Watching YouTube on TV

Our Nintendo Wii has had a YouTube app available for it for a while now. We installed it when it first came out and it was dreadful enough that we never used it: videos took forever to buffer, the UI was weak, and there was no integration with other ways in which we interact with YouTube.

Slowly but surely the app has improved: it’s not up to Netflix-level “play as soon as I click play” yet, but it’s much better, and once videos start playing they rarely re-buffer. The UI is much improved, and it’s now possible to pair the Wii app with a portable device like an iPhone or iPad so that you can use the device as a sort of “visual remote” for what’s showing on TV.

The end result of all this is that we’re starting to “watch YouTube” almost as much as we watch Netflix and are uncovering some great stuff in the process. Here’s a sampling of things we’ve enjoyed recently:

  • Pogey Beach — the “show within a show” of Jeremy Larter’s Just Passing Through (also worth watching; also on YouTube). Thanks to brother Johnny for the pointer.
  • Make Me a German — a British family relocates to Nuremberg for a month to try to simulate life as a “typical German family.” An interesting look into some of the minutiae of everyday life in Germany.
  • Jack Conte at XOXO — Conte is one half of Pomplamoose and founder of Patreon and his talk at the XOXO conference is an interesting “behind the scenes” look at both.
  • Engineering Connections on Burj Al Arab — It’s not quite Connections in the James Burke mold, but it’s still interesting. Hosted by Richard Hammond (Top Gear), each episode takes a modern engineering marvel and traces back bits of tech to their engineering origins.
  • The Secret Life of the National Grid — perhaps only truly interesting to electricity grid geeks like me.
  • Frosty the SnowmanOliver’s stop-motion animation project. On TV!
  • Around the World in 20 Years — Michael Palin revisits his “Around the World in 80 Days” project from 20 years ago, and tracks down the crew of the dhow that took him from Dubai to India.
  • Amazon’s Truth Behind the Click — a BBC Panorama documentary that sends an undercover worked into an warehouse and reveals a lot about how Amazon runs its business at that level.
  • Mechanical Marvels — a BBC documentary about automatons; there’s some amazing old tech covered.
  • Tonight You Belong to Me — One cannot live on serious BBC documentaries along: this is a silly little video of a father and daughter singing a duet; it brings joy to my heart.
  • Dogs Teaching Chemistry — I learned about ions, and so can you.
  • WKRP, Venus Explains the Atom — Everything I know about protons, electrons and neutrons I learned from Gordon Simms.
  • CBC Land and Sea on Charlottetown Farmer’s Market — I loved this documentary so much that when I aired on the CBC I screen grabbed it and posted it on YouTube where 550 people have watched it. If you love the Market, this is a good look back.

If you’re casting about on YouTube looking for something to watch, a keyword search for “BBC documentary” will almost never steer you wrong.

State Farm Blows Up Our House

Oliver showed me this morning. While it’s essentially a virality-baiting ad for State Farm, it’s imaginatively done, and, other than a few rendering hiccups, an impressive technical mashup.  Here’s an excerpt from running the site pointing at our house:


You would think that after, say, the first two or three hundred, the process of printing coffee bags on the Golding Jobber № 8 would get, well, a little repetitive. Especially because printing two-colour coffee bags means printing one colour, cleaning up, and printing the second colour.

But repetition is kind of the point: letterpresses are machines meant for mass production, and so becoming proficient at the printing trade means becoming proficient at repetition.

Today I took a big leap in that regard.

The coffee bags themselves are ornery things to print on: foil bits hanging out, folds in annoying places, and about 5 times thicker than a regular sheet of paper. My lack of proficiency, combined with this orneriness, has meant that, for the first four or five hundred bags, I’ve been printing a bag, throwing off the press, taking the printed bag out, putting a bag in, and throwing the press back on, wasting 3 or sometimes 4 or 5 cycles of the press in the process.

Try as I might I could never coordinate all the movements to do this all in one smooth motion.

Until today.

Today, by dint of repetition, favourable humidity (meaning less stickiness), and disposition of the printing gods, I cracked the code.

I was on fire. It’s amazing how quickly you can print when you’re actually printing at the press intended, with one impression per cycle.

So in short order I was able to crank out 301 coffee bags. Or at least the black impression thereof.


Tomorrow I’ll go back in to print the red; I hope the gods continue to favour me.

Large Coffee

This week’s letterpress project was large coffee bags for ROW142. These bags, used for wholesale coffee (or for particularly eager retail customers), are about four times larger than the smaller retail bags I printed earlier and they’re of a different material (foil-lined rather than plastic) and design.

My original plan was to simply copy the “down the middle” design I used on the smaller bags, but that proved challenging, as on the back side of the bags is a thick seam that, despite my efforts to compensate for it by buttressing around it, I couldn’t get a consistent print. So I modified the design to run ROW142 down the right side of the bag and, in the end, I’m actually happier with this design.

ROW142 Large Coffee Bag

If you want to buy a massive amount of coffee beans, the bags are in the shop now ready for purchase. Next up: print more of the smaller bags, as they’ve already run out!

A New PEI Electricity Peak Load

Prince Edward Islanders were using more electricity last Thursday than ever before: the peak load at 5:29 p.m. was 252.70 MW, which is 7.6 MW more than last winter’s peak on January 23, 2013.

You may recall that when the PEI Energy Commission released its findings a year ago it reported:

The cables are now 35 years in service and the province’s peak load exceeds 220 MW . Current projected load growth for Prince Edward Island is 1 .5% to 2% per year which may push the peak load into the 250 MW range by 2018.

So we’re 5 years early on that prediction.

PEI Electricity Graph showing peak of 252 MW