Tivo easily outperforms Comcast’s DVR

March 28th, 2007

After being a Tivo user for the past 5 years, I always thought other DVRs worked similarly. I was wrong. I recently started using Comcast’s HD-DVR and so far I am not impressed with the interface. To show that I’m not totally one-sided, there is one good feature that the Comcast DVR has; in that it shows a small screen of your TV show when perusing the schedule. I like being able to still watch the show while looking at the TV listings. Now let’s get to the things that make the Tivo better than the Comcast DVR.

  • The Tivo dual tuner lets you cache 2 different shows, so you can flip back and forth between them and miss the commercials. The Comcast DVR has dual tuners, but it only caches 1 tuner. The other tuner is used ONLY for recording purposes. So if you’re flipping back and forth between 2 shows, you lose your cached memory each time you switch channels.
  • When recording a series on the Comcast DVR, the default setting only records the show at THAT particular time. Example, if you want to record all new episodes of Heroes, it will only record episodes that start at 10pm (since the first episode on the list starts at 10pm). This is bad, since if NBC moves Heroes to 9pm one week, the Comcast DVR won’t find it. Tivo’s Season Pass WILL find all episodes of Heroes, no matter when it plays. You can manually change the Comcast DVR to record Heroes “anytime” a new episode plays, but shouldn’t that be the default setting?
  • The Comcast DVR uses only part of the screen for showing TV listings and DVR listings.  This limits what can be seen on 1 page.  Too much remote surfing required.
  • It seems like the Tivo has a quicker response to remote functions.  The Comcast remote either takes longer to process or something…. since it’s driving me crazy when I hit the down button 5 times and it only goes down 2 spots.

These are just the few things that have made me wish I still had a Tivo. I’m sure as I use my Comcast DVR more, I’ll get used to this inferior product. But if you have the choice between your cable company’s DVR and a Tivo, and if you can afford the higher cost of the Tivo ($700 for the Series-3 HD version), the Tivo is the way to go, hands down.

Hoyas down the Tar Heels

March 25th, 2007

The showdown was inevitable…. my March Madness bracket had Georgetown winning the entire tournament, and Lee’s bracket had his UNC boys winning it all.  The confrontation would happen in the Elite 8 round, sending either the Hoyas or Tar Heels the Final Four.  It was tough to not root for the Heels, since the LeFever household is true Carolina Blue and I’ve grown to root for UNC (when they’re not playing my Penn Quakers).  Georgetown was down almost the entire game, by as much as 11 points midway through the second half.  Based on how the game was evolving, I figured I would end up losing my bracket.  But in a glass-is-half-full mentality, it would make the LeFever house happy, so a UNC win wouldn’t be that bad.  Fortunately for the Hoyas, they began playing better near the end of the game and hit a 3-pointer to tie the game in the last minute to send it to overtime.  UNC was the better team all day and arguably has the better set of players, but for almost the entire overtime, they could not buy a bucket.  Front rim, side rim, nothing…. the ball was doing everything in its power to not go through the net.  The Hoyas pulled out the comeback-overtime victory much to the dismay of the higher seeded Tar Heels.  While an unfortunate end for UNC, they played well throughout the tournament and had a good season overall.  On the bright side, my bracket is still in contention for the victory, as long as Georgetown beats UCLA in the finals next week.

The new home sweet home

March 23rd, 2007

Finally moved in.  It took about a week to slowly bring things over box by box, but I’m now living in my house.  After living in a small apt during MBA school and living at Lee & Sachi’s house for the past 18 months, I’ve finally got my own place.  The walls are white, the place is lacking furniture, but it’s perfect for me.  If you’re expecting a housewarming party, don’t get your hopes up…. there’s currently nothing to sit on, no chairs, no couches, no coffee tables, nothing.  That’ll eventually change, but for now it’s a blank canvas.

