Saturday, March 4, 2017

First Android Mobile App

Seven days ago my first Android app went live in the Play Store. It's been 6
years since my first app (of seven current apps) for the iPhone appeared in the iOS App Store.

I've been "playing" with Android for some four years, first with Eclipse, and finally (beginning about six months ago) with Android Studio. It must have been Android Studio that made the difference in finally releasing German PlateFinder for Android. (The localized version for the German Play Store is called Schildfinder.)

Thank you, Google (and IntelliJ), for providing Android Studio, a very workable development environment.

Now on to my next app. Hmmm ..., what will it be, I wonder?

Friday, September 2, 2016

William Shatner and Star Trek

William Shatner ("Captain Kirk") front and center
Got to see William Shatner at the Comic Con this week. He's every bit as nice in person as he was in Star Trek. (We also saw Mark Hamill (Star Wars' Luke Skywalker) at the Comic Con.)

Thursday, September 1, 2016

100 Korean Dramas, Start to Finish

Yesterday evening we finished watching “Lets Fight Ghost”—our 100th Korean Drama to watch in its entirety (generally 16 episodes or more).
Since watching our first episode of our first KDrama, “Secret Garden,” on March 15, 2013, we’ve avoided many KDramas that didn’t sound interesting. We’ve abandoned some 41 after just a few episodes. In general, however, these are so much better than American television (which we abandoned over 10 years ago).
We’ve finished a handful of Japanese dramas—two or three of them were exceptionally good. (We’ve also abandoned some.)
As for Chinese dramas? Well, we’ve yet to finish the first episode of any that we have tried. Hopefully we will (one day) find one that we actually like. (It would be so nice to be able to practice the Mandarin I’ve been learning on Pimsleur by watching Chinese dramas.)
That’s about it. Its time to watch episode 12 of “W” (which will likely be our 101st KDrama—and one of the best)!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Book on Beethoven's Organ Works Available Now

I just noticed that my latest book—Beethoven’s Organ Works: A Study—is now available for purchase at Amazon.com and at BarnesAndNoble.com:
I prepared the book during the two weeks before and after Christmas this past December, based on a Beethoven’s Organ Works web site I had created earlier in 2015.
In the process of preparing the book for publication, I corrected numerous errors.
If you’re a Beethoven fan or an organ fan, I invite you to read Beethoven’s Organ Works: A Study.
Feel free to send feedback!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Three Years of Korean Dramas

I watched my first episode of my first Korean Drama–“Secret Garden”–exactly three years ago, on the Ides of March 2013. I’ve now watched 87 complete KDramas … and abandoned 35, totaling 122 KDramas. Additionally I’ve completed two Japanese Dramas (and abandoned 1, if I remember correctly.
I have no plans to quit in the foreseeable future.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Korean Drama Update

Next month marks 2 1/2 years since I watched the first episode of a Korean Drama with my wife. Amazingly, we still like (some of) them. You can see our favorites near the top of my Korean Drama page.

When we started, we watched every episode of each KDrama we started. During the past year we've watched only a few episodes of an increasing number of dramas. (For a list of those series, scroll to the bottom of the KDrama page mentioned above.) Is it because we're raising our personal standards? ... or is it because the KDramas aren't as good as they used to be? ... Maybe a little of both. (Who knows?)

A few times we've "marathoned" a series or two. For a few weeks in the recent past we couldn't find any KDramas that kept our interest for more than a handful of episodes. Then (again, more recently) we've seen a small handful that were exceptionally good.

We watch most KDramas on our iPad's DramaFever app. We connect the iPad to our Apple TV using AirPlay. The Apple TV connects to a projector mounted on the ceiling, which projects the video onto the wall. Audio goes from the Apple TV to an amplifier, then to large speakers "inherited" from my oldest son when he left for the army.

I think we've been to a movie theater (maybe) once during the past 2 1/2 years ... and we didn't really like the movie we saw. (In fact, I don't recall what that movie would have been ...)

We don't watch network television at all (and haven't watched cable TV in some 23 years)--it just isn't interesting.

A few KDramas aren't available on DramaFever. We watch those on Viki. Soompi TV was a favorite source of KDramas for a short time, but we unsubscribed from their service a few months ago (after realizing that we hadn't used it "for months"). Last week I read that Viki had purchased Soompi.

Recent news of military troubles between North and South Korea is troubling. I hope they are able to work out their differences!

That's about it. Back to bed.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Why Comcast/Xfinity Is America's Most Hated Company

Yesterday my Comcast bill arrived in the mail. The monthly charge jumped from $65.82 to $85.55--a whopping $20. It was itemized as follows:

  • XFINITY Bumdled Services: $68.69
  • Additional XFINITY Internet Services: $12.00
  • Other Charges & Credits: $0.82
  • Taxes, Surcharges & Fees: $4.04
I guess I'll visit the nearby store today.

The TV box that they gave me several years ago when I signed up for Internet only has sat on the water softener in the laundry room, unplugged, since the day it came. (I wouldn't let the Comcast man connect it to my cable system.) They made me take that box in order to get Internet for $45.00.

