Wednesday, December 19, 2007

David Byrne and Thom Yorke on the Real Value of Music

An interesting interview between David Byrne (Talking heads) and Thom Yorke (Radiohead) about the music business. Interesting in part because of Radiohead's business model of putting their latest compilation of songs online for download, and allowing people to download at will, paying only what they wanted. CNN said this was dumb, but see the comments from the interview below:

David Byrne and Thom Yorke on the Real Value of Music:
"Byrne: Are you making money on the download of In Rainbows?

Yorke: In terms of digital income, we've made more money out of this record than out of all the other Radiohead albums put together, forever — in terms of anything on the Net. And that's nuts. It's partly due to the fact that EMI wasn't giving us any money for digital sales. All the contracts signed in a certain era have none of that stuff."

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

GREED: MPAA, RIAA Got Nuthin' on the NFL

Some seriously bad mojo coming from the folks at the NFL. In their attempts to control their image, the NFL is trying to use existing law to control the free reporting of the NFL. And of course, it's all about money.

Techdirt: Sports Organizations Worldwide Using Copyright Claims To Fight Press Coverage:
"Various sports organizations seem to have taken a page from the RIAA and the MPAA over the last few years, stupidly thinking that it makes sense to try to cash in on every little segment of their events, even if it hurts the promotional value of those events, killing off fan interest in the process. We'd mentioned earlier this year how the NFL was claiming that it could control how reporters reported on NFL players and events. Soon after that, we wrote about how the organizers of the Rugby World Cup faced a boycott from reporters, after they tried to put restrictions on the reporting as well. In both cases, the sporting leagues are claiming they can do this because they own the 'intellectual property' rights on the events -- which is a total bastardization of the purpose of copyright. It's never been meant to restrict how reporters could report on the events."

Monday, December 17, 2007

Further Pussification

I recently discovered that my cable provider carries MoviePlex, which has a show called Musicology. This has actual music videos, which were something I thought had gone the way of the dodo since MTV discovered it's idiotic viewers were happy to live vicariously through the morons they plaster on TV.

So, I watch Musicology, and - surprise - am horrified. Of course, the music is not good (but at least it's not hip-hop). Mostly, it's a bunch of anxious teens whining about whatever.

But the thing that I found the most appalling was the pussification - or promotion of weakness and bitchiness - pretty much across the board. What I found interesting was that the vids geared toward girls were this way too! Hilary Duff was found to be a major offender; what a load she is.

But the onslaught of feminized males continues: Maroon 5, Coldplay, The Fray, of course, The Backstreet Boys (did anyone know they were still around?) and many others had this skinny-guy weakling thing going. Geez, no wonder we've got an onslaught of gays. Kids just don't have any role models and no clear way to go. (Before you go mental on me, do some reading on child development and the importance of strong role models, then flame away. A good place to start is with Erikson's stages of child development, particularly stage 5.)

I'll never forget a film quote relating to this; the film, "Young Man with a Horn," starring Kirk Douglas, the film fictionalized the life of troubled jazz trumpeter Bix Beiderbecke. Douglas is depressed, trying to find his way musically, driving himself literally to insanity. His pal, Hoagy Carmichael, finally tells him, "No one buys records for the music. You know who buys them? 12-year-old girls, so they can learn the words."

Mystery solved: The music industry caters to tween girls, and a lack of strong role models has our young men either becoming 12-year-old girls, or turning to trash like Marilyn Manson, et. al. Girls are endangered, too - without strong role models in music (Ann Wilson, where are you now that we need you?), they remain weak children rather than strong adult women. Who wants to have a daughter turn out like Anna Nicole Smith or Paris Hilton?

So music is more screwed up than ever, with ramifications that no one wants.

Oregon Atty Gen'l Has a Pair

PC World - Oregon Challenges RIAA's Tactics in Music Piracy Claim:
"The state Attorney General's office this week filed an appeal in U.S. District Court in Oregon calling for an immediate investigation of the evidence presented by the RIAA when it subpoenaed the identities of 17 students at the University of Oregon who allegedly infringed music copyrights. It is the second time in a month that Oregon Attorney General Hardy Myers has resisted attempts by the RIAA to force the university to turn over the names of individuals it says shared music illegally.

"...Myers' move raises fundamental -- and overdue -- questions about the tactics used by the RIAA in its campaign against alleged music pirates, [ Ray Beckerman, a New York-based lawyer] said. "The RIAA has been bringing fake copyright infringement lawsuits, the sole purpose of which is to get the names and addresses of John Does," he said. They then drop the case and try to pressure these individuals into settling based on dubious evidence at best, he said.

"In a 15-page brief filed Wednesday, Oregon's assistant attorney general, Katherine Von Ter Stegge, said that while it is appropriate for victims of copyright infringement to pursue statutory remedies, that pursuit had to "tempered by basic notions of privacy and due process."

Irony

Bad Dad: Dad Sells Son's Guitar Hero III for $9,000 After He Catches Him Smoking Dope:
"A 15-year-old Canadian had his hard-to-find Christmas gift taken off him before he'd even had the chance to unwrap it. After the teen was caught smoking a spliff, his father retaliated by flogging his Wii copy of Guitar Hero III: Legends Of Rock he'd lined up for his son's Christmas present on eBay, netting him over $9,000 in the process."

Sunday, December 9, 2007

MPAA get DMCA Takedown Notice, Taste of its Own Medicine — Audioholics Home Theater Reviews and News

MPAA get DMCA Takedown Notice, Taste of its Own Medicine — Audioholics Home Theater Reviews and News:
This exquisite irony works on so many levels, there is layer upon layer of flavors to this one.

The obvious top layer, the DMCA takedown notice itself, much like frosting or glaze, covers some of the more subtle inner ironies. But there’s more.

