September 27, 2010

Goodbye Vox ()

by fluffy at 5:13 PM
My Vox consists of:
  • Two entries when it first launched, consisting entirely of seeing if its HTML entity support was any good (first entry, no, second one, yes)
  • A one-line entry 6 months later
  • Another one-line entry 6 months later, answering the "question of the day" thing
  • A complaint a year later about how the only reason I was even logging in was due to getting a bunch of spammy PMs via Vox, an observation that Vox was full of nothing but spam, and a declaration that Vox would not make it very long
It took two more years but it's finally shutting down now. I think Vox could have been something more than it was, but it was basically a victim of being a me-too effort launched by a company that would then later buy out what it was a clone of to begin with, before they lost interest in it and spun it back off, and then decided to focus on corporate/enterprise blog solutions. Frankly, the only reason I even signed up for it to begin with was to lay claim to the name "fluffy" (which is the only reason I originally signed up for Twitter, too, although that one has done much better for me).

September 23, 2010

Shows I have now stopped watching ()

by fluffy at 11:16 PM
Shows I have now stopped watching:
  • The Big Bang Theory
  • Bones
  • Hell's Kitchen (and all the other Gordon Ramsay folderol)
Shows I will not be starting to watch:
  • Shit My Dad Says
Shows I will continue to watch, despite expecting massive disappointment:
  • House

September 22, 2010

PS3 Move thoughts ()

by fluffy at 11:53 PM
So, I ended up getting a free Move bundle (eye, controller, Sports Champions, demo disc). So many others have already talked about their opinions about it, but I'll add a few more:
  • The fact the Move works with all the system controls is pretty nice.
  • Sports Champions on the easy modes doesn't do the controller justice. It feels only slightly better than the Wii waggle controls, but unlike Wii Sports, isn't fun. However, on the more difficult levels, the controller actually feels like you're controlling real, physical objects, and that makes it way too hard. But bocce is fun.
  • Of the demos I played:
    • EyePet was cute but kind of meh. I can see it being great if you have kids though.
    • Beat Sketcher: it was a bad sign that it didn't want to recognize me pressing the button on my Move because it was expecting it to only be on controller slot 7 (which my BD Remote is usually on). After doing a bunch of controller finagling I managed to get it going. So not worth the time. This game really should use the Move in "laser pointer" mode rather than using the on-screen position to control it. I don't like having to stand three feet away from my TV (which will be even worse when my recently-ordered 55" monster gets here).
    • Echchrome 2 was a huge letdown, mostly because I loved the original, and because the controls didn't feel at all like they needed to be on the Move (what's the point to controlling a flashlight with something that feels exactly like a flashlight if you're only able to point at where the flashlight is to be pointing in the vague direction of from some arbitrary origin point?). Also the Magic Voice was really obnoxious, much moreso than in the original (and you actually have to listen to her in this one).
    • Start the Party! was stupid fun, and I'll probably buy it.
    • Kung Fu Rider is another letdown. Cute premise, and the gameplay is vaguely okay but it's still just waggle controls. There is no reason it needed to be on the Move. Actually, the Move was detrimental, if anything.
    • Tumble was fun, and I will probably be buying it. It will also benefit greatly from 3D glasses. Did I mention that my recently-ordered 55" TV is also 3D? Well it is.
    • I didn't play any of the others, and frankly I have no interest in any of them.
    • Well, okay, maybe I'll try The Shoot. (It's at least a bit more innovative than yet another Time Crisis.)
  • Heavy Rain might be interesting with the Move patch, if only to see how stupid it is to have real world motions translating into completing QTEs that are supposed to simulate real world motions. But unless they patched the game so that (spoiler) the private eye wasn't the criminal as revealed with the stupidest ass-pull ever in a video game I still won't be interested in playing it again.
  • I see a hell of a lot of potential for Move, but no real killer app for it just yet. So naturally I also bought another Move, two Navigation, and a charging station for everything. I am such a consumer whore (and how!).

September 19, 2010

Kaossilator ()

by fluffy at 1:43 AM
So a few days ago I picked up a Kaossilator since Musician's Friend had them on sale for $120 (which, incidentally, seems to be Amazon's normal price). It's pretty fun to mess with. Tonight I recorded a few impromptu jams with it: 1 2 3 4

All of them were done in the hidden "dly" mode, which seems to be much more useful for jamming purposes (it has 16 beats instead of 8, you can set the loop size to sub-beat increments, and — apparently this is a bug but it's a fun one — changing the loop size during playback also affects the recorded loop).