Lee & Sachi came over a few days ago to help move some stuff.  They brought the black dog with them, since Amos may on occasion need a babysitter and it’s good to introduce him to the new surroundings.  He didn’t like the hardwood floors, since it was slippery under his paws, so he mainly stayed in the carpeted rooms.  When we all went outside to the back deck, he was going around sniffing everywhere, which appeared to be normal investigatory activities for a dog.  What we didn’t realize though was that Amos is trained to go outside to pee/poop, and by walking out to the back deck, it triggered the need to pee/poop.  The back deck has a locked gate that connects to the grassy yard area.  Amos was searching desparately for a way to get to the grassy area before something came out.  We didn’t realize this and all of a sudden…. uh oh, Amos just pooped on the deck.  It was more funny than anything else, since he really tried to find grass, but couldn’t.

My new home base is in the Montlake area, so I’ve got a new neighborhood to explore.  If you have my old address, don’t worry, that still works, since it gives me a reason to visit Lee/Sachi to pick up my mail.   BTW, if you’re watching March Madness, root for G’town to win it all!!! Go Hoyas!

A penny saved is $100 earned

March 17th, 2007

I need a new fridge. But buying a fridge isn’t an easy decision…. since who really keeps up with which are good brands, what’s a good price, or where’s the best place to get one? I went first to the Internet to find places around Seattle that sell refrigerators. Arnold’s, Albert Lee, Sears, & Best Buy made the short list. My first assumption was that a fridge would cost around $400. Wrong! The start below a grand, but can be upwards of $6,000. For that much, I expect to open the refrigerator door and find a chef inside preparing my food for me. About a week ago, I heard about an outlet store that Sears uses to get rid of excess inventory and returned/reconditioned items. The place is way down in Tacoma, which is quite a ways to go to buy an appliance. But for a discount (supposedly 20-40% off retail) I figured it was worth it. When I called yesterday to find out the store hours, the salesperson told me that there would be a St. Patty’s Day sale today (Saturday). As a bonus, the first 25 people thru the door at 8am receive a $100 store coupon. Wow, a sale PLUS a bonus coupon. Count me in. So early this morning, my sister and I drove down to get there by 7:45 (in case there was a line) and got our extra $100 off my fridge. Would you wake up early on a Saturday to get a discount on an appliance? Before today I probably wouldn’t have…. but just goes to show the early bird gets the worm and an extra $100 off. In case you were wondering, I didn’t get the $6000 fridge. My fridge retailed at $2000, but was on sale for $1180, and with the coupon, came down to $1080….. not bad, not bad at all.

(Sachi waiting to get let in to Sears Appliance Outlet at 8am on a Saturday)

Penn vs. Texas A&M (Thurs 3pm EDT)

March 14th, 2007

My beloved Quakers play the over-hyped Aggies of A&M tomorrow in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. If you live near the Lexington, KY area, you’re lucky enough to possibly see the game in-person. Maybe in the Philly area, you’re able to see it on the local CBS affiliate. However, in Seattle, I’m stuck with the local Washington St./Oral Roberts game. Too bad. I guess I won’t be able to see my alma mater play……

And then there was light!

CBS has again made the first few rounds of the tournament available to watch online. All games from all regions can be seen live online. All you have to do is sign-up for March Madness On Demand from CBS Sportsline. If you have a computer nearby, and don’t mind watching a basketball game during work hours, I hope you’ll root for my Penn Quakers on Thursday 3pm EDT (noon PDT, 9am HST).

Get ready the corned beef

March 12th, 2007

Saturday is the 17th, St. Patrick’s Day. And that means as a Sullivan, I must uphold my Irish roots, however distant it may be. (Is Pfaff Irish?) As I was shopping at Safeway today, I noticed a big sign advertising corned beef on sale. As expected, the pairing ingredient of cabbage also had a sale sign next to it. For many, St. Patty’s Day is a rookie night out at the bars… meaning, similar to New Year’s Eve, it’s one of two holidays when folks who don’t normally go out to bars try to relive their wild partying days.
St. Patty’s Day being a Saturday, will likely bring out even a larger rookie class than normal. I used to do that as well. I remember St. Patty’s Day in Philly years ago, hitting the Walnut St bars all through town; starting with The Irish Pub, then Moriarty’s, McGillin’s, The Irish Bard’s, Roosevelts, New Deck Tavern, Cavanaugh’s, Blarney Stone and finally Smokey Joe’s. Last year for this holiday, I celebrated St. Patty’s Day with friends in Chicago; eating White Castle burgers and taking in the city. This year I expect a quieter holiday, making myself a little home-cooked corned beef and cabbage. If you’re planning your own St. Patty’s Day festivities, may I recommend that instead of the doing the trite (i.e. Going to the overcrowded Irish bar with other rookies to drink green beer), why not create a little shepard’s pie at home, or better yet, some boxty and Guinness stew. If you want to freak out your family, put a little green food coloring in a gallon container of milk and see if they’re willing to eat green-milk cereal… hehehe.

