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16
Apr

Dear Hillcrest Board of Trustees

It came to my attention that you sent out an email yesterday stating this:

We understand that there is a parent meeting being called tomorrow night by some families to discuss the organizational changes happening at Hillcrest, under the guise that the changes are going to be harmful to the school. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Personally I find that statement troubling in many ways and I want to use this opportunity to respond to it here in public:

  1. Since our family joined Hillcrest the Board acted in a cloak of secrecy. There are no minutes of board meetings contrary to bylaws section 7.01, no discussion of decisions before they are made and there is no review of the board performance.

  2. The Board of a private school should encourage parents to engage in a discourse rather than trying to prevent it.

  3. Hillcrest has continuously lost children since the ousting of Maureen Manion and neither the Board nor the Head of School did change that. Therefore Parents are rightfully concerned about their school and its future.

  4. At Hillcrest there is no volunteer for a extended period of time (excluding the Board). Parents are welcomed to help the school for free but as soon as they want to bring in their experience and opinions they are shut down.

  5. After Maureen left the Board had to step up and help the school back on its feet but since then the Board never stopped interfering with the daily operation of the school making if difficult at best to lead the school.

  6. Section 11.01 in the Bylaws state that the board hold themselves to the highest standard of ethical standard. That said in the past we had Board members which could not pay tuition or took their kids from school and still remained on the Board.

  7. The Board of Trustee is understaffed and filled with parents pushed their own agenda like not raising the tuitions or adding additional fees. With that the weight of a single vote is too big making it look like the Board is run by 2 members.

  8. Any Open-Board meeting in the past year were attended by only a few, die hard parents which is an indication of the Board’s lack of backing by the parents. In the past 8 years there was a gradual decrease of attendance to this meetings.

In my view the board either needs to open up and work with the parents, staff and faculty with mutual respect, transparency and acknowledgment of the others work and accomplishments or should resign in unison to make way for a new start.

Four years ago the school, staff, faculty and parents were is the same situation after Maureen left. Since then the school got back on its feet but the number of pupils dropped each year despite the Board’s reassurance that everything is fine. Why should any parent believe the Board now that the latest staff changes are helping the school in any way especially considering the fact that this change is in the making since November last year and nothing has changed yet.

I call on the Board to open up, work with us parents, its staff and faculty. Its time to bury the secrecy of the past and show the world that Hillcrest is different and has Academics, Character and Leadership.

Cheers – Andy Schaefer

7
Feb

Xbox One and Digital Content Issues

Upate:

After a long discussion with the Xbox Support I finally could resolve the issue by getting a refund for the digital Destiny Guardian Edition. Now I can buy that with my wife’s account and then it will run on her XB1 with her Xbox Home. This way any of our family members can play Destiny on any of the two consoles.

That said this does not solve the underlying problem of a house hold with multiple Xbox Ones especially if they are kids. With a Game Disc they can just take it and play it where the disc is put in but not with a digital download. If my kids want to have their own XB1 and one wants to play with me and my wife then we cannot be logged in in that console. Does this now means that I need to create a 2nd Xbox account just to buy and manage Games on that XB1?

This brings me back to my expectation that I want digital downloads to work like a Game Disc. If Microsoft can make sure that I am only logged in at one XB1 at the same time why can’t they make sure that I can only play a game on one XB1 and therefore avoiding the issue of the owner to be logged in.


Having a big family we have now two Xbox One consoles so that family members can play together most notably Destiny. Unfortunately I ran into some digital rights issues with it which are frustrating.

Expectation

I expected that digital copies of a game have the same rights and restrictions as a physical copy of a game especially on the Xbox One where the games are installed and a DVD acts only as a key.

