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Ankh's musings? Yeah, that'll do.

Created on Wed Nov 16, 2011 1:26 am with 142 blog posts

In the market for a new home speaker setup in Music with 3 comments on Fri Jan 26, 2018 5:40 pm
I've largely been listening to music at home through the past couple years through a bluetooth speaker; a somewhat blocky Sony unit I got for about $150, and some cheaper things before that. Despite that, I am a music lover, and want something with better sound quality. The Sony's been having some Bluetooth connection issues as it ages, so I'd rather use it as a backup, rather than a primary unit. I've been considering upgrading to a different streaming speaker.

These day, though I have a substantial music collection, I've been listening to Apple Music streaming, and a couple other streaming services before that. I'm fairly entrenched in the Apple ecosystem, which will have some influence on my decision.

One of my friends has a Bose SoundTouch 30, which sounds pretty decent, and I was considering it. But, at $600, and without Apple Music streaming support (yes, I could probably just connect via Bluetooth and stream from my computer or iOS devices, but that's not very elegant), I have some reticence to going that route.

I'm strongly considering a Sonos system (Play 3 and Play 5). By all accounts, they have great sound quality, and integrate with Apple Music, which is a plus. They don't have Bluetooth, rather they connect via Wi-Fi; Wi-Fi offers greater transfer speeds, and likely better range than Bluetooth, but I have some reservations related to how well it handles connecting to different devices and the like - I haven't seen much regarding this in what I've read so far. At $330 for the Play 3 and $650 for the Play 5, we're still sitting in kind of serious money, but, I think one of these may be the way to go.

Apple's home audio offering, HomePod went on pre-order today, but isn't available in Canada yet. It doesn't hit the market (in US, UK and AUS) until next month, so I'm still waiting to hear some reviews and comparisons once people get their hands on them. They're still missing some software aspects that will be updated later, but, those aspects are pretty much all based on using multiple units at the same time... which I'm not going to be doing. It's $350USD, which hits about $430Cdn (the Canadian price isn't known until Apple releases it in Canada)... putting it squarely between the Sonos Play 3 and 5 in price... and from the first impressions from demos at last year's WWDC, it also likely sits between the two in sound quality too.
One area where the HomePod may fall down is that it is a mono system; it does process room acoustics to produce a stereo-like sound, but, it's not stereo (the Sonos and Bose systems are). It does have full integration with my computers and portable devices, though...

Do any of you have a decent streaming speaker system? What do you use, and why?
New Guitar Day - Fender Limited Rosewood Strat in Music with 3 comments on Sun Sep 04, 2016 3:44 pm
This spring I picked up a guitar in my local Long & McQuade on a bit of a lark, and accidentally fell in love. Now, the guitar is pretty much a basic American Standard Fender Stratocaster much of the feature set and design is like any other decent quality Strat out there, with one big difference - the neck is made of a single piece of rosewood. Rosewood finger boards are pretty normal... really in most cases the finger board is going to be one of two woods, rosewood or maple; but this isn't just the fingerboard, it's the neck itself. Most necks are either maple or mahogany; rosewood is rarely seen as a neck wood for various reasons, including cost.
There was something special about this neck, it felt like no other guitar I'd played, and I fell in love with it. I was mildly obsessed for a while, then it disappeared - someone bought it. I was a little relieved, really... 'cause it meant I wasn't tempted to drop the $1700+tx on the price tag anymore. Thing is, I just kept thinking about it.
In August, another rosewood necked guitar showed up in the shop, but a Telecaster this time. I gave this one a try too, and found it used exactly the same neck profile and construction, and it felt wonderful too. Problem - it was $200 more. I began thinking about it a fair bit too. Near the end of the month, I returned to the shop, and it too was sold (to one of my friends, as it turns out). Again, I was simultaneously relieved and disappointed.

For some reason or other, my wife made the decision - she was ok with me ordering in one of these guitars. This put me in a period of consideration - do I want a Stratocaster, do I want a Telecaster, should I just not spend the money??? In the end, as the title of the post tells you, I ordered the Strat.

The guitar had to come from a shop elsewhere in the province, and it arrived two business days later. I went in, set up my payments, and took it home. The neck was exactly what I wanted, and it feels wonderful. Friday I changed the strings to a heavier gauge, made the appropriate adjustments to bring it back into proper spec (heavier strings means more tension, means changes in the structure of the instrument), and I brought it to a band practice Saturday.
Band practice let me really give it some work and pacing. At home I'd only played it at low volume, and somewhat gently... while it played and sounded great under no stress, you do play differently with a band and at volume. The neck is very playable whether playing gently, or with a bit more power. The guitar sounded great too. I mean, the setup is pretty standard for a Strat, and it sounded like a Strat should sound, so, no surprises there. I had a lot of fun playing the guitar, and I expect that will continue Wink
Learning Age of Sigmar in Roleplaying with 2 comments on Mon Mar 21, 2016 3:20 am
A couple friends have been playing Age of Sigmar, and I’ve been somewhat curious about it since it was released. Our FLGS has a Age of Sigmar Starter Set open and painted up, and available for playing demo games, so I joined one of my friends for the afternoon of teaching me the system.