  • That the MPAA, sticklers for terms of copyrights they hold violated the copyright terms and stipulations of GNU licensure.
  • That the MPAA, one of the loudest proponents of locking down copyright to its intellectual property, is using open source software for free to target piracy.
  • That the MPAA, who uses lockdowns to make sure it is paid for every use of its intellectual property, is using free/open source software.
  • That the MPAA is using software protected by licensure born of the resistance to what the MPAA is trying to do with copyrights.
  • That the MPAA was dumb enough to base their secret software on an open source operating system that cannot be kept secret by GNU copyright terms.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

PC World - Oregon Challenges RIAA's Tactics in Music Piracy Claim

PC World - Oregon Challenges RIAA's Tactics in Music Piracy Claim:
"The state Attorney General's office this week filed an appeal in U.S. District Court in Oregon calling for an immediate investigation of the evidence presented by the RIAA when it subpoenaed the identities of 17 students at the University of Oregon who allegedly infringed music copyrights. It is the second time in a month that Oregon Attorney General Hardy Myers has resisted attempts by the RIAA to force the university to turn over the names of individuals it says shared music illegally."

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Hell Freezes Over (Well, Cools By 1 degree...)

PC World - Hollywood Launches Legal Digital Copying of DVD Movies:
"Two film studios are taking baby steps toward offering a third, legal alternative, permitting you to copy the movie to your device from the DVD itself."

It's not much, because, according to this article, the copyable versions are not exact dupes, but rather highly compressed versions, with lowered quality associated with that technology.

I still say that one should be permitted legally to copy any media purchased by them, in any manner they see fit. The legal troubles should start at the moment that person distributes any one of those copies, paid or not. In other words, the onus should be on the distribution, not the copying.

But whoever said Hollywood and Reality lived in the same universe?

Fight Back Against Secondhand Smoke!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Glenn Hughes

Thanks to my good friend and awsome guitarist, Jimmy Hoddinott, my attention has come once again to Glenn Hughes. You may remember him from Deep Purple fame; however, he hasn't let any moss grow on him in the time since their heyday. He's put out several albums, mostly with a who's who of rock legends.

Studying his work over the last few decades has been interesting, and if you're interested, a good place to start might be at his own website - http://www.glennhughes.com/.

Jim started this adventure by sending me a link to a youtube video post of Hughes' song, Soul Mover, from the 2005 album of the same name. It's a really great tune in the hard rock genre, and shows that Hughes has not lost his vocal ability; indeed, he's far better than he ever was. A little more digging found that CD in its entirety to be particularly strong, with sophistication and nuance not found often in hard rock of any period. I liked it so much, in fact, that I actually purchased it. I have to tell you, that's no mean feat; it's the first disk I've purchased in years (music really stinks these days, don ya know?).

And a little more digging found interesting info on who's playing on the last couple of Hughes' disks (Soul Mover and Songs for the Divine): Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chili Peppers on drums, while JJ Marsh is on guitar. Not surprisingly, some of these tunes, even though written by Hughes and Marsh, have a decidedly RHCP feel, in the vein of their heavier, more funk/rock work. But this is much heavier, because it's Glenn Hughes of Deep Purple, after all. But don't look for RHCP; this is consistently good rock, good music, through and through.

Commentary wouldn't be complete without a mention of Hughes' bass work: better than ever. In my view, his work on Soul Mover is about as close as it comes to a standard for hard rock bass. What I like, as a bassist myself, is how he shows command of the chord by placing his bass note where it has the most impact. It's a lot more important than chops, or just playing the root or fundamental; that's the power and control of the bass, to define the chord with the bass note. Clearly, Hughes understands it; many do not.

iTunes has Hughes' work for preview and for sale, so be sure and check it out. If you like hard rock, that is. If not, turn on the radio and order yourself a pink lady.

So, don't look for Smoke on the Water, but Hughes et. al. are smokin' nonetheless.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Who else is laughing at the music industry? | Tech news blog - CNET News.com

Who else is laughing at the music industry? | Tech news blog - CNET News.com: "The future of the music industry has nothing to do with CDs and everything to do with downloading. Hasn't the music industry learned anything over the past decade as its stranglehold on our buying preferences slowly released? Sadly, the answer is no.

As music downloading (and dare I say illegal downloading) continues to rise, these music companies bury their heads in the sand and blow policy out the other end. Instead of understanding customers and realizing that what we want is readily available music without DRM, Warner and its friends have decided to bully us in the hopes we'll stop. We won't."

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Podcast: What's going through Prince's head? ||| CNET News.com

Podcast: What's going through Prince's head? ||| CNET News.com: "Recently, artists such as Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails have decided to embrace Internet distribution and give their music away for free. Now Prince, ironically one of the first artists to release an online-only album, is coming down hard on file sharing. CNET News.com reporter Greg Sandoval joins CNET's Tim Moynihan to talk about what's going through Prince's head."

Really insane.

Malaysia's Proton plans 'Islamic cars' - Nov. 12, 2007:

"Proposed by Iran, the collaboration would include installing features in automobiles such as a compass to determine the direction of Mecca for prayers, and compartments for storing the Quran and headscarves, Proton's Managing Director Syed Zainal Abidin told national news agency Bernama.

"What they (Iran) want to do is to call that an Islamic car," he was quoted as saying while on a visit in Iran.

"

Friday, November 9, 2007

Hey, kids: Still like the Democrats?

Democrats: Colleges must police copyright, or else | CNET News.com:

"The U.S. House of Representatives bill (PDF), which was introduced late Friday by top Democratic politicians, could give the movie and music industries a new revenue stream by pressuring schools into signing up for monthly subscription services such as Ruckus and Napster. Ruckus is advertising-supported, and Napster charges a monthly fee per student."

Prince to sue The Pirate Bay

Prince to sue The Pirate Bay | Tech news blog - CNET News.com:

"Continuing an aggressive campaign to defend his copyrights, pop star Prince is preparing to file lawsuits in three countries, including the U.S., against The Pirate Bay."

But the real question is, Who the hell is downloading music by "The Artist Formerly Known as... Who?"

Vote them ALL OUT

I am urging all Marylanders to vote out ALL incumbents in the next election, bar none. I, for one, am sick of them refusing to listen to us. We put them there.

It's simple arithmetic: the more the Maryland state government gets, the more it will spend. I was discussing the matter with my state delegate yesterday, and he told me his interest was in efficiencies in government. That's a nice thought, but if that's so, how can government become more efficient if they are constantly rewarded with ever-higher funding, stemming from ever-increasing taxes? The way to force government to be efficient is to cut their funding, and then let's watch them do the same job with less money. You know, I'll bet we'll all be surprised at how well a job they do.