Layout

We have 2 Xbox One where one is my Xbox Home and on the other it is my wife’s Xbox Home. This is the current layout:

A) Xbox One, Destiny DVD, Destiny Expansion Pass which I bought from Xbox Store, my wife’s Xbox Home (through her Xbox Live Gold)

B) Xbox One, Destiny Guardian Edition (which I bought from Xbox Store), my Xbox Home (through my Xbox Live Gold)

Problem

All members of my family can play Destiny and its Expansion (The Dark Below) without any problems on B). On A) I am the only one who can play Destiny and its Expansion (from the Expansion Pass). All others including my wife can only play Destiny (from the DVD) and for all content related to the Expansion (The Dark Below) they are asked to buy it (the content is locked).

I think the issues is that I bought both digital copies (the Expansion Pass as well as the Destiny Guardian Edition) and I can only make one Xbox One my Xbox Home. If my wife would have bought the Destiny Guardian Edition we would not have this problem because then A would be my Xbox Home and B would be hers.

I hope that I can resolve this issue with Microsoft otherwise I will not buy games from the Xbox Store anymore.

  • Andy
7
Jan

Cheese in Destiny

Datto and others started to call certain hiding spots in Destiny cheese spots meaning that it safer but less exiting way to handle a fight. When Bungie released the first DLC called The Dark Below the word cheese started to morph into the description for exploiting a glitch in the system to change the mechanics of the game so that it is easier to handle. In the raid Crota’s End warlocks could use self-resurrection to pass the bridge without having a sword or to deal with sword bearer or using the host’s quitting of the Game to make Crota kneel “forever”.

Update: Later I say that DLC gear is not giving Radiant Shards / Energy when dismantled. That is not true for Raid Gear though but for any DLC gear (Lvl 36 for Armor) that is obtained otherwise.

In my book a cheese is the exploit of a glitch to change the game mechanics to make it easier and faster to beat. Read more »

6
Nov

Finally I can leave Verizon Behind

In a little bit more than one week from now I will receive my iPhone 6 with the no-contract option and will initially use T-Mobile as carrier. Hopefully that works out but if not I still have the option to switch but for sure I will not go with Verizon. After more than 3 years being a Verizon customer I can’t wait to ditch them. This is not only a story about bad customer service but also a story why I would never buy an Android phone because Apple is to a certain degree limiting the power of the carriers. Read more »

23
Jun

Adobe AEM (CQ) 5.6.1: Cutting Down on Dispatcher Flush Agents

Having multiple domains / virtual hosts on an Adobe AEM Dispatcher with an AEM Publish instance would require a multitude of Dispatcher Flush agents but you can cut them down to one per Dispatcher / Apache Server. This can be done but there is a pitfall to be handled. Read more »

11
Jun

Adobe AEM 5.6.1: Changes to the Impersonation

In the past few days I had to investigate on how to manage impersonation and it turns out that behind the scenes a lot has changed since 5.5 and I am not 100% sure what and why. Here is a rundown on the changes I experienced and on how to manage the impersonation programmatically using CURL. Read more »

15
May

IntelliJ, License and Frustration

As a Java power developer I have two Macs, a MacBook Air and a Mac Pro, side by side and develop on the concurrently. Dealing with Adobe AEM (formerly known as Day CQ) I need more horse power than a MacBook Air can provide but I always place the client’s VCS onto the Laptop (Air) in order to be able to retrieve or upload changes on the go.

Now Subversion is not easy to use and IntelliJ makes it much easier to deal with changes that the command line or any other free app. I can look at locally deleted files, unversioned files and incoming changes and so I need to have IntelliJ running on the Air. For the regular development I switch over to my Mac Pro so that I handle deployments or test changes on a scrap AEM instance. For that the 8-core CPU, 16GB Mem and 500GB SSD is very andy and development on it is a breeze.

IntelliJ and License

Since IntelliJ 6 I am a client of JetBrains and bought every single version even after the also provided a Community Version because I like the additional features. Since quite some time when I open IntelliJ on the other Mac IntelliJ come up with a dialog box complaining that I only have a single seat license and should either re-activate or shutdown IntelliJ. So, for now I just ignored that dialog box, did my thing on the other Mac and then shut IntelliJ on the other Mac down, re-activated it and kept on developing. But then when I ran into an issue with Subversion and had to update the code I had to go back and test it and so this whole procedure became annoying and frustrating.

