Monthly Archives: February 2014

The Great Joe Posnanski

My favorite writer is the great Joe Posnanski. He could write about a chemistry competition and make it sound interesting. I love that he grew up in Cleveland and still harbors all the heartbreak of 50+ years of being without a championship. I also like how I agree with almost his entire philosophy when it comes to Baseball and advanced statistics (everyone who likes baseball should be lucky enough to read this book). In his previous role as senior writer for Sports Illustrated and current role as Senior Writer for NBC Sports, we’re lucky enough to have him write about a wide variety of sports. If you count his blog, almost no topic is outside of what he’ll write about.

My favorite Joe posts are on his blog when he writes about either nerdy baseball topics (WAR vs. traditional stats) and when he writes about life. It sounds cliche, but I’ve saved a few of his articles in my RSS feed that I feel everyone should read. In a way, I hope my writing can achieve a small part of what he accomplished. With that said, I encourage anyone reading this blog to check out these links and let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

1.Fifteen Years – An article about being married 15 years to his wife Margo. I love when he writes about non-sports and I wish I could be this articulate about events in my life.

2. The heart of Los Angeles – A great article about the incomparable Vin Scully.

3. The Biggest Winner – An article about Rulon Gardner and what inspiration in sports means.

4. Home in Capital Letters – There was a time when I thought I would be moving from Columbus. I specifically saved this article because it resonated with how I feel about the city. If I ever leave Columbus, this will be the first article I read to try to capture how I feel about leaving my adopted hometown.

5. Katie the Prefect – I know I’ve said all these articles are brilliant… this is an article about taking his daughter Katie Universal Studios to Harry Potter World and how the smallest deeds can have the biggest influences.

If you have any authors who have had a positive influence in your life or want to drop a note about Joe Posnanski, feel free to use the comment box below.

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Valentine’s Day Surprise

A few weeks ago I stumbled upon a documentary on Netflix titled Bronies that chronicles adults (mostly males) who are obsessed with the cartoon ‘My Little Pony’. It really does take all kinds. Anyway, I so fascinated that I made everyone I know watch it. Anyway, this was my desk when I came in to work today….

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Props to Tori for the prank…. and to take a line from the documentary…. this made my day 20% more awesome.

My Favorite Google Chrome Extensions

I was recently having a conversation with a co-worker about my favorite browser extensions when when I thought it might be a good idea to post some of them on the blog for everyone…. If you aren’t using Chrome as your default browser, I assume you are one of my parents or someone who isn’t great with technology…. There really aren’t any other reasons. With that said…. here are some of my favorite extensions that really make Chrome an amazing browser….

AdBlock – https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/adblock/gighmmpiobklfepjocnamgkkbiglidom

This extension blocks ads from showing up when you browse various websites. I’m not going to get in much detail because blocking ads is as straightforward, but this is a must-have…

adblock

Facebook Disconnect – https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/facebook-disconnect/ejpepffjfmamnambagiibghpglaidiec

I’ve already written why Facebook is horrible, but it’s still used by millions (myself included). They are notorious for tracking all your web activity even outside of the application itself. This extension cuts that off so they can’t mine your data and gives you more control over what information is shared.

facebook

Chrome to Phone – https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/google-chrome-to-phone-ex/oadboiipflhobonjjffjbfekfjcgkhco

This extension is awesome because it let’s you send whatever you are viewing on your desktop instantaneously to your phone. Think when you’re looking up an address or phone number…. instead of writing it down, you can send directly to the phone so you always have it handy. You can even integrate into Google Maps and whatnot. It’s more useful than I thought it would be.

