Living With a Nerd

Changes coming soon

by Pojut on Jun.03, 2010, under Site Announcements

I’ve decided to ditch the Pixel theme we have been using on the main site and on this blog since we moved over to Wordpress.  It has worked really well, but I’m just ready for something different.  Luckily, the same fella that wrote Pixel also has another theme out there that (I think) will work perfectly for our needs.  I’m going to give it a try here on the Blogs first, and if it seems to work well, I’ll end up installing it on the main site as well.  I think it will make the site easier to navigate, and also present the various postings in a much more attractive way. 

I’ve toyed with the idea of just wiping out this blog entirely and leaving only the main site, since this blog has only been updated on average once a month for the past six months or so.  Hmm…will have to think about that.

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Recent Happenings

by Pojut on May.03, 2010, under Gaming, Personal Experiences, Random

Things have been going quite well around here.  We are, for the most part, completely moved into the new apartment.  Our game room (seen above) is where we spend most of our free time.  We’re still waiting on our Cozy Sac to arrive in the mail, but other than that this room is put together.  I haven’t had much of a chance to put some time into producing any music, but I have a number of ideas that are formulating in my head. 

I’ve also started writing a short story/novella, just for the hell of it.  It isn’t an entirely original idea, but one that I thought was compelling enough to spend the time to get it down “on paper”.  The main problem is that I’m not that great of a writer, so keeping it interesting AND making it sound decently written has been a challenge.  Still, there is a lot of story to tell…since this is something I’m just doing for fun, I will probably do it slowly over the course of months or even a couple of years…500 words here, 1000 words there, it will get finished whenever it gets finished, no rush.

I’ve also recently started to go back through Fallout 3.  I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve played it before, or I’ve gotten better at gaming in general, or what it is…but for some reason, I’m finding it extremely easy.  I wouldn’t describe my first time through as difficult, but it was certainly harder than this.  With only five hours on my savegame, I already have a hunting rifle at 80% repair, a combat shotgun at 75%, a sniper rifle at 80%, a missile launcher at 65%, and a Chinese assault rifle at 75%.  It took me WAY longer to acquire those weapons (and get them in that condition) my first time through.  The first time I played it was when it launched back in October 2008, so it can’t just be because I remember everything…. ::shrug:: whatever, it doesn’t matter.  The important thing is that I’m still highly enjoying it, especially since I’m doing quests that I overlooked before and have already seen a bunch of stuff I didn’t the first time through.  Oh, and in this particular playthrough, Megaton remains intact:-)

I’m also currently plodding through Summon Night: Twin Age.  It’s…interesting.  Not really digging the all-touch interface, but other than that it’s been mildly entertaining.  Still wishing for a killer game to get into on the DS, but for now Twin Age will suffice.  Look for a review of it sometime in the relatively near future.

 

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This place is freakin’ awesome

by Pojut on Apr.16, 2010, under Personal Experiences, Random

We are currently balls deep in the move.  Our apartment is really starting to come to life, with most of the furniture having been put in its proper place.  For the first time in both of our lives, we will have a bedroom that literally has just a bed and two night stands in it…no desks, no TVs, nothing.  Just a bed.  I’m quite excited about this, it will be nice to finally have an actual bedroom.

Why yes, those are folded up cloth Rush and Pink Floyd wall scrolls in the bottom middle part of the picture. Thanks for noticing!

Brittnie has taken over the main room as seen in the picture above, and is slowly transforming it into a work place/library.  Most of our bookshelves have been moved in, and both of her desks are in the main room (there are a few more bookshelves in this room, you just can’t see them in this particular shot.)  While her dream of having a room set aside exclusively for book storage and a comfortable reading spot hasn’t quite been fulfilled, this is as close as she will get until we move into an actual house.  It’s turning out quite nicely…a large, open space in the middle, the walls lined with books, the subtle natural lighting coming in through the windows…it’s an awesome setup, and will be a welcoming first sight when arriving after a long day of work.

This picture was taken the day after we signed the lease agreement, hence the lack of desks or...well, anything else. That whole window has been filled with books now, and there is actual furniture in here. There is still an additional 7 feet of room to the left of those windows, which is currently occupied by bookshelves that will soon be joined by a white dresser.

