Kenshin2, Me

Sigh

I joined the rave scene many, many years ago.  (18, to be precise)  I started out hooked on trance, and although that waned over time as the genre went completely down the tubes, I never truly gave up on it – I just stopped spinning it and didn’t reach for those CDs when I had company.  When I picked up the Numark DJ controller I decided I would record sets of just about every genre to demonstrate my versatility, and while taking a break from finding electro house I looked up some modern trance.  A lot of the same garbage was still out there, but then I finally dug through into a layer that didn’t suck.

…look for a new trance set on the mix page soon.

…Dammit.

-M

Originally published at impulsive / designs. You can comment here or there.

Kenshin2, Me

My Thoughts on the Playstation 4

Sony has finally announced the Playstation 4, and I’m slightly amused at the general response of the gaming community.  All in all it was a perfectly serviceable event; Sony announced some decent hardware specs, a respectable number of new features, showed very clearly that they listened to the loudest complaints about the Playstation 3 and worked to fix them, and laid out a decent mixture of new IP with the obligatory sequels.  In my opinion they did exactly what they needed to do to lay the foundations for a new modern console launch.

In other words – they met expectations.

I understand that Sony is coming from a bit of a deficit with their almost comedic mishandling of the Playstation 3′s entire lifespan, but I don’t think that justifies cheering and giving them a medal for what was essentially showing up and doing the job they were supposed to do.  I’m certainly interested in the Playstation 4, but I’m also witholding final judgement until I see the price.  In my opinion, the price will indicate whether or not Sony has learned anything at all over the last generation.  Unfortunately I’ve heard whispers of a set of price points at $430 and $530, but I really, really hope that’s not true.  If it is, Sony is fucked and it’ll be a damn shame to lose them from the console market.

There is only one set of price points that will position them in a workable place – $299 and $399.  Launching at anything higher will be completely insane, and it will hand enormous leverage to Microsoft yet again.  Don’t get me wrong – I prefer my Xbox.  I have a Playstation 3 and a large number of games for it, but they’re all exclusives.  Anything multiplatform I get on my Xbox, in part because I want the achievement points but also in part because the infrastructure and the machine itself is simply better.  No thirty minute or more patching, no ridiculous load times, no crazy limitations on DLC or downloads themselves.  I am however also an enormous fan of competition.  The fact Sony had the clout it had at the height of the Playstation 2 is the very reason Microsoft came out very hungry and swinging for the fence.  The fact Microsoft curb stomped Sony in the face Detroit-style during this generation is what has them coming out at least looking hungry and heavily armed with this Playstation 4 announcement.  Competition keeps this industry cut-throat, and when it is cut-throat we as gamers are the clear winners over and over.

Upon reflection I’ll push my dollar amounts up ever so slightly – I think Sony might be able to get away with $350 and $450, but it’s an enormous risk.  I stand firm on the optimal prices and if Sony really wants back in this game, $299 and $399 are their only real options.  This is of course contingent on Microsoft coming out with those same price points, but I have faith that’s exactly what they’ll do because it’s what they’ve always done.  Microsoft has launched two consoles and they’ve always had a $299 SKU, even if it’s not the one you really want.  Even as time progressed and models shifted with price drops, they’ve maintained a $299 SKU.  They’re smart enough to know that they have to hit that sweet spot.

Actually, it’s kind of funny when you think about that.  Microsoft was the scrappy underdog and Sony the giant, but in fact they’re only one console ahead…and in my humble opinion, Sony is facing a Sega moment.  They either get this one right, or they are done with gaming hardware.  I really, really hope they get it right.

-M

Originally published at impulsive / designs. You can comment here or there.

Kenshin2, Me

The Times, They Are A-Changin’

Lately I’ve been surprising myself.  I’m sticking to the fitness routine, I’ve overhauled my diet, and now – I’m successfully cutting back on smoking.  I have to credit my psychologist, his recommendation on keeping a pen handing and making a tick mark on the pack every time I smoke helps me recognize how close I am to my daily limit (currently 15) and makes me ponder the cigarette.  Do I really want it now?  Sometimes I am able to pass on it, and I’ve been easily hitting the target.  I plan to cut back slowly, but that’s really just a safety valve.  It’s not wise to try and radically change too much at once, and an actual attempt to quit smoking too rapidly could have negative side effects on everything I’m doing…and I will not jeopardize that.  I’ve reached the point where people I see less frequently are stopping mid-conversation to tell me that I’ve lost a noticeable amount of weight.

