2006 - the final recap

posted in personal stuff on December 31st, 2006

2006, was indeed, a great year. With lots of changes, both personally as well as professionally, this year will be something I’ll remember for a long time.

Filled with lots of new musical influences, courtesy of friends and, quite a few new skills, thanks to my college, employers and my own striving and a new appreciation for the arts of our culture - yes, 2006 did indeed kick some serious butt.

Now, there’s one more thing that I want to get off my chest before I head out to conclude this past year in a fitting manner:

Happy New Year, may 2007 bring you and your loved ones the things you are longing for and if it does, think a minute about all those who aren’t able to live life in the same great way as most of us are able to, be it because of financial problems or because of other circumstances. If you are in the position, donate something to an organization you deem worthy of your support. It may not make you feel any better, but it will make someone else, somewhere else thankful. That should be rewarding enough, I know that it works for me.

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2006 - a(n) (audible) year in review

posted in Media, personal stuff on December 29th, 2006

This is the third and final part in a series of posts where I’m reviewing media from the past year. The first part discussed printed media, followed by my thoughts on televised media. The finale of this trilogy belongs to audible media, anything from music to spoken content.

2006, for me, marked the year of indie content. I bought more albums from this year than I did buy in retail stores during the last five years. Why? Because I like their concept. I get to choose how I acquire my media (loads of formats available), how much I pay and best of all … I get to share it with friends. Their concept is great and I’m thankful to them for providing such a great service.

Number one hit, for me personally, this year was certainly Scott Sigler’s Ancestor. While the story actually started in September of 2005, it wasn’t concluded until spring this year. Scott’s plot about xeno transplantation and the various side effects kept me hooked till the bitter end. Thanks to this podiobook, commuting actually became bearable.

Dubbed “medicine for the soul” by a commenter on YouTube, fingerstyle guitar artist Andy McKee really deserves a spot in my toplist. The way he makes love to the guitar is just amazing. It’s just amazing how he manages to convey a very vivid image with his song, without the need for any vocal support whatsoever.

Last but not least, Grey’s Anatomy Soundtrack, Vol. 1 is the perfect candidate to conclude this review. Featuring songs from season one of the show, the compilation contains songs which have the power to make you feel happy. Out of the 15 songs on the disc, I personally like two thirds a lot and find the other third to be awesome. It rarely happens that I like more than half of a compilation’s songs, but this time, it’s spot on.

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2006 - a (televised) year in review

posted in Media, personal stuff on December 28th, 2006

This is part two of a three post series where I’m reviewing media that was made available to me in 2006. Part 1 talked about printed media, this part will discuss televised media and part 3 will discuss audible media. Sorry folks, nothing computer related this year, not in this trilogy anyway.

First in the listing is CBS’ Jericho, dubbed a post-apocalyptic drama about a small town (Jericho, Kansas), the directors
managed to deliver eleven breathtaking episodes, combining interpersonal drama with action scenes and topped the whole thing with a great cliffhanger. The actors do a great job in portraying their characters. If you want to read more about it, click here or here.

SciFi’s EUReKA is the second series I’d like to discsus want to talk about. SciFi’s program managers planned the first episode during the premiere screening of the Battlestar Galactica Season 3 trailer. A very smart idea, with a high reward. EUReKA’s pilot turned out to be the highest rated show ever televised on the SciFi channel. A series about small town with a big secret, EUReKA mixes funny stories with interesting science.

Last but not least, there’s Grey’s Anatomy, dubbed a chick-flick (it’s actually a series, not a flick), I find it far more entertaining than comparable series like ER et al. Granted, the characters don’t appeal to me on a visual level, but then again, that’s not what I’m looking for anyway. I like the easy to digest stories that are never too complicated to be incomprehensible when you’ve missed an episode or two. The music that’s selected for the show, a combination of feel-good music and alternative rock, spiked with meaningful lyrics, is what really makes my day though.

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2006 - a (readable) year in review

posted in Media, personal stuff on December 27th, 2006

Based on a series I started back in 2004 and didn’t continue in 2005, I’d like to post some thoughts on media in 2006.

Let’s start out with readable media - printed books, eBooks, magazines, anything non-digital really. I managed to continue my stream of eBooks this year, even though I didn’t succeed in reading as much as I did in 2005. Nearly two years after I bought my first eBooks, I still believe that this is the future, at least for me and a few more people who are openminded enough to accept a new form of content delivery.

