I got some albums in this week! Of course they are really good because I have excellent taste, not to mention I know what I want. The end of the year, or the last quarter of it up to Christmas, is a great time of year for new music. The only downside is that Overkill’s new record is postponed until February. I’ll have something to look forward to in February and March! (March is when the new Nintendo Switch comes out.) So let’s see what I got as far as music this past month or so (in no particular order):
- Hammerfall “Built to Last” – Great power metal. I have it on continuous playback in my truck.
- Testament “Brotherhood of the Snake” – They still got it! A GREAT album! Thrash masterpiece? You bet.
- Vader “The Empire” – BRUTALLY good metal. These guys are some of the best death metal players in the field today.🙂 If you like brutal death metal that isn’t just noise…. Vader is the band for you!
- Dee Snider “We are the Ones” – This is surprising, given Dee’s previous solo work. It was quite different from Widowmaker and “Never let the Bastards Wear you down”, and it’s light years away from his Twisted Sister work. I didn’t care for the acoustic “We’re Not Gonna Take it” but that’s just me. It’s an amazing bit of musicianship, just not my taste because that is the song that got me hooked on Twisted Sister in the first place.🙂
- Opeth “Sorceress” – HOLY MOLY this is good stuff. This takes “Heritage” to new heights. It surpasses Pale Communion as my favorite “clean singing” era Opeth record. I have to say, I’m becoming an Opeth fanatic these days. I liked their death metal (of course), but I REALLY became a huge fan when they went a different direction. Weird, I know. I am not above saying that I am more of a fan now than back during the days of “Orchid” (a favorite of mine as well.)
- Narnia “Narnia” – I have always liked this power metal band. They have great vocal harmonies that make the songs really cook. I am glad they decided to re-form, because I missed this great guitar-oriented power metal!
- Hansen “Three Decades of Metal — XXX” is a POWERFULLY good solo record from the hero of Helloween, Gamma Ray, AND Iron Savior. All among my top bands. (Helloween still has co-lead with Twisted Sister in my list of all time great rock/metal bands.)
I have about 30 metric tons of mp3’s and CDs that I got in just the last 3 months. Too many to list here, but I can safely say there was not a dud among them. 2016 may have been bad in terms of taking our best musicians, but the new music coming out is more than enough salve on the wounds. Looking forward to Overkill’s new CD in February!!!!!
- Rollerball pens. (They are easier to write with because they require no pressure on the writing surface.) The downside is they tend to bleed through the page. But being a lefty, I simply write on one side of the paper now.🙂
- Kuru Toga mechanical pencil. Auto-fill, sharp lead, nice feel in the hand. It’s a great pencil.
- Glen Campbell. He really was a great singer. It’s a shame he has faded and hope his Alzheimer’s isn’t too painful for him and his family.
- Johnny Cash. I never appreciated him when he was alive, but now I can’t get enough of his great music. Some of it is a bit twangy, but his voice is unmistakable and better than 90% of the current crop of singers.
- Old game shows. (Super Password, Tattletales, Let’s Make a Deal, Double Dare with a very young Alex Trebek, Card Sharks, etc.) Thanks Buzzr TV!🙂
- Old Star Trek. Sure I like Wrath of Khan, but now I like the old series much better as I’ve gotten older. The new FX they tack on for external shots makes the stories even more contemporary.🙂
- Diet Sunkist. Great soda.
- Diet Dr. Pepper. (Another sweet soda that is sparkly good, along with the Cherry variant!)
- Mozart (never was into him when I was younger.)
- Batman cartoons (I liked them, but now I’m more interested in them. Old age I guess.)
Not a bad list🙂
Well, I had a good run with Ubuntu MATE. It was fairly robust, with only a few glitches. I did have a devil of a time with strange WM activity (and a huge .xsession-errors file), but other than that, it was a great distro.
But I’m a fan of Mint… and have been for a few versions. (Gave my semi-monthly $20 donation to the project recently.) So I installed Mint 18 last week, but I didn’t opt for the XFCE or MATE Editions. I went straight for Cinnamon. My 2009-era Intel-Core2-Quad and GeForce GTX 730 should be enough to make the system sing.
