Media Diet And Other Things

Sometimes, it becomes apparent to me that this part of the site is basically the equivalant of screaming into the void. I basically did not post anything here for almost three months and nothing seemed to change. As they say, if a tree falls in the forest and no one was there, did it make any noise? I think the issue for me that I need to develop more of a consistent voice that needs to be developed and evolved over time. There is also the time commitment: I’ve always done this as sort of a side hobby – I’ve never really dedicated myself to frequently posting here because of ‘real world’ commitments like a job, family and other responsiblities. In the past, I have highlighted items that have peaked my interest and were just worth sharing with the world. Yet part of the challenge in standing out in today’s landscape is figuring out an approach – do you go for volume or quality? – are you built for speed or comfort (as Vince Vaughn once said)? So as I think about how to refresh and re-think the ‘blog’ part of the site, I’m going to try to figure this out. As for now, I’m going to share a couple of updates and then share some media that I am consuming.

Wallpapers – English and European Soccer

Over the latter part of the summer, I cranked out updating approximately 900 Wallpapers across my posted collections on the site that represent all English Soccer League team kits – from the English Premier League through the National Leagues (National League, National League North and South), as well as leagues in Scotland, and Europe. There are still a few laggards however as of now, the stats reflect that I have updated all Home kit designs across all leagues, all except 3 Away kits across all leagues, and 65% of Third kits across all leagues (not all teams have third kits).

Wallpapers – Music

I’ve quietly added several to this collection – either on my own or via the occasional request. For this collection, I have been trying to track against the top 500 albums of all time, as ranked by Rolling Stone’s annual list. I’ve always been happy with the design of these wallpapers, in that you can prominantly see the name of the album and the artist, while at the same time you can see the song list and the album art on the two corners of the background while using your computer. Whatever you would be working on would be in the middle of your screen, yet you can see the songs and/or the album art in the right and left corners and immediately recognize what album it is.

My Media Diet

Building off of something that Jason Kottke does on a semi regular basis, I thought I’d share a few of the media items that I have been consuming recently.

Stop Making Sense (IMAX) – [Grade: A] David Byne dancing with a lamp and making it compelling. The classic concert movie was re-relased and remastered . It looked amazing on the IMAX screen.

Welcome To Wrexham – Season 2 (HULU, FX) – [Grade: A] – The well documented story of the ups and downs of how two Hollywood actors purchased a Wales soccer/football team is well into its second season. The show’s first season was excellent. The show’s second season is rivaling it, and the best is yet to come!

The Gold (Paramount+) – [Grade: A] You had me at British spy series based on the real Brinks-Mat robbery.

Star Wars: Rebels (Disney+) – [Grade: C-] I’ve been trying extremely hard to watch the full Star Wars saga in the proper order. After plowing through the Star Wars: Clone Wars series, I am struggling with Rebels. I’ve heard the last season makes it worth it but I’m skeptical. The only thing keeping me motivated is that Andor is next.

Slow Horses: Real Tigers (Book) – [Grade: B] After watching the first two seasons of the series on Apple TV+, I decided to read the books from author Mick Herron which correspond to the series (Slow Horses, Dead Lions) and then read the third book – Real Tigers – ahead of the 3rd season. Solid read yet the real revelation is that Gary Oldman’s depiction of Jackson Lamb is spot on.

Foundation (Apple TV+) – [Grade: C] I’ve been told the 2nd season is better and easier to follow but I have been struggling with the first season of this series.

Sex Education – Season 4 (Netflix) – [Grade: B] Really enjoyed the first two seasons of this series. The fourth season was solid however it started to get cluttered with so many storylines. Otis, Maeve and Ruby steal the season.

Beckham (Netflix) – [Grade: B+] I learned a few things about “Becks” and grew to appreciate him after watching this. He is surprisingly humble and grounded even though he was, and is, one of the iconic figures in soccer and style over the past 25 years. If you are in the middle of the Pop Culture – English Premier League fan venn diagram, this is for you.

Seinfeld (Netflix) – [Grade: B+] I rewatched all 9 seasons over the past several months – each episode is only 23-25 minutes. The jokes still hit. Some of the tropes felt a little dated. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

The Americans (Hulu) – [Grade: A] Rewatching this as well. I loved this show when it was on TV and that point of view has not changed.

A Generous Gift

Yesterday, I was working from home and my wife texted me that a fairly large package had been delivered (I was on a Zoom call). I pondered this for a second and wondered if I was expecting anything of any significance and thought nothing much of it at the time. Later, when I was free, she brought the box down to the basement where my office/den/”man-cave” is. And again, I was still befuddled as to what this could be.

Now, as visitors to this site may know, I have a hobby of creating device/computer Desktop Wallpapers – something that started several years ago when I thought it would be cool to design backgrounds for English Premier League teams that matched their kit/jersey designs. Since then, I regularly get ‘special requests’ from people all across the internet that I do my best to fulfill. And on each of the Wallpaper pages on my site, I include some links to give people the opportunity to donate to me as a recognition of the time and effort it takes to make these items. One of the links I include is to my Amazon Wish List. And on my Wishlist, one of the items that I had innocently added was the Webaround Big Shot, a large green screen background that you can attach to the back of your desk chair in order to have a cleaner display of the background when on a Zoom call. So instead of having my basement showing behind me when on said Zoom call, I could have something like Coruscant (Star Wars) or hipster lofts or the skyline of NYC.

