Thursday, February 26, 2009

Radiohead Plays New Order in the Studio (VIDEO)

It's fun to see them having fun. After their dismal tour movie I could hardly imagine any of them smiling. And here they seem to be having fun doing a retro cover of New Order. Enjoy. @jmacofearth

Posted via web from music as fuel

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Zen and the Tennisball Machine - Alone with Patience and Agility

This morning, as the ball machine thumped balls at me on both sides of the court, my task, my lesson, is to be calm and hit a solid shot rather than a winner. Even as I get tired, say by shot number 75, I try and concentrate on breathing into the shot and relaxing rather than tensing up and trying to hit an Andre Aggassi passing shot. And as the time and simple rhythm wear on, the ball machine and I are locked in a meditation.

And if I can get into the flow all other thoughts and time slip away, and like Chevy Chase said in Caddyshack, "Be the ball. See your future."



See the complete post on


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Thursday, February 19, 2009

What Repells Us From Our Creative Passions?

So what is it that keeps my beloved Taylor from getting the love it deserves? It was like the birth of a child when I was able to afford this lucious guitar. My fingers were well worn, I changed the strings every couple months because I was playing them so much they became dull. I was in the studio recording songs like a madman... What's changed?

Kids? But that's no excuse. Work? And while that's a pretty good one, it does not hold at the moment while I have a breather to ponder my next move. Energy? Nope, I'm as boyant as ever, rising early staying up late and catching a nap in the middle if the day affords it. Inspiration? Perhaps, but that's not a very good reason. If we paused our creative production to wait on inspiration or "muse" we would be silent much of the time. Joy? Health? Time? Nope, all good on those too.

But something bigger keeps us from singing our song. Something that goes beyond the fact that my Taylor is STILL DUSTY now in Feb. 09! The only thing that even comes close, that is big enough to repell my spirit is fear.

That's got to be it. I would be guessing, because I am not conscious of being afraid of failure or embarrassment at the moment. But I have always had the artistic repulsion from my "studio, journal, practice" what ever it is, when I have not be in the "mode," when I have not been doing it. So if I just DO IT, will I do it more?

I am full of inspiration and expression of thought. I am beating the crud out of the RockBand drums. I am as happy as I have ever been. [That alone is quite a statement!] But I am also content. In a zen way, I am not urgently needing to express anything. I don't have a broken love story to tell, I am quite elated with where I am in my marriage. I could write about job angst, except for the moment even that has passed.

But something is holding that Taylor just a few feet from my hands and keeping it there. I brought it out of it's case back in July when I wanted to propel my fingers into action. And since then I have picked it up and plucked a couple of times. And my kids, who are not used to hearing me play and sing, were quite supportive and excited to hear me playing. But it didn't sound as good as I liked. I didn't remember the songs that were so fluid in my soul. The guitar was hard to tune, because the strings were so old and dull. And I did not have the burning desire to continue. So in a zen world I would say I am content.

Back a number of years I was playing a festival in Los Angeles with my band Buzzie and a girl in the car asked a question. "So is it better to be content with your life. Or is it better to be intent and striving for more."

I believe Michael Carpenter, from Australia, who was playing on stage with me said, "Striving, definitely. Endlessly striving for the next song, the next note or tone. Striving to express myself."

When it was obviously my turn to talk I said, "I don't know. I am very content right now with my wife and kids and regular life back in Austin. And I am also aware of my lack of striving at this festival. I am happy to be here and all, but I am also missing my ordinary life back home. So I would have to say, content. But that's not very good for my musician cred or my productivity."

"No," she said. "I can see that in you."

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Posted via web from music as fuel

Saturday, February 14, 2009

I Got Blisters on my Fingers - From ACDC's RockBand Track Pack - ROOOCCCK!

If you graduated high school after the 80's you might have missed the HUGE impact ACDC had on the rebellious and angry youth of the late 70's and 80's. Unlike KISS who provided some glam anger, brothers Young and Bon Scott blew the lid off every hard rock "old school" band we knew and loved. [My bands were Aerosmith, The Who and Zepplin.] And in doing so they paved the way for bands like Judas Priest and G-n-R and even Nirvana.

The sheer repetitive headbanging beats, with mean and raw lyrics were more connective than the punks of the Sex Pistols or the Ramones. With ACDC you could sing along with songs like "Highway to Hell" after the 1st chorus. And it was almost impossible not to do the headbangers head bop while listening to the most-rockin songs. My next door neighbor, when he was giving me his Tama Rockstar drum kit to "store" in my garage/studio said he learned drums because of Back in Black. If you know the song you know the infectious, /Dun, dd dun, dd dun, deedoobeedoobedum, dd dun, dd dun/ that pulled my friend out of geekiness into the dark abyss of rock n roll.