It feels great when people say that.  It motivates me to push harder and keep moving.  Also, I noticed tonight while lifting weights – muscles are starting to show!  Which I suppose is less momentous when considering I started off having next to no muscles at all, but…I’ll take every victory I can get.  Developing muscle tone means that the actual weight loss will slow a bit, so I plan on rummaging through my wardrobe and selecting some old clothes to use as an additional measure of success.  Some of this stuff hasn’t fit in a long time, so when it does it means the next victory approaches.

Now I have only one general life obstacle that hasn’t been started yet – the house.  It needs a lot of work, and while some of it was started a while back none of it has been finished.  I’m giving myself just a little bit longer to make the fitness routines a completely rote habit – I figure 3 months is the best guide – but I am going to try to start thoroughly cleaning and prepping for doing actual renovation work.  In some cases it’s more a matter of finding someone that will do the work cheaply, or just going ahead and paying for jobs I already have good quotes on versus doing the work myself.  As soon as it warms up even slightly I need to make several runs to the dump with rooms full of old furniture and junk I REALLY shouldn’t be keeping any longer, and once I’ve got some breathing room space-wise I can start moving things around into more permanent locations.  I’ve been meaning to reconfigure the house around a set plan for over a year now, it’s time to finally get started.

-M

Originally published at impulsive / designs. You can comment here or there.

Kenshin2, Me

Numark iDJ Pro

A couple of nights ago I discovered Wal-Mart now sells some fairly atypical iPad/iPhone accessories.  I discovered an arcade cabinet-shaped controller, a controller that mimicked the layout of a pinball table (complete with ball launcher), several of the higher level adapters for using the iPhone as a guitar amp, and a mini DJ controller.  This stuff has been around for a while, I just never expected Wal-Mart to carry it.  The DJ controller got me thinking, because I do love algoriddim’s djay app.  I can mix fairly well with just the app, but you’re limited to just iPad’s headphone jack for output.  The app provides a way to split that output into two mono streams so that you can mix with cueing, and for a party with speakers mono might be sufficient, but it is still just mono.  Apple provided an internal audio bus in iOS 6 to provide both stereo cueing and stereo out, but at the bare minimum you need a special docking station.  The more expensive DJ controllers take it one step further, providing both the outputs and a variety of physical controls for the app.

Naturally the $50 one at Wal-Mart didn’t provide any outputs, but it got me thinking it might be neat to have a controller, so I started researching.  I just automatically assumed they would be expensive, so when I found the Vestax DJ Spin 2 I thought that was a pretty decent deal.  It got stuck in my head, I started wondering where I might find it in store, but when I started poking around it was nowhere to be found.  Then while discussing this with a friend I stumbled across this beast.  Long story short – Guitar Center has it for $500, but you can find it online for $375.  That’s only $25 more than the Spin 2, and the feature set doesn’t even begin to compare.  After skimming Guitar Center’s price matching terms, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to drive down and see if they’d come down in price.

They did it without even blinking.

This thing is insane!  I can be incredibly precise, and I had no idea having physical controls would feel so good.  There will be new mixes up much sooner than I originally planned, and I’ll be able to cover so much new ground with my entire mp3 collection at my fingertips.  Amazingly enough the controller is also precise enough to scratch, and with the worry of damaging my turntables or vinyl removed I really have no excuse not to learn how.  I’ve already found a gig bag that this controller will fit in, once I’ve picked that up I may even start spinning at some events I frequent as they usually have volunteer openings.

-M

Originally published at impulsive / designs. You can comment here or there.

Kenshin2, Me

More Pages Posted

I’ve added several pages to the site, one to reflect each of the major artistic venues that I dabble in at least occasionally.  Art, photography, film, and of course writing all have at least a brief summary – as time goes on I will add and expand the various sections.  I’ve enjoyed setting this site up, and it’s almost to a point where I’ll push its existence a bit to the general public.

I plan on spending some time this weekend getting some previous writings together, and possibly getting artwork properly scanned.

-M

Originally published at impulsive / designs. You can comment here or there.

Kenshin2, Me

Mixes Are Up

I’ve added a page for mix sets, as I have old ones people have asked me to put up somewhere and I’d like to start recording new ones.  You can find them on the site menu, although the page will get prettier over time.  I initially went to put them on Soundcloud so that I could be in their search results, but as it turns out the free accounts get very little in the way of total upload time…and the pay accounts get expensive fast.  I have decided I will publish 6-7 minute excerpts of mixes on Soundcloud and lead people back here for the full thing, that way I get the best of both worlds.  Granted there’s a percentage of folks that won’t bother to make the trip, but if someone really likes what they hear – they’ll come.

