speakers and subtitles

I’ve been reading off and on about speaker setups and TVs for a few years now. When living alone I had a 5.1 speaker setup = 5 (2 front, 2 back, 1 centre front) + 1 subwoofer, on a basic Yamaha all in one system. The number before the decimal point represents speaker count and the number after the decimal point refers to subwoofer(s). The system is set up in the games room of my current place and is effectively a 3.0 though could be 3.1 except I don’t usually (remember to) turn on the subwoofer and have not set up the back speakers. The centre speaker is the one I’m most interested in as that’s where the dialogue comes through while the rear speakers supply surround sound and are particularly effective for noises/explosions in movies and games. The downside of rear speakers is a combo of placement and wiring. The latter can be alleviated through wireless speakers but placement is tricky in both the games room and lounge room.

In the lounge room where we watch DVDs/TV/etc, the sound has been less adequate. The basic TV sound wasn’t sufficient and we’ve supplemented it with one of the better midrange sound bases that I managed to grab during a JB sale. It’s been ok but still too loud for noisy explosion type stuff and not sufficiently distinct for dialogue. On both systems I rely heavily on subtitles as it’s not an ideal environment to turn the sound up too loud. To be honest, loudness can make dialogue sound somewhat muddy so that doesn’t really help. As a deaf bugger, decent audio on dialogue is paramount. I recall years ago, going along with a friend, to a specialist hifi place, and heard an amazing centre speaker…except it was about $2,500. Ouch! However I think I’m getting to the point where I need to invest in something serious, though less keen on that level of seriousness.

Given the open plan layout of loungeroom/kitchen/dining, there is no place to put rear speakers. To be fair, given the nature of my hearing aids and the way they dampen sound behind me, it’s unlikely that I’d hear rear speakers anyway. In fact, I recall from my “living alone” days that I never actually heard the rear speakers and stuck my ear against them occasionally to check that they were emitting sound :-) In other words, I’ve discovered from the merged house arrangement with my partner and kids that actually an arrangement of centre + front speakers + subwoofer – rear speakers aka 3.1 would probably suit me rather well.

So I’m now at the point where I’m investigating a decent setup for the loungeroom. I will need a new receiver/amp to control and power the setup; ideally the receiver will support wifi/bluetooth and whatever else is current. I’d like to control it from my tablet/phone. In terms of speakers, the key item is the centre speaker that manages dialogue the best, rendering it clear and distinct. While most folk would prioritise the side (floor standing speakers) over the centre, given my dodgy hearing I need to prioritise the centre. I figure that means I can spend a little more on the centre and a little less on the sides. I’ve been doing a chunk of research into receivers and speakers but figure I’m probably at the point where I need to go somewhere and try stuff out lest I fall into an endless cycle of research…a rather familiar trap it must be said.

thoughts of pedro

One of these days I may get round to blogging a list of all the whiskies I like though it’s fair to say I have strong leanings toward sherry casks and regular strength whiskies, cask strength is mostly not for me. I’ve just opened a bottle of 16 year old Balvenie (triple cask) which is rather pleasant. My current favourite at the moment however is a newish one from Laphroaig that was matured in Pedro Ximenez casks and is 48% alcohol: Laphroaig’s PX Cask. Interestingly I bought a litre at the airport for about AD$110 but have seen it retailing locally for around $200.

a lethargic 5

I’m happy to report that full connectivity was restored to the house a day or two before we were due to fly to NZ. Returning home on Sunday, I was happy to discover that we still had net :) I’ll talk more about the NZ trip and tramping the Kepler Track once I’ve sorted out the photos and loaded them to flickr. I have about 130 photos that I need to weed though that should be relatively quick compared to weeding my photos from the European holiday over Dec/Jan. For the Europe set, I’ve managed to get it down to under 300 from around 700 but it still needs a couple more goes. I should have the Kepler set up this week at least.

While I’m in post NZ recovery, here’s 5 random things I’ve tweeted in recent months:

still no net

Been about two weeks since our home internet died; not even a dial tone. The lack of dial tone indicates the issue is either the socket or external. Took a couple of days to get through to TPG support who in turn contacted Telstra to send out a technician. The deadline of 4th April came and went. Turns out there’s issues at the moment logging requests for Telstra technicians. TPG have assigned a specific person to manage our issues. Fingers crossed.

On the other hand, this is a first world problem. I have good internet at work and on my phone. The house network itself is fine so we can still connect to the NAS and wifi to the printer. I have been very reliant on my telstra network for mobile however. 4 days ago, I exceeded my data and was charged $10 for an additional gig. This is less scary than I anticipated as I’d built up in my head all sorts of scary scenarios for “exceeding my limit”. On the other hand, around lunchtime today, on the final day of my monthly data period, I exceeded the additional gig and had another gig added for another $10.

This means I have half a day to use a gig of mobile data. I am sitting at home hotspotting my mobile to the mac mini and to the win laptop. I am computering as much as I normally would with unlimited broadband. Care factor: 0. I have booked accommodation in Queenstown..at last as we’re tramping the Kepler track next week…we did at least book the huts a few weeks ago.

In other news, I really love this image and comment from Mark Di Stefano misappropriated of Turnbull inspecting flooded areas. The photo itself was taken by Dan Himbrechts.

almost holidays

I may actually be getting vaguely excited about my impending trip. About bloody time as we fly out in 3 days. Though I usually say I don’t start to relax until I’m on the plane. We’re traveling for 6 weeks and have booked 10 nights of accommodation so far, or roughly a third. Sometimes I’m comfy with that, sometimes I’m not. I am comfortable with the flexibility.

