Saturday, 31 December 2011

Hello 2012

Internet is incredibley bad here in Tenerife, we seem to be bouncing off a reflected signal which comes and goes, usually right in the middle of something important that needs downloads.

So I'll keep this brief.

Happy New Year to you all, its been an interesting year, no where near as bad as 2010 but a lot more work, 2012 has promise though...lets hope we all get what we want, or if we try real hard we might get what we need.

Peace love and other assorted platitudes which probably won't post.....


Friday, 23 December 2011

Lost and Found now for some sunshine

Lost in Space did turn up, she'd been delivered to the next building, the sender seems to have forgotton to put the building number on the label, though he did put the building name on so I am surprised at UPS not making the connection with a big building with PAKHUIS carved in 3 foot high letters on the wall as well as a large PkHS logo on the front..
never mind, it arrived..sadly very slightly damaged but not in anyway that causes it to be unusable, as I said before she is a cheapo guitar, so her wood is not solid mahogany like my other axes, more plywood if you get my meaning, as a result a flake on the tip of one of the legs got bashed off and lost the paint exposing the wood. But not to worry.

So she's now waiting to be abused by hoards of students in our Game Anylsis Room...or rec room as it should be called. So long as they don't throw her around she'll be fine and we'll all have a lot of fun plugging our ipods into her..ermmmm lots of things wrong with that statement.

Lucky it did show up today, since this is our last day at work..I have a full day of GameLab supervision/help ahead but after that 2 whole weeks of Xmas holiday, much of which we are spending in sunny Tenerife, spending our lovely double salary bonus...I've mentioned how much I love my job right??

Roll on the sunshine, I must confess to beig totally exhausted this last block, with difficult classes and huge amounts of prep, admin and marking work its been pretty intensive and I need the rest.

oh well back to work..for a few more hours.


hmmmm ebay losing the plot

With The Lost in Space guitar still not resolved, and not likely to be anytime soon, this has been a pretty bad month all told for ebay purchases and postal purchases in general

I bought some expensive wireless headphones which were useless and the seller agreed to replace them, but so far has not, and has suddenly started accumulating lots of neg feedback on his store, and not responding to mailes, suggesting big issues/walked away, which might be a problem

Several small packages from the US appear to have gone awol, including Bina's Birthday pressie/s to me which she tells me was coming from the US though she thought it was NL.

I'm not overly worried about my ebay problems, I buy huge amounts of stuff, sometimes quite expensive things, and lots of small things, and problems are rare.

Paypal is of course a total joke and never any use when there are genuine issues, which is why I usually pay via paypal with my credit card, there's always a protection system in place there, so if worst comes to worst and my headphone guy has done a bunk with my cash, I can claim it back and let the UK Police pay him a visit at my credit cards request.

We'll give UPS a chance to resolve the guitar over the holiday period, its not the sellers fault, though when all said and done I have not got my goods, so if a claim has to be made, it has to be made. They can claim from UPS who have gone so far down in my estimations I don't ever want to use them again.


Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Lost in Space

Quite annoyed with UPS, it seems they have lost, or misdelivered a package.

I bought this,

She's a Space Invader themed flying V, as a "gift" to my work recreation add to our acoustic guitar and keyboard collection which the students and staff sometimes bang out a tune on..(I may be tempted to play it a bit myself)

It wasn't expensive, but all the same it wasn't free, so was a bit narked to find that UPS reported it as delivered yesterday. I had it delivered to the work address since thats where it will live and the office is never usually empty.

Apparently it was delivered at 1.07 and signed for (with a squiggle according to image on the tracking system) by someone called Jansen




Trouble is we have no one called Jansen here and no one saw any sign of the UPS man who's no stranger to our building.....oh dear.

So its either gone to the totally wrong address and someone has taken it in...or someone has snagged it as it was being delivered here...either way..WTF!!! are UPS doing giving large box to someone who's name is not on the box.

Lets hope the driver remembers where he delivered it, or a claim will be heading off pretty soon.


Sunday, 18 December 2011


Birthday weekend == time for guitar playing ;), at least until I have to start prepping this weeks lectures.

Been wanting to do a version of this for a long time, its a really big classic of course and everyone knows the amazing original, its not often done any different, so I had planneed to do a darker version which was sounding really ermmm "nice" , when I practiced it, but I can't sing (or even think sing) and play so I got the I know I know I know bit in the wrong place when I laid down this track, but I thought it sounded great even with out the dischordant stuff I had planned ot put in, so I decided to just do a bit of mood noodling along to a great sounding 1st track riff I got down...shame its not a bit longer....might revisit this if I can find a singer to do the vocals properl


Thursday, 15 December 2011

Crappy day

Won't go into too much detail since my blog is not as private as it once was, but today was a seriously crappy day...I don't think I've had a day quite like it in 3.5years of teaching, trying to get a simple and important concept across and being forced to simplify it till it had little or no meaning, only to find even that extreme simplification wasn't registering.

When you stand next a student and they can't even type in a dictation of the answer its hard work.

There's only so many ways you can express a simple concept till you end up repeating it over and over again and feel like giving up.

Going to have to have a bit of a rethink about the teaching method used and the expectations of the students involved. Some advice from my didactics tutor is needed.


Sunday, 11 December 2011

Hmm I'm doing it wrong.

I am supervising 1st year IGD gamelab at work, thats my 1st time working with the IGD group and its been quite an eyeopener.

