Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Obituary printed in the London Times

Obituary printed in the London Times - Interesting and sadly rather true.

Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was, since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape.

He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as:

- Knowing when to come in out of the rain;

- Why the early bird gets the worm;

- Life isn't always fair;

- and maybe it was my fault.

Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don't spend more than you can earn) and reliable strategies (adults, not children, are in charge).

His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of a 6-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition.

Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children. It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer sun lotion or an aspirin to a student; but could not inform parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.

Common Sense lost the will to live as the churches became businesses; and criminals received better treatment than their victims. Common Sense took a beating when you couldn't defend yourself from a burglar in your own home and the burglar could sue you for assault.

Common Sense finally gave up the will to live, after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement. Common Sense was preceded in death, by his parents, Truth and Trust, by his wife, Discretion, by his daughter, Responsibility, and by his son, Reason.

He is survived by his 4 stepbrothers; I Know My Rights, I Want It Now, Someone Else Is To Blame, and I'm A Victim

Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone.

If you still remember him, pass this on. If not, join the majority and do nothing

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

It is the wretchedness of being rich that you have to live with rich people.
  - Logan Pearsall Smith

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Digitech BP50

I've been playing around with stompboxes a lot lately, everything from my old reliable SansAmp Bass Driver to a semi-new Zoom B2.1u. But the most recent addition is a Digitech BP50 modeller and multi-effect.

I like to start with the bottom line: it's cool.  So cool, in fact, it's now an integral part of my sound. I'll leave technical details to the manufacturer's page. I want to talk about what the BP50 does for me.

I bought the pedal through some growth and changes that have taken place over the last 3 years concerning my playing and musical identity. I've always been a rock player, and I guess through my personal maturation I realized how much of a rock player I am. I still play funk, jazz and fusion, but my sound has now gravitated toward a really big, fat, dense and generally gnarly rock beast of a sound. This means lots of watts and lots of speaker paper (I dumped my ten inch speakers in favor of 15s, with a brief stop-over in 12-inch land). However, this being the 2010s, stage volume is even more of an issue than ever. Back in the day, we were playing at well over 120db all the time. However, the new equipment lets us get good tone at lower volumes, so even though the SVT monster still sounds great, it's not required.

Enter modelling pedals like the Zoom and Digitech. Both pedals have models that more or less impersonate amps of yore, like the aforementiond, venerable and occasionally de riguer SVT, but also the Marshall Major and Sunn amps - classic sounds all.

The BP50 has a setting that well resembles a Sunn Coliseum/Concert bass amp. I loved these amps for their openness of tone and bite that hacked through a mix. If you remember John Entwhistle's sound, and to some degree Chris Squire's early Yes tone, then you know this amp.  The BP50's version is interesting in that - like all the amp models - there are ten settings for the Sunn sound, ranging from clean to quite overdriven. The sound is very clear on all the settings, and I love it.

The SVT model has that tube amp "push" that's just right on some songs. This model can also be overdriven.

Match that, or any of the 11amp models, with the modulation section and you can see start to hear the potential of this pedal for rock bass.  What makes the BP50's modulation useful is that, when used, there's no volume change - no bass drop nor sonic cutout of the sound.  The flange, in particular, is quite nice.  It's not overbearing like that in the Zoom pedal, just adds a nice swirly movement that is very subtle.  Of course, one can dial in "obnoxious" too, if so desired. The "Obnoxious " setting  is, I suspect, a preset on all bass pedals.

There is icing on the cake in the mod section, but I'm not going to tell you about it; it's my secret weapon, but it's there for you to hear of you check one out.

There's also an interesting compressor in the BP50: it's capable of not only compressing the full signal, but also splitting the signal and compressing just the lower frequencies. It has quite a few presets allowing one to choose the crossover point and compression amount. No limiter, though, and that gets a BOO from me.

Construction is adequate, but kinda weak. It's in a plastic case and the jacks feel cheap.  However, the unit is so inexpensive, one can buy a second BP50 to keep as a backup.  Not my preferred course, but it's a solution.

The unit comes with an AC adapter, and is powerable with 6 AA batteries.  I'm lazy, so I always want a unit that runs on batteries so I don't have to run a separate power cord.  I use rechargeable batteries that seem to last at least 3 gigs.

There's a ton more to check out in this pedal, and I recommend that you do so.

