera. But he has been respectful and understanding of the sentimentality to me. He keeps it in the case and is very careful when handling it. As I said, there’s no monetary value to this item. But it means a lot to me as I wish my father could have seen the lovely grandkids that were produced. I would hope he would’ve been proud of me. But I didn’t become a good father to impress him. I became a good father to spite him.

Happy 80th Grampa. You missed an entire world, yet somehow you are still a big part of mine.

Rules Are Meant To Be Learned

This week I am renewing my conductor qualifications. Unlike the time three years ago when I Went to Winnipeg for my training- I am at home learning remotely this time around.

Because we recently had our tenants move out, I have the basement as my classroom. My wife has the office upstairs because she works online daily- and has for about four years now. Working remotely comes easy for her now and she is able to time manage quite well.

My first day is behind us and I’m starting to feel better about learning remotely. However- I can see how our kids had a difficult time adjusting and staying focused. But I made it through the first day and passed my first series of tests.

I’m glad that we have our basement back for the time being. The space has been calming and quiet. Perfect for studying and taking tests. Plus it’s got some of the necessities I need to make it through the day- coffee and snacks!

Only four more days remain ahead of me. After such, I will be a qualified conductor/switchman. By October I will need to get a physical from my family doctor and a recertification in first aid. At which point I can assist the company at different locations- including my home turf- in the running trades.

Wish me luck!

Road Trip: Leaving Disneyland

We said goodbye to Disneyland yesterday and began our journey home. It was supposed to be 14 hours. However it took us 16.5 hours. We stopped for lunch and dinner, but we also took a wrong turn at one point.

Starting another early day meant the teenagers were exhausted. They slept and were generally quiet the entire drive. No fighting or bickering was happening. Honestly, they lasted longer than my wife and I did at the parks. The rest in the car was well deserved.

We stopped for lunch at In-N-Out Burger once more. Across the street was a McDonald’s, so we picked up some Road Nuggies as well. This is where things went a bit sideways as we left to get back on the I-5.

At this point we were driving on the I-5 heading towards San Francisco/Sacramento. Somehow my wife was distracted and we missed the split and wandered towards San Francisco. We caught it after about forty five minutes. Time to turn around and get back on track. Worst part- we did the same thing last road trip three years ago! Ugh.

We probably would’ve noticed sooner if we had our cellphones on. But paying a roaming charge in another country is a little bit outrageous. So we had gone old school and printed off directions prior to the trip. Although… maybe we should have read them instead of just driving… oh well.

We finally made it to our hotel by 11:30pm. About an hour and a half later than we wanted. Just enough time for popcorn, some television and sleep. Road trips mean hitting the road early. So sleep is limited- and we are off for the last part to get home.

Cheering On Theory From Afar

This past week, my wife and son were in Calgary for a speed skating camp. Today was a competition for the skaters.

My wife shared with me a live feed of the event on YouTube posted by the Calgary Oval. I watched our son competing from the comfort of our living room. seeing his name on the television brings me a sense of pride and joy.

But watching him skate brings me more joy. He is passionate about his skating and is always pushing to improve his skills.

In his two races- he got new personal bests. He even shaved ten seconds off one of the heats. I’m really impressed and I hope he continues on the path to success in speed skating. The trips out of province are a good chance for him to get better and meet with other skaters.

But I can’t wait for them to come home. I miss the family when they are away.

Feeling Gassed

Just like nearly everyone else, I’m astonished that the gas prices continue to rise. Living in the Vancouver area, we are experiencing the highest in the country.

I thought this was funny years ago. Now I cry.

With rising gas costs, that means rising food costs. As well as travel expenditures. For whatever reason, the governments around the world aren’t doing anything to combat these rising costs. All the news from them is, “we acknowledge that gas prices are high.” No resolutions. This cannot be sustainable for the future of the world.

With electric vehicle makers not being able to keep up with the demand, many of us are stuck paying these prices at the pump. All I can do is vent that this situation sucks. I’d love to buy an electric car. Maybe in a few years. But for now I just have to minimize how much driving I do and plan out my shopping trips to hit stores in the same vicinity at around the same time.

I also drive the speed limit more often than I once did. My car also has an ECO Mode which I have turned on. I haven’t seen much in the way of savings or good fuel economy with this option engaged. Only time will tell.