The IGD are designed to be more specialised than the Programming and Visual Art tracks, they need to be all rounders who can do some coding, some art adn some production with a view to letting them develop their own specialites.

The Gamelab concept is based normally on the idea that students get chucked into the thick of it and we stop those that are sinking from ermm sinking while the swimmers get going and in time everyone picks up the the working in a team mentality.

That works very well with PR and VA students who get mixed up and do their own thing, but we're finding IGD to be a bit more problematic.

Mainly due to the coding side of it, there has to be some level of tech skills and in this case we really don't have it. I do teach some of them programming in the 2nd block after they have already been doing gamelab for 3 months.

So its been a struggle, and this week I've been doing some work to help them get things up to spec....I can see so many basic mistakes, stuff I have been teaching in class just isn't being used.

so...while I get that they have not had the benefit of me teaching them coding for 3 months..they have had me for 5 weeks and the basics I explained just havn't been getting used...Thats my fault I think, if they are not understanding the importance of what I am explaining, especially the basics, then I'vd not done my job right.

Got 3 weeks left to get them on track before they start their next gamelab. I am going to be keepng a very close eye on them to see if my re-asserting the basics works.


Saturday, 3 December 2011

Diet !!!! Hell no!

As I approach 49 (edit oops 48...maybe I can postpone the exercise a year then) in a couple of weeks...I am becoming increasingly aware of the fact I'm a right podgy bastard...most of my shirts are getting tighter....and its not due to machine washing.

Despite cycling a lot, I also eat a lot..and of course something has to happen. I am currently 14st, 92kg. Which is actually what I weighed just before my cancer. I lost a lot of weight soon after than, but slowly its been going back on.

Anyway for my height and build, I should really be around 10-11st. begins!! I can't really carry this weight around and not expect a heart attack before I'm 60. So its time to shed it...not with diet..I hate diets..but slightly more sensible eating and ...wait for it.



I have agreed to join Bina's Gym (which will also encourage her to go a bit more as she does not like going alone) and I'm going to take up some running.

To enforce this I just bought THE most expensive pair of trainers in the history of my ever buying trainers. 160euros..yes I said 160. Apparently after testing my running style (by videoing me running in the shop..I shit you not) the specialist show shop reccomends a set of shoes with some extra lift on the instep to help prevent injury.

160....gulp...There's an old saying which goes something like...Spend little, but spend wisely, I take that to mean don't waste money but buy the best you

I better end up being ablet to run sub 2 hour marathons after that level of investment!!!

Anyway...Starting off light till I get into the swing...Going to go for some light cycleing around the area, then some walking then light jogging.
I'll keep a track on the weight to see if its dropping.


Thursday, 1 December 2011

A wall of Gibsons

There's Libby lined up with my other Gibsons.
waiting for her to warm up a bit before I tune her up and have a bit of plinkyplonky time. She's really nice though, a '98 model so nicely aged. Only 1 minor crack on her, but she has been looked after very well.

She does need a clean though...she smells a bit, think her last owner must have been a smoker.


Impressive performance by DHL giving next day delivery and regular notifications. I really though it would be Friday or Monday before she got here.

Edit..ok warmed up...tuned up, plugged in.

'kin 'ell.....what a belter....fantastic just fantastic, feels amazing, sounds amazing, looks...incredible....WHY did I not buy one of these babies before...just spent nearly 2 hours noodling around, doing mega barre chords and stretches and all worked perfect, no hand strain, no hard to reach frets, nothing, perfect position, pefect weight, perfect neck, perfect sound..I am genuinely smitten.

Just need to do something about that smell of smoke..

Libby, time for a wash.....c'mere you!


Nearly here

Looks like Libby might arrive in the afternoon sometime :D
She's already on the mainland.
I am planning to get to work tomorrow, if I ever get to sleep...So with a bit of luck I'll be able to have some plinkyplonky fun when I get home.

Arrived at Sort Facility BRUSSELS - BELGIUM
Sign up for shipment notifications Thursday, December 01, 2011 at 01:45
Origin Service Area: EXETER - EXMOUTH - UK
Destination Service Area: EINDHOVEN - BREDA - NETHERLANDS, THE +1 Pieces

Thursday, December 01, 2011 Location Time Pieces
7 Arrived at Sort Facility BRUSSELS - BELGIUM BRUSSELS - BELGIUM 01:45 +1 Pieces

Wednesday, November 30, 2011 Location Time Pieces
6 Departed Facility in EAST MIDLANDS - UK EAST MIDLANDS - UK 23:32 +1 Pieces

5 Processed at EAST MIDLANDS - UK EAST MIDLANDS - UK 21:54 +1 Pieces

4 Arrived at Sort Facility EAST MIDLANDS - UK EAST MIDLANDS - UK 21:43 +1 Pieces

3 Departed Facility in EXETER - UK EXETER - UK 17:24 +1 Pieces

2 Processed at EXETER - UK EXETER - UK 16:13 +1 Pieces

1 Shipment picked up EXETER - UK 13:57


Tuesday, 29 November 2011


I never have sick days, and a cold does not usually stop me going to work...sick days are for wussies..I even went to work when I had cancer and bits of me were leaking and falling off....thats how hard I am.

But man flu.......oh dear...horrible horrible, if I manage to survive I'll post more the meantime I will stuggle on through the pain.

.....ah balls its only a cold, but I have a really sore throat which makes talking, especially loudly to a class a bit hard, so am working from home for a couple of days, doing the last bits of marking and clearing up my backlog of admin thats been building up.