I am sick of politicians taking political credit for doing a "good" job when they take the people's money and spend it. You guys want credit for doing something good? Then take credit for doing as you were directed to do, in our representative government.

I believe that anyone with even a modicum of common sense can do a better job than these career politicians that we have now. Therefore, I will not vote for any incumbent. I want fresh blood down there in Annapolis. I hope you agree.

________________________________________________

Senate passes tax plan -- baltimoresun.com: "'It's clear that every Marylander is going to pay more, significantly more,' said Sen. David R. Brinkley, the minority leader from Frederick County.

Under the Senate bill, the sales tax would rise from 5 percent to 6 percent, the tobacco tax would double to $2 per pack of cigarettes and the corporate income tax would increase from 7 percent to 8 percent. The chamber jettisoned O'Malley's proposed reduction of the state property tax, and largely rejected his proposals for making the personal income tax structure more progressive."

Small Lives

Why is it that we like blogs so much? We read incessantly about mundane daily things that populate other people's lives, and seem to like it. Is it voyeurism? Is it simple psychological diversion? Or is it an interest to compete - to see if other people's lives are even more unsatisfactory than our own? Or is it that humans need social activity in a world where, even though the population grows larger by the second, personal interaction with other individuals shrinks smaller, caused by our Internet-mediated lives?

Why was lonelygirl15 such a phenomenon? And were we happy or sad to discover it was just a ruse, put forth by an aspiring actress?

My mom would say we need to get out more. Pick up the telephone instead of the keyboard. Better yet, walk over to your friend's house and go to lunch. Take a walk and look at a tree instead of a JPG of one. Simple things.

So the question becomes, Who's at fault? Is it just the way of the New World, or is it us, ourselves?

I always think that people are in control of their lives. I don't believe so much in fate, nor in destiny. I believe one has what one worked for. Our culture worked hard for the ease that the Internet has provided, but I'm not sure this is a good thing. Looking at the past, were things that were manufactured better when it was harder to make them, or better now that manufacturing is easy? Do you think that a car made today will still be running in the year 2107? There are 100-year old cars, you know...

But things don't make a culture; people do. There are the Luddites, and the Amish, who seem to get along quite well, thank you, without the things that supposedly "improve" our lives. And they're actually quite nice people, whose work in doing things like home building is extraordinary by todays miserable standards. It's all in what they value, and pride in their work, and who they are, and that goes back to their interactions.

Human interaction is and has been the driving force behind the success of our species since forever. We help each other, because we know each other. But these days, when even gameplay is done with strangers over a wire, how can we relate to one another, to each other's situations, and in general learn and maintain a pathos?

Research has generally shown that the best way to create a sociopath is to deny him human contact. With that said, is that the road down which we're going? Not just being lonely and depressed, but actually creating a violent sociopathic culture?

Maybe that's the Armageddon: killing ourselves through convenience.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Sony's TWA/T... Yep - Homotron.net

Sony's TWA/T... Yep - Homotron.net: "You would think that at some point and time, someone in their marketing department would say 'Hey, this may not be a great name for a product.'"

Friday, October 12, 2007

A jury of one's peers?

» You’re NOT going to believe this about one of the RIAA trial jurors | IP Telephony, VoIP, Broadband | ZDNet.com: "

Michael Hegg, a juror in the trial where Jammie Thomas was convicted of music copyright infringement tells Wired’s THREAT LEVEL (I am not shouting, their name is all-caps) that the jury convicted her because they wanted to send her “a message.”

Hegg said the $222,000 verdict in favor of the RIAA and six music labels was arrived at because of a compromise.

One of at least two jurors wanted to assess Thomas the maximum $150,000 per song. On the basis of $150,000 x 24 violations, that would have pushed the judgment to $3.6 million, Unidentified by name, this person is a funeral director by profession.

What’s even more incredible: Hegg told Kravets that Jammie Thomas “is a liar,” also told Kravets that he “never (has) been on the Internet.”

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Harry endorses...

I hate politics and politicians so I'm trying to make this a politics-free zone. However, after seeing this, I feel the need to endorse Mike Huckabee. Take a look.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

For RIAA, a black eye comes with the job | Tech News on ZDNet

For RIAA, a black eye comes with the job | Tech News on ZDNet: "Yes, this is a form of tough love but it is a necessary one to protect the rights of artists," said Jonathan Lamy, an RIAA spokesman.

Spare me. This is from the same people who will bring you President Hillary Clinton because she will "help poor people." Well, she'd better, because the RIAA just introduced one more family to poverty.

One's commitment to their ideals is measured by their actions, and clearly the music industry is only on the side of the downtrodden when it's not out of their pocket. The rich and powerful get moreso.

Doesn't this cast a new light on the idea of free concerts to help others not so well-off? Or must such recipients be only in the third-world, and not reduced to poverty by the musicians themselves?

I think it would be a fitting irony if the same artists whose songs were allegedly being shared by her played at a concert to raise money for her defense.

Now that would be a statement.

The Murder Lull

I was thinking about the possibilities of why there was a 1-week hiatus in murders here in Baltimore, and think I might have hit on the answer: The killers were in school!

September is back to school time everywhere, and toward the end of the month, tests are starting to appear. There you go. They were too busy with schoolwork to shoot each other.

So, if kids are in school, no more murder problem because they won't have the time, what with their diligence over their studies. Right?

Sunday, October 7, 2007

22 homicides in a month brings 'chaos' - Examiner.com

22 homicides in a month brings 'chaos' - Examiner.com:
"“What we need is people’s outrage toward the violence in the city to be directed toward working with the police to put an end to it,” Clifford said. “This young man was shot in broad daylight along a busy street. There should be a line of people waiting to tell police what happened and what they saw.”"

And herein lies the problem: no outrage, except for the petty, juvenile silliness that took place in Jena, Louisiana. Especially telling, the young man shot in broad daylight was a student of Morgan State University, the same place where students mobilized and took a civil rights party train to Louisiana. They should have walked down to City Hall and protested the shootings. Stupid.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

What passes for news

wjz.com - Kids Fired At With Pellet Gun At School Bus Stop: "Two children were grazed by pellets. Their injuries weren't serious."

In my day, you weren't anybody unless you'd been shot with a BB gun. Or had a schoolyard fight. Or something similar. I even have scars (call Social Services!!).

