Archive for the ‘Stuff’ Category

Sports Drought …

September 19, 2018

So, one of the main reasons that I’ve been able to watch so many DVD movies lately is because of something that I haven’t been doing: watching a lot of sports. Normally, I watch baseball a lot, or even NFL football, but that’s fallen off a bit and there aren’t very many sports on the horizon to take their places.

For baseball, the Toronto Blue Jays have had a very weird and poor season, with lots of injuries, key players not performing, and an inability to even trade for any exciting prospects because of the aforementioned injuries and poor performances. Most of the players on the roster are players that I haven’t seen before this season, and those are the ones that tend to be doing the best, for certain values of “best”. They have long been out of playoff contention and aren’t really all that fun to watch beyond that, with few players to really cheer for, and the ones that there are ending up struggling at some point. Plus, they’ve run a lot of 4 pm games on Saturdays, which is a pretty inconvenient time for me to watch. And while some other teams are shown at times, I generally don’t care about them until the playoffs. So it’s no wonder that I’ve put watching movies ahead of watching baseball.

The CFL, of course, has been running for at least half a season now, I think, or maybe for most of it. Not only do they play their games at very inconvenient times for me, in the East the Montreal Alouettes are still in the playoff hunt despite having won only 3 of 12 games. Then again, the Redblacks are actually above .500 and are on top of the standings, so that’s something, at least. Still, no afternoon games early in the season meant little reason to watch when they did have some on Labour Day, because I had no investment in any of the teams at all.

The NFL just restarted, but again I don’t really care about those teams so if I have to choose between movies and the NFL movies win.

On the horizon, hockey is about to restart, but my favourite team, the Ottawa Senators, is an absolute mess right now with all sorts of odd situations going on, and my childhood favourite team, the NY Islanders, lost their best player to the Toronto Maple Leafs in the off-season and they weren’t a very good team before that, so when all of that is added to their games generally being on at inconvenient times I’m not feeling motivated to watch hockey right now.

But the future may be brighter. In addition to the baseball playoffs, the curling season is about to start! So that should give me something to watch.

Although, any player on any of my favourite teams might want to be careful for the next little while. Just in case.

Advertisements

Would you believe … it got worse?

September 7, 2018

So, I mused a couple of weeks ago about how while some things were working well with my new schedule, video games had been mostly a disaster, and that I was switching to P3P with the FeMC to try to break out of my gaming slump. And then in the next couple of weekends I played the game … once. For about an hour or so. And that included a long weekend where I only played one game over the entire long weekend … and that was Dragon Age: Origins. Okay, I also briefly played Pinball Arcade, and set up a Mass Effect themed Master of Orion 2 game and played it for an hour.

I like playing games. I want to play games. So why wasn’t I playing games?

Part of the issue is that while I like Persona 3, I don’t care for the dungeons. I find the dungeons boring and disconnected from the story and better parts of the game. I also had come up on exam time which greatly limits the S-links you can do, so that wasn’t really thrilling me either. And I also noted that I had a lot of games to play (I had purchased a few new games from GOG that looked interesting). And I also watched Chuck Sonnenburg’s Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age 2 reviews — as noise while working — and was reminded that I wanted to finish off my existing characters and do Dragon Age 2 at least once again, and so got an urge to, well, do that. This got in my head when I was trying to decide what to play, making me indecisive and hesitant about what to play, until I finally decided to just go ahead and play DAO on the last day of the long weekend just to play something. And while I enjoyed it, I’m still not sure it’s what I want to do.

This weekend I’m busy, and so probably won’t play any game at all. After that, I need to decide what to do. I might end up waiting until I go on vacation and thus have time to fix my two problems, that of projects and of video games. It doesn’t help that both of them fit best into the same three available timeslots, which always makes me feel like I have to choose between them. That’s something that doesn’t really happen when I’m on vacation and separating them out might be something to think about over the next few weeks.

