Saturday, July 11, 2009

Boom boom satellites

I'm currently listening to Boom boom satellite's album exposed as I write this post (has "Shut up and explode" on it, the Xam'd OP).

It's been about a month since my last post, and I've moved into my new place and gotten an iPhone 3GS. If I ever feel up to it, I'll write up a review of the 3GS, but as for my impression after using it for 3 weeks... it's a really nice smartphone, and having the internet all the time is remarkably handy... but as a phone, dedicated devices are a lot better. For example... you can't answer or end a call using a button, you have to use the screen. The earpiece volume also isn't loud enough if you're in a crowded place, and you pretty much have to charge the phone every day.

Since I'm somewhat paranoid about scratches, I get a Fullbody film for my iPhone along with a Switcheasy Colors case. The film came with a nice matte screen protector and a clear film for the back... which is really difficult to put on. I didn't do a good job and it looks kind of lame, but since it's in the Switcheasy case, I don't mind too much. Speaking of the switcheasy case, it's nice and cheap and covers a lot of the phone, but it picks up a lot of lint from my pockets. I have to clean the case every couple of days!

In my new place, my computer is in my bedroom while my TV setup is in the living room. I use PS3 media server, which works pretty well. For anime, you need to check all the subtitle options under the mencoder options (that is, "ASS/SSA subtitles", "Fontconfig/embedded", and "Use ASS default style"). Some anime doesn't seem to work with mencoder, in which case falling back to avisynth/ffmpeg works pretty well.

In terms of anime, I've finished Natsu no Arashi, which I liked except for the fact that it didn't have any resolution at the end, and K-ON -- no more Mio, so sad.

My new place isn't so close to campus, which means taking the bus which is kind of lame (though made easier to deal with now that I have an iphone), but it also means my internet doesn't suck as much!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The pain of moving

I've been spending (some of) my free time packing. My living room, in its current state of disarry:

Only a few more days left!

I also finished watching Utawarerumono. It had lots of action that wasn't totally mindless, and it kept me on the edge of my seat for much of the series, but towards the end, it sort of fell apart... and the ending! The ending was so cheesy! It was nice to see what all the characters were up to at the end but... ugh. There is an OVA out this month, so we'll see if that adds much to the story.

I've also been slowly practicing guitar. My fretting hand has developed some nice callouses, and I can play a couple basic chords. Right now I'm just trying to work on learning more chords, some basic picking and strumming, and trying to switch chords quickly. It's slow going, but I'm making some progress...

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Headphones and K-ON!

Since headphones and K-ON are related to music, why not combine posts? I think it's a good idea at least...

K-ON: nothing new, but I thought it was cool that the OP was updated to include Azusa. See this post to see the differences in the OP.

Headphones: Got my new JVC HA-RX700 headphones today. On an initial listen, they have good bass and midrange, but the highs seem a little muffled compared to my Koss A130 headphones. They do sound a touch better than my Koss KSC-75 earphones. Hopefully they'll improve with some burning in.

Time Warner -- why can't it be like this all the time?

So now that the majority of the college students are gone, I can get the following speeds all the time:

Now the question is, given that Time Warner is more than capable of delivering their advertised speed, why won't they increase capacity so that when there are actually people in town, the speed doesn't drop down to like 0.6mbit?!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The quest for sound

Somehow, in my random travels through the internet, I came across this thread on head-fi and this thread on HardOCP on the JVC HA-RX700.

Bottom line is that a lot of people think it can run with $100+ headphones. They're relatively cheap ($42 at Newegg), and I'm curious to see if they're better than my Koss A130, so I took a chance and ordered them.

I really should just read a book instead of surfing the internet... I'm so tempted to buy things I don't really need! I just bought a new center channel speaker, a Polk CS1, maybe 2 weeks ago too... and I'm tempted to buy new mains, argh!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Time Warner: slower than ever!

I'm trying to SSH to a server in my lab, and it's laggy as hell... so I ran a speed test and get this result:
I'm glad to be moving out...

Yes, K-ON! in widescreen!