Back In The Dark

Recently my iPhone had an update. For some reason this update changed the settings on my Facebook app. I went from “Dark Mode” back to regular blinding white.

Naturally I changed it back. But I don’t know why I chose to do this. I also don’t know why I chose Dark Mode for my phone a few years ago. It was probably the novelty of it at first. But now I prefer not having bright white screen to view.

As I switched back my Facebook app to Dark Mode, I was curious if maybe I should try normal mode for a while and see if I like it. Perhaps it would feel like having a piece of new technology in my hands. Although that may only last a short time. Or eventually I wouldn’t notice and it would be fine.

I may change off Dark Mode later this evening. But for now, I’ll be sleeping during the daylight wishing for darkness.

My First iPod

Since hearing about Apple retiring the iPod, I thought I could share about my first one. I first got an iPod in 2006. I bought it for myself on my 30th birthday. It was the latest version (5th Generation) and the first video model as well. 30GB in black.

I still have the iPod. I also still have the original box. On the day I got it, I uploaded every song in my library onto it. A far cry from 7500 songs that I could’ve put on it. But I also added a ton of digital photos onto it as well. Condensed video was not as easy back then to create. So my videos were minimal. Streaming was not an option either as you still had to connect to a computer where all your music and photos were saved.

That day, my wife gave me the gift of taking our kids away for the night so I could just enjoy my new toy. The kids were 2 and almost 4. Our son was to be born a couple months later. So I was left at home alone. So I did what any 30 year old man with 24 hours of freedom and a new piece of technology would do.

Mushrooms.

I will say, my first experience with the iPod was memorable. I listened to tons of different music, played with the settings, scrolled quickly with the click wheel and just enjoyed laying in bed listening to anything I wanted. However, by the time I was ready to sleep, I was lonely.

The photos I had put on my iPod were of my wife and kids from the previous couple of years. I missed them tremendously even though it was just one night. Our daughters were so loving and happy to always be around me. To this day, I still miss those moments of kindness and innocence they would showcase towards me with their personalities.

My heart was filled with joy the next day when they returned home. The love from the girls was the best gift that birthday. The iPod was a close second. Sixteen years later and I still get choked up thinking about my thoughts of missing them. Psychedelics are interesting to say the least.

Did you have a memory from your first iPod?

Timecop1983 and Jan Hammer

At some point in the past few months, Spotify slapped me with an artist I had never heard of. One who has now become a large part of my music rotation. I have no idea how Spotify figured out that I would like this music. Yet here I am, constantly playing it and now writing about it.

Timecop1983

This Dutch musician has created some of the best synth music I have ever experienced. I just wanted to thank Jordy Leenaerts for his amazing skills. I now listen to this music regularly to relax. I also use it as meditation and background music. It triggers some sort of nostalgia and youthfulness from the recesses of my mind that I need these days.

The music reminds me of Jan Hammer: a Czech/American musician who incorporates jazz fusion and synth pop. Jan did music for Miami Vice and the computer generated film from 1992: Beyond The Mind’s Eye. Which is one of my absolutely all time favorite films ever. Excerpts of that film used to be shown late at night on tv. A trippy, synthetic, alternate animated world.

Both artists have created a style of music that reminds me of what my friends from the 90’s used to write themselves. Perhaps that’s why I am drawn to these artists.

Be sure and check out Timecop1983 on Spotify.

Safety And Security

Back in July, I installed four security Cameras around the front of our home. Our system allows for up to eight cameras. Today I installed two more. This time to watch over the backyard and rear entrances.

My son reluctantly helped me with adjusting the viewing area of the new cameras. But with his help, I was able to get a large section of our yard under surveillance.

I also took some time to play around with the system and create a constant changing sequence on our monitor. Every few seconds it changes the views, this will help prevent “burn-in” on the screen. (Although honestly I don’t think it’s as obvious or quick as it once was with crt monitors).

If I choose to, I have spots for two more cameras to get connected. I may need to do that in the future, but at this time- having six cameras is more than plenty. Although I did like the ease of installation that the Lorex system has.

Outdoor Night Lights

As the summer approaches, the sun is tentatively out for longer. So what we have done in our yard is added some solar lights for a night ambiance.