Thoughts on Stingray …

August 29, 2018

So, a while ago I signed up for Stingray Retro. I still have it. So what do I think of it?

It works pretty well for what I wanted it for. It provides some decent music and something somewhat interesting to look at should I happen to look up at the screen. This makes it pretty good to have one while doing things like little projects, reading when nothing else is on, or writing blog posts .. especially since my baseball team isn’t doing so well and so watching baseball isn’t of as much interest to me as it used to be (plus the schedule has been running annoyingly into later games lately).

The music mix isn’t or at least wasn’t that varied. At the start, at least, I saw a lot of Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, and oddly enough The Spice Girls, which got a bit repetitive at times, although that seems to have settled down a bit. It does, however do a lot less Kylie Minogue than Vintage did, which is both good and bad, mostly because they don’t play the song I really like, and the others don’t appeal to me as much. The Canadian content surprisingly lacks Bryan Adams — one of the more popular Canadian artists — but does focus a lot on Shania Twain, Celine Dion, and a surprising amount of Glass Tiger, with some Corey Hart and other Canadian bands at times. But it’s a Canadian station, so that’s to be expected. Other than that, the mix is pretty good, and even includes a couple of Rick Astley songs, which I did actually like back in the day and so can still listen to … but, yes, it does mean that the channel effectively rickrolls me every so often.

So, as I hinted above, it’s worked out pretty well. I only listen to one of the three channels that I have but that channel plays the songs that I know and like enough that I don’t really need any other channels. Definitely worth getting, and mostly superior to Vintage, which is what it replaced.

That Accomplishment Thing and How It’s Going

August 22, 2018

So, it’s been a couple of months since I started putting a focus on getting some various things organized and listed out and to thus finally finish or do some of the things that I’ve been meaning to do for years. How is that all working out? Let me break it down from the things that are working out the best to the things that are working out the worst:

DVDs are working out amazingly well after some small adjustments. I now have the ability to watch hour long shows and half hour long shows and feel like I’m making progress. Right now, I’m almost done Dynasty and am almost done the 2002 series of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, and have felt like I was making progress the entire time. Sure, splitting my watching time between the two means that I take a lot longer to finish them than I would otherwise, but that’s a lot better than looking longingly at hour long shows that I’d like to watch and wondering if I’m ever going to be able to watch them again. The half hour long shows still provide the flexibility I need while the hour long shows still get some play. I, of course have my half hour shows planned out probably through the end of the year while I still have to decide what hourly shows I’ll watch after Dynasty — it is actually, at this point, unlikely to be Knight Rider or Airwolf, and more likely to be the original Beauty and the Beast or something else — but at least the possibility is there to get those in, which makes me feel like buying that stuff isn’t a waste.

But on top of that, changing what I watch while playing games has been a massive improvement. When I was off for a week but after I had stopped trying to watch Knight Rider while playing games in the afternoons, I started watching movies while playing games. This was a revelation. It allowed me to put on a bunch of movies that I in general always wanted to watch at times while not having to pay a lot of attention to them. This also let me start watching a series of movies while eating and then also while doing other things, as long as it was something where having the noise available was good but I didn’t have to watch it in detail. So, in general, for movies that I’ve already watched but want to at least sorta watch again. So I’ve done the extended Lord of the Rings movies, the Star Wars movies — twice — and the Star Trek movies, as well as some others. I think I’m going to watch the James Bond movies I have next, which I haven’t watched in years. Movies work because they’re long enough to cover off a lot of time without my having to really do anything — even select the next one — but short enough that they generally run out at more convenient times than the 4+ hour Knight Rider disks. This lets them be more flexible than the Knight Rider disks were while still being things that I can turn on and mostly forget about for a while, which is great.

Also, the original series of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe proved that I can have an autoplay half-hour series and not worry if I fall asleep during it. All I’ve done is back up to the last episode I was watching and then watch the complete episode the next time I watch. Yes, this sometimes means that I end up watching most of an episode again if I want to see the ending, with the most ridiculous one being one episode of the 2002 series that I watched three times before being able to move on, but for the most part it’s working out well, and so that lets me watch some of those anime series that I’ve never been able to watch (see the list for the details). So this is just working out really, really well after some initial stumbling blocks.

