Thursday, September 30, 2010

Disney Cruise Memories: Castaway Cay


Sadly, this is my last post regarding the Disney cruise I took in August!
On our last full day on the cruise we docked at Disney's private island in the Bahamas, Castaway Cay. It's a gorgeous island with beaches divided up by age group. There's a family beach, several children's beaches, a teen beach and an exclusive adult beach! Obviously, my family headed straight over to the adult beach. We were practically alone! Although we did have very kind waiters that brought conch coolers to our beach chairs.



A lot of guests had the brilliant idea to put their chairs in the shallow water and relax in the ocean.





I wish I was still on that private island, drinking my conch cooler. But alas, here I am in rainy DC reorganizing my filing cabinets each day at work. We can't have it all, can we?

At least it's almost Friday!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Lux List

Have you read my friend Ali's blog? If you haven't you are missing out! 


Ali is a gorgeous and extremely fashionable lady. I envy her impeccable taste, her effortless style, and her to-die for closet. Although we don't always see eye-to-eye on clothing choices we have incredible respect for one another. And yesterday she was kind enough to feature me on her Items of the Week blog post!

Thank you, Ali, I'm flattered! 
And here is what I chose as my most lusted after pieces (and get excited, you'll learn my real name today):


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Tech Tuesday: My Cloud

So the big focus of the web in the last decade has been the concept of the virtual desktop. Currently there are still a lot of reasons people want to use a physical computer desktop, but every once and a while I find a new product that blurs the line for me even more...

Here is a quick look at what I consider my Cloud:

Email, Calendar, Tasks:
Here I fall in line with many users of Google. I use just about Google everything. I use my Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Tasks (part of Gmail and Google Calendar). All three integrate incredibly well. The more features that Google rolls out to their web client tempts me more and more to quit using Apple Mail, iCal, Tunderbird and other desktop clients and just exclusively use the web clients like I do at work and on my netbook. These products are great and only getting better.



Document Editing:
I usually edit documents on my local computer using free open source software (FOSS) like OpenOffice.org (www.OpenOffice.org). This functions almost exactly like Microsoft Word, but it's free. The down side to this, method is that files you want to access on other computers need to have an editor (like word or OpenOffice.org) to edit them and you have to get the files to that computer. I have methods for this that I use, but I thought I'd point that out as a downside to using a cloud based editing system like Google Docs.

Recently I started playing around with Google Docs again. I hadn't in quite some time, but they've made some significant improvements. The editors are clean. They function very well. They allow easy collaboration between other users (by sending them a Gmail link) and the files are always in sync with each other. You can move to whatever computer you want and go to documents.google.com and there are your files! It keeps track of them by date edited and who they are shared with, etc... For personal documents, I'm finding myself moving more and more to this platform.

File Sync:
Not all files are going to be editable on Google Docs, and sometimes I have old word files or .zips or anything else I want to make sure I can access from anywhere and on all my computers. This is easily done with Dropbox. (www.Dropbox.com This link is a referral that gives both of us an extra 250MB) For free they give you 2GB of storage space. The website has an application that you install on your computer that places a Dropbox folder on your filesystem. You can then create folders in there put files wherever you want and they will automatically be uploaded to Dropbox.com for you to access via the website AND any other computers of yours with the application installed will automatically download the updated files so that they are always in sync. I have a lot of computers... I use this to keep files that I access all the time on all of my computers and even my phones. It not only supports storing your files, but you can also share folders between friends if they have Dropbox as well as create public links to send people for them to download files.
Music:
This was always an issue for me. I have a lot of music and a lot of computers. I really didn't want to have to store every song in 5 different places and have been looking for an elegant solution. Well, I think I've finally found one. Subsonic (Subsonic.org) will integrate with any of your music libraries. If you just have a folder, you use iTunes, Winamp, Windows Media Player or whatever. I've been playing with it the past few days and I'm totally loving it! All I did was download the installer on my iMac at home, tell it the folder with all my music, and I was done! Now I just use my web browser, point it to my home IP (or DNS) and up comes a website. I log in with an account I create and I'm presented with my entire music library. I can then download songs to whatever computer I'm on or just listen to them and build playlists straight through the web browser. Some aspects of setting this up may be a little tricky depending on how your home router is set up, but the directions on their website should be sufficient.