The fireplace is a nice touch, and will likely get plenty of use in the cold winter months (or when we have documents that need to be destroyed, heh.)  The best part are the windows: check out the picture above.  That’s right, our windows have bookshelves built in!  We plan on filling them up to the brim.  It should look real nice, plus it will add a little bit of insulation to the aging windows.

Panasonic TC-L42U12 on a teak pedestal thingie. My computer desk is going to go against the wall on the left, hutch on the wall next to the TV. Older game systems (SNES, Genesis, Dreamcast, PS2) will go in the teak thingie. Still need to hang pictures/posters. Gonna be sweeeeet when it's done.

Panasonic TC-L42U12 on a teak pedestal thingie. My computer desk is going to go against the wall on the left, while the hutch currently on my desk will instead be against the wall next to the TV. Older game systems (SNES, Genesis, Dreamcast, PS2, etc) will go in the teak thingie. Still need to hang pictures/posters. Gonna be sweeeeet when it's done.

Even though it is technically a space we will both be using for movies, I have the equivalent of a man-cave.  The larger of the two bedrooms has been designated as my space.  The huge not-quite walk-in closet provides ample storage space, and the room juts out onto the edge of the building…meaning one wall is against our bedroom, one wall is against our living room, and the remaining two walls face nature.  Talk about perfect for an entertainment room!  The Panasonic TC-L42U12 flatscreen does decently with gaming…there is some slight ghosting, but nothing I won’t get used to.  The real reason I bought it is because it provides some of the best skin tone reproduction and movie picture quality I have ever seen on a TV even remotely near its price.  Like I said, it does pretty well with gaming, but this is a TV begging to have movies watched on it.  Considering our Netflix habit, this was a logical buying decision.  The sound it puts out is surprisingly good for a TV as well…it’s a little empty on the midrange, and the highs are slightly tinny, but you will be hard pressed to find better sounding built-in speakers on a TV under $2000.

So, overall things are coming together quite nicely.  Tomorrow is the day we move the rest of the furniture in…and then we begin the arduous task of getting the rest of our books and not-small DVD collection organized.  It’s going to be one hell of a sweet pad when it’s finished.

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Well we’re movin’ on…over? I guess?

by Pojut on Mar.22, 2010, under Personal Experiences

Brittnie and I have found a place to move to…it’s in downtown Rockville, about a mile behind the Regal cinemas.  For those of you that don’t currently or never have lived in Montgomery County, MD, that is a bit meaningless to you.  For those of you that have or do live here, you know that is some choice location.  It isn’t quite filet mignon (that would be Bethesda or Potomac), but it is still a juicy t-bone.  The apartment is a little smaller than I was hoping (813 square feet), but it should work out nicely.  There is a working fireplace (which Brittnie will be happy about), one of the walls in the main room is nothing but windows and a sliding glass door going out onto a small deck (which Fizzgigg will enjoy since her favourite activity other than sleeping or crapping is looking out windows) and the smaller of the two rooms is still large enough to hold our bed and dresser.  What does that mean?  Well, it means the smaller 10′ x 10′ room will be used exclusively for sleeping, and the larger 16′ x 11′ room will be our gaming/computer/work room.  It will be nice to finally, FINALLY have a bedroom used only for bed use, with all non-bed related activities and entertainments taking place in their designated areas.  Not only that, but it will be nice to have the larger room (with more wall sockets, I might add) acting as the game/work room.

Last.FM has really done a lot for my musical motivation.  Knowing that people are listening to the music I’m putting out has given me more of a reason to keep going.  It’s one thing when I’m just making stuff for myself…it’s another thing entirely when I have an audience, regardless of how small it is (just like with this webpage and blog.)  Of course, the other problem is that being exposed to the plethora of music Last.FM provides makes me realize just how bad my work is compared to a lot of other people’s music…but meh, that’s how it goes with anything.  No matter how good you are, there are always 10 people so good at it that they will make you look horrible.  Such is the nature of the Internet.  If nothing else, at least I am given the opportunity to listen to the fruits of their labor.  What surprises me the most about a lot of the ambient and psychill that I’ve found on Last.FM is that the best stuff seems to follow three rules:

1.  It’s extremely simple
2.  It’s done by a middle-aged guy who looks like he should work for Nasa
3.  They use a combination of old and new equipment

I’m not sure why this happens, but it’s true; with the exception of the darker stuff, most of the really good ambient and psychill on Last.FM meets all three of those stipulations.  Hmm…maybe I need to age faster and look smarter?  ::shrug::

Fizzgigg with her catnip bag.  She's such a fiend.