Hawaiian music - An intro for novices

March 8th, 2007

Growing up in Hawaii, there was always Hawaiian music around, either on the radio, or as background for TV commercials or in doctor waiting rooms. And when I say Hawaiian music, I don’t mean only songs in the Hawaiian language, I’m talking about the genre of music created in Hawaii. For many mainland residents that only visit Hawaii through luau-filled week-long family trips using a friend’s time-share condo, Hawaiian music is the stuff you hear at the Maui airport and during the luau hula show. But in fact, you probably haven’t been exposed to the songs that the locals have deemed “classics”. That’s what I hope to provide to you.

Hopefully you can find these on i-tunes or some other legitimate music sharing site. I know others may disagree with what I consider Hawaiian music classics, but this is only one man’s opinion. I’ve provided links to song samples where I could find them. (Song samples will pop-up in a new window.) These are in no particular order:

  • “Kuu Home O Kahaluu” by Olomana - This song is by one of the all-time great Hawaiian groups. The guitar picking is called “slack-key” and is something that is distinctly Hawaiian.
  • “Goodtimes Together” by Cecilio Rodriguez & Henry Kapono - These two guys have so many songs in their discography, that it’s hard to choose the few to make this list.
  • “Honolulu City Lights” by Keola & Kapono Beamer - A song that talks about departing on a night flight from Honolulu and from the plane, seeing memories in all the lights of the island.
  • “Far Too Wide For Me” by the Peter Moon Band - This song was used for a long-distance telephone commercial for years when I was growing up and I always picture it when I hear this song. This ballad describes some of the feelings people get being seemingly trapped on a rock in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
  • “You Don’t Write” by Ka’au Crater Boys - This song is more upbeat and incorporates the ukulele (a small 4-string guitar-type instrument). If you like this type of synchopated beat, I suggest you check out other songs by the Ka’au Crater Boys (I’d suggest the songs “Surf” or “Opihi Man”)
  • “You Ku’uipo” by Willie K - A Hawaiian ballad that demonstrates the falseto style of singing that Willie K is quite skilled at. Willie K also has hints of a jazz in his guitar licks, which come out in this song, as well as “Ho’okipa Surf Song” and “Katchi Katchi Music Makawao”. Ho’okipa was a very close 2nd to Ku’uipo, both are favs of mine.
  • “Makee Ailana” by Brothers Cazimero - These guys have many great songs, all which have a wonderful harmony. This one is more traditional Hawaiian and while you may not understand what they’re saying, it still puts you in a relaxed mood listening to the guitar strumming and their vocals.
  • “Kanaka Wai Wai” by Melveen Leed - This song is considered a standard, done by many different artists. I like Melveen’s version, since her vocals are powerful and she does an English and Hawaiian verse. When I hear this song, it reminds me of my Uncle Danny and how we know he’s walking in paradise.
  • “Flying with Angels” by Na Leo Pilimehana - This 3-female group has great harmonies and a contemporary sound of Hawaiian music. They have a fun song called, “Taro Patch Twist” that I enjoy as well.
  • “White Sandy Beach” by The Makaha Sons of Ni’ihau - Many of you may know Israel Kamakawiwo’ole from his version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” used in many movies and commercials. Before he ventured on his own, he was a part of The Makaha Sons.
  • “Live a Little” by The Hawaiian Style Band - Although the name of the band sounds generic, this group had a good number of hits and this is definitely one that is a fun listen. This group also is known for “Love and Honesty” and “Happy Just to Be With You”.
  • “Island Style” by John Cruz - This song talks about a lot of local traditions and living as locals do. It has a good melody and a cool guitar background.

