Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Best of 2013

As 2013 comes to a close I wanted to highlight some of what I think are the best of 2013 that I enjoyed outside of work.

Best Movies
  1. Gravity
  2. Fast & Furious 6
  3. Man of Steel
  4. Pacific Rim
  5. The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug
  6. Iron Man 3
  7. Thor: Dark World
  8. Lincoln
  9. American Hustle
  10. The World's End

2013 was a great year for movies and by far, Gravity was the best of the year. I was able to see Gravity in a large format digital theater with 3D and Dolby Atmos, which made for an amazing experience that I felt like I was floating right alongside Sandra and George in space! FF6 extended that franchise even more and has me looking forward to FF7 in 2015. Not sure what the death of Paul Walker with do to the series future, but I am happy to see that they are going to push ahead and finish it and release it in April of 2015. Man of Steel was the best of the superhero movies in 2013, and is the first time a good Superman movie has been done since 1978.

Best TV
  1. Orphan Black
  2. Doctor Who
  3. Game of Thrones
  4. The Walking Dead
  5. The Goldbergs
  6. Big Bang Theory
  7. Almost Human
  8. Broadchurch
  9. Masters of Sex
  10. The Fall

TV did have some stand out new shows this year, but the new thing for me this year was discovering 2 shows and binge watching them both online. The first one that I binge watched was Orphan Black and it shot straight up to the top of my list as the best TV show of 2013! They have done a great job in the first season of keeping us going with the whole clone storyline, if you have not seen this show from BBC America yet, then you should. Unfortunately it is not yet available on any streaming services, I ended up buying the first season from Amazon Video and watched all 10 episodes in less than 1 day, that is how hooked I was! The other one that I discovered is The Fall, which a serial killer mini-series starring Gillian Anderson (The X-Files) set in Northern Ireland and with Gillian doing her Brit accent (she lived in Britain early in her life and moved back after The X-Files finished). The Goldbergs is one of the funniest shows that I have seen since Big Bang Theory, and most of that is probably because of the setting in the early-mid 1980's. Growing up in the 80's, this show just brings back so many memories, they have done their homework and you just have to look around at the props on the set to see that. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. did not make my top 10, mainly because it just didn't live up to the hype, I have high hopes that it can do better in 2014.

Best Music

I don't listen to a lot of new music, but the one album that I played over and over in 2013 was Random Access Memories from Daft Punk. It has been amazing to watch them change their sound over and over and evolve from just another electronic group to a true musical group. The mix of 70's funk/disco to their music made this by far my favorite album of the year. Most of the rest are just a bunch of individual singles from different artists (JT, Katy Perry, Lorde, Miley Cyrus, etc.), but Random Access Memories was the best overall album. The rest of what I listened to in 2013 were soundtracks from all of the movies listed above and more. I think that my favorite soundtrack of the year would have to be Man of Steel. I never thought that anyone could make a better Superman theme or soundtrack than John Williams, but Hans Zimmer did for Superman what he did for Batman and created some amazing new themes. The themes in Man of Steel were so alien sounding, but yet heroic and strong at the same time, which captures exactly what Superman is.

Best Gadgets

For best tech gadget of 2013, it would be the new Apple iPad Mini with Retina. I was a long time full-size iPad user, but I found that it was too big to travel with and when Apple finally announced the new iPad Mini with Retina display, then I decided it was time to switch. I love how small and light it is and I find myself taking it with me everywhere. I also made sure to get mine with Verizon 4G, which I also had on my previous iPad and would never consider getting a tablet without 4G. It's just far too convenient to use it anywhere and not have to worry about finding wi-fi. I also love my MacBook Air that I got at the very beginning of the year, the only issue now is the iPad Mini has become my go to device, so the Air doesn't get a lot of use. I also made the big switch from iPhone to Windows Phone in 2013, when the Nokia Lumia 1020 came out. I had been thinking about this switch for awhile and when iOS7 didn't make the big change that I was hoping from I knew it was time to switch. The 41MP camera on the Lumia 1020 is amazing and I find myself taking a lot more pictures now. The Windows Phone 8 OS took some getting used to, but now I can do everything that I need to and paired with my iPad Mini, I get the best of both worlds. A couple of other great gadgets that I use with both the iPad Mini and the Lumia 1020 are the headsets, Bose QuietComfort 15 and Bluez AfterShokz. I use the Bose on the plane or anytime I need to use active noise cancelling, while the AfterShokz are great for in airport or office wear when I still want to hear what is going on around me. While I did get the new Xbox One, the verdict is still out on that one. I tried it connected to my Dish Network DVR, but since it can't control everything on the box, just change channels it was very limiting since I do watch most TV from DVR, not live. And the voice commands that they keep boasting are still not there and I find myself yelling at it because it appears to not understand me most of the time. The new Kinect camera is amazing and works much better than the previous generation.

Best Enterprise Tech

And for something more related to my work and this blog, my favorite new enterprise tech that I haven't spent nearly enough time with this year, Microsoft's Power BI! I plan to spend a lot more time learning all of the features of Power BI and hope to post a bunch of blog posts about it, as I learn how to use it.

Thanks to everyone that reads my blog, and I hope you had a great 2013 and are looking forward to an awesome 2014!