Sunday, May 31, 2015

Incantato, il mio vecchio amico Alsamixer!

If you use Duolingo on a chromebook, you may have microphone problems. I tinkered around with the settings and chromebooks do not allow websites to access your microphone and camera by default. Change that by going into settings and Privacy.
Now for the surprise. This didn’t completely fix my problem. I did a little more searching and found that Alsamixer is the key. Press crtl+alt+t to pop open a new crosh tab. Type shell and enter.

Bamb! Alsamixer almost like linux. That shouldn’t be a surprise. One issue I did encounter was the function keys wouldn’t work even when I used the function key. Not all is lost. For some reason the search key needs to be pressed to invoke the function keys.
No problem. Press it with your desired function key. Escape to exit. 
I like Duoling to keep up on my Spanish, but it occurs to me that it is also useful for my horrible Italian. Duolingo lets you select multiple languages at the same time. I have no idea if there is a limit to the number, but I thought that I would stick to the two I know pretty well. 

New chromebooks are much better than the one I have. I'm going to start shopping for a new one soon. 

All the right things, in three parts. Item one.

I was on the hunt for a book last weekend. It has been so long since I bought a physical book. We ventured out to Barnes and Nobles and I tried to find something I would enjoy. As tried to browse, the kids were hounding me for books for them. I couldn’t say “no” to them and said so. I blew double what I budgeted for my book and I was lucky it was that little.
I seem to recall a trip to a local five and dime called “The Tec” on Main Street, where my parent’s had this same conversation with me. My dad said “I can’t say no to a book for you.” There was no mark language back then, but “for you” might as well have been underlined and bolded.
Somethings are important. Instilling a love of reading in your kids is one of them, and I am glad that my parent’s gave that to me.

Saturday, May 23, 2015


This morning, I passed the time with some sketches using Tul Markers.

These markers are labeled “fine” but I find them a little fat. That is ok, this is my first attempt with using markers.
For my first subject, I picked a jaguar like creature from the zoo. All and all, I was pretty happy with the results.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

#tbt – Astronomy Cast Episode 1

Today’s post is for Throw Back Thursday. I decided to take a listen to AstronomyCast’s first episode. After the first few minutes, Pamela and Fraser catch their groove. It is surprising how fast they found “the formula” and established the sound and style of the show.

Timely, as New Horizons approaches Pluto. It is a long way off, at least the way I drive, but surface details are becoming obvious.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Destiny Done…

Well, that day has come. I have completed all the missions and tasks with my Titan in Destiny.

As of right now, I do not have PSN, House of Wolves, or The Dark Below. I do plan on adding the expansion packs but I am not sure when.

Destiny’s delineation between PvP and PvE is nice. I find PvP to be annoying and Destiny’s model allows me to safely ignore it. I hate being pwn’d by a 12-year-old and Destiny lets me avoid it.
The style of stories shifts as the player progresses, and the planet system neatly ties them all together. The scenes on each world are really nice, except for The Moon. For whatever reason, the grey tones leave me with the impression that the map is more open than it really is. So far, I have killed myself by driving off the map more times than I can count. I could use a few more Vex encounters, but hey, that is what expansion is for. I can’t wait for more Vex. The Legionnaires and their cohorts are interesting and present new challenges. I also love the fact that Venus is presented as a very 1940s, swamp-like planet.
I’m torn. Destiny costs $50 bucks. I am fine with that, however, to continue receiving new challenges, you need PSN, PSPlus, and the expansion packs. That pushes the cost up to $135 for a year or $11.25 a month.

This is where I am torn. I am actually very happy to play a game for less than $12 a month. In addition to great new content and multiplayer, you are free to create 3 characters per profile on your PS4. All three of my kids, plus my wife and I can play this game. This is not true of most online games, normally we would need an account for each player.

As the father of three children, I have to say I find PS4’s limitation of 16 profiles to be spectacular. When I go to a hockey game or baseball game, all the tickets come in “4 Packs”, which sucks when you need 5. The pricing for the 5th ticket is pretty cheap, but the rigamarole of ordering is obnoxious. That doesn’t happen with 16 profiles, which is very generous.

I do find the PSN email requirements for children to be vexing (see what I did there?). I am not sure I want to arm my 10-year-old with an email address. As a happy medium, I created that email account but did not give my child the password. Sony needs to step up and create a more protective model.

I believe that the main hurdles are not created by Bungie, but by Sony. An internet-connected device that requires a separate monthly purchase to connect to some types of data is stupid. I hate it on my phone and I hate it on my games. Of course, Bungie does charge for new content, but that is offered a la carte. I don’t have to do it and still be happy.
So to wrap up, the plus/minus list for Destiny 

1. Inventive Storylines.
2. Nice gameplay.
3. Multiple expansions.
4. PvP or PvE, your choice.
5. Bungie’s website.

1. Sony’s PSN and PSPlus system.
2. Only three classes.
3. Lack of a manual.

On the whole, I really enjoyed Destiny. I can’t say I have seen every detail and facet, but all and all it is gratifying.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Nextbook NX785QC8G Review

My son recently purchased the NX785QC8G Nextbook at Walmart for $69.00.

This is a budget 8″ tablet, the screen is a smidgen under 8″.
I snapped a quick picture, sorry f9r the blow quality. The glass on this product is super high gloss and easily collect fingerprints, smudges, etc. However, the device feel solid and is equipped with a 3.5 mm headphone jack, a mini USB port, a micro HDMI port and an micro SD slot.
The Nextbook has 5.5 GB of memory which is on the light side for a game crazy child. My son found tht he didn’t enough room to install more games. We inserted a 4 GB micro SD card and discovered the tablet happily dropped downloaded apps on to the card by default. Nice feature. His only issue now is to maintain enough space for downloading and installing. Since he is living on just a few megs of space, there are days when he can’t install items without rebooting. Presumably, he is running with a lot junk open and the cache eats his free storage space.
The camera is so-so. It is on par with an old cell phone. The single speaker works as you would expect, but found that the volume is more than adequate.
At the end of the day, I can’t say this great tab but for $69 it is very reasonable.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Little Things

Sometimes, I am amused by little things. A few weeks ago, I sent in an idea to ADB and they used it. You can follow ADB by clicking the link. 

It was a small thing, but nice to see.