Despite being sick, its actually nice to have the time to get this done its all been causing lots of stress cos I know it had to be done there was just no time to do it..I really hope I get more prep/marking/testing time made available next block.


Sunday, 27 November 2011

Busy busy

Although I have managed to get out a few times these last few weeks, a blues only jam with students at the Mezz on Thursday being a particular highlight (I even tune...kinda) I've been in marking hell this last 2 weeks.

This is my biggest issue with teaching, I need to give assignments, rather than question tests to prove they are using what they are being taught. This is almost always a simple retro game at this stage, which by their nature need to be played and checked for issues but that takes time. Sometimes a lot of time!

Since most of my students are still beginners and think nothing of little gameplay prevention bugs getting in the way, after all they know to avoid the thing that causes the crash....In time of course they will realise that having ANY kind of crash is not acceptable, but until they do I have to either find and fix the crash myself or continue to play avoiding the crash.

This all takes time, 1 assignment took me nearly 5 hours to complete, in a couple of session. Amazingly he passed just. He had no major coding bugs, just no bloody idea how to make a simple game interesting and playable so that it flowed from 1 part to the other, and it was hamstrung by a bug we have discovered in I7 cpu's which causes delta time checks to fail. So games are often absurdly fast and unplayable or absurdly slow and equally unplayble.
Since they are taught game design in a different module I can't in all fairness mark them down for shockingly bad game design....yet.

The i7 timing issue is being looked at but for now I have to swap computers around till I find one that works..usually my old samsung laptop is ok but it takes a while to set it up to run the games.

This weekend should finally see an end to it, or at the very least get all but the most problematic done.

Those who passed did ok this year, we have a good bunch of students and I am hopeful that as the year progresses their skills will increase...and their attention to gameplay with it.


Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Me make music

Had a great 1st band practice despite our singer being poorly (get well soon Britta), but with our backup singers taking front stage we managed a pretty damn good rehearshal and got a couple of numbers tightened up nicely. Then did an amazing Blues jam in A for 10 mins or so that was brilliant....if only I had recorded it....oh well

Some minor tech issues with my Irig connection to my Ipad, it seems to be wobbly and not always doing a stereo output..I have a better Ampkit adapter on the way (taking a while) but have also picked up a chinese copy Irig as a back up for a few quid...despite the guys laughing at my toy obsession I still prefer to route my guitar through the Ampkit/Amplitube apps on my Ipad into a PA, than into a noisy feedback prone tech issues must be resolved asap.

Blueshawk is all paid for, he's going to set up pick up on Monday so should be here next week Wed/Thurs. :D


Sunday, 20 November 2011

Nothing left to collect

Well....thats it...the Blueshawk was the final piece of the quest for perfection. I now have a guitar to suit every style of music I enjoy listening to and playing.

The only things "missing" are a Fender Jaguar/Jagstang which is something I can use to make up for my small hands (it has a very small neck making it easier to reach big chords) and a proper Archtop for Jazz...but I don't like much jazz and would not really want to play it.

I can reach most of the chords, as a result of practice, on my Gibsons (shorter scale than Fenders) so the Jag is now pointless.. I therefore have my complete collection, Blues, Rock, folk, classical, bit of Country/Bluegrass and anything else that takes my fancy.

A Super strat has been suggested ala Vai and Satriani, but tbh I don't enjoy their music that much, too flash, so I don't need those uberfast necks and low frets....and an Ibanez is kinda overkill for me.

So I'm done.....I'll cull a few of the less played guitars over time to get the collection down to under 20 and those are my keepers.

Need to locate a nice guitar vault to keep them safe and sound; as much as I like having them on display and able to pick up and plinkyplonk on them, a proper storage cupboard will keep them safe for years to come..I can put them on stands when I want to use them.

Something like this :D

Mad innit...I could proably make one of these using an Ikea wardrobe as a chassis...will look into that sometime


Saturday, 19 November 2011

Got her

Just waiting for the transaction to process, but I got her. A 1998 House of Blues Limited Edition Gibson Blueshawk...with some aftermarket details which make her even more limited than the 50 House of Blues varients that were made.
Her name is Libby, and no I didn't not make that up, its what her current owner called her and I will do the same.

I didn't get a bargain on this one, but also I didn't have to pay over the odds, something about the right price, which for a rare beast like this is doing well.

But I'm not adding to the collection, my Wesley Semi acoustic is going to a new home (she can't compete with Libby) so its 1 out 1 in..maybe 2 out if I can sell one of the other lesser guitars as I do need to make space.
I am playing all my "good guitars" quite regularly but its fair to say I don't really play the lesser ones much at all, so they have to go over the next few months.


Blueshawk tingles, but Fretlight woes

I've put an offer in for a Blueshawk....its a limited edition model with a few customisations, which makes it ingeresting, to me at least.. The US supplier really ended up a bit of a dead end, strange emails which felt like cut and paste efforts to other buyers so I've given up on that, despite the warehouse full of Blueshawks I suspect its going to cost too much once you factor in postage and need to look to the UK/Europe.

The owner of this House of Blues BH is asking a fair bit for his, though he seems to have not noticed its been altered from stock..that removes its limited edition price tag and puts it into the slightly lower "cared for" price range, so I've offered him an amount I think reflects that..we'll see.