Books are also working out really well. I’ve managed to work my way through my stack of historical books so that there are only two left. Yes, it is likely to take me another month to read “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich” in my limited reading time, but that’s okay; I enjoy the book and have the time. As I can see the end of that list, I now can even look forward and plan for what I’m going to read next, which could be trying to get through those philosophical works I’ve been looking to read, reading something like the X-Wing books just for fun, or splitting the difference and reading all of the Ben Bova novels I have. I’ve had some issues with books that I didn’t enjoy, but I know how to work around that so it’s all good. This is working out pretty well.

Video games are, however, a disaster. I suppose I can take consolation in the fact that I did manage to “finish” Persona, but the problem there was that I didn’t particularly enjoy it and that carried over to Persona 2. And since Persona 2 introduced new issues of my having no idea where I was supposed to go to do the next thing and having a much greater frequency of random encounters which was annoying, I wasn’t having fun playing games … and that’s really the main point of playing games. It didn’t help that I was far more interested in playing Persona 3 or Persona 4 again — which were the next games on the list — nor that I didn’t have a good way like I have for books to only play games as an obligation and then move on to more fun games or things nor that after changing to watching movies I could play PC games again, many of which were far more interesting than Persona 2. Persona 2 actually ended up being blocking for me, where on one weekend I barely played games at all because it would require me to play that game. Yes, I ended up being busier than normal and had less time to play, but if I had wanted to play it I would have found the time. That I didn’t is not a good sign.

So, at least for now, I’ve tried to fix the problem by rescheduling Persona 2 for Christmas, when I’ll have more time to dedicate to that without neglecting the other things I want to do. In its place, I’ve moved on to the FeMC for Persona 3, which is a much more interesting game. Hopefully, this will work out, but so far accomplishing things with games has been a disappointment.

The only area that’s been worse are little programming projects and the like. I’ve done nothing with them. My original plan was to do them early afternoons on weekends and video games in the late afternoons and evenings, but my morning work and errands has always run over leaving little time to actually do them, and with the blog itself taking up what little time I could use to advance them anyway. And the only other free time slot is one that gets preempted a lot. And moving games to that other time slot means not playing them, and I still do want to play or finish some of those games, and that’s probably a higher priority for me right now. I have started a little bit of thinking about some of these things, but haven’t really done much yet nor have I really figured out the scheduling issues. I’m going to try to keep fitting it into the existing schedule and try to do it more when I have a spare hour or two, but this is really not going well and might necessitate a schedule change.

So, that’s how things are going. I’m hoping that I can stick with this and thus keep getting the things done that I’ve been wanting to do for ages, and so far it looks like I’m on a reasonable track except for little projects.

My Lists Are Long …

August 3, 2018

So, I’ve talked about the lists I’ve updated and created to try and get things done. The three lists that are on the blog are, well, all rather long, and also aren’t entirely complete. For example, I only have three hourly shows listed on my list of shows to watch on DVD despite the fact that I do indeed have a rather large library of DVDs to watch, that contain both shows that I’ve never watched and shows that I have watched but really want to watch again. In fact, I’m not sure that I’ll return to Knight Rider after finishing Dynasty, and so it might not even be accurate (the half-hour list is pretty much right). And when it comes to my reading list, I have a large number of philosophical works listed and, on top of that, have a number of works that count as “literature” that I want to slide in there at some point. Oh, and I’ve already mentioned the six+ boxes of fiction that I want to read. Essentially, I’m setting up lists that, if I try to complete everything on them, will likely take me years to complete.