In our zeal to protect our children, we are taking away the most valuable of life experiences: how to handle conflict. What we end up with are people who try to deal with conflict, but go too far (see the story about two girls who got into a bitch-fest via text messaging, and one appeared the next day at the school with a hunting knife to gut her opponent). Alternatively, we have adults who have no idea how to deal with life's problems, other than to seek out a new therapist. God, what a society we're creating.

And look at the media: here we have a major local TV station, reporting this nonsense. It's a prank. Puhleeze. There are enough problems here that need actual reporting. For example, why is there no outrage in Baltimore over violence that leaves teens and adults alike dead, when in Philadelphia, a city with less than half the murder rate than that of Baltimore, they are mobilizing to put a stop to it. Why does Baltimore tolerate it? Now, that's news.

Leave the kids alone, other than to guide them. Leave the authorities out of it. Leave the courts out of it. Let the kids, with their parents' advice, figure out how to solve their own problems. Like we did in the old days.

I don't recall anyone dying from a pellet wound. But I recall some serious "conflict resolution" resulting from it.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Fallout from the RIAA $220K Award

Democratic congressman: RIAA's $222,000 win is 'excessive' | Tech news blog - CNET News.com:
"The recording industry's victory Thursday in a trial involving a Minnesota woman accused of illegal file-sharing is already turning at least a few heads on Capitol Hill."

Minnesota woman who owes RIAA $220,000 calls sum 'ridiculous' | Tech news blog - CNET News.com:
"'It says in the constitution that there should be no undue fines,' Thomas said in an interview with CNET News.com. 'I was just fined (9,000 percent more) than the value of these songs.'"

UPDATE: See my comments on intellectual property in an earlier post.

Gibson's Self-Tuning Guitar

Technology Review: Gibson's Self-Tuning Guitar

Here's more crap to make being a musician less of an achievement: a guitar that tunes itself. Not that any of the current crop of "instrument owners" (sorry, I can't bring myself to say, "musicians") would know the difference between B and C-flat, anyway. That's a trick question, in case you don't know.

The thing I don't get is: How does this self-monitoring perfect pitch bitch know when the player is bending the string? Playing with a slide? Has detuned? Is using alternate tuning? And on...

In case this thing is for real and not a hoax, I want to see one, just to watch it chase its tail.

Thx to Dominic for the heads-up on this. He doesn't need one, by the way.

Four reasons why the RIAA won a jury verdict of $220,000 today | The Iconoclast - politics, law, and technology - CNET News.com

Four reasons why the RIAA won a jury verdict of $220,000 today | The Iconoclast - politics, law, and technology - CNET News.com

Poor Jammie Thomas. She ran afoul of the RIAA over copyright, got herself sued, and a jury of her so-called peers awarded the stinking-rich RIAA 222,000 US large. At issue was Thomas' making available 24 songs.

In reading some of the details of the case, it seems that Thomas probably didn't know that she was making the files available. However, for the RIAA to use such a big club, and for the courts and, - for God's sake, the jury - to punish her so badly is appalling. The problem lies in the nature and wording of the law, and the RIAA's policy to defend it's property ruthlessly.

The questions that need to be asked are: Who was damaged? How much were they damaged? How intentional was the infringement? Can the fact that the material was actually distributed be proven? Beyond damages, what is a reasonable fine?

Interestingly, none of these questions need be answered, because of the way the law is worded. Pretty much, all one needs to do is make something available for distribution, and that's that. And that's what Thomas did, intentionally or not.

This is bad. Bad law, and bad policy. Not so much because I think artists shouldn't be paid, but because I think it's not fair. I think Thomas should be punished - if not for electronic distribution of intellectual property, then for being stupid enough to make it easy for the RIAA to catch her.

I especially think it's bad because I keep thinking of human waste like the Britney Spears and [INSERT HIP-HOP ARTIST NAME HERE] who do nothing but pollute our culture and reap huge awards from it, through groups like the RIAA. And it seems they now have another $222,000 to play with. New grilles all around!

Should Thomas be punished? Yes. How much? The RIAA should have to prove how many of the 24 songs were actually downloaded, how many times, and then charge her the market rate for them - about a dollar apiece. The downside is that this might have turned out to be more than her actual fine, but at least the penalty would have some basis in proof, reality and reason. As it stands, the outcome is simply arbitrary.

It ain't fair, and it would be nice if lawmakers would recognize this.

UPDATE: See my comments on intellectual property in an earlier post.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

*sigh*

"Genius may have its limitations, but stupidity is not thus handicapped. - Elbert Hubbard"

Monday, October 1, 2007

Confession

PC World - Digital Absolution Arrives: Site Invites You to Confess

This article reminded me of Hallowe'en past, and since it's right around the corner, as they say, I thought I'd share the story.

One of the bands I was in decided to dress in costume for the night. The costumes were our choice. So, being a good Catholic boy, and everyone knows that good Catholic boys at some point all want to be priests, I decided to dress as one.

What surprised me were how many young ladies in the audience wanted to give confession...

Those priests really have a lot of fun.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Quotes Again

"Don't you wish there were a knob on the TV to turn up the intelligence? There's one marked 'Brightness,' but it doesn't work. "
- Gallagher

Quote: Bertrand Russell

"The point of philosophy is to start with something so simple as not to seem worth stating, and to end with something so paradoxical that no one will believe it.
Bertrand Russell, The Philosophy of Logical Atomism British author, mathematician, & philosopher (1872 - 1970)"

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Ha, Ha, HA!

Judge has Vick on curfew after drug test - Yahoo! News:

Because Vick violated the conditions of his release, Hudson could take that into consideration during sentencing, said Linda Malone, a criminal procedure expert and Marshall-Wythe Foundation professor of law at the College of William and Mary.

"Every judge considers pretty seriously if they feel that the defendant has flaunted the conditions for release," Malone said.

"It's certainly not a smart thing to do."

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

It's Official: I am an Ashdown Goof

When last we discussed our hero, he was having trouble getting the Ashdown MAG 600R to play nice with his 2 4X10 cabs. Cutting to the chase, there's a very strong likelihood that the amp was not responsible, but rather that the cabs were wired out-of-phase. Go figure.

I applied that quintessential American solution: buy more crap.

