22 January 2008

New MP3 player (part deux)!

Last August I found myself in the possession of a Zune after my iPod caused me great suffering. This post should alternatively be called "Don't buy a Zune." Any glee that I had about replacing my old iPod quickly melted away the first time I tried to buy songs online for the Zune. Is it just me or does Microsoft actually want to prevent you from buying songs online? I never did figure out how to do it through their unintelligible software. But of course, I did give up pretty easily. This article has a pretty decent shortlist of things wrong with the Zune and Microsoft's campaign (i.e. marketing hari kari).

My loving wife sensed my frustration (either that or got sick of looking at the ugly thing) and gave me a 16GB iPod Touch for our anniversary. Like with the original iPod and the iPhone, Apple continues to innovate and blow the socks off of the competition. Whatever issues were present in my older iPod that caused songs to cut off seems to have been fixed with the brand new software in the Touch. The screen is brilliant and the touch sensitive UI is so amazingly intuitive. The video playback quality is quite nice as well. There's no FM tuner, but that was never a feature that I found myself using on the Zune.

The downsides that I have encountered have been few, but important. First, the lack of memory due to using flash rather than a miniature hard disk. Even my old iPod had 30GB, whereas now I'm trying to make do with 16GB. Furthermore, the iPod no longer functions as a USB storage device. Third party utilities can be installed on a jailbroken iPod Touch, but it's much more difficult for the average user. Also, there's no firewire support for the Touch. That, combined with inefficiencies in iTunes (change the name of a video and you have to download the whole video) make for some long sync times. Oh, and in full Apple fashion, it's not cheap.

My opinion is that if you have the cash, go for it. Stay away from the Zune and grab an iPod Touch.

Welp, I guess it's public

According to this article, I'm now (publicly) the Technical Director for EverQuest II:

Zam: With Don Neufeld also leaving, who is the new Technical Director going to be?

Bruce: Joshua Kriegshauser (Autenil) has been the Assistant Technical Director for years, and is stepping up to the plate to handle everything that Don was. I worked with Joshua quite a bit before I left for the team, and can’t think of anyone better suited for it. He’s a real star, and I’m delighted to have him here.

Thanks, Bruce. It's a pleasure to have you back on EQ2 and I'm glad to be part of your leadership team.

06 January 2008

Holy Holiday Whirlwind, Batman

We just got back from nearly three weeks in beautiful Kansas City. Where to begin?!

We left on Tuesday 18 Dec 2007 and man, traveling with 2 kids and the all-out ridiculous amount of luggage that we had was insane. 5 checked bags, 4 carry on items, 3 (and a half) hour flight, 2 kids and a partridge in a pear tree. We brought the Christmas presents for the kids so that they'd have plenty to open on Christmas day.

On Friday 21 Dec 2007 we were supposed to hop in the car for 5 hours and visit family in Iowa. However, that plan went down the toilet when we learned that my younger sister had gone into the hospital in Emporia KS for complications arising from Crohn's Disease. This wasn't her first hospital visit, but little did we know how bad of shape she was actually in. She was flown to Kansas City and underwent emergency surgery. I was in the surgery waiting room when the surgeon came out and told us flat out that she might not survive. That's something that you never want to hear and I gotta tell you, I wasn't ready to hear that. There were probably 30-40 other people from church who showed up to support us while sis was in surgery. Everyone started praying and we even started a Facebook group to get people praying for her (if you don't have a Facebook account, go make one). That group also has status updates and most of the story. Long story short, she's still in the hospital and probably will be for another few weeks. The doctors and nurses have been astounded at the miraculous recovery that she is making, so we'll just keep on praying :)

We stayed with my folks and spent a lot of time there and visiting family (my wife has 7 siblings and most are nearby, so there are lots of people to see). We also were introduced to my brother's fiancé and are looking forward to their wedding coming up in May.

I also got to have lunch with an old friend from my high-school/early college days when I worked at CompUSA. I had a lot of fun doing that and talking about old times, game development, cycling, etc.

With Jessica in the hospital, we did all of our present opening on Christmas Eve. Once again, we completely overbought for the kids. My wife walked away with lots of nice jewelry (including a diamond bracelet and a new watch) and I received wireless headphones, clothes, and an iPod Touch. The watch and iPod were technically anniversary presents. With the new iPod I was able to give my Zune to Jessica and she has been getting some great use out of it while she is in the hospital.

To my wife's chagrin, I took my XBox 360 with Guitar Hero 2/3 and they were a real hit. My brother got hooked on GH (picked it up for the Wii). Some of my siblings-in-law really enjoy playing it and with their help I managed to unlock most of the 2-player career achievements.

I also got a chance to play Super Mario Galaxy and must say, it's a very entertaining game! My brother picked it up for his Wii and my son instantly fell in love with it (he loves Mario anyways, so anything new is just icing on the cake). I'm definitely going to have to pick it up myself.

Earlier today, we packed up our utterly insane amount of luggage (6 checked bags this time around!) and headed back to the airport. Everything went as smoothly as it can with 2 kids and more carry-on than you can carry on.

It's good to be home.