I might be overthinking this a little …

That being said, I am making progress. I’ve made good progress on the history books that I wanted to complete, and so can expect to finish the list in a couple of months or so. He-Man has stalled a little since I started slipping Dynasty in as well, but that’s only because I’ve taken time away from it to watch Dynasty, which means that I’m about half-way through it. All I really need to do is live up to my bargain and actually watch the half-hour show in the evenings, after watching one or more episodes of the hourly show and hitting a convenient time point. And I’ve still made some progress on He-Man anyway, especially in the last few days. Finishing Persona was a coup, and I’ve started Persona 2 and am making progress with it … although it turns out that games are working out the worst, because every time I play Persona 2 it reminds me of how much better Persona 3 and Persona 4 are, and a number of things keep reminding me of other games that I’d like to play. Thus, I feel the most dissatisfied with the games I’m playing, and there actually isn’t an alternative like I had with “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire”, which was to read it for an hour or so and then read Deadpool graphic novels in my general reading time. I don’t have free general game playing time nor do I have a lot of games that I could play in general spare time to at least let me play a game that I want to play or enjoy. The counter to that is that for video games there are far fewer games that would make me feel that way; Persona 2 is just a special case, and only because I like the modern Persona games that much more than them that it drags down my enjoyment of those games.

However, an issue with this is that I have little programming projects in the queue as well, but the pressure to finish these things tends to distract me from doing them. It’s not so much that I consider those things more important than the programming projects, but that I consider them at about the same level, and due to time constraints it doesn’t really work to do them in the early weekend afternoons like I had planned. What I’m finding is that my morning stuff plus cooking lunch plus cleaning up takes me just past the starting point for those projects, but then that wouldn’t leave me a lot of time before I’m supposed to play games (and I only have a few days to do that as well). I don’t want to delay playing games because a) I need the hours to get through them in any reasonable amount of time and b) I don’t want to play them too late because then I might not fall asleep that well. Plus, playing them too late would also cut into the time I can explicitly watch those DVDs. So it’s just easier for me to start playing earlier and then finish earlier, and I still get my watching and reading done as well. It just ends up cutting off all of those little projects, which then makes me feel bad that I’m doing nothing on them.

I think a reshuffling of my schedule is in the offing …

Anyway, it’ll be interesting to see how I progress with this and how satisfied I’ll be with the whole thing as time goes by. So far it hasn’t been terrible and it has been nice to finish some things that I’ve always wanted to finish, but there have been moments when the things that are supposed to be mostly fun haven’t actually been fun. We’ll have to see if they’re fun enough for me to still have some fun with things while still feeling that I’m progressing.

Thoughts on my recent vacation …

July 13, 2018

So, I recently took a week’s vacation. Now, the interesting thing about this is that I took off one week in the summer. Why is that interesting? Because I don’t like to take only a week’s vacation, because I always feel like I’m just getting used to the fact that I’m on vacation when it’s time to go back. Moreover, I don’t like taking vacation in the summer. Additionally, the reason that I don’t like to take vacation in the summer is that I find that the heat of summer is at least if not more limiting than the cold of winter, but in summer I never get that feeling of looking out the window at the weather and thinking “Well, at least I don’t have to go to work today!”. I first time I took vacation in the summer from work — rather than from school — it was the hottest week of the year, and I didn’t have air conditioning at the time, and I mused about going back to work.

The week I took off was the hottest week of the year so far and broke heat records. At least I had air conditioning this time.

So why did I take the week off? Because it was convenient. I needed to burn a week to ensure that I didn’t leave too much for the last half of the year, and I needed an extra day to fill in around Christmas, and the week started with a holiday so it made it convenient. The last release had gone out and my manager didn’t have a new feature for me, and my few bugs weren’t due any time soon, so I was in a slow time anyway. Thus, from a logistics standpoint it was the perfect time to go, and of course there were a number of things that I wanted to catch up on if it wasn’t too hot.