-M

Originally published at impulsive / designs. You can comment here or there.

Kenshin2, Me

High Intensity Interval Training

I’ll be honest, I’m not fully certain what truly pushed me onto the path of wanting to lose weight and get fit.  This certainly isn’t the first time I’ve tried to diet or exercise, but it is the time that it’s actually working.  If I had to pin it down, I’d probably go with this being my version of a midlife crisis.  I get the vague feeling that the underlying motivation to all of this work I’m doing is to look younger, which certainly sounds like a midlife crisis to me – albeit a much less annoying version than the one where I buy a corvette and start dressing like a douchebag.  Don’t get me wrong, my wardrobe will get significantly more expensive when I’m down to the weight I want to be at, but they’ll still be clothes in a similar style to what I wear now.  They will just look nicer.

At this point I’m down 17 pounds out of 46 that I want to lose.  I weigh less now than I have in probably 7 years, maybe longer.  It seems to be accelerating a bit over the past few days thanks to the high intensity interval training, making me a big fan.  Previously I had fixed my diet and was going almost daily to the gym for roughly 30-40 minutes of endurance cardio; I would get on the exercise bike, crank it to a mid level, and pedal furiously at a more or less fixed rate for the entire time.  The caloric burn was large, and that was what I thought mattered.  I began to stabilize however, prompting me to scour the ‘net for more information.

In a way that kind of search can be pointless – everyone has a different idea of how best to exercise, and they tend to scoff and decry other methods as worthless or dangerous.  In the end I tried to find information from people who were more or less like me in thought processes or bodily history, and it didn’t take long to discover some interesting studies that showed randomized, high-intensity exercise in shorter bursts burned less calories but MORE fat.  Logically, it makes sense.  My body strives for equilibrium and adjusts rapidly to constants, so in theory – and as it turns out in practice – the random, high-intensity spikes throw it for a loop and keep it in “panic” mode, burning fat at a better rate.  Maybe it isn’t the same for everyone, but it certainly seems to work for me.  I feel more worked over when I leave, I seem to be losing more weight, and it throws the true responsibility for total caloric consumption where it should be – my diet.  To that end I’ve also started lifting weights, as it also puts a variable, intense strain on me.  Much to my surprise I have found that lifting weights is an incredibly good thing for me.

I never got runner’s high.  I certainly feel satisfied relief when I’m done with cardio, but I never, ever felt an endorphin spike.  Well, it turns out I do get a weight lifter’s high.  Doing them properly to the extent that the last few reps of the last set require every ounce of energy I have leaves me feeling like the freaking Hulk when I’ve stopped.  The muscle pain actually feels like I’ve done something big, and that leads to an incredible endorphin spike.  I never thought I’d say it, but lifting weights is fun and definitely for me, especially at home.  I’d used machines in the gym before but always felt so self-conscious that it tended to outweigh (no pun intended) the feelings of satisfaction.  I mean, honestly, I’m lifting 10 pounds right now.  If I were in a gym I’d feel so embarrassed I’d barely be able to finish, but the truth is I have pathetic little noodle arms.  It takes time to work up to the stuff everyone else is doing, and I’m smart enough to know my limits and work to increase them safely.

On a final note, I have discovered that Fitocracy and the Lose It! web site that’s linked to the iPhone app I use to track meals and exercise don’t have a public version of your profile.  That’s really too bad, I wanted to link them here.  Not to brag, but to keep me honest.  It’s the same reason I constantly talk about what I’m doing with friends and family.  Yes, I take pride in it, but at the same time it’s more so that if I stop talking about it someone will ask, and I’ll be forced to admit I slacked off for whatever reason.  It’s all psychological trickery for my own mind, but it helped a LOT during National Novel Writing Month.  I was constantly tweeting and talking about my writing, which forced me to keep writing so that I’d have actual updates to talk about.

Hell, that’s kind of why this blog even exists – to give me a forum to talk about things I’m doing so that in turn I’m reminded to keep doing them so that I have something to talk about.  It’s a funny little loop, but it works.

-M

Originally published at impulsive / designs. You can comment here or there.