Finally, K-ON! has been broadcast in HD! As an example of the difference it makes, note the difference between the OP in normal 4:3:

Compared to the OP in 16:9:

And the ED in 16:9:

It's too bad K-ON widescreen is being broadcast like a month behind :(.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Clannad After Story thoughts, Time Warner still sucks

First off, Time Warner still sucks here in Ithaca, NY:

Finally watched episode 22 of Clannad ~After Story today (why the widescreen version airs like a month after the 4:3 version nobody knows... why even bother airing the 4:3 version anyway?!)... and the ending definitely made use of deus ex machina, but a lot of Key's stories are like that (Kanon, a little bit in Air). The story concluded pretty well, and, well, I think Jason said it best in his posts on Clannad.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Time Warner sucks

My current speed from oh-so-wonderful, planning to cap people's download Time Warner, is .

You might say, why not call them and see what's up? I did this, several times. First time, they told me to swap my modem. Didn't make a difference. Then they sent a tech out, didn't make a difference because my levels were fine. Call number 3, they could not understand that their router was blocking a traceroute, and finally the only thing they could tell me is that there's too many people on the network... and they can't (or won't) do anything about it!

And now, not even 2 hours away in Rochester, they're planning on switching to metered billing. I don't think it's going to help the speed any, because college students just can't get enough internet! ARGH. I can barely load web pages at this hour...

Saturday, April 11, 2009

My HT setup

In case anybody's wondering, here's my current home theater setup:
  • TV: Samsung LN46A550
  • PS3 (80gb with backwards compatibility)
  • Sound: Onkyo HT-SR800
  • Remote: Harmony 720

My computer is connected to the TV using HDMI and to the receiver using optical SPDIF. PS3 is connected the same way. Anything 1080p looks gorgeous, and anything with 5.1 sound rocks. The best part is that I got everything on sale! The Onkyo system was refurbished and under $300, the PS3 had walmart's sweet $100 gift card deal, the remote was refurbed and under $40, and the TV was relatively cheap at the time.

The PS3 does a pretty good job upscaling DVDs -- they're not as good as blu-ray, but they're not too bad, especially from a normal viewing distance. I watched Mushi-shi, and it looked great, though the picture was a little soft.

Most HD anime fansubs look good too, though the quality difference amongst different animes are quite apparent. Crunchyroll even looks decent at 720p, but anything lower looks like a poor quality DVD :(.

I'm pretty happy with the system and probably won't be upgrading for the foreseeable future. My next upgrade will probably either be the speakers or the TV, but probably not till I move...

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Saki is...

...pretty good I think! Watched it on Crunchyroll today (woo 720p), and found it to be pretty exciting. You don't need to know much about mahjong (I don't) -- it seems to be a lot like any sort of, "let's enter into a competition, yea!" sort of anime, like Angelic Layer.

Again, props to Crunchyroll to licensing it for distribution. It was pretty smooth too, now that I've figured out how to get hardware acceleration to work consistently (right-click the video player while in normal mode, enable HW full screen accel, then make it full screen). The video stutters occasionally, but it may be my computer not having enough processing power.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Setting up hardware accelerated anime playback...

A great guide for setting up Media Player Classic Home Cinema (MPC-HC) for DXVA, along with sample videos and lots of pictures, is located here.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Why all the hate on Crunchyroll?

Why do people hate Crunchyroll so much? See the comments here, or just about any blog post on HnG2. I'm going to copy and paste a comment from THAT anime blog:

"I dislike Crunchyroll and their licensing. It didn’t affect me before…but now that CR has taken HnG in, I’m slowly realizing how much I hate them. But I am not here to say i hate CR, but rather my adoration for HnG. Anyways, I’m surprised that JC staff actually used plot material(compared to Synergy SP’s style of using fillers and given the fact of how they changed Shakugan no Shana S2, Zero no Tsukaima S2 & S3 and Tsukihime). The animation, in my opinion has changed dramatically, with similarity to the drawing style used in Zero no Tsukaima and sharper colors. Overall, I am hoping forward to HnG S2 and really want the part where Hina started realizing she fell for Hayate."
So this commentor doesn't like CR because they have the license to the show and are streaming it for free (albeit in lower quality and delayed than if you paid for a subscription), and because of their license, most fansub groups won't sub it? *shakes head*

You'll even notice a lot of anime bloggers are using the ripped from Crunchyroll softsub! (I can understand that for some of the bloggers outside the US, Crunchyroll doesn't work, but I can't believe there aren't ANY US anime bloggers!) I guess I just don't understand why people don't want to spend $5 a month to support their hobby, it's not like Xam'd which cost $5/episode...

