“Looking back on when I was a little nappy headed boy
Then my only worry was for Christmas, what would be my toy?”
–Stevie Wonder, “I Wish”
Recently I operated the PA setup for a Girl Scout event, using borrowed equipment. It was nice gear, but it made me remember when I used to do that sort of thing – initially for friends of mine having parties, then the people in my dorm (heh… “my neighbors listen to good music – whether they want to or not”) and eventually for college events such as dances and end-of-year dinners. I never really sought out to do it professionally, but there were many times that I missed it. Some nights I do basically the same on Facebook, queueing up a bunch of songs for myself and then sharing Youtube links for all of them as they come up on rotation as well as a little blurb about the song or a line or two of the lyrics. And doing this, even though it wasn’t my music at all, reminded me that I do enjoy the science of doing the work and the fun of bringing that joy to others when they like what they hear. So not long after we got the equipment in my garage and I set it up to make sure everything was working right and I had no troubles getting connections right, Stephanie joked that I should look for stuff to do it on my own. Well after a lot of chin scratching (the beard can be itchy) and reading of spec sheets, I think I figured it out. And for just over a thousand dollars I have what would come together to be, I think, a respectable PA system with decent speakers, an amp that could drive them to their limits, cables, and a mixing board – which actually would replace the one I have in the shack and that one would move on to PA/DJ work. The only thing I didn’t plan on is a way to mix music and queue things from one song to another with proper fading and whatnot (unlike when you tell Apple Music to just play and it waits until one song is completely over before playing the next one). But that’s a matter of software.. or a second phone to play music from. I put it all in a wish list in case anyone is feeling generous. Who am I kidding, it’s so I can look at it and talk myself out of buying it.
When I first thought about taking my radios portable, I picked up some Pelican cases to store it safely. Those cases have taken my gear from Tampa Bay in Florida to Bangor, Maine and many points in between. I realized one of the latches on my large case (a Pelican 1600) was broken, so I ordered replacement latches. They arrived today and were the complete wrong size. How could that be I wondered… apparently, Pelican redesigned their cases at some point and kept the same model numbers. I have an old one. Who knows if I’d ever find a replacement latch at this point. But two things are keeping me from bothering too much now: first, I don’t use the case in marine environments where I’m concerned with water ingress, so the fact that the one side doesn’t seal as tight isn’t much of a concern for me. And secondly, that latch has been “off” since day one – it always required that you smash it just right to close – and taking the pin out of it I realize why. The holes from the left and right side don’t line up, so it was defective at purchase and I didn’t realize it, just thought that one was quite tight. No, it was stretching to reach the edge of the case because the one side is too far away. I guess if I found the right size latch I could straighten the hole on the one side, but I don’t think it’s worth worrying about too much anyway. I mostly utilize the case to carry the equipment safely from shocks and bumps, and be able to stack things nicely.
I’m starting to get there with the site layout. Adjusted some things, I think I broke some things too, but it doesn’t look half bad. Except the black text in the top bar, I don’t think I like that. Maybe I’ll play with other themes and see if I find one I like soon. Meanwhile, back to the topic of “why are you reviving this”, some information on ideas I’ve got and whatnot. Strap in kids, it’s gonna get bumpy.
I wondered myself. Why do I feel the need to come back here and write again? I used to write on Facebook, though it was always shorter things. And then when Google Plus opened I wrote there quite a bit, and pretty much abandoned my website because the same content on G+ drew a lot more traffic. So why come back to here again? Well, even though I don’t pick up the microphone on the radios that often, I do like to talk. Especially when it’s things I’m passionate about. Tinkering, electronics, these are things that I enjoy a lot. And when I think of a new thing to explore, I like to talk about it to people. Sometimes when I talk about stuff it’s because I need to think it through, and having someone else to listen and especially ask questions is helpful for me to hash out the idea myself or gain a greater understanding. Other times it’s because I want to share my excitement with someone and maybe they’ll want to join in the fun. And sometimes it’s just to make a connection – I find a lot of geeky types are eager to share their geekiness in hopes of finding another geek who likes it, if only to have someone to work with and come up with new ideas. Unfortunately, and especially when the audience doesn’t share in the excitement, that kind of gushing about a new thing can be boring at best, or off-putting at the worst. So rather than subject my family to it all the time, I thought maybe writing about it would help me to still have that moment I feel like I need where I talk about something that has sparked in my head, without forcing others in the house to look for a way out of hearing range 😀 But first, I still need to do some housekeeping around here. The cobwebs are a bit thick, and there’s definitely a layer of dust everywhere. Only I have a couple things I’m working on that have prevented me from working here, so we’ll see how it goes. Maybe I’ll start writing those things as drafts to share later, so I still get it down to publish without making it seem like I’m ignoring the mess everywhere…
About five months shy of ten years since my last post on this site. Why? Well, for a while I was writing more long-form stuff on teh Plus of Goog, but they eventually went away. Then I caught some flak for posting things that some people felt I shouldn’t be posting, so I retreated into my own little world of not saying much of anything, certainly nothing controversial or even vaguely pearl-clutching. But I keep finding things I want to write up or talk about, and teh Book of Face isn’t the right audience more often than not. Sure I could go with Medium or something like that, but… I have this domain with WordPress installed, why not use it? So I think I will. Soon. Gonna fix up the place a bit first, and clean out some cobwebs.
