Archive for the Technology Category

Keith Jarrett Is A Wise Man

Posted in Music, Technology with tags , on April 23, 2012 by greedycherry

I feel like an alcoholic.

When you’re addicted to alcohol (or any substance, be it cigarettes or chocolate) and you want to stop that addiction, it takes willpower.  Oodles and oodles and giant dump truck-size buckets of willpower.  You have to constantly be vigilant, putting yourself in positions that are least likely to tempt you, eating and drinking other things just to keep a nice glass of whiskey out of your mouth, relying on others and meetings to keep you on the straight and narrow.  But, most of all, it simply requires inner fortitude.  After all, only YOU control what you put in your mouth, what your hands choose to hold at any given moment in time….a banana or a shot glass.  You always have a choice, but sometimes you don’t feel that you do…..humans are great at justifying things to themselves, and it’s certainly the path of least resistance to just say, “This is the easy way.  This requires no effort.  That’s what I’ll do.”

And, thusly, I compare not posting to my blog to being an alcoholic.  (Too much of a stretch??)

It’s certainly been the path of least resistance over the past month to not sit down at the computer and begin typing a new blog entry.  There have been lots of things happening in my life over the past couple of months that have made it hard to find the spare time to sit down for an hour or two and write about my favorite topic of all time – music – let alone find time to breathe.  Even so, I felt I was doing pretty good through February and into March…..once a week like clockwork, every Monday another blog post.  I thought I was getting into a good rhythm with it, actually.  But then it all went to hell.  Bleh.

I don’t know why every time I “fall off the wagon,” so to speak, I feel the need to apologize. I suppose I’m mostly apologizing to myself, as writing about music is something I quite love to do, and I feel less about myself and my life when I don’t make time to do the things I love.  But I guess that it’s also nice to think that some people out there are reading what I write, and maybe even getting something out of the experience as well…..and I would so hate to lose an audience.

Regardless, I feel that today is a good day to pen a quick entry, as a unique request was made of me no more than an hour or two ago. A talented musician and good friend of mine named Jenna wrote this on my Facebook wall around 8pm:

“I’ve got a blog idea you might like-ahem…people who spend a whole rock concert taking video and photos with their fancy gizmos instead of actually taking the time to experience the rock concert-in person-while it is happening. Ready, set, go.”

Okay….challenge accepted. This is actually a topic with which I could spend a few paragraphs (or hours) going over the various and sundries of the ways in which “gizmos” can compromise the near-spiritual bond between an audience and a performer; how technology, while a useful tool, can sometimes just simply get in the way of a good experience….like someone at a family reunion trying so hard to get the perfect picture of everyone in attendance that they miss out on actually spending time with their own relatives. (I may or may not have a little experience with this topic myself.  Just sayin’.)

But when Jenna issued that challenge to me, the first thing I thought of was this article about musician Keith Jarrett, written by blogger Jeffery To. It’s such a completely well-written, thoughtful, and comprehensive article on the subject that I said to myself, “Wow.  I can post a blog entry in record time tonight, and won’t even have to write much at all to get it done.”

Lazy, I know……but at this point, sadly, I’m just looking for enablers.  After all, did I mention I was an alcoholic?

Advertisements

The Funny Little Frog In My Throw-it

Posted in Music, Music Video, Technology on April 5, 2011 by greedycherry

You do Twitter? I do. Probably too much.

I have, thanks to my mother, a subscription to TIME magazine, and I used to read each issue cover-to-cover every week. It was, and remains, a good regular overview of news from around the globe. And, as I do so love keeping up on the world around me, it was not hard to sit down with an issue and make my way through it over the course of seven days.

Then…..Twitter.

People always said that they got their news through Twitter. It was a more “immediate” source of stories, they said, as events could hit the Twitter feed from someone who was actually at a happening, far before anyone actually showed up to report on it. I was doubtful. How could Twitter replace my weekly TIME?

Well, it has.

I have a stack of unread TIMEs piled up in my living room, and any moment I would have spent reading one of them is now devoted to me skimming my Twitter feed, finding new and interesting links that lead me to new and interesting articles that tell me new and interesting things.

It’s ironic, but I no longer have time for TIME.

Anyway, the point of all this is that today, while skimming through Twitter, I found an interesting link I’d like to share with you. Roseanne Cash, daughter of the late, great Johnny Cash, wrote this:

“This is the song I woke up thinking about; listened to it maybe 257 times in the last couple years.”

The link that followed led to a cover of a song called “Funny Little Frog,” which was written and originally performed by a group called Belle & Sebastian. The song was the first single from their 2006 album “The Life Pursuit,” and I picked it up sometime that year…from where exactly, I can’t remember. I did enjoy the track…it’s a peppy little tune, especially for Belle & Sebastian; if you’re familiar with their work, you know that they can be a bit….laid back, let’s say, in their approach.

I do want you to hear the cover version Roseanne Cash recommended, but first let’s give you the original.

Got it? (And understand the reason now for the title of this blog entry?) Good!

Now let’s hear the cover version.

I don’t know about you, but I can certainly see why Ms. Cash recommended a listen here. It’s a bit more soulful, better orchestrated, and some lovely background harmonies are thrown in for good measure. I like the video too….sort of a documentation (however real or fake) of the making of the song itself.