On the sides of the stairs leading down from our deck add a nice touch to the path. I like the brightness of these lights. At the very top I put one more bright light on the fence post next to the gate. That way our guests will see where they are going should they leave later in the evening.

Along our fence is some string lights that add a lot of light to that part of the yard. In the gazebo is two sets of solar string lights. They brighten up the patio set for some great evening conversations.

To the left of our home, there are a few lights that lead up to the pool shed. For when you have to put away items at the end of a good time. And finally is some more string lights on our upper deck. Should we choose to sit there and hang out, there is also a heater and bbq for making meals.

Some of our lights are remotely controlled. I’m working on adding them to my Google Home app. Automation of our home is some of the most fun I am having living here. Adding lighting and ambiance is also high up.

Do you like having lights as a side feature besides just functionality? Are you getting as impatient as I am for warm summer nights?

Let me know in the comments.

2022 Canadian Youth Long Track Championships: Live Feed

Today I was able to watch my son in Quebec at the 2022 Canadian Youth Long Track Championships. My wife sent me the link this morning. She also gave me a few minutes warning right before he hit the ice.

Viewing the races on YouTube in real time made me happy. I felt like I was supportive even though I wasn’t physically there. I also watched his final two races of the day on our big screen tv. That was cool!

Watching on my phone, I also did a “Screen Grab” recording. Once the races were done, I cropped the length of them to be just of his race. This way I can send it off to him to review. He will probably show his new coach as well in order to get some feedback to get better.

Tomorrow is another day of racing for him. I suspect that he is tired after todays events. Long track speed skating is not his strongest yet, but he really enjoys it. Now to get him some training in places like Calgary and Fort St. John.

For my family and friends who wish to watch the feed tomorrow, here is the link: YouTube Live Feed

Young Joe 1990

An old friend of mine from kindergarten sent a photo to me yesterday… of me. There’s nothing special about the picture. He had taken it during a visit to our place one summer. We had stayed in touch for a few years after I moved from Edmonton. Every summer his family would come to the west coast and he would stay with us for a long weekend or so.

1990 Josef- Age 14

This was summer of 1990. I was 14 at the time of this photo. In my hands is a Sega Genesis controller. I remember he and our other friend had stayed over for about five days. The three of us played Sega nonstop trying to beat Phantasy Star 2. By nonstop I mean we pulled all-nighters taking turns sleeping trying to get further in the game. During the days we would take some breaks and go swimming. We had a good long distance friendship that lasted about a decade. Then high school set in and our summers changed.

Last Summer: Our son and his friends having a night swim.

This candid picture of me is mind blowing as well. My son looks and acts exactly the same way I did. I’ve seen him with friends at sleepovers and how they play video games much in the same manner. Not to mention how much fun they have in the swimming pool.

It was nice that my old friend sent me that photo randomly. It goes to show that people can still think of you and the good times that were once had. It’s been years since he and I hung out. The three of us met up about five or six years ago. It was a nice evening of beers and memories. Perhaps we will get together once or twice more over the years.

Life just gets busy sometimes and memories are all we have. I’ll take those innocent and happy memories any day.

Peaceful Friday Evenings

Over the past few weeks I have enjoyed my Friday evenings alone. My wife takes the two youngest to speed skating and I get a few hours to myself. A couple of weeks ago I had a bath, read a book and drank some wine.

This week I sat in our bedroom and watched the sun set. Once it was out of view and the night sky was upon us, I turned to the Oculus headset and began a new game- Moss. This was the first vr game my wife ever tried on the Oculus when we were at a friend’s place in Calgary back in 2019. Read about that day here: Unassuming Friday.

The game itself is really cute and easy to play. I was enjoying myself for well over an hour. But had to call it quits because my eyes were getting fatigued. I also had to prepare a late dinner for the family once they arrived home. But it’s going to be some quick and easy. I forgot to get anything ready ahead of time.

I do enjoy the time I have to myself. I’m not ever trying to fill my Friday nights, but I do appreciate the opportunity to lounge for a few hours. Taking some “me time” is beneficial in many ways.

Amico No Show…

Back in January of 2020 I put down $100 as a deposit on a video game system that was slated to come out in October 2020. (Read about it Here: Mio Amico). The release date came and went with a new day slotted for April of 2021. The reason was the computer chip shortage.