It's a fun tool for experimenting, and also for creating new loops (rhythm loops especially) which I will sure to be use in other songs. It's a lot more fun and natural-feeling than sequencing it in a step sequencer or whatever, at least. Note control is very imprecise but that's also not really the point to it; it's more about navigating through an evolving soundscape than about playing a specific song.

It's also surprisingly handy to just screw around with it at work and have a looping bed playing while I write code. Unfortunately, it's also a distraction because I start to mess around with the music while it plays. I am of course keeping it at home from now on.

September 15, 2010

Why I hate being HOA treasurer ()

by fluffy at 7:33 PM
The worst thing about owning a condo is being a member of the homeowner's association (HOA), a joint corporation that owns and cares for the common areas. The worst part about being a member of the HOA is the risk of being elected onto the board. The worst part about being elected onto the board is ending up as the treasurer, the only position that has to do any real work and which has the thankless task of collecting dues from everyone and making sure the common bills get paid.

This is bad enough when the HOA all gets along, but there is one member of my HOA who seems to have a pathological hatred of the treasurer, and has never, ever gotten along with anyone in that position, simply because he sees dues as something to get out of paying and the property as a burden that he'd rather not deal with. (he owns quite a lot of property around the city).

September 9, 2010

I am so sick of St Luke's Hospital (, , )

by fluffy at 8:16 PM
I have gotten several more bills from them for things which they are still insisting that my insurance isn't covering, all from June. They are now saying it's past-due and threatening to send me to collections. My insurance still says that they have never gotten any actual claims from the hospital. Today I found out that some idiot in the billing department had transposed a couple of characters in my insurance ID, and as far as I can tell they are too fucking ignorant to fix it when they submit the updated claims, and this is just so aggravating.

Today I left another message with their idiotic billing department, and I tried to keep it cool but I lost it and after explaining the situation I kind of lost it and started swearing a lot. Maybe they'll get the fucking message here, but I have a feeling they're just going to hold it against me for being "unprofessional."


Judging by the reviews on Yelp, I am far from the first to have these problems, and will be far from the last. They are goddamned inept, and who knows how many people are suffering for it with ruined credit and being forced to pay thousands of dollars for a routine procedure that their doctor ordered?

In any case, I will definitely not be making use of St. Luke's Hospital or California Pacific Medical Center ever again if I can help it. This is the last goddamn straw.

September 3, 2010

California Pacific Medical Center (, )

by fluffy at 3:20 PM
Their billing department is a total joke.

September 2, 2010

Initial impressions of iTunes 10 (, , )

by fluffy at 8:22 AM
The first thing that struck me was how different the user interface was. Apple have yet again disregarded their own UI mechanisms in order to make iTunes look different than everything else. The window control "stoplight" is now arranged vertically, and all of the icons in the app are monochrome and low-contrast. Even for someone with normal vision like me, it makes major parts of the UI a lot harder to see and parse at a glance.

They also hid the AirPlay (nee AirTunes) stuff in a little tiny widget in the corner, which makes it much less clear if AirPlay is available, and they just use a gray vs. blue icon to indicate whether it's active. You have to click on it to learn what your particular configuration is. Considering they're really trying to push AirPlay now, this seems like a curious design decision.

I was also a bit annoyed that when I started it up, it was in "group with album art" view, which I usually turn off, but they've done a bit of tweaking to it to make it actually useful (even though the vast majority of my music doesn't have album art) and so I'm leaving it on for now.

So of course I tried out Ping, and was immediately annoyed by the following aspects:

  • It requires your real name, which is tied to your billing account
  • It requires your gender, which is of course the binary male/female
  • You are only allowed to select up to three genres you like. The list of genres is pretty pathetic and mainstream anyway, though.
  • There is no way for independent artists to add a profile (hopefully that will change in the future)
  • The "privacy" settings are just "do you want to let people follow you?" and nothing like, for example, "do you want this information to be available?" Apparently, no, they haven't learned from Facebook's bad example.
  • The only activity it records is actively purchasing and rating things on the iTunes store. So much for discovery.
On the plus side, iTunes feels much more responsive and less laggy, and it's obviously they've put a lot of work into handling large libraries better. Hopefully they'll address the "too cool for colors" issue on the user interface, and it's not like you have to use Ping.