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Planmixplay version 0.3.0 is coming along nicely
Wednesday June 28, 2017 | Lasse Laursen

The occasional listener will have noticed that there's been a sharp decline in weekly shows on SlayRadio.org. I apologize that the stream of weekly shows has been put on a bit of a hiatus. A combination of a brief lapse of lacking enthusiasm and a few personal matters are to blame for the temporary setback. I strongly emphasize the temporary because although it's currently still hard for me to tell when I'll be back in full force, I believe I can tell you that when I do return, I'll either have, or be close to, finishing the next major release of PlanMixPlay. My last shows have further strengthened my resolve in delivering something more visually appealing to the show.

If you'll allow me to quantify my view, I'll deliberate it for you. When the very first visual shows started making their way up to the associated PlanMixPlay YouTube channel, the number of viewers during the live broadcast hovered around a solid 1 person. Most individuals who've spent any real time delving into what it takes to accrue a significant following has realized that the proverbial YouTube land-grab has ended. The pioneering days are behind us, and while there's no reason you cannot gain sufficient traction with something new and exciting (wink), it's not just short term investment. You have to plan to be in it for the long haul. While my weekend shows do bring me joy and enable me to continuously test PlanMixPlay, a big realization struck when I finally got the webcam working as part of the live show. The viewer count jumped from 1 individual, to approximately 6 people. I had always expected some actual personal presence in the visuals to appeal, but seeing it really happen is something else. This in turn kind of clicked for me, leading me to decide that I'd rather save a few shows and then come back with something much more unique than before. I know maintaining a presence is important these days, what with most peoples attention spans being shorter than Aaron paul's career, but I figure the people who'll drop off can come back, and those who can wait will appreciate what I'm working hard to deliver.

I'll do my best to get something done as soon as possible, but there's a lot of work still to be done, and not much time to do it in. I'll hopefully see you on-the-air soon enough!


A minor update
Wednesday March 22, 2017 | Lasse Laursen

It's been a solid month and more since the last update, so I thought it high time to provide a bit more news on recent events. Since the last update, the weekly shows have remained fully visual which I feel is a significant milestone. I envision two further milestones in the near future. The first is removing all the terrible hacks I put in, to make this visual version of PlanMixPlay an early reality. Hopefully that milestone will be achieved within a week or two. The second milestone is polishing the new features to the point of being release-ready. This will, in all likelihood, take at least another 2-3 weeks with the current momentum I'm having.

These public releases of PlanMixPlay mostly serve as a personal tangible milestone, rather than a widely anticipated software relase. In fact, last time I checked, the initial release of PlanMixPlay had been downloaded a total of 0 times. Which I am ok with. I believe that as the product matures, there might be some mild outside interest. Time will tell.

For the interested few, the visuals are broadcast using XSplit. I would have definitely preferred the cheaper OBS option but for some reason that software would not broadcast anything except a static image of my rendering output. As with most problems you face as you get older, I opted to throw money rather than time at it, and luckily XSplit did/does the trick.

Last, but certainly not least, provided I've done my due diligence in testing, the PlanMixPlay twitter account will now not only announce new shows when... announced, but also tweet out 60, 15, and 5 minute reminders prior to every show. So if you've ever found yourself missing part of the live experience you really would have rather been present for, now is the time to follow the official PlanMixPlay Twitter account!


We have visual confirmation
Monday February 27, 2017 | Lasse Laursen

We react to big changes, not small ones, over time. We are continuously familiar with our own surroundings as time passes, because each change is minute. Tree's grow slowly. We grow/age slowly. Almost imperceptibly slow, one could argue. Our brain is much more adept at picking up the bigger changes. In a day-to-day context, this means only when something significantly impressive crosses our path does our brain do a double take. If something is just 1% better than what we've always seen before, the result is still 'meh'... So why this lengthy opaque introductory text? Well...

Yesterday, for the first time (apart from one short trial run), did I live-stream visual output from PlanMixPlay to YouTube. The viewer count was low (topping out at 10), the audio was tinny (most likely due to the not awesome (software-based?) soundcard in this here ASUS G751), the visuals were simple, but by golly they were there. That's what mattered. It's a bridge to a whole new level for PlanMixPlay - one that, now breached, will flow so much more easily. To tie this together with the previous paragraph - it's a fairly imperceptible change on the way to a huge one when (hopefully) PlanMixPlay is able to do/deliver so much more. To have people do a double-take and actually take notice.

There's still so much to do as the architecture that held together yesterdays visuals were more or less the virtual equivalent of duck tape, shoestring, and some gum. MacGyver would have been proud. Now that the visuals are on track, there are countless minor things administrative things to automate.