We kept looking stuff up on wotif and being disappointed with the results. There’s 3 of us traveling: moi, my partner and Ms16. Wotif doesn’t show many places and keeps returning places with 1 bed + crib. A crib is no good. Airbnb however is showing lots of apartments, many of which are suitable ie 2 rooms with 2 beds. We’ve booked one place with wotif and 2 places with airbnb so far. We have booked accommodation over christmas thankfully as that’s likely to be a hard time to book.

Flexibility means that this week we were able to throw in a weekend in London in January and see a show or two. We have booked the shows and the Paris-London-Paris eurostar (around 2 hours 15 min each way). We will be seeing Matilda together and the other 2 will also be seeing Wicked. I saw Wicked in Sydney so I’m going to hang in London that day.

I’m a wee bit excited about going to London again which is a bit weird. I have spent more time in London than anywhere else outside Oz altogether, and house-sat occasionally. I immediately thought of a whole bunch of things I want to do and figured I needed a week minimum, however we’ll stick to the weekend. I will try to get Harrod’s as their food hall is the only place I’ve ever been able to buy Valrhona chocolate covered orange peels and they are my favourite. I’d also like to go to Kensington Gardens and see the Peter Pan statue in the snow. I usually like to pay my respects to Peter each time I visit London. I also want to go to my favourite museum, the John Soane Museum.

trip stuff

Heading off in a week or so for a 6 week holiday in Europe. I am alternately between sheer panic and totally chilled. Flights are booked, a couple of trains are booked, accommodation for first place and for christmas have been booked. I’m mostly ok with that, on the other hand I panic occasionally as there’s 3 of us travelling together and I’m not used to travelling with other people. This time it’s with my partner and Ms15.

Starting in Copenhagen and mostly spending time in Germany (for traditional christmas markets) and France, finishing off with a few days in Barcelona. Been a busy year and it’s been hard to plan or think things through. The last time I did a big trip was 3 weeks around Borneo in 2012 with Intrepid so everything was taken care of. My previous trips to Europe have usually been self guided and self propelled, on occasion finding accommodation on the fly. With that said, tech has improved a lot and I’ll probably get a local sim for my phone with data so I can carry on as usual. I doubt I’ll need rely as heavily on local internet cafes as I used to in the old days.

I had mostly decided not to take my laptop which surprised my partner. However I’ve been rethinking this week that it would be handy to have with me, particularly if we’re weighing up options throughout the trip. Phone and tablets can handle some things but they’re not great for having lots of tabs open.The other advantage of the laptop is that I can use it to back up our photos as we go. I’m toying with the idea of making my NAS remotely accessible and backing up the photos to it as well. That might be overkill and create more headaches.


My tablet is a 2013 edition of the 7″ nexus and while it’s still nice, it is getting a little long in the tooth and not recharging as well as it used to. I am considering picking up a new tablet duty-free, possibly the 8″ samsung galaxy S2. Unfortunately my phone isn’t dual sim so I’ll need to swap sims occasionally to check for messages from home though most friends use various messenging apps to contact me, family less so. And of course, I’ll have my ereader with me, one can’t have too many devices. The only remaining item in the photo is my old psion 5mx from 1999 – it shall remain at home :)

keep on trying

I have been reading feminist literature for a fair chunk of my life (and had conversations with feminist friends and generally tried to live a more otherness aware life) and I continue to discover things where I, as a white male, continue to fail. Or perhaps not so much fail, as not quite understood the perspective of others. Sometimes this happens repeatedly…for years…before I manage to get a clue.

The latest one was this:

In tech, a common pattern is for hiring managers to say “I don’t care who you are, just show me your hobby projects on github, or your think-pieces on medium” but a bit of reflection is all it takes to realize that screening based on free-time pursuits gets you more affluent white men than it does underemployed single moms.

Time to do stuff is not equal for everybody. In library circles that can mean time to spend on conference committees, to do volunteer work, to admin elists and so on. For most of my life I was single, white male with a job and seemingly endless amounts of free time. That in turn begs the question of why haven’t I done so much more, which is answered by my sheer, bloody laziness and ability to procrastinate.

However I have continued to say that volunteering requires giving up your own time to do stuff for others. That’s easy when you’re a single, white male. That’s what privilege looks like. I now live with a partner and she has 3 kids. My ability to “give up” time no longer exists, I no longer have privileged control over my time. My time is shared with others. She has given up a lot of time for the kids.

That’s not a complaint about my current situation.

In the old days, I’d come home from work, switch on the TV, or the playstation, perhaps get round to cooking, or heating up a frozen dinner (more likely as I hate cooking), pour myself some wine and so on. These days, we return home, the number for dinner is variable and occasionally unknown, depending on the movement of the kids (15, 18, 21). Post dinner is variable depending on what others are doing…time on the playstation is negotiated. I’m playing skyrim again and I can’t spend entire weeks/months playing it like I could when I was alone. There might be alternative options eg my partner and I are currently watching Once Upon a Time with Ms15, however they sometimes like to watch Nashville together which I’m not interested in.

I seem to have little time to volunteer, or at least I think I have little time and that may be more a reflection that I’m still trying to think in context of my old life while trying to adapt to my new life. Adaption is taking me a long time as I’ve been with my partner fort 4 years and living altogether fulltime for 2 years. I am reminded that as I think these sorts of things, I am still exercising privilege as these sorts of things are not “options” for others, nor having the luxury to ruminate on them.