I was lucky enough to be able to sell one of the cabs, and I bought a playmate for the amp head: an Ashdown ABM 414t.

The 414t is a 4-ohm 4X10 cabinet in Ashdown's uprated ABM line. What separates this from the MAG speaker line and makes it uprated are the cabinet construction (made of birch plywood rather than the MAG's composition board), and heavier speakers.

These speakers yield a very high sensitivity rating of 103dB at 1watt at 1meter, which was what I was after - a single cab to maximize the volume of the MAG 600's 575 watts. There are other details about the cab which can be found in other places on the net.

When testing it in the store, Washington Music, Tod Eliot noted and marveled that the punchiness hit him in the chest from about 8 feet away. I concur; the sound is a beast. At the gig, there was a huge difference between the 414t and its predecessor, a Peavey 410TX. While the TX is no slouch, the 414t was louder and punchier, definitely a good complement to the head.

The downsides to the 414t had nothing to do with the sound. First, it's expensive. A good price for one is about $700. Second, although it's on the small side for a 4x10 cab, it's heavy - approaching 100 lbs. Third, The handles on the sides absolutely stink. My wrists were smashed trying to carry it with another person. Fourth, for the money, Ashdown should put wheels on this thing (which I did), and include a cover for it. Fifth - and this is a biggie - the switch plate on the rear for speaker connections and tweeter control is not routed deeply enough. On my cab, it actually protrudes about 3/8", exposing the controls to damage when transporting the cab. Ashdown needs to address this immediately.

So, non-playing issues aside, this is an excellent-sounding cab, and a great match for the MAG 600R.

Just watch out when moving it to the gig.

Damn, I WANT this!

Atomic Fun: Titan Nuclear Missile Base for Sale, ICBMs not Included - Gizmodo

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Apparently, They're All Crooks!

Former China F1 circuit boss convicted on embezzlement charges - MSNBC Wire Services - MSNBC.com: SHANGHAI, China (AP) -The former head of Formula One racing in China has been convicted of embezzlement, state media said Wednesday.

Yu Zhifei, a former city government official and general manager of the Shanghai International Circuit, "embezzled large amounts of money and should bear criminal responsibility,'' the China Daily quoted the prosecutor as saying at Yu's one-day trial on Tuesday.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Quote of the Day

Just because your voice reaches halfway around the world doesn't mean you are wiser than when it reached only to the end of the bar.
- Edward R. Murrow

Sunday, September 16, 2007

And they say TV is not edumacational!

FOXNews.com - Burglar Who Learned From TV Show Sentenced to 12 Years

RICHMOND, Ky. — A man who says he learned how to rob homes by watching a cable TV show was sentenced to 12 years in prison for a string of burglaries in central Kentucky.

Michael W. Hobbs, 36, pleaded guilty to five counts of burglary. He was sentenced Friday on those convictions along with a sixth, lesser burglary conviction.

Police said Hobbs, of Waco, Ky., learned how to break into homes by watching the Discovery Channel TV show, "It Takes a Thief." The show featured two ex-convicts who show property owners how vulnerable they are to theft, according to its Web site.

Richmond police Maj. Steve Gregg said the ex-cons on the show said skilled burglars typically don't keep stolen items.

"He didn't hold onto any of the property," Gregg said. "He had no physical evidence at his residence whatsoever. When we entered a couple times, he said, 'Come on in, look around. I've done nothing."'

But Gregg said Hobbs always showed up at the burglary sites.

"He was one of the type of people who would come to the door and ask if (the homeowner) needed any gutter help," Gregg said. "Then the houses around there would get burglarized. That's just not coincidental."


Thursday, September 13, 2007

Quote of the Week

"The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.' "
- Ronald Reagan"

Monday, September 10, 2007

wjz.com - Student Brings Gun To School In Backpack

wjz.com - Student Brings Gun To School In Backpack:
(WJZ) COLUMBIA, Md. Parents of students at a Columbia elementary school were notified Monday that an 11-year-old fifth-grade boy brought a pellet gun to school Friday in his backpack.

Patti Caplan, a spokeswoman for the Howard County school system, says the boy showed the gun to other students before classes began at Phelps Luck Elementary School.

Those students told school officials, who confiscated the gun and detained the boy until a police officer arrived.

Caplan says the boy has been suspended and criminally charged as a juvenile with possession of a gun on school property.

School officials have met with the student's parents.

In a letter to parents Principal Pamela Akers said that "the student did not intend to use [the gun] to threaten or harm anyone and at no time was the safety of students in jeopardy."

They're serious - a pellet gun? An 11-year-old kid gets arrested for bringing a pellet gun to school? And then WJZ puts this picture up associated with the story:

Is that a picture of the police defending themselves from the outlaw 11-year-old with a full-auto Assault BB Pistol? I bet he smokes, too.

The Baltimore Sun reported that the
Principal, Pamela A. Akers, said that "the student did not intend to use [the gun] to threaten or harm anyone and at no time was the safety of students in jeopardy."

So if this is the case, why was the student suspended, arrested and criminally charged? Everything deals with intent.

The lesson to be learned by students: teachers are indeed the idiots that they appear to be.


From education to the media, our culture has become so pussified it mortifies me.

All I can say is, the poor little bugger has it rough: his friends are squealers, and his teachers are stupid cows. At least if he'd brought the real thing in his backpack he could have shot his way out. God knows the police wouldn't have stopped him. Come to think of it, he probably could have gotten away using the pellet gun.

But then, I bet he's actually just a nice little kid who wanted to share with his friends something he treasured.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Yet Another New Amp - UPDATED 05Sept2007

I think I should work for Ashdown. I liked the combo amp I bought a couple of weeks ago so much, that I bought another, this time a mo' powerfuller model of the same amp - the Ashdown MAG600R.

In our last episode, I got a single-15" combo, the MAG 300-115. To review (there will be a test): At rehearsal, that combo itself more or less kept up with the very loud rock ensemble with whom I play. When I attached an additional cabinet (which lowered the ohmage load and doubled the output), the amp really came into its own. Not only is it loud and deep, but notes on the low B string are as clear as can be, growl like anything I've ever heard, while being very deep and well-defined . And this from a 34" scale 5-string.