I re-partitioned, which meant I lost a few things along the way (I forgot to back up my banking stuff, so I was relying on my spreadsheet/download of transactions to keep track of my money. But tomorrow’s payday, so I can start fresh.) I had only 8GB for the root partition, which meant I was limited in how much junk I could install. :) You know me, I’m a stickler for trying EVERY variation of linux program to see which ones work best. But I think I made this new root a bit large (100GB?) All I know is I’ll never run out of space now.
Of course my home directory’s a little smaller, but I keep that pruned nicely and it’ll be fine. I really should move my podcast folder to one of my external drives, though. Anyhow, the installation of Mint was flawless (as usual). It came up in no time and was loaded with the most important bits. I quickly removed Banshee (because it has troubles with large media collections) and installed my favorite apps (Gimp, Audacity, Audacious, etc.)
Things have been pretty good (only one hard lockup early on), and it’s fairly responsive. Cinnamon is full-featured and nicer (to me) than Gnome. I like Gnome 3, but I generally use Gnome when I am working, and everything else is Cinnamon/MATE/XFCE. The fact that I don’t have an XFCE distro running right now is pretty weird, I think. But XFCE’s been getting bigger and with that, it really makes no practical sense to use it over Cinnamon now (for me. Others may disagree.)
I got myself a “mini” 68 key keyboard from (I suppose) China called the “MagicForce”. It’s got a champagne color (metal, no less) and some knock-off cherry-mx compatible keys. It’s a nice compact keyboard (which is handy because I don’t have much room in my pull-out keyboard drawer.) It’s a great little keyboard. Of late, I’ve been having difficulty using the black keyswitches. It has been a bit more travel than I am used to, and it caused fatigue lots of the time. So I’ll have to retire my Filco Ninja Tenkeyless. It was a great keyboard (still is, I just don’t have the finger-strength anymore.) That’s kinda sad, really. For someone who used an Atari 800 with it’s MASSIVELY heavy keys… this is a bit of a letdown. Thankfully this MagicForce keyboard is fun to use. (and cute too!)
Ain’t it cute?🙂
I got myself some “computer” glasses the other day (made from my prescription), and I have to say it’s so much more fun not to have to look down my nose at my monitor. I use an old 4×3 19″ monitor because it’s the best picture I can get (and getting a 4×3 is hard to do anymore anyway.) When this monitor dies, I’ll have to bite the bullet and get a widescreen, I guess. It’ll suck, because I love this aspect ratio (and 1280×1024 is fine for my eyes.)
What I really want to do is buy up any good-condition used 19″ monitors so that I won’t have to use those silly widescreen junk. I don’t disparage widescreen for any reason other than I’m an old-school computer guy who used a TV as his first monitor. So I’ve been on the 4×3 aspect ratio since I was 12. And you know, the 12″ TV I had for my monitor back in the day is STILL working. Granted it doesn’t get any broadcast now, but I plugged a VCR into the RF and could STILL see the movie. How’s THAT for good engineering?
It’s not a great picture, mind you. But it’s still functional. I’ve got two LCD TV’s that are no longer working (though they did last a paltry 10 years.) Still, that’s a pretty good track record for televisions.
I guess I’ll clean my computer glasses and give my monitor a dusting… so it’ll last longer (I’ve had this LCD for 12 years…. it was expensive back in the day…. but WORTH it.)
I don’t know if it’s coincidence or just plain spooky Scooby-Doo type stuff, but every once in a while, I’ll look at an album I’ve ripped and see that it’s missing a file. It’s only missing one song, but usually it’s a song I’ve listened to before. The reason this came up recently is I was listening to my rip of Queen’s “The Game” and “Another One Bites the Dust” is missing from the tracklist.
I need to get a backup for my backup.🙂
I don’t remember if I touched on this before, but there are some really good Bluetooth speakers on the cheap these days. I found a $20 Polaroid Bluetooth speaker at Big Lots, and it sounds great. It’s not stereo, but then again for $20, I wouldn’t expect it to be. I picked up the blue one, because it was a nice shade of blue. The pink one was quite garish, to be honest. (They didn’t have any black ones or white ones in stock at the time, but they are apparently color choices for the speaker.) I wasn’t keen on the battery life, though it does take AA batteries (or a rechargeable one). It’s a bit bulky for portability, but it has a nice slot where you can set your tablet upright while listening. That’s a nice feature. The sound isn’t hollow (I expected it to be a bit muffled or a bit tinny) but the size and shape (a brick-like rectangle) make the music sound quite good. I am no audiophile, so more discerning tastes might hate the sound, but I found it very high quality for the price.