My site’s been a bit stale lately. Like, for nine months or so. I keep meaning to post stuff here, but just don’t find the motivation when it feels like I’ve got an audience of practically nothing. But, with Google+ gaining in the popular opinion polls – and the fact that its format lends itself to the short Twitter-like posts, the long website-like posts, and the medium Facebook-like posts – I find I post a lot more there. Like, a *lot* more. So, if you’d like to see what’s basically the next version of my website, it’s not a far trip: https://srhuston.net/+ will get you to my profile, and hitting the “Posts” tab will show you what I’ve been up to. If you want an invite, let me know there too – I’ve got plenty to give out still :>
Today Hulu announced their Hulu Plus service is open to all, with a slightly lower price of $7.99/month too. Stephanie and I have been quite happy with the service, and look forward to some more content deals that bring the remainder of our favorite shows to the offerings available to stream directly to the PS3.
Oh, and while they now offer a one week free trial, if you sign up through this link you get two weeks free instead. I also get two free weeks, so it would be appreciated :>
A couple months ago I wrote about changing how we watch TV and near the end of the month I did get a Hulu Plus invite. It’s been a while, and we just cancelled our DirecTV subscription (though they tried to give us some good deals on lower prices, they all still required a two year contract – no thanks). We have used both Netflix and Hulu on the PS3 to fill the “void” from a live subscription TV service. I think the kids have used our Netflix subscription more than we have so far – we’ve watched and returned three DVDs (the third just went back in today’s mail), but viewed considerable hours on the streaming service – and they have a new-found appreciation for the “Land Before Time” series of movies. I’ve used the streaming service from work during my lunch breaks, and fell in love with the show Firefly (Serenity is in the queue as well though I’ve also got hooked on Doctor Who and Torchwood). We’ve all enjoyed previous episodes of “Wallace & Gromit” (even some that I have on DVD currently) and were introduced to “Shaun the Sheep” as well as a new Wallace & Gromit episode we hadn’t yet seen (“A Matter of Loaf and Death”). So, how is Hulu treating us? Well.. it looks pretty, and it works great on the computer. It works great on the PS3 too, but we haven’t watched much on it. Unfortunately that can be blamed on the TV studios, but Hulu is taking the brunt of the complaints.
TV subscriptions have always felt like a “necessary evil” to me. Over-the-air TV signals used to leave a lot to be desired (my first 20 years were spent with them, we didn’t have a subscription of any kind until my parents moved to an RF dead zone), though I admit to not looking since the digital transition. Cable always seemed overpriced, and the local cable conglomerate never left me with warm fuzzies, especially when they’d just about double rates and say it’s because your promotion expired, but now that you called to complain they’ll be happy to sell you some other promotion with channels you don’t care about just to bring your bill back down to something you only scream a little when you have to pay. About two years ago, we moved to DirecTV and have been very happy with it ever since – by far, they have been the best TV subscription we’ve had. The hardware worked flawlessly, the software was easy to use, and the quality was better than anything we’d been served previously. But when looking at the bills and seeing that we’re paying around $75/mo for television, Stephanie and I both separately started wondering about other options. Last week we came to each other with some ideas, found that we were both thinking along similar lines, and decided to do something about it. Read on for more.
Stephanie has been doing a lot of coupon cutting over the years, and getting more and more serious with it – especially after the kids were born and we went down to a single income. Now instead of keeping all the information to herself, or emailing a link or two to friends who might be interested, she’s started a website with all kinds of information and links on how to save money. Raising a Family on a Budget is the name of the site, and it was just featured in the “Saving With 6ABC” segment on Action News this morning. Even if your “family” is just one person, go have a look and start saving!