Frank Beamer

Saturday was Frank Beamer’s last home game as coach of the Hokies. It’s probably time (and may even be a little past time), but it’s never easy to see someone leave who has been a part of your life for 20 years.

It really has been 20 years.


I’ve written about Tech a lot. I wrote about it after the tragedy that struck on April 16th, 2007, and included a bit of how I ended up at Tech. 8 years later, I think I’ve actually pieced together how I ended up there.

It really does start twenty years ago, with a college trip that I went out with my friend and his dad, as we were juniors in high school. He took us on a trip down the east coast visiting a bunch of schools. In hindsight, I’m pretty sure we ventured through Blacksburg and toured the campus, and like most of the schools we visited, I probably signed up for something.

A few weeks later I got a video and an application. Five years later, I graduated from Tech.

How does this relate to Frank Beamer?

Well, I’ve always been a huge sports fan. That year was VT’s coming out. Virginia Tech, who’d never really beaten anyone, was playing Texas in the Sugar Bowl. This was my first real exposure to Tech. I remember watching the game in my friend’s kitchen, wearing my newly minted Tech hat. Frank Beamer’s Hokies playing solid defense and special teams, and doing enough on offense to win. They were less talented, less highly recruited, but they outgutted and outplayed Texas and put themselves on the map.

I then attended VT from 1996–2000, watching the Hokies break records, go undefeated, beat ranked teams, make College Gameday into a thing, and go to the National Championship game. The Hokies always had an identity. They were gritty, hard nosed players. They were walk ons. They got dirty.

They were Frank Beamer.

The Hokies were Beamer and Beamer was the Hokies. Frank Beamer, to many people, is the Hokies. He’s who they think of when they think of Virginia Tech. Every Tech game I’ve seen, in my life, has been coached by Frank Beamer. Football has been a huge connection back to Tech, and Frank Beamer has always been part of that.

Members of my extended in-law family live in Blacksburg and talk glowingly about Beamer. Not as a coach. As a person. As someone who frequents the businesses around Blacksburg, and someone who is part of the community. Not in a fake way. During the offseason, he’s just a guy who lives in Blacksburg.[1]

I’m not sure there’s a lot of 70 year olds who can make it in the current college football landscape. Frank Beamer kept the Hokies relevant and on the map for almost 25 years. Judging by the comments of his current and former players, he’s had an impact on the players going through his system for just as long.

And he’s been the single bit of connective tissue between me and Virginia Tech for the last 20 years.

  1. And has been a huge part of making Blacksburg a much bigger place than it had been previously.  ↩

File Under “Maybe Things Can Get BEtter

“One day, she texted Grace, ‘What if the God of the Bible isn’t the God of creation? We don’t believe that the Koran has the truth about God. Is it just because we were told forever that this is How Things Are?’ She added, ‘Does it really make you happy when you hear about people dying or starving or being maimed? Do you really want to ask God to hurt people? I ask myself these questions. I think the answer is no. When I’m not scared of the answer, I know the answer is no.’”

While Facebook burns down in xenophobia and racism, and people allow their worst fears, however unlikely, to take over their better instincts, Adrian Chen documents how Megan Phelps-Roper (granddaughter of Fred Phelps and member of the horrible, awful Westboro Baptist Church) opens her mind and sees that maybe things aren’t quite the way she’s been taught.

It’s a somewhat remarkable story about the good that comes to being open to other people’s points of view.

(Via Adrian Chen in the New Yorker.)

What ISIS Really Wants – The Atlantic

“Given everything we know about the Islamic State, continuing to slowly bleed it, through air strikes and proxy warfare, appears the best of bad military options. Neither the Kurds nor the Shia will ever subdue and control the whole Sunni heartland of Syria and Iraq—they are hated there, and have no appetite for such an adventure anyway. But they can keep the Islamic State from fulfilling its duty to expand. And with every month that it fails to expand, it resembles less the conquering state of the Prophet Muhammad than yet another Middle Eastern government failing to bring prosperity to its people.”

This article[1] has been making the rounds and is well worth reading. It’s impossible to really make a coherent argument about how to tackle ISIS/ISIL/Daesh without understanding what their goals are.

Their goal, fundamentally, is to draw the United States into a land war in Syria, as they think that is the start of the end of days. Understanding that goal can at least help shape your thoughts on responding to ISIS, rather than simply echoing the easy “let’s get over there and kill them” premise.

It’s not that simple. It’s never that simple. I’m losing faith that the American people will ever realize that things are not simple.

(Via The Atlantic.)

  1. This article is from 8 months ago. Eight.  ↩

The 3 Things I Want for the Apple TV

I just posted a review of the Apple TV. There are a few things that I think would make the Apple TV much more useful to me.

Amazon Prime

There’s enough shows on Amazon that we’ll keep using the app on our TV until there’s an Apple TV version. Amazon should create a tvOS app, even though they won’t be able to sell things through the app. They probably won’t, just to be obstinate. Like not selling Apple TVs and Chromecasts.

But, if they build it, and have it integrated with Siri, the ability to quickly search across a number of services (iTunes, Netflix, Amazon, HBO) would quickly let me find movies I have access to.

