Monthly Archives: September 2006

Music Everywhere With The Saitek A250

Rockelle has wanted some way to play her music, all of which resides on her machine in iTunes, anywhere in the house and ideally out into the back yard when needed. In the past I had looked at solutions like the Squeezebox and Sonos. Sonos was very very expensive, and not really portable (which means we might have to deploy two or three across the house and moving outside would be impractical). Squeezebox was less expensive but like Sonos it seemed to be designed to be attached to an already existing sound system to piggyback on its amplifier and speakers. Again, that reduced portability and meant Rockelle couldn’t just take it anywhere she happened to be.
Then she spotted the Saitek A250 in a catalog and had me look into it. The reviews seemed solid and it was just over $100, a fantastic price compared to the other things we had looked at.
We’ve had it for many months now and I can tell you that Rockelle still raves about it. It’s trivially easy to connect to your PC because all it has on that end is a little USB dongle. No drivers have to be installed because it tells Windows that it is nothing more than some Bluetooth speakers and a remote Bluetooth keyboard. Windows already knows how to handle both of those so you don’t install anything and it works with anything that outputs sound, including websites that play music like Pandora as well as programs like iTunes, Windows Media Player, Winamp, etc.
It’s small, light weight, and thus very portable. Since it includes its own wireless broadcast device you don’t have to have setup a wireless network for it to work. It has it’s own speakers and amplifier built in. It works off of wall current with the provided power cord and also for a lengthy period off of four AA batteries (we often use rechargables so it can go outside with us when we eat al fresco :)
Sound is excellent and with programs that understand commands to go to the next song or previous song via keyboard commands, you can control them remotely. For example, when iTunes is playing you can hit “next” on the Saitek and it sends the same keyboard command for “next” that you see on those multimedia keyboards back to the machine. iTunes happily moves to the next song in the playlist.
Buy the Saitek from Amazon to support this weblog.

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Amazon Thinks You’re A Sucker

Well, actually, not just Amazon thinks you’re a sucker. So do all the major TV networks and the MPAA as well. See, they’re all convinced that worthless services like the new Amazon.com Unbox Video are going to get you to pay just as much for a digital file that takes a long time to download, won’t play on your TV, and you can’t burn to a DVD as you would pay for the DVD of that same material!
Doesn’t that make perfect sense to you? Just plunk down $13.45 and get either:

  • Office Space – Special Edition with Flair on DVD and watch it on your TV or rip it using software to play on your iPod or other portable device. Watch deleted scenes, extras, etc. Even make a backup DVD you can put in your safety deposit box so you don’t lose $1000 worth of movies if your house burns.
  • Office Space – Next to Useless Edition and play it on one and only one PC (the one you downloaded it onto). You can also dump it to an approved portable device (translation, not an iPod, not anything that more than five people actually own).

Yes, it’s a hard decision. I’m sure sales will be brisk.

Making Sure An Open Source RPG Stays Available

Updated: You can ignore this now. Instead you want to go over to the DominionRules.org website where they are hard at work on v3.0 of the rules.
A long time ago (back when GameDev.net was still new) I interviewed the developers at a site called Dominion Games. They had developed a set of rules for a fantasy role-playing game called, naturally enough, Dominion Rules. They put an open source license on it and encouraged others to write more rules, expansions, character sheets, etc. Keep in mind this was even before Wizards was considering using the D20 license to open up parts of D&D.
Everything was on their website for free as downloadable PDF files. But, there’s a problem, they went away. The site is gone and when someone asked me about downloading the rules recently, neither of us could find anyone with a copy. He expanded his search based on some suggestions I made and eventually tracked down copies of a few of the rule books. Here they are from my site so they won’t go missing again: The Dominion Rules Digest (the core rules for Dominion Rules 2.0), The Armoury (also for Rules 2.0), and The Spell Books (1.0 version, I don’t know if there was ever a 2.0 version)