I am one person, have two hands and cannot develop on two computers at the same time. So I think I use IntelliJ within its limits and I don’t see any reason why I should have to buy another license because of this screwed up behavior of IntelliJ.

Little Snitch to the Rescue

As of lately I upgraded Little Snitch to version 3.3 and so I wanted to see what IntelliJ does in order to figure out if there is a license violation. I am not giving away on how that IntelliJ does it or how to use Little Snitch to fix it because people should pay for their software but IntelliJ is annoying the honest customers and crooks can get around it fairly easily. It took me about 20 minutes to figure it out and to fix it. In the past I was always annoyed when I saw users in a big, profitable companies using the evaluation version as if they could not afford it. Since I started my own company I always bought my software if it wasn’t for free and I refuse to use Eclipse because I don’t have the time and thus the money to waste.

Proposal for a Fix

Most likely I am not the majority of IntelliJ users and so I don’t have much faith that JetBrains would consider my proposal but I don’t want to end this post without at least show an idea on how to fix it.

The basic problem is that IntelliJ should look for concurrent usage and not concurrent launch or processes. Developers should be allowed to have multiple IntelliJ instances up and running if they only use one at the time. IntelliJ takes quite some time to fire up and so keep the instances up and running would be a great feature.

Therefore instead of sending out a message to other IntelliJ instances and then complain if such a message is received IntelliJ should connect the two instances and then check from time to time if they are used at the same time. But if you do so please give some slack because not every concurrent use is a criminal act.

Cheers – Andy Schaefer

30
Apr

Rocksmith 2014: Bass and Shortcomings

Two weeks ago I finally could pick up my shinny red Ibanez Bass and started to play on Rocksmith with it. Having played the Guitar for over half a year rally paid off and many of the songs I could play quit well from the get go. I went through many of the lessons and played all the song at least once. With one or two exception I mastered all of the songs over 50% and that all within 7 days. So far so good. Now if that sounds too good to be true then you are right. Unfortunately for the Bass RS has a big shortcoming. It does not mark a note played too many as mistake and so if you pick the strings fast enough then you will hit all the right notes if they are on the same string. This is not very helpful to learn rhythm patterns.

Afterwards I went back to the Guitar which suddenly felt small and short. Here I finally have to conquer chords which I for most part tried to avoid because my hand tenses up and my hand and arm start to hurt. Now applying less pressure is easier said then done and after a while I am back to my old habits. With that in mind I started to play the parts with chords slower so that I can focus on the pressure and try to apply as little as possible. Especially on chord changes to barre chords I tend to apply way too much pressure to avoid half-pressed or mute strings. Guess practice makes perfect and for me it means even more practice.

RS has another shortcoming because it does not give good hints on why chords, bends or slides are not good. For example in Billy Idol’s White Wedding there are two chords played back and forth and I failed to play them right. Eventually I figured out that one chords has to be kept short (lifting my fingers are playing it) and to play the other chord slightly faster. Later there are two chords that are easy to be done because there is enough time to prepare aka breaks in between but most of the time it does not take it. Even though this is frustrating at the end I have to feel good which also applies when RS thinks I was perfect but I know I was