And I have tweeted a lot about how RockBand 2, the version I got for my birthday in November, has changed my approach to the recording studio and my enthusiasm for making music again. And how many of my friends, similarly situated between their 30's and 40's, were also RockBanding alone and with friends all through the holidays this year. Nary a day went by when someone on my tweet list wasn't saying: how much time they spent; how much fun they had; what their party was like with ROCKBAND. AC/DC track pack for RockBandSo a couple of weeks ago I bought the ACDC FAN Pack for Rockband. Rather than just getting the PS2 game this one came with a concert shirt from "Black Ice" [their latest moderately successful new disc] and a DVD "directors cut" of some show they did in a Madrid bullfighting stadium, called "NO BULL." And of course the PS2 TrackPak.

[A moment of revelation: Why and I not listening to ACDC on iTunes right now as I write. Click, launch, select play. Okay, got that taken care of, going Bon Scott era with Powerage.]

So I would say I've spent probably 20 hours on Rockband 2 up until yesterday. And I've gotten through most of the songs in "medium," even the ones I don't like. But yesterday I put the ACDC Trackpak in and just about blew my hands off.

There are a couple of non-hits in the selections, but as each song is revealed along the path of performing, I was like, "She's Got the Jack!!!! Woohoo! Dirty Deeds! Yeah! and then finally "Back in Black. Oh yeah!" And when I got up this morning, after exchanging Valentines with my lovely wife and cuddly kids I was off to "finish the set." And I plowed through the last 6 songs on the 18 song set. By that time my son was aching for the TV.

"One more song, on medium this time," I told him. As I finished "Thunderstruck" with a big drum solo, I asked, "Can I do ONE MORE SONG?"


And I turned over the cable selector and turned off the stereo. But I was exhausted and exhilarated. I can't wait to call my neighbor over to show him Back in Black RockBand style. My guess is he will dig it too.

There are a few funny things about the ACDC Track Pack though.

I like the remakes better than the Brian Johnson versions of the Bon Scott-era songs. A lot better.

Angus is a stacked black female guitarist wielding a logo-ed an often highlighted Fender Strat. I don't think I ever saw Angus with anything but his Gibson SG. But of course Fender is the sponsor. And you know they could never do Angus's antics justice in animation. I DO really want one of the Fender Precision base replicas, but I have enough REAL guitars to no start collecting RockBand guitars and paraphernalia. [What are the origins of that word para-pher-a-lia? I wonder.]

I have never seen ACDC live in concert. [A moment of silence, for Bon Scott.] And since Bon Scott died in 1980 I never really had a chance, but watching the No Bull DVD I'm kinda glad. Bon Scott, from what I've seen in videos was a rockstar embodied. Brian Johnson, no so much. Angus is still great. The songs are still great, I just don't find myself having the same empathy for the "older rocker" that I do with say, Robert Plant or Pete Townshend. His antics on stage are bazaar and lame. IMHO.

But the ACDC Track Pack takes my already heightened fascination with RockBand to a new height. Even with the few clunker tracks, it rules! It takes me back to a time when I would take a few friends to Taco Bell at lunch and we would speed (really fast) down the new Loop 360 and our ears would be ringing from the Fosgate powered versions of Black In Black that blasted out of my VW Sirocco.

Rock On!

@jmacofearth permalink:

Note: I have requested a developers kid from both Harmonix and the other programers and game companies asscociated with RockBand because I would really like to put some of my songs, or some XTC or Beatles in RockBand format, but they have not responded at all. Nada. Nothing. Bummer. ;-(

Dedication: This post goes out to AC who rocks along with the best of us. Dude, rock on!

Posted via web from music as fuel

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Deceptive, Confusing or Am I Just a Dork? - Buying a 17" Macbook Pro

[cross-posted from my blog at]

I received my 17" Macbook Pro yesterday from Expercom! I was like a little kid when the FedEX guy arrived. Skipping up my driveway. "It's here, it's here."

The only problem was, I "thought" I was ordering the new "monoblock" 17" and what I got was the earlier model. No super battery, no unibody, and no potential to put in 8 gigs of ram. So I contacted ExperCom and they said, I could either 1. return the MacBook Pro for my $2,400 minus a 15% restocking charge; or 2. exchange the one I had for the new ones when they were expected to be shipping in 3 - 5 weeks! WOW!

So please, take a look a the screen grab below. Or visit the actual page and see if this was a simple mistake, a bait-and-switch scheme, or just a case of bad design.

expercom's 17" macbook pro sales page


Now I guess I should've known that the NEW MacBook Pro was a 2.66 mhz chip and not a 2.6 mhz! But I was even jumping back and fourth between this page and apple's site to make sure I got everything just right. I didn't.

