CoffeeGeek

Mar 18

A Barista at Work.

A Barista at Work.

A Barista at work.

A Barista at work.

Feb 25

How I got the nickname “CoffeeKid”

Because I love and heavily support the Coffee Kids charity, through social media and the CoffeeGeek.com website, many people assume my coffeekid name I used in past email, for my personal coffee site and a few other places comes from that involvement.

That’s not true at all.

What is true is this: I did discover the fantastic charity Coffee Kids because of a nickname I had already earned online. So how did it happen?

Back in the mid 1990s when I first got online, I discovered usenet newsgroups very early on. You may (barely) know of them now as “Google Groups" (since Google embraced Usenet groups back in the early 2000s and tried to "webbify" a text messaging bulletin board service). I quickly gravitated towards three groups: van.general (which was a bulletin board service for Vancouver), alt.photography for my photography passion, and alt.coffee, for, natch - coffee. 

When I first started participating in alt.coffee, I used my real name (Mark) or a nickname I barely maintained from university: spikeguy. It was quite obvious though from my early days I was one of the youngest guys in the forum - most of the participants were in their mid-late thirties or older. I was the young one of the group, and some members took to calling me kid.

Fast forward a year or two, and I more or less became “coffeekid” in that usenet group. And I registered the coffeekid.com domain name to host a new coffee fan website I was designing. I also had a coffeekid username on a few mail services. By 1999, I was “CoffeeKid” online.

It was around that time that someone pointed me to another Coffee Kids… a charity that did great community work in coffee producing nations in Central America. They had also been around for almost 10 years at that time, but only recently had gotten online and a web site.

The more I learned about Coffee Kids, the more I was kind of upset that I was using the name “CoffeeKid” online. I didn’t want to steal any thunder from the organization. I didn’t want people to think I was the charity. I didn’t want people to be confused. But by this time, my CoffeeKid name online was well established (I had registered CoffeeGeek.com but not done anything with the website), and my CoffeeKid.com website was increasingly popular (I got a “Yahoo Cool Site of the Week” badge in 2000 ;)).

What I did was I got in contact with Bill Fishbean, the founder of Coffee Kids. I explained my username. I explained my worries. And Bill was awesome about it all. Not only was he okay with me still using the moniker online, but I got a chance to get to know a truly fantastic, selfless person, and he really introduced me to the charity and gave me the impetus to help the charity.

Soon after, I started doing a variety of fund raising efforts for Coffee Kids. Which I continue to this day.

I’ve explained in a variety of places (on CG, on CoffeeKid.com, in twitter, etc) about my CoffeeKid name vs Coffee Kids, but I wanted to take another opportunity to tell people about it. I still use CoffeeKid as a name in a few places online, some I cannot give up for logistical and historical reasons. But I do want to make it clear again: while I support and do independent fund raising for Coffee Kids, I am not affiliated with them in any direct way, and my CoffeeKid moniker online is just a coincidence.

Feb 16

[video]

[video]

Feb 04

Sean’s camera in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty was a Nikon F3/T camera. Quite an amazing camera, and so popular and durable that Nikon continued making and selling it even after introducing the Nikon F4 (it’s successor) and Nikon F5. Read more about it here.

Sean’s camera in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty was a Nikon F3/T camera. Quite an amazing camera, and so popular and durable that Nikon continued making and selling it even after introducing the Nikon F4 (it’s successor) and Nikon F5. Read more about it here.

Feb 03

Drinking fountain on Hastings Street. VPL_19147 by Vancouver Public Library Historical Photographs on Flickr.Vancouver - the place where, back in the day, you could drink glacier fresh water, right on a busy street fountain. And on Hastings Street no less. ;)

Drinking fountain on Hastings Street. VPL_19147 by Vancouver Public Library Historical Photographs on Flickr.

Vancouver - the place where, back in the day, you could drink glacier fresh water, right on a busy street fountain. And on Hastings Street no less. ;)

Sea Food Grotto VPL_26392 by Vancouver Public Library Historical Photographs on Flickr.Man, I want to go to a Seafood Grotto! ;) (Vancouver, on Granville Street, 1945).

Sea Food Grotto VPL_26392 by Vancouver Public Library Historical Photographs on Flickr.

Man, I want to go to a Seafood Grotto! ;) (Vancouver, on Granville Street, 1945).

Dec 05

Mandela’s Lasting Words

"No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin or his background or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite."

- Nelson Mandela. 

Nov 14

http://staff.tumblr.com/post/66730417875/help-the-philippines -

staff:

In a matter of hours on Friday, Typhoon Haiyan completely devastated parts of the central Philippines. It was one of the strongest storms ever recorded. The death toll is estimated up to 10,000 with hundreds of thousands more displaced. The country has declared a “state of calamity.”