The Fretlight woes however continue, in spite of some sterling efforts on the part of the Fretlight exec who sent me a new cable and some replacement nuts and a huge T-shirt (thanks for that it was a nice thought but a bit big for me (must keep eating)), the thing is still noisy as hell when hooked up to a computer..Though admittidly gets better with good cables.

But shielding is clearly an issue thats not going to go away easily.

More interesting was the new nuts, I was set 4 all "cut" the same way and needed normal shaping to fit. Since I wanted to play the Fretlight today, I did a quick temp replacment of the nut myself which provides proper spacing again for the strings, but once again..the cut of the nut leaves a lot to be desired...1st and 2nd strings popping out of the cut every time you do a tone bend lower than fret 3. I'm not going to attempt a re-cut though, its too special a job.

So...basically its a pretty poor quality guitar, nut cutting is a skill that if not done correctly totally ruins an otherwise ok guitar.
Not to worry though, in the hands of a good tech it can be saved, I will be taking it to a guy in Breda to have the nut properly set (I didn't adjust the height, leaving its intonation all over the pace) and cut to hold the strings and maybe get rid of the buzzes which could be down to some poor soldering.

I've had a lot of good results in the old days when I bought mostly cheap guitars of taking them to good luthiers and having them setup properly, my old Epiphone strat copy was one of the cheapest bits of crap around but set up well I got a lot of compliments about how well it played.

I'll take the Fretlight to the shop on Monday and let them do some magic on it, if it comes back a good guitar, I'll keep it, otherwise...ebay!


Thursday, 17 November 2011

The hunt continues

With all those blueshawks on sale its no surprise that I've been doing a bit of hunting..I have in fact managed to find a US supplier which a warehouse full of them in all colours and conditions...amazing....looks like he specialises in them, but costs of importing and shipping still make it hard to justify purchase from the states at the moment.

Unless he's got a Little Lucille model in stock, a very rare and much sought after varient of the Blueshawk endorsed by my hero BB LLBH would look great on the wall next to her big sister...we'll have to see though.

Had a jam tonight with the Breda ex pat crew, the usual faces excluding Ed our bass player and tbh it was a pretty crap effort, no energy or real interest in the music tonight. We've had a few bad ones in the past so I guess it happens. We'll have to try and practice more and be well rested for the next one...marking permitting.


Monday, 14 November 2011

Dammit, they're like busses.

Just when you give up on them 3 come along at the same time.

My GAS (Guitar aquisition syndrome) has died down now, pretty much got everything I want now except for the damn elusive Gibson Blueshawk, which is hard to find in Europe and no longer in production, so you have to wait for 2nd hand models to turn up, thats not often as they are usually much loved and kept so not a sniff of a decent one on ebay for months...until now when of course Ebay is listing 3 of them...all overpriced and only a US one willing to ship to The Netherlands, which of course makes it even more overpriced.

bugger...will keep an eye on them for now, but only just getting my cash reserves back so will probably have to pass again for 6 months.

life is so unfair sometimes.....ah well.


Sunday, 6 November 2011

Party Time, hangover follows

I had a really nice time at my colleague and old friend Martin and his wife Sally's house warming party...even managed to be part of the winning 80's pop quiz team, beating a much more knowledgable colleague who's hobby is DJ'ing 80's pop :D

Much drink was drunk, much chat was had and it was nice to have a party where no punchups or raised voices were in evidence...This I like about Holland a lot you can actually have a party, get plastered and not be afraid the bloke from accounts is going to knife you.

Even managed an extremly short guitar jam, after Martin had asked me to drag an amp and Gracie all the way over there, only for him to dissapear and leave me noodling on my own...good job the G-Dec has backing tracks to play along to. :D

Bina missed a good party, she's away in the UK visiting her mum at the moment, and eveyrone was asking about her.


Saturday, 5 November 2011

Damn you technology!!

As you know I love my guitars and also the toys associated with guitars, my pedal board for example is a thing of wonder...quite a lot of pricey electric gadgets designed to make me sound a little bit better than I am, both on guitar and vocal.

But alas technology is starting to make me doubt the financial sanity of those purchases.

I have always kept up to date with using Ipod and Ipad apps to use my guitar for practice, Amplitube is especially good, but so is Ampkit. Despite the fact they tend to rip you off a little on constant in app purchases which can rack is still far cheaper than and easier than owning and storing 30 odd amps and a hundred or more pedals.

But I've always considered it for practice, something to twang along with in the wee small hours downstairs so I'm not disturbing anyone.

I have changed my opinion...after this weeks ex pats jam when I had no one to give me a lift, I thought it best to travel as light as possible.. I decided to just take my ipad and Ipod and hook them up using their Iklip adaptors (handy but overpriced gadgets) to my Mic stand and then into the PA.

I had some issues with the Ipod version of vocal live, apprently not outputting, so that got put to once side but the Ipad running Ampkit was a revelation. Pumped out through the PA with no effects, leaving the Pad to do all the sound texturing. Huge variations in tone, great echo and reverb effects and most important, it sounded natural, like I had Fender, Peavy, Messa Boogie or Marshal amps on tap with lots of options clean clear tones or for screaming heat and phasers etc.

Brilliant. I will most certainly be taking just my Ipad with me to jams in future, the only drawback it has is I can't do loop stuff and switching from rhythm or acousticy stuff to solo powerchord stuff is impractical for that you need a footswitch set 2 way switch system which I already have, to my mobile board might be needed for some songs...though with 2 or 3 guitarists playing its probably not needed really, just those odd days when I'm the sole string plucker.


