Tuesday, November 12, 2013
I can't even bring my bike inside and put it on the trainer because our basement is a disaster, packed with boxes, while we await the foundation repair guys to fix the leak in our basement.
My "good" shoulder is doing bad. I'm still convinced it's bursitis, but haven't had it checked by my doctor yet. Changing my pillow and doing some of the physio exercises that I used to do for my injured shoulder seems to help a little. I guess if there's a good time for it to be bad, now is the time and I can hope that it improves before next spring.
About two years ago, I got Rocksmith to try and help me learn to play guitar. While it was fun, the cumbersome game interface became too much of a hassle to keep it fun. I played it on and off since, but probably didn't touch it in the last year.
Recently, Rocksmith 2014 was released. I picked it up and have been playing it pretty much on a daily basis since. The interface and usability has greatly improved.
Ubisoft has something they call a 60-day challenge. Play the game 1 hour per day for 60 days. In typical Ubisoft fashion, their tracking web site still isn't ready to actually track your progress properly. It's "coming soon".
We'll see how long I stick with this one. :)
Thursday, February 2, 2012
One of the so-called rules of blogging is to never aplogize for the lack of updates, therefore there will be no apologies forthcoming.
Hasn't been much new & exciting happening lately, so I'll post a few little odds'n ends.
iPhone. Still diggin' it. Got way too much crap installed on it and have been slowly thinning it out.
Rocksmith. Haven't played it much lately. I have been picking away "unplugged" though to keep up the calouses. They just released an update to fix bugs and make the game a little more user-friendly, so I'm anxious to try it out.
Photography. Aside from the odd photo taken with Instagram on my phone, I haven't done much at all in over a month. Got no inspiration. The cold and crappy weather certainly doesn't help either. One thing I did do was pick up a pretty cool app called Portrait Professional. This is one slick app. I'm all for keeping a more natural look with portraits, but when used minimally, you can fix up the small imperfections without making it appear overdone. Now all I need is people to take photos of.
Computers. I picked up a D-Link DNS325 a couple of weeks ago. I was long overdue for getting a home NAS, and after my wife and daughter lost data with a recent laptop hard drive crash it was time. I wish I had done something sooner. Right now I have an old 500GB drive that I hacked out of an external USB hard drive, and an 80GB. Once hard drives come back to a more reasonable price, I'll be picking up a couple of 1TB drives to replace them.
Music. Look for something new(ish)? Check out Ravenscode. They're also Canadian, eh? :)
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
As you can see in my previous postings, I love Rocksmith.
However, Ubisoft's technical support leaves a lot to be desired.
I posted a problem in a message thread in their support forum. They have a "sticky" thread there titled: "Rocksmith Official Bugs and Issues Thread". The "forum manager" made the first post, saying:
Please post all bugs, repeatable crashes and any major game play issues in this thread. Do not make new threads since this can result in your problem getting lost and the Topic getting closed.This is not a means of Direct support but a means to collaborate all issues. You should also report any bugs or glitches directly to Ubisoft Support. The direct link is in my Signature.Thank you for taking the time to report any issues.
Toward the end of the very lengthy thread, they advised users to submit support tickets for their issues.
I did that, on December 4:
I am unable to pick Tone Slot 2 in the Amp. When I tap the directional pad or left stick on my Xbox controller, it skips Tone Slot 2 and goes straight to Tone Slot 3. So I try to go back and it skips 2 and goes to Tone Slot 1. I thought it was my controller, but if it were the controller, you would think that it would go past Tone Slot 3 to the guitar picker... or it would skip past songs when trying to choose one. I also tried another controller just in case and it does the same.
I posted this same problem in your forum and it appears that others have the same problem. I'd love to see this fixed in an upcoming patch as it makes this feature somewhat useless.
As you can see, it has nothing to do with my guitar or playing the guitar. It has to do with selecting an option in the game's menu.
I first received an auto-response from the support system with various links to commonly asked questions (aka FAQs)
The next day, I recieved what I believe to be a human response from a rep:
Please follow the instructions in the following FAQ for assistance with this configuration issue: http://ubisoft.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/15549
I'll save you a click and tell you that their suggested solution explains how to adjust my guitar's intonation. This is completely unrelated to my problem. Not to mention it could result in me messing something up with my guitar. The issue was also closed as "resolved".
