The blog that's gotten one comment ever! Thanks mom!

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Well, that was short lived.

My happiness at finding a publisher who did right by ebooks has faded. Simon and Schuster, although to be commended for offering some books in ebook form, fail when it comes to the book I choose. It's part of a trilogy. The other two books in the series? Not available as ebooks. I simply do not understand.

On ebooks

My friend Brose and I often discuss the merits, or lack thereof, of ebooks. Brose firmly believes in the wonders of the physical book, deriving comfort from the smell, the feel of the paper. To me, it's always been more about the data contained within than the object itself.

Part of the reason I've been a user of the Pocket PC (now Windows Mobile) devices for so long is their support of Microsoft Reader. It used to be included on early devices, and so when I got ebooks, I got them in the format that worked with it. Over time, I built up a decent library of books. But except for rare exceptions, the books I collected were not entirely legal. I justified this by buying a hard copy of a book, then finding a place to download a digital copy that I'd actually read. But it always frustrated me how few publishers would release ebooks, and the few that did tended to charge a premium for them, which I simply couldn't understand.

So it was with welcome relief that I found the book Uglies available in ebook form from the publisher, at a reasonable price. My sister had suggested it to me, and on a whim, I googled 'uglies ebook' and there it was. Of course, the DRM still makes it a pain. You have to 'validate' your copy of Reader with Microsoft, and you have to use IE to actually download the book, since it uses an active x control to verify that Reader is sufficiently locked down. But DRM annoyances aside, I still applaud the publisher for making the book available in digital form, at a price comparable to a paperback.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Finished Assassin's Creed

I may go back and climb a few more view points in the Kingdom area, which I didn't get to, and which kept me from the Fearless achievement. So, the game was pretty ok. It was gorgeous visually, the fights had me tense, the assassinations were definitely highlights (though they could get frustrating), and overall, I'd have to give it a thumbs up. It was far from perfect though. After putting in all the time and effort, I wanted a better ending than I got. Sure, there'll be a sequel, but I'm less enthused about it now. The ending just left me kinda down on the game.

Our powers combined...

Ok, this required some explanation. There used to be a pet store called Denizens of the Deep here in town. Next door, there used to be a game store. Apparently, like some sort of unholy Captain Planet, they've combined their powers to form...Deep Seize. A store selling games and fish.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

New drums on the way!

So I called Rock Band support, and explained the situation, and was told that as long as the drums weren't in a million pieces or burnt, they should be replaced free of charge. Two things. First, that kicks ass, EA has once again impressed me by taking care of their customers. Two, who the heck managed to burn their drums?

My first song! Kinda!

So after practicing for a while (finally starting to get some really nice sounds out of the amp), I drove over to Guitar Center and picked up a capo, which has allowed me to play my first song, more or less. I can now play an extremely basic three chord version of Johnny B. Goode, minus the rocking intro. I'll keep working on it, as it's a decent way to practice chord changes, and maybe I'll start picking out part of the intro as well.

Monday, January 28, 2008

The Rock Band drums are dead.

Yeah, they're not coming back from this one. Jer ended up bringing over his drums after the sensor basically fell out of my yellow pad. Right now, yellow is almost certainly broken beyond repair, and blue is no longer responding, though it doesn't bear the same obvious physical breakage.

On the plus side, Steph and I rocked some expert guitar and bass, and Jer tried some expert singing. AB stuck with medium on drums, but I don't blame him. Expert would have probably lead to breaking Jer and Steph's drums too.


Tech demo for the Force Unleashed. I think this is definitely on my watch list for 2008. My all time favorite Star Wars game, Tie Fighter, had you working for the Empire. I'd be curious to revisit the dark side (in game form).

Friday, January 25, 2008

Band names

Playing Rock Band, one often has to come up with good band names spur of the moment. As this is sometimes tough, I also try to keep track of good names I come up with at off times for use with future bands. So, for your perusal, here's two that I've got kicking around:

Technological Terror - Yay Star Wars references!

Special Guest - Both AB and I thought of this one, while wondering who Devotchka had opening for them at a coming show.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

My first level 70...

My friend Brose helped me finish up a few quests, and my first ever character in WoW became my first ever level 70. I checked the /played command, and I have spent just under one month of real time playing him. He's now respecced protection, and there he'll stay, only coming out when my friends need a tank.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Broken drums

Sorry for the lousy pic, my camera phone really doesn't take the best pics.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Got my amp!

Had to stop by Guitar Center on the way home from yoga tonight to pick up a lead and an adapter so I could plug it into some speakers I had, but I now officially suck out loud. That is, I now make more noise than the guitar did all by it's lonesome. The amp has the welcome property of making me sound less bad somehow. I've now added a fourth chord to my list, bringing me to D, A, E, and A Minor.