Age of Sigmar is an all new, greatly simplified game that Games Workshop released to replace the aging Warhammer Fantasy range. Fantasy had become somewhat bloated through the years, simulating large-scale battalion combat, often requiring dozens or hundreds of models to play (each of which must be assembled, painted and set on bases, requiring hours upon hours of work), the barrier to new players getting into the game was pretty intense. Age of Sigmar scaled the game back intensely, and simplified the rules, making entry to new players much easier. Today’s game, for example, involved 30 and 18 models per side.
They’ve grouped all the old factions from Warhammer into four Grand Alliances that you can pick/choose units from to build your force. In the Starter Box, are included Stormcast Eternals, of the Order Grand Alliance, and Khorne Bloodborne, followers of the Chaos god Khorne, in the Chaos Grand Alliance. I was playing the Stormcast Eternals.

Being already familiar with Warhammer 40,000 the game was a little confusing at first, as the simplifications leave an experienced player looking for extra rules that apparently don’t appear to be all that important in the end. For example, there’s no unit point system, games aren’t defined by the points costs, players can pretty much play anything they want in a game, though it’s good to agree on some sort of limitation with your opponent to reach some sort of balance. The whole “rulebook” is 4 pages, and each unit has its own modifying rules. Unlike 40k, the focus of the game is on close combat, with only a few ranged attacks; in the current edition of 40k close combat is somewhat more difficult, even for armies that are focused upon it. An interesting mechanic in the game is that each turn opponents roll to see who acts first, which can help protect against one player from constantly being at a disadvantage for going second, and can really alter your tactics.

All in all, I got used to the simplifications pretty quickly. Once the armies clashed the action picked up pretty quickly and the tide of battle shifted back and forth a few times. I was pretty sure I was going to lose the game, but, in the end I had two units left on the table, and so did he. Since close combat involves a back and forth from each player, after he killed one of my units, my second unit in that combat killed his, and were freed to charge his remaining character on my turn. My last unit, retributers, had hammers that caused automatic wounds that couldn’t be saved against on a roll of a 6; this rule allowed them to close in and kill the last Khornite at the end of turn 6.

The game took only 2.5 hours to play, which, given I was learning as we played, really isn’t too bad. For comparison, it’s probably about half the time it would have taken to go six rounds of 40,000.

I think I’ll likely try to pick up the game. I think I’m drawn to the Death Grand Alliance, mixing together vampires, ghosts and skeletons; mostly because I like the look of some of the models and look forward to painting them up.
Warhammer 40k Campaign at my FLGS in Roleplaying with 1 comments on Mon Jan 04, 2016 10:17 pm
Yesterday, the first cycle of a Warhammer 40,000 campaign began at my FLGS (Friendly Local Game Shop), the First Campaign for Nova Prime Colony (NPC) (forum under link, including the rules and battle reports). One of my friends and another community member drafted the rules for the campaign through the fall, releaseing the rules to the community in mid-November, intending to start in early December. The reality of December life delayed the start of the campaign to the start of January.
The intent of the campaign is to have a casual, formally structured long-form event to encourage wargaming within the community; there is no prize for the winner come the end of the event, just fun. With that in mind, players are encouraged to draft their lists with a narrative theme in mind, rather than building strong competitive lists designed to dominate without an eye towards narrative, or "fluff*".

Several of us met for the first day of the first game cycle (in which challenges are issued for the cycle), and two games were played, including myself and a space marines (Iron Hands) player, and a Tau player and a Blood Angels player. All in all, it was a good way to spend a Sunday afternoon. The battle I had involved my army having to liberate an objective located at the centre of the battlefield, protected by my attacker. He was able to set up with a wall of tanks encircling the objective; in order to win I had to control the objective at the end of the game. The result? I had my pants handed to me. My army had almost no chance against his entrenched army, but it was an interesting challenge. The game ended before I was completely wiped out; I had 4 models (2 units) on the table when it ended.
I've challenged another player (each player may issue one challenge per cycle and accept up to two, for up to three battles per cycle), but he hasn't responded with his intent to defend yet.

It should be interesting to see how the campaign unfolds. Things are seeming appropriately fun and casual so far.
BattleReport Warhammer40k - TauVsEldar&SM in Roleplaying with 2 comments on Wed Dec 02, 2015 5:22 pm
This battle took place two days after my last report (13 November)... but I've only now managed to have the time to write the report up. Things have been pretty busy.
In this game I essentially ran the same list as last time, with some tweaks, plus my partner's Space Marine army. Our opponent had recently picked up a new super powerful unit for his army, and wanted to test it, so we were guinea pigs Razz

Points: 3000; Tau vs Eldar and Space Marines (Salamanders + Black Templars) (1.5k each)
Mission: Maelstrom 4 - Spoils of War
Deployment: Dawn of War
First Deploy: Tau
Steal Initiative:[b] No
[b]Night Fighting:

A large Tau force,including a gargantuan new unit never encountered before, the KX139 Ta’unar suit have set up a remote outpost on a former Imperium world near Delta Tao, outside Tau Empire space. A small force of Eldar, led by a small Seer Council land on the planet to gather information and divine what they can of this new force, but are discovered. The Tau interpret the well armed Eldar force as hostile and attack.
A small combined force of Salamanders and Black Templars in the region detect the two xenos, and come to the aid of the Eldar in hopes of eliminating this new gargantuan Tau threat.

