The Pen is Mightier Than the Sword

The Pen is Mightier Than the Sword

The pen—do you give much thought to it? You might want to if you haven’t already, because it is mightier than the sword, and that’s saying a lot!

I switched from the standard ball-points, gels, and the like about 6 years ago when I bought my fountain pen.

by Sheaffer
by Sheaffer

To go with it, I picked up some résumé paper and a red flexible-for-mailing sealing wax and a seal stamp. For these latter materials, I purchased them from Nostalgic Impressions, whom I would highly recommend.

I love this pen. It is smooth. Writing with it is easy on the hand. It is tough. It’s 6 years old and still kicking.

I just used up the blank ink above, and I decided to jump into different colors. My favorite color is blue, but more precisely it is turquoise. So, I picked up a Sheaffer Skrip bottle from Goulet Pens in this color.

I love this new ink. It is vibrant. It is bright. It reflects me and my tastes.

I tried a new sealing wax to match it in color, and I do not like it. If you ask me, avoid any sealing wax that does not have its own wick for the occasional seal. You don’t want to burn through your butane lighters trying to melt the wax to seal your letters. If it has a wick, simply light it and then let it melt away like a candle—but faster—and then blow it out when you have enough melted wax. I think I’ll switch to this one from Nostalgic Impressions.

I tried a new paper as well. It’s really thin and remarkably smooth but it rips easily with the wax seal as it bonds so well that you can’t open the letter without a massive and destructive tear without a letter opener. If you don’t plan your margins correctly, words will be lost when opening it up.

So, I am in the market for some paper solutions. I’m entertaining the idea of getting custom pressed prints but maybe some 100% cotton 36lb weight paper will do (the résumé paper was decent but it left me wanting more). I may go with this small note stationary and envelope set from Crane or this 100% cotton paper from Original Crown Mill.

In any case, put some thought into your pen. Write a letter to someone. They’ll enjoy opening and reading it it almost as much as you did writing and sealing it.

fullsizeoutput_296f

 

Best of 2016: A metal playlist

To put it bluntly, 2016 has been prolific in the metal genre of my liking, metal core, Swedish metal, prog metal, thrash metal, and more.

Here’s a playlist that I put together in Apple Music to capture my favorites. (As 2016 is not yet over, this list will be updated over the next 2 months as additional albums release.)

  1. Luminesce, by Erra
  2. Last Light, by Bury Tomorrow
  3. Alone I Stand, by Killswitch Engage
  4. Face for Lust, by Aliases
  5. Crusader, by Affiance
  6. Dreamcatcher, by Shoot the Girl First
  7. Made This Way, by The Word Alive
  8. Breathe Again, by When Our Time Comes
  9. First Father, by Silent Planet
  10. Waste Away, by SECRETS
  11. Blind Side, by Skyharbor
  12. COMA, by Issues
  13. Break, by I See Stars
  14. 570, by Motionless in White
  15. This Light I Hold, by Memphis May Fire
  16. Back Breaker, by Darkness Divided
  17. Faster, by Amaranthe
  18. Feels Good, by Volumes
  19. Crystalize, by Sonic Syndicate
  20. Zero, by Crown the Empire
  21. The Moment, by The Agonist
  22. Can We Give It All, by Imminence
  23. To the Key of Evergreen, by The Devil Wears Prada
  24. Silver Lining, by Glass Houses
  25. Blood in My Mouth, by The Amity Affliction
  26. Wasted Age, by We Came As Romans
  27. Open Door, by We Are the Catalyst
  28. The Crashing Waves, by Imminent Sonic Destruction
  29. The Bazaar, by Painted In Exile
  30. Forever United, by Your Memorial
  31. Dead Memory, by Fit for a King
  32. My Doom, by Any Given Day
  33. Natural Order, by Everyone Dies in Utah
  34. Exile, by Seraphim
  35. Entity, by Light the Fire
  36. Flatline, by Periphery
  37. Hybris, by Deadlock
  38. Hologram, by Northlane & In Hearts Wake
  39. The House of Shame, by Lacuna Coil
  40. Sorrowpsalm, by Black Crown Initiate
  41. Cognitive Computations, by Allegaeon
  42. Mind Mutation, by Solution .45
  43. Fake, by Make Them Suffer
  44. Jagged Cross Legions, by Serpentine Dominion
  45. Stars Abound, by Auras
  46. Nexus Point, by The Room Colored Charlatan
  47. Gone With the Wind, by Architects (UK)
  48. Lonesome Soul, by The Color Morale
  49. Hands of Gold, by Delain
  50. I Won’t Give In, by Asking Alexandria
  51. World on Fire, by Wovenwar
  52. Captive Conception, by Circle of Contempt
  53. The Grand Delusion, by Breakdown of Sanity
  54. Forever Lost in Van, by Soilwork
  55. Relentless, by Moments Till Fall

How to make your own subwoofer cable

If you find that you are in need of creating your own subwoofer cable, you can do it through Home Depot with a few items.

