March 2, 2008: Playing on AsoBrain

Dominica’s first thing this morning was playing MySims on the Nintendo Wii. She is starting to get into it a bit. It is a cute and simple game but it looks like it might be a bit of fun. It adds some new twists to the Sims family of games. The graphics are definitely good. Very pleasant which makes the game quite relaxing to play. I enjoy watching Dominica play Sims games. I don’t really like playing any of them myself but they are interesting and I can see why people enjoy them.

We met up with Ramona and Winni around noon. We would have been over there sooner but our valets today completely fell apart and it took us fifty-five minutes to get out car out of the garage and we had to go over there and get it ourselves. Then we had to fight with the managers in the garage who just couldn’t understand that we wanted to be able to drive our car and that holding it hostage was not acceptable. The turn around time on a car is supposed to be just fifteen minutes and waiting almost and hour and having to walk to Military Park to get the car ourselves on a slow Sunday afternoon when there should have been more than ample time is really a problem.

The four of us drove down to Elizabeth, New Jersey to try to find some board games at Toys R Us. But really shopping in Elizabeth is not the best place to find intellectual games and the store there was completely devoid of them. We did pick up Mad Gab which Dominica and I learned to play while we were last visiting my family in Ohio. So then we were off to breakfast.

We discovered a diner in Elizabeth that we ended up really liking. The food was good and inexpensive and the people there were really nice. We will definitely be going back there again. They also had fried New Jersey crab cakes on mac and cheese which I have not had since going to the Omega Diner down in North Brunswick more than a year ago.

We hit Best Buy because our wireless access point hasn’t been working recently and it was always a bit problematic. So we decided to just pick up an Apple AirPort Extreme to use as our wireless. It wasn’t cheap but it is attractive and supposedly works extremely well so we decided to just give it a try. It has an included Gigabit Ethernet switch which might be nice depending on how we end up using the system. The AirPort also supports 802.11n which is makes it the first device that we have that will do that.

We recently decided that we are moving our home “entertainment system” over to Apple Mac and AppleTV based so the AirPort Extreme plays into that very well. Our short term plan is to get a Mac Mini for the living room which we will use as our “iTunes Server” and to keep using our AppleTV in our bedroom as our remote television station. Eventually, if and when we manage to get a house again we expect that we will have a guest bedroom and, in that case, we will add another AppleTV to add television to that room as well. We have a plan and it seems to work pretty well.

What I wish that Apple would now do, considering the pieces of the system that they have in place already, is design and build a dedicated “iTunes Media Server”. The ITMS unit idea would be that it would be a standalone unit with four hard drives (up to four terabytes of raw storage or three terabytes with RAID 5) that runs iTunes internally and is used to feed program content out to AppleTV, FrontRow or iTunes on Windows. It should also have one or two USB connections that could be used for syncing an iPod. The interface would be controlled by iTunes on Windows or Mac (or Linux, hint, hint) but all data would be handled local on the ITMS. The iTunes on the ITMS would run continuously so that no computer would need to be left on in order for subscription content to be downloaded at any time day or night. I believe that this is a key component missing from Apple’s iTunes and AppleTV strategy. And I also think that if they decide to build such a device that they should send me one for free for coming up with the idea (hint, hint.) Other possible features of the ITMS could be the inclusion of Time Capsule compatibility, a built in AirPort wireless access point and possibly even routing capabilities to make this truly an all-in-one unit. Although I would prefer it without all of the extra capability with the exception of the Time Capsule feature which I think is perfect for this device and ends up filling another important gap in the Apple lineup – that of RAID protected Time Capsule storage.

We came back to Eleven80 and set up the AirPort so that we could put Ramona and Winni’s laptops online and we taught Dominica how to play Settlers of Catan online. We ended up having someone from Slovakia jump into our game. He was rather annoying but it gave Dominica a chance to learn to play with Ramona sitting with her and showing her how to play. It worked really well and Dominica ended up completely demolishing everyone.

We had a small shipment from Amazon arrive today too. I am guessing that it actually arrived yesterday and we just failed to check the mail. We received the first season of A Different World and the second half of the fourth season of Family Guy. I also got “Lake Wobegon U.S.A.” which is the third in a collection of “News from Lake Wobegon” Audio CD collections. The other two in the series are “News from Lake Wobegon” and “More News from Lake Wobegon”. They are generally considered to be roughly the best fifteen hours of the classic “News from Lake Wobegon” stories. I also got the book “Agile Retrospectives” which I have been looking forward to reading for a while.

We ordered in dinner from Dominos. And then it was back to Settlers.  The game took a while to play (we are playing to thirteen points) and that was all the more time that we had tonight.  Ramona and Winni headed back home at eleven thirty on the Eleven80 shuttle.

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