So that is my Cloud. Am I going to stop using all real applications on all my computers? No. But it's great to have the option for low powered computers like netbooks and cell phones as well as keeping my life in sync. I can only see my dependency on these programs and tools like these growing as the next generation of web apps develop.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Das Best Oktoberfest

Steak convinced me to buy a VIP ticket to go with him and his co-workers to Das Best Oktoberfest at the National Harbor in Maryland. Although it took us 2 hours to get to the National Harbor, we ended up having a blast (or as much fun as anyone can have in 90+ degree heat with only beer and pretzels as nutrients). 

We took the metro to the King Street station in Alexandria and then walked the cobblestone streets of Old Town down to the Alexandria Dock. We took a lovely water taxi ride on the beautiful Potomac Riverboat Company boat, equipped with AC, cushy seats, water and a nice restroom, over to the National Harbor. There we casually walked through the short VIP line, got our wristbands, mugs, and t-shirts and were on our way to the VIP tent.

I had a great time sampling all of the different beers, but my favorite two were the EVO pumpkin ale and the fall-flavored Wood Chuck Cider. Obviously, I'm desperately wishing for fall weather! I had a few bites of a delicious crab cake and funnel cake, but the real stars of the show were my pretzels...



Have a great rest of your weekend!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Friday Night Photo Safari


Last night I went on a photo safari with my dear friend LR. I learned a lot during the three hours at the monuments. I've never done nighttime photography or (gasp) shot in the "manual" mode before. It was a real treat to learn from a photography expert while touring the greatest aspect of the greatest city in the world. Ok, I admit I'm biased.

More photos to come!


Friday, September 24, 2010

Disney Cruise Memories: Nassau


On our 4th day aboard the ship we docked in Nassau in the Bahamas. We had an awesome excursion planned that sister CJ had picked out for us. We were going to meet sea lions at the Blue Lagoon! CJ had picked out the excursion to meet a sea lion named PJ she had seen on YouTube.


The Blue Lagoon is beautiful. We had been to their beach once before when we were little.


This way to the Sea Lions!

Before we could go into the water with PJ, we had to take a special class on Sea Lion safety.


Sadly, we couldn't take any personal pictures of our sea lion encounter, but I can assure you I kissed and hugged a sea lion that day.



Back on the cruise ship, it was Pirate Night aboard the Disney Wonder. We had a wonderful pirate themed meal and then we went to the deck party where Disney literally shot off fireworks over the ocean!

Enjoy this clip of Mickey saving the cruise ship guests from Captain Hook!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Sick Day Dreams

I'm home sick today (Wednesday) and all I want is to see the outdoors. However, when I went to work the last two days all I wanted to do was head home to bed. The first thing I want to do when I'm fully recovered is to head to Target to grab all the amazing John Derian home organizers!


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tech Tuesday: New iPod

Legs' Note: Tech Tuesday is a new feature on our blog. Every Tuesday Steak will be presenting us with his knowledge of gadgets, games and all things tech. If there is anything in particular you would like to see discussed in this feature, please write to Steak at steak@steakandlegs.com

I remember I bought my first iPod about 3 years ago. It was an 80GB iPod Video. Plenty of storage space to hold all my music wherever I went. About a year after that I got the iPhone 3G. I was up getting it on release day. The things that phone could do were fantastic! Now Apple has the iPod Touch line. In the past, there was nothing too special if one already had an iPhone. Now Apple has done a good job of enticing me.