Honey – https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/honey/bmnlcjabgnpnenekpadlanbbkooimhnj

Honey is my favorite extension. Whenever you are shopping online, Honey will display a button upon checkout at most sites…. clicking the ‘Honey’ button will check the most frequent coupon codes to save you money! It’s awesome.

honey

Smile Always – https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/smile-always/jgpmhnmjbhgkhpbgelalfpplebgfjmbf

I’ve written before how Amazon Smile is something everyone should be doing (.5% of your purchase goes to the charity of your choice). Smile Always makes sure whenever you go to Amazon.com, it will automatically load smile.amazon.com so your charity will get their donation (using http://www.amazon.com will not get your organization the donation).

smile

The Tracktor – https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/the-tracktor-price-histor/onajjgekdldckfgodnmoallcmdmfcfom

Another one of my favorite extensions. The Tracktor shows historical pricing on Amazon so you can be sure to buy at the lowest possible price. It’s amazing.

tracktor

If you like any of the extensions listed or have any additional suggestions that I should be using, please feel free to drop a note below.

From Justin to Kelly – The Running Diary (A gift from young Mark)

When I lived in the great city of Dayton, OH, I had an amazing blog titled ‘Tea and Strumpets’ (or ‘The T&S for short). The name came from the Dumb and Dumber line where Lloyd says “If I know Mary like I think I do, she’ll invite us in for tea and strumpets.” My writing was slightly less frequent, but I think I wrote with less abandon.

Anyway, at one point, I did a running diary of the movie ‘From Justin to Kelly’ starring Kelly Clarkson and Justin Guarini. For those that may not be familiar, this is based off the success of American Idol Season 1 and is ranked as one of the worst movies of all time. It currently sits at #24 of IMDB’s worst movies of all time. This post originally ran on April 5, 2004 (a young 20 something Mark). Enjoy.

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Oh, Hey Teens, Mark Roehl here.

Oh Hey Teens, Mark Roehl here. Every once in a great while, an opportunity comes your way that is just too good to pass up. Earlier in the week, I was in Blockbuster video and lo and behold, staring me right in the face was the movie ‘From Justin to Kelly’. How could anyone pass this up? Movies this bad don’t come along too often. I felt it was my civic duty to rent the movie and keep a running diary on the website so everyone could experience the joy with me.

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From Justin to Kelly to my DVD Player

So here I am, ready to do you a solid and play the role of the almighty wingman hooking up with the heavyset chick taking one for the team.

While reading this, there are six main characters in the movie, please take a moment to familiarize yourself with them as it’ll make it easier to follow:

Justin – Sideshow Bob from American Idol
Brandon – Justin’s ‘cool’ friend who gets all the chicks
Eddie – Justin’s dorky friend who is trying to rendezvous with a woman he met off the internet and is socially awkward

Guys

Girls Beware…. Dorks on the Prowl

Kelly – Kelly from American Idol
Alexa – Her hot blond friend
Kaya – The token minority?

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The Girls

With those six characters, I know I’m in for a treat. Without any further ado, let’s get started.

3:19 p.m. – The DVD is inserted. I’m sitting in front of my computer so I can type and watch at the same time. The official T&S cat is sleeping in the corner. Once the DVD loads, I’m taken to a menu with a lot of dancing, but not nearly enough prancing. I click play with great fear as I have no idea what the next 82 minutes will contain.

3:23 p.m. – Movie begins with Kelly singing in a bar with one passed with two people watching. One is passed out and the other is her friend Luke who is overly excited about her performance. In my mind, I’m wondering why I can’t be as lucky as the person passed out.

3:25 p.m. – Enter Alexa and Kaya. The plot is set as her two friends reveal that they lost out on a trip to Florida because the airline went out of business and they need Kelly to drive them to their destination. She agrees much to the T&S’s chagrin.

3:28 p.m. – Justin and his two friends enter the movie walking down the street in Florida talking about the opportunities they’ll have at Spring Break. It’s rare to see a movie with this much forced dialog so early in the movie, I don’t know if I’m lucky for witnessing this or not? Justin almost appears normal in front of the horrible supporting cast.

