2012 – The Asteroids Galaxy Tour – Out of Frequency

It’s not often you get a new album with fourteen tracks. It’s also twice as rare for that many tracks to be consistently good throughout. The Asteroids Galaxy Tour brought us just such an album earlier this year. You may remember The Asteroids Galaxy Tour from their 2008 single, Around the Bend.

What you’ll hear from 2012’s Out of Frequency music is definitive “head-bob” music. A funkadelic ska band that is trapped somewhere between the 70’s and 80’s and blessed with the gift of time travel that lets them come forward to today and listen to our current generation of acid-rock bands like MGMT, Air France, or Washed Out.

There is no doubt in my mind that The Astroids Galaxy Tour is not for everyone. People will detest them. Psychedelic can be redundant, it can drag, it can get too “out there” for a lot of people. But I love listening to this album and hearing all of the influences that have made them in to a band. You go from a song with a church organ right into a synthesizer that sounds nearly like chiptune music, but if that chiptune song were inspireed by the disco song Kung Fu Fighting.

The album has a few misses, but beginning to end it entertains me and brings enough different influences to the forefront that the variety makes up for the songs you may not enjoy. You can tell that the band members are students of musical history, taking lessons from the chart toppers of decades past. if I were on a long car drive, I wouldn’t hesitate to have Out of Frequency
in the rotation. If you still can’t figure out what genre of music I’ve been describing, that’s because it is very hard to pin point, but I’ll simplify it for you: I can all but guarrantee that at least one song from this album will be featured in an iPhone commercial this year.

How do I disable automatic renewal of Xbox Live Gold? Here's your how to…

Maybe you’re like I was when I was young, and you were never sure how much money you would have in your bank account on a certain day which could be weeks or months in to the future. I never trusted myself enough to have “automatic renewal” tied to some sort of debit card, then suddenly one day get notice that I had overdrawn my account. It’s not fun. Or, perhaps you just don’t know for sure if you want to continue using a service which you may have just started using. Either way, or for any other number of reasons, you may want to disable the automatic renewal feature for your Xbox Live Gold subscription. Here’s how to do it from the web:

Go to the My Account page, here: http://www.xbox.com/accounts
UPDATE 11/24/2013: the instructions below have changed due to a redesign of the Xbox.com website. Go to the accounts page as linked above, then click “Subscriptions” (a large button at the top of the page) and you should be able to disable the Xbox Live Gold Subscription near the top of the Subscriptions page.

Original Article:
On the center of the page, you’ll see your current Automatic Renewal status: click the CHANGE button.*

On the next screen, simply set it to OFF.

Microsoft has the steps listed on their support page as well.
*Please note: at the time of publication, the “change” link is currently redirecting to the Contact Us page. You should be able to change the auto renew status online without having to contact customer support. I have contacted Microsoft for a response to see if this is a temporary change on the website, or if they will be making us jump through more hoops in the future. No comment, yet. I will update if I hear anything of substance.

Is Microsoft Hedging their Bet against Nintendo's Wii U?

Last week, news broke that Xbox 365 (again, my name) will not be shown at E3 2012. I’m wondering if Microsoft is playing it safe. I fully believe that they are ready for the next generation – but if they give themselves an entire year of additional time, it’s going to make their next console unstoppable.

First, I believe they’re “hedging their bet” against the Wii U. Nintendo’s silly Wii console dominated / decimated / owned sales charts for well over 2 years afters it’s release. Lately, the Xbox 360 has become the top dog. But Microsoft doesn’t want to risk playing second fiddle again. The best way to prevent that? Don’t release head-to-head with what could be Nintendo’s most anticipated console ever. By “delaying” the unannounced launch, nobody feels shocked or too disappointed (we had HOPED to see something, but knew it wasn’t entirely likely). An added benefit of the delay, internally at Microsoft, will be time to polish. Even if the hardware specs are 100% finalized (which, at this stage in the process, I hope there’s still some flexibility), there will still be lots of time for optimization and enhancement – both on the back-end and the user interface.