Well, April 2021 came and went with a promise from the company that a system would be out by the end of the year. Well, we are now into the second month of 2022 and still no system or tentative release date. Am I disappointed? Of course.

I am at a stage now where I am debating what to do. I still have the opportunity to get my $100 deposit refunded. Or I can keep waiting and hope that a physical system may actually get released. $100 is essentially how much I spend a week on gas for my vehicle. So it’s not all that much. However, not having something to show for the money is sucky.

I do think that the will be out eventually. My hope is that the games they release will be worthy of renewed gameplay and fun. For now, I’m going to give them until the middle of March and decide by then. There is currently about half a dozen games they have shown that I really want to play.

Maybe I’ll continue to be disappointed. Or maybe I’ll give up and move on. I’m not sure quite yet.

Keeping Ahead Of The Youth

My children are often surprised that I am well engaged in what is going on in the world. I don’t mean current events per se. But rather the latest social media trends.

Since my knowledge of the internet started long before our children were born, I have learned, watched and participated in growing and learning with the information super highway. Even before the internet we had “shareware”. A floppy disk with pirated software shared amongst friends. Now I can find almost anything I want at all online. As well, anyone can have a moment of fame. And there is no rhyme or reason for how that works.

It’s all about ME in Social MEdia

As for social media and sharing trends, I have created accounts in almost everything that has come along. Some last only a brief second- Google+ for example. While other apps just don’t excite or interest me, such as Snapchat or Reddit. That’s just personal taste.

🟩⬛⬛⬛⬛
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🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 This game. Ugh.

I have found that since I am ahead of my teenagers in the trends, they will often share with me a love of the goofiness that we find on the various applications. We get to bond over random humors. I’ll continue to stay engaged in what goes on in the world and any trends that pique my interest. Currently looking at you WORDLE. For a game that takes a couple of minutes, I’m definitely competitive in trying to solve it in as few turns as possible.

For me, social media is a part of life and community. I’m glad that it all still makes sense to my mid-forties brain.

3D Printing, Crafting, Art

On Thursday I decided to clean up the garage and my work space. I threw out a bunch of items and got other stuff ready for donations. I felt really proud of myself.

I also recalibrated my 3D printer. It’s been almost a year since I last used it. I was worried that during the move something may have broken or jarred. But that was not the case. Thirty minutes later and I was working on my first test print. Which came out perfectly.

Now it’s time to get back into the hobby. And with a larger work bench, I’m looking at adding in a resin printer and possibly a larger 3D printer. I love making stuff, and learning from my errors and growing with my knowledge keeps my going. Hopefully I can get a few big projects hammered out before the weather gets nice and the I’ll be outside more often.

Perhaps at that point I can work on some paintings again while enjoying the warm sun. I know my wife is looking forward to gardening and she already has some big plans.

Do you have hobbies that were put on hold? Now that the holiday season is over, do you plan on getting back to them? Let me know in the comments.

Manifesting Memories

It dawned on me today that I manifested a perfect life for myself based on my favorite memories.

Our current home takes my earliest memories of living in Edmonton. Back in the early 80’s, that house backed onto farmer’s fields. Where the views went on forever. Even this last winter snowfall reminded me of the streets and fun I had from ages 5-8.

The next house my family moved to in 1985 had an in ground swimming pool. I recall always having friends over playing and lounging around listening to cassettes on my portable ghetto blaster. Last summer, I continued that tradition in our new home. Every time I was in the pool, I had music playing on a large Bluetooth speaker.

Growing up, I loved movies. The idea that a short story could take you away to an entire new world always filled me with joy. As a teenager I always wanted to be a projectionist. That became a reality in my early 20’s. I loved doing that job for almost five years. We even had our own theater room in our last home.

Besides our my dream job and current home, I remember always wanting to be a good father. In 2000, I met a partner who became my best friend. Her and I both had similar family goals. So we married quickly and got to work making a family even quicker. As the kids grew up, I stayed young. Constantly playing with them and creating new memories for us.

One day, I suspect our kids will manifest their own dreams and goals from the positive experiences they have had.

I didn’t even touch on these facts of what I always wanted: that have also come to fruition:

  • Traveling to Hawaii
  • Traveling to Tokyo
  • Driving the Extraterrestrial Highway
  • Owning a lightsaber
  • Experiencing VR
  • Owning a car
  • Owning an arcade machine
  • Having close friends that last a lifetime

There are so many more things in my life that have come in to reality. All of it is possible through the power of positive thinking. It’s not always going to be easy. Some things are a long arduous journey. But looking back, I know this is exactly where I need to be.