One failing of the Rock Band drum set... that you really shouldn't beat on them the way you might an actual set of drums. I broke the yellow drum pad while playing through the Who's Won't Get Fooled Again last night. It still mostly works, but you can see the shattered plastic beneath the grey rubber pad, which thankfully is still intact. Pics to come.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Back again

Janie's off shopping, and I'm in the basement, with the Who blasting, building a second set of shelves. The weekend was good, though a few things didn't go quite as planned. Much fun was had on the whole. When we got home, we found that Jer had left his media shelf and garage shelving units for us, so my 360 and Wii games have a new home in the living room. I haven't put together the shelves for the garage yet, but I'll get to that after I finish building the shelves for the basement. Hope everyone's having a good MLK memorial weekend!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Off for the weekend

Heading to Denver shortly to meet up with my family. We're taking the ski train tomorrow from Denver to Winter Park. My folks got everyone a snow cat tour, and we'll go tubing after. If I don't post for a bit, I'll put something up Tuesday at least.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Online guitar lessons

Just thought I'd share this with anyone else out there looking to learn but wanting to be a bit cheap about it. is an absolutely great resource! He has quite a few lessons online, along with links to song tabulatures and helpful info about gear. He does ask that if you use his lessons, you donate to his paypal account, something I'm all for, as the lessons have been of great help so far.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Great, just what I need, another hobby :)

I've got a big grin on my face. Playing guitar is fun! Plus, J seems to like it. I showed her my latest discovery (chords!), and I got kisses out of the deal. They didn't seem to be patronizing, you poor dim man sorta kisses either. Long live rock and roll!

So I think I forgot to mention...

...I finished Half Life 2! I know, I'm a couple years behind the curve, but I'm glad I finally did. I've taken a break from Half Life to play Assassin's Creed, but I'll get back to the episodic content once that's finished.

So Janie got her new ring...

I think she's happy with it. I kept catching her holding her hand out and turning to to let the diamonds catch the light. I'm happy too. It feels good to both have wedding rings again. Not sure why, it just feels good.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Assassin's Creed

Despite my intent to go back and continue Metroid on the Wii, the great temptress, my 360, called me back to it's embrace. I had played through a tiny bit of Assassin's Creed when I first got it, but I was neck deep in other games at that point and didn't continue past the first few tasks. Now I'm into the story proper, and I'm enjoying it for the most part. It takes some getting used to. First, it's more violent than I'd like. Maybe I'm doing things wrong, but I'd prefer gathering intel, taking out a target, and escaping without any more killing. But to gather allies and intelligence, you often have to help a townsperson who's being accosted by the town guards. There only seem to be two choices here. Either you ignore the situation and lose out on the allies, or you have to attack and kill four or five guards. Although I've gotten fairly good at the fighting side of the game, I wish there were some other options there. In another case, I took the time to gather every single bit of intelligence on a target that I could, hoping that all the info would allow for a quick, bloodless (except for the target's) mission. Instead, it was a trap. Either I did something wrong to begin with, or the game just doesn't always reward the work you put into planning. In any case, I am enjoying it, and look forward to completing it.

Guitar update

Turns out my brother in law happens to have a 1980 Gibson S-1 that's been sitting in it's case for two years. He's giving it to his brother in a few months, but he's letting me borrow it in the mean time! I've been trolling around eBay for a used Behringer V-amp, but they're a bit pricer than I was expecting. Probably because of all the dorks like me who managed to survive a few Rock Band songs on hard and thinks that means we've got the chops to learn a real instrument.

Friday, January 11, 2008


"Wanted: Used but working electric guitar/amp combo. Untalented novice seeks a basic starter set to allow him to play out sad rock fantasy in basement. Looking for decent, gently used entry level guitar and amp, along the lines of a Les Paul Special II or Squire Strat."

That's the text of the flyer that my friend Brose's mom is putting up around the college campus she works at. She teaches world and contemporary music. With any luck, I'll get some nibbles.

Thursday, January 10, 2008


Well, that was more difficult than it had to be. But the end result is a simply amazing experience. The old xbox is streaming content at 720p to my 32" LCD in the bedroom, hooked up to all of my media in the basement, with an xbox 360 lookalike skin to boot. It's doing so in widescreen, of course, and the software is smart enough to display the aspect ratio of the video correctly. SD displays with black bars on the sides, HD takes up the whole screen. It looks and sounds fantastic. It is incredibly nice to have access to my media in any room of the house. Well, any room with an HD television, I guess, but still.

There are only two things that I'd like to fix, but are so low priority that I don't know if I'll bother. First, I still have to hit the power button to power it on. I've yet to find a way to do so remotely. And two, when I power it off with the remote, a PC speaker on the xbox plays an annoying beep. If I'm up late watching tv using my wireless headphones, and J's asleep next to me, my choices are to get out of bed to turn it off, thereby waking her up, or to use the remote, playing a shrill beep which will both wake her up and tick her off. Might be worth removing that speaker ;)

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Widescreen fixed...