- The sound!
- The presets are almost all good
- 40 spaces for custom sounds
- AA battery powerable
- comes with AC adapter
- include a tuner

- Feels cheap
- plastic case
- needs a limiter in addition to the compressor
- screen not viewable in bright sunlight

Overall: Not a home run, but a definite winner!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

And we think we've got it bad

I ran across this while surfing some WW2 sites.  A B-17 damaged by flak, with the bombardier killed.  Wow, those guys were men.

B-17G 43-38172 of the 398th BG damaged on bombing mission over Cologne, Germany on 15 October 1944. Pilot 1st Lt. Lawrence De Lancey brought the wounded Fortress back to Nuthampstead, UK, where photo was taken. Notice the upwards effect of the anti-aircraft shell; the bombardier was killed.


Saturday, March 6, 2010

Guy Tip that Sucks

I heard the most awesome Guy Tip today.

If you drop something like a small part into a place where you can't get to it, and don't have a magnet (or the part is plastic or non-ferrous), put a ladies stocking over the end of a vacuum cleaner hose and vacuum it. The suction will pick up the part, and the stocking will keep the part from being sucked into the vacuum.


Thursday, February 25, 2010

The iPhone jumps the shark!

I've never been a fan of the iPhone. For one, Apple is just so smug about all its offerings, and that attracts smug users. That arrogance leads to high prices, for which the equally arrogant hipsters are willing to pay.

There's no question that the iPhone has utility. But then there's apps like this:

Apple - Web apps - Virtual Squirrel

Is Apple owned by Milton_Bradley?

Friday, February 19, 2010

WowWee's Paper Jamz: fake guitars make the jump to 2D, gain some musicality -- Engadget

WowWee's Paper Jamz: fake guitars make the jump to 2D, gain some musicality -- Engadget
Just when we thought Guitar Hero had removed every shred of dignity from the once proud profession of "rocking out," along comes Paper Jamz to do away with all pretense. WowWee, known primarily for its creepy robotic toys, has put some of its technical chops into a new musical line of utterly flat instruments. The "paper" guitar and drum sets use capacitive sensors to pick up on touch, and there's even a fake amp built of cardboard to complete the ensemble.

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Boss has Class

Gotta hand it to The Boss - he really handled this one beautifully. Hat's off to him!

Springsteen wants name off royalty lawsuit against NYC bar - Yahoo! News

NEW YORK – Bruce Springsteen wants his name off a lawsuit demanding licensing fees from a Manhattan bar where a band played his songs.

A statement on Springsteen's Web site Thursday said he didn't know about the lawsuit that was filed Wednesday in federal court and wouldn't have agreed to be a plaintiff if he had been asked.

It says Springsteen's representatives demanded the immediate removal of his name Thursday morning after learning about the lawsuit filed by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. ASCAP didn't immediately return a telephone call seeking comment Thursday night.

The suit claims Connolly's Pub violated Springsteen's copyrights by letting an unidentified band perform two of his songs for profit.

A man who answered the phone at Connolly's said the pub had no comment.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Still just can't make this stuff up

Wis. women avoid jail in glue-related revenge plot - wtop.com

Ziemann, a mother of six, acknowledged that she lured the 37-year-old man to a motel last July after the man's wife contacted her and told her he was seeing other women.
First she tied the man up and blindfolded him under the guise of erotic play. Then she summoned the other three women with a text message, according to court documents.
She told police she slapped the man in the face, cut off his underwear and used the glue to attach his penis to his stomach. The other three women arrived, and several berated and belittled the man. Eventually he worked his way out of his restraints and the women fled.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The 2010 Grammies

This was the first year I watched the Grammies.  I'm sending a bill to The recording Academy - whoever they are - for my wasted time.

I saw only a couple of bright spots:

Stephen Colbert was right on when he chastised them for not including Susan Boyle. One comment that seemed to fall flat was saying that their  industry was saved by a "48-year-old Scottish cat lady in sensible shoes." They can't handle the truth. 

Another bright spot was  that at least someone can sing. Pink can really do it  (which I already knew). She did a much harder thing with her vocals than anyone there, including The Annointed One, Beyonce. It's much more difficult to sing softly and accurately than it is to belt it out. But even that was ruined with her cirque-du-soleil nonsense. Musical performers only take the attention away from their music when they give the audience a huge visual show.