Looking forward, I know exactly where I need to get to. And I hope you are having the same successes in your lives also.

Cheap Fashion

I’m the kind of fellow who wears jeans and a t-shirt most days. I have a tough time buying shirts that cost more than $20. Last year I bought 4 shirts the entire year. I also find it difficult to spend $80 on shoes. I did not buy a single pair of shoes in 2021. I wear my shoes right down to nothingness, and then I continue to use them as “garden shoes”. You know what I mean- the kind of shoes you put on to quickly step outside. The heal is destroyed from walking on it and the laces are so loose you just slip into them.

But accessories? That’s just superficial for the most part. I have a pair of diamond earrings my wife gave me for my birthday one year. I wear them daily and only take them out periodically to clean them. That’s my most expensive flashy accessory. I also have a 40th Anniversary PAC-Man watch I got as a birthday gift and I love it.

Before we went to Mexico, I bought a pair of $20 sunglasses. This is the first pair I have bought in almost 20 years. Every pair prior was free from conventions, or tinted safety glasses from work. If it protects my eyes, it’s good enough. No need for name brand eyewear that I’ll break or lose.

I only wear the PAC-Man watch when I wanted to feel dressy. Normally I am wearing my wife’s old Fitbit on a daily basis. But I didn’t like the look or feel of it. So I bought a $20 watch off Amazon last week. It tells the time and date if I push a button. Basic led numerals. Nothing fancy or high tech.

I’m cheap when it comes to accessories for my appearance. Honestly all jewelry is costume jewelry, why not be cheap if you have to accessorize?

Snow Joe Blows

Overnight we had a healthy dumping of snow again. This time, my wife was ready for it. And she was excited too. Not like her considering how she prefers warmer temperatures.

Two days ago- a small electric snow blower was delivered from Amazon. My wife was so excited about it that she didn’t let me get any unboxing photos. She also assembled it herself with great glee while I was at work. I think she bought it because it was called a “Snow Joe”.

Again, she was so excited to use it that she asked me to call her when I was off work at 6am. That way she could clear the driveway before I got home. The foot of snow was gone for my car to back into the driveway. She demonstrated how amazing the “Snow Joe” was and I quickly finished the rest of the driveway before the neighbors were even awake. That’s right, I finished after my wife was satisfied with herself.

For the amount of pleasure this blower brought my wife, and the ease at which we cleared the driveway, I’m surprised we hadn’t bought one sooner. Although in our last home, the trees helped keep our driveway clear. (I’m pretty sure all those pine needles and small branches would’ve damaged this machine.)

I also think the neighbors are a bit jealous now at how quickly our property cleans up. Sweating with a snow shovel is no more! Do you use a shovel, snow blower, or private company to do the dirty work? Let me know in the comments.

Is This The Real Life…

What if this life we are living isn’t real?

If you found out it wasn’t real, would that make it any less worth living? Or maybe you’re like me and want to walk that fine line of questioning reality and adhering to the rules.

Normally these thoughts enter my mind every September. Don’t ask me why. I think that’s just when the server gets rebooted. Or that reality gets shifted two inches to the right.

In all seriousness, I love the idea of VR. In fact, we have had the Oculus Quest 2 in our home for two years now. With The Metaverse starting to take shape, I think it’s an exciting time to be alive. Over the past couple of years we have all been more exposed to Zoom meetings and video conferences. Strapping on a headset is the next step. The current visuals alone are compelling and immersive. Soon there is going to be Haptic Gloves coming out. That will really change the usage of the Virtual and Augmented reality.

In the not too distant future, we may become fully immersed in a haptic body suit or some sort of chamber. We will begin to occupy a new level of interaction with one another. I do wonder if one day we will be so interconnected that we lose sight of reality.

Perhaps we already have. Maybe we are reliving aspects of humanity we once romanticized- the dawning age of computers. Or maybe we are an alien race playing a life simulator. Could it also be we are just a computer program that became sentient?

I have no idea about any of this. But it sure is fun to imagine that it could be the reality. And if the life we are currently experiencing isn’t real- at least it’s been a crazy adventure.

