Fluid Motion Robot from Disney Research

There's just something really special about this robot and how it moves. Imagine this robot dealing cards - etc. Crazy good movement.


Another Year - This Blog Continues

How many years has it been? 12? 14? 20? I need to post more but I'm glad this blog is always here for me to come back to. Much has changed since it started - perhaps some long form posts soon and maybe some actual news or funny moments.


What You Need to Know Before You Visit Disney Magic Kingdom and Other Disney Parks - Itinerary Included

Key to any Disney Park for success:
  • Get there 30-45 minutes ahead of time. If the park opens at 9 be there at 8:15 and include travel and park time. Seems brutal but worth it.
  • You need to plan to do the 2-3 rides without Fast Passes in the early 2-3 hours of the park being open. Then you eat an early lunch and ride the rides during lunch when others are eating. You can also do this at Dinner time.
  • Try and relax during the afternoon and make that more treat and snack driven
  • Plan where you are going to do dinner - park? Or after Park - if so realize old people eat early and large in Florida - so getting anything from 5-8 pm at most places is impossible.
  • This isn't about going for a Multi-Day stay on the park. It's about picking a park or two and doing them one day after the next. If you do 3-4 days the Magic Bands available are useful and fun for everyone to use.
  • Don't waste your money on Park Hopper options for your tickets - just not worth it - stay in the park and enjoy it. They are only useful if you are trying to see things in the evenings or meeting people around the parks and not optimizing your day to day things to do.
Tickets can be purchased here: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/tickets/

Also there are no DISCOUNTS on DISNEY TICKETS. None. If you live in Florida or California etc. you can get discounts but don't be a sucker and buy any tickets from anywhere other than Disney.

Typical Disney Day any Park with 9am open (DISNEYWORLD):
  1. Get there at least 45 minutes before open
  2. 9am - Watch park open show at Gates - then prepare to head to rides
  3. Rides to hit early - TOMORROWLAND
    1. Space Mountain
    2. Mining Cart Roller Coaster
    3. Buzz Lightyear
  4. 10am - 11am - pick a few rides and get there like Pirates and Thunder Mountain Railroad
  5. 12pm - eat something - Turkey Leg etc.
  6. 12:30-1:30 - go to Peter Pan etc. 
  7. 2-5pm - Wander around - do Tom Sawyer - it should be plenty full of people
  8. 5pm - Eat
  9. 6pm - close - do what you want and ride the People Mover etc.
  10. Go home - get sleep - repeat
You Should also have booked Fast Passes - a  total of 3. Spread these out through out the day to get you to different areas of the park

Spend your Fast Passes only on things hard to get into line later in the day.
  1. A New Ride?
  2. Space Mountain? Maybe or maybe not - the ride breaks often later in the day - use wisely
  3. Something you don't want to miss - Star Tours update?
Older rides might not make great Fast passes:
  • Haunted Mansion
  • Jungle Cruise
  • Splash Mountain
Fast Pass Info:
  1. Make sure and have app and get Fast Passes ahead after purchasing your tickets online.
    1. App available here: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/plan/my-disney-experience/mobile-apps/
  2. If you purchase at the parks each day - you can link tickets to app and get Fast Passes.
  3. The only way we found to activate the tickets was using them in the Park and linking them at the gate then using a KIOSK in the Park. Then after that the passes showed up in the APP.
  4. Each Ticket = a person and is tied to that person. It's confusing but really simple.
  5. Maybe if you buy tickets ahead and link them it will be easier and work perfectly.
You should check these for height requirements:

Also - never go to a park that has extended hours at Disney. They are the fullest on those days.

What You Need to Know Before You Visit Harry Potter World - Islands of Adventure & Universal Studios - Itinerary Included

Getting to the park early applies here big time. It's a hike to get in and the parking entrance can be really nightmarish.
Get there 30-45 minutes ahead of time. If the park opens at 9 be there at 8:15 and include travel and park time. Seems brutal but worth it.
Tickets can be printed at home and you need to bring them to the park every day. Each ticket is tied to a person with a fingerprint. Get this correct or wait in line a long time.