First, you need a compression tool. Check out this one from Klein.

Second, you need a RCA male connector. Home Depot only has one option, and here it is.

Third, you need wire. Here’s in-wall rated 14-gage in case you are routing the wire through your walls.

I found that I needed a solution when I had surround sound installed because the receiver end of the wire was not capped or terminated and I had no way to attach the wire to my receiver to utilize the subwoofer. The above tool and connector worked perfectly. Best Buy did not have any option for me, and the people at Home Depot did not know what to do. I had to figure it out on my own. Now, I hope you have an easy solution. Knowledge is power. Good luck!

Highly Recommended: Yamaha AVENTAGE RX-A750 7.2 Receiver

Yamaha AVENTAGE RX-A750 from Amazon.

I highly recommend this receiver.

I touched base on using a 7.2 system in the past (How to control iTunes volume completely independently from the system’s volume).

I also touched on the full listening spectrum (All about that treble no bass: Upgrading computer audio to get that boom, boom, boom).

I recently installed a in-ceiling surround sound system and opted for this 7.2 Yamaha receiver because it has AirPlay built-in and is multi-zone.

One nice advantage of this receiver that I did not know it had is that it plays music through all 5 speakers in my 5.1 setup rather than from the front 3 plus the subwoofer. By playing through all 5 speakers in the ceiling, the room has an even sound throughout.

I love how it handles AirPlay. The receiver may be off, but if I tell my iPhone to start playing to it over AirPlay, the receiver turns on automatically and then music comes through the speakers. So convenient!

The point of the AVENTAGE system is for music, too. I love the sound quality.

If you are in the market for a high quality receiver that is 7.2, AirPlay, multi-zone capable, then I would highly recommend this unit.

I got mine open-box through Amazon to save cost. It was well worth it.

Best of 2015: a metal playlist

I made another metal playlist on Apple Music.

While my last playlist was a bit of a magnum opus, this one is isolated to metal contributions from the year 2015.

Best of 2015

  1. Skydancer (feat. Jonathan Vigil), by In Hearts Wake
  2. Throw Me In The Jungle, by Born of Osiris
  3. No Way Out, by Bullet For My Valentine
  4. Return to Sender, by Elitist
  5. Bleed Heavens Dry, by Solution .45
  6. Dead Choir, by Phinehas
  7. Fail, by Haste The Day
  8. The Sickness, by Imminence
  9. Legion of Monsters (Bonus Track), by Disturbed
  10. Fiat Empire, by All That Remains
  11. Utopia, by Tesseract
  12. The Direction of Last Things, by Intronaut
  13. Question Everything, by Five Finger Death Punch
  14. Coffin, by Disarmonia Mundi
  15. Empty Promises, by Miss May I
  16. The Give And Take, by Like Moths to Flames
  17. Supernova, by The Devil Wears Prada
  18. Loyalty, by Killswitch Engage (from the Game of Thrones Mix Tape II compilation)
  19. Follow The Crossed Line, by The Agonist
  20. Anodized, by Fear Factory
  21. Ghosts (feat. Jeremy McKinnon), by August Burns Red
  22. Enemies in Fidelity, by Soilwork
  23. The Path, by Battlecross
  24. Blind Leading The Blind, by Trivium
  25. Omega, by Periphery

From Mercy to War

I created a Metal playlist on Apple Music.