That amp produces 307 watts into 4 ohms, and was just barely keeping up at full output; onstage, I think it would run out of steam. After all, it is just a combo (albeit a loud one!).

I'm a firm subscriber to More's First Axiom of Music: If more's good, then too much is just right. I went out and got the Ashdown MAG600R head.

This head has the same tone, same controls and same appearance of the combo, but packs 575 watts (1000 W peak) at 4 ohms. Basically, double the juice of the combo amp. It sounds just like the combo, only louder (and possibly cleaner, because it doesn't have to be driven as hard), and - whoohoo - only weighs about 26 pounds. I loaded it into a Gator Rack Bag and I'm stylin' as I'm boomin'.

Of course, I really like it. Light and loud. Ahhh...

Special thanks to Tod and Larry at Washington Music Center for their Great Big help.

UPDATE: Well, after doing a couple of gigs with the amp, I finally got around to running it with a 4ohm load. The volume went down, and the tone got thin. Not good, not right. Back to Washington Music, where another Mag 600R came out and was tested in both 8ohm and 4ohm configuration. This time, with a 4-ohm load, the amp got louder and thicker - just what's supposed to happen.

So, check the amp thoroughly before you leave the store. Not all vendors are as nice as mine.

On the plus side, doing the gigs were cool. This amp can really grind; it has a great rock sound, while not exactly dirty, when driven it has a "strained" sort of tone that's very interesting and I like a lot.

Whoowaa, back in the saddle.

*Poof*


iPhone explodes from unlock attempt (picture) – iPhone Atlas:

"I think my collegue (sic) must have touched something."

Well, do ya think?

Paul Fix:

"The only reason some people get lost in thought is because it's unfamiliar territory.

- Paul Fix"

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

What is wrong with these people?

A Dozen Pit Bulls Removed From DMX's Home In Raid - News Story | Music, Celebrity, Artist News | MTV News:

"A tipster notified police more than a week ago that dogs were being kept in inhumane conditions at the rapper's property, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio told MTV News. 'They weren't getting proper food, they weren't getting proper water, and they were tied outside in 115-degree heat,' Arpaio said. 'We are developing the investigation.'

He added that the department is seeking additional warrants to check the guns to determine if 'they're legal, if he's allowed to have weapons.'

According to Arpaio, the charred remains of at least one dog were recovered from DMX's backyard, and the sheriff's department will be investigating the rapper's possible involvement in illegal dogfighting.

Police continue to explore the grounds around DMX's home for more dog remains."

Wait to see if Arpaio gets his hands on DMX. That should be fun!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Yamaha RBX4 A2

I was in a music store today and this thing caught my eye. Very interesting appearance; the RBX4 A2 looked a little like 50's Jetson's-type Modern style, a little like fashion-forward postmodern industrial design. It's a real departure from the current trend of beautiful woods and finishes. So different, it's probably what interested me.

The industrial design look was all over it: Brushed steel hardware, white front with green/gray back and neck; silver/brushed steel line around the edge mimicking binding. There was even some contouring on the headstock and body. With such an interesting forward/retro look, it demanded to be played.

I picked it up and, for a bass, it's weight surprised me. Light as a feather, possibly off-balance by being neck-heavy, but overall very light in weight. Yamaha accomplishes this by using softwoods for the body center, sandwiched between hardwood face and back. There is a special bridge coupling the front and back (the strings go through the body, ala vintage Fender basses), intended to pull tone from throughout the instrument. The neck is hardwood (alder?) and bolt-on.

Plugging it in, the sound was particularly clear and in general delightful. Single-coil pickups give a really nice slap/pluck sound. Then I looked down: the knobs were glowing! Well, actually there were colored lighted rings around the 2 volume knobs that were apparently lit by internal LEDs. A little on the tacky side, I thought, but interesting.

Overall, I liked this bass a lot. I didn't get a chance to wring it out, but it left a good impression on me. It's worth a play, even if it looks like it came from Forbidden Planet. Call it "Robbie."

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Michael Vick and American Culture

Pardon my French here, but this one has me going...

Son of a bitch if I understand what's going on. It's clear from Vick's guilty plea on Aug 24 that he has committed many horrific things. Drowning dogs. Electrocuting dogs. Shooting dogs. Hanging dogs. Strangling dogs. All because they didn't fight well enough, and make Vick and his pals enough money. He's admitted it. And it's clear that someone with only brains enough to play football (very well, though it may be) has thrown away a fortune. What's not clear is the reaction of Vick apologists, particularly those from the black community such as Reverend Marcellus Harris and Minister Michael Muhammad and the NAACP.

By any measure, Vick has been ruthless and inhumane in his treatment of animals. Specifically, beasts recognized the world over and for centuries as being loving, loyal and smart companions and workmates. I refer to dogs, of course. That the black apologists would come forward and diminish the inhumanity Vick and his cohorts displayed tells volumes about their perspective, their fall, and now their irrelevance.

The NAACP should now be renamed the Non-white Association for the Avoidance of Criminal Prosecution. It seems all they do any more is to play race games with the American justice system, in favor of those born with dark skin who commit criminal acts. Note that I said "commit criminal acts." Meaning that individuals, and free-willed individuals at that, had every right and freedom to commit a good act, or a bad one. They chose the bad one. So, irrespective of skin color or anything else, they should be punished.

But in the Vick case, black apologists like the NAACP are likening Vick's behavior to the legal hunting of deer and other game by white people. Harris and Muhammad tried to liken Vick's media attention to Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan shenanigans, no doubt because the latter two idiots are white. Additionally, the NAACP seems incredibly concerned for Vick's career:

"As a society, we should aid in his rehabilitation and welcome a new Michael Vick back into the community without a permanent loss of his career in football," said White, president of the NAACP's Atlanta chapter. "We further ask the NFL, Falcons, and the sponsors not to permanently ban Mr. Vick from his ability to bring hours of enjoyment to fans all over this country."

Is the NAACP concerned for Vick, or are they courting a donation to cover their well-publicized financial incompetence?

In the end, what they are all trying to do is to make it hunkey-dorey for Vick to commit horrendously inhumane and criminal acts, implying it's a black cultural manifestation of the way white culture treats animals. Are you outraged yet? That apparently intelligent people would say this takes my breath away.

