At Home with Tech

It’s time to maximize the potential of all your gadgets.

Category: Tech Trends

Why my Son Prefers Star Trek: Strange New Worlds over Obi-Wan Kenobi

My dusty Star Trek and Star Wars toys have been waiting for years for the next generation to choose a champion. That moment has finally arrived.

I can’t tell you how happy I am. I’ve spent years unsuccessfully trying to introduce my 12-year-old son to the vast Star Trek universe.

First, I offered a couple of the original episodes. Way too slow. Then, I served up the Kelvin timeline with the 2009 J.J. Abrams’ movie. It didn’t stick. My boy didn’t want to go further “Into Darkness.”

“Discovery” and “Picard,” the two new Star Trek series on Paramount+ weren’t at all designed for him simply because of all those damn swear words. I didn’t even make the attempt.

I’m a life-long Trekkie, and I’ve been unable to pass the torch.

Family-Friendly Star Trek
Then, “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds” came out, and I watched the first couple of episodes. I was in shock. Could it be? Could this new series really be okay for kids to watch? Was this the moment I’d been waiting for all of my adult life?

I sat down with my wife and son on a Sunday night after dinner and nervously played the premiere for them. They were both skeptical.
(My wife was never a big Star Trek fan.)

The episode ended, and I stared at both of them. They each displayed a Vulcan look of mild satisfaction. They agreed to watch another episode. My hopes were bolstered.

The New Adventures of Ben Kenobi
But the next time we came together to watch a show, I really wanted to see the new “Obi-Wan Kenobi” series on Disney+. So we watched that two-part premiere. I certainly enjoyed this new Star Wars entry, but it was arguably a bit sluggish out of the gate with a slow build. (I did love that reveal shot of the light saber on Obi-Wan’s waist at the end of episode 2.)

I performed the same ‘Lester-insta-poll,’ and received a similar response. Good, though not crazy good.

Padawan or Cadet?
The third family screening would tell all as our son had been given the power to choose what to watch next. (We rotate that honor between the three of us.)

“Strange New Worlds” or “Obi-Wan-Kenobi?”

I could barely look at him.

I’d been waiting my whole life to again experience “Star Trek” through the eyes of a child. I still remember as a kid being blown away by the storytelling of the original series. That’s what always differentiated “Star Trek” from other sci-fi. It was so character-driven. Serious… and fun. And yes, occasionally even funny.

And then I watched as other sci-fi franchises muscled their way to the top of the public’s preference. Marvel and Star Wars. Of course.

I must admit that Marvel has really earned it. Movie after movie. They’ve barely stumbled. And then the expansion on Disney+. It’s impressive. Most impressive.

Yes, I think more impressive than Star Wars, simply because the entire body of work from that universe is uneven. Still, that galaxy far, far away is far from losing its grip on this planet.

And I know that has a lot to do with Darth Vader.

The Enduring Power of Vader
I remember seeing “The Return of the Jedi” at the Ziegfeld theater in New York City back in 1983. The giant theater was packed with kids munching on popcorn. And then there was the big moment towards the end of the movie when Emperor Palpatine was zapping Luke with dark Force lightning. Then, the camera shot cut to Darth Vader watching Luke’s apparent end.

Suddenly I sensed a huge wave of emotion flow throughout the young audience. Then the sound. It was a combination of hundreds of gasps and a few screams. Some kids just yelled.

The shot cut back to Luke writhing in pain. The audience’s roar of emotion increased.

And then back to Anakin staring at his son.

The entire theater exploded. The chorus of every kid there screaming at Vader to do the right thing.

Whoa.

Yes, Star Wars endures because we love to watch that struggle between the dark and the light. And who better represents that than our fallen friend Anakin?

The Federation Wins
Fast forward four decades, and Disney+ is now serving up a lot more Anakin/Vader.

But that’s only teased at the end of episode two of “Obi-Wan Kenobi.”

So when my boy has the foundational choice between watching the best of Starfleet or a fallen Jedi, he goes with… Star Trek!

I have to admit, it wasn’t really a fair fight because of the timing, but I still relished the victory.

Finally.

For the past few weeks, my son has consistently asked for more “Strange New Worlds” episodes. I think I can safely say we are officially now a “Star Trek” family!
(My wife is enjoying the series with us as well.)

It all comes down to great storytelling and character development.

Always.

