Wednesday, October 17, 2012

DIY: Sports Radio Delay

I don't know what it is, but I can't stand to listen to Joe Buck and Tim McCarver call the games for my beloved San Francisco Giants.  It probably has to do in part with the fact that the Giants have one of the best broadcast teams in the country.  And after spending an entire season with them, why on earth would I want to listen to anyone else??  During the 2010 World Series run, I gritted it out and dealt with it, but I always made sure to go back and find the KNBR call of big plays.  Leading up to the playoffs this season, I decided I had to do something about it.

The standard issue for people with this first world problem is that their radio broadcast is usually real-time and their HD TV broadcast is delayed.  Thus, in order to sync up the broadcasts, the radio needs to be delayed.

Googling "sports radio delay" turns up a few reasonable results, the most promising being this and the most kitschy, not-sure-I-trust-this being this.  The former link is actually pretty good, but what I really wanted was a step-by-step example of a working system.  This is my attempt at it.

Materials needed:
  • AM/FM radio
    (or another method of listening to your sports team's radio broadcast like the MLB At Bat app)

  • Griffin iMic
    (this just acts as an external sound card)

  • Male to male 1/8'' stereo audio cable
    (like this one)

  • Computer
    (this example uses a laptop running Windows 7)

  • Stereo system  (optional) 
    (that can plug into the laptop's headphone jack)
~$25 (I had everything already laying around except for the iMic)

  1. Download a freeware audio delay software and launch it.  For this system, I used Audio Delay by Fountainware.

  2. Tune your radio to your sports team's broadcast.
    My radio has an analog tuner and so I was anal about getting the dial exactly to the best frequency with the least amount of white noise.  Get a digital tuner if you want to avoid this.

  3. Plug one end of your male to male 1/8'' stereo audio cable into the radio.

  4. Plug the other end of the audio cable into the iMic input jack labeled "IN."

  5. Make sure the iMic switch is set to "LINE."

  6. Plug the USB end of the iMic into your computer.

  7. Once the computer recognizes the iMic, click on the "Choose Input/Output" button in Audio Delay
    This should open up a sound configuration window.

  8. In the first tab, labeled "Playback," you shouldn't have to do anything.  Out of the possible playback devices options, your default one should already be selected.
    Do not select the one labeled "iMic USB audio system" as we are not using the iMic to playback sound.  We want to use whatever the computer's playback device is for that.

  9. In the second tab, labeled "Recording," select (click) the recording device labeled:
    iMic USB audio system

  10. Click on the "Set Default" button and click "OK" to close the window.

  11. At this point, you should be able to hear the radio broadcast through your speakers.
    If not, make sure the radio volume is turned up and the computer's volume is turned up.  Also make sure that if you open up your computer's sound audio mixer/control, none of the channels are muted.
    Another thing that I ran into was that my laptop has four USB inputs and when the iMic is plugged into some of them, I don't get audio, but I do in others.
    Still, even if you don't get audio at this point, try going to the next steps as sometimes, audio begins to play after the delay is set.

  12. In the "Delay" field of Audio Delay, set the delay to your best guess for the delay between the radio and TV broadcast.
    For my TV at home, one day it was 8 seconds and the next day, it was 23 seconds.  Go figure.

  13. Hit the "Play" button.
    After the number of seconds you have specified for delay have gone by, you should begin to hear both the live audio and the delayed audio simultaneously.  If you only hear the delayed audio, then skip to step 16.

  14. Launch your operating system's sound audio mixer/control.
    Most people will have a sound icon at the bottom right of their start menu.  Right click on it and select "Open Volume Mixer" or equivalent.

  15. You should see the two channels that have audio playing.  Mute the line input (or equivalent) as this is the live broadcast.
    This should leave you with only the delayed audio.

  16. Now you can begin the process of matching the delayed audio to the TV.  
    If the audio is still ahead of the TV action, hit the "Stop" button, wait for the software to return control to you, increase the delay to your next best guess.  
    Decrease the delay if the audio is now behind the TV action.

  17. Once you have hit the sweet spot that works for you, you can plug in an additional stereo system into your computer's headphone jack to augment the sound if you wish.
I realize that this system is convoluted and probably only for the most hardcore fans.  The first time I tried it, it took a little tinkering so give yourself some time before the game to get things working so that when the game starts, you only need to focus on matching audio.  Subsequent uses became much faster and made the game much more enjoyable.  Still, it is quite an odd feeling when your brain tries to match the audio of the radio commercial to the visuals of the TV commercial.  

I'm thankful that my Giants pulled out a miracle comeback against the Cincinnati Reds because with each additional game (that's not during freaking work hours) my small investment feels sweeter and sweeter.

Go Giants!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Inter-generational Musical Preferences

Growing up in a Chinese immigrant household, I had very few interests in common with my parents.

For example, I've been into Top 40 music ever since I was a kid and I remember having to negotiate with my parents to be able to listen to it on the radio growing up.  It was always awkward whenever a sexually explicit song that went over my head, but only barely over theirs (they are immigrants after all) came on.

Therefore, it strikes me as quite odd that my kids and I might be into the same music.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Excuses and Self-Possession

I've noticed that it does seem to be true that as we get older, we seem to get more stuck in our ways.  In particular, I've noticed how assumptions I make about myself provide me excuses for not being better about something or gives me a pass to not work at self-improvement.  For example:
  • Assumption: I'm just not good at keeping in touch with people.
    • This is my excuse for letting myself fall out of touch with friends.  Out of sight, out of mind.

  • Assumption: I'm not good with names (but really, who is?).
    • This is my excuse for not spending any energy to really remember someone's name.

  • Assumption: If someone snaps at me, I will hold a grudge.
    • This is my excuse for allowing myself to become inward facing and to lick my wounds.

  • Assumption: I'm not really a phone person.
    • This is my excuse for not making a phone call (and instead, sending an email or a text) in order to avoid awkward moments on the phone.

I'm sure there are many more.  I'm sure there must also be a balance between the predisposition to these qualities and finding occasions to die to yourself. Sure, some of these things may seem small (as opposed to breaking a pornography addiction or something), but as Matthew Kelly says, each time we deny ourselves, no matter how small, we create an ounce of self-possession.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Amazing Asian Hair and Father/Daughter Dates

I've been working on a new initiative for our church and so I decided to get some input from the leader of the finance council.  He also happens to be one of the most distinguished and well-respected men in the church and happens to be the owner of the most amazeballs hair I've ever seen on an older Chinese guy.  While they usually look like this:

He looks like this:     (I googled "amazing asian man hair" for that one)

But I digress.  I figured he would have some good insight to my project and I'm comfortable with him since our parents are friends and a couple of his kids went through my youth ministry program.

In keeping with his unexpectedly expected older Chinese guy style, he suggested meeting up at a hip local cafe in the downtown area for breakfast on a weekday.  I agreed knowing that it would be just my luck that my daughter would probably have a rough night before because sub-consciously she knew I would have to get up earlier than normal and make me earn my father of the year award.  She did.

When we met up, I asked him if he came to the cafe often.  He said, "Yeah, it's where my daughter and I come to have breakfast."

Knowing that he is a successful business man who travels a lot and whose youngest child is his only daughter, this passing comment really struck me.  Immediately, I could imagine him and his now college-aged daughter sneaking away to eat breakfast there on quiet Saturday mornings getting away from the type A older brothers who were probably sleeping in from the wholesome havok they caused the night before.  Still, that's not really something that immigrant Chinese fathers do.  But apparently, some of them do.

It made me think about the potential father/daughter dates that I will get to have with G in the future.  I can't wait.