Fizzgigg with her catnip bag. She's such a fiend.

My new dual monitor stand is freakin’ amazing…it looks super classy, but I feel that it is wasted on my current desk due to the hutch.  Still, it’s opened up some desk space, so I think it was a worthwhile investment.  I don’t believe I’ll get the full potential out of it until I get a more open desk.  The problem, as always, is money and necessity.  Do I really NEED a new desk?  Hardly.  The desk I have is made of top-quality ash, and I’ve been using it for 15 years.  I could easily get by with just adding a small secondary dealie off to the side, but…new desk…

As of this writing, I’ve put about an hour and a half into Infinite Space.  I’m still not sure what I think about it…the combat system is very unique, and the storyline is mildly interesting, but there is something about it that’s preventing me from getting pulled in.  Perhaps I’m just not far enough along with it yet?  Oh well…I promised myself I would give it at least a full five hours before deciding whether to stick with it or not, but I can’t hold out forever…lord knows it isn’t the only unique game vying for my attention.

After much struggle and writing over two separate days, I was finally able to complete my Repo Men review.  I’ve been on a roll the past two weeks, but this review was really, really difficult to get down.  I’m not sure why, since I have a lot of thoughts about the movie, but for some reason it was just impossible to think of anything when fingertips met keys.  I’m always hard on myself when it comes to writing (primarily because I don’t think I’m all that good at it), but this review is especially bad in my opinion.  Still, it’s the closest I could get to putting my thoughts on “paper”, so it is what it is.

Oddly enough, this blog post has been insanely easy to write…my word count is nearing the 900 mark with this sentence, and I still feel like I could keep writing.  Perhaps it is the spirit of the Remington Portable typewriter Brittnie got me recently?  Who knows, maybe it’s given me a bit of a boost.  Regardless, I’ve found blog posts to be really easy to write lately, with articles becoming more and more difficult.  Maybe I need to change my article writing style to be more conversational?  Hmm…something to think about, for sure.

Oh, by the way, make sure you watch Ugly Americans. It’s awesome.

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Scaring myself

by Pojut on Mar.09, 2010, under Music

Just a small little update, I’m working on another track for The Transient Unknown.  It’s easily the darkest music I’ve made…heh, I had to stop working on it because listening to the various textures over and over was starting to creep me out.  I know exactly what I want to happen with this track (which is rather uncommon for me), so completing it will just be a matter of getting my patches set and everything tweaked.  I may have to brighten it a little; it’s an awesome dark track, but I think it may be a little too dark to fit in with the rest of the album.

I also recently completed a short interlude track for The Transient Unknown, entitled Cosmic String.  It’s under two minutes long, but I did it as an exercise in layered textures.  There are 15 different synths/samplers in it, can you separate them all out?  I barely can, and I made the darn thing!

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My, how quickly plans can change!

by Pojut on Mar.05, 2010, under Gaming, Movies, Music

Nearly half of my previous blog entry has become completely irrelevant.  Rather than expand the music section on my own website, for now I’ve decided to just make everything available on last.fm.   Compared to making yet another webpage, I’ll get far more exposure, bandwidth won’t be strained on my own server (although that honestly wasn’t much of a problem), and it’s just cool to know that I have music on last.fm now, just like the big boys!  Or something…

In other related news (and continuing the theme of making my previous entry irrelevant), I created the first track for Lost on the Way to the Laundry last weekend.  I was working on Solar Winds (which is still pissing me off, because I can tell there is a great song hiding underneath what I have down so far, but I just can’t seem to find it.  I’ve been working on this track for what…4 months now?) when I took a moment to swivel around in my chair and look around the room.  Warm morning sunlight was beaming in through the window, scattered puffy clouds were floating by, Fizzgigg and Brittnie were softly snoring away in bed…it was just a really pleasant and peaceful morning.  Lotwotl was the result of that morning; I feel it represents exactly how that morning felt, and is quite possibly the closest I’ve come to taking the music in my head and making it into something I can share with others.  So how does this make my previous post irrelevant?  Well, as you can tell by listening to it, it doesn’t contain elements from either dubstep OR ambient.  I really like the sound of it though, and I’m going to strive to make the rest of Lost on the Way to the Laundry sound similar in style.  I’m having trouble finding other music to listen to for inspiration, though…it sounds like a Nightmares on Wax/Future Sound of London/some other group I can’t think of combo…any suggestions would be much appreciated.