Over time, the cost crept up to about $62.00. Then an unexpected $85.00. That was about a year ago.

I visited the Comcast office, and the employee arbitrarily decreased my monthly charges to $55.00.

It has periodically crept up to last month's $65.82. Then yesterday it jumped to $85.55.

This morning I carried up the TV box from the laundry room. I'll deliver it to the Comcast office today.

I wonder if they will decrease my monthly fee ... or if I will just quit Comcast again ...

We'll see.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Invisalign Adventures

Last year (or was it early this year?) my wife talked me into taking advantage of a teeth whitening special from our dentist. The procedure involved squirting a whitening liquid or gel into some "trays"--one for my top teeth and another for the bottom teeth--and putting them in my mouth for a period of time.

Those trays were in the shape of my teeth. As I looked at the bottom tray I noticed that my bottom front teeth were somewhat crooked. I had never really noticed nor been bothered by them before, but looking at the bottom tray got me to thinking. I asked my dentist, who referred me to an orthodontist.

I visited the orthodontist in May of this year, who gave me a choice of "traditional" braces (the kind my children had) or a more recent method that used Invisaligns (provided by a company in San Jose, California).

Beginning in June 2014, I received three sets of Invisalign trays. I was to wear each set for two weeks, then return in six weeks and get the next three trays, continuing until the procedure was complete (probably in about May 2015?)

Everything went very smoothly ... until about three weeks ago, when I got a bad sore throat. It got so bad that I had to quit wearing the trays for more than a few hours a day for much of two weeks.

I couldn't figure out why my sore throat wouldn't go away. I didn't have a fever, so that eliminated the possibility of strep throat. I visited my family doctor and my otolaryngologist, who found nothing wrong.

Finally--the day after Thanksgiving--I googled "Invisalign sore throat" and found some really helpful information, which seems to have solved my problem.

(Included in the Google search results were a small number of "hits" of people who seemed bent on suing Invisalign for malpractice. I'm not really interested in that sort of thing. I really just wanted my painful sore throat to go away and to resume straightening my teeth.)

After some thought I realized that my Invisaligns were likely reinfecting me with some sort of bacteria that I hadn't encountered before.

I'm happy to say that my sort throat is gone, and I've returned to wearing the Invisaligns full time.

Here is what I do whenever it is time to reinsert my Invisaligns (after eating or before bed, for example).

  1. Brush teeth thoroughly
  2. Use a Water Pik to water floss my teeth. I use a solution of warm water with a capful of a Tea Tree mouthwash, flossing very thoroughly. (I sometimes supplement the Water Pik with the traditional "string" type of dental floss.) I got the Tea Tree mouthwash at a local health food store, at my wife's recommendation.
  3. Rinse mouth with a traditional type of mouthwash--either Colgate or Listerine. (I've never been a mouthwash user before. I picked these up at the neighborhood Rite Aid. They seem to do the job.)
  4. Squirt a line of soft soap (liquid soap) in each Invisalign tray, then use my tooth brush and warm water to throughly wash the Invisalign, making sure to rinse them completely.
  5. Insert Invisaligns
Within 24 hours of starting the above, my sort throat was gone, and I am back to wearing the Invisaligns with no problems. 

I've lost (probably) a week-and-a-half of time, but I'm "back in the saddle again" ... and I see that the bottom tooth that was the most misaligned is nearly even with the rest of its neighboring teeth!

Saturday, May 31, 2014

New Daughter-in-Law

Parents of the newlyweds: her parents on the left, us on the right. At the Alamo in San Antonio.
Last week our son married a wonderful woman. The parents all met in San Antonio to spend time together and get to know each other. Congratulations!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Walmart and Watch Batteries

Lately whenever I mention that I shop at Walmart I feel like I need to offer an apology. More and more of my friends say that they "don't believe in" shopping at Walmart.

Walmart and I have had our ups and downs. ... But is has nothing to do with my belief system. Whether or not I shop there has to do mainly with price and value.

Case in point: About fifteen years ago my employer gave me a free Timex DataLink Ironman Triathlon watch. It's one of the best watches I've ever owned.

Every few years I need to purchase a new watch band. Until recently I've taken the watch to Walmart whenever it needs a new battery.

Two or three months ago I was shopping in a nearby mall when I noticed that the watch had gone blank. I was near a Batteries Plus store, so I decided to have them replace the battery. I ended up waiting nearly 30 minutes, paid twice what Walmart charges, and also had to listen to the clerk complain about how hard it is to replace batteries and how old my watch was. It wasn't a pleasant experience.

Then yesterday I noticed that watch face was blank again. This time I went back to Walmart. The cheerful clerk tested the battery to find that it was dead, then installed a new one (taking about three minutes maximum), charging $6.39 (including sales tax).

Needless to say, I was a happy camper.

Besides low prices and cheerful clerks, Walmart rarely sells "old" batteries: their inventory recycles so fast that batteries don't have time to run down before being sold. (The same goes for red licorice, by the way--it is generally very soft. ... But I digress.)

That's all I wanted to say. I'm happy to have a Walmart not to far from my home.