Friday, April 16, 2021

I'm Your Handyman

For the past week I've been perusing peripheral options for my gaming activities. Oh, yes, I've been playing games too*, but my mind has been on other things

Perhaps it's the weather, but I've turned my attention to such projects as what it would take to repair the deck --likely replacing about 10-15 deckboards-- as well as finish the paint job that was so rudely interrupted by my knee injury. Once the decking is repaired, then I can focus on making some stands for the plant containers on the deck as well as getting a replacement gas grill.** 

All of this means spending some money.

Some of it is obvious --wood for the deckboards, etc.-- and some not so obvious: if I want to get a quicker result in replacing the decking, I have to purchase a power miter saw. I have a manual miter box, but it takes much longer to cut. I looked into power miter box rentals last year, and the price of the rental was enough that if I use the saw for more than one trip it is more economical for me to just buy a decent quality inexpensive power miter box.***

There are other projects that require spending some money too, such as getting the carpet cleaned. Last year in late Summer, I discovered that rental places were refusing to rent carpet washers, so if I wanted a carpet cleaner I have to buy one myself. And believe me, our carpets could use a good cleaning.

So yeah, there's a lot of stuff like that on my mind. And that has been creeping into my game playing, too.


Before you even think about it, let me make one thing clear: I'm not gonna turn into a streamer. 

Sorry, that's not my thing. And while I'd love to have a nice studio setup, likely combining it with a music practice room in the house, that ain't happening. We don't have the money for it, and if we did we'd get other repairs done first. 

So while the concept of getting an A/V setup going is very tempting, if for nothing else to indulge any music recording I'd like to perform****, that's not possible at this time.

Instead, I've been focusing on what I can do to improve my in-game interactions. 

Yes, I've got a wireless headset that I use. 

The Logitech G933 Artemis Spectrum.
Pic is from PC Magazine, likely
originating from Logitech.


And especially when I have to get up and move around a bit from time to time, yeah, it's a lifesaver. Not the greatest sound quality for music, but it'll do for both work and gaming. Build quality is good, and while it doesn't do noise cancelling, I've only had to crack it open to put tuner cleaner in spots once.

However, if people in the house try to talk to me, I'm not likely to hear them. When working, that's not an issue, but if I'm gaming I'd like to hear them. Because for some reason as soon as I put that sucker on in the evening to go play, somebody in the house just has to have a conversation about something. It's like magic, I swear.

So while the oldest mini-Red was around, I borrowed her Blue Snowball Ice microphone to use while I raided. It solved the isolation issue, and in a bizarre way it solved the "hey, I need to ask you something" issue. Apparently when I started using it, people did NOT want to be heard talking to me while the mic was up and running, so they saved their discussions until later.


The Snowball is a pretty unassuming microphone, but it's not mine, as it follows the oldest mini-Red back and forth from college. So, I thought, I could just buy my own microphone and just do what I need to do without relying upon pestering my daughter for hers.

It's never as easy as it sounds, right?

I have since gone down the rabbit hole of USB microphones.

Indeed. This is just a small portion of
the available microphones. And the article
this is from only highlighted one (!) of
these mics. From Techstunt.

I can honestly state that I have no idea just how much time I've spent researching USB microphones, but I now know enough to realize that the most popular mics out there, the Blue Yetis and Snowballs, may not be the one for me. 

There's a time and a place for tweaking a microphone's gain and whatnot to make things just perfect, but when I want to just get going quickly that can suck. Especially when the software that comes with the mic (like the Blue Yeti Nano or X) deliberately has the gain set too high by default. And while I'd love to take advantage of extra mic patterns, the reality is that I won't need them any time soon. So it kind of boils down to the sound for the get up and go.

I'm not going to pass on the Blue Yeti's just yet, because the main competition in my mind is the Elgato Wave 3, and I cant seem to effing FIND one out in the wild to make a physical comparison. I hate going in blind like that, but if I want to buy a Wave 3, that's likely what I'll end up having to do.

And even then, there are some others out there, such as the Rode NT-USB Mini that's caught my attention as well.