To all our…

Nov 10

Typhoon aftermath 'apocalyptic' -

Folks. A true tragedy has unfolded in the Philippines. These folks could sure use your help. We’ve donated a piddly $75 from our home ($25 from me, from Beata, and from Marzocco the dog, who loves the Philippines!) And I’m challenging all of you reading this to do the following:

1. Post a tumblr post about the tragedy in the Philippines and ask people to donate.

2. I challenge you to match our $25 per person (or living being) per household to the relief funds for this tragedy. $25 is nothing to most of us - it’s a lunch with a beer, it’s two tickets to the movies, it’s a week’s worth of morning cappuccinos at Starbucks. But that $25 (or more) will go a long way to helping these folks hit by such devastation.

Donate. Spread the Word.

Here’s several donation links:

Canadian Red Cross Haiyan Relief Fund

American Red Cross Typhoon Relief Fund

British Red Cross Typhoon Relief Fund

Philippines Red Cross

Shelterbox (already in Philippines because of earthquake)

CNN List of ways to help

Oct 27

Who knows. This might be my next camera. I’ll probably have to sell my Leica M6 to buy it though. 

Who knows. This might be my next camera. I’ll probably have to sell my Leica M6 to buy it though. 

Oct 24

[video]

Oct 17

I got a Chromecast (in Canada)

So I managed to finally get a Chromecast. I’ve been to the states a few times since it was launched and tried to buy it at Best Buys a few times only to find it sold out. I finally ordered it through Amazon and had it delivered to a US mailing address I have. Here’s some thoughts, especially for folks in Canada.

The Good
Redonkulously easy to set up. No IP Address in Canada issues. Plug it in, download the Chromecast app for your computer (or get the APK for your Android phone or tablet) and let it search for the Chromecast. Register, copy an id number, and bam, it’s registered to your Google account. Plus others in the house can access it through Chromecast in Android, and Chrome browsers. Multiple units, no problem - assign it a name (bedroom tv, living room, etc) and they’re listed in plain english on your devices.

Play music works almost flawlessly, if you have done various tricks to get Play music working in Canada (for storage of your own music - you still can’t buy music in Canada from Google Music). I’ve seen a few hiccups, but mostly it works fine. Ditto for Play Movies and TV. The Chromecast pulls this content direct from the Internet, so it works better, and in full HD.

Netflix works well, and full 1080p HD on my Chromecast! It’s quite good and flicker free when it is running HD content. However, if you’ve done things to get Netflix USA on your devices (via Unblock US or other services) you cannot play that content on the Chromecast - at best it’ll start loading the content to 25% and stop. This is because your VPN / DNS tricks don’t work on the Chromecast - it has Google’s DNS servers hard baked into its OS.

Broadcasting Chrome browser tabs works very, very well, and is pretty smart too. It knows when stuff is full screen, as an example, and if you’re viewing pages off the web with high quality video, etc, and go full screen, the HD video plays on your Chromecast tv without any problems or hiccups.

Youtube generally works well, but seems like it could use some work. I like the Android Youtube link better than the desktop browser linking. But see below.

A Hack
Want to play your local computer content on your Chromecast tv? You can, by loading your movie files into your web browser, then broadcasting that tab to the Chromecast. But this doesn’t work very well - the video gets choppy and stutters after a few minutes. Basically, your Chrome browser is doing double duty - showing local content and trying to stream that local content via wifi to the Chromecast (which can’t pull the content direct from the Internet).


The Not So Good
Netflix US won’t work. Google hard baked in their DNS servers (8.8.8.8). But this also means any other cockblocked content (ie, stuff only available in the US or UK or whatever) won’t work, so any Youtube US only stuff won’t work; The Daily Show, etc ditto. You can try broadcasting a tab in your Chrome Browser showing the Daily Show, but it won’t play on the Chromecast TV.

Youtube has some problems. For instance, it won’t play a playlist. It will just play the first video then stop. It needs some work.

Of course, the other services Google is trumpeting for Chromecast: Hulu, HBO Go, CBS, ABC, NBC (coming soon) Pandora and other coming soon services will not work in Canada.

What it Needs
Chromecast needs a better landing screen on your television. When running, it just shows a photo, says its ready and which Chromecast it is (ie, Living Room Chromecast); as well as the network it’s on. It could use added content, like time, weather, calendar, or other stuff you might want to broadcast, like your schedule, news or the like.

Google has blocked any effective 3rd party access for now, so you can’t make use of the full power Chromecast offers. Google has to come up with an easy method to broadcast local content to the Chromecast (a la Airplay for iOS). This is Chromecast’s killer app, and Google needs to bring this out like yesterday.

When your music is playing, things are pretty bland on the screen - just a static image of your album art that changes position once in a while. It needs more, like a sound sensitive screensaver effects, or showing next songs on the playlist, or something.

Oct 15

The flex in a VST 18g basket under pump pressure, and if you look closely, how that flex is relieved once espresso starts to flow.

The flex in a VST 18g basket under pump pressure, and if you look closely, how that flex is relieved once espresso starts to flow.