As it turns out, I’d say that I had a productive vacation, if not necessarily a relaxing one (it was a bit too hot to really relax, even with the air conditioning). I made up a list of things that I wanted to do and didn’t expect to get through half of it. I probably got through over three quarters of it. The big things that I didn’t get done were little programming projects and those sorts of projects in general and a few small outdoor things that it was just too hot to get around to. I also learned that Persona is, in fact, a really annoying game, but I’m now on the last dungeon and almost past it, but a random encounter gave me a TPK and I quit out of frustration and haven’t gotten back to it yet. But I made really good progress on it nonetheless, and so will soon be moving on to another game, Persona 2. I got a number of errands done that I needed or wanted to do, including making a batch of spaghetti sauce. So that’s good.

Still, I think I’m less tired this week after working all week than I was after being off the previous week [grin].

So, a useful vacation. Now that I’m back to work and have a feature I’ll have to make sure I build out my schedule to get the things I need to get done done.

Accomplished …

July 4, 2018

So, I think the best way to describe the mode I’m in right now is that my main push is to “accomplish” things. In short, to get the things done or do the things that I’ve wanted to do for ages and so now I’m deliberately planning for that, with my revamped reading list, my list of video games, and even my list of dvds to watch. I’m not merely trying to finish things that I’ve been wanting to finish — which is what I did before — but instead have been listing all of the things that I want to do, even if that’s to re-read, re-watch, or replay something that I’ve been looking to experience again for a long time. That’s even what drove my trying to slot hour long shows into my gaming time, and now to carve out an hour or so out of my evenings to watch Dynasty there, just so that I have a chance to watch it and get it done.

The problem is that, well, these sorts of things are really supposed to be in my leisure time, and sometimes doing that isn’t all that much fun. Or, rather, it’s not as much fun as the many, many other things that I could do in that time.

For example, right now I’m reading the abridged version of “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire”. The book is, well, not terrible, but not terribly fun. But I’m soldering through it because I’ve owned it for years and never really go all that far in it, and I want to finally finish it and put it behind me. But I can look at the stack of books to follow it, and know that at least the next two are going to be far more interesting than it is right now, and so can’t help but think that there are much better books that I could be reading right now. This is not helped by the fact that the previous two books that were on the list were not as good as I remembered. Oh, and I also went through my collection of books and gathered six boxes of fiction books that I want to read at some point once I get off this non-fiction run, which doesn’t even include the old favourites like the X-Wing books and the Wing Commander books that I will indeed read likely at some point this year. So every time I pick up that book, I can’t help but be reminded of all of the other books I have available that I could be reading instead. This does not make me more favourably inclined towards that book [grin].

The same thing can be said for video games right now. I’m playing Persona right now, which is a game that I really wanted to finish at some point, and is one of the games that I was annoyed over losing access to when the battery on my PSP died and I was having a hard time finding a replacement. But I don’t like Persona, as a game, anywhere near as much as the other Persona games, which are right now sitting at the end of my current queue. I also recently went through my other games and, again, found a long list of games that I want to play at some point. So, again, every time I sit down to play it I can’t help but be reminded of all of the other games I could be playing instead.

For both of them, the only thing that’s keeping me going with them is the fact that they’re on the top of the list and so are in a great position for me to actually finish them, and I really want to finish them. I’m also not likely to get anything new any time soon to distract me from them. So I’m not going to get any better chance to finish them than I have right now. So, I’m hoping that that sense of accomplishment at the end will outweigh the mild annoyance I’m experiencing right now.

Amazingly, DVDs don’t have this issue. I’m enjoying He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, even if it’s been a bit displaced by Dynasty, which I’m also enjoying. Knight Rider has been pushed aside for now, but that’s mostly because I don’t play Persona as long as I had thought I would and since my play was to watch an entire disk while playing and since one disk is closer to 4 hours than to 3 it doesn’t fit in that time slot anymore. Moreover, there’s always baseball and now soccer to watch while playing games so it doesn’t even support that as well as it did originally. But there is no doubt in my mind that I’ll find the time to watch it at some point when I finish Dynasty, even if I watch something else first.

