Super Bowl XLVIII Pool

by Scott Lough


Just like last year, I’ve updated my Super Bowl Pool for this Sunday’s match up of the Denver Broncos against the Seattle Seahawks at Met Life Stadium in New Jersey. Let’s recap my Super Bowl Pool rules that I listed on last year’s post:

  1. Print off many copies for your party.
  2. $10 per entry (this can be adjusted as necessary). Only one entry per person. It gets too hard to mark if there are multiple entries per person. And it’s less fun.
  3. Have your party-goers show up 15 minutes before kickoff to fill out their questions.
  4. Each question or prop bet is assigned a point value. Throughout the game, the questions will be answered. Pay attention! Having a computer or smartphone handy with the game stats helps.
  5. Mark your own sheet (or trade with a friend for validity) as the game goes along. It’s not very time consuming. You’ll still have plenty of times to crush those nacho chips and yell at Peyton Manning.
  6. The highest point total wins. Total points guess is the tie-breaker. Divide the money as you’d like. Typically the top 2 are in the money.

In addition to the standard football props (spread, passing yards, rushing yards, MVP), here is an example of a few of the non-football prop bets I threw in this year:
- What will be the first commercial after kickoff? (Beer or Non-Beer)
- Will Bruno Mars wear a fedora at any time during his half-time performance? (Fedora or No Fedora)
- Will any member of the Red Hot Chili Peppers be shirtless during their half-time performance? (Yes or No)

I’ve attached both the PDF and Excel versions of my pool below. Feel free to download the Excel one and tweak it to your desire or download the PDF one, print off copies and be ready for the big game. Enjoy!

2014 Super Bowl Pool (PDF Version)

2014 Super Bowl Pool (Excel Version)


My Top 5s of 2013

by Scott Lough


I usually enjoy writing a bit about my favorite things at the end of each year. I’m switching it up a bit and going with a “top 5” format. Here we go. Some comments in the cool, clickable footnotes.

Top 5 Albums of 2013

  1. Kanye West - Yeezus [1]
  2. Vampire Weekend - Modern Vampires of the City
  3. Arcade Fire - Reflektor [2]
  4. Daft Punk - Random Access Memories [3]
  5. Wale - The Gifted [4]

Top 5 Songs of 2013

  1. Kanye West - Black Skinhead [5]
  2. Serena Ryder - What I Wouldn’t Do [6]
  3. Arcade Fire - Afterlife
  4. JAY Z - Tom Ford [7]
  5. Wale - Vanity

Top 5 Movies of 2013 [8]

  1. Gravity
  2. Captain Phillips [9]
  3. American Hustle [10]
  4. Blackfish [11]
  5. This Is The End [12]

Top 5 TV Shows of 2013 [13]

  1. Breaking Bad (The Final Season) [14]
  2. Hello Ladies (Season 1) [15]
  3. Game of Thrones (Season 3) [16]
  4. Eastbound & Down (Season 4) [17]
  5. Orange Is The New Black (Season 1) [18]

Top 5 iOS Apps of 2013 [19]

  1. Tweetbot 3 [20]
  2. Fantastical 2 [21]
  3. Heads Up! [22]
  4. Castro [23]
  5. Super Stickman Golf 2

  1. I don’t care if he’s a jerk. Yeezus is one of the most unique and special albums from mainstream music in the past 5 years. It took 5 listens to unravel all the craziness, 10 listens to understand and 30 listens to appreciate.  ↩

  2. Definitely not as good as The Suburbs, but plenty great nonetheless. I thought Arcade Fire’s promo build up to the album was just out of control and ridiculous. Hey Arcade Fire, take a cue from BeyoncĂ©.  ↩

  3. Yes, Get Lucky was played a billion times over the summer but I still really enjoyed the album as a whole. Touch, Doin’ it Right and Contact were great songs lost in the oversell of the lead single.  ↩

  4. This album got some great cred in the hip-hop community but didn’t break ground in pop culture. Why not? It was fantastic.  ↩