1
Apr

A Half a Year with Rocksmith

A Half a Year with Rocksmith

It is now 6 month since I bought Rocksmith for the XBox 360 and for most parts I played at least 1 hour per day. Without any doubts I am making progress and playing along a song is for most parts an enjoyable past time. In addition when I am under pressure in a song I am sometimes surprised that I find notes quickly or slide over the fretboard quite accurately. There are already a few song that I can play lead over 90% mastery on full speed and new songs like the Matchbox 20 pack was quite easy to get the basics down. That said I am now struggling to master any songs except Blitzkrieg Pop. Either there a chord progressions that make me trip off or fast solos that are difficult to conquer. For example there is a very short part in Self Trap from Playground Kings that elude me now for 3 months to master. So far the most effective way to master them is to play the slowly (70 or 80%) until I can play it with closed eyes. Then I increase the speed and repeat the procedure. When I feel under pressure or overwhelmed then I am too fast. Funny thing though is that when I finally get the hang of it the riff seems rather mundane and slow.. I guess this is mostly due to the fact that I now can relax and enjoy playing it.

Lately I discovered on how to cheat Rocksmith and even though I don’t do it regularly when it bugs me with a song I have no inclination to learn I might use it to get pass that mission. I am not sure if that is really cheating of it that was the intention from the creator. At the end I am interested in learning the guitar and not to accomplish as many missions as possible.

Some of the songs have a strong and powerful bass sound and so I decided to buy an Ibanez SR250 bass and learn the bass as well.

Currently I am wondering where I will be in another 6 months. It would be great if I could play the most popular chords quick and effortless, find the fret on the fretboard blindly and that I could do bends easier, quicker and with less effort. Maybe mastering 15 more songs (2 now) would be great as well. Finally playing along a song outside of Rocksmith would be really an accomplishment especially if I could play with my kids.

Looking back it was a fun half a year with some great accomplishments and I am looking forward to the next 6 months.

  • Andy
2
Dec

Rocksmith 2014: Six Weeks In

Slowly but surely I get the hang of Rocksmith 2014 (RS) making it easier to work around issues but also get good enough so that I can play parts of a song play at full speed and difficulty and even managed to play a song (The Kinks: You got a Hold on Me) at Master level where the notes are not displayed but still there are a few cues where I am within a song.

That said I did not play any lessons for the past 3 weeks because with issues by the guitar detector. Currently I am away for six days – still took my accoustic guitar with me to keep up with playing and to further strengthen my fingers. Even though my fingers are still not fast and precise enough for many difficult cord changes like to a Bm or doing the full F chord I am slowly getting better and sometimes I am surprised that some chords work without looking.

After working many hours in the Session Mode where one can jam alongside a virtal band I am now back learning songs. Before the brake I was working on Queen’s We are the Champions which was simple but for the full complexity it suddenly becomes very diffiult. Many additional notes requiring quick finger changes on the left as well as right hand side are tricky and making it very difficult to keep up especially when I play the entire song.

For most parts RS works well and is fun to use but some parts of the playing a song is not very user friendly and can limit the fun or sometimes be just frustrating. I do understand that detecting what notes especially when played in a chord or special techniques like a pull off is hard to do but at least the program should mitigate this. I would suggest the following enhancements to Riff Repeater but also to the Lessons and Song Atack:

  • Add a fly-over over the song so that the player can move forward and backward on its own pace and inspect difficult parts and seqences
  • Add further information about the previous mistakes made into the fly-over to see if the note was played late, early, to low or high, wrong string, wrong chord etc. Make the mistakes visually more visible as well.
  • Use the additional buttons on a Joystick like the XBox to provide shortcuts into the Riff Repeater (increase / descrease speed and difficulty, toggle level-up and auto-continue). Preferably let the player select the button layout.
  • Provide interactive tutorials on the various aspects of the game. For a multimedia game the old-style textbook tutorial are out-dated and hard to understand.
  • Remember previous settings in the Riff Repeater so that I don’t have to set them every time when I go back to learning that song.

I am looking forward to go back playing with RS again and hope that some of the things will be improved over time. As soon as I am progressed enough to be able to play the songs I like I will go ahead and buy additional songs or even packages. For example there is an Albert King song that peeked my interest. I also want to play around with the Rythm Guitar mode as soon as I am done with my 60 days challange (I think I am around 40 days).

Cheers – Andy