So, I wouldn’t say that Microsoft is running scared from Nintendo, but rather playing it smart. By delaying your console launch by a year, it gives you more time to release a more polished, and genuinely better product than the competition (taking advantage of any advancements in the technology you’ll be using), learn from any mistakes they’ve made this generation (even “simple” things like number of games at launch, console price, online infrastructure, etcetera), and avoid the head to head sales contest for the consumer’s “holiday 2012 spending dollar.” It’s a smart move. We’ll all have to wait and see if it pays off. But the key word there was “wait.”

Tablets and Desktops and Ultrabooks, Oh My!

Thursdays are my day to post about whatever I really want. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about getting myself some new hardware. I don’t do as much computing as I once did. But I feel, simultaneously, like I want to do more. I’ve become that type of geek who used to be a gamer and had to fiddle with his own hardware – now I’m the type of geek who keeps his six year old dinosaur running and also has a netbook.

So I’m thinking of killing two birds with one stone. My desktop I currently hooked up via HDMI to my TV in my living room, running at 1080p, and has a wireless mouse and keyboard (don’t ask what model, it’s embarrassing). In theory, I could replace both my ailing netbook (with a semi-functional hard drive and a broken left click) and my old desktop (which growls when you first turn it on, squeels when its accessing data, and was “upgraded” to a dual core CPU only about a year ago) with one device. And I love the look of these Ultrabooks. Super portable, super powerful, and most of them have some form of HDMI and of course a USB slot, meaning I could keep it tucked away when not in use, and it would serve as my desktop.


Yeah, that really is a functional computer, the Acer S3

These things are loaded, too! I don’t know how they don’t burst into flames. Intel i5’s, i7’s, 8 GB of RAM, terrabyte hard drives, solid state hard drives: you name it, they’ve got a model with it! I haven’t seen any quadcore i7s, yet, and the i7 models are all 15 inches and above – none are 13 inches. I believe that’ due to the necessary heatpiping used in these units, which are mostly passively cooled (heat is dispersed over a wide area, similar to the way tablet or phone “cools” itself, not pushed out with fans like a traditional PC). They carry a heavy pricetag, but everything else out there that I’m looking it is similar to “powerhouse machines” that friends of mine built two or three years ago. I feel like the progression has been towards minimizing the machine, rather than increasing the power. This is one of the reasons I haven’t bothered upgrading my desktop.

Still, the more I work on fun little side projects, the more I have cause to crunch data. I’m getting back in to various forms of media: compressing video as I begin digitzing my DVD collection (more on that later), potentially editing some video for this site, and getting back in to some audio editing and mixing has appealed to me for a while. I also do a lot of work with virtual machines, and wouldn’t you know that my motherboard is so old that I can’t use hardware virtualization on my CPU. No, not even with a hacked BIOS update. Trust me, I’ve checked. It would be nice to virtualize things a little better. In several instances, I feel like the crappy Atom CPU in my netbook does a better job than my desktop.

So, if it’s about time, I need to consider several things. Is it worth it? Is now the time? Are there deals coming down the road, or is everyone excited for tablets and the iPad specifically that there’s no point in going forward? I look at things like the HP Folio, ASUS Zenbook, Acer Aspire S3, and the Samsung Series 5 – which may be a little bit bulkier than the others, but is still impressively tiny, which I kind of like because it actually boasts a full size HDMI port.

What’s everybody else doing? Ignoring it and waiting for Windows 8 tablets? Going for first gen Ultrabooks? Building a new Bulldozer-based gaming PC for only three grand? Oh decisions decisions. I think I’m going to try and at least hold out until the vouchers for free upgrades to Windows 8 are unveiled, likely to come out some time this summer, but I don’t think I’m going to wait all the way until October when Windows 8 launches – when it’s official, I’ll probably buy a tablet. But what will I end up doing before then? I’ll keep you posted, but if you have any words of advice, leave them in the comments, I’m open to listening!