Tuesday, 1 November 2011

how far?

I have to go see an intern student tomorrow, all the way up the North of this extremely small country....well, "small" is relative I suppose, its going to take 3+ hours each train...thats quite some trip accross a small country.

Not having a great week at work so far, in fact for the 1st time ever I can honestly say I've started to not want to go in to work...nothing to do with students or the work load, just some issues I feel I'm being forced into that I don't want to be forced into and are causing me stress...for the 1st time ever. Hopefully they will be resolved quickly and cleanly but we'll have to see.

Can't even fully discuss it since it seems my blog is not as private as it once was, that makes me sad, I liked the chance to express myself here so mum and family/friends could keep tabs on me, but now I have to be careful and least until things get

Had my didactics course today, which I did enjoy. It has focused a lot of material on how to put together future courses into clear perspective..I wasn't doing much wrong before but it was not properly directed so that I caught as many students attention as possible, the course is certainly making it much clearer to me that specific approaches need to be implimented rather than just me standing in front of a crowd and getting them to repeat stuff till they get it.....still a lot to do on it, but 3 weeks in I already feel quite empowered by it...Next block, once I'm back teaching and the "shit" stuff is out the way, I am looking forward to seeing some significant improvements in my students absorbtion of info.

Speaking of students, I am now busy with mountains of marking as final homework assignments come flooding in, just before final exams next week. At least thats one thing I can do on the train, I was going to take the car and shave 30mins of the trip, but better to sit and at least some of the marking and let the train take the strain.

Time for bed...


Sunday, 30 October 2011

Who said Technology makes life simpler...

Whoever it was was an idiot, and has never tried to get Itunes to run on 2 computers. I can get my mac to work, but it won't hold all the songs I manually imported and there's something wrong with the USB connections on my PC which causes Itones to just fuck up royally pretty much refusing to update anything except on rare when it can be bothered occasions.

So I try to avoid using Itunes for all but the most basic of things....but when there's an update of course my pain is quadrupled.

The amount of time I've wasted tonight just trying to do a simple update for a new album I added is I type its finally updating, and the songs have gone over...whats the betting it bombs out half with through with an "unexpected error"


Thursday, 27 October 2011

We sang Coldplay

as a test for the hub, Jodie, Bina and I sang/played Trouble.

by Coldplay

I feel dirty now...

but actually it was quite nice.


its so...small!!

As the Actress said to the Bishop.

The new Jamhub has arrived, it had actually arrived when I was typing about it, in the last post, but Jodie was too busy getting readyto go out to shout upstairs to me..I only discovered it when I went downstairs a bit fed up that it was not going to arrive today... and saw the box. works well, at least as far as I can tell with only 1 user..needs to get a bunch of us together to play to get the best out of it, but it does do exactly what it says it does.. So if the others buy their mics and whatever else they need to get sounds into it, we'll be in business.
I was surprised by how small it was, the box was over twice the size of the actual unit. Its about the size of a laptop only a semi circle.

Less impressed with IK Multimedia's IrigMic, bought at the same time, or more accuratly the software..the mic seems fine, but the software is buggy as hell, pressing presets is just as likely to cause a crash back to IOS as do anything else, if it doesn't crash it just seems to select options without updating the screen...not good. It does work sometimes, but it seems to depend on the mood its in when it fires up...I've fired off a message on their forum to ask wtf...

I hate paying for apps that don't work, more so when I've bought hardware that needs it. Its not expensive and its just being kept as a backup for practice, I prefer my VL4 for 95% of the vocal stuff I attempt. But its good to have options.

So...lets see if we can get the band together a bit more often, at mine and or one or 2 of the other members. Fun times ahead...need a name...Broken Down Auld buggers...might not go down too well, but I like it. B-Dab ...hmmmmm :D

Time to get some grub..Bina and Jodies have gone for sushi in town..after yesterdays dicky tum I thought best of it, but now am starving, so its on the site and ordered some tasty ribs...hmmmm I can smell the msg from here.


What...wait a

It's Thursday already...what the hell...where did my holiday week go?

I want it back I never got to have long lie ins and late night piss ups..oh scratch the piss ups..I'm off drink for a while, I was feeling quite queezy and somewhat the worse for wear on Wednesday after a few too many glasses of Mosel Merlot the night before at home..

Not a good way to feel when Bina dragged me off to the other side of the country to go see Maastricht, which in fact turned out to be a girly shopping trip for her and Jodie, with me plodding along ducking into available loo's as the need took me...often urgently.

Been keeping myself busy with student questions and fixes..a few students of course not bothering to do any work despite plaintive crys for help and promises of dedication to the cause...then mailing me to say they don't know what to do...a week after being told...sad, but what can you do! Its their holiday too, so I'm not going to get too stressed..but come study week!!

Waiting for my new jamhub and a few other goodies to arrive. Was a wee bit peeved to discover that I could have got the same things a bit cheaper (about 50 euros) even factoring in delivery costs at GAK in the uk, but hey time.

In other news.

I managed to dig out my tickets for Guthrie Govens upcoming gig on 2nd December way up in I don't know where it is...but I'll get there.

And the Veldman brothers return to Breda on the 18th, I'll go going to see them again for sure. That'll be a nice night out after my Birthday ;) I must not get drunk, can you imagine going to an electric blues gig with the tail end of a hangover.