Speaking of Beyonce, I wasn't big on her man-hating-themed show. And her crotch-grabbing. Who's that lady?

Speaking of crotches, haven't we seen enough of Lada Gaga? When she mounts the piano bench, I wonder how the suction doesn't get her stuck to it. Her show should be sponsored by Glade air spray.

The Grammys are more and more like the BET talent show to me - where's the rock music? They give awards for rock, but you never see them. Unless it has something to do with a black rapper. Remember Joe Perry emerging from obscurity when he played the Grammies with Run DMC? As one who is down in the trenches on music, I know that rock music is more popular than ever.

Lastly, what in God's name are the Grammies? It's an award given by the Recording Academy for what they feel are good records.  But who are they? And does what they do make one better than another? Of course not.  it's all just big hoopla marketing.

In short, this is nothing more than a musical popularity contest run by people with no musical talent.

The thing that makes me really sad is that people seem to just want to be told what to like.  I tell them, Keep the faith, and like what you like.  Don't let "The Academy" define your tastes.

Monday, February 1, 2010

The squeaking wheel

The squeaking wheel doesn't always get the grease. Sometimes it gets replaced.
  - Vic Gold

Media Center out-of-sync issues

I recently ran into a problem with Microsoft Windows Media Center 2005 - the audio and video went out of sync.  Those working with Windows media know this can be  nightmare, but I found a quick fix (maybe I was lucky!).

Try changing the order of the audio CODECs. In my case, I had AC3Filter as the first CODEC.  I changed the order to be all the Microsoft CODEC products first.  Whammo, audio synced right up with the video.

I suspect the problem was AC3Filter decoding the audio at 44.1 KHz, rather than 48 Khz, which is the video standard. 

Hope this helps.

Friday, January 29, 2010

I love Ads

30 Hilarious Print Advertisements | Spyre Studios

A Killer Idea for tuning and Using a Sub Live

From Mix. What more can I say - less is more is always best.

However, if you really want to mind your bottom, here's an alternative approach: Use one of the console's auxiliary outputs as a subwoofer send. This concept removes unwanted audio from the subwoofer simply by virtue of the fact that you turn up the subwoofer aux only on the channels that need to be in the sub. Channels such as kick drum, floor tom, bass guitar and synth get fed to the sub aux, while channels such as lead vocals, hi-hat and the triangle microphone do not. The aux output designated as the subwoofer feed is usually routed to a crossover or lowpass filter, from the filter to a compressor and then to the subwoofer amplifiers.

P.A. Basics-Live Sound System Setup, Tuning and Optimization

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Just What Every Modern Home Needs!

And now you know why they run so fast when you turn on the lights!

Solar Cockroach


The other night I was watching an NBC News "expose" regarding the state of the health insurance industry.  The show was part of the dateline franchise and was called "Critical Condition." One of the reports involved a young girl, Nataline Sarkisyan, diagnosed with and treated for leukemia, but who ultimately died because, as NBC's Ann Curry wanted us to believe, because she didn't receive a liver transplant.

Several things were just so outrageously wrong, they had to be lies.  They involve the claimed costs, and the reasoning for the liver transplant.

First off were the cited costs. CBS said the treatment, a bone marrow transplant which is the usual course for leukemia, can cost $700,000.00. I have done video work regarding leukemia, and have been close to those treating the disease. I know how involved the procedure can be.  But, Wow, I thought, that's expensive.   So I checked.  The actual numbers for a bone marrow transplant range from $50,000 to $200,000 for the really complex ones. So how can CBS be so wrong? Because they wanted to be.

First off, journalism isn't rocket science.  Meaning, no one's life is at stake if a few numbers are wrong.  They think that the important thing is to make your point.  However, with the backdrop of Obama's healthcare reform initiative, which specifically addresses costs, don't these numbers have a special meaning? And isn't accuracy especially important because of it?

It looks like NBC News was trying to fire up viewers to feel as though costs are completely out of control.  If one accepts $700K for a BMT, than that assumption would be true.  But if a BMT (a pretty involved procedure, by the way), is correctly marked at $50K, the whole issue looks different. And I haven't addressed the liver transplant yet.