On Apple's site, where ExperCom grabbed the 17" spash screen, I CAN'T buy the older version. So to get a old 17" MacBook Pro I'd have to go to Apple's refurbished area. But HERE on EXPERCOM I have the advertisement and then 8 computers that I assumed to all be monoblock 17" MacBook Pros, like the one in the picture ABOVE the listings.

And I think it's kind of deceptive to list the 4 ACTUAL NEW MacBook Pros as "Out of Stock" when they have never been "In Stock." If Apple has not shipped any 17" MacBook Pros then these should say "Preorder." But when I look at the page I see 8 MacBook Pros either "In Stock" or "Out of Stock," but they are all NEW MACBOOK PROs, or so I thought.

So ExperCom has given me the option of paying them over $300 for MY mistake, or waiting and swapping the machine whenever the new ones ship. I have requested instructions to return the unit for the swap, but I have not heard back from them. I suspect it is against the law for me to send them back the computer while they keep the money I authorized on my credit card. So we'll see.

Oh and one last bit. The computer shipped about an hour after I placed the order, so I can't fault ExperCom for being efficient. But when I got the initial email about the mistake, now about 22 hours ago, the main question was "is the box opened?" [Back in the day that was how retailers hooked you. If you opened the box the answer was, "We're sorry Sir, but we cannot sell the computer as new if the seal has been broken."]

So the shiny new old MacBook Pro sits in it's box by my front door. And I wait for ExperCom to respond now to my request for an RMA. And I know that shipping the unit back and reversing the charges on my credit card would put ExperCom at the disadvantage, not me... But I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt if they respond before the end of the day, which will be over 24 hours. After all I bought my last MacBook from them and had no problems.

@jmacofearth permalink:

Posted via web from jmacofearth's posterous

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Poetry of Humor and Poking Fun at Twitter AND

Just a few minutes of self-induced snickering and a quick turn with godaddy and photoshop and my little twitter humor empire is born.

Ain't this social media stuff great!



Posted via web from Poetry is Code

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Windows Optional! - The Malls of America are Full and So Is the Apple Store!

An excerpt from my main blog:
Why is it that the Apple store is always packed? I know why I go. But why does everyone else go? Have we not seen enough of the iPhone and the new iMac and the Nano’s-of-many-colors? [Okay, I've been going lately to see if I can put my hands around one of the new 17" monoblock MBPs. But they still don't have any. Even here in HOUSTON's Galleria.] The Apple staff, not all geniuses mind you, are certain that the 17″ is shipping but they don’t know when they will actually GET one.

Is this a supply problem like past Apple hits? The 17″ shows “now shipping” on the Apple website. Okay, enough about Apple. Oh, except one note that the Sony Style store is dazzlingly pretty and chrome and black and full of large flat panel TVs, but there are a total of 5 people in the store, and 3 of them work there. So what is it about Apple and it’s nearest design worthy competitor that is so different?

Okay, so stores like Dior have exactly 3 people in them, all in Dior suits and all standing behind the Dior counter. Brookstone is vacant. The wild clothing stores with blasting hip hop and rap are doing a brisk business. And then a little store like Teavana, is all alone selling upscale teas. And the cute girl in the organic clothing can’t even give away a hot tea sample. The Food Court and the Ice Rink are pretty full. And still there are just so many damn people. Shopping, eating, looking at Apple computers.

So what if Apple did an Ad [maybe they already have] that shows their newest laptops and says, “Windows Optional.” At my former employer’s the biggest innovation to come out of their innovation pipeline is machines shipping with Ubuntu. Now, Ubuntu is cool and pretty but it’s not exactly ready for prime time. So why were some many folks ready for a non-Windows laptop?


the entire post can be read here:

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Thursday, February 5, 2009

fork-exec + socket = hang? - a ruby expression by jack tang

A ruby expression by jack tang from his posterous page Software Is Art!

ThreadA: exec_point_a -> exec_point_b -> exec_point_c
ThreadB:                            exec_point_a -> exec_point_b -> ...

In Ruby 1.8
  ObjectSpace.each_object(IO) do |io|
    unless [STDIN, STDOUT, STDERR].include?(io)
        io.fcntl(Fcntl::F_SETFD, Fcntl::FD_CLOEXEC)
      rescue ::Exception => err

In Ruby 1.9
  ObjectSpace.each_object(IO) do |io|
    unless [STDIN, STDOUT, STDERR].include?(io)
        io.close_on_exec= true
      rescue ::Exception => err

[I believe ee cummings would be proud. end end end]

A bit more information if you understand this kind of poetry:

Fork-exec is a commonly used technique in Unix whereby an executing process spawns a new program. fork() is the name of the system call that the parent process uses to "divide" itself ("fork") into two identical processes. After calling fork(), the created child process is actually an exact copy of the parent - which would probably be of limited use - so it replaces itself with another process using the system call exec().

Here is the full post on Software Is Art!


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