  5. Find a great audio set up or headphones and blast this song. If you can’t forget the world and just rock out, then something is wrong with you as a person.  ↩

  6. I know, I know. The album came out in 2012 but to my defense, this single was released in 2013. It’s the ultimate sing in the shower or car song. Just a great jam by a good Canadian gal.  ↩

  7. I don’t pop Molly, I rock Tom Ford Banana Republic.  ↩

  8. I saw a lot of decent/good movies this year, but only a few blew me away. I don’t know if my expectations are just too high or if it was just a year with a lot of B movies and not as many A+ movies.  ↩

  9. There couldn’t be too different movies as 1 and 2. Both great. I gave the slight edge to Gravity on degree of difficulty.  ↩

  10. Funny story. I saw this movie in the theaters and the audio crapped out near the end. I still got the just of it, but it dampered my experience. Anyway, great movie with some amazing performances.  ↩

  11. Eye opening and well put together. Do I take my kids to Sea World? That question just got a lot tougher for me.  ↩

  12. Yeah, overall, kind of dumb. But you can’t deny the hilarious first 20 minutes, Danny McBride’s entrance, the “magazine scene” and the ending. An enjoyable movie experience.  ↩

  13. SO MUCH good TV this year. I could have easily put together a top 10 list with all quality shows. Honorable mention to Boardwalk Empire (S4), House of Cards and a somewhat comeback year for The Walking Dead. In last place, Dexter (I think it was season 42, but I’m not sure).  ↩

  14. The best series on TV ended with a spectacular last season and took a hold of pop culture unlike anything we’ve seen before. Standing O for Vince Gilligan and crew.  ↩

  15. I missed the start of the season but thanks to a clutch recommendation by my buddy Matt, I caught onto the show and loved it. Hello Ladies filled HBO’s schedule and comedy gap by the absense of Curb, and it filled it well. Similar paranoia/awkward humor as Curb, but in a younger setting and with more heart. Keep it rollin’ Stephen Merchant!  ↩

  16. Not available on iTunes until mid-February thanks to HBO’s piracy-inducing and ridiculous policies. Why doesn’t HBO just point people to torrent search engines instead of making their shows available almost a year after their release? Isn’t that the same thing? Or I guess cord cutters could just get HBO? And therein lies the great debate of the 2010s and beyond. Who cracks, HBO or cord cutters? Stay tuned.  ↩

  17. Sorry, more of this HBO thing. So riddle me this HBO, it takes Game of Thrones 10 months to be released on iTunes/blu-ray but you release the final season of Eastbound and Down on iTunes right after it airs? So it’s a show by show policy and not an HBO-wide policy? Or did you just test the market with Eastbound and Down and not tell anyone? You confuse me HBO.  ↩

  18. WHOA, here comes Netflix! Hear that sound? That was the sound of HBO shitting their pants.  ↩

  19. The fresh coat of paint on iOS with iOS 7 provided developers a chance to completely rethink their apps and come out with some great stuff. Whatever you think of iOS 7, the new APIs and new look was a breath of fresh airs in is the iOS app world.  ↩

  20. The best Twitter app got even better with a meticulous iOS 7 update. Ok, now where’s the iPad version?  ↩

  21. One downer of iOS 7 was that Apple totally messed up the Calendar app. In walked Fantastical 2 to fix that problem. Thanks Flexibits!  ↩

  22. A simple concept provides great family fun, especially during the holiday season.  ↩

  23. While most iOS podcast apps keep adding unnecessary features and muddle their interface, Castro strolls in with a simple, clean interface to enjoy your latest podcasts. Speaking of podcasts, shout out to Grantland for pumping out quality sports and pop culture popcasts at a ridiculous clip all year. Nice work Bill Simmons and crew on a great 2013!  ↩


iOS 7

by Scott Lough


Apple is releasing its new mobile operating system, iOS 7, this week and while many of the prior yearly iOS iterations have been noteworthy in their features, this year's release is the first drastic redesign in terms of the look and feel of the entire OS. I'm not a designer, user interface expert or typographer so I won't be able to provide expert insight on the design and stylistic choices (read about that here, here and here). I'm also not going to go into every feature change as Apple has laid that out nicely on their website.

