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A settled nomad living on the edge of Appalachia. I love to listen to music, spend time with my family, and play sports. I'm lucky enough to write code for a living. I'm often accused of having no "filter" as I tend to overshare. I make beer on occasion and try to sample new beers whenever I can.

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Just discovered the tribute band "Dark Pink Moon" a lady fronted Pink Floyd cover band. I dig their version of "Wish you Were Here" https://play.google.com/music/m/T5wbioldph7c5krv7746yjc3jfm?t=Wish_You_Were_Here_Cover_Version_-_Dark_Pink_Moon

I guess college coaches need a color bearer and a guidon to help them find each other: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=avvDkJW3NwU

Google Home - The good and bad

5 min read

I have been an Amazon Echo user for a while - pretty much as soon as you could get one. We've actually had two plus an Echo touch. But, when Google Home was announced I immediately switched. I switched us because of the ability to have all of the Google Home devices synced and playing the same audio everywhere in the house. I bought four Google Homes and a Google Cast Audio (if that's what it's called) to connect to my stereo in the garage. The future sounded bright and I was pretty amped to be able to listen to music throughout the house.

Until I couldn't.

Sometimes I can; sometimes all of the devices show up as part of the group I defined and named "The House" and when they all do and I tell one Google Home to play music on "the House" it works. It's great. Sure, the speakers on each aren't all that good; specifically the bass which sounds a lot weaker than the full sized Echo. However, the sound is good enough and I didn't have to run wires or buy an expensive Sonos system to get wireless audio throughout my house. So, for the most part I'm pretty happy.

But, sometimes, the group only shows a couple of the Home devices as part of the group. I don't know why. Maybe it has to do with the mesh network (Luma) we have and maybe sometimes the Luma devices aren't working? Or maybe the Home devices have trouble realizing their on the same network when they are on a mesh network?

Whatever it is it's pretty disappointing because it happens too often.

Another problem I run into is that I connected all of the Home devices to my account. But if I'm in the garage casting music and my wife is in the kitchen and she tries to cast some other music - my music is shut off because I can't use my account in more than one place at a time. There is no obvious easy way to disconnect some of the Home devices from my account. It appears I have to reset them to factory settings, set them back up, then attach them to different accounts. So, in order for my family to use the various Home devices as separate music players I have to assign each device to a different account in the family. I'm already paying for the Google Music family account so then it should be fine. But it's still an annoying limitation. We're all in the same place on the same network it shouldn't be this difficult to have them work independently when we want. Or, at least, Google should warn you when you're setting them up that this could be an issue and advise you to use different accounts for each Google Home device.

Another big problem is the calendar integration. My wife and I each have our own calendars plus we have a shared "family" calendar. It makes it a lot easier to filter our events when we need to from within the Google Calendar app/webpage. But from within the Google Home device we can only access the link accounts primary calendar. And, as far as I know, we can't add calendar events from it.

Oh, and we can't "like" a song from the Home device either. I am pretty sure I could do that from day one on the Echo. Alexa had a lot of problems with her overall music selection on Amazon prime music via the Echo - but at least it could "Like" a song. I don't understand how this simple feature didn't make it into the earliest version of Google Home. I suspect a lot of people got these things for music as their primary use.

The wake word "Ok Google" is also shitty. I mean, it's a fine phrase, but if you use Android your phone probably responds to the same wake word. The wake word needs to be customizable. I'eve had the Google Home commercial wake up my Google Home device before. I don't need that kind of crap.

I like the Home devices when they work (playing music as a group around my house) but for the time being I just can't recommend them to anyone else. They are too limited on features and don't seem to be getting any kind of regular monthly updates. If they are then they aren't advertising the updates well. Amazon sends me an email regularly telling me about new things Echo can do (though I hate the "skill" integration of Echo and the need to manually activate skills; at least they are expanding the capabilities of the device). Google just rushed out their thing to be in the market before Christmas and then seemed to pretend like it's sufficient.

I hope it gets better. But, in the mean time I have to create a new google account so that I have five different accounts in my Google Family Music subscription (since I can't invite a not "gmail.com" google address) and so each device can be on it's own account. Hopefully the group play feature will still work when they are all on different accounts.

I guess I could have named this post "Google Home - The Bad"

Pay it Forward Coffee House

3 min read

A few weeks ago the I drove through Lexington with my family. While there we attempted to visit a coffee shop called "A Cup of Common Wealth" that had a cool theme. They really wanted to make it easy for folks to "pay it forward." Basically, what they did was put up a big cork board and patrons could buy a coffee, any size and type, and label what it is on the board via the cup sleeve. Then, when someone else came in that fit the sleeves identity they could take the sleeve down and cash it in for that specific drink.

Some of the sleeves are bought for specific people. For instance, one in the previously linked image, is for "Lori Benard" but they can be for groups of people or anyone really. So you could prepay for the most expensive coffee in the shop and label it - "Any Coffee for Anyone" and the next person who saw it could take it down and cash it in.

The coffee sleeve can have a condition - like "A Medium Coffee in exchange for Free Hugs for everyone in the room" - or it could have a very specific drink; "A free small vanilla Irish creme hot cocoa for a bearded man" you get the idea.

I really dig how they have taken the concept of "pay it forward" and made it into something concrete. Sadly, for us, the shop was closed for their annual staff Christmas party the day we visited so we couldn't see it in action or put a sleeve on the board.

One of our cool local coffee shops (bakeries) called "River and Rail Bakery" has a bit of a pay it forward implementation via a bucket near the register where you can plop in some cash. The limitation is a lot of folks don't carry cash. Via the prepaid option it would be a lot easier for regular customers to help someone out down the road.

The Cup of Common Wealth even lets you pay for a "pay it foward" sleeve via their website. Each sleeve you prepay for is $5 and you can put in the rules after you select the sleeve count. Then pay away. It seems to me that it is a good business idea and a nice way to build a culture around your shop.

Recipe: Tuna Casserole

Ingredients

  • 1 box elbow macaroni
  • 1 bag frozen mixed vegetables
  • 1 or 2 cans tuna
  • 1 quart sour cream
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 12 ozs milk
  • Italian breadcrumbs

Takes . Serves Six Servings.

Preheat oven to 350F. Cook noodles al dente. While noodles are cooking do the following:

  1. Empty bag of vegetables into strainer and rinse under cool water to remove any ice.
  2. Mix vegetables, sour cream, tuna (including as much tuna juice as you'd like for taste), cream of mushroom soup, and milk in a large bowl. I just use the can, after I get the soup out of it, to measure the milk.

Once noodles are cooked:

  1. Strain noodles
  2. Mix noodles with rest of mixture.
  3. Pour entire mix into a 9x11 casserole dish
  4. Spread mix evenly to fill entire dish.
  5. Top with layer of breadcrumbs.
  6. Put casserole in oven for 1 hour.
  7. Remove, let cool, serve, and enjoy.

This is a pretty simple recipe. I just wanted to see how this kind of post worked on my site. I may add a photo the next time I make it.