Saturday, July 21, 2012

Games, videos, munchies, streams

Randoms again !

Lots of sport to see this weekend. And other entertainmenty type stuff. I was hoping for a really chilled out weekend this weekend. I still have a bit of the hyperactivity tendency active but it's being dragged down as my batteries run low. Also noticing that I can't stretch it out as much as I used to - maybe that's a side effect of being lighter, less fat reserve to draw upon.

The weather was clear on Thursday so one of my teams got a game in (dunno who won). I didn't play because they already had enough but I'm kinda glad I didn't play. Random injury of the day on Thursday and Friday was a dodgy hip (left side! dunno where that came from) that was slowing me down while walking. It's rare that I let signs of injury show but was actively limping for this one. On Thursday at least - by Friday lunchtime I was able to race ahead of people again :-). I need to get active again. Too long without running around leads to me stiffening up too much.

I'd have had trouble breathing as well on Thursday - I either had major dust attack or a reaction to something else. I hope it's a mystery reaction because the alternative would be me developing something anti-bread ... That's bad news. How else do you get your hot dogs ?

Just kidding there. Not had a hot dog for months. Honest.

Been testing out my network lately. Because my laptop can't really cope with video better than 360p, I'm currently watching the Eve Alliance Tournament on the desktop while tapping this post in on my laptop. I'm also listening to music streamed over the wifi. So right at the moment :

iTunes sending 1.1Mbits/s over wifi to my hifi
Eve Alliance tournament sucking in about 1Mbit/s of streaming
Add in the various sundry stuff like multiple chat apps (MSN & Steam) and the other internet type apps.

And later I'll switch the Eve tournament for GuildWars 2 beta streaming if the Totalbiscuit or Jesse Cox streams come online. (Maybe). The Eve tournament stream has actually done ok today after its disastrous number of dropouts last weekend. The fights aren't so great today because there's a lot of meaningless matches. However - finals day tomorrow could be exciting.

Curiosity point there - the Eve tournament stream in HD is coming down the pipe at 1Mbit/s to 2.5Mbit/s (bandwidth goes up as things get busy) while the iTunes audio stream goes out at 1.1Mbits/s max. When the video stream goes down to talking heads, the audio is actually using more bandwidth. Apple's Airplay is a pretty good protocol. CD audio quality is 16 bits, times 2 for stereo, times 441000 per second for a potential 1.68Mbits/s. Airplay compresses down a little but not very much when you look at it. I'd be hard pressed to tell a difference between Airplay going over the wireless network and a wire stretched across the floor.

Actually I would, the first time I went for a "brb 1 min" and tripped up on the wire sending everything flying.

What's surprising (unless you go cynical) is that the audio & hifi magazines when they review audio streamers, ignore tech like Apple's Airport Express. It's £79 yeah ... but that tends to be cheaper than the other dedicated audio streamers that they will review. I dunno about you but I'd rather get an audio streamer without speakers than wasting £500 (JEEZ!!!!) on something like the B&W Zeppelin speakers. That's £421 wasted when you already have a hifi that you're happy with.

So yeah - I'm still really happy with the Airport Express solution. It ticks all sorts of boxes. Not to mention being really portable and adaptable. If I go somewhere, I can chuck it in with my laptop stuff and plug it in where I end up. I've used it on proper hifis, portable speakers and even plugged it into a telly to get music. Oh and it'll also allow you to add a USB printer or hard disc to a network.

Been watching the cricket and F1 as well today. I'll do the same tomorrow as well. I rarely watch stuff live these days (V+ record while you watch box). Not such a great day in the cricket today. Lots of grindy stuff from the South Africans while the most damage England did was to their own equipment. Watch this - you won't believe it til you see it. The advantage to watching "as-live" is that you can fast forward through all the adverts and filler. So tomorrow, I'll watch the cricket until lunch at 1pm and then start the F1 coverage off and fast forward the filler to get to the race.

But tonight though - chill out mode has turned to music. I've bought a lot of soundtracks in the Steam sale and I'm steadily working my way through them. Grabbed a bit more too :

Beyond Good & Evil soundtrack - this started it. The music in the rhino garage had me just standing there tapping my feet.
Machinarium - played an hour of it yesterday - puzzler. Haunting soundtrack. Very sad, very cute. Must finish.
Deus Ex - must play this one more too.
Trine 2 - another excellent soundtrack. Not played game yet.
Civilisation V - think I'll be attacking this game later ...
Mass Effect 3 (part) - got this a few weeks ago.

Great games tend to get backed up by fantastic soundtracks that assist the game by setting the mood. That goes for a lot of media actually. The signature of Star Wars is the music. You recognise themes like Star Trek, Stargate, Hitch Hikers and Ennio Morricone instantly. The Star Wars music got included in the games with an innovative system that matched what was happening to the music being played. Shooty bits were matched with more uptempo music.

Skyrim has a bit of the music theme too. Like the Dovahkin hymn that makes the opening menu far more dramatic. Or visiting an inn and sticking around long enough for one of the voice acted bards to either charm you or terrify (some of them are Bad) you with their renditions.

And I'll leave it there. Hopefully my breathing won't go bad again tonight like it did Wednesday night. Although if it does, I'll have learned something I need to avoid eating ...

PS Must watch Hitch Hikers Guide again. Will add that to list of stuff to watch when telly goes quiet ... which will be in at least 3 weeks when the Olympics has been and gone.

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