What I'll do is just go through a few bullet point notes that I noticed while using iOS 7 over the last few days. Some are nice touches and others are design choices that I think may raise some confusion. Here are my thoughts: 

  • The new lock screen is fantastic. The clarity and elegance of the Helvetica Neue font jumps right out at you from the time display. I love how screen now fades in and out when waking the display or letting the display sleep. The four options (unlock, notification centre, command centre and camera) are shown clearly. Even in my first few days of use, I've found command centre quite handy. I suspect all other users will agree it is a welcome and overdue addition to iOS. 
  • Speaking of the lock screen, I've noticed that when playing audio and the screen is locked, controls are now shown (and active) in the lock screen. Previously in iOS 6, you had to double tap home to bring up the controls to change a song for example. A subtle, but nice touch. 
  • The transitions. Oh, the transitions. I always thought the animated transitions in iOS 6 were good. Forget that. This whole OS feels so fluid, elegant and alive. Think of layers upon layers. It's as if the home screen is the main layer. If you swipe for the top or bottom to reveal notification centre or command centre, then that's the top layer. If you open an app, it's as if you are "zooming in" to that app revealing its world. If your app is in a folder, that folder acts as a middle layer between the "zoomed in" app and the main layer of the home screen. It's all gorgeous and seamless. Really brilliant stuff by Jony Ive and crew. It's weird at first, but then it all makes sense. 
  • The new camera design. Hmmm, I have gripes here. I like the addition of filters and square pictures but it's hard to tell if you're in portrait or landscape when rotating. A few icons rotate but the main video/photo/square/pano control stays portrait when you turn to landscape. It's a tad confusing and makes it weird when trying to switch between these controls in landscape mode.  Also, it's hard to tell that you've taken a photo. In iOS 6, there was a definite animation that a photo was taken, however, now it's just a very quick, short darkening of the viewfinder to show that the picture has taken. I notice it but I could see a lot of people hammering on the shutter many times not realizing 10 pictures have been taken. And lastly, the shutter button function itself has changed. When I took pictures in iOS 6, I would touch and hold the shutter then release when I wanted to take the picture. I found this the best way to get good pictures because the phone shakes (even slightly) when you tap on the shutter. It shakes less when you just release it. Of course, you're more likely to get a better picture (especially in low light) if there is less shaking. Well, you can't do that anymore. If you tap and hold the shutter, it's going to continually take pictures upon pictures, almost like a 'burst mode' on a camera. So I guess it's back to the 'tap gently' method.
  • The new Photos app is fantastic. Sorting pictures by location and time in 'Collections' works great. Editing is really easy and fun. Shared Photostreams are now truly Shared Photostreams. Finally. Now other iOS users can add photos to one photostream and share the pictures between them. It's not just one guy creating a photostream and sharing it to people. This should be have been put in place last year. But at least we have it now.
  • The skeuomorphic designs are gonzo (yipee!). No more yellow note pads in Notes or green felt in GameCenter. Good riddance. Notes and Reminders are now very clean apps. Content first, nice transitions, no distractions and a palette of beautiful colors. I like it. Speaking of the death of skeuomorphic, where's our update to "Find Friends"? It's skeuomorphism at its worst (but a handy app).
  • FaceTime is now a separate app. This is a good thing. It was always confusing having a FaceTime app on the iPad but not on the iPhone. 
  • The new weather app is nice. It stacks your locations and shows the current time at each location. Nice. When you drill down into a location, you get a clean hourly and 5-day forecast. 
  • You can put more than 9 apps in a freaking folder! Hallelujah. Now I won't have "Games", "Games 1", "Games 2" and "Games 3" folders. They can all go in one folder. This makes me happy. Also, I have a lot of games.
  • I'm struggling with the new Calendars app. In iOS 6, I liked just clicking on a date and showing what events I had on that date, all while staying in that month display. Now, instead, I click on a date and it drlls down into that date and show me a timeline, except, I can only see a few hours of that timeline because the whole day doesn't fit on the screen. Frustrating. However, I like the week view when rotating to landscape.