And I'm not really a Crunchyroll fanboy, it has it's share of problems, but the main thing is, I can legally watch anime very shortly after it airs in Japan in decent quality.

While I'm ranting, what happened to only fansubbing shows that weren't licensed? I see two groups subbing Fullmetal Alchemist 2009, even when Funimation already has the license and plans to stream it free.

Lest you think I'm just a prude that only watches legal stuff, I watch lots of fansubs for shows that aren't licensed yet or aren't made available legally within a reasonable amount of time -- for example, K-ON. But when you can watch stuff legally and in 720p for $5 a month... why not support the industry a little? It's like a value meal at McDonald's!

I'll end with a Crunchyroll pro-tip: to enable full screen HW acceleration, you right click the video before you full screen it, then select the option, THEN full screen the video. It doesn't work otherwise.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Hayate's back... and on Crunchyroll!

I watched the first episode of the new second season of Hayate no Gotoku on Crunchyroll. They're running a handy 2 week trial anime membership, so I gave it a shot and watched Hayate in glorious 720p.

You can get the episode summary and impressions elsewhere, but I wanted to comment on the Crunchyroll experience. So the positives first:

  1. 720p quality with membership with good video quality -- it looks better than a poor-quality fansub encode, but not as good as the best encodes (like SS-Eclipse).
  2. Subs for the first ep are pretty good! No karaoke, but they translated most of the on-screen text, like the descriptions of all the characters (in fact, I'd guess that most of the fansubs released of the show are using the Crunchyroll subs).
  3. It's released the same day as it's shown in Japan. This is huge... it's faster than a fansub, and I think this is really key, I can't imagine a good reason for any group to sub this show now.

Not everything was good though. There's nothing wrong with the video itself, but I have some gripes about the player and website.

  1. 720p and Flash -- it brings my computer to its knees. The CPU utilization averaged almost 90% on my 2.7 ghz Pentium dual-core (probably equivalent to a 2.2ghz C2D). The main culprit is probably the fact that I could not get full screen hardware acceleration to work. Most of the time it was smooth, but during pans, the video would stutter.
  2. Account settings -- I signed up for the trial. There doesn't seem to be a way to sign up for anything other than a monthly membership other than ending the trial and signing up.
  3. Advancing between videos -- I also started watching Skip Beat (good show so far), and when one episode finishes, a link to the next video shows up like in youtube... but it proceeds to load a new page. This isn't so bad, except it 1) kicks you out of full screen, 2) and requires you to setup the player again (like enabling HW acceleration).

Overall, I'm actually pleasantly surprised by Crunchyroll's offering. I'm waiting to see how Saki and Shangri-la turn out, but if those are decent, I might actually pay for it (gasp)!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Latest Samsung A550 settings

If anybody has a Samsung LNXXA550, my latest settings are posted at AVSforum. I use an eye-one display/lt colorimeter, though I'd really like to have an eye-one pro spectrophotometer... maybe one day, when I'm rich :).

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Finally... I beat FFX

Only about 4 years after I started Final Fantasy X (FFX), I beat it, in about 37 hours in game time. I started the game over about 3 weeks ago because, well, I have a PS3 now and my save file is probably long gone.

Overall, it was a fun ride, but I wasn't that impressed with the story (possibly because I've seen most of it before.

My next game to tackle is probably going to be Persona 4, which I bought a few weeks ago because it was on sale at Amazon.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Clannad makes me a sad bear

I've been waiting on the 16:9 version of Clannad After story, and I caught up to the latest fansub release today (ep. 20). Normally I don't bother writing about episodes (note how empty the blog has been for the past 3 months!), but there were a couple scenes where that almost made me tear up, I thought it would be worth mentioning... so far, the scene where Nagisa goes bye bye and the scene where Ushio and Tomoya finally get along were the most touching, *sniffles*. Ushio is so cute, it almost (sorta) makes me want (kinda) a kid!

As a comparison, nothing in Kanon made me sad, and only the end scene in Air made me tear up a little... just a little...

Though I did almost cry manly tears in Wall-E, but that doesn't make me a cry baby... does it?