My opponent friend won first deployment, and chose the far, well terrained, side of the table, leaving myself and my partner deploying out in the open. My partner was using a Skyhammer and drop pods, which kept him safe, but the Eldar were sitting ducks for turn 1.

Turn 1

With all Tau units deployed on the battle field, they advance from their starting line. Two Stealth Suit units and a unit of Fire Warrior Strikers fire marker lights on the closest Wave Serpent (containing Storm Guardians), allowing the Ta'unar to fire its heavy weaponry, hitting both tanks with a SD AP2 apocalyptic blast, glancing both Wave Serpents 1HP. Further targetting on the closest Wave Serpent wreck it, spilling its Storm Guardians onto the table, killing three. Ta'unar smart missiles kill a Windrider under the skyshield; Fusion Suits and Command Suit marker the squad, allowing the R'Varna to eliminate three more of the Windriders and wound the Wraithlord. The Riptide squad (one loses 1HP from NOVA Drive malfunction) targets the remaining Wave Serpent, causing no damage, but eliminating the nearby Storm Guardians.
The Eldar begin their advance as several Black Templar and Salamanders drop pods and assault marines deep strike into the field. Before entering a bastion for safely, the Seer Council Guide the Falcon while conferring themselves with Invisibility. A Farseer invoked an Edricht Storm apocolytptic blast over the nearest Ghostkeel, but the Warp bends his will, and it manifests off the mark, killing six Space Marines and one Stealth Suit.
The remaining One Salamanders tactical squad burned the Tau Ethereal and its unit atop another bastion, while two other squads burn four Fire Warrior Breachers. The remaining Wave Serpent blasts one of the Ghostkeels with its shield, causing 2HP damage before one of the tactical squads decimated by the Edricht Storm get cut down by Overwatch assaulting the other Ghostkeel. The other tactical squad that was hurt by the Edtrict Storm assault the Ta'unar, which stomps one of them to paste.
.: Tau First Blood, No Prisoners - 2
.: Eldar & Space Marines Killed Ethereal, Scored Objective 4&5, Hungry for Power - 4

Turn 2

The Tau R’vanra targets the Wraithlord, with a blast that scatters onto the Falcon, wrecking the grav tank, ejecting its contents of Fire Dragons; a second shot kills the remaining Windrider and injures the Fire Dragon Exarch. The Wave Serpent takes a glance from the Riptides, a Stealth unit and a Ghostkeel. Vulkan and his unit are nearly eliminated by the second Ghostkeel with a melta template and burst cannon fire. Strike squads take out four marines from two Tactical squads and two Devastator squads. The Ta’unar destroys the two marines holding it in close combat.
The Farseers each drop a Vortex of Doom onto the Tau, targeting the Command unit (killing a Stealth suit), and the second Ghostkeel, to little effect.
The Wraithlord continued its slow advance down the battlefield, firing on the R’varna, but leaving it unharmed. Running forward, the Fire Dragons melt the first Ghostkeel. The Howling Banshees disembark the Wave Serpent and run behind cover as the tank ineffectually shoots the Riptides. Swooping Hawks scream into the battle, dropping their grenade pack on a Stealth unit, destroying a drone; once on the ground, they turn their fire upon a Strike Squad, cutting it down.
Black Templar Tacs and a Devastator squad concentrate fire, but only manage to kill one Stealth Suit, while another Devastator Squad kills a Stealth suit from another unit. Salamander Veterans burn another Stealth unit, but the attack has no effect. The nearest marines, a Devastator Squad, assault the Ta’unar, which stomps one of them.
.: Tau Slay the Warlord, Blood n Guts, King Slayer (1) - 5
.: Eldar & Space Marines Recon - 5

Turn 3

One Vortex of Doom scatters to the Ghostkeel, with no effect, while the second dissolved from reality.
7 Strike Squad markerlights help one Riptide eliminate the lumbering Wraithlord, while the other two Riptides cut down the Howling Banshees. With markerlight support, the Broadside kills 3 Salamanders. More markers target the Bastion housing the Seer Council, and the Command Unit, Ghostkeel and a Stealth unit cause it minor damage (1 glance). A Strike Squad fire on a Devastator unit, but the stalwart marines shrug off the fire. The R’varna join the Ta’unar assault and kill the marine fighting.

As one of the Farseers manifests another Vortex of Doom in the Command unit, killing a drone, the other one scatters harmlessly across the field. The second Farseer hits the Command unit with a Psychic Shriek, to no effect.
Marines kill two Stealth drones, a Stealth Suit, and injure the Ghostkeel (1W). The grounded Swooping Hawks kill a Strike Squad, and the Fire Dragons run across the skyshield and attack the Command Unit, killing a drone.
.: Tau Scored Objective 2 - 6
.: Eldar & Space Marines Scored Objective 1 (x2), Supremacy (1), Blood n Guts - 9

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