Sunday, March 25, 2012

Don't Stop Believin'

My original plan had been to start out by spoiling the ending of Journey by revealing that, at the end of the game, when you take off your robes, you find out that you are Steve Perry, and it unlocks Separate Ways (Worlds Apart) for Rock Band. Catching up on a podcast today, I heard someone make a similar quip. Sadly, I didn't have time to come up with anything else.

The biggest gripe I've heard about the game is that it has a $14.99 price tag for an experience that lasts about two hours. Honestly, for me, that convinced me to buy it now rather than wait. I've liked thatgamecompany's other work, but it took me quite a while to get all the trophies out of Flower. Knowing that even I could quite likely get through Journey in a single playthrough (which is apparently the recommended way of experiencing it) increased the appeal dramatically. Between quarter end activities for work, getting ready to move in less than three weeks, and trying to minimize getting out of bed in the middle of the night, there wasn't a two hour stretch to sit down in front of a game. There's an outside chance next Sunday, followed by near certainty while Shannon is at Norwescon.

A while back, I made a spreadsheet of the games I intend to get around to playing, and Journey will be ignoring that. From the spreadsheet, I'm slowly working through Grand Theft Auto: Episodes From Liberty City as probably the last game I'll finish this year. The next game on the list is Dragon Age: Origins. Considering that Red Dead Redemption took me over 9 months to finish (and an extra 5 months to get the platinum trophy), I think it's safe to say that anything wanting my attention will have to be either bite-sized or run on Android. Maybe I'll get "lucky" and they'll release an interoperable version on the PS Vita. At this point, I think that'd be enough to get me to pick up one. I don't see it happening for much less than that.

This week's adventure: Moira and I heading to California for a business trip. She wants to go to Disneyland as well, and even though she was able to tell on a map that going from where we'll be to Disneyland is a longer trip than from home to Canada, she still wants to go. Hopefully seeing her Grandpa will be enough. For me, I think it'll be catching up on reading, sleeping, and maybe getting our finances in order as we prepare to deal with having two mortgages.

I can't let a post with this much Journey content go by without including my favorite web comic in recent memory.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

More audio stuff, and a bit of nighttime reading

This blog isn't always going to be about music, but that's where a lot of my non-work time has been the past week. On the plus side, the portion of my non-work time I spend in my car is now more pleasant now that the stock radio/cassette deck has been replaced. It's amazing how much better a clean signal sounds than an FM radio signal.

Speaking of the car, I'm still getting used to the clutch. I think I'm averaging one stall a day. This hasn't incurred much wrath from my fellow drivers yet. Shannon's car doesn't challenge me this much, so I think there's hope. What is challenging me is that the cars have reverse in the exact opposite location. This will fail safely in my car, since if I'm frequently stalling in 1st, there's no hope I can get the car moving in 6th. If I mess up in Shannon's car, I'll start moving in the wrong direction. I think the only times I've gotten close were in our garage, so the damage would have been contained.

I did get a brief reminder of what's wrong with the Squeezebox music solution. Adding an extra receiver involves doing a factory reset on a remote and then resetting the new receiver at the correct time(*)(**). Thankfully, the remote does remember your registration with even across factory resets, but I still had to enter the code for the wireless network after each reset. It also reminded me that when I first bought the system, I wanted to use it not only for music, but as a wireless bridge. That was doable with their initial product, and was technically possible with the ones I have, but they never exposed the configuration in the interface.

While we were at Disneyland in February, Moira decided she wanted to go on the Alice in Wonderland ride. I'm not sure if I'd ever been on it myself before, so we gave it a try. Thankfully, unlike Pinocchio, she didn't find it scary. She didn't like the Queen of Hearts being angry, but the rest of the ride was enough of a hit that, after the first time, we went on it at least once a day. Since I had the book on my tablet, we started reading it for bedtime while we were there. She told me then that it was boring and she just wanted to go on the ride. Since we've been back, she's been asking me to keep reading it. We finished Chapter 9 tonight. It gives me hope that maybe we'll be able to go back to Wind in the Willows, although she felt that ride was scary enough on her first trip that we didn't go on it this time.

* - there is a Perl::UDAP module that lets you do the configuration without a Squeezebox Duet remote. It may come as a surprise to some that I didn't go this route, but I didn't want to tear anything apart to free up a cable, or pull out the supplies to build one. I'm definitely getting older.

** - just in case I ever have to do this again... (1) Factory reset on the remote. (2) Configure wireless networking and accept the existing connection to (3) Scroll the menu down to "Choose Player". (4) Hold the button down on the receiver until it starts quickly flashing red (about 5 seconds). (5) Select "Choose Player", pick the appropriate one. (6) Hope the network configuration works (75% success so far).

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Not Putting My Money Where My Mouth Was

About two months ago, I got asked about home music systems. At that time, I was particularly upset with our Squeezebox setup at home. I've had issues with it of one form or another for about the entire 3.5 years I've been using it. At one point, it was frustrating enough that I unplugged the players, but lack of alternatives around Christmas this year had me reluctantly press one back into service.

In the past, I've had problems with network stability, broken upgrades, missing search results, library scanning issues, and lots of extra steps I feel shouldn't be necessary to just keep the system working. Setting up the player for Christmas meant trying the latest software version, since that was a lot easier to do than trying to go back to the last version I know worked. Surprisingly, most of the issues were resolved. Scanning still doesn't always terminate, but a couple kicks tends to be enough to get what I want from it. The remote is much better about staying on the network, search actually finds the things I know are there, and the plugin system is working again.

With the house we're buying, the two Squeezebox receivers I have aren't going to be enough, so I decided to look at the options, and look for opinions on Squeezebox vs. Sonos. Looks like the general opinion is that people who are exposed to both are generally a bit jealous of what the other one does. I'm apparently not alone in my frustration with things being unstable. Meanwhile, it sounds like the Sonos people are a bit jealous of being able to fiddle with the system as much as is possible with the Squeezebox. Maybe that's not entirely accurate, but looking at actual Sonos website, it really feels like the Apple sort of "we know how to do this and it's all just going to work". Perhaps, but it'll work their way and not mine, and paying to find out what their way is looks a bit steep.

That the real decision point here for me - the Sonos bits are about twice as expensive as the Squeezebox ones for what I want. There's the small caveat that what I want from Squeezebox has been discontinued, but there's enough stock out there that I managed to get what I was looking for, with a couple spare remotes in case of accidents. That, and being able to use the existing two units, rather than having to buy two additional Sonos boxes sealed it. No way was I considering trying to have both systems going. I've sunk enough time into trying to get all the music in order, and there's plenty more work to do there.

So, for now, even though I recommended other people start off looking at Sonos, I'll stick with the devil I know, who seems a little less bad at this particular moment. I'm still looking forward to something other than a phone or tablet that'll interface with Google Music, but that'll have to wait. I suppose in theory, I could write a Squeezebox plugin, but I'm more likely to grumpily wait and, in a few years, if nothing else changes, get one of the kids to write it instead.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

No Better Time Than Two Decades Ago

I've just returned to work after roughly three months off. A lot has gone on during those three months, and I've realized that I've lost a lot of information over the decades of my life because I just can't remember that well anymore. Had I been reliably blogging since I had internet access (which would have been really pioneering, since that was 1988), I'd have a chance of recalling a lot more, like how many times I'd seen various bands in concert, what rides Moira rode the first time we went to Disneyland, or how long it's actually been since I've been on skis (rather than simply running after a three year-old who is on skis).

We'll see how this goes. I'm going to aim for at least a post a week, life permitting. With two kids, a full-time job, and a new house being purchased, what could go wrong?