I could go on and on. I could go on about how the new Music app is great or how Maps is improved, how Mail looks fresh or how great the new multitasking interface is but I think I'll end it here. Overall, I really like it. There's a few quirks that I don't like but I'll get over those. Most importantly, I find the new look completely refreshing. As if I jumped in a cold lake on a hot day. That feeling. Well, at least for me anyway.

 


Tough Mudder

by Scott Lough


In June 2013, I ran an 18K obstacle course called Tough Mudder with two great friends. We made a trip out to Whistler to run it and had a great time. We trained for it by doing mostly CrossFit workouts and a few trail runs. Besides a few cramps and tight hip flexors, we all made it through just fine. We had a blast. I wore a GoPro on my head. Here's some footage from the race:


The Big Island of Hawai'i - Diving Mecca

by Scott Lough


Just returned from a fantastic trip to the Big Island of Hawai'i which included relaxing, freediving with dolphins, SCUBA diving with manta rays and a few great hikes.  

As far as underwater capture, I wanted to focus more on video on this trip. I got a new video rig inspired by the underwater GoPro ninja and YouTube user martcerv. He has lots of experience using a GoPro underwater and using his tips and techniques, I was able to capture some great video with a fairly inexpensive rig (well, in underwater photography terms). My rig consisted of:

  • GoPro Hero 3 (Black Edition)
  • Two SOLA 500 Photo Lights on Locline Arms
  • SRP Tray
  • BlurFix 3 SO with CYD Dome Filter

 

The Rig

I captured over two hours of footage. For most of the trip (as recommended by martcerv), I used the ProTune WB raw setting on the GoPro Hero 3 which lets you set the white balance in post-processing. This makes for some excellent colors but adds significant time to the editing process. I'm doing all that now and I'll eventually chop my two hours down to something manageable. I think I got some really good stuff and it should be an action packed little video. For now, I'll leave you with a mini-preview featuring a few buddies we met off the coast of Kona.


Super Bowl XLVII Pool

by Scott Lough


The Super Bowl is a culmination of a glorious NFL season full of pick 'em pools, fantasy leagues and playoff pools. It only makes sense to add a cherry on top with a Super Bowl Pool. Let's be honest, sometime the game kinda sucks. We've had a pretty good run lately, but that's bound to end at some point. Remember XXXVII (Tampa v Oakland) and XXXV (Baltimore v New York)? Yeah, not so good.

But with a great Super Bowl pool, it won't matter how close the game is. Throw in some legitimate bets (spread, O/U), add some game prop bets (QB passing yards, RB rushing yards, MVP) and then add some fun props (anthem time, halftime related, gatorade bath color), come up with a fair point system and voila, it'll be blast regardless of the quality of the game.

I've done this the past five years with my friends and each year it's been tons of fun. Most of the time the winner has little to no football knowledge, which is great because it gets casual football observers interested. And the fun prop bets can turn into heated arguments like last year when we had to pause the TV at the right time and use every pixel on the HDTV to determine if Madonna was indeed wearing fishnet stockings (she was).

Now on to the reason for this post - I've created this year's pool and posted it in the links below. I've posted the PDF version if you want to run with my version of the pool and I've posted the Excel version if you want to tweak my rules and questions (i.e., prop bets). Here are the rules:

  1. Print off many copies for your party
  2. $10 per entry (this can be adjusted as necessary). Only one entry per person. It gets too hard to mark if there are multiple entries per person. And it's less fun.
  3. Have your party-goers show up 15 minutes before kickoff to fill out their questions.
  4. Each question or prop bet is assigned a point value. Throughout the game, the questions will be answered. Pay attention! Having a computer or smartphone handy with the game stats helps.
  5. Mark your own sheet (or trade with a friend for validity) as the game goes along. It's not very time consuming. You'll still have plenty of times to crush those nacho chips and yell at Joe Flacco.
  6. The highest point total wins. Total points guess is the tie-breaker. Divide the money as you'd like. Typically the top 2 are in the money.

