Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Back from the dead

Fitting that my last post here more than two years ago would be about zombies. I'm thinking about bringing this blog back from the dead. Have made a bunch of new purchases lately and am going to share my thoughts. Stay tuned

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Zombie-proof House. I want!

Just when I thought I'd reached a point where there was no more stuff I didn't need I came across this (Thanks, Anna!)

I don't know who the designer is, but they had me at modern decor and retractable drawbridge.

Check it out:


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Amazon Cloud Player-Anyone using it?

I just tried out the Amazon Cloud Player for the first time. If you buy an album from them you get upgraded to 20gb of storage. A $5 record and you get 20gb of online storage? Not a bad deal even if I don't end up using the player.

However, at first blush, this seems pretty cool. The player instantly had the record I bought available right away (Alexi Murdoch's Towards the Sun, which I like a lot so far. Sort of Nick Drake meets Damien Juardo. Not a stretch, but still.).

The next test is how long it takes to upload stuff. I'm trying to upload about 9gb of stuff Says it's gonna take 3 hours. We shall see.

So, are you interested in the Amazon Cloud Player? It may be a service without a real use. What do you think?

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Dropbox: Friend of the Writer

Aside from writing this blog, I am also a writer of fiction (among other things). I've tried the past few years to find away to keep my drafts all up to date in the same place. I have to move from home computers to work, to the phone, to the iPad and to have to manually move files from one place to the next was always a disaster in the making.

So a couple months ago I found Dropbox. Not only does it save your stuff in the cloud, it also keeps all that stuff up to date on all the rest of the machines you've attached to your Dropbox.

Now I can access all my files and work on them at any time, on any machine, anywhere. Just thinking about that makes my shoulders relax. Check it out.

The best stereo $800 can buy

So, we made out OK on the tax return this year, and the lovely wife allowed me to indulge myself with a chunk of the return. When we moved into the house five years ago, it came with a home theater built into the basement, Infinity speakers in the walls, a control center with all the wiring and the connections for the projector built into the ceiling. I got an 84" screen and an HD projector and I was in movie and gaming heaven. I was not, however, in audio heaven. But to pay for all that stuff, I sold my low end hi-fi setup. I did have the studio, which was great for listening to stuff, but not exactly a comfortable hangout when I just wanted to kick back and take in some tunes.

I'd been considering replacing the janky home theater setup in the upstairs living room with a 2.0 hi-fi for a while and this tax windfall seemed like the perfect time.

Let's be clear: If you think you can go to Best Buy and get anything that sounds like a good sound system, you are mistaken. I did my due diligence and went out to check out what they had. I suppose that some of the Polk and Klipsch stuff would be ok, but I listened all the way up the line and it wasn't until I got to the higher levels of the floor standing models that stuff sounded alright. But I didn't want to spend my whole budget on what were really some uninspiring speakers, so it was off to the local hi fi store.

There's really not a lot that you can do for $800 at the hi fi store, but if you know what you're looking for, there are options.

The first set of good speakers I ever bought was a pair of Paradigms. Bought them at Sound Investments in Morgantown west Virginia when i was 18 or 19. They were awesome. This was in the time before bookshelf speakers and they were the smallest I could get. I had those speakers for the next ten plus year. Then I moved to a set of Energys. They were also great.

These days, Paradigm makes a nice set of speakers called the Atom. They've been around for several version s and have always gotten raves for their sound and their price point (they run about $350 or less a set right now).

I should also say that I don't really care at all for things like bass extension. I'm a firm believer that the artists and engineers who made the records put a lot of time and thought into making eq choices, so I never futz with eq settings at all. I like natural, balanced sound. But even more important than balanced sound is sound stage. Now, some of you might not be familiar with the idea of sound stage, but it is what it sounds like: the stage on which the sound is presented to the room. I went into the hi fi store looking for sound stage. And in the Atoms, I found it. There might be some of you out there asking "How can such a small set of speakers give any sort of sound staging?" Well, I'm not an engineer. All I know is they do. These are great sounding speakers that present tight, focused, and alive in the room. That's what speakers are supposed to do in my book.

Of course, the speakers are at the mercy of what powers them. With the rest of my money I really had two choices in the store (there're certainly other choices out there): a Cambridge Audio stereo receiver and a Marantz SR 5004. I went with the Marantz mostly because it had a built in phonograph amp and the reviews read quickly on my phone were really great. Not to mention that the set up in the store was the Atoms plus the Marantz. I went to the car and got a cd (Dark Side of the Moon). I like listening to that record because it's really dynamic and theres a great sound stage on it.

Well, the results were amazing. The record sounded great. It felt like it was surrounding me. The sound stage was awesome. Just to be sure, I had the guy in the store set up my current speakers (which they also sold) the Polk TSi100s. Te difference were night and day. I never hated the Polks, but listening t them after the Paradigms was like loosing a dimension. They were congested and lifeless. S the Paradigms and the Marantz went home with me and I've been rediscovering my music collection now for the past coulee weeks.

If you're looking for a great, reasonably priced stereo set up mainly for music (although it does sound great for TV as well) you could do a lot worse than this combo. In fact, you'll have to spend a lot more money to do much better.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Lots to share

Been a busy week in the real life, so I haven't been able to get in here, but suffice it to say that I now have two iPads in the house--a 64gb iPad and a 16gb iPad2--and I'm deciding which one I should keep. Let me know what your thoughts are. The 64gb was on $49 more expensive than the iPad 2.

Also, Nintendo 3ds comes out today. Saw this clip from Jimmy Fallon and my GAS (Gadget Acquisition Syndrome) has flared again. This time mostly for the daughter, who would love the 3D pet game they have for the thing. Will I survive this Sunday without getting her one? We shall see.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Tablet Wars: A retreat

Well, I returned the Motorola Lapdock and the Motorola Xoom. Both very cool products that are half-baked. In a year, they'll be awesome. Right now, they are awesome ideas not worth the money required to purchase them.

I'm on the waiting list for an iPad 2, but when a 64GB Wi-Fi iPad can be had brand new for $529, is it really worth spending $500 for a 16GB iPad 2? Well, we shall see. 64GB iPad is syncing now...