The Advantage – Elf Titled

The Advantage are back with their new sophomore album, “Elf Titled”. Being my favorite in the seemly ever growing category of NES cover bands, they have always stood out for their exacting precision to the actual music itself. No “interpretation” for them, but each of the band members each cover one of the NES’s 4 sound channels and they each reproduce the sound as best as possible.

They did an interview for the new album in the Sacramento News and Review that’s worth reading.

Tacoma Coffee – The Kickstand Cafe

Again on the search for good coffee in Tacoma, we come to the Kickstand Cafe. I’d insert a link to their website but they don’t have one-I think you know this frustrates and confuses me. Located near downtown Tacoma and Wright Park, the Kickstand is home to Tacoma’s growing crowd of hipsters (Seattle transplants or high schoolers who just don’t know any better). It was founded by a young couple, who about 2 years ago sold it and moved. The new owners have cleaned it up and tried to improve the service. They have managed to retain much of the old flavor of the place while making it a bit more welcoming to Tacoma’s diverse population.

Starting with the atmosphere, they’ve done a good job keeping it a comfortable but modern setting. There’s a mural on the wall that survived the change of hands as well as a rotating display of local art. Their back room, which went from a dark hole where no one went, was transformed under the new owners to a usable space with plenty of light and a great place for the local music and shows that are put on there, as well as a place to drink the selection of wine and beer they now offer.

They are currently using Caffe Vita coffee. Which is both a good and bad thing. I’m happy they are not using some of the local roasters (Fox Hollow and it’s ilk), but Vita just isn’t as good as some of the other Seattle roasters. The good thing about Caffe Vita, is the barista training that they offer to those who use their coffee. It might not be much, but any training on proper techniques is better than none.

Problem is, the baristas of the Kickstand are widely varied in their skills. I’ve been in and had either Chris (one of the owners), or another of his baristas make me and my wife a great pair of drinks, with great foam, and shots that were not over extracted with decent cr?me. But on a return visit on a Saturday evening, the barista was clearly inexperienced and made one of the worst Americao’s I’ve ever had, and my wife’s short latte was more a lukewarm steamed milk with no foam. Very disappointing.

They use a well worn La San Marco for their machine. It’s seen better days and has been repeatedly patched to keep it going, but it can produce good shots if you are patient (I myself put in a brief stint as a Kickstand barista).

The Kickstand, if you can get a good barista, is one of the better coffee experiences you will get in Tacoma. Decent to good Caffe Vita, with great atmosphere, and the bonus of theThe Grand Cinema next door, showing the latest indie films. My advice, carefully watch what the drinks of the people in front of you look like. If they’re sketchy, go for the drip, or a smoothie. You’ll be better off, and you’ll enjoy your experience more.

Blockbuster – The Zombie

Saw this over on Edward Jay Epstein, who writes about movies and the associated industry for Slate, writes of Blockbuster’s zombie like status at the moment.

I can’t say I’m not surprised. With their brick and mortar stores requiring upkeep, and the fact that DVD’s are so cheap and easy to just buy, or easy to get through a service like Netflix it makes their storefronts the domain of people who need to get a movie tonight, and only really want the latest releases.

On a side note, the success of DVD was due in large part to the low price and extra features it offered. I think the movie studios are going to have a much harder time selling the “HD” revolution to the people. If the price point is not there like it was for DVD, it’s not going to sell, or at least it won’t until more people can take advantage of it. Most people still only have a normal TV that is not going to take advantage of the HD content. This technology sticking point will be it’s biggest stumbling block, as they can’t get the prices down from mass production, is there is only a niche market of movie and tech buff’s buying it.

I saw an article saying that the HD-DVD vs. Blu-Ray will be decided in large part by gamers, due to the differing support by the XBOX 360 and the Playstation 3. In reality, I don’t see most people who by either of the systems being that concerned with the HD support, because they won’t have the technology in their TV to take advantage of it. Prices are coming down, and people are looking to upgrade their TV’s for sure, but in large part, most people don’t want to get a new TV just to play games and play movies when their current TV could do it just fine. It will be interesting to watch. Don’t get me wrong. I want the HD TV’s and the content that comes with them, but I’m definitely not a typical “Best Buy” type consumer.

Portable Game System Family Tree

Saw this linked off of Joystiq. It’s the portable system family tree. It’s fun to see the design evolution as well as the sad fact of all the other contenders to the Game Boy’s reign that have fallen to the wayside.

It reminded me of the Console Controller Family Tree that I’d seen last year. It’s always interesting to see who innovated first and who copied, and what stuck and what was left by the wayside.


I wish I could remember where I found the link to Pandora.

What is Pandora? It’s an incredible webapplication that answers the question, “If I like xxx band, then what are other bands I might like?”, and in the end Pandora does a great job of answering this question. It’s simple to use. You enter a band name, it’s music engine looks for music that is either by that band or possibly sounds like it. Easy, but the system is a learning system, in that you can give the song it plays a thumbs up or down based on how you like it, and how well it meets with your band criteria. It’s almost like a radio station that plays music you like and if you don’t it’s easy to skip. But the great part is that it introduces you to bands and artists that you would never have heard otherwise.

Feeling mellow – put on your Death Cab for Cutie “station”, feeling like going dancing – put on your Daft Punk station. Try it… It’s replaced internet radio for me while I work, and I’ve heard quite a few bands I’d like to learn more about.

WordPress 2.0

So I just saw that Word Press 2.0 just came out. I’ve been using WordPress for Cinder Inc. since it started and have been impressed with it all along. Even with the few hiccups that happened with the 1.2->1.5 upgrade, they were minor and I ended up with a much nicer and easier to maintain site (though that implies I was actually updating!)

Some of the newer features sound good, and I’ll probably get a chance to do an upgrade here in the next few weeks. Not sure what the front page differences will be for you, but on the backend I’ll be able to manage comment spam much better (it’s down to about 10-20 a week that I have to go through, which is better than the 20-30 a day I was having for a while), among other things. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Best Webgames of 2005

In the interest of saving you the lameness of collecting all the other top X of 2005 lists, I thought I’d just do one that I noticed today, even though it’s not the best, and I don’t always agree with the choices, I liked enough of the games on the list, and many of them are very easily played for fun, it should be mentioned here. So here we go – The top 20 webgames of 2005. Go interweb.