In non-music news, The Crazies was pretty good…I was glad to see that it really felt like a proper remake, rather than just taking a concept and crapping all over it.  You can catch my full review of it here.  Hopefully, we will get a chance to go see the new Alice in Wonderland this weekend, so if all goes as planned, I’ll have a review of that ready on Monday or Tuesday.  I also recently took the plunge into gaming on my Dell Mini 9…I wrote up an article with some tips I discovered during this so-far short journey, while also going over some of the games I tried and how well they worked.  You can read it here.

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Here come the crazies!

by Pojut on Feb.23, 2010, under Movies, Music

I managed to catch Shutter Island over the weekend (full review here.)  While it certainly wasn’t Scorsese’s best, it was more than worth the price of admission.  I hope to catch a viewing of The Crazies this weekend, although up until a couple of hours ago I was completely unaware that it is a remake of a 1973 Romero film.  I’ve since moved it up to the top spot on my Netflix queue, so I’ll get a chance to see the original before I see the remake…a required tradition when it comes to remakes nowadays.  Look for a review next week.

In other news, previous plans to charge for my music have been completely scrapped, at least for now.  While I’m quite proud of the tracks I’ve put together, I don’t think they are of high enough quality to charge for them.  Since I’m doing this primarily to provide people with enjoyable experiences instead of a way to get rich, I have no problem giving it all away.  Who knows, if I get popular enough maybe one day I’ll release an album and actually charge for it.  For now, the music page remains unchanged, but sometime in the next few days I will update it to include previously unreleased tracks.  The other advantage of releasing the tracks for free is that it lifts any arbitrary release date I put on myself, thus reducing the stress associated with production.  Since I won’t be charging for it, I can make it exactly how I want without any worry regarding whether it has monetary worth.

I think I lost the Reason file for Circumstellar Disk, so unless I can locate it, the unfinished version currently on the music page will become the finished version.  I may use that as an excuse to put together a small drone project, which is something I’ve wanted to do since I discovered Stars of the Lid.  Drone ambient is relatively easy to make, yet is still very creatively satisfying for me.  Regardless, there are still at least two tracks to finish on The Transient Unknown (IC-443 and Solar Winds).  After that I plan on doing Lost on the Way to the Laundry, which (I’m hoping) will be a dubstep/ambient hybrid, although that could change radically when the time comes to actually do it.

Once there is more content than just The Transient Unknown, I will likely switch from a single page to a seperate Wordpress website specifically for the music stuff.  It will still be located at livingwithanerd.com/music, but making it its own Wordpress site will allow me to keep everything more organized.  For now though, I’m going to stick with the single-page design.

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Update

by Pojut on Feb.18, 2010, under Gaming, Random, Site Announcements

Things have been crazy around here lately.  Work has been consuming a large portion of my mental capacity, which is why there haven’t been any new articles in quite a while.  I’m going to put some serious time into writing this weekend, to get things back on track.  It’s been a relief not worrying about the website, but it’s time to bring things back to normal.  Starting Monday, our normal posting schedule will resume. 

With her tax return, Brittnie decided to pick up Guitar Hero 5 and an extra guitar for me.  I had only played Guitar Hero a couple of times before, and have never owned a rhythm game, just like Brittnie.  For once, we had a game where our skills were about equal.  In the 5 days since we got it, it’s pretty much all we’ve done at home.  We have both progressed fairly quickly, with myself already getting 95% on “Sweating Bullets” from Megadeth on medium, while Brittnie is getting quite comfortable playing bass for any song on medium (she always plays bass, I play guitar.)  It feels almost like I’m late to the party since I never really got into the whole rhythm game thing when it was big, but whatever…we are enjoying ourselves quite a lot.  The last time we gamed this much together every night in a row was right after we got our Wii.  She picked up World Tour two days ago because of all the classic rock on there, so that has been super fun.  I noticed that World Tour is easier than Guitar Hero 5, although the leap in graphics between World Tour and 5 is immense.  Haven’t unlocked the Tool songs yet, but we are actively working towards doing so.

Hopefully, I’ll get out to the movies this weekend and see either Wolfman or Shutter Island.  Look for a review in the coming days!