At the beginning of every “Strange New Worlds” episode, there’s that short sequence where the Enterprise takes a few colorful victory laps before the Star Trek logo settles.

Yep, I’d say they’ve earned it.

Never Dismiss the Power of the Force
We eventually got around to watching episode 3 of “Obi-Wan Kenobi.” And I observed my son during the Darth Vader scenes. The James Earl Jones voice. The iconic breathing. The sheer power of the dark side.

My boy was mesmerized. He then started to mimic the breathing. And I saw the smile on his face.

Yep, even after 40 years, some things don’t change.

Hit It!
But a heathy dose of Vader in episode 3 doesn’t change the fact that “Star Trek” has finally beat out “Star Wars” in the Lester household.

I’ve been playing the long game, and it’s finally paid off. Thank you, “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.” You’ve got a lock on the Lester family.

The torch has finally been passed.

Pro Packing Tips for your Vacation Tech

Joining this Colgate University reunion torchlight ceremony with hundreds of other alumni after a two-year delay was especially meaningful. Packing my tech for this weekend trip took a bit longer than I expected. If it’s been a while since your last vacation, you might also need a refresher on packing your gear. Here are my top tips…

Going on vacation again with my family after more than two years into this pandemic has been amazing. Our recent New Orleans trip and drive to our college reunion weekend both felt like the good old days.

But my packing powers were a bit rusty. Sure, I brought the right clothes (mostly), but when it came to certain peripheral supports for my tech, I didn’t score 100%.

If you feel you could also benefit from a few reminders, here are my pro packing tips for your tech.

Remember to Take a Small Power Strip
It’s rare to find enough plugs in your room to charge your tech when you’re on vacation. I find it especially helpful to set up a charging station using a small power strip with a short extension cord. (Plus, it’s so easy to pack.)

The mini power strip also keeps all of your charging cables in one place and reduces the chance that you’ll leave anything behind.

Carry a Peak Design Backpack as a Personal Item on your Flight
If you’re planning on flying with your camera and travel tripod, and you want to pack it into a bag that will fit under the plane seat in front of you (as a personal item), you’d better pull out a tape measure and start measuring dimensions. No matter what, it’s going to be tight!

For our New Orleans vacation, I bought a Peak Design V2 30L Everyday Backpack. It just barely squeezed in on board both flights, but it did! (phew)

And then this knapsack was the perfect travel companion on my back as we walked about New Orleans.

Pack a Thermos with Tomorrow Morning’s Coffee
I’m an early riser and always like to have my first cup of coffee as soon as I get up. If you’ve driven somewhere where breakfast doesn’t start for another hour or two, you might be out of luck finding an immediate cup of Joe. But not if you already have your coffee with you!

I brewed a pot of Peet’s Major Dickenson’s coffee right before we drove to our Colgate reunion, poured it into my hi-tech Yeti thermos and then packed it in the car. Early, the next morning, I unscrewed the top of the thermos, lifted it to my face and was delighted to still sense faint warmth. No, my coffee wasn’t at all hot anymore, but it was absolutely fine for this need.

Use your Apple Watch as a Silent Wake-Up Alarm
If you’re thinking of ditching your Apple Watch on your next family trip, don’t!

Whenever my family is sleeping in the same room on vacation, I don’t want to wake everyone up with my early alarm on my iPhone. That’s when I continue to wear my Apple Watch during the overnight hours. Its silent, vibration-only morning alarm is perfect for this purpose. A little haptic action on my wrist is all I need to start my day.

One thing… I normally charge up my Apple Watch at night. So if that doesn’t happen, I have to remember to immediately do it before breakfast.

Bring your Apple TV
If you want your hotel room TV to mirror the streaming options on your home TV, packing your little Apple TV puck just might do the trick. Just connect your Apple TV to the hotel’s Wi-Fi and the TV’s HDMI cable.

I’ve found this kind of MacGyver maneuver works best with less advanced hotel Wi-Fi systems that don’t require signing in with anything more than a password. If you’ve got to first navigate through a hotel web portal to sign in, the Apple TV will get stuck.

Write Down your Streaming Apps’ Passwords
If you don’t end up taking your streaming puck on vacation, you might be surprised to find one already connected to your hotel room TV. (That’s what we found in our New Orleans B&B.) If that’s the case, all you have to do is sign into your streaming accounts. Of course, you’ll need your passwords for that!

