Digarec lecture visit

In February 4th, I will be doing a lecture visit to Potsdam, who are running an interesting Digarec lecture series. My title is “The Dual Structure: Experiencing Digital Games in the Intersection of Gameplay and Media” and you can find an abstract of it from here:


There should be materials and even a video recording or transcript available online later, so check it out some time after the lecture. [Edit: fixed couple of typos in 6th of February, 2010.]

Tangent EVO E4 as a rear speaker

Tangent EVO E4, originally uploaded by FransBadger.

I have been using my old trusty JBL LX2 speakers in my home theater and continue to be happy — the soundscape and overall quality of sound they produce is nice. I have a identical second pair that I have been using as the rear speakers, bolted to the concrete walls using a Vogel’s mounting system. All well, except that LX2 is a rather large and heavy speaker to be fixed in a small cellar room — and the old walls appear to have rather soft material in places so the bolts stated to give up. I had to take LX2s down and use some epoxy style padding to fix the wall (yikes!) and then hammer drill the wall mounts back into place. After that, I was too tired to do much searching for the actual speakers (nice prioritization, isn’t it?), so I just walked to a local Musta Pörssi and bought the first pair that looked like the size, weight and design that I — and my old walls — could handle. I walked out with a shiny white pair of Tangent EVO E4, which was not perhaps not such a bad choice after all. There are not too many speakers in the same form factor and price range (this was c. 150 euros per pair) that can deliver much better sound — or at least that is my impression after some googling around now. My amplifier is an old Yamaha (RX-V630RDS) which can handle DTS and Dolby Digital 5.1 so mostly the rear speakers are only used for the effects channel in movies. I have a small collection of Super Audio CDs among which even smaller number make use of the multichannel surround feature. I have now been testing the E4s with LX2s with Peter Gabriel’s UP as a surround Super Audio CD version, and while it is clear that they do not pack the punch that my wall mounted, rear LXs were capable of, I should be able to live with this arrangement. They deliver rather crispy, clear audio and the bass area is not as direction sensitive in any case as the treble area. — And an added plus: I am no longer in similar danger of hitting my head to a massive rear channel speaker while writing these blog notes. 🙂

On (Not) Remapping FN key in Vaio Z series

I have mostly loved working with my Vaio Z31WN — it is clearly the best laptop I have used so far — but there is a small annoyance that keeps disturbing the work flow daily: Sony did not include PageUp and PageDown keys in their keyboard layout, even while there would have been space enough for that. You need to use two hands: the other to press and hold FN key at the down left corner of the keyboard, and simultaneously press either up or down arrow. As browsing documents using PgUp/PgDown keys is one of the very basic and standard activities that you do on a PC, it is important that you can do it using only one hand, preferably on easily accessible, corner positioned keys. (Some tap or swipe gesture on a touch screen device, or dedicated buttons on the sides of eBook reader or something like that would work, too, but that is different from a standard PC laptop.) But the two-hand style of Sony does not work at all, really. And doing regular scrolling with the touchpad or arrow keys only will just strain your eyes, during a longer working session.

I have been installing and trying out various keyboard remappers in order to move/copy FN key functionality to e.g. right Control/Alternate Menu key, but it seems that these FN keys are often handled at hardware level in a way that is not open to an OS level remap/registry hack. That is no good at all. No single key solution have appeared so far. The second best that I am using now is to use Spacebar / Shift-Spacebar to reproduce PageUp/Down functionalities while on a browser window. Not perfect, but at least a single hand solution is possible using those keys. Any better ideas, anyone?

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