Here’s the playlist description:

A collection of some of the best Artists’ songs in metalcore, nu metal, prog metal, Swedish metal, and more

Here’s the list itself:

  1. The Windswept Mercy, by Soilwork
  2. Vengeance, by The Devil Wears Prada
  3. Ultraviolet, by Erra
  4. Dying Breed, by Deadlock
  5. Clandestinity Now, by Solution .45
  6. Time, by Wintersun
  7. Ringside Seat to Human Tragedy, by Disarmonia Mundi
  8. A Rose for Epona, by Eluveitie
  9. Hymn of a Broken Man, by Times of Grace
  10. Erised, by Periphery
  11. Amaranthine, by Amaranthe
  12. I will Fail You, by Demon Hunter
  13. Of All These Yesterdays, by Trivium
  14. Square Nothing, by In Flames
  15. Orbital, by Sybreed
  16. Of Matter: Proxy, by Tesseract
  17. Evolution, by Skyharbor
  18. Doxa, by Monuments
  19. Pleidian Keys, by The HAARP Machine
  20. Broken Man, by Corpus Christi
  21. Machines, by Crown the Empire
  22. The Death of Me, by Asking Alexandria
  23. Fire That Kid, by The Ascendicate
  24. The Place That Most Deny, by Haste The Day
  25. Mad at Myself, by Issues
  26. Tears Don’t Fall, by Bullet For My Valentine
  27. The Ravenous, by I, Omega
  28. Delusions of Grandeur, by Art by Numbers
  29. Backstabbers Need Not Apply, by Close to Home
  30. Glass Faces, by Corelia
  31. Yellowism, by The Safety Fire
  32. We Never Should Have Met, by Aliases
  33. The Hounds of Anubis, by The Word Alive
  34. Tiny Hands (Au Revoir), by Silent Planet
  35. White Flag, by Glass Cloud
  36. Pittsburg, by The Amity Affliction
  37. Healer, by In Hearts Wake
  38. Before You Know It, by Ten After Two
  39. Half Life, by Whether, I
  40. Redemption (With Embedded Track “Mosley”), by August Burns Red
  41. Watcher, by Bury Tomorrow
  42. The Mapmaker, by Jamie’s Elsewhere
  43. The Path, by Upon This Dawning
  44. The Wretched, by Attack! Attack!
  45. How Could I Believe, by Il Niño
  46. Hey Mister, by Miss May I
  47. Five Months, by We Rise The Tides
  48. If Not, For Ourselves, by Woe, Is Me
  49. Your Heart and Mine, by Us From Outside
  50. No Peace, by Affiance
  51. This Ship, A Coffin, by Adestria
  52. Flourish, by The Contortionist
  53. John, The Revelatory, by Righteous Vendetta
  54. Truth Be Told, by Phinehas
  55. Product of a Murderer, by Of Mice & Men
  56. Castles In The Sky, by Mureau
  57. With Ears to See, And Eyes to Hear, by Sleeping With Sirens
  58. From Ashes, by War of Ages
  59. Ceasing Time, by Onward to Olympus
  60. Silhouette, by A Breach of Silence
  61. Legends Never Die, by Betraying The Martyrs
  62. A Greater Sense of Self, by Fit For a King
  63. I Will Destroy The Wisdom Of The Wise, by A Bullet For Pretty Boy
  64. Legacy, by Memphis May Fire
  65. A War Inside, by We Came as Romans
  66. Ten Thousand Feet, by I See Stars
  67. Trapped, by Abandon All Ships
  68. What The Water Gave Me (Rock Mix), by Come The Dawn
  69. Lonely Giant, by Elitist
  70. Strange Comfort, by The Color Morale
  71. Atonement, by Your Memorial
  72. Inheritors, by Serianna
  73. Die to Live, by Confession
  74. Upside Down Kingdom, by As I Lay Dying
  75. The Rise, by Oh, Sleeper
  76. The Silent Divide, by Anterior
  77. Into The Sky, by Armana Reign
  78. Fadeaway, by D Creation
  79. Murder…Savior, by Dirge Within
  80. Guarded, by Disturbed
  81. Harmony., by Forever Orion
  82. Deathmarks, by Like Moths to Flames
  83. I Am Hell (Sonata in C#), by Machine Head
  84. 1.618, by Allegaeon
  85. The Unknown, by Shadows Fall
  86. Reincarnate, by Motionless In White
  87. Before You Finally Break, by Sonic Syndicate
  88. Question Everything, by Five Finger Death Punch
  89. Get Over It, by Battlecross
  90. The Tempest (The Siren’s Song, The Banshee’s Cry), by The Agonist
  91. Exile, by Before The Dawn
  92. Conquer, by God Forbid
  93. Inane, by Threat Signal
  94. Canis Major, by Substructure
  95. Cascade, by Auras
  96. Vahle, by Volumes
  97. The Malignant, by Black Crown Initiate
  98. Machine, by Born of Osiris
  99. The Way We Die, by Devil You Know
  100. Holographic Universe, by Scar Symmetry
  101. Painters of the Tempest, Pt. II (Triptych Lux), by Ne Obliviscaris
  102. The Arms of Sorrow, by Killswitch Engage
  103. Fractured, by Diecast
  104. Melancholy, by Machinemade God
  105. Psychosocial, by Slipknot
  106. Anika, mon frère, by Shoot The Girl First
  107. Fightin’ Words, by Casino Madrid
  108. Stay Captive, by Still Remains
  109. Forsaken, by Mutiny Within
  110. Arise The War Cry, by Unearth

