Looking for more

One of the things that I like about the Zune is that it has podcast support that is more like how I really use them rather than the way they work with iTunes. It’s not perfect by any stretch (Why can’t I squirt a podcast?) but it’s generally very good. Good enough that I’m looking for more content to listen to.

I have two very different kinds of podcasts that I listen to for very different environments. I find that I can’t listen to people talking without having to pay attention to them, at least if I want to get anything out of it. This is just as true of talk radio as it is of audio books. I also find that after 45 minutes of people yakking I get really, really bored pretty quickly but I find items less than 10min long to not be worth the effort to fiddle with the player to listen to (Not perfect #2: Can’t put them in playlists). Which is really unfortunate since I otherwise would have a couple of really short items that I do like (The Engines of Our Ingenuity being a prime example).

So here’s what I’m currently listening to:

I also really used to love SpaceMusic, but that shifted to a paid subscription model a year or so ago. Though looking on the site now there does appear to be some free stuff again so maybe I’ll take a look at them again.

Any suggestions anyone?

Eggs out of season

One of the things that I’m enjoying most about Chain Factor, besides the incredibly addictive game, is the code hints/easter eggs that you get sometimes that show up as an “error message”. Like this one:

ERROR 003

LEVEL 3 / CODE NNN

* UPPER BOUND FOR BASIC SCORES?
* ok i’ve got to stop playtesting and start coding. i’m starting to see
* colored discs everywhere i look. do we know the upper limit on
* basic mode scoring? i’m thinking about memory allocation…
* -F

* No we don’t. Figuring that out is the players’ job.
*
* Here’s another to do: find someone in the Minneapolis area to check
* on the OOH which should be up: 494 and hwy 77 – might need some
* searching around.
* /s

Incredibly fun stuff. Give it a try.

Update Finally got error 1 again:

 ERROR 001

LEVEL 1 / CODE NNN

* MEDIA MATRIX
* s, this printout is unreadable – i’m missing half the entries in the
* locations column…
* -F

* Yes, actually it would be useful if you could go out and confirm that
* these are up:
* LA Century N/L E/O Aviation – should be obvious.
* 1815 Hawthorne 90278 – not sure about this one, you may have to
* look around a bit.
* /s

* can’t wait to see your mad media jamming skillz
* -F

* We’re going to put Primacy to shame – not just sticking up a few
* posters but appropriating the media machine on a grand scale.
* /s

Update 2 Yet another one:

 ERROR 007

LEVEL 1 / CODE D

* ++Power Outage?++
* F, why is MAX_POWERS set to 1 here, what is this?
* /s

* this is totally the idea, one power, no greys, but garbage starts at
* max frequency – fast and furious, on ly the stong survive!

* This wasn’t in the spec. I get the idea, but next time let me know
* before you implement something like this.
* /s

* ok boss.

Zune v2: The Good

A few of the things that I do think are really very good about the new Zune software are both the Podcast and the social/community support. I have been using services like Last.fm, iLike, and a large variety of others for a very long time now and am really happy to see that kind of support built-in as a basic feature that is incredibly simple to use and visually fairly appealing. So far, in the couple of hours I’ve been playing around with it, it’s wonderful.

Podcast support also is very well executed. The v2 software was able to use my existing cache of downloaded podcasts to seed the Podcast view and while I did have to do some cleanup and am having some difficulty getting some of the really old stuff integrated into single items in the Podcast list I was able to get up to date with the majority of what I regularly listen to simply by finding the existing item and hitting the “subscribe” button in the interface. I can not say enough positive things about how well this got implemented that it almost makes up for the total absence of support for the past year.

Oh, and the software is very, very pretty. No really, it’s quite nice to look at which is a rarity.

Update: I can’t believe I forgot to link to my profile page!

The good with the bad

Microsoft launched the second version of their Zune hardware yesterday and their software today. For the most part I am really very happy with the progress that the platform has made, but I am also quite disappointed in a couple of choices that I do really consider a big step back. I’ve already commented in a couple of locations about the change to the ratings system from 5 Star to Heart/Broken Heart, but I just posted the following message in the Zune Forums about the lack of auto playlists:

As a software engineer I do understand that sometimes the process of creating software involves making trade offs and sometimes good features get cut for good reasons. Given that auto playlists seemed to function pretty well in the first version of the software, what was the design decision around not implementing auto playlists in version 2? I am really honestly curious.

I would have put this in one of the existing posts complaining about the removal of this feature but I really want to try and start from a position not of blame or anger, but one of curiosity.

Too be honest I am very disappointed since auto playlists is one of the features that I consider to be absolutely required for me to take media management software seriously. I have a really hard time thinking of any media management software that doesn’t have this sort of feature as significantly lacking. In many cases software in this market that does lack auto playlists at least have a compensatory feature of allowing some sort of extensibility to the application through plug-ins or whatever but that is also missing from Zune v2.

Thanks for the work that you have done in the software and the great improvements that do exist. I’m going to give it a serious opportunity to see how the software fits into the way that I consume my music collection but without something that I consider so fundamental to the way I perceive the ideal method of that consumption I have a hard time seeing how this can work for me in the long term which makes my monetary investment in the hardware seem like a really very bad idea.

I hope I get an answer, though I don’t expect the majority of the replies to keep the tone of the message too civil.

Yellow no. 5! Yellow no. 5!

A friend who knows me well got a four pack of the “treat-sized” Jones Candy Corn soda and brought it in to work for me today. Good thing since I had not been able to find it at my local Target. A couple of notes:

  1. It is Yellow. (FD&C Yellow no. 5 to be specific)
  2. It smells exactly like good fresh candy corn.
  3. It is as or more sweet than candy corn
  4. It is really yellow.
  5. The flavor is not quite perfect, but in some ways that’s a good thing since it has some nice orange notes that keep it from being a complete sugar bomb.
  6. Did I mention “yellow”?

Anyway, fun stuff. Not recomended for daily drinking. Though if you can find some of their other holiday flavor, “Monster Mojito”, buy a case. It’s great stuff and this year’s cane sugar can only have improved it over last year.

Not actually an engine problem

Thank goodness for the FAQ at TDiClub. Last week-ish the glowplug light in my 2003 VW Golf TDi started flashing but performance didn’t seem to be effected at all and the car was starting fine and everything seemed kosher so I figured it could wait to get taken care of. Last night on the way home I had a fairly close call in traffic (Funny how bad traffic during rush hour on the first night of Daylight Savings Time almost always is) and noticed something odd while staring at my rear-view mirror hoping that the person behind me was going to miss: I didn’t see a reflection of my brake lights on the other car.

After getting home safely with the garage door closed I was able to verify that except for the roof light the brake lights were totally DOA. Went inside and checked the TDiClub FAQ and sure enough there was entry (8.d. third item down) Brake lights!

The irritating thing? Why was there no helpful police people to tell me my brake lights weren’t functional all week long until I was on the three and a half block drive up to the auto parts store? Thankfully they believed me when I said I was literally on my way up the street to get new bulbs (and followed me just to make sure). Gr.