  • Automatically linking each YouTube video with the show on PlanMixPlay.com.
  • Integrating the show title into the visuals.
  • Automatically announcing the show both via Slayradio.org and YouTube.com
  • and, and, and...

All of these are time consuming and unfortunately add little to the experience itself, but exposure (as I've come to understand) is just as important as the message you're sending out there. Your art might as well not exist if no one appreciates it. Speaking of which, the quite shaky first broadcast is available below.

 


My Top 11 Tokyo Eats
Saturday January 14, 2017 | Lasse Laursen

This list is almost 2 years overdue now, but given that I still often offer this advice to travelers to Tokyo, I thought I'd finally get my butt in gear and write this stuff down for all posterity. So without further ado, here are my top 11 Tokyo eats that I'd recommend all visitors to Tokyo to go to at least once!

Sushizanmai - In Akihabara, in the Yodobashi building on the 8th Floor

Style: Sushi
Price Range: Low - Medium

Sushizanmai is a franchise, so you'll find plenty of its stores around Tokyo. This one I recommend as it's first of all what's known as a kaiten sushi (meaning conveyor belt) sushi, which is slightly more affordable than their standard store shops. Furthermore, I am an avid fan of arcade games, so this place would always get a visit from me whenever I was in Akihabara! Do yourself a favor and order whatever tuna special they have on and promise me that you will go to the trouble of ordering directly from the sushi chefs. Yes, yes, I know being a foreigner can be intimidating, but even just pointing at the fish on the menu will get across the inteded message. The only word you absolutely need to learn is 'Sumimasen', i.e. Excuse me! Say that, point at the menu and use your fingers to indicate how many you'd like. If you want to also taste the very best sushi you can get there (or any other sushi-joint) then you'll also have to learn to say 'Aburi toro' - which will net you the braised fatty tuna. It's simply to die for. I usually ended up eating myself full for about 3400 Yen without sparing any quality.

Numazuko - In Shinjuku underground

Style: Sushi
Price Range: Medium

Numazuko is somewhat more upscale than Sushizanmai in my opinion, and their price range does reflect this. You'll also have a bit more trouble deciphering the menu here, but any extrovert should not have too much trouble. Again, just point/ask away and you'll get through a lovely meal. What you can expect with the higher price is that almost all of the fish is less cold, whereas with Sushizanmai you may get unlucky and see the chef grab it straight from the cooler (prior to serving) forcing you to either wait to consume the delicious fish or lose some of its taste.

Genki Sushi - In the Shibuya neighborhood

Style: Sushi
Price Range: Low

This is more or less the McDonalds of Sushi in my eyes. Not in terms of being so pre-processed and sugary that you'll hit a high, then crash, and be hungry two hours later. More in terms of the most low-end offering with ingredients that are just good enough to eat. I'd recommend it all the same just for the experience, and it is worth mentioning that I'd recommend Genki Sushi 100 times more than McDonalds. The entire serving system is automated via a small tablet along with moving conveyer-belts. The menu offers multiple languages so you won't have to worry about misunderstandings. Finally, I will stress that the Sushi is nowhere near the quality of either of two aforementioned places, so set your expectations accordingly.

Gyu kaku - In a basement in the Shibuya neighborhood

Style: Korean Barbecue
Price Range: Medium-High

Another fairly priced favorite of mine. This place offers an endless supply of meat in more varieties than you can fathom. It's not the highest quality, but it's no slouch either. I highly recommend getting one of their all you can eat deals. Yes - you read correctly, deals. They have multiple all-you-can-eat options depending on how fancy the meats are that you'd like to dine on. This particular establishment tends to get quite busy during regular dining hours so expect to wait to be seated (sometimes up to an hour) or just go a bit later/earlier than the general population. If they don't offer you an English menu upfront you can usually get one if you ask, however note that it may not be as up to date as the Japanese one, so I'd recommend holding on to both during your dining experience.

Barbacoa - Any franchise location in Tokyo

Style: Brazilian Barbecue
Price Range: Medium-High

This is one of the more upscale choices. Given the price tag attached, I highly recommend visiting the restaurant during lunch time for a cheaper experience. Their all-you-can-eat offer is what you'll want to take, and do yourself a favor and perhaps pass on the chicken and sausages that they'll offer up first. After those two meats, you'll be served an endless rotation of various delicious cuts each more delicious than the last. Beware you may find yourself rolling home rather than walking from this place. It is nothing short of supremely delicious. Given its popularity, reservations are a must, usually a day or two in advance. My one and only knock against the place is that the all-you-can-eat menu only includes water/juice unless you go all the way and include beer and wine.