It doesn't take long to fill out all the questions and I've made it as easy as possible to mark. I've assigned the point values that make the most sense. For example, the silly prop questions ("Will Jay-Z make an appearance on stage during the half-time show?") is worth a lot less than who you take for the spread. I've tweaked the pool over the years but I'm open to any suggestions on how to improve it. But it's great fun - believe me!

Alright, links are below! This is my gift to the internet. Enjoy the game!

2013 Super Bowl Pool (PDF Version)

2013 Super Bowl Pool (Excel Version)


Gadget Sale/Give-A-Way

by Scott Lough


I will be moving in a few months so I figure now is the time to gather some of my old things around the house (mostly tech toys) that I'm not using anymore and sell them or give them away. The main goal of this is to get rid of this stuff to someone who will use it. Therefore, I have priced these items pretty aggressively. I update my gadgets fairly often so some of this stuff might be very useful for some people. And we recently updated both Macs in our household so I am selling our old Macs, which still work great. I may be willing to ship smaller items if you live away from Calgary.

Please contact me if you're interested. First come, first serve. To the items...


24" iMac (late-2007 model)

Intel Core 2 Duo
2 TB HDD (upgraded to this in Feb 2011)
4GB of RAM
Mountain Lion Installed
Great condition with a fairly new hard drive. A great starter Mac. Wireless keyboard and Magic Mouse included.

PRICE: $500 obo


Gateway 21" Monitor

Plenty of inputs (DVI, component)
Tilts at different angles
Moves up and down
Rotates to portrait mode

PRICE: $50 obo


Dr. Dre Beats Noise Cancelling Headphones

iPhone/iPad mic and button included
Case included
Good, bassy headphones
Solid noise cancelling (requires two AAA batteries)
One earpad doesn't stay on well (could be fixed with glue)
Bought them for $250 four years ago

PRICE: $80


Bose Triport Headphones

Really solid headphones, but quite old (approx 6 years). Bought them for $150 then.
The adjustable piece broke so I had to tape them to one size.

PRICE: Free, take them.


Apple USB Keyboard (Full Length)

Just a keyboard.

PRICE: Free, take it.


USB 2.0 Hub (4 ports)

Doesn't need explaining, it's a powered USB hub.

PRICE: Free, take it


Advantages of an All iOS Family

by Scott Lough in


In today's world, there are many options for tablets and smartphones. It's common that in a family there could be various devices from different companies using different platforms. And that's fine, to each their own. And there are some great apps that help families connect across these different platforms. But in an all iOS family (i.e., only handheld Apple products), like mine, there can be some serious advantages to be had that help the family connect, share and aid in daily tasks. Apple's ecosystem is referred to as a "walled garden", often used as a negative connotation to highlight its limitations. Sure, sometimes that may be the case, but other times, walled gardens are the nicest lots on the block. Clean, well manicured and great for family gatherings.

Based on my experiences, here are some great advantages to having a family using only iOS devices.


Group Messages

In an all iOS world, when you create group message in iMessage, you can continue that conversation as a group in that message thread. But, if I set up a group message with at least 1 non-iOS device, it will send individual messages to everyone and that group thread will never exist. Having a continued group thread is handy when you need a conversation amongst the whole group rather than relaying the message to multiple people.

Sure, there are apps that can handle this cross platform, but is Grandma or Mom really going to install WhatsApp or Facebook Messager? No, they aren't. It's most convenient to just have everything built into the Messages app, which is why Apple doesn't have a separate app for this.

FaceTime

Like Messages, there are a lot of other third party cross platform applications that do the same thing, but once again, having it built into the first party application (Phone, in this case) makes it a lot easier.

Shared Photostreams

This features was released as a part of iOS 6.0 and is really handy for sharing pictures. After you've taken a bunch of pictures, you create a Shared Photostream and send it family/friends for them to subscribe. They'll have access to view and save those photos. If they have a Mac and launch iPhoto, they can see that photostream and import those pictures into their iPhoto library.

