How To Add Music To Your Web Page

I was looking for a quick and easy way to put some of our own music on this site, and after researching a few free music players, settled on this one by Yahoo!.

It's super easy. Just clip a line of code and put it into your page's html, then put in a link to whatever song or songs you want people to hear. Magically, a little "play" button will appear next to your song, and visitors to your site can play or pause the music at will.

PS3/Netflix Partnership Is Not Streaming

I have a PS3, and I have Netflix. I was psyched when I hear that they struck up a partnership so I could watch Netflix streaming from my PS3. This was appealing to me since I wouldn't have to wait for the DVD in the mail for what I wanted to watch.

The reality was much worse. The first time I tried it, Cate was here and we'd had a few drinks already, and we watched Man On A Wire. It seemed to take a long time to buffer, and what was worst, it wouldn't buffer it all at the beginning. It would play, then stop, then play, then stop. Here is where the drinks came in handy. The pauses gave us time to to mix some more cocktails. Nevertheless, it was extraordinarily distracting.

The next time I tried the service, I was alone, so I timed it. It turned out that the buffering was so bad, it wasn't even streaming video. The video would "buffer" for 7 minutes, then it would play for 7 minutes. Then it would stop, and buffer for 7 minutes. Then stream for 7 minutes. I wasn't exactly 7 minutes every time. Sometimes it was six and change, sometimes it was up to 8 or 9 minutes. But it was a really, really, unsatisfying way to watch a movie.

"Buffering" implies that the movie will download a portion, then continue downloading in the background while the first part plays. This is not what happens. It seems like the movie downloads a portion into the PS3 temporary memory, then plays it, then downloads the next portion, then plays it, until it's done.

It's terrible. Terry blames it on our "slow" internet connection, but I don't have problems with other streaming video. Sure, it takes a loooong time to buffer, but then whatever I want to see continues without interruption.

So I won't be using the PS3/Netflix thing until I hear that this is worked out. I'd rather wait for the DVD in the mail than spend 3 hours watching a 1.5 hour movie.

New Bejeweled Blitz Is Even Better

I've been a big fan of the facebook game bejeweled blitz for a while now. Popcap just released an updated version today.

At first I didn't like it, but only because I'm of the "don't fix what ain't broke" mindset, and I really enjoyed the first version. But I was intrigued, and once I got the hang of the new version, I find I like it even more.

The main gist of the game is still to move one jewel at a time to make sets of three or more of the same color. In the original version you got a special exploding jewel when you matched 4 in a row, and a hypercube when you matched 5 in a row. Those are the same in this version, except the exploding jewels are now flaming jewels, but they still blow up all the jewels in the vicinity when matched. Now there is a NEW special jewel that is created when you make a "T" or "L" shape match (basically making matches in 2 directions with one move). This is called a "star" jewel, and it blasts all the jewels in its row and column when it explodes. The hypercube is the same, taking out all the jewels of a single color when you use it.

Another scoring change is called "last hurrah". In the first version of the game, you had to match your special gems before the game ended, or you lost them. But now, any of the special jewels left on the board at the end of the minute are exploded automatically for you. You keep not only whatever points you get from that, but also from any cascades that result (which might also create more power gems which will also be automatically exploded). I've gotten in excess of 25,000 points during the "last hurrah" so players should see their average scores increase without any change in play just from this change alone.

But I think the biggest difference between the new game and the original version is the speed of play. In the original game, you could look for and set up your next move before all the exploded gems stopped falling, but the move wouldn't actually happen until the previous move completed. In the new version, you can move gems WHILE the exploded gems are still falling. This makes for significantly faster play. Once I got in the habit of making matches as fast as I saw them, I found it to be a lot more fun than the old way.

The graphics are also a bit different, which was off-putting at first glance, but they're fine. I liked the old hypercube better, but the flaming and star jewels are pretty in this version. The arrow pointing to the target gem when you request a hint is now MUCH more prominent and easy to see. In the old version, sometimes I'd lose even more time when I couldn't find a match because I then couldn't even find the hint!

The new version is much higher scoring, so I wouldn't be surprised if more people started getting the 250,000 badges in their stats. My previous high score was 121,000, but I got 168,900 on this first day playing the new version. Not that I'm any higher than usual within my friends' rankings, the top person right now got 176,950.

The first thing I noticed, in fact, when I opened the new version of the game, was that different people were on top of the score chart than usual. That clued me in that this new version favors a different style of play than the old version, otherwise the same people would be best at the new version as the old. So if you didn't do so well playing the old version, you might want to give the game another try, you might be pleasantly surprised to find your scores and ranking much improved.

Both William and I like the Skwish Classic

My favorite baby toy so far is the Skwish Classic. I took 5-month-old William around the toy store and held toys up for him until I saw his eyes light up. And the Skwish Classic was the winner. He seems fascinated by it, but that's understandable since I am fascinated by it. Plus I like the sound it makes. A gentle whooshing sort of noise when the balls slide over the rods. Softer than clicking, but still distinct.

I also like to hold it by the elastic and shake it-- it bounces really fast, and all the beads and rods jiggle around. And if I'm bored, I push the rods under the elastic bands in different directions to force the Skwish into various shapes.

I briefly considered the Skwish in natural wood color, but it seemed a little dull. The classic colors are pleasing to me, and I like that complementary colors are used together. The toy can be educational for color theory once William is old enough to understand that. Until then, the complementary colors serve to create a toy very eye-catching and vivid to observe.

Another plus is that it's very light, so William hasn't hurt himself with this, despite the fact that he whacks himself in the face with the toy when he's playing with it. And it's very easy for him to hold-- he'll hold it and look at it, and turn it over and around in his hands. I love how he looks so contemplative when he's playing with this, it's adorable. It makes me wonder what thoughts are going through his little baby head.

Viewing Distance Calculator

I'm calculating where exactly to put the projector shelf on the back wall of the upstairs lounge in order to create the best movie-viewing experience from the couch. I used the table in the back of my projector's manual to figure out what the projector is capable of, and was able to determine the range of screen sizes I could have.

While looking online to see what standard screen sizes are available, I came across this Viewing Distance Calculator".

You can use this not only to determine screen sizes for projectors, but also for TVs. It's particularly useful for TVs, since it tells you the optimal diagonal measurement for both 4:3 ratio and 16:9 ratio screens instead of just the width of the image. This is much easier than using the Pythagorean theorem and backing into the diagonal (what I had to do when I was shopping for a TV nine years ago).

The website also gives a range of sizes based on various certifications. Two film technical organizations, SMPTE and THX, set standards for the viewing angle necessary for movie theaters to be certified by them. So if you want to set up your home theater to professional standards, you can see what they would be.

Page 1>>