I reopened it with this response:
Your suggested solution has absolutely nothing to do with the problem I reported. In fact, my problem has nothing to do with actually playing the instrument. The problem is with selecting an option in the game's menu, using the game controller. Please re-read the problem that I reported and perhaps try it yourself. Like I said, it has nothing to do with the guitar.
A couple of days later, they closed the incident as resolved, without explanation.
That's right around the time a new thread started in the Ubisoft forum, titled WTF kind of answer is this Ubisoft support criticizing the response that someone else had received. I replied with my experience. The Ubisoft Forum Manager replied, telling me to re-open my incident if it wasn't resolved, and they explained that the first response may be a simple FAQ. Why there's a need for multiple FAQ responses is still a mystery.
So I did, with a strong suspicion that it would be closed again within days, without a response. I sent:
This problem is not solved.
It was closed a day or two later.
I posted an update. The topic died off after a few people responded to my update.
Yesterday I decided to re-open my incident. It irks me that some companies feel it's ok to treat their customers like this. I used to work in tech support and this was never acceptable. I sent the following message:
I don't know why you keep closing this. Closed means resolved, and as you can see, there is no resolution posted by you in this incident.
Surprisingly, I received a response the same day.
Please follow the instructions in the following FAQ for assistance with this configuration issue: http://ubisoft.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/15549
Deja vu? It's the exact same thing that they sent me the first time.
I responded with:
Is this a joke? You can't be serious. Did you even read what my problem was? Or read the reply I made when you first suggested this same "solution" which is completely unrelated to my problem?
My problem is NOT a configuration issue. If you feel so strongly that this is a solution to my problem, can you please explain to me how adjusting the intonation of my guitar affects TRYING TO SELECT AN OPTION in the game with a game controller.
I couldn't hold back. I posted a complete summary in their forum with an admittedly sarcastic ending:
I have a sneaking suspicion that the link they sent me is also the solution to world hunger.
Within a couple of hours, I received a private message from someone whom I assume is directly involved with the development of Rocksmith, apologizing for the lack of response from support and reassuring me that my problem was a rare issue related to DLC and said that it would be fixed in the upcoming patch.
I thanked them for the reply.
Now when I posted my "summary", I admit that I did do a faux pas, and named the rep in my posting. Only their first name, and to be honest, I'd be extremely surprised if it was their real name.
The Forum Manager didn't like that, and edited my message and the replies of a couple of other people. They also posted:
Like I have stated previously, the first reply may be a simple FAQ. If your question has not been solved there may not be a solution to your Ticket. Even if the answer is not to your satisfaction, the details have been logged and if others report the same situation a fix is more likely.Trying to call out Ubisoft Staff whether it be Forum or Support will only lead to further action.Can you please PM me your Incident Ticket number?
Here is my entire reply to that:
First, I apologize for naming the rep, there was no intent to "call them out". I was simply putting a name to the "bizarre" responses I received.Secondly, what purpose does sending a completely unrelated FAQ response serve, AFTER the support system has already sent an auto-response with links to FAQs? That's rather pointless, don't you think? The only thing it does is make the company look like they don't care about the customer.
I worked in software technical supprot for 6-7 years and we used the same support system that Ubisoft uses, so I know how the back end works. I know the real reason why they close them off, but I won't get into that.
If there was no answer to my problem, then they should be straight forward and say so and at the very least reassure me that the issue was forwarded to their engineers. The incident should not simply be closed with the hopes that I'll just go away.
Having said that, I did receive a private response from someone at Ubisoft (or from Rocksmith) shortly after I posted my message, apologizing for the trouble and they reassured me that my problem is a rare issue somewhat related to DLC and will be fixed in the upcoming patch. I thanked them for their assistance.
That is how support should work and if it did work like that, this entire message thread wouldn't even exist and you wouldn't have to threaten your customers with further action for being rightfully upset.
If you still want the incident number, feel free to PM me, otherwise I no longer need a response as I did get one from someone who cared enough to give me one.