Hopefully, I can slog through these to get to something more fun. The last thing I want is to put this much effort in and end up bailing on them at the end anyway.

Lists …

June 1, 2018

So, I’ve been recently redoing my schedule to try to fit more things into it. I’ve also been trying to plan out things so that, eventually, I can talk about them on the blog. And I’ve started to get onto a kick of either finishing things or, at least, trying to make sure that I get things finished that I’ve wanted to get finished for quite some time. Long-time readers of the blog will remember the various pages that I made to list these things out, and so I’ve decided to update those lists with an organized set of things that I want to do. This will help me keep track of what I want to do next — so no hemming and hawing over what I’m going to do next when I finish something –, give the people reading the blog an idea of what I’m going to talk about at some point, and in some sense have this out in public which then gives me some incentive to actually finish it.

So, first, let’s talk about books. I’ve been on a non-fiction kick lately, reading through a ton of non-fiction books and, in particular, a number of Pierre Berton books. I plan on commenting on them at some point when I get a chance — although the stack is getting larger and larger — but for now I’ve added a bunch of historical books to the list, which tracks non-fiction books. I think there are three books there that I haven’t read — “History’s Greatest Battles”, “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” and “Guns, Germs and Steel” — but I’ve been wanting to re-read “The Holy Kingdom” and “The Last Knight” for a while and I re-read “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich” pretty regularly, and “The Storm of War” fits nicely into the WWII mindset. After that, I have to catch up on my philosophical reading, but I haven’t made that list yet because these books will take me a few months to read — non-fiction takes longer to read than fiction — and after that I’ll have to see if I’m ready to pick up more non-fiction or if I want to read some fiction at that point.

Next are TV shows. I only have time to watch half hour long shows in the evenings, which is why I’ve been commenting on cartoons a lot right now (also why I did comedies like Wings, Cheers and Frasier). So I’ve listed the last set of cartoons for now: “The Real Ghostbusters”, “He-Man” (all of the series), and “She-Ra”. After that, it’s “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”, which I’ve watched but never talked about. After that … I don’t know.

I’ve also wanted to watch or re-watch some hour long shows, and I’ve carved out some time to watch them … while playing games on the weekend, which gives me about two disks a week. Right now, “Knight Rider” and “Airwolf” are going in that slot, and when they’re finished I don’t know what I’ll do yet. But at that pace it will take me months to get there, so I have time.

For both of these, once I finish off the current lists I might well go back and re-watch things that I just want to watch but either have already commented on or don’t want to comment on, so I may not use the next things to generate content for the blog. But, for now, I will comment in some way on all of these shows.

And speaking of video games, I’ve created a new list for my planned video games. Right now, it’s all of the Persona games except for Persona 5. I have a lot of candidates to play after that — including Persona 5 — but at six hours a week I estimate that just playing those four will take me until about Christmas. Let’s see how I feel at that point.

So, that’s it so far. There may be other lists coming if I think them useful, but these are the ones that I already had and did find useful at some point, so I figured it made sense to use them. You can watch the lists to see what gets added, what gets removed, and what gets completed.

Thoughts on my recent vacation …

March 2, 2018

So, I recently had a couple of weeks off, where I essentially took off the Olympics. That was less because I really wanted to watch the Olympics — although I had some interest in it — and more because it meant that there was something on TV in the mornings when I was puttering around. Anyway, here are some thoughts on my vacation that are small enough to not be worth their own post.

I set out this time to get some things done instead of just starting some things. When it came to things around the house, I did pretty well. There were a couple of things that I didn’t get done because I didn’t have the stuff to do it, but many of the big things got done. So that was good.

I also set out to finish another run of Persona 5, and I did that. This time my waifu was Futaba, but I found myself missing Makoto in that role. Futaba, however, is awfully sweet at times, and in that path, although how upset she gets at Christmas ruined that event for me, since it didn’t end in any way happily and she seemed very hurt. I think Makoto is aware that you’re hiding something but gets less upset by it, whereas Futaba seems to feel betrayed by you keeping secrets from her. But, overall, the arc was still interesting.