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Mr. Bubbles and new cans

by Pojut on Feb.12, 2010, under Gaming, Music, Personal Experiences

No doubt you have heard about the insane snow we have had for the past week here in Maryland.  A storm last weekend dropped around 30″ on us, and a storm just three days ago dropped an additional 18″ on us.  Right now, our back yard looks like a snow swimming pool…the snow is only about 6 inches below the top of our fence(!).  Luckily, it should be above freezing for most of the next week, so hopefully a lot of it will melt.  It was awesome getting some time off from work though:-)

I’m about half way through Bioshock 2.  My opinion keeps shifting from “meh” to “more time in Rapture!  Huzzah!”  I’m still not quite sure what I think…on the one hand, it’s been cool to learn more about the Big Daddies and the various backroom deals that went on while Rapture was still a functioning city, but on the other hand the whole thing feels unnecessary and at times forced.  The new hacking mini-game is far and away the best change to the formula, but I’m not sure playing as a Big Daddy was the right move…it feels wrong that I’m a Big Daddy but can be killed by a splicer pummeling me with a wrench.  In the first Bioshock, if you just stood there whacking a Big Daddy in the skull you would be turned into hamburger.  I realize you are a “prototype” and not as well armored, but still…you’re in a freakin’ diving suit.  A wrench shouldn’t do anything to you.  I’ll reserve final judgement for when I finish the game, as I’ve heard the storyline kicks into overdrive in the final couple of hours, but for now I think I’m on the “why did they do this again?” side.

In other news, I just ordered a set of Audio-Technica ATH-AD700s.  I can’t wait to see how they sound with gaming, and the extra wide soundstage reported by many owners has me excited to see how they present The Transient Unknown.  From what I’ve read, they are a bit lacking in the bass department until they get burned in a bit, so I’m going to put together a playlist to run through them for a while.  I’m still going to actually use them during the burn-in period so I can hear them change, but I’m making sure to keep my expectations low at first.  I’ll likely go for a Nuforce uDAC in a month or two, but for now the control pod on my Logitech Z4 2.1s will have to do.

Special thanks to the members over at the Head-Fi forums and the [H]ard|Forum for helping me in my purchasing decision.  Keep an eye on livingwithanerd.com for an initial review on the AD700’s and a follow-up review once I have broken them in.  The main page has been neglected this week due to just general insanity going on around here…I hope to get things relatively back to normal next week, although I can’t promise that.  At the very least, the next entry in our Healthy Gamer series will make an appearance on Monday.

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I swear it isn’t my medi-gel, officer! I’m just holding it for a friend!

by Pojut on Feb.04, 2010, under Gaming, Personal Experiences

Mass Effect 2 is almost everything I hoped for.  There were a couple of major changes that I kinda wish they hadn’t done, but overall it’s good stuff.  You can check our full review of it here.

As of right now, I’m running a 250 gig hard drive as my primary system drive, with two 500 gig SATAII Seagates running in RAID 0 to hold my archives.  My only backup drive is a 750 gig maxtor SATAII stuffed into a Rosewill RX-358-S BLK enclosure.  Well, that is about to change.  I just recently ordered a Western Digital Caviar Green WD15EADS to replace the two 500 gig drives.  Since the WD 1.5 TB drive is going to be standalone, I ::knock on wood:: shouldn’t encounter any of the problems people are having when running them in RAID.  I decided to go with the Green edition since they are supposed to generate less heat than the others…the power savings are nice, but will hardly make a dent in the power consumption of my system.

So now what am I to do with these two 500 gig drives?  Stuff them in an enclosure and use them for backup, of course!  I also picked up a Kingwin DK-32U-S enclosure.  So, with the two 500 gig drives running in JBOD along with the aformentioned 750 gig drive I’ll FINALLY have enough space to back up EVERYTHING.  It’s pretty exciting, I can’t wait! 

Next steps for upgrades include getting another Asus VH236H (and giving Brittnie my Dell 2005FPW, currently used as a secondary monitor), upgrading my CPU, Motherboard, and RAM, and…well, that would be it for a while, actually.  I would LOVE to replace my system drive with an SSD, but the cost isn’t worth it to me.  My system isn’t nearly high-end enough for the hard drive to have that big of a difference.  Still, even if I don’t go SSD, I will likely replace the system drive soon.

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