I hope you check some of these out and maybe you’ll get to enjoy some of the great music from the 50th state. Aloha!

Penn is the first team in the NCAA tourney

March 4th, 2007

Congrats to my alma mater, The University of Pennsylvania (Not Penn State!) on receiving the first entry into the 2007 NCAA Basketball tournament. Penn is part of the Ivy League (aka “The Ancient Eight”), consisting of 8 schools that do not offer any athletic scholarships. Offering zero athletic scholarships makes it difficult to compete against other schools when scouting top high school athletes. Even with that, Penn has managed to hold its own against other top schools (beating Philly rivals Temple, St. Joseph’s and Drexel). The Ivy League is the only conference that does not have a post-season conference tournament, making the regular season so very important. Other conferences play a full season, just to play a conference tourney afterwards. That’s just stupid. That means the regular season means nothing, ‘cept for a conference tournament seeding. The Ivy League does it right (and smartly) by giving the team with the best Ivy record a ticket to the NCAA Tournament. That makes each and every regular season game extremely important. Penn this year is 12-1 in the Ivy with one last meaningless game against an insignificant and piss-poor Princeton team on Tuesday.

We now await to hear when and where Penn will play in the first round of the tournament. The announement will be made next Sunday afternoon. I’m guessing Penn will be a 14-seed playing against 3-seed Georgetown in Winston-Salem, NC. This is only a guess, so stay tuned to see where Penn ends up…. Go Quakers!!!

Watch your back Blake…

March 3rd, 2007

Our good friends Blake & Christi have finally gotten back at us. To back up the story, about 3 1/2 years ago, Lee, Sachi and I had a little fun on Halloween night 2003 by decorating Blake & Christi’s front & back yard with double-ply toilet paper. It was a prank that was supposed to kickstart an innocent feud between us. However, Blake & Christi never retaliated. Until this week……

Tonight, Lee noticed that the metal stars that hung on the walls of the living room were missing. These weren’t small items, one star was about 4 feet in diameter. Lee, Sachi and I realized that one of 2 things had occurred. Either 1) A bugular entered the house and took only the stars (leaving other valuable items in sight), or 2) One of our friends were playing a prank on us. Being the considerate folks we are, we called our friends who had keys to the house and asked them if they’d seen any metal stars recently. They all said they hadn’t, so we then assumed the burgular scenario.

We didn’t feel too good that a burgular had been in the house, so I went ahead and attempted to hack into the alarm system for the house. We didn’t know the code to operate the alarm, but thanks to the internet, I was able to reprogram the alarm system. That handy internet has answers to pretty much anything you need. Now that we have a working system, we rested and watched some TV again.

Only then we received a sinister email from our friends Blake & Christi…. it appears that they DID have our metal stars and this little prank was retribution for the toilet paper incident 3 years back. I’m all for the revenge of one prank for another, but 3 years? What were they waiting for? Now that the ball is back in our court, they should expect, and expect soon, the next round of practical jokes. You won’t know when, or where it will happen, but when you realize you’ve been had…. you’ll know it’s from us. muhahahahaha!!!!


March 2nd, 2007

I’m sure you’ve heard of the Nintendo Wii, a video game console released in Nov 2006. The Wii is so much different than a regular video game console. Instead of just pressing buttons, you move according to the actions of the game, whether it’s throwing a ball as in bowling, or swinging a bat or club for baseball or golf, the Wii provides a sense of actually playing the game, rather than pushing buttons on a controller.

Our favorite game so far is Wii bowling. There is a side game for bowling where you bowl 10 times, each time the game adds a row of pins to the stack…. so for round 1, you have the normal 10 pins, round 2 adds a row to make it 15 pins, round 3 is 21 pins.. and so forth. Round 10 has a mammoth 91 pins that you must knock down with 1 throw… and that is difficult. You get points for each pin you knock down, and double points in that round if you get a strike. The record in our household was previously 662, held by my sister, but I have since crushed that record and earned a jaw-dropping 740 points to reclaim the top spot in this sport.

If you have the opportunity to get ahold of a Wii, I highly recommend it. And if you have a higher score than 740 on power bowling…. bring it!