If you bring a backpack - you can't bring it on any ride. You need to make sure the backpack is modest in size and fits in a square locker. Every ride that requires this has a locker you can use for a window of time before paying. All the lockers require you remember the locker number and use a fingerprint. Make sure and wipe the lens clean before making a print and wipe it clean to get your stuff out.

Universal is going to be all about seeing Harry Potter stuff and perhaps a few of the Superhero and other rides. It's more laid back but the lines can be long etc. All of the Universal Rides are a little more teen to tween.

There are two parks and you can buy a 2 day 3rd day free ticket:
  1. Universal Islands of Adventure
  2. Universal Studios Florida

The HOGWARTS Express train near the Dragon Challenge Coaster or Near San Francisco takes you between the two parks and is also a ride. I will put a schedule of when to do it below.

Hogsmeade and Hogwarts is located in the Universal Studio Islands of Adventure park:
  • Features the wand shop Olivanders do this early. Why? The entire set of Harry Potter worlds have interactive windows you use the wands for and the kids love it
  • Features the Hogwarts Ride - kinda awesome and scary
  • Dragon Challenge Roller Coaster
  • Butter Beer - delish - DJ Delish actually
  • Lots of shops and things to see
  • Smaller Coaster
Diagon Alley is located in the Universal Studios park:
  • Features Gringotts Ride - my favorite
  • Features more wand stuff
  • Amazing to just walk around and enjoy - it's hidden so you don't see the rest of the park
So DAY 1 since you have a 2 day park ticket:
  1. Go to Islands of Adventure first - it's the more Harry Potter of the two
  2. Ride the Hogwarts Ride
  3. Get a Wand at the Wand shop
  4. Do some stuff
  5. Maybe ride the smaller roller coaster
  6. Take the Hogwarts Express to the other Park
  7. Check out Diagon Alley
  8. Maybe ride Gringotts ride if you can
  9. Wander around and get some lunch at Universal Studios in Simpsons area - has lots of food options
  10. Head back to Islands of Adventure to use the Hogwarts Train again and see a different ride on the train (you'll understand after you do it)
  11. Do Jurassic Park Ride
  12. Do the Spider Man Ride
  13. Do Hulk Coaster if you can
  14. Doctor Seus ride is a trip - do it
  15. There is some water ride too - it's cool
  16. Doom Drop is meh - but if no wait - good
  17. Go back to Harry potter area - enjoy it
  18. Maybe ride the larger Dragon Coaster
Day 2:
  1. Head to Universal Studios
  2. Go to Gringotts Ride right away
  3. Enjoy diagon Alley
  4. Get some lunch and do some rides
  5. ET is a trip
  6. Simpsons ride is fun
  7. Men in Black is okay
  8. Rip Ride Rocket Music Coaster thing - AMAZING
  9. Transformers is cool
  10. The Mummy Ride was excellent
  11. Wander around - maybe go over to other park
  12. Maybe just hang out.
  13. Wander around Diagon Alley and check out Nocturne Alley
  14. Hang out and watch shows in the evening
You should check these for height requirements:

Crowd Calendar is helpful for Universal Studios: https://www.undercovertourist.com/orlando/crowd-calendar/


Ewan and the Lego Club Magazine - AKA Semi Monthly Lego Catalog

I remember as a kid being so into the Sears Christmas Catalog and Star Wars mini-catalogs that came with larger toys from Kenner. These entertained me for hours and hours of dreaming not just about getting the toys but they were the only source of memories about the movies they were tied to.

Now Ewan gets this Lego Club Catalog and on day 3 he's still going strong. I love how he eats his breakfast and then hits the couch for more Lego Catalog time.