And when you’re packing up to leave, don’t forget to sign out of your streaming apps!

Travel Back to the Future
Going on vacation again can be a big step towards returning to the normal patterns of life. And if playing with your tech is part of your vacation fun, then I say bring it and enjoy!

Why I Continue to Blog Weekly after 10 Years

Posting fresh content to this blog every week has not been easy. Here’s why I continue to challenge myself to maintain my writing pace.

I started blogging At Home with Tech over 10 years ago as a way to channel some of my creative energies. At the time, home tech was a simpler product category and yet simultaneously confusing for so many people. Many of the basics weren’t well understood. I thought I could help readers by sharing my own experiences as I tried to figure out my own finicky technology.

I was the tech nerd who supposedly knew what he was doing, and even I had my gear challenges. That was the set up. So I invited my readers to join me on my journeys of discovery.

My topics broadened over time to other related areas… my photography, video time lapses, movie reviews, science fiction, goofy poetry, family mishaps with technology and well… just about anything that was on my mind. I know that’s hardly a strategic content strategy to build an audience.

But..

Building my Personal Brand
Beyond my tech-challenge-of-the-week structure, these 500 plus blog posts have provided insight into who I am and what I’ve been up to over these years. There’s often a story that leads off each post. And I’ve been mindful to ensure every post supports my individual brand.

Yes, of course I pay attention to marketing myself to the greater universe. While my posts are usually focused on my personal life as a husband and father, the topics are aligned with my professional brand as a video storyteller and leader of creative teams.

If you should Google my name, my blog shows up under my LinkedIn and other social media profiles. So, if you want to learn more about me, it’s there for you.

That’s not a terrible marketing plan.

My Organic Reach
That said, my organic distribution strategy does have limitations in finding a large audience. I track my metrics. They’re stable though not especially impressive. It’s fair to say my weekly blog maintains something of a niche audience.

Yes, some of my ‘how to’ topics have caught on and maintain a healthy number of clicks over months and sometimes years.

And yes, a number of my social media connections do click on my posts after I share them.

So I do maintain a readership.

But blogging weekly takes a fair amount of effort. And I recognize that blogs in general certainly aren’t as cooI as they once were. I could certainly redirect the time to other creative pursuits. So, what brings me back to the keyboard to push out a new post every Sunday at 8pm?

The Benefits of Blogging
First off, At Home with Tech has made me a better writer. While my style here is a bit loose, I know my weekly exercise serves me well.

Second, I must admit I get something of an endorphin hit each time I’m finished with a blog post and press that final ‘click’ to schedule it. Sharing my weekly thoughts with the world is like that first taste of your favorite birthday cake. I know I’m feeding my creative self.

Third, as I mentioned earlier, I intentionally use the topics in my blog to build my brand.

But perhaps most of all, I thrive on the feedback I receive. It’s so great to hear from strangers who’ve been impacted by my words. And it’s really nice when family and friends pop up in the feed.

Then, there are the ‘lost’ connections from my past who occasionally reach out to ‘like’ or make a comment on one of my posts.

In some ways, it’s this feedback I treasure most. I see that I haven’t entirely lost touch with these individuals. I’ve done a terrible job staying in contact with parts of my past… with people who used to be my friends and close colleagues. I regret that and often think about how to repair these lost connections.

And when I see that my blog is actually an instrument of connection to this group, and that they’ve read something I’ve written and then commented back… I’m absolutely blown away with gratitude.

Who knew that his blog could help me stay connected with people I thought I’ve entirely lost touch with?

I’ve not forgotten them, and my blog shows me that I am not forgotten either.

I am Here!
And then there’s the unknowable. Could my blog also be reaching others from my past who choose not to comment on a post? I’d like to think so.

In a sense, my blog is a beacon. So, of course I’d want to keep it lit.

Sometimes I feel a bit like one of those residents of Who-ville calling out in Dr. Seuss’ “Horton Hears a Who.”

“I am here. I am here. I am here. I am here…!”

Isn’t that exactly what many of us want to yell out from time to time?

Yes, At Home with Tech helps me do that.

Another 10 Years?
My blog is my therapy. My blog is my podium. My blog is my teacher.

It is both a time machine that helps me reach back and a totem that centers me in my present.

All of this is why I continue to write my blog.

Thank you for being a reader of At Home with Tech. I really do appreciate it.

%d bloggers like this: