March 28, 2008

One more thing . . .

During my delightfully short 20 minute drive this morning I saw a pick-up truck with a pair of fake testicles hanging from its hitch.  I'm sure you've seen these things.  I have no idea who the genius was that came up with this brilliant idea.  And by "genius" I mean "ass-hat" and by "brilliant" I mean "George W. Bush caliber".
God I hate people.
Sorry, it is just one of those mornings.  You'd think I'd be happier on a Friday right?


Most schools are on Spring Break here in Miami starting today.  I got to work this morning in 20 minutes.  It usually takes me just over an hour.  The answer to our traffic problem is simple: do away with schools.  Either mandatory home-schooling for everyone or just forget about education all-together (our education system is pathetic anyway).
A bit drastic?  Maybe.  But I can get used to a 20 minute commute.  :)

March 14, 2008

Out of Town

On Monday I am heading out to London and Dublin for a little over a
week. My first trip to Europe. I can't wait! You know I'll be spending
all my time visiting the various pubs and sampling all the local beers!


March 13, 2008

HFI 700 & HD650 further impressions . . .

I've been able to spend some time listening to both my Ultrasone HFI 700's and my Sennheiser HD650's. They still have plenty of "burn-in" time left, but I've been thoroughly enjoying both! Connected to the Microstack, they sound just fantastic! A big upgrade from my a/v receiver.

It is amazing just how different headphones can sound. The HFI 700 and HD650 sound completely different from each other. I can't say I really have a preference yet, since I've gone through phases where I like one over the other and then change my mind. At the moment, I am in my HFI 700 phase, although last week it was the HD650's that held my attention.

Right now the 700's sound fantastic to me, extremely detailed and just about perfect. When I listen to my 650's now they sound a little veiled and not as sharp (this is something Sennheiser's are known for). But last week it was just the opposite. The 650's were spot on, very detailed, and not fatiguing at all; The 700's sounded too bright, very fatiguing (after an hour or so I had to take them off) and the closed nature of the cans gave the music an echo-y effect.

I now understand why most headphone enthusiasts recommend having more than one headphone and choosing headphones that compliment each other by having different sound signatures. I'm sure in another week or so, the 700's will begin to sound bright again and I'll long for the warmer more natural sound of my 650's.

But regardless of the "mood" I am in, both cans have brought my music to life like never before. For a while now I have not really "listened" to music. Not like I used to when I was in high school and would pop in a cassette tape (man, I'm old) and lay down on my bed with my stereo
next to me and just listen. For many years now music has always been present in the background, but rarely the center of attention. I listen to cds while I am driving, but . . . well, I am driving. I put on music at home when I am cleaning or cooking, and while I'll sing along and bob my head, the music does not have 100% of my attention. When we have parties and get-togethers, music is always on and people will dance or sing along, but we're also drinking, eating, talking, laughing, and socializing. The music greatly enhances the mood, but it is only one
element of many coming together to create the atmosphere.

But ever since getting my headphones, I have been spending time with my music again. And JUST my music. I am not performing any other tasks; I am sitting on my couch, lights dimmed, cd playing, eyes closed, and just listening. And it is amazing.

I am enjoying music more now than I ever have and I chalk it all up to headphones. I believe a good set of headphones creates a connection between you and the music that cannot be achieved through speakers. There is nothing between you and the music. No ambient noise, no room
acoustics coming into play, nada. I highly recommend everyone to give it a try.

Alright, I've turned my videogame blog to a audiophile blog. Sorry. :)

March 10, 2008

The Show # 2

I'm by my first year in Road to the Show.  After spring training I was signed by the Marlins and placed as a middle-reliever in their AA club.  Sure, I wanted to be placed in the starting rotation immediately, but I decided not to rock the boat.  It is cool enough that I have an option to complain to my manager that I should be starting, but I decided not to use it yet.  Let me prove myself as a MRP first (who knows, I might stink the place up and then I would look silly demanding to start).  Another cool aspect is that I could see who my "competition" is for that starting job; it shows me their stats after every game I pitch in.  They are both starters, but if my numbers are better than theirs after a month, I'm not hesitating to "complain to my manager". 
Sure enough, after a month as a MRP, my numbers are looking fantastic.  I am 1-0 with an ERA under 2.  One of the starters is 0-3 with an ERA north of 5.  Just before I decide to complain, I get an e-mail from my manager saying I have been doing such a good job they are giving me a shot to start.  Woohoo!!!  And I did not even need to play the whiny prima donna athlete card!
I start my first game and give up 5 runs in 5 innings and get the loss.  Ouch.
I do better my next start, going six innings and only giving up 1 run on 5 hits.  I get a no decision.
My next start is epic.  I am tossing a 2 hit shutout going into the 7th inning and I have a ton of strike-outs.  I have thrown a bunch of pitches though and my energy is plummeting asap!  I manage to get through the 7th and 8th innings with the shut-out intact, but over those two innings I walked about 3 guys and gave up a bunch of hits.  I have nothing left in the tank.  My manager brings me out to pitch the 9th and I know I won't be able to do it.  I give up a single to start the inning and my manager yanks me.  I'm glad he did.  Luckily, the closer shut the door and the shutout was preserved.  After the game I notice I have the option to talk to my manager about pulling me from the game.  I think it is great that they have that feature.  I was glad I was pulled, but in case I wanted to go for the complete game I am glad to know I can complain if I want.
My next three starts are pretty mediocre.  I give up a total of 10 runs between them.  I was taking a shutout into the 6th inning in one of those and then I got rocked for 5 runs.  :\
Right now I am 3-3 with an ERA of about 3.50.  I've only had 2 quality starts as a starter.  I'm pretty solid early in games but once I get rattled, the hits and walks don't stop coming.  I have to work on that.
I'll keep posting impressions as my career advances.  Having a great time so far (when I don't give up 5 runs in one inning!)

March 05, 2008

The Show Impressions

I managed to play one exhibition game and I played through Spring Training in RTTS as my newly created starting pitcher. Some impressions.

Exhibition game:

Marlins vs. Rays (I am the Marlins of course. Yes, I know this is as unexciting an exhibition game as you can get)

- Dolphins Stadium looks nice, although I am waiting for a game to get the seating right. When the Marlins play in real life, the upper-deck section of the outfield is not open and covered with a blue tarp. They have the blue tarp on the lower level seats in centerfield in the game, so they just need to replicate that in the upper-deck. We can't get 15,000 fans to show up for important games, why would we have 70,000 seats open? Sorry, I had to get that off my chest because no game has gotten it right yet.

- The t.v. style broadcast is fantastic. While most gamers will be skipping over it, it is great how before the game starts they highlight a player to keep an eye on, go over the batting order, and comment on the starting pitchers. Really gives an authentic feel to the game.

- I mentioned it when talking about the demo, but this game looks so much better than last year's effort.

- I somehow managed to score 7 runs in the second inning. I haven't scored more than 3 runs in the demo (in the countless times I played it) and here I am using the Marlins (and playing on All-Star even, I played the demo on Veteran) and I rack up a huge inning. It felt great!!! I go on to score 11 runs in the game, which was good because I was worried I'd be shut-out every game considering how I was batting in the demo.

- I might be turning off the Home Run Cam. The few times I have seen it, it just focuses on the batter as soon as you hit the ball and I can't really see where the ball goes. I like seeing the flight of the ball. I wish the angle would show your player and the ball at the same time.

- The atmosphere is fantastic. I am tired of pointing out that the commentary is the best in the business (it is the best in the business). Also, If you hit a key HR you get a highlight of it when your player goes up to bat later on in the game. So cool.

- The pitcher batter analysis is crazy detailed. So much so it can be intimidating at first.

Road to the Show Impressions:

- The Create-a-player options are insanely deep. You can customize every aspect of your player's face.

- The interface for RTTS this year is a lot nicer. Plenty of stats and info for you to look at.

- The goals system is much improved as well. Great job.

- They have this fantastic screen that you can access that will show you every game you've pitched, which innings you pitched in, and it will break down your strikes/balls, hits, BB, runs, etc. per inning. It is very easy to read and my favorite addition so far. I love looking back on my previous games and seeing how I did stat-wise. Great job guys!!

- I forgot how unexciting it can be to play in the minor leagues. Generic, ugly ballparks and fake players is not as exciting as beautifully rendered major league parks and real guys. I can't wait to
get called up (Hope I do, I am playing on All-Star this year, so it should be tougher).

Well, that's all for now. I plan on playing RTTS mode until the real season begins and then start a franchise with the opening day rosters. I really enjoy playing full games, it is a very different experience from RTTS.

Headroom Micro Amp & DAC: First impressions

Yesterday I received quite a treat. A big box from Headroom containing a brand-spanking new Micro Amp, Micro DAC and Sennheiser HD650 headphones. That is a lot of audio bliss in one box.

I get home and promptly set it all up. I now have nothing left of my old home theater set-up. I disconnected my receiver (which I was holding onto simply to plug my headphones into it) and I will add it to the stash of speakers and the subwoofer which I am keeping in my dad's house. The Headroom Micro Stack looks tiny compared to the receiver which used to take its place.

The source I am going to be using for listening to music is my PS3. I have that connected to the Micro DAC through toslink. I have a toslink switch that I will use to have both the PS3 and 360 connected to the DAC without having to switch the optical cable in the back, but the PS3 will be my main source for music (the 360 will only be used for gaming).

I was pressed for time and I won't be able to give this set-up a thorough workout until the weekend, but the first thing I wanted to do (more so than finally checking out the HD650's) was to confirm that I could hear a noticible difference using the Micro Stack combo as opposed to my old Sony a/v receiver. To do that I had to use some headphones which I would already be familiar with (my Ultrasone HFI 700's) and a CD that I've heard many times, in this case, Dark Side of the Moon.

I turn the lights down and the volume up . . . and the difference is immediately apparent.

First thing I notice was that the bass was super sharp and a lot stronger than through the receiver. Once the music kicked in, everything sounded distinctively sharper and more detailed. I could easily pick apart the individual instruments and musical elements. It sounded absolutely fantastic. The soundstage was also a lot larger. Oh man, it is going to be fun testing out different cd's!

After that I basically had to stop to make dinner and then Jeanette and I watch Wonderboys (it was pretty good!). I will give furthr impressions as well as my thoughts of the HD650's as I spend time with them. I hear they take quite a bit of burn-in to sound their best.

Anyway, I am picking up The Show today after work. Can't wait.

March 03, 2008

Rock on hold, baseball, headphones . . .

Well, my Rock Band foot pedal broke again this weekend. Interestingly, it broke during the same song the last one broke, Enter Sandmand. I am going to be paranoid playing that song in the future. I really enjoy playing it too. Oh well.

MLB: The Show 2008 comes out tomorrow and I cannot wait! I haven't been this excited about a baseball game in, well, ever! Now I just have to decide if I am going to start a regular franchise or jump straight to Road to the Show mode. I'm leaning to at least try a franchise first, since I missed out on a lot last year by playing only RTTS. As a closer too, so I never got to experience the flow of a game from the beginning and I did very little batting. I'll see how far I last in a season before creating my player. I'm going with a starter this year. I can't help it, I love pitching.

I am going crazy waiting for my new headphone amp and dedicated DAC! Oh, and my new pair of headphones. I returned my Sennheser HD555's (they were still in the return period) because I got a crazy deal on some HD650's and I couldn't pass them up. I figured the 650's can do everything the HD555's can do, only better. And after getting my money back for the HD555's, it is as if I am getting the HD650's for just over $100, which is insane.

Now if they will only get here so I can connect everything!!! Argh!!!