Frijoles - Any franchise location in Tokyo

Style: Mexican
Price Range: Medium

This is what I'd call good upscale take-away food. Their steak filled burrito is simply to die for - especially when you're nursing a hang-over from going hard at Womb from the other night. Personally I always stuck with their rice variety in Grande with sour-cream - hold the guac. Nothing against guacamole but the whole thing is so delicious on its own that it never seemed necessary.

Takahashi in Gotanda

Style: Japanese Yakitori (Meat skewers)
Price Range: High

This place used to have a Michelin star which I believe it has unfortunately lost. That being said, I would still say this place offers a phenomenal Japanese dining experience in the 6000-10000 Yen range. I'd highly recommend taking the chef's choice menu to start and then supplying with whatever skewers you find appealing. I personally cannot recommend the miso-Chicken skewers enough.

Yakitori in Roppongi

Style: Japanese Yakitori (Meat skewers)
Price Range: Low

This is a bit of a sad story. I used to live about 10 minutes on foot from this place and only found out about it during the last two months of my stay in Tokyo. For the price range it is in, and considering its location, it offers phenomenal value. Given that it is located in/near Roppongi, this makes the place even more unique. I'm sure you can find other yakitori places that are just as good/affordable, but this is one of the ones I've been to several time with terrific results. Note that it offers near zero help for foreigners as the entire menu is in Japanese and without any pictures.

Nabe-zo - any franchise location in Tokyo

Style: Shabu Shabu (Thinnly slice meat in hot pot with veggies)
Price Range: Medium

Another lovely all-you-can-eat offering which I recommend visiting at lunch time for an incredibly affordable experience. The cuisine is Japanese and the place offers both a standard meat all-you-can-eat experience and a deluxe meat all-you-can-eat experience. I recommend the former as the latter didn't really offer anything significantly better in my opinion. Don't hesitate to ask for more sauce if/when you run out, and a single replacement of the hotpot water is also included in the offering.

Basically any Izakaya in Tokyo

Style: Informal Japanese Gastropub
Price Range: Low-Medium

I thought a bit about mentioning some specific Izakaya's throughout Tokyo, but honestly I think you'll be generally well off with most of them. In which case, you may as well pick one close to your travels. Lots of guides on the internet can tell you where to find the very best in terms of price and service/food. I generally recommend going to an Izakaya because it's a very affordable Japanese dining experience. During rush hour you'll find they're frequented by a lot of post-work salarymen. Note that like many of Tokyo's restaurants frequented by salarymen, it is virtually impossible to avoid smoke. Also good luck finding one that serves rum and coke. They do exist, but they're few and far in-between.

Firehouse

Style: Burgers
Price Range: Low-Medium

Yes - burgers are not Japanese. But that doesn't mean that burgers are not tasty in Tokyo. This place holds a special place in my heart being near my place of work (The University of Tokyo) as well as being run by an exceedingly friendly gentleman who is fluent in English. If you come across Daimon, please tell him 'Hello' from yours truly. I personally recommend their mushroom burger, but pretty much any option on the menu is a solid pick.

Honorable Mention: Wendy's

Style: Burgers
Price Range: Low-Medium

Yes, yes... Wendy's is perhaps now the farthest we can stray from either Japanese or 'upscale' food, but Wendy's burgers are nothing to scoff at. I frequented their (now closed/moved) Roppongi branch more than I care to admit to. Their burgers are exceedingly tasty, and I personally recommend the deluxe double patty version with the works, which will cost you just shy of about 1000 yen.

And that's it... The entire list. Glad I got that out of my system. Now you go to either of these places and get some of their goodness into your system!

 


PlanMixPlay pre-alpha testing *now*!
Wednesday December 28, 2016 | Lasse Laursen

Pre-Alpha testing of PlanMixPlay has started!

Excitement, ballons, confetti, clowns, and trumpets!

Even more exciting is that you, yes you, can actively participate in said testing. To keep expectations in check, let me state that PlanMixPlay is very feature slim. It currently cannot compare to current live performance software on any conceivable level. However - given time, testing, and care we here at PlanMixPlay HQ hope it can offer something new and unique previously unseen in the live interaction space.

In the future there'll probably be a forum, a trello board (to track development), and a series of other neat things to look at and use, but for now, if you're keen on giving PlanMixPlay a spin in its pre-alpha state, head over to http://www.planmixplay.com/register, sign up for an account, and proceed to downloading PlanMixPlay.

Happy holidays, and have a happy new year!


© Lasse Laursen 2015 - 2018