Of all the items on my Wishlist, this was the item that some anonymous person took the time, money and effort to order for me as a gift. I am assuming it is a gift from one of the many ‘regulars’ that solicit Wallpapers from me however I am not at all sure to be honest, as Amazon does not reveal who purchases things from your Wishlist. What I do know is that this person could easily have chosen from a long list of other items on my Wishlist that were far cheaper than what this item cost. I’m somewhat fascinated and intrigued as to why they chose this item compared to the others on my list. No matter, the generosity is noted!

So, whoever the individual is out there on the Internet who purchased this wonderful Webaround Big Shot green screen background that mounts on the back of my desk chair – I would like to send to you a hearty THANK YOU and a note that your gift is recognized and appreciated!!

London Underground Stations

File this under “content you didn’t realize you needed”.

For some reason, I have taken my hobby of creating computer desktop wallpapers to both the next level and to the depths of London town, as I have created desktop wallpapers representing each and every station in the London Underground system. They are done in two “flavors” – one that has the Tube stop logo overlaid on top of a map of the whole system. The other has the Tube stop logo with a ‘subway tile’ background.

Why did I do this? I’m still trying to figure that out. I guess it is just a romanticism with the city of London, and it’s eponymous Tubes system. I love the simplicity of their branding and logo system. I love the complexity of their subway map, underlying the utter chaos that is the street system of London itself. I love the small, unique neighborhoods of London as much as I like the grand spaces like Piccadilly and Hyde Park.

So if you’ve ever spent time in London, and you had/have a Tube stop that you can call your own, head on over to my London Underground page, find your station, and download it and decorate your computer or your iPad or your iPhone.

MLS Wallpapers Updated for 2020 Season

A touch late after the kickoff of the 2020 MLS season but I have updated all the Home/Away wallpapers to resemble the kits for the full slate of MLS teams. As always, I took a little ‘artistic license’ with some of them however you should find that they all are true to their 2020 kit designs.

Some random thoughts: Piling on with the hatred of the new Chicago Fire logo and highly bland kit designs….I think I like the Toronto FC away kits the best out of the whole league…with the Houston Dynamo’s funky orange striped ones a close second (so funky, I could not replicate it on my version of their wallpaper…will have to revisit it one day soon)…still can’t believe that the NE Revs still have that horrid 1990s faux painted logo…No surprise that Sporting FC has the most elegant, sharpest kit designs.

Here’s to a solid MLS year ahead and hope that keeps momentum for USA soccer as we look to 2022.

A Hack To Keep Your Desktop Fresh

File this one under the “uber-geek” tag (You know you have that tag somewhere out there).

I’m one who likes to have a variety of different desktop backgrounds rotating on my Mac ‘desktop’ for no other reason than I like to keep things fresh on my computer. If you need any evidence of this, feel free to check out the library of Desktop Backgrounds I’ve created and posted here on my site. We all know that the ones provided by computer manufacturers are far from esthetically pleasing, save Apple. Add to this the fact that in today’s ultra-mobile, on-the-go lifestyle where we use multiple ‘client’ machines – work computer (maybe a PC), home computer (probably a Mac), laptop, etc. – it’s always nice to do a few things to make these machines feel like they are yours. However, trying to download or acquire desktop images for each computer could get time consuming and never know when you’ll see an awesome image that would look perfect as your desktop wallpaper/background. Having a single folder to just drop new images into and have it serve up to all of your computers would be a nice way to solve this. So for the past several years I’ve been using a simple little ‘hack’ that I concocted to solve for this need that only your inner Cliff Claven would claim to need.

To start, you’ll need two things:

  1. A Dropbox account
  2. A folder in said Dropbox account full of desktop backgrounds. Feel free to download a few from my site or head on over to Simple Desktops to find some really awesome minimalist ones (the kind that I like).

First thing you need to do is create a folder in the Dropbox account called “Desktop Backgrounds” (or whatever you want to call it). Then, fill it up with a variety of desktop background images to your liking. Once you have done this, you then need to install Dropbox on each of your computers to ensure that this same Dropbox folder with the desktop images is available on each computer. If you are already a Dropbox user, then this step may already be done.

Next, you need to enable your computers to pull the images from this folder and display them as your Desktop backgrounds. On all of your computers, go through the following exercise:

  1. On a Mac, go to Settings > Desktop & Screen Saver > Desktop (I forget what the equivalent is for Windows but I think it’s Display or Themes).
  2. Click the “+” button at the bottom left, navigate to the Dropbox folder “Desktop Backgrounds” you just created, and have this folder be the source of your Desktop backgrounds (see image below).
  3. Then, select “Change Picture”, pick a time interval, and if you so desire, select “Random Order”.
  4. Wash, rinse, repeat on all of your computers and you now have the same backgrounds rotating on all of your computers.
pref_desktop

The extra bonus is that with this set up, all you have to do is drop new images into this one Dropbox folder and the new image(s) will automagically get included in the rotation on all of your computers.

And that’s it. Now you’ll have a nice rotation of different backgrounds on your computer desktop to keep things fresh and different as you take on the day ahead of you.