I wasn't sure if I should post that because I thought it might touch a nerve, but thankfully it didn't. I received this response from the Forum Manager within the hour:
We do care and I understand your frustrations. This is why I asked for you Ticket number. I still have to uphold the rules though.
I am glad you were contacted about your issue and given an answer. Please let us know if you are still affected after the patch release.
Seriously, Ubisoft, you have to do something to improve your technical support. Why couldn't I have received an answer the first time I submitted the support ticket? Surely, your first level tech support people must have some kind of escalation route for problems that they can't resolve or at least provide some assistance for?
I suppose it could be worse — I could be a PS3 user. The PS3 version appears to be plagued with problems. There are endless reports of crashes and lost progress.
This is the second Ubisoft game that I've had a poor technical support experience with. My patience is wearing thing, Ubisoft.
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Still playing Rocksmith. Still enjoying multi-player with my daughter.
It surprises me how much she remembers from some of the songs we've been playing. She seems to have a knack for it. Her small hands make some of the chords pretty tricky though.
One song in particular that we both enjoy is "Use Somebody" by the Kings of Leon and she plucks away some of the notes even when the game isn't on. I thought I was nearing the complete chart for this song since it hasn't change in a while, but then I found a video on YouTube that shows quite a few more than I've seen so far. I guess I'll have to get better at what I have before they'll show up. Looks like a lot of fun though.
When I'm not playing, I'm surfing the web for more knowledge. I found these two:
A friend sent me this one that he uses: http://guitaralliance.com/
Today one of my co-workers (who also has Rocksmith) sent me a couple of YouTube links to videos showing some 12 bar blues that look like fun. From there, I found the creator's web site: http://www.justinguitar.com/
There is a wealth of information on that web site, and it's ALL FREE. Of course, you can make a donation or buy one of the many books he also wrote, but all of book content is from the web site.
I've only been reading some of it for about half an hour and I already want to buy the book. :)
Friday, November 18, 2011
It's paying offI played Rocksmith for a few hours last night.
While I really enjoy playing this game, I sometimes feel like I'm struggling with it and that I'm not making any progress toward getting better.
I know this is normal. I keep telling myself to be patient. It will come. (see previous post about my Rock Band experience)
Well, last night -- for a brief moment -- something clicked.
I was playing a new song for the 4th or 5th time, to achieve the minimum score to continue, and at one point in the song I didn't look down at the strings to find my next fingering position. I instinctively moved my fingers to the next string and fret position, and my picking hand found the right strings to pluck.
It felt so natural.
Then I realized what I had done, got a little too excited, and screwed up my moment of happiness. :)
It was a cool feeling though and it confirmed what I had posted previously.
Persistence and patience.
It's nice to know that the callouses on my finger tips are not for naught.
I felt bad for my daughter last night. When she came home from her cousin's house and saw me playing, she picked up the Fender and sat with me, and followed along as I played. Unfortunately, because we only have one cable for the game, she played "unplugged". She still seemed to enjoy it, but she's not getting any real feedback about how she's doing aside from hearing the guitar's own unamplified sound. Also, for one song, the tuning was Drop D and since she wasn't plugged into the game, she couldn't tune down the guitar for it.
I decided this morning that we're going to buy another "Real Tone" cable, so my daughter, or my wife, can also play at the same time. $30 for the cable is a little pricey, but I think it'll be worth it if she continues to remain interested in learning to play.
Sunday, November 13, 2011
I still remember years ago thinking "I can barely play 3 damn buttons, I'm never going to learn to play 4... or 5. This is insane." Yet, about a year or two later, I was playing some songs on expert and gold starring them. With that in the back of my mind, I push on with this real guitar thing.
I know that things that seem impossible aren't impossible, with a little patience and persistence.
I have frustrating moments, like I did with Rock Band. Probably more so now. With 6 strings and so many frets, the combinations seem endless. It's really tricky trying not to look at the buttons strings so I can concentrate on the TV instruction. It's easy to get lost.
Another thing I recall from my Rock Band experience was that when the frustrations were too great, put down the guitar and take a few days off before trying it again.
It's the same thing with Rocksmith and a real guitar.
This afternoon I finally felt like I was making some real progress. Not just with my in-game score, but actually feeling I could do this, eventually.