Monday, 24 October 2011

Its not got any strings

So now that the credit card has been paid for another month, its safe to hit it again

Just bought this little beauty

Its a jamhub silent rehearsal studio, interface, thingy ma jig....basically a posh mixing desk that allows multuple players to plug in and play so we can all hear each other without using loud amps and stuff.

This is to help our "band" get together to practice in relative silence, since its not possible for us to always get together at the Mezz, this will let us practice in each others homes and only have to worry about the singer getting to loud and bothering the neighbours. Only the singer and acoustic guitars would be heard but they're not that loud as to be a worry. (Drummer has electric drums).

Bit of an investment on my part but I would love for our band to work out and this will help get it going..I can always sell it on ebay if it does not work out.
Lets hope the rest of them chip in for the headphones and mic's they will need to get the best out of it, cos I'm not buying those for them.


I had another go

And in the Process Goldie seems to have lost the output from her neck pickup....Larry is in the shop now so if they do a good job, I'll take Goldie in...Bit crap though since Goldie was supposed to have had her very nice Seth Lover pickups fitted by a pro, I've done one running repairs to her selector switch already.

Which means the solo on this is done with Rosie, my strat...she did well, but the sound is thicker than I wanted so I may redo it when Goldie is repaired.


Saturday, 22 October 2011

Phew time for a breather.

Its been a busy block, seems like so much more than 7 weeks since we went back to work, but we are knackered and looking forward to our Autumn week off. Well it won't really be much of a week off, got lots of work to do, marking to do, prepping to do and no doubt many other things...but at least I will get some lie ins.

Larry has gone to the music shop for repairs, I suspect a faulty capacitor or similar issue on the output circuits but best to let pro's mess with things like that. She'll be ready on Wednesday

I've been re-working the Jumping at Shadows track, I really have decided I don't like it...its getting better now, I've changed the guitar intro, and I've been working on the big mid part solo to make it more Greeny. In doing so I've realised what a genius he really was. I can play about half the solo, note perfect but just can't get anything like the feeling and expression into it he did, just shows the difference between godlikeguitargenuiuseseses and me.

There's been talk amongst the Breda Ex Pats We Jammin' group (which I help run) to form a band, the talk has been up and down a bit the last few sessions and it seemed to have died down again but this was mainly due to the problems of fitting everything into a bunch of grown up's schedules...but we may have a way to move it forward.
I hope so, I like the idea of being in a band, playing with others has been a revelation for me and pushed my playing forward more than 10 years sitting noodling on my own....that sounds rude.....Hopefully we'll have some more info soon...if not though we still do our 2 weekly jams.


Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Starting to hate Pac Man

I give my 1st years a range of retro games to work on as a way to learn different coding techniques. Pac man demo's tile based displays and grid interaction, also a bit of basic AI

As always though my marking of assignments is much slower than I want...mainly due to compiling issues in their code, they've not all got the idea that if it works on their machine it may not work on I often have to make minor fixes...which takes time..

anway..nearly done...then I can put Pacman away for another year, and look forward to 35+ submissions of a Zelda level (class usage and data storage).


Sunday, 16 October 2011

sunday recording

Man this just about killed my hands doing the shuffle...I had to loop it in the end when I could not get more than half way through, fortunately the join is pretty good.

Overall as a 1st pass this isn't too bad, but it does sound horrible on PC speakers, it needs quite a lot of work. I have time next week so will redo pretty much all of it apart from the shuffle, was quite an enjoyable way to pass a sunday though in between bouts of marking.

Next week hopefully I can get some drums on it as well.


nah the more I hear this the less I like it, especially though tinny PC speakers, The guitar isn't right, its off pitch a bit at the start, then its to mournful all the time, I failed to get the anger and drive that you can hear in the original version from Fleetwood mac, of course I can't compete with PG's incredible skills but I should at least make an attempt at needs to be fiercer at the breaks and then go into its soulful sections


Sunday, 9 October 2011

Ready for a new week

Have had a really nice weekend, compliments from students, fun guitar stuff (you will not belive what I am tyring to record...I'll tell you if it works), and an excellent curry and drinks with my old friend Martin and his wife Sally. Which I spent 3 hours making and boy, it was worth it. Bina's samosa's were also bloody awesome..we should make more of those and freeze them.

Looking forward to this week now, the bummer meeting has become a much clearer issue for me now and not something I should be overly worried about, when all said and done I'm doing more than ok at work and we're nowhere near having to worry about the masters situation in a couple of years time the other worries are more specific to different people and all I have to do is my job and keep my perspective on what is important, making sure my students move forward to the point they become independantly motivated.

Got a strange late lecture tomorrow at 5 till 6, so I'll have the whole day to look over students work in peace and quiet at home, and so far its starting to look very cool, PR students are starting to get their lightbulb moments, which I have to say is bloody exciting as hell.

IGD students have been hampered a little by the unfamiliarly of team based working and task lists and strange engines, but they are starting to put fingers to keyboard and even though its early days its looking like they will produce some nice nice work.
Now we get to the exciting last few weeks of IGAD Block A, when we find out who is starting to get it and who needs a bit more of a shove.

Then the exams....oh well...I didn't ever say it was all fun ;)


Saturday, 8 October 2011

Normal services resumes

I've been bitching a bit about work recently, but its very hard to stay upset when you have a great job, the odd wibble is normal in any workplace as it is in life and it can be easy to forget the good things.