The NAACP and other leading blacks taking this stance shows a clear racist bias: under no circumstances should any "hero" such as Vick be allowed to be punished for the same thing that whites do, right? Vick killed animals the same as whites do, right? Of course, they don't discuss the manner nor the purpose. Their logic screams in the night...

This is what marks the NAACP's and black leadership's fall and makes them irrelevant. (Let's set aside for a moment that the organization only works in the interests of blacks, not other "colored people.")

Whereas in the past the organization made strides toward true racial equivalence, this flavor of NAACP bites at every case where blacks are caught doing something wrong, and makes desperate attempts to apply argument that justifies the criminal actions of these individuals. They have moved well beyond being an organization that "rights the wrongs" of a lopsided past, and are moving into territory where those they choose to represent are free to do anything they see fit - including criminal acts without fear of prosecution based on their skin color. The goal is no longer equality, but complete unaccountability. The word hypocrisy does not even begin to fit the NAACP agenda.

The first position of any organization which stands for the rights of others should be to recognize that all living creatures have the right to a decent life. This includes not only all races, but also all species. All living things have imbued in them the spirit of life, but we humans, being the highest order of life, have qualities which place us apart from the beasts. These qualities, however, give humans responsibilities which are not to be taken lightly. They involve decent and humane treatment for all, including our animal brethren. It involves the protection of lesser beings.

It is here that both Vick and the NAACP go awry of decency; NAACP's R.L. White, president of the NAACP's Atlanta chapter, said, "Michael Vick has received more negative press than if he had killed a human being... His crime is, it was a dog."

Yes, a dog, a being deserving of protection rather than the torturous, painful life and death at the hands of its human owner, all for the sake of greed and money.

I would have hoped that we have all learned and become more sophisticated about life, out of the crucible of slavery and the pursuit of civil rights, but apparently many have not.

Look into the eyes of your pet, or the smile on a dog, and tell me this is not right.

Sources:
http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2007/writers/george_dohrmann/08/24/vick.plea/index.html
http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/football/2007/08/23/2007-08-23_naacp_leader_asks_nfl_not_to_add_to_qbs_-1.html
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,291718,00.html

Thursday, August 16, 2007

NEWS FLASH!

MUSIC VIDEO SIGHTED ON VH1!

Thought to be an extinct art form, a music video was seen on VH1 in the early morning hours of August 15, 2007. The song was lousy, the female singer ugly, but it was a music video nonetheless.

Wow.

Intellectual Public Property

I've been thinking a lot about intellectual property rights. Under current law, copyright is assigned at the moment of creation, and extends for the life of the creator plus 70 years. Additionally, works for hire (such as those contracted by corporations) are copyright for either 95 or 120 years, depending on the circumstance, and whichever is less. http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ1.html#wci

Some time ago, I read about prolific author Noam Chomsky's dodge concerning intellectual property. He assigned all rights to his works to his daughter, so that regardless of the law, after his death his works will remain a money-maker for the Chomskys. I assume they could do this ad-infinitum.

What a rotten, lousy, stinking thing for an anarchistic liberal to do, I say. Aren't libs supposed to be about public good and such? Speaking as an author myself, I'd think any writer would want their works in the public domain sooner rather than later, especially for socialist-minded people. Not so in this case.

The author in me (writer, composer, filmmaker) got to thinking about intellectual property as a whole: what's good policy to protect the author, and promote social literacy?

Certainly, someone who makes their living as an author should bear the fruits of their work. But also, shouldn't the society which created that author gain from it, too?

What I came to is that, of course, US laws on the matter are a mess - overly complicated, rife with loopholes, and favoring commerce over public good. Bear in mind, I'm no socialist by any measure, and even I see there there are limits to everything.

My view is that the law should certainly protect original works made by an individual for the life of that individual. However, that's where it should end. Upon the death of the author, the work should transfer to the public domain, period.

For rights held by corporations, I'm less generous; treatment such as that applied to US patents could be appropriate: Design patents are protected for 14 years. So, any work for hire or work owned by a corporation (this includes literary works and major motion pictures), remains the sole property of the corporation for 14 years, then into the public domain it goes.
http://www.ehow.com/how_2039495_determine-patent-duration.html

I'm not really the socialist I seem to be - quite the contrary. However, I believe that money generated in the media has become obscene, and its time the public got a break.

And just as open source software has been a really good thing for the computer industry, so will this be to elevate the marketplace of ideas, which is the goal, after all.

What do you think?

Friday, August 10, 2007

Music: How filmmaking is like launching a start-up | Newsmakers | CNET News.com

How filmmaking is like launching a start-up | Newsmakers | CNET News.com

I found parts of this interesting, from an entrepreneurial perspective. All my life, I have been, in one form or another, starting a venture of some variety - be it a musical group or a film project. The author rightly outlines how making a film is like creating a startup business. This was a perspective I had never taken, but agree with it.

With musical groups, starting one of these is exactly like creating a startup - using personnel culled from kindergarten. Musicians - especially the better ones (with whom it has been my pleasure to work lo these past 30-some years) can be extremely trying. We all hate maintaining people, but sometimes to get a project off the ground, especially one of high caliber, one must bite the snake.

But then there are music agents. Agents need emotional massaging themselves. To conduct normal business arrangements with them will eventually find a musician in a position where he needs to get tough with them. But any time one gets tough with an agent, then ALL the work can dry up.

Musicians themselves are, well, not stupid, exactly, just not worldly. In life, we learn how to deal with conflict. If we learn it well, there is a win-win solution. Not so for musicians. The typical response from us: tell a lie, to completely avoid the situation. Which sweeps it under the rug for another day (or person).

And this is the reason why band leaders go gray early, or go bald, or become music agents.

So that's my music-related thought for the day. Feel free to comment.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

MUSIC: New Amp!

This is stupid but I'm excited about it. My 10" combo amp - used for quick and small casual dates - released the magic smoke for the last time, so I needed a new amp for those jobs. After lots of looking around and hand-wringing, I finally settled on an Ashdown MAG C115-300. 307 growling, snotty watts with a lone, bring-it-on 15, and NO tweeter nor horn. It's like actually playing bass again: no pseudo-PA with high frequency horns and such, just electricity in one end and lots of air pumping tone out the other. A nice, useless but fun touch is the analog VU meter. The fanning needle gives me something to try and bend while playing boring songs. (UPDATE: The Vu meter turns out to be actually useful - one can see what he's actually doing, and approaching areas of distortion, Much better than a simple LED on many amps.)