So I was roaming around the local Big Lots again (they have quite the assortment of knock-off batteries), and I ran across the Polaroid Bluetooth “corner” of the shelves over in electronics. I saw some new, smaller speakers (much like the larger one) for $10. I figured, it might be worse sounding, but for $10 I’ll take the chance. I was again, pleasantly surprised. It is a great speaker. It sounds better and more solid than the larger one. (I imagine there’s more empty space for resonance in the larger speaker.) My only complaint is that it won’t run on AC only power, and it doesn’t charge while it’s on. That’s not a big deal, but it’s still a bit annoying to not run on AC only. (The larger speaker ran without a battery in it if I plugged it in.)
It’s amazing what you can get for $10 these days.
I do admit I talk too much about mechanical keyboards. I like them quite a bit, but my WASD keyboard (as awesome as it is) is too big for my tray. If I use it I have to put my mouse on the very edge of my tray. It’s not terrible when you’re just surfing the web, but playing a game requires more space for the mouse. I often toyed with the idea of going back to the trackball, but the only one that works well for me only has two buttons. I have to emulate the middle click (that I have come to rely on in Linux), which is less than ideal and very hard to accomplish with a finger trackball. I am still on the fence about it. Because I have used a thumb-trackball and it really messes up my tendons in my hand. (And good luck finding a left-handed one for less than $300).
I used to think as a Nethack player, I needed to have a keypad. But I have found the best way to play is with the VIM keys (H-J-K-L) to move around the dungeon. I am still learning how not to die early in the game (I’ve made it to the 2nd floor once with my new MATE edition of Ubuntu. I forget how many times I died on the 1st floor with my other distro.)
I’d really like to have my character last a bit longer, but I’m not too worried. I love the game. It’s not going to give you any slack, so if you mess up, it might cost you your character. It’s a permadeath game too. Come to think of it, it’s the only permadeath game I like.🙂
I am back with MATE again. I decided i liked the Gnome-2 style desktop after all. And seeing how awesome 16.04 was (I ran it in a VM for a while while it was still in beta), I nixed Mint-KDE.
When Mint hits 18, I’ll revisit Mint. I love Mint as a distro, and I think it’ll have some neat add-ons you can’t get with a spin of Ubuntu like Ubuntu MATE. Time will tell, of course.🙂
I’m still giving KDE the due diligence and not rage-quitting too soon. I know this is a desktop that has lots of customization. The one thing I decided early on was that my music library was too big for Amarok though. I’m sure if I gave it enough time, it’d fill in and scan all my music (all 840GB of it.) But I rather like Clementine’s quick study of my library. It was hilariously quick. I enjoy the interface (I am not always on board with the “KDE apps only” or “Gnome apps only” ideal.) I do like how they all interact with each other (the WM’s apps) but they inter-operate much more smoothly now.
After working with the two players, I have to say that if you have a large library like I do (decades upon decades of CDs ripped and mp3’s bought from places like Amazon, etc.) the best tool is Clementine. Nothing against the very capable Amarok, but it doesn’t like large (huge?) music libraries.
I’ve toyed with the idea of splitting up my library, but I never find the time to do it. Heavy Metal is the best genre of music. I have 840GB to prove it. (99% of it is, of course metal.)🙂
This is a powerful documentary. It’s a very sad documentary. It’s a sobering documentary. If you’re not changed after viewing it, you’ve no heart or soul. One thing that has haunted me (besides the archival footage and horrible recollections) was Samuel Willenberg’s angry diatribe against God. I can’t say I wouldn’t have lost my faith either, after what he went through, but it was so sad to hear, because he died this February. I think he died blaming God for the Nazis. We are to blame. All non-Jews are to blame. And we’ll never ever repay that debt. For that I’m sorry. I am at a loss for words.
I won’t censor assholes who are malevolent to Jews. I just will make sure they get perspective on what race they’re disparaging. I will do that until I die.
One other thing I got from this documentary was that the Russians tried to cover up Treblinka. I no longer admire the Russian people defending their homeland. I almost wished the Nazis screwed them harder. Soviets are the 2nd worst people on the planet.
May Adolf Hitler burn forever in a hell of his own creation. Seeing the Jews he killed every minute until the end of the Universe. And may all his Nazi collaborators rot in that same hell. Fuck Nazis.