The very best of those good things is when you know you've made some difference to a student.

I got an email from a student last night which really brought this home to me. He thanked me for taking time to help him with an issue in class and said how much happier he was to continue with his class.
I get a fair number of compliments, a few complaints from time to time, which I try always to address and the odd hug and wave on the street from old students. I don't really think about it too much, the compliments are nice but its important not to be lax and think you're doing it all right all the time, the complaints may be few but must always be addressed and I do.

But this week, the timing of this 1 email was spot on. A bad week at work totally negated by a 2 sentence ps at the bottom of an email.

A small thing really but simply the best feeling ever. I have a great job and I do it well, thats all that really matters.

Mood lifted, time to spend some quality time with guitars.




Friday, 7 October 2011


We had a very very disturbing staff meeting yesterday, our head honcho director whom we don't see very often, came to our building, and gave a short talk about the worry surrounding our lack of graduates, some student related issues which I can't discuss and...

well...the and is a big deal, and tbh I can't discuss it in detail either, since there's really rather a lot of apparent misconceptions about our happy bunch of campers which may be getting skewed by the actions of 1 or 2 individuals. This needs to be discussed by us all in some hopefully frank and open debate to see if we need to change some or all of our culture at work.

There may be some intense discussion taking place over the comming weeks to rectify very serious problems which many of us don't actually feel exist, indeed our first step is to see if we do indeed have problems or if some inaccurate reporting of our working environment is being passed to them upstairs....we'll see.

My own view is that there's a break in communications between us and upper managment. That being the case it should be easy to fix, otherwise I can see a lot of confused people wondering what the hell is going on!

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Well THAT was fun

Last year I went on a didactics course to gain a teaching qualification which I felt would be useful then, and now it will hopefully serve me well if this nonsense with the,teachers need a masters, thing ever comes to haunt me.

You may remember I hated the course, it was utter crap, totally useless and left me very frustrated and irritated. Indeed it turned out almost all the other "students" felt the same.

But I do want to get that certificate, so I signed up for another course being run this year which was sold to me on the basis that it was a more traditional tutor led course and today was our 1st day.

I can't say how much I enjoyed it, it was informative, structured, engaging and backed up with reference material and content. Unlike last year which might as well have been an instrution to use google by a "trainer" who's only apparent role was to tech us how to use crappy software in conjunction with google.

Really enjoyed myself and I think others did too. Its going to be quite a bit of work, there's a lot of interesting information to take on board and also a lot of homework and reading to do. But if it keeps going at todays pace it should be a pleasure.


Monday, 3 October 2011

The Great Autumn Re-arrange Pt 2

Ok so Guitar and computer corners are all cleared up and tidy...some excess is currently sitting in the middle of the room awaiting placement in safe areas.

I realise now, I may actually, possibly, perhaps, have one or 2 too many guitars.....hmmmm need to buy more wall mounts.


Sunday, 2 October 2011

The great Autumn re-arrange part 1

The big re-arrange of the attic is in progress
Stage 1, is as always to remove the guitars from their stands and put them somewhere safe....

(go on can you spot the odd one out of this group?)

We're going to need a bigger couch.

Stage 2, get the corner cleard up and move the pedal board in and out of the way.

Stage 3...clear the computer desk...which currently looks like this.,

ohhh that is disgusting...but will sort it out..

Then I have to work out how to fit this lot in nice tidy places...

Hmmmm Good Job I like a challenge..

Stage 3 to be started after a nice cuppa coffe...and maybe a bit of old fashioned procrastination for a bit.


Saturday, 1 October 2011

New inspiration

Now that I've been getting the hang of my recording gear I have been searching the web for songs I might be able to manage with my limited vocal range, and that will tax my playing.

One of the songs I want to try is this. Its a bit beyond me at the moment, but something to aim for, so I was looking for alternative versions that might give me some idea of how a limited singer could do it...and then I found this.....and balls to the limited singer.

Its a brilliant version of Mumford and Sons Little Lion man, but in finding I also stumbled on OrtoPilots videos and am totally blown away by the musical and recording skill involved with this amazing artist from Little Hulton near Bolton, UK. Matt Hutchison is his name and why he's not a mega star is just beyond me.

Check them here

His videos are almost always just him, though sometimes with a few friends using the OrtoPilot band name. For sure, some of these covers on his site are 24Kt gold and a source of pure inspiration to keep trying to improve. I spent hours so far going through them, and still not watched all of them.

I noticed on most of his vids he does not use drums, but a Cajon, which is brilliant and a much more subtle and controlled instrument than my cheap electronic drum set which I am starting to find frustrating on anything more complex than basic patterns...quality or the lack of it eventially shows in musical instruments...

So while still basking in I went to the music store today to buy..

My very own Cajon, a DG Bailaor or Fandango models....neat..simple and quite easy to play the basics, but like all things some practice is needed. But its not so noise that the neighbours (or 'er downstairs) are likely to be bothered. Oh and to top it off I haggled the shopkeeper down €25, so even more of a result. Still...160euros for a plywood box is taking the mick a bit...but lets not grumble I couldn't make one myself and the cheap ones they had in stock felt cheap...and learning from the quality shows itself lesson...I walked out with a proper pro plywood box, with snares inside.

I am going to settle on a couple of songs and make an attempt to record them in Garage Band as close as my skill and voice will allow of course using my guitar, Bass and soon to be new found Cajon skills. As well as limited vocal and keyboard stuff...GB also allows me to overlay strings and other things so I basically should have access to a full set of instruments so long as I don't over reach myself too much.