I got hooked on a seemingly simple song, "When I'm With You" by Best Coast. I was really getting into it. Rockin' it out. It's a fun song. My daughter actually said "Was that really you playing that?" I felt like a rock star. I played it five or six times. I then decided one more time before calling it a night.
That's when I discovered just how dynamic Rocksmith's difficulty can be. Seconds into the song, it looked foreign. "WTF? More notes?!" *panic* I struggled through the tough parts and it wasn't long before it started to look a little more like I had been playing previously. Maybe it should be called Dynamic Reality Check. Yeh, I still have a long way to go.
I finished up the night with playing one of the mini-games, "Scale Runner". My daughter even took interest. She got a small acoustic guitar for Christmas a year or two ago, had some interest for a while and it has since been gathering dust. She brought it out, I tuned it up the best I could, and we sat playing/learning scales together. :) I might have to pick up an extra USB adapter cable once my new guitar arrives this week so we can play multi-player.
Monday, November 7, 2011
Ok, maybe not. :)
I got my first guitar for Christmas when I was in my late teens, along with a beginner book and some guitar picks. Weeks later, after building callouses on my fingers, I set the guitar aside.
Every few years after, I'd pick it up, with half-assed determination to learn how to play. I replaced strings a few times.
To date, I still cannot play the damn thing, mostly due to frustration, lack of patience, and no lessons I suppose.
Years ago my wife and I developped an addiction to the Guitar Heros and Rock Bands. Yeh, plastic instruments and all. Spare me the "pick up a real guitar and learn" crap. It's tiring. Thanks to Rock Band, my nephew bought a drum kit and took lessons.
Anyway, when Rock Band 3 came out with its "Pro Mode", my interest in learning guitar was renewed. Maybe this was what I needed? But the real Fender Squier Strat designed for it was a little expensive. However, when I heard about another upcoming game called Rocksmith, that used REAL guitars without anything more than a special USB cable included with the game, I was able to justify the Fender purchase. It would serve two purposes. Rock Band 3's Pro Mode, and to use with Rocksmith.
Rock Band 3's Pro mode was a tad frustrating, but mostly because of the "hybrid" Fender strat requiring tweaking to get to work properly with the game. It still isn't 100% good with the game, but to be honest, it was enough to make me set it aside.
In the meantime, I picked up a small 10w Fender amp to accompany my guitar, for real play. I should have held off on the amp purchase.
After reading a couple of early reviews, I was a little hesitant. Latency seemed to be the issue. After reading a few positive reviews, I bit the bullet.
This "game" is awesome. It connects your electric guitar via a special USB cable to your console (PS3 or Xbox 360), and then connects to your home stereo, which acts like your amplifier, and also provides a whole whack of pedal effects to accompany game play. It turns out that my system configuration is the recommended best at minimizing latency. After tweaking the in-game latency setting, I think I've pretty much eliminated it.
I put the word "game" in quotes because it really is more of a teaching tool. Perhaps it doesn't go into as much theory as a guitar less might, but it teaches people like me enough so that one day they may be able to pick up a guitar and rock out a song or two.
I live for that day. :) Perhaps I should add this to my bucket list...
The game is not without some frustrations though, and I suspect it's mostly due to the Fender that I'm using. For one thing, the specially designed frets (for Rock Band 3 Pro Mode) sometimes make the strings catch when string bending. I also think that it doesn't stay in perfect tune, possibly due to the inntonation being a little off. That could be due to the weak neck because it contains eletronics for Rock Band 3 Pro Mode. I followed some instructional videos on YouTube for adjusting inntonation and it's a little better, but still not perfect.
Last week I decided to look into getting a new guitar; one that is designed 100% for real play. I emailed AxeMusic.com, where I bought the Fender and the amp, for any recommendations. They're Canadian, and I like their service. I told them looking for a decent beginner guitar in the $300 price range. After a few email exchanges, I settled on a See Thru Black Cherry ESP EC-100QM. I even checked out a few youTube videos of people playing this guitar. I liked the look at the sound.
I called late Friday and placed the order.
Maybe once I get a little better, I put up a video. Maybe. :)