3:31 p.m. – Whoa, spontaneous singing just erupted once the three males made it to the beach. I’ve heard of curveballs, but this is something I’ve never seen before. Everyone is singing and there is a lot of touching. Take note, before I die, one of my life’s goals is to be somewhere where spontaneous singing and dancing breaks out. Back to the movie, I think this film had budget problems because the extras are very fat and ugly. I’ve heard of living large, but this is ridiculous. I think I just saw Rosie as one of the dancers…. Bad times….

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Random Dancing and Singing

3:34 p.m. – The singing is finally done and everyone casually goes back to their business. In another incredible twist, Justin and his friend Brandon unexpectedly start freestyle rapping about how to pick up chicks. Justin and his friend Brandon are tutoring their other friend Eddie on how to be a “chick seeking missile.” The rapping ends by Brandon dropping trou on the beach. Only one word could possibly describe what I just saw… Wow.

3:39 p.m. – Next up on the most shocking movie ever… Freestyle tap dancing, this movie has everything. After making eye contact on the beach for a brief second, Kelly and Justin both feel the spark and know they were meant to be together. I have a feeling that the rest of the movie will revolve around Kelly and Justin trying to get together. I’m happy to see that Kelly lost a little weight. She doesn’t have the big linebacker arms anymore. So far that’s the only plus.

3:42 p.m. – This just in, apparently Justin and his friends are in Florida as famous party promoters that all the chicks salivate over. The first party is a whipped cream bikini contest. This movie would be a lot better if it had some gratuitous nudity, I’m sure that’s too much to ask from the people who brought us American Idol.

3:48 p.m. – Another plot twist (I’m sensing a theme), Kelly’s friend Alexa becomes interested in Justin and is trying to sabotage them getting together.

3:53 p.m. – In other news, Kaya, the token minority, has fallen for a local busboy/dishwasher (Carlos the busboy) who takes her on a date salsa dancing. Despite not knowing how to salsa dance, she picks it up no problem and suddenly breaks out in song. I’m not sure how this relates to the movie….but yet here we are.

3:56 p.m. – The whipped cream bikini contest is about to begin…. The anticipation in the Roehl household is mounting…. Then they ruined it and entered Kelly into the competition. Bad times for sure. Kelly is insulted and throws whipped cream in Justin’s face, it’s PANDEMONIUM, whipped cream is flying everywhere, and not in the good way that you see on Pay Per View.

3:59 p.m. – In another awkward scene, Justin finds Kelly at the burger stand and proceeds to accidentally spill hot sauce on her, then ask her out on a date. I’m not sure what just happened but they now have a date at the marina. I think that is the strategy Ted Bundy used to use to get innocent girls to date him, have them go on a romantic “boat ride.” Singing promptly breaks out. Is it too early in the movie to hang myself? I don’t possibly think this could get any worse. Even Ladybird the official T&S cat can’t take anymore and has left the room. Justin and Kelly then meet at the marina and go for a boat ride.

4:04 p.m. – The boat scene has just ended… thank god. I need a beer.

4:05 p.m. – Mmmmmm Coors Light.

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4:08 p.m. – Justin’s geek friend Eddie is set to meet the girl he met online, but decides he needs a suntan before he can go. I wonder how this will end. Gee… maybe he’ll get so sunburned that she won’t be able to recognize him.

4:09 p.m. – Wow, he got really sunburned, I’m glad no-one saw that coming. Who wrote this movie? Can’t we ban them from writing another one? Dude Where’s My Car had a better plot than this.

4:10 p.m. – Kelly’s friend Alexa has set up a meeting with Justin behind Kelly’s back. More singing breaks out with scary dancing and way too many guys. Alexa is kind of hot… she has the southern chick with the big books thing going for her, let’s hope she starts doing coke and ends up in some porn movies. We’ll call this the Olsen Twins wish.

4:16 p.m. – After getting no where with Justin at their meeting, Alexa calls Kelly’s friend Luke from back home to come down and sabotage Kelly’s relationship with Justin. Both Kelly and Justin believe they were stood up by the other. More singing and bad dancing ensues. I long for the days of dancing like in the Paula Abdul video Cold Hearted Snake. Has there ever been a video that confirmed the sexual orientation of an entire generation like that video. That was back when Paula Abdul was hot instead of the dense windbag that she is now.