Comcast Xfinity X1

We watch enough live TV (particularly sports) that cord cutting isn’t likely to happen any time soon. Losing NESN (the Red Sox), Comcast Sportsnet (the Celtics), and ESPN (for general other sports) just make it unlikely for us. That being said, the Apple TV is a much nicer device (so far) than the Xfinity X1 box (even though X1 is the nicest cable box I’ve ever used).

If Comcast were to make the X1 app for the Apple TV (like they have for the iPhone and iPad), the Apple TV would likely become our cable box. We could stream our DVR recordings via the Apple TV, tune to live programming, all while within the Apple TV interface and it’s ability to overlay Siri searches and flip back and forth between apps.

And, adding the Xfinity On Demand library into Siri search would give a really broad base of movies and TV shows to watch.

Again, Comcast won’t do it for the same reason Amazon won’t do it. But they should, as it’ll ensure that we’ll get value from our cable subscription.

iCloud Keychain

Setting up accounts on the Apple TV is a little painful. Especially when I’ve got those accounts setup on other devices and likely have their passwords sync’d with iCloud Keychain. Why the Apple TV can’t see that and automatically log me in is silly.

And, its still silly that when I turn on an app like ESPN, and it makes me go to an activate link (which is fine), that the Apple TV can’t see that, open and fill out the link itself (it has an internet connection), and then leverage iCloud Keychain to login to my cable provider.

This stuff should be brain dead simple. I assume its the sort of stuff that gets cut to get the device out as a 1.0, but I hope that these sorts of features show up in a future release.

Quick Apple TV Review

Our new Apple TV arrived this week. I ordered the one with more storage, figuring it can’t hurt, and since our other Apple TVs were still in use after 5 years, the extra cost will probably work out in the long run.

The good thing about the new Apple TV is that the interface is basically a refined version of the existing interface. It’s cleaner and clearer, looks much nicer on the TV, but if you know how to get around the existing interface, you’ll be right at home. The bad thing about the interface is that it’s a refined version of the existing interface. It’s still just a bunch of icons. There’s fewer icons now, because you’re able to pick and choose which apps you want (so all those random channels you don’t care about don’t have to get installed), but it’s still just icons.

The big improvement in the interface is Siri. Voice search (which currently works across iTunes, Netflix, Hulu, HBO, and Showtime, has been pretty solid in my experience. You need to learn the syntax, and sometimes its results can be a little wonky, but by and large, they’ve been pretty good. I asked Siri to “show me the episodes of Scrubs with Brendan Fraser”, and it pulled up the 3 episodes of Scrubs he’s in, with the ability to watch them on Netflix or iTunes.

It’s also been nice to quickly check the weather forecast or the score of a game while I’m watching something on Netflix.

The downside, of course, is that the search is limited to just those apps. If I wanted to check out Mr. Robot, it won’t find it on the USA app. Apple says they’re opening up the Siri API to other apps. If every app can participate, much like they can on iOS now, Siri will become even more powerful.

The new controller is, generally, a pretty great improvement. I’ve found the touchpad interface to be pretty intuitive and fast for getting around the interface. Of course, it wouldn’t be an Apple device if there weren’t some form over function decisions. The fact that it’s entirely symmetrical, with a touchpad at the top, makes it far too easy to pick up or grab and accidentally scroll through the show you’re trying to watch. This seems like something that is fixable. The remote has an accelerometer in it, which should make it possible for Apple to determine if the remote has been picked up (and if it’s remotely aimed in the right direction) before starting to scroll through the show.

There’s some low hanging fruit that Apple should be cleaning up with future releases. The Photos app doesn’t use iCloud Photo Library, which is insane to me. I would guess that’ll be fixed shortly. The Music app leverages the Apple Music service (if you’ve got it on), which is great, but you can’t search it with Siri, and the navigation is a little wonky.

Overall, I’m pretty happy with the new new Apple TV. The majority of the flaws (occasional Siri wonkiness, controller issues, low-hanging Music and Photos flaws) seem correctable with future software releases. The open app store should bring a lot of opportunity to bring all sorts of interesting apps (Amazon? Comcast? Fantasy sports?) to the Apple TV. If Apple opens up the Siri interface and makes it possible to fill in some of the overlays, I could imagine the ability to ask Siri how my fantasy team is doing, and have it know the actual players on my team and load that up in an overlay while I watch Netflix (or, maybe, football on the Xfinity X1 app …)

If you’re invested in the Apple ecosystem (movies and TV shows in iTunes, Apple Music), the new Apple TV is a no brainer. Even not using the Apple ecosystem, it’s a pretty nice device and probably the easiest to use of the streaming devices.

Updating Your Printer’s IP Address on a Mac

The work printer nearest me apparently changed IP addresses. I had no idea, so I kept trying to print and it kept failing. Eventually, I noticed that my Mac thought the printer was on one IP, and the printer had a different one.

So I figured, no biggie, I’ll change the IP address.

Turns out, that’s a lot harder than it seems. I finally found this article which walked me through the steps.

Net-net: Apple needs to make this process much easier. I shouldn’t have to log into a hidden web interface to change the settings on a printer.