I am not going to attempt the video recordings for now, thats a whole different level of ability, but I am going to have a go at a few simpler covers to see if I can make anything that sounds decent. One or 2 of OrtoPilots vids are just inside my skill level, though it remains to be seen how I can handle the vocals..The key about covers though is not to copy but to make your own versions so I'm going to see what comes out.

Time also for a bit of a re-arrange of the guitar storage...the 6 guitar stand is bloody awesome but I am not yet making best use of my available space...time for a shuffle.


Thursday, 29 September 2011

sick puppy

Harvey is sick, he spent most of the evening throwing up and desperatly trying to eat anything in range, so he could throw up again.

I stayed up with him to keep him company and clear up any mess, but fortunatly he managed to keep down some antiemetics we were given last time he had a bad stomach, long enough to take effect...he's snoring away now so time to sneek to bed and let mother nature take its course.

Bina's going to take him to the vet tomorrow.

I need sleep!!


Sunday, 25 September 2011

and a bit of messing

I am going to redo these vocals at some point, Though I quite like the way I did it, there were a couple of points where I pushed too hard and the autotune failed to grab it....

but anyway, here's another version of Knocking with a bass line added, I don't play bass often so it does wander a bit, off riff, and there is 1 bum note that sticks out to me..see if you can spot it...

Since this was all done multi track I can always go back and redo it...but thought posting this might be interesting to look back on the way the thing progressed.

and after a bit more mesing

beter vocals and bass on this

theres a hiss on the vocal track I found out later how to fix but I just could not get a better vocal track done and after many attempts tbh I've got bored thats it for Knocking...going to try something else. It has been an interesting experiment though. Loads of fun.


hungover and 50 euro's lighter....what a great night

Awesome nights poker, I lost...oh well, but it was a fun night with my dutch friends finally getting to meet a few of my work collegues, one of who walked away with my 50 euros give or take a few cents.

Having a bit of an indian summer at the moment, our summer this year was unusually crap, but in its death throes it's brightend up quite a bit and everyone is making the most of the last few weeks of summer. Including us, we took the dog for a long walk at his favourite woods, after a false start to a local lake, which when we got there discovered it did not allowed dogs...oh well Harvey loved the woods more than I'm sure he would have done the lakes.

I've been getting a lot of positive feedback for my latest bit of garage band twiddle, its not really finished yet though so I hope they'll still like it when I am done.

I think most people are just surprised at the fact I can sing a bit (allbeit with mega help from autotune gadgets) and that my playing is getting better.
To me it still sounds rough and a bit ragged in places so I will work on it.

Time for a bit of lazy sunday afternoon, then a bit of prep work for the week ahead.


Saturday, 24 September 2011

more moozik

We had a go at this during our jam session last week, but we din't really know the words or chords so I decided to have a go at it on Garage band...3 tracks..I may add drums and bass later, and there is one (or 2) points where the vocals are ugg I might try and redo.

Hope you enjoy


Thursday, 22 September 2011

Now that I'm a singist

Due to a lack of male vocalists at our jams I've on occasion,and only as a last resort, had to do some of the singing....I know, I know...not nice, you can see people grimace and lose their timing when I start screeching.

As you can hear from my vocal performance on recent recordings I need very heavy signal processing and a touch of after take compression to make my voice sound in anyway reasonable.

I use my VL 4 at home to fix my voice and as I get more and more comfortable with it I feel I'm getting a sound I like and will stick with it, but I don't really want to take the VL4 to jams with me, its a bit big and its now "fixed" into my home board...I'm carrying loads of gear as it is, and this was the very reason I built my mobile board, so the VL4 is not ideal to cart about.

So I have bought a singist toy which can be carried in my mobile board box, and sits by the side when in use.


A tc-halicon C1 Correction Pedal.

It does the 2 main things my VL4 does, pitch correction and persona, ie makes it the voice sound lower or higher. I don't need the VL4's harmony and other functions at the jams cos there are usually a bunch of ladies to do that... So this fits the bill prefectly

A very very quick mess about shows that it seems to work fine, I may take it to tonights jam to play with since I don't think we'll have any male singers again tonight (groan).

I'm curious to know what it can do, maybe even hooked up with the VL4 as well :D

edit....its great...worked really well indeed, I was singing along with no one wincing or running out of the room....Though in typical computers are evil fashion, I can't seem to update its firmware with the supplied software, I may have damaged it having to abort the firmware update that refused to go past 0% after 20 mins....but no worries, I'll send it for a replacement. Still seems to work I wont be in a huge rush.

edit edit...used the mac to update it...its fine...:D liking my new toy a lot, the simplicity of it is fantastic even if it does not do all the nice harmony, warmth, and other twiddles my vl4 does, it does do exactly what it needs...I'll do another Stormy Monday to compare.


Wednesday, 21 September 2011

2nd track on my new album

A wee bit more twiddling...though I rushed this so its not quite as good as the Thrill is gone, but I'll try again at the weekend when I have a bit more time to spare. The backing track is a bit short too, so it's a very simple version with no big twin guitar solo's.


Top 10

bloody hell, my blues twiddling has gone up to #8 in the Blues/General Chart.

I'm a top 10 recording artist lol

» today's position: # 16 in Blues
» today's position in sub-genre: # 8 in Blues General