4:21 p.m. – Kelly’s friend Luke arrives and promptly kisses Kelly in front of everyone. An argument ensues after Justin jumps in and he and Luke go toe to toe. Okay, where I come from, there are a few ways to settle disputes over women. The most common way is fighting. Apparently, the writers thought that they should solve this dispute by a different method….hovercraft races. That’s right teens, hovercraft. It better news, the dork who got incredibly sunburned the night before has returned to being pale. This leads me to a couple of questions, where did the hovercrafts come from? Is it standard to settle disputes using hovercrafts? Where did Dude’s sunburn go? Why am I still watching this movie?

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I’m Gonna Kick Your Butt…. In Hoverracing….

4:23 p.m. – Carnage on the beach as a hover boat collision knocks out Kelly’s friend Luke. Tough love. At this point, some blood may spice the movie up a bit.

hovercraft

4:25 p.m. – Only 20 minutes to go. That’s the best part of this movie so far.

4:27 p.m. – Alexa makes a move on Justin and kisses him as Kelly watches from afar. I want a catfight. I’ve watched this movie for over an hour. Nothing has happened. Why is it too much to ask for a catfight, preferably in bikini’s…?

4:32 p.m. – Eddie’s sunburn is mysteriously back.

4:33 p.m. – Justin confronts Kelly and tells her that Alexa came on to HIM. The dialog in this movie is what sets it apart from others. Kelly finds Alexa’s phone and sees the text messages that Justin has been leaving that were meant for Kelly. I’m hoping for a nice bout of hair pulling mud wrestling to get to the bottom of this. Doesn’t happen.

4:36 p.m. – More singing, this time it’s Kelly in a purple leotard. In a way, she looks like a cross between the Grape Ape and Grimace. Tell me there isn’t a more underrated character than Grimace. Yeah, this movie is so bad, I’ve managed to think about Grimace.

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Look at that purple… is that Grimace?… No it’s just Kelly

4:39 p.m. – Justin skips his flight home for one last chance with Kelly. The singing continues with a Duet. I think my ears are bleeding. They finally kiss below a big fountain in downtown Miami. Apparently the budget was blown so there are no fireworks.

4:40 p.m. – Eddie’s sunburn is gone again. He finds his internet romance. This movie still isn’t over yet.

4:43 p.m. – Finally the much needed prancing. A “That’s the Way I like It” medley. You can listen by going to the official From Justin to Kelly website. Only a few more minutes. I can do this… I can do this… Kelly looks like she was dressed by a blind homeless person. More fat extras appear to join the dancing.

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Nice Wardrobe!!

4:45 p.m. – More rapping breaks out as the medley continues, Kelly plays air guitar, and everyone is all smiles as they dance into the ending credits…. I need to go wash out my eyes…

Eighty two minutes of sheer horror finally come to an end… roll the ending credits. After watching this, I feel as if I deserve some kind of congressional medal for sitting through this and the director needs to be locked up for life so they can’t unleash this kind of horror on humanity again in the future. That’s all for now, check back later for the T&S’s running diary of Gigli….

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If you have any thoughts on the running diary or want to comment about how much worse my writing has gotten over time, please feel free to drop a comment in the box below!

24 Hours with Google Glass

For a long time, like most nerds, I’ve been curious about Google Glass. My wife had me convinced she bought me a pair as a wedding present (it turned out to be an awesome framed picture of Hemingway that we saw on our first trip together in Key West).

So when my friend Parva Thakkar (https://twitter.com/pthakkar9 and google.com/+ParvaThakkar9) purchased Google Glass, I was excited. I figured he’d bring them to work and I’d get to try them on and see what the fuss was about. I was blown away that he was gracious enough to let me borrow them for a full 24 hours. He even did a factory reset so I would have the pure Google Glass experience.