Spotify Wrapped 2021

Spotify released the yearly playlists for everyone’s top 100. Here is a link to mine: Josef’s 2021 Top Spotify . I always like to see what makes my top songs. 97 different genres to be precise.

My top 5 songs are fantastic songs from years ago- late 90’s early 2000’s. Most of my playlist comes from songs I chose to enjoy in the backyard this summer hanging out poolside. A few of the songs surprised me as I didn’t realize I had listened to them that much.

My audio aura was two extreme levels. ANGST AND HAPPY. That humors me to no end.

But I also worked hard on my relaxation techniques. I listened to a lot of Enya and my top podcast was a wellness one. I spent almost 3000 minutes listening to calming music and sounds. I was zen AF.

So take a listen to my music if you wish. How was your 2021 Spotify Wrapped? Share in the comments, I’d love to hear your playlists.

Video Game Challenge

About a month ago, my son and his friend challenged my buddy and I to a series of video game competitions. Saturday we took on the teenagers and played some PlayStation 3 games and some Nintendo Wii games. I thought for sure my buddy and I would win the majority of the games.

Boy was I wrong.

It was embarrassing losing at a game that we would spend hours playing in the arcade after work back in 1999/2000. I loved NFL Blitz and clocked a lot of hours at work playing it way back then. The boys had never played it. For whatever reason, they wiped the floor with us. Embarrassing.

My buddy and I did get our revenge on Wii Sports Resort Bowling. Bowling was something I did in high school for years. The logistics of the game were similar, so I defeated my son quite easily. My buddy and his boy had a much closer match. It was down to one point. But victory was ours!

Then MarioKart on the Wii came out. My son and his friend decimated us. It wasn’t even close. I may as well have been driving a golf cart on the Indy 500 the way I was playing. Even though the old guys lost, we still had fun and would do it again sometime.

Update Needed

I have mentioned Google Home and automation tech a few times over the years. I’m extremely fond of how easy it is to use. Some of my favorite aspects are the schedules and routines. I have a few like “ok Google, Good Night.” And my bedside lamp goes on and Google says “Goodnight Josef.” Totally awesome.

This week, I added some plugs for the Christmas tree lights and created a routine that turns on every tree and plays Christmas orchestral music from Spotify. “Ok Google- Merry Christmas.” Pretty straightforward. Except that I wanted an icon for the trees that didn’t look like a plug or a lightbulb. But no such luck.

Instead I used the Kettle icon. It’s triangular and kind of works. But who uses a kettle or coffee maker on a smart plug? That makes no sense to me. Most of them have clocks and timers. It would be nice if Google updated their icons on the app to represent activities that make sense. Like turning on Christmas lights. Or the outdoor lights. A lightbulb or plug icon gets kind of lost in the app settings.

In the meantime, our nine foot tree is a kettle. That’s sort of festive… we like hot chocolate.

Hakchi

Three years ago, Santa brought us the NES Mini and the SNES Mini. Christmas has always been akin to Video Games since I can remember. We played the games that were on the systems only a handful of times. After we moved, the Nintendo minis went on display in my kids’ room.

This week I decided that I was going to modify the SNES Mini. I did a bit of research online, or rather watched a couple YouTube tutorials, and decided to give it a go. I’m not going to link any of the information- as doing a modification like this is done at your own risk. But since we weren’t really using the systems, I wanted to try it out.

I spent a couple of hours downloading almost every single Super Nintendo game available. I also picked up a few Sega Genesis titles as well as some Gameboy ones. The controls on the system work similarly so it wasn’t that big a deal. I used an app called Hakchi CE to hack the system. This was one of the most straightforward things to do since my usage of Limewire and Musicmatch a couple decades ago.

Now there are 148 games installed on the SNES Mini. Each game works perfectly, each with artwork to keep it looking like the original games that the system came with. This is like hitting the jackpot of my youth- every game imaginable is available to be added to the library of titles. My favorite game ever on the Super Nintendo is also on here now- Metal Warriors. I’m hoping that my son will play it with me soon.

Next I’ll modify the NES Mini and put a bunch of Nintendo and Gameboy and Game Gear games on that one. There’s something to be said for nostalgia and gaming.

Have you done a mod on your NES or SNES mini? Let me know what features you like to use.