Category Archives: Geek Stuff

Tech toys, apps, games, social media and beyond

Tech Tuesday: Roku 2 XS

This review is for the Roku 2 XS. Roku offers other device options, which are available with different features. Visit to find the device that best suits your needs.

Roku Screen 1

Until Christmas, I had never heard of a Roku. That was when I got a tour of my dad’s Roku (which kind of confused me–I got that he was excited about his sort-of-new toy, but he was really going in depth to be just showing it off). Later that weekend, when I opened the box to my very own Roku 2 XS, I totally got why he showed me all those features.

Now, thanks to my dad and stepmom, I no longer have to use this…

Computer 1

And this…

Comp Cord 1

And this…


To stream video on this:

Roku Screen 3

(Seriously, though, don’t all those cords look beastly? And don’t get me started on how long my computer takes to boot up.)

Roku Device 3Roku stays put. No more plugging and unpluging the VGA cord from my computer and TV. No more sound cord to deal with. Just a little black box. Simple.

Roku comes standard with a video cord, but Josh and I plugged it into the TV using an HDMI cable instead. With the standard video cord, we had problems buffering some shows on Netflix, and the HDMI cable solved that.

Roku also comes with a little remote. I like it (I find it comfortable and easy to use), but not everyone is a fan. When you download the Roku app (available in iTunes or Google Play), you can program a remote to sync with your device, allowing you to use your smartphone or tablet as a remote for your Roku (though I imagine the phone is much less awkward than the tablet remote).

Roku Remote 3There’s even a USB port on the side, where you can plug in and watch digital copies of movies you own, listen to music or view your photos.

My initial excitement over my new Roku came from a want to easily stream Netflix, but Roku can do so much more. If you prefer Amazon, you can stream Amazon Instant Video movies and shows to your TV too. Or you can stream from Hulu Plus. Or Crackle, Vudu, Vevo, HBO GO, Epix… the list goes on.

Roku App 1Some websites have jumped on board too. You can watch cooking videos from—convenient if you have a TV located close to your kitchen. And some fitness subscription sites like Gaiam and YogaVibes give users unlimited access to workout videos via Roku.

Though Roku is built for streaming video, it can bring other forms of entertainment to your TV as well. In fact, one of my favorite ways to use my Roku is for streaming music from Pandora—perfect for when I’m cleaning up around the apartment or chilling with friends (kidding—no one shares my taste in music).

Roku also acts as a sort of gaming device. Much like Wii, Roku allows the player to interact with the screen by using the remote, which also acts as a mouse at times. However, I haven’t had much experience playing games on my Roku (I spent maybe five minutes testing out the Angry Birds game that came  preloaded on it). Honestly, my fascination comes from streaming shows and movies.

Roku Device 1So far, I’m completely loving my Roku. Since adding the HDMI cable, I’ve had no complaints. (Josh’s only complaint has been that the TV repeatedly switches to the video setting for Roku whenever he turns on the TV, which is frustrating when he wants to play his Playstation instead. But I’m pretty sure that’s an issue with my TV, not Roku.)

Now the only problem is I only have one! (Gosh, I’d love to have a Roku in the bedroom too. One day.)

I was not reimbursed or rewarded in any way for this review. These thoughts and comments are my own and have no reflection on Roku, its employees or its affiliates.


Tech Tuesdays

typingToday I want to introduce an idea I have (and I need your help).

I’ve decided to start a new series called “Tech Tuesday.” For the past few months (ever since my Bubble Frame review, actually), I’ve been toying with the idea of delving into some tech writing. I love tech-related things, and I think this will be a good chance to share some of my favorites with you while continuing to work on my 2013 verb by expanding my styles of writing.

Tech Tuesday will cover things like apps, games, phone and tablet accessories, social media stuff and so on. I can post reviews, tips and tricks, product info–whatever you want to see.

Here’s where I ask for your help. If you want to see something in particular, let me know. Want to know about a new social media site? Let me look into it. Or if you want more info about an app. I’ll even do reviews if you’re wondering whether you should download an app (if it’s a paid app, let’s keep it cheap–I’m still crawling out of my broke college student phase).

Send suggestions and questions to xarbamax(at)gmail(dot)com.

Argh! Get yer pirate-speak on, mateys!

I seriously considered writing an entire post but decided against it because 1) you would probably be annoyed with me after about two sentences, 2) it’s kind hard to come up with an entire blog post in pirate talk and 3) I don’t really know which words are okay to use and which aren’t. (I was going to use “scallywags” in the title but thought it might be a good idea to look it up and make sure it’s not offensive. And, yep, it’s totally offensive. Lesson of the day.)

Anyway, by now you’ve probably realized it’s Talk Like A Pirate Day. I wish I would’ve known before today. I would have had time to prepare and read up on piratey language. Okay, probably not. But I still would have liked to have known!

There have been some pretty cool things going on on Facebook in celebration of pirates (besides me switching my language to Pirate, which I totally did). I realized it was Talk Like A Pirate Day when ThinkGeek posted this photo of the letter “R” (seen above) on it’s wall and announced “*Today be brought to ye by the letter arrrr.* Happy Talk like a Pirate Day, ol’ meatsacks!” Ha! Isn’t that just great?

Then Disney made a reference to Jack Sparrow (of course), which I enjoyed because I’ve always liked Jack. So maybe it was just a photo captioned “Happy Talk Like A Pirate Day!” I still liked it.

And Krispy Kreme posted (excuse me… hoisted) some awesome photos of customers dressed as pirates. Ah! I love it!

Did you speak like or dress up as a pirate today? I’d love to know whether/how you celebrated!

Share yer scribbl’ns on the plank below!