Kenshin2, Me

Yes, I’ve Started a Blog

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted to LiveJournal, and I think that’s because it’s felt dead or dying for a long, long time.  I still need to work out how to get a full dump of my journal (including comments) as it represents an almost frightening level of detail on a specific set of years of my life, but even beyond that I think it’s time I move elsewhere.  Thankfully I already pay for hosting, so it was rather simple to get WordPress set up.  I like it, actually.  It’s quite powerful, has a lot of features, and I think I’ve even got it set up to properly cross-post to my LiveJournal.  (In case anyone IS still reading.)  I did try to make my home at Giant Bomb but my posts on that site were going into their forum, making me feel like it had to be game-centric.  Now I can get back to randomly spouting nonsense, and since it’s been a while I feel like I’ve got a lot built up.  I’m losing weight, writing a book, getting a lot of things in order, and I feel like I’ve got a lot to say about that.  With some forethought I can make this blog a snapshot on my life, my projects, and my writing.

Onward!

-M

Originally published at impulsive / designs. You can comment here or there.

Tired

The Movie Was a Dark Comedy, But...

...this has forever been one of my favorite speeches. Utterly and completely true, and utterly and completely damning.

Britannia Hospital - Professer Millar:

"Friends! Fellow members of the human race! We are gathered here for a purpose. Let us look together at mankind. What do we see? We see mastery, what wonders mankind can perform. He can cross the oceans and continents today as easily as our grandfathers crossed the street. Tomorrow he will as easily cross the vast territories of space. He can make deserts fertile and plant cabbages on the Moon.

And what does man choose? Alone among the creatures of this world, the human race chooses to annihilate itself. Since the last world conflict ended, there has not been one day in which human beings have not been slaughtering or wounding one another in 230 different wars. And man breeds as recklessly as he lays waste. By the end of the century, the population of the world will have tripled. 2/3rds of our plant species will have been destroyed. 55% of the animal kingdom, and 70% of our mineral resources. Out of every hundred human beings now living, 80 will die without ever knowing what it feels like to be fully nourished, while a tiny minority indulge themselves in absurd and extravagant luxuries.

A motion picture entertainer of North America will receive as much money in a month as would feed a starving South American tribe for a hundred years! We waste, we destroy, and we cling like savages to our superstitions. We give power to leaders of State and Church as prejudiced and small-minded as ourselves who squander our resources on instruments of destruction, while millions continue to suffer and go hungry, condemned forever."

Yeah, I'm in a bit of a quirky mood.
  • Current Mood
    drained drained
Loved

iPad

Picked up an iPad 2 as a promotion gift a couple of weeks ago, and I am in love. I honestly figured I'd use it as a way to chat and surf the web while playing console games, that way I could avoid a laptop. Since the living room isn't anywhere close to done I was really just taking advantage of a killer sale at Microcenter - 16 gig Wifi model for $350. I also picked up the Apple case for it, although I'm starting to wish I'd chosen a different one. The master stroke was picking up a wired Apple keyboard - my iMac came with a bluetooth version that really isn't all that important for a desktop, so I tossed the wired one on it and bonded the bluetooth one to the iPad.

What I hadn't really considered was the wide variety of truly amazing software for Apple's tablet thats available. I've probably spent over $60 so far, picking up some music apps that are simply unbelievable. Three stand out: Sunrizer, Reactable, and Sunvox. I'm still trying to figure Sunvox out - it's very complicated - but it's essentially a modular synth hooked up to an old school tracker interface. With Sunvox I can compose entire high quality tracks anywhere! Sunrizer is the opposite - it's just an amazing synthesizer. I can futz around on just the iPad, but it's also made me decide to pick up a MIDI interface that will allow me to toss the iPad into my studio - once it's been rebuilt. Reactable is honestly more of a gimmick, but it still allows for freestyle performances based on a moderate sized palette of sounds and samples.

There's more mundane stuff of course, such as loading it full of PDF scans of countless RPG rulebooks, some apps that make it very useful while actually playing table top games, and since I snagged VLC a while back before Apple removed it from the App Store I can load up any video file I have. (Currently it's packed full of old Looney Tunes cartoons.) Interestingly enough I haven't picked up any games for it - and probably won't ever get many - because my iPhone games work and I've got other things to do with it.

The iPad was originally a guilty purchase because I thought I was picking one up just to have it, but I've ended up carrying it around with me and actually using it almost everywhere I go.
  • Current Music
    Stuff I'm writing