A great example is when my parents went on a trip to Italy. I had them each set up a shared photostream on their phone and had all of us kids subscribe to it. Throughout their trip, pictures would pop up in the photostream and we could see a running picture diary of their trip with little effort on either of our parts.

One thing I would really like see added to shared photostreams is the ability for "subscribees" to add photos to the photostream. That way it is truely a "shared" photostream and it would be great as a repository for photos from an event or trip where everyone is taking their own photos. Get on it Apple.

Shared Reminders

This is a little known gem of iOS 6, but unfortunately (right now), this feature requires a Mac. The Reminders app is a very handy and surprisingly powerful (see location reminders) but what I want to highlight here is the ability to share reminder lists. My wife and I have a reminder list called "Shopping List". I created it and to share it with her, I had to go into Reminders on my Mac and click the share button (no idea why you can't do this in iOS). Once shared, all items that her or I post to that reminders list will be synced. We love using it as our shopping list where we can both add things for our next grocery trip.

PRO TIP: Use Siri with this shared reminder list. "Add bacon to my shopping list". Boom.

Shared Calendars

It's very easy to share a calendar via iOS by clicking into into one of your iCloud calendars and adding someone to share it with. Very handy for sharing sports or family event calendars.

Find My Friends

Apple makes a nice little app that can easily show the location of other friends or family members. For some family members, it may cross the privacy line but it's really easy to flip on a switch to hide from followers. But it can be very handy to just take a quick look to see how close a family member is if they are driving home. You can also set up a temporary share of a location if you want to broadcast the location of an event to family or friends.

Others

There are many other neat features or apps that make life easier or more amusing. Fun turn by turn games like Letterpress, Scrabble, Draw Something, Words With Friends or Chess With Friends can make a bus ride or a wait at a restaurant a little more enjoyable.


How do you use iOS between your family and friends?

If you're an Android user, I'd be interested to hear what features or apps you use in the Android environment between your family and friends.


The Best of 2012

by Scott Lough


Welcome to the new scottlough.com. I've simplified the design and I'm hoping to post more here in 2013. I've got a few post ideas on recommendations and tech tips. But for now, this is my annual Best of YYYY post. Enjoy.

Best Gadget of 2012: GoPro Hero 3 Black Edition
The wearable camera goes mainstream with a suprisingly powerful camera in a compact size.
Noteworthy: iPhone 5, Samsung Galaxy S3, Retina MacBook Pro

Best iPhone App of 2012 (non-game): 1Password
Not a great year for groundbreaking new iPhone apps but a redesigned 1Password app with iCloud sync proved quite useful.
Noteworthy: Google Maps, YouTube, Sportacular (redesigned)

Best iPad App of 2012 (non-game): Tweetbot for iPad
The best Twitter client (in my opinion) came to the iPad and Mac this year, all with a unified interface, iCloud timeline sync and tons of other features.
Noteworthy: Paper, iPhoto, Chrome

Best iPhone App of 2012 (game): Letterpress
The great new word game by iOS guru Loren Britcher showed that great design deserves to be in games too.
Noteworthy: Angry Birds Star Wars, Draw Something

Best iPad App of 2012 (game): The Walking Dead
Engaging and emotion game that caters nicely to the iPad.
Noteworthy: FIFA 2013

Best Movie of 2012: Looper
Still have some movie watching to do (Django, Moonrise, Zero Dark Thirty) but Looper was fantastic.
Noteworthy: Les Misérables, Lincoln, Prometheus

Best TV Season of 2012: Game of Thrones S2
Blackwater may have been one of the greatest episodes in TV history.
Noteworthy: Breaking Bad S5 (part 1), Mad Men S5, Homeland S2

Best Album of 2012: Japandroids - Celebration Rock
True to its title. A Celebration of Rock.
Noteworthy: Calvin Harris - 18 Months, Frank Ocean - Channel ORANGE, Of Monster and Men - My Head Is an Animal, Deadmau5 - >Album Title Goes Here<