Tripods - A Series of Novels - Comic Strip in Boys Life

Finally found the series of books I read as both a comic strip and novels as a kid. The Tripods was in the back of Boys Life and also came out in novel form. I'm hoping to pick these up and read them with Ewan and Anya. Check out the strip here


Pebble Smartwatch with Runkeeper Support Review

I Kickstarted the Pebble Smartwatch with Runkeeper support over a year ago and until recently giving up my Nike Fuelband (500 day streak), decided to finally give my Pebble Smartwatch in black a real try. Early on when I received it the app for iPhone and the watch apps were pretty lacking. Also the Runkeeper support was also missing.

Last week I switched to the Pebble Smartwatch as my main watch and on Thursday was impressed with the setup and the iPhone app integration. The Pebble Smartwatch will communicate over Bluetooth wirelessly to display text messages and other notifications and now even has email support.

Setting it up and pairing with the iPhone was easy, and I was even able to try out using the email notifications. I shut email off within the hour I turned it on, but left the SMS messages and in the end that's the main feature I really enjoyed along with the Runkeeper support.

On Thursday and Friday I didn't find the SMS message that helpful until I got a few in the car and also in meetings where I really don't want to be the guy grabbing his phone to read messages. Also on the Friday night Saturday at a BBQ, having the ability to view the message on my wrist was more discreet.

Another thing I enjoyed during the weekend was being able to view messages sent to my phone when my phone was docked for playing music or just charging. I could walk around the house and see messages without running my phone.

Okay - now onto using the Pebble Smartphone with Runkeeper support during a run. The Pebble Smartwatch once you start the run will pair via bluetooth to display total distance, elapsed time, and average mph for your run. You can also use the middle button to pause and resume your run.

I thought this wouldn't be that useful but it was great. We kept a nice average pace and like a running watch I was able to keep the pace I wanted. I also like that I didn't have to then sync my run like I do with my Garmin Forerunner 10, and could at the end of the run just save it on my iPhone using Runkeeper and I was done.

So in the end the two things that I really love have to be the display for running and then not being tethered to my phone while I'm at home or at work and my phone is at my desk or charging to see that I'm getting messages.

It's disappointing there are not real apps (you can control music as well to start and stop via Bluetooth), but I'm the push notion of getting information is pretty killer.

Oh and the watch? It works and displays the date and time - really all very solid.

I'm a very happy Pebble Smartwatch customer, and it's nice to have a Smartwatch before they go mainstream.


Infinite Crisis

The game I've been working on - Infinite Crisis has been announced. Infinite Crisis is a new entrant into the wildly popular MOBA genre that delivers a heart-pounding competitive player vs. player battle experience set in the legendary DC Multiverse - a world in which familiar DC Comics characters have been re imagined in startling ways. Featuring a wide variety of DC Comics heroes and villains, Infinite Crisis puts players in control of twisted incarnations of their favorite characters throughout the Multiverse such as Nightmare Batman and Gaslight Catwoman, playing in league with well-known characters including Green Lantern and The Flash.


SWTOR - The End of an Era (For Now)

The end of an era which lasted for about 3 months. Picture above is The False Emperor in SWTOR with Theorimus, Keth, Thraken (my Jedi Sentinel), and W'jam. We had a blast in the time we played but the game needs a raid and group finder. Also - the balancing and difficulty for questing needs some love.

Overall - the game though is gorgeous and if you plan on playing it through to 50 you'll enjoy yourself. I've got a few more months of time to enjoy the 1.2 patch and then take a break as Diablo 3 and MOP expansion in WOW comes out.


40 Years and Counting

Yep - today is my 40th birthday and I have to say - 40 isn't so bad. I'm pretty excited to open my presents later today, and just chill out and play some SWTOR. Thanks again to all of my birthday wishes over the past week - and I'm ready to join the 40+ club.


Sixteen Zen, Relaxation, and Meditation Apps | iLounge Article

Feeling like I need some of these with the holidays upon me...

iPhone Gems: Sixteen Zen, Relaxation, and Meditation Apps | iLounge Article: Sixteen Zen, Relaxation, and Meditation Apps

A New Design for An Upcoming New Year

Just thought I'd finally bite the bullet and redesign/use the actual blogger templates. Really easy to use and apply to your blog - and I'm happy with the switch.