...but now I've broken my dashboard. Working on getting that fixed. The workaround for now is having to go through the exploit every time you want to run XBMC, or just leaving it booted to XBMC all the time. I also found a fairly workable way to remotely shut down the xbox, but still nothing reliable to turn it on with the remote. Will keep you posted.

Monday, January 7, 2008

So I modded the old Xbox...

And I'm mostly thrilled. I used the direction found here. For the most part, I'm super pleased, but there are a few things that still require fixing. First of all, I bought upgraded AV cables to allow me to go widescreen, but I didn't know that I had to set that in the MS dashboard. So I go and mod it all up, and find that I can't change it, and none of my mods are letting me go back to the MS dashboard. I'm working on fixing that, as this media center would really benefit from using all of the available real estate it can get.

Another annoyance is getting my Logitech Harmony remote to talk to it. With almost every other device, I've had no problems getting the Harmony to work like a charm. For some reason, the only way I've gotten this to work has been by using the Harmony's IR receiver to learn each button press. This seems to work, but it does so slowly.

Finally, although I've found posts mentioning that you can turn the xbox on and off via remote, and have tried to implement them, so far, nothing doing. So for the time being, I've got to schlep over to the tv and hit the button. Not a big deal, but my tv and xbox media center sit on top of a ledge above my closet, which means I can reach the button, but poor J needs a step ladder. Not ideal.

All in all, I love the functionality of XBMC so far. I just want to fix a few quirks. To me, this is how TV should work. I've got my content, centrally located, and I watch or listen to what I want, where I happen to be.

One more reason I love Janie

Context. Janie and I are in Pueblo, following her 79 year old grandfather's wedding. It's 10 o'clock in the evening. We've got a three hour drive home. ALSO OF NOTE! Our friend Brose plays WoW with us. His class has the ability to create portals for their party, allowing them to travel from anywhere in the world to one of several major cities. MOVING ON!

Scott: "Man, I wish we had Brose with us, so he could portal us home."

Janie: "Yeah, or at least to Denver."

Thank you, and good night.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

So, I just changed my Blogger password...


I'm a bit of an idiot. Just yesterday, my friends and I were discussing the fact I have basically one user name and password that I use almost everywhere. This is usually fine, as I've no one but me (and my friends) know it, and my friends can easily log onto my accounts when needed.

*changes mmo account passwords*

Well, today, I logged into ebay, looking for some hard to find controllers for my old xbox that I'm modding into a media center. For some reason, I couldn't actually log in.

*changes email password*

So I went through the process to reset my password. No problems. I didn't think any more about it until I logged back in with the new password.

*changes every other password I can think of*

When I logged in, I saw I had a couple of messages. One was from last November, when ebay shut down my account, as someone had been using it to spam other ebay members.

*changes PayPal password!!*

I'm a fool. Luckily, in this case, the only damage seems to be some annoyed people on ebay.

iPhone envy

So I must admit, the iPhone's interface is intriguing. I've been using PDA's of the Microsoft persuasion since college, when I had a huge NEC MobilePro 770 for taking notes in class. Lately, I've gone the phone/PDA conversion route with an HTC Wizard. And although it does what I'd like, one can't but help being jealous of just how slick the iPhone interface is.

This morning I found Point UI, a fairly decent little app which goes part of the way towards addressing my interface complaints. It gives you a more finger-navigable interface over Windows Mobile 5 and 6, allowing me to leave the stylus in the slot most of the time. Of course, it doesn't re-do every app, and so you can't go stylus free entirely. But for navigating around the PDA and launching your apps, it does a great job.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008


So for Christmas, my sister-in-law's boyfriend raided his attic and gave me a Sega Genesis, and an original xbox. I've got a fairly extensive console collection, despite not really becoming what I'd call a console gamer until I got my Wii and 360 last year. I had had an Atari 400 (more of a home computer than a console), an NES and Super NES growing up. But then I graduated into PC gaming, and there I thought I would remain. So I took some time off from console land, although somehow always managing to have the current Nintendo offering on hand.

At this point, I've got every Nintendo console, every Sega except for the Master System, a PS1, and now every Microsoft offering as well. My 360 sees daily use (the Wii, sadly, sees less). My PC has become simply a server for my files and printer, and occasional forays into Azeroth.

In any case, now that I have an original xbox, I'm working on plans to modify it to run XBMC, letting me put a networked media player back in the master bedroom. I've got two HD sets, a 32 in the bedroom and a 60 in the living room, and there's no way the 360 was staying in the bedroom once the big set arrived! But I missed being able to stream my tv shows to the bedroom set. With any luck, I'll be able to once again soon! Wish me luck!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year!

Like I'm sure countless others did across the country, my friends and I celebrated the new year by rocking out with Rock Band. I hope you and yours have an incredible year! Janie and I's is off to a good start so far!

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