Q: I am new to soccer and want to follow a club.  Which one should I pick?

A: I’ve gotten this question more in the last three years than any, and it’s an easy answer that will require you to be patient.  The best way I can explain it is, “Your club will find you”.  That simply means if you just sit and watch games at any level, club or international, something eventually will ‘click’ with you. A player, a shirt, team colors, style of play, a storyline – something will attract you.  My friend, and unfortunately Liverpool suck-up, Bob Sturm wrote a really good blog post about this a few years ago – check it out here.

Q:  What cell phone should I buy?

A: Asking me to this question is pretty much tantamount to asking me to help you pick out a spouse.  There just as point where you need to pull the trigger based on a well thought out and educated decision.

The good news is today there are an almost endless set of options to choose from.  Operating systems, manufactures, service providers and service plans.  It isn’t just about Apple vs Android.  But I will suggest this, educate yourself and take your time in making a decision.  Most people carry on their person, use it more than any other device in their life and depend on it for all sorts of functions and information that is important to making their day go smoothly.  Do NOT just buy a smartphone based on price.

  • If you aren’t locked into a service provider ask your friends, family, co-workers about the quality of their service/connections/dropped calls in areas that you spend most your time (work, home, nightlife).  You may find that a service you were thinking of totally stinks in terms of coverage at your office or at your home.
  • Decide if you want a Android or Apple based phone.  This is the hardest part.  I personally think that if your computing life is based on an Apple product, an iPhone is the best option simply because its native to your computer.  But there are plenty of iMac owners that make an Android phone work for them.  If you are working on a PC or simply just don’t need to marry your phone and computer, Android is an outstanding option that provides a lot of flexibility and customization that you simply cannot do on an iPhone.  The reality is that there is a learning curve to Android that doesn’t exist on iOS (although this gap is decreasing quickly) and the process of deciding what Android phone to buy is littered with manufactures, models and the issue of which phone is using which version of Android.  Again, talk to friends and ask to try and use their phones.  Ask them about their experiences with their model, both as a phone and as a computing device.
I am always happy to help you with specific choices once you’ve narrowed it down, or even with the Apple/Android option based on the rest of your computing lifestyle.  But please don’t ask me the general question.  I will in that case suggest you go the Palm Pre route.

 

Q: Why/how do I calibrate my TV?

A:  Calibrating your TV will be the best time and money you can spend above and beyond what you have already spent on your new flat screen.  This applies to LCD, LED, Plasma, DLP and even those few remaining CRT’s.

TV’s out of the box are generally way off when it comes to the picture quality being “accurate” (more on that below).  TV’s now also have a whole gaggle of features and settings that are unneeded – many of which actually make the picture less accurate.

Here are some explanations and links to calibrating your HDTV and getting the most accurate picture:

There are a set of standards, by the broadcast industry, that define what an “accurate picture” is to be.  This is insure that all aspects of a picture are consistent from display to display.  Think of it this way… When you are looking at your TV’s picture you want it to look “real”, just as it would if that same scene was playing out in front of you in person.  You want people’s skin colors to be as they are in real life.  Many TV’s will give everyone a tan or sunburn out of the box… Or make your favorite football field look way more green than it really is when you’re sitting in the stadium in person.  Also, “black levels” are very important.  Things that are supposed to be black, should be, not some shade of dark grey.  REALLY look at your TV, pause a frame and look at it.  Think about what you’re looking at and then compare it to what you know it would look like in real life.  Here is where you begin to understand picture quality and the idea of “accuracy”.

First, check out tweaktv.com –  This is a community forum of regular people sharing what settings have worked on their specific brand/model of TV.  This can be a little hit or miss, but it is free and can be a good beginning on teaching yourself more about calibration.

The next step is more advanced.  Go out and purchase either or both of two great calibrating DVDs or BluRays.  The first is Spears & Munsil and the other is from Joe Kane, “HD Basics”.  These are great educational tools, not only to explain all there is to know about TV calibration, but also all the test patterns your little heart can desire.  They are both great and I can’t recommend one over the other.  I will warn you, these can be very intimidating for the beginner, but with some patience and time you can do a very solid calibration by yourself.

The last option is hiring a professional video calibrator to make a house call.  Best Buy offers this service, but I have no idea if their techs are as capable as many independent providers, and their $300 is mysteriously cheaper than the going rate for calibration.  It is important that you make sure that whoever you hire, they are ISF Certified.  Now, be forewarned that ISF Certification isn’t what it used to be.  There are shady people that have gone thru the course, but if someone shows up at your house without the proper analyzing equipment, they probably aren’t up to the task.  Take the time to do some research and find an experienced tech, with the proper equipment and is willing to spend the several hours it takes to properly calibrate a display and its separate inputs. Check here to check out ISF’s offical list of techs they recommend.  Call several different ones in your area and ask them about their experience level.

Here is a good basic starter from ESPN, of all places, that discusses the benefits of getting your display calibrated.

And CNET has an outstanding reference guide on all specific points of calibration.

If you have any questions, please email me.

 

Q: Why’d you leave Lex & Terry?

A:  It had been 13 years, the show’s contract at the time was almost completed and the future of the show was in question and I was being recruited by a different company in a different industry.  I still call into the show each week for a “Geekout” segment.    There are parts of the show I miss very much, but I certainly enjoy a new lifestyle where I don’t have to get up at 3am.