If you think you're totally satisfied with your iPhone 3G or older generation iPod touch... then don't even look at this new iPod Touch. I say this, not because it's a bad device, but because its appearance and great display is enough to make anyone struggle to open their wallet fast enough! I got a chance to play with one in an Apple Store the other day and thought I'd share my thoughts.

Now that I've switched to Android for my phone, I still want to have some kind of iDevice that can run all my apps. That's why I kept my iPhone 3G. What does this new iPod Touch have over it? Well, for one, Speed. This thing is FAST. The more and more the App Store grows in popularity, the more intense the Apps are becoming. When I first bought my iPhone 3G it ran everything at blazing speeds. With all the new features that have been added to the operating system and to the Apps themselves, I notice things take considerably longer to complete tasks. The new phone handles apps that tend to load forever and just crash on my iPhone 3G. Not even just barely handle either. They run very quickly.

The most blatantly obvious enhancement of course is the screen. The display on the new iPod Touch falls just shy of the new iPhone, but still the best on any MP3 player out there. Everything looks crisp and sharp. Darks I noticed were a bit gray, but still an improvement over the screen on the previous generations and my old iPhone.



Another major feature is the new cameras. Apple is making a big deal about the video capabilty on the new iPod Touch. Toting a 720p video camera it supposedly takes pretty decent video. (Engadget) Stills are a completely different story. The camera, while 720p, is only 0.7 Mega-Pixels. That's pretty rough, but Apple is not saying much about this at all. I guess it's their theory that Video is the new Photo. This is especially true when it comes to the final new major feature. The front-facing camera.

The front-facing camera is used for Apple's new Face-Time software. This is the new video calling service that Apple has on their new iPhone 4 and now the new iPod (rumored to be on the next generation iPad as well). I haven't had a chance to use this myself, but I know that Face-Time is currently limited to use between users of these two devices. Thankfully 3rd Party developers like Fring offer cross-platform solutions to communicate with Android, and Nokia smartphones as well.

I would also like to point out just how thin this device was. I can't believe it really, it feels like it's half the thickness of my EVO! It's incredible that they were able to make it so small and light. This is also one of the reasons that its' been said the speaker was not that good of quality. Understandable though since it's mostly a personal media player. I imagine that the speaker is plenty good enough to hear your push messages and emails come in when it's sitting on the table.


All in all, it looks like a fantastic gadget. I consider myself frugal, but hopelessly addicted to gadgets. I need to justify any purchase.

Would I buy it? I haven't yet, I'm still hesitating since I still can't get rid of my iPhone (I use the GPS for run tracking), but I will probably be getting it anyway. It's just too dang cool!

Now, if I had... maybe an older iPod Touch? If the better screen mattered to me and I thought I'd use the video, then for sure. Also, the addition of a speaker, if the one you had before didn't have one, would definitely be a MAJOR selling point for hearing things like incoming video calls and emails. I'd probably go for it too. If you took good care of your current iPod Touch, you could probably recoup some of the costs selling it on Ebay or Craigs List as well.

*All images from Apple.com

Monday, September 20, 2010

Cosco Exotic Plant


The other week, when Steak and I were having his tires changed at Cosco, I came across this beautiful Broneliad plant that was very affordable! I don't have a great track record with plants, but so far this guy is blooming beautifully under my watch.


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sunday Football


Last Sunday, Steak and I had the privilege of attending the Redskins season opener against the Dallas Cowboys. Basically, my bosses are really good to me and frequently give me tickets to the Nationals and Redskins games (and one time they even gave me tickets to the KISS concert!).

 If you watched the game you know how intense it was. The Redskins ended up beating the Cowboys by the skin of their teeth. My favorite play of the whole game was the Redskins touchdown at the end of the 2nd quarter. 

Steak and I had actually invited our friend Nikhil to join, but that might have been a mistake. He's a huge Cowboys fan and was stressed the entire game.

Nikhil and I during happier times.

Happy Sunday! Hope it's a great one.