The girl's family insisted that she receive the liver transplant recommended by her physician.  Note that the discussion didn't go into issues such as why her liver had failed.  Point-of-fact, the poor girl was dying, and her organs began to fail. A liver transplant might have extended her life for a few weeks, but no more. In the end, her insurer approved the new liver, but Natalione dies before the procedure could be performed.

I'm not discussing whether or not she deserved it.   But I will say, had she received a new liver then died a few weeks later, that the liver she used would have been unavailable to someone who was less ill, someone whose life could have been saved for years. It's not like we send out to WalMart for a liver; they are hard to come by. This mode of thinking is called triage, and is, at best, difficult. It's life and death. But it has to be done to favor the greater good over the lesser.

So, what should we think about NBC? They munged up all the facts, bending  them to suit. The story was very compelling, and made the health insurer look mean and evil. But the bottom line is that they did everything reasonable to save the girl's life. At no additional cost to the family.

People die. But family members need to accept that it's seldom someone else's fault. The mother of the girl and the tone of the story definitely went that way.

The clarion call of the media used to be Accuracy, but no more. I am reminded on a line from the film, 12 Monkeys - "there's no right, there's no wrong, there's only public opinion."

The moral of the story: Distrust the media.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Chinese Capitalism

I saw this article and was thinking, "The Chinese communists do captalism better than we do anymore.

A lesson to be learned, before we sink.

Chinese firm to invest billions in solar battery plant | Green Tech - CNET News
Chinese car and battery maker BYD--which is 10 percent owned by U.S. billionaire Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway--will invest $3.3 billion over five years to build China's largest solar battery plant, a report said Saturday.
Shenzhen-based BYD, which aims to sell 800,000 vehicles next year, will build the plant in China's Shaanxi province, a report in the South China Morning Post said, citing the Shaanxi Provincial Development and Reform Commission Web site.
The plant will have capacity to produce a total of 5,000 megawatts of batteries, the report said.
BYD's F3 sedan was the best-selling car in China in the first 11 months of 2009. BYD is expected to start selling its first electric car, the e6, in the first quarter.

Friday, January 22, 2010

PC comes to Cameras

Face-Detection Cameras: Glitches Spur Charges of Racism - TIME

...HP isn't the only company whose cameras have exhibited an accidental prejudice against minorities, since many brands could be using the same flawed code. TIME tested two of Sony's latest Cyber-shot models with face detection (the DSC-TX1 and DSC-WX1) and found they, too, had a tendency to ignore camera subjects with dark complexions.

My Type of Marxist

I read in the newspapers they are going to have 30 minutes of intellectual stuff on television every Monday from 7:30 to 8 to educate America. They couldn't educate America if they started at 6:30.

- Graucho Marx

FOXNews.com - 'Idol' Sensation General Larry Says 'Pants on the Ground' Being Stolen

FOXNews.com - 'Idol' Sensation General Larry Says 'Pants on the Ground' Being Stolen
General Larry Platt, who became a national obsession after performing his original tune "Pants on the Ground" during an "American Idol audition," said Thursday that he is being taken advantage of by folks looking to make a fast buck from his hip hop tune and is searching for representation, Fox News reported.
Platt, a civil rights soldier turned rap impresario, said he wants to protect his song.
In just a little over a week, his hit song made its way from American Idol to the radio and even the football team the Minnesota Vikings' locker room.
SLIDESHOW: 'Pants on the Ground' Goes Viral.
Platt said he knew all about the use of his song and likeness without his consent.
"I need a copywriter to help me. They are stealing my stuff," he said.

You just can't Make this stuff Up! - Scorned Mistress of Married Obama Adviser

Scorned Mistress of Married Obama Adviser Posts Billboards Nationwide - Local News | News Articles | National News | US News - FOXNews.com

This billboard -- which also has gone up in Atlanta and San Francisco -- is the ultimate act of revenge -- a very public retaliation by a dumped mistress aimed at a very wealthy, and married, businessman who is an adviser to President Obama.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Will your new home still be standing in 50 years? - MSN Real Estate - Page 5 of 17

Will your new home still be standing in 50 years? - MSN Real Estate - Page 5 of 17

“Most residential structures (today) are built to last 50 years,” he says. Builders could go further, of course. Some do. The codes, after all, only set a minimum standard. Meeting code “is like getting 70% in a test,” quips Carter, who also allows that a home built today is more likely to survive an earthquake or violent storm.

Zebron and James