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(Me wearing the Google Glasses)

After a day with Glass, below are some of the hits and misses.

Hits

Navigation – Driving the car with Glass was really cool. It knew where I was going before I left thanks to Google Now. Google Glass doesn’t have GPS built in so it piggybacked off the GPS on my phone. It was as simple as telling Glass to navigate home and I was on my way. I wore the glasses while driving. In order not to be a distraction, the screen turns off while the car is moving, but reappears when the driver gets close to turns or tricky intersections. I also had the voice navigation in my ear guiding me on my way. It’s hard to describe, but it worked really well. Definitely a cool feature. In the future, I could see it suggesting real-time detours based on traffic or even providing car information (I wonder what model that Tesla is?).

Reading Emails and Texts – Another cool feature. Anytime I got an email or gChat, Google Glass makes a ding in my ear (it’s important to note that most of the time I was wearing Glass, the screen was off). This happened when I got home from work and was in the middle of changing. There is an easy setting to have Glass read the email to you. I didn’t have to stop what I was doing and Google read the email nearly flawlessly. I could see this being a great feature that would get a lot of use.

Winking to take Pictures – There is a setting to where the User can wink and Glass will automatically take a picture. This was awesome because sometimes things happen and people don’t have time to play with their phone or other settings to capture the moment. A perfect example was when I took the pups off leash a few days ago in the snow. Tobey perched perfectly on top of a hill and looked upward like he was the Lion King. I would have loved to have that picture. Parva mentioned some trouble with this feature where sometimes it takes pictures when the User blinks. I only had this happen once or twice. Below are some of the pictures I took through glass (5 megapixel camera built in).

20140129_170441_104My view walking in the house

20140129_173650_150I wanted to capture an outside shot. Glass delivered.

20140129_213229_917Tobey sleeping next to me

Video – Glass can also take video…. Took a quick shot of Lilers reacting to robot dancing…. Video is limited to 10 seconds per video clip, which makes it even more ridiculous that someone was kicked out of a movie theater for copyright concerns with Glass.

Great conversation starter – When I was wearing Glass, I had no less than 4 or 5 complete strangers come talk to me about it.

Misses

Lack of Apps – On the official Google Glass app, there were only a handful of apps available (although I understand this list is growing all the time). Opening this up as a true app store would do wonders. I think this takes away from the overall power of Glass because once the novelty wears down, there are only a handful of great apps.

Music was hard to navigate – Google Music had an app, but using it was clunky at best. I could search for an artist, but once it started playing, it was hard to go back or skip ahead. I think these issues will be ironed out in the future, but seemed like it should have been fairly easy to have working well off the bat.

Talking on the phone was hard – When a phone call would come in, the screen gives the User the option to answer through Glass. I did this when my grandma called. It connected fine, but there was a lack of intuitive volume control. It was also hard to hear and difficult to hear the User.

Hard to navigate – When I first started using glass, there was definitely a learning curve in terms of where menus are and how to navigate the menus. I think this can be improved on in future iterations.

Seems unfinished – Overall, this still feels like a beta product. There were a lot of aspects that are only going to improve over time, but at this point, I’m not sure I could justify paying $1500 when there is still a good deal of work that needs to be done for this to be a finished product. I think my price point is around $300, but my co-worker thinks my entry point is closer to $600. He’s probably right.

Final Verdict

Just thinking of all the possibilities of glass are mind boggling. Think about watching a football game and see the names of all the players on the field or real-time stats. Think about an insurance adjuster having a checklist at his disposal or certain issues with various makes and models. Think about in the medical field, having all patient data without having to look away from the patient. Or real-time vital information. Or a firefighter viewing a floor-plan on the way to a fire…. It’s thoughts like these that have me incredibly hopeful for the future of Google Glass and I look forward to future iterations and the day when I have my own pair.

If you have any thoughts or questions on Google Glass, feel free to drop a note in the comment box below.