Listen to this playlist in Apple Music by clicking on the link below:

From Mercy to War

Troubleshooting Xbox One Kinect Voice Commands

The Xbox One Kinect is cool. It offers hands-free voice controlled operations within the home to go to games, apps, or TV channels. For example, it’s actually kind of satisfying when you say, “Xbox, record that”, and it auto records the last 30 seconds of gameplay without having to double-tap the home button and then press X (or whatever button it is).

Well, a better statement is that it is cool except for when it isn’t. The Kinect sensor doesn’t perform well in noisy-kid environments. It seems that any amount of ambient noise from someone doing the dishes to a kid laughing, coughing, whining, or screaming (of course) prevents the sensor from picking up your voice commands. There is nothing more frustrating when you are trying to mute the Xbox so that you can hear someone in the other room talking to you, but it can’t register your mute command because of the someone in the other room who is talking.

My thoughts on the Kinect aside, I wanted to share some troubleshooting that I have done recently to figure out why Xbox would take me to VH1 when I was trying to go to beINSport USA, which I referenced in passing in a former post.

When I experienced the issue, I first turned to self-help resources. I went to Settings > Kinect > I moved my Kinect sensor. I re-calibrated but to no avail. I then went to Troubleshoot Voice Commands. These steps did not resolve it. I Tweeted Xbox support, but the steps they provided did not resolve the issue, so they referred me to their phone support. I spent an hour on the phone with their support staff, and they concluded that I needed a new sensor.

They were wrong.

I tested my sensor on my Day One Edition console after taking it off of my Elite one, and it worked perfectly to take me to beINSport USA.

I bought a new Kinect to have it with my Elite console, and–at first–it had the same issue. I thought it was environmental initially, but that didn’t make sense because the Day One console and Kinect worked perfectly fine in the same exact spot as the Elite console and new Kinect.

Then I realized it could be my satellite box. I power-cycled it. Issue persisted.

Then I realized it could be my pronunciation. I realized that I could say, “Xbox, select”, and it would pull up the existing channel and show the voice command on the top right to get to it. So, I manually selected the channel in the full guide and then used the aforementioned voice command. It showed me, “Watch beIN Sport”. I was not slightly pausing between beIN and Sport! So, I went to NBC and then invoked this watch command–and it worked!

The troubleshooting step here is to ensure you are following the appropriate voice command with exact pronunciation and pauses.

For example, “Xbox, go to Minecraft” will not work. Instead, use, “Xbox, go to Minecraft Xbox One Edition”.

In my specific case, “Watch beINSport” is not the same as “Watch beIN Sport”. The space must be followed.

However, colons should be ignored. “Xbox, go to Halo: The Master Chief Collection” is simply stated, “Xbox, go to Halo The Master Chief Collection”.

So, for troubleshooting voice commands, remember to be exact and follow commas and spaces but ignore colons. When you are not sure what the command is, think literally and entirely. For games and apps, you must say the name exactly how it is listed in your Games & Apps. For TV channels, manually go to the desired channel and then say, “Xbox, select”, and take note of the voice command listed to the top right as it will be the exact one needed to get the Kinect to that specific channel in the future.

With these tips in mind, I bid you success in using and troubleshooting your Xbox One Kinect!

Best Buy customer for life

In my recent Xbox One Elite debacle, I had to go to Best Buy to swap out my bundle. I figured I would pick up an external drive while I was there.

I found a G-Drive 1TB 7200 RPM USB 3 & Thunderbolt portable drive for $65.99.

When I was checking out, it rang up as $179.

I immediately coughed up a chicken bone and said that I thought the drive was like $70 or $80.

The customer service representative asked me to show him. We walked over to the drives and we found the same unit sitting there under the $65.99 price tag. He said that he would take care of the difference.

I love Best Buy. They have good policies and, in my experience, they do right by the customer. I’ll be their customer for life!