I really like this amp - punchy and deep and overbearing where you want it to be. And a good size for small dates. Very cool, even if it is frickin' made in China (I hate that... Will it poison my dog or give lead poisoning to the kid next door?).

Thanks to Tod Eliot from Washington Music Center for the help with this purchase!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Like, DOOD! No wonder your kid can, like, barely be understood. SNAP!

Study: screen time bad for baby | Tech news blog - CNET News.com

Debunking Baby Einstein | Tech news blog - CNET News.com

"Well-intentioned, science-based efforts to promote the "first three years" of life as an important time for brain development created a market that was extremely receptive to "educational" toys and videos. The marketing legacy of "play" being replaced by a "curriculum" remains today. If you walk down any toy aisle in a major retailer, you'll find that toys right down to birth are sold with specific learning objectives. The irony of course, is that kids who receive loving human interaction and attention can learn in just about any situation. The specific objects don't really matter and, in the case of television in particular, can be worrisome."

Oh, my, what's a parent to do? Talk to the child themselves? Don't be silly.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

P2 Workflow, laptops, etc...

Ever since I bought a Panasonic HVX200, my production life has changed for the better. Proof being in the pudding, I won a Telly award this year for a green screen project done on the HVX.

Quality issues aside (the image does look extremely good), the workflow has become all-digital, which I love, but also with pluses and minuses:

WORKFLOW

On shoots I record to P2 cards, then offload the media to a Windows laptop using P2Genie. Back in the edit bay, I copy this media to a hard drive dedicated to the project, then ingest using Final Cut Pro's native P2 import tools. Works like a charm.

PLUSES:
  1. Never have to fool around with tape, and the associated problems, again.
  2. Very limited possibility of dropouts; no possibility of head clog or failure.
  3. Easy to use in rough environments.
  4. Using auxiliary equipment (eg, DV Rack, P2 Store or Focus Enhancements FS-100), recording time to disk can be greatly extended. However, I still recommend P2 cards as one won't have to fool with the camera tethered to another piece of equipment.
  5. Flexibility: P2 cameras can link to auxiliary DV gear, such as decks, etc, for extended recording on tape in DV, DVCPRO, HDV or other formats. I've done this when hired to record day-long events.
MINUSES:
  1. Requires management of media, both on site and in post, and even after wrap-up to ensure retrievable media in the event of a re-edit down the line. It ain't like saving a tape.
    1. Saving the raw media on a high-quality hard disk drive that is dedicated to the project seems to be the answer for me.
  2. Depending on the number and size of P2 cards one has, it may require an interruption in shooting to offload the media to disk or laptop.
  3. Cards are expensive. But, you never have to buy tape again. Nor will you explain to your client why you missed a shot because the tape failed.
  4. Must be careful when selecting a laptop.
    1. For example, HP laptops have difficulty reading P2 cards. This was confirmed by HP support. And this is true for P2 cards connected to HP laptops through the Duel Adapter, as well.
    2. I was sure to buy a laptop that had native card support for both PCMCIA and Expresscard. The best I could find was the Toshiba P105-6217. I like this laptop, but think it's now discontinued. Figures.
    3. Win Vista can be a problem. Everything runs under Win XP, but to get some production software (such as DV Rack) to run under Vista might require extra effort. See this for more info.
CONCLUSIONS

For me the pluses far outweigh the minuses. I find I shoot more and better in this all-digital scenario.

Feel free to add comments about this, but it's a workflow that really fits the bill for me.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Using PowerPoint Slides in a Video Presentation

This is often a problem, because, even though PowerPoint can output JPG files, they look terrible.

I recently completed a job that had over 650 slides from PowerPoint included - 7 hours worth. To say I am experienced with this is an understatement.

One solution is to print the files as Acrobat PDF files. Even though the sildes will be created as JPGs within the PDF, the quality is considerably better.

Another solution is to output to TIFF files; this format is lossless, and has much better output at the expense of file siaze.

However, none of this can work well enough if you don't set the page size properly.

More later...

DV Rack HD 2.0 and Vista

I am a filmmaker and video producer, using digital equipment exclusively. One of the pieces of software that I use is called DV Rack. Please bear with me, because this is complex, and is written with the hope it will help others.

DV Rack ran well on all versions of Win XP, but then along came Vista. I'm not going to trash Vista outright, but I will say Microsoft made it hard for it's customers to be kind to them. One of the ways in which this has affected me is trying to install and use the software on which I rely for my work. Enter DV Rack.

DV Rack has always had problems with the manner in which it authenticates ownership. I really thought we were beyond weird copy protection schemes, but apparently not.

Note that I have installed into Vista the Microsoft .net framework 1.1 . This is required for other software, such as P2Genie. Newer versions will not work properly.

Note also that I purchased DV Rack starting with version 1.0, and have upgraded to DV Rack HD 2.0 along the way. Therefore, installing and getting it to run properly in Vista is probably the most complicated it could be.

INSTALLATION

Once DV rack installs, it will run another program for authentication. That app will ask for your name, email address, and sometimes the installation key; sometimes the key will be automatically entered. In my case, because I had used the software on another computer and had already registered, the authentication app wouldn't take my information, and repeatedly crashed, no matter what combination or order of things I tried. It was very frustrating, and took days to figure out the proper order of things.

Cutting to the chase, here's what I had to do:
  1. Install DV Rack 1.0. Do not authenticate.
  2. Download and install the PATCH for DV Rack 1.0. It's important that this be installed before authentication.
  3. Authenticate DV Rack 1.0. In my case, I had to use a different e-mail address, getting error messages. It was not clear that DV Rack had been authenticated at this point, but it had.
  4. Install the HDV upgrade. Authenticate. I had to use the original e-mail address I used long ago when I registered that software upgrade (not the address used to authenticate V 1.0). Again, it may not be apparent that the software has authenticated.
  5. Install the upgrade for DV Rack HD 2.0. Authenticate, and use the original e-mail address, if you authenticated previously.
Voila, for me, HD Rack HD 2.0 installed in Vista and is working.

Zebron and James


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