And if you recognize the gentleman with the guitar who seems to be supervising and producing everything here, it could be because you saw him in the first video. As it turns out, the lead singer and songwriter of Belle & Sebastian, a fellow named Stuart Murdoch, is also the founder of this new female-fronted group, which has been annointed God Help The Girl. It’s really an interesting story how it all came about, and I was fascinated to find out that Belle & Sebastian itself is actually the band for the project…the vocal focus has just been changed, and therefore it has become a new group. You can read more about it (and I think you should!) at the link I just provided above. (And if you really love the cover version a lot, you can go to God Help The Girl’s website and get a download of it for free! All it costs you is your e-mail address….)

So tell me….which version of the song do you prefer (if any)? And why?

Why The iPad Sucks

Posted in Technology on March 16, 2011 by greedycherry

Okay, so this post was supposed to be about something completely different, but I got to this topic for a reason. Here’s the story.

I took the bus down to New York City yesterday to see a show, and decided to take my laptop with me so that I could get some work done. I got a ticket on MegaBus, which is a very nice double-decker bus which comes complete with power outlets and wi-fi. Even better, the ticket was cheap. So, no complaints, right?

Wrong.

The wi-fi, which had a strong signal when operational, for some reason kept dropping out. Actually, I’m not sure if it just occasionally dropped out, or whether the system just kept having you check back in to verify you were still on it. Regardless, it seems like I’d surf around to a few pages, and then all of a sudden the MegaBus Wi-fi login screen would pop back up again, make me re-verify that I agreed with its terms, and then I could surf along my merry way once more. Totally annoying, and, as it turned out, quite problem-creating.

So here it was, midnight, and after a long, exhausting day running around New York City, I was on my way home again. Dead tired, of course; I’d been up since 6am. But no matter…in four hours I would be home. Chatted with a friend for a little bit, reviewed some photos that I’d taken on my camera, and then decided to write a blog post. I saw that I had one taker on my request for blog topic ideas, so I figured I would get started by answering that first question.

So I typed. And I edited. And I typed. And I edited. And I typed. And I edited, trying to honor my promise to make these things short, meaningful entries instead of long, rambling diatribes. Finally satisfied, I hit the “publish” button in my WordPress control panel.

Ever have one of those moments where, just as you do something, a tiny thought races across the back of your brain saying, “Are you sure you want to do that?” Just as my mouse clicked down on “publish,” I thought, “Maybe I should save the text of this in case something happens.”

Which, of course, it did.

An hour’s worth of typing and editing vanished instantly before my eyes, and instead, a nice yellow page with the MegaBus logo, asking me to re-verify my agreement with its terms. I managed a small gasp as I quickly hit the “back” button, trying to see the page I had just left seconds before. MegaBus logo again. So I verified my intent with a click so hard I must have left a bruise on the mouse. But, alas, no content. All my words were gone. As this reality washed over me, a thought.

“Doesn’t WordPress save a draft for you every few minutes automatically?”

HOPE!!!!!! Hallelujah! I navigated my way to my WordPress Dashboard, and, sure enough, there was a draft waiting to be viewed. I thought maybe all was well, and then….I clicked.

WordPress had succeeding in saving the title of my post and half of the first sentence.

So much for that. The only thing I could figure out was that perhaps MegaBus kicked me off the system while I was typing and all the draft backups just weren’t able to go through. But I can’t figure out for the life of me why I wouldn’t get a “draft backup failed” message or something to alert me that my fail-safe system was no longer working. (Hey WordPress…..whaddya’ say you look into this as a new feature???)

Regardless, I was too tired at this point to even be angry. I just packed up my laptop and sank back into my seat, resigned to the fact that I had just been completely screwed out of an hour or so of work and time. But I wondered to myself why oh why has no one managed, with all our technological ability and know-how, to create a way to hit the “back” button and see the exact same screen we just left….even if we’re no longer connected to the internet? I can’t tell you how many times in my life I’ve been doing something web-based, only to have all my work disappear because a connection dropped out or something refreshed and all my work got flushed like so much caca down the drain. The internet, it seems, is still a fickle mistress, and no matter how much control over her we think we have, in the end, we certainly don’t.

And this is why the iPad sucks.

When it first came out, I thought it was a neat concept, but it was ultimately just a big iPhone without the ability to call anyone. And although it was sort of bigger like a laptop, there was no ability to interface with it in ANY way….no USB or Firewire port, no CD slot, no nothing. The iPad was formulated with the future in mind, to be cutting edge and ahead of its time. No problem there, but the future Steve Jobs and Apple envision is one where you don’t need cords….everything is wireless. And that’s all hunky dory and crap, but the problem with that is the fact that you don’t have access to wireless everywhere yet. And even if you do, it can drop out, giving spotty coverage depending on whether you turn your body to the left or to the right, or whether you’re on this block or  that block of the neighborhood. True, wi-fi and 3G are available in a large number of places, and it seems a good many people have all the coverage they need when they need it.  But there’s no denying that even these people have times where they can’t get any coverage to save their lives.

And when that happens?  Those people now own a big, expensive, silver paperweight.

No wireless coverage, no real work can get done on the iPad. It’s as simple as that. If I had an iPad on the MegaBus, my work still would have been lost. Sometimes it’s not about the device, but the thing that feeds the device. And sometimes the storeroom just runs out of food, and the baby goes hungry.

Anyway, didn’t mean to go rambling on about something that doesn’t pertain to music, and I’ll answer my first music-related question tomorrow. But my point today is this:  until the network that feeds the iPad is 100% reliable, the device itself will never be 100% reliable. And if you need to get things done and don’t like wasting your time depending on which way the wind happens to be blowing, why in God’s name would you ever consider getting one?