media, music comments edit

I won’t lie - I’m a sucker for heavily produced electronic dance music. The new Lady GaGa album is in constant rotation at my house. If you’re not into that sort of thing, this post isn’t for you.

If you are, though, I was surfing around and found Mysto & Pizzi - some up and coming music producers. They do the remake of “Somebody’s Watching Me” that you might have heard in the background of a Geico commercial. Anyway, if you’re into this sort of thing, there are some great tracks they’ve made available for free.

And, like I said, free. Can’t beat that.

Slightly off topic, but sort of not - I’ve noticed some of these newer artists (like Lady GaGa and Mysto & Pizzi) going a different direction with how they handle downloads and such. Like, when the Lady GaGa album came out, it was the Amazon MP3 deal of the day for like $5. Mysto & Pizzi aren’t putting crap tracks from some band you’ve never heard of out there, they’re putting out stuff from well-known artists. Free. And you know how often I see stuff for these folks online and hear stuff from my friends? All the time. It gets their music out there, gets the names out there, and gets them fans… who will keep coming back, see concerts, buy the merch, etc. Makes me wonder if they aren’t onto something here.

Jenn and I went to Las Vegas for three days this week (Tuesday through Thursday) and had a great stay at the Paris Las Vegas. As usual, we walked our asses off, so bad that I can still feel the pain in my hip sockets. I’m pretty sure I never got fully recovered from the previous trip to Vegas a couple of weeks back for MIX09. The Las Vegas Monorail saved us a lot of wear and tear, but apparently not enough.

We saw the “Criss Angel: Believe” show at the Luxor. Neither of us really knew what to expect, but we came out liking it. It’s probably better described as a “magic show with a story” where the assistants and dancers are all Cirque du Soleil performers. For the folks looking for a Cirque show, it’s really more magic than Cirque. Great dancers, really cool costumes, and some great effects… but definitely more “magic” than “Cirque.” We both liked the show a lot, though I feel a bit like it cost a lot for what you get. It’s the most expensive show Jenn and I have seen down there and I think Ka was probably a better value.

There were really only two things that colored the trip for me.

First, when I stayed at The Venetian for MIX09 (and MIX07), the front desk offered to print my airplane boarding pass for me when I checked out. Both times. No charge. It’s a little thing, but so nice and convenient it definitely makes a difference. The Paris Las Vegas insists you use either their business office or one of the myriad internet kiosks they have around so they can charge you $5. Is $5 a huge amount? No, but then, it’s just two pieces of stupid paper. Do they really need to nickel-and-dime me for $5? It’s the little things like that which make a “good” hotel into a “great” hotel. I talked to the front desk about that and “that’s the policy.” Needless to say, I filed a complaint about that. I’ll update this entry if I hear something back, but I’m not holding my breath.

Second, after we checked out, we wanted to leave our bags at the front desk until our shuttle bus arrived. The conversation around that went something like this:

Travis: Hey, we’d liike to leave our bags here until later when our bus thing comes to get us. Bellhop: [condescending] “Bus thing?” What is a “bus thing?” Travis: The, uh, the shuttle bus. To the airport. Bellhop: Ah. I see. I can help you with that. Let me tag those bags. Travis: OK. Bellhop: [after tagging the bags] Here’s your claim ticket. Around when will you be back to get them? Travis: Well, the shuttle leaves a little after 5:00, so around then. Bellhop: I won’t be here at 5:00 when you come back. Travis: Uh… [thinking: So what? I just need to… OH. He’s asking for a tip. Wow, that’s a little forward.] Right. Um… [thinking: All I have is a $20 bill. I’m not giving this guy $20 to check two carry-on bags.] Can I get some change? Bellhop: I can give you change. Travis: OK, I need change for $20. [hands the bellhop the $20 bill] Bellhop: [hands me two $5 bills and stops] How much did you need? Travis: [thinking: What? You seriously think I’m giving you $10 to hold two stupid carry-on bags? Seriously?] Um, $18. [thinking: $2 is way more than enough for you, asshole, considering I’m going to also have to tip the guy I pick this up from.] Bellhop: [glaring at me] $18? Travis: [thinking: You know what, shithead? Why not give me all $20 back and take a different tip - don’t be an asshole. I don’t owe you shit. You’re a fucking bellhop. You get paid to take my God damn bags. Take them and shut the fuck up.] Yes, $18. [taking the last $8] Thanks.