The interesting thing was that I finished Persona 5 during the first week and then — despite having planned to play games every single morning — I didn’t play a game again for the rest of the week. I let it drift into the weekend and then never picked anything else up. I planned to play Trails of Cold Steel and finish both the first and second games, and never even loaded them up. Right now, I was planning on playing the Star Trek adventure games from GOG, but now find myself watching SF Debris’ playthrough of Dargon Age and reading Shamus Young’s Mass Effect series and being tempted to play them instead. I actually have two unfinished Dragon Age games to play if I want to, but I’m tempted to start a new one anyway. Of course, both series have third games that I don’t want to play, which counts against them, so I’ll have to see …

I did nothing on my own personal projects. At all. This isn’t a big disappointment because I didn’t put a high priority on doing anything with them, and so only had a couple of minor things that I handwaved at but never got around to in any significant way. I’ll have to start doing something now that I’m back.

So, overall, it was a pretty good vacation. Time didn’t pass as quickly as it normally did, probably because I had an incredibly set routine that I definitely followed (since it was based on watching the Olympics in the morning, which ended early leaving me time to do lots of other things). And I did get caught up on some important things. It would have been nice to play more games and do more on personal projects, but it’s not a big deal that I didn’t do that. I’m definitely content with how things worked out.

The downside of Amazon …

February 21, 2018

So, if you’re a regular reader of this blog — and if you are, thank you! — you’ll recall that I started doing Not-So-Casual Commentary on shows as a semi-regular feature, and that right now I can only do half-hour shows due to my time constraints. I also used to do a lot of shopping, especially around Christmas, at HMV, which usually had some really great deals on some box sets which let me pick up shows like WKRP in Cincinnati and Charmed, and a number of others over the years. It was a pretty good place to browse for things, although for me that was mostly TV shows and sometimes music CDs (especially Christmas CDs).

And, as I discovered this year it closed.

Now, the big reason given for stuff like this is the growth of digital distribution and on-line shopping. Since I buy a lot of things directly from Amazon, this seems not unreasonable. But in looking for either a new store — which is hard to find outside of Walmart, that doesn’t have as good a selection — or a new way to buy these sorts of things, I’ve discovered a major issue with Amazon, at least for me: browsing on Amazon really, really sucks.

If I know what I want to look for, Amazon is usually … well, not great, but generally quite serviceable. I type in what I want to look for into the search engine, select the department to search in, and let it go. Yes, there are often duplicates and it doesn’t always get what I want, but it’s usually pretty good, if they stock it. However, what I really liked with HMV was the browsing, which let me find things that I didn’t even know existed … and didn’t remember that I wanted. And if they were on sale, the sale prices were listed on the box, letting me do a quick calculation of whether or not it was worth it. This is why I could justify wandering into there (or, at times, Best Buy) every six months or so and see what I wanted, often coming out with a lot of things (and sometimes coming out with nothing).

I tried doing some browsing on Amazon. I browsed in the DVD category, and in box sets specifically. And found that it often considered full season sets to be box sets, which is not what I wanted. I also thus got a lot of repeats if there were multiple offers for the same series, including different types of box sets. And that made it difficult to simply quickly skim the shelves looking for something that stood out. At the end of the day, it seemed that Amazon’s browsing worked better the more I knew what I was looking for, which is precisely what I didn’t want.

Is this generally the case? Are we going to sacrifice easy browsing for extra convenience when we know what we want to buy? Are we going to get browsing improvements that end up proving that the business heads here were right, but way too early? Or am I just missing the wonderful options out there that already exist? I have yet to see any online shopping system that had any stock where browsing wasn’t a pain, if for no other reason than that there was always too much stock to look at to make sure that you found everything you might want without using specific search terms that leave things out.

If this can’t be done online, and more and more stores move away from stocking these things because of online competition, then I have to say that I’m gonna miss browsing.