Geez, I hate making a decision here.


The mic aside, I've been hoping to fix up our PC desk. The sliding keyboard + mouse part has a laminated fake wood look, and that cheap laminate has been fading away. I figured that now was as good a time as any to get it replaced with a nicer laminate so I didn't have to use a mouse pad when gaming. 

But boy is that going to be annoying to find. 

Kind of like this but without the
wood/MDF. From Cabinetmaker Warehouse.


I've already been to a couple of hardware stores and struck out, so I think I may have to go to a woodworking specialty store, such as Woodcraft, to find what I need. 


My old backup solution has bit the dust. It was a Seagate Go system, long out of date, and now the hard drive died, and a replacement didn't work at all. Which sucks. 

So.... I might have to invest in a real backup system, like a Synology NAS, because my internet connection isn't good enough for me to consider backing up everything to the cloud. And I scouted the costs of 2-bay and 4-bay NAS devices, and yi-yi-yi.....

Very nice, but the price....
From Synology.



And, at long last, there's the speakers.


Back in the day, this was da bomb.
Pic from Amazon.

The speakers I'm currently using are the now ancient Altec Lansing ADA-305 woofer and satellite pair. Back in their heyday (circa 1999) they were considered the best speakers for the PC, but 22 years later their age has been showing, particularly in the crispness of the the highs and the overall sound. I've been contemplating making my own pair of speakers with a subwoofer, but I've also been considering just replacing the drivers for the satellites and see how that works. Either way, this is the one area that I refuse to skimp on, because I love listening to my ripped CDs when I sit nearby, working.*****


So, there's a lot of other things to consider moving forward, and by comparison my gaming is actually a nice diversion from all this.

*After a week of regressing and not being able to kill K'T, we one shot him this past Monday. And to while away the time, I started yet another game of Stardew Valley. For the record, I always think I'm going to choose someone else, but I typically end up picking between Penny and Leah to romance and marry. Probably because both remind me of my wife.

**While I love using my Weber kettle grill, using charcoal grills on wooden decks is typically not a smart move. And since my primary location for using the charcoal grill is on the driveway (for safety reasons), with the mini-Reds now sharing a third car we don't have as much space as we used to. Hence my interest in gas grills. This time, I'm getting a Weber gas grill; I've had Coleman and Sears/Kenmore gas grills, and I've learned my lesson. If you want a grill that lasts, get a Weber.

***And yes, those exist. Ryobi and Kobalt are two brands that make decent inexpensive models, but you have to check them out to see if they'll work for your situation. Seriously, it's worth it to do some hands on testing.

****I was a radio DJ back in college, and for a span of 5-6 years in the late 90s-early 00s I helped to run the sound at the Cincinnati Celtic Music and Cultural Festival.

*****My work laptop can't access anything in my home network, from printers on down, because of the VPN that the laptop uses. Oh well.


  1. Maybe it says a lot about my bad posture but I can't imagine sitting here at my desk with a non-headset microphone in front of me and expecting to have good audio. Also I can't imagine not using push to talk. Well, or streaming, so it's maybe a moot point although my RL also uses a proper USB mic (Blue Yeti ofc).

    1. I use PTT like crazy, using the backslash on the keyboard for that. And if I get a desktop mic I know I'm going to have to either set it up higher somehow or use a boom or something. (Not a fan of boom mics, so likely get an extension or something else I can sit the mic on.)

      Yeah, Blue mics are everywhere. Not a surprise given that you can find them easily at Best Buy or Target (for example). And to be fair, I thought I was going to get a Yeti myself, until I discovered the default settings for the software have the gain really cranked up high. That's likely because people won't put the mic too close to their mouths (at first), which means that you need more gain to pick up your voice. It also means more background noise, however.

      Gah, there I go again, monologuing about mics. The next thing you're gonna hear is me riffing about how I hate phantom power when you're trying to run a board in an open air concert, because nobody --and I do mean nobody-- seems to want to wait for us to cut phantom power when their set is done; they just yank that cord right out and we get that insane burst of noise because of it.