Now, I know it’s a tip-oriented culture down there, but this guy was pretty demanding and blunt about the whole thing.

I filed a complaint about that, too.

Other than that, our stay was great. The room was great, the rest of the service was great, the food was great… Hopefully the Paris won’t turn into a low-end nickel-and-dime you sort of establishment. I’ve loved my stays before, and aside from these two issues it was another good stay.

media, windows comments edit

Something I’d noticed in recent times: My Dell Studio Hybrid media center PC wouldn’t display a video signal after resuming from sleep.

This would work:

  1. Turn the TV on.
  2. Turn the Dell Studio Hybrid on (power on).
  3. Put the Dell Studio Hybrid to sleep.
  4. Wake the Dell Studio Hybrid up.

Doing that sequence you would correctly see the PC go to sleep, wake up, and still display a signal on the screen. This, on the other hand, would not work:

  1. Turn the TV on.
  2. Turn the Dell Studio Hybrid on (power on).
  3. Turn the TV off.
  4. Put the Dell Studio Hybrid to sleep.
  5. Turn the TV on.
  6. Wake the Dell Studio Hybrid up.

Doing that sequence, the TV would never get the video signal from the PC again. You’d have to hard power off and power it back on to get the signal. (As it turns out, it’s not putting it to sleep that’s the problem, it’s the power option to “Turn off display” - the machine doesn’t have to go fully to sleep, but if the display turns off, you still see this problem.)

I also noticed that there was a problem where occasionally the TV would lose signal just switching inputs away from the Dell Studio Hybrid and back.

  1. Turn the TV on.
  2. Switch the TV to the HDMI input for the Dell Studio Hybrid - everything looks fine.
  3. Switch the TV to some other input.
  4. Switch the TV back to the HDMI input for the Dell Studio Hybrid - signal lost.

This would only happen when Windows Media Center was running full screen. If you were looking at the desktop, or if WMC was in windowed mode, you’d never lose signal. Only when WMC was full screen would it be a problem.

I updated all the drivers, no luck. I messed around with different driver settings, no luck. After searching around, I found several workarounds.

What worked for me: I bought a little $20 HDMI switchbox based on this blog entry here. Putting that between the TV and the PC seems to have cleared up my signal loss issue.

Other workarounds include…

Use the “Bubbles” screen saver. For some reason, I found the “Bubbles” screen saver does something that other screen savers don’t seem to do and the signal doesn’t get lost when it’s on. It does mean you have to set the computer up so it never goes to sleep and the video signal never shuts off, but if you do that (and set the screen saver to start at something like one minute) then as long as you don’t switch the TV input to the PC when the screen saver isn’t running, you’re fine. Worst case, you switch away from the PC and wait one minute before switching back. Even with the HDMI switchbox, I’m still running the “Bubbles” screen saver, though it’s running at 15 minutes now instead of one minute.

Switch the ACPI suspend type to S1. I stumbled on this while searching through forums. It didn’t work for me, but it works for some folks. By default, it’s set to S3 - suspend to RAM. Switching it to S1 (sleep) seems to have resolved it, at least in my tests thus far. I can now do the sequence that wouldn’t work - turn the TV off, put the DSH to sleep, turn the TV on, and wake up the DSH with the video signal intact. I learned a little about what the different modes mean while I was figuring this out. This is a great FAQ if you want to know more.

UPDATE (5/28/09): I reformatted this post to be a little more clear about the issue and possible solutions.