I read about 30 books this year (which is 40% less than last year) and the three that made my charts are, in no specific order:

Steven Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner - Freakonomics:
Freakonomics talks about the hidden side just about everyone has and gives plenty of examples to elaborate on the special view of the world the authors craft. While at first you might think that it’s just rambling, the authors are actually on to something…

James Surowiecki - The Wisdom of Crowds:
Surowiecki uses “The Wisdom of Crowds” to explain how great masses of people can be and actually are smarter than a small flock of higly intelligent, business driven people. With easy to understand examples, the author explains the various types of wisdom found in a crowd and then analyzes the elements that are “required” for a crowd to be considered smart. The book also contains a good explanation why sometimes “crowd wisdom” fails and how we can prevent it from failing. Funnily enough, Surowiecki recommends people to keep their ties loose and expose oneself to as many different sources of information as possible - his statements link up nicely with a recent blog post

Brad Thor - Takedown:
Thor once again delivers a kick-ass (excuse my excitement) thriller. I-clean-up-and-get-things-done-agent Scott Harvath once again is tapped to solve the problems that arise when a group of terrorists decide to cut off Manhattan from the outside world in any way possible. It’s a great read and other than a handful of references to previous adventures, you won’t miss anything if you haven’t read the other books. Certainly worth buying if you’re looking for a good action movie for your mind (yes, Thor is capable of writing THAT vividly).

Other than great reads, I also picked up my new favorite magazine, BRIGHT - a mix of technology, lifestyle, gadgets and high quality journalism. No it’s not FHM, it’s better and less sexist. Worth checking out if you live in the Netherlands or Belgium and speak Dutch and feel like staying on top of the information flow.

Read part 2 of this series here and part 3 right here.

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Thank you!

posted in personal stuff on December 23rd, 2006

The past year, for me personally, was a year of change. Like the years before, I got to meet a lot of great people and I even got to know some of them quite well.

What follows is a list of the people that influenced me the most this year, from a personal or professional point of view, or whom I’m just thankful for for being part of my life. Oh, and in case you’re wondering – the list is ordered in counter clockwise geographical order, meaning we start out in Canada and end in the Netherlands.

Katie, I’ve known you for close to two years now and you still continue to amaze me. I value the input you give me when I ask for it and I appreciate your enthusiasm when I break any idea to you. You helped me out a lot more than you probably know when I was going through a rough time and I am thankful beyond words for that. You always know how to cheer me up when I need it and you seem to be capable of providing the right answers and insights when I’m not. Thank you.

Ben, you’ve introduced me to a great deal of media I wouldn’t have experienced without you. You seem to know what kind of song or movie or series I’m longing for and are able to provide just that. It may be coincidence, but I’m still thankful. You have shown remarkable strength in a time when you were down on the ground and I respect that a lot, most people your age would just “break”, you didn’t. I know that, because the conversations we have show that you are miles ahead of people who are five years older. You, my friend, are destined for greatness.

Scott, from a business point of view, I couldn’t be more thankful. You always have one gig or another for me to work on, be it for your company or for Sigler Media. I respect you highly on a professional level, because you know how to get things done, but also because you seem to be able to put up with my (sometimes) slacking attitude. You present me with the possibility to come up with my own, creative, solution and hardly ever limit my flow of ideas. On a personal level, you have been a source of inspiration for me. You show me how important it is to pursue one’s own ideas and not just “quit” when times are rough. Thank you.

Josef, without you, I wouldn’t probably be writing this post, because without you, I wouldn’t have a server to maintain. While it may seem purely technical to most, thanks to you, I can broaden my knowledge on the technical aspects of maintaining an online presence and therefore you contribute to upping my market value. Believe me when I say that your contribution is very much appreciated.

Kevin, you can be a royal pain in the butt, but when you decide to cooperate, the real “you” surfaces and with that, skills that far surpass mine. One of the youngest designers I know, you have produced works that I admire, for the simplicity and quality contained within. Thanks for the inspiration (and sometimes even guidance) you provide.

Jack, we’ve only met some ten weeks ago, yet we’ve had some of the weirdest but also most sincere conversations I’ve had this year. It’s really odd to meet someone who is so much like I am. Whenever we talked, I recognized how your life, in many situations, seems to be a nearly identical version of mine. I’m glad I finally found someone who appreciates life the same way I do.

L., you, even though you probably didn’t even realize, opened my eyes to the finer aspects of culture. You influenced me on a purely personal level and somehow I (want to) believe that I’m a better person for it. Dank je.

Apart from those five, I also owe thanks to the group of people who contributed and are contributing to my upcoming movie(s) as well as the two Jeroens for maintaining my server when I’m unable to set any time aside for doing so and for ensuring that a huge group of CS:S players are able to enjoy a high quality gaming experience.

Thanks to all of you, 2006 was as great as it was, thanks to all of you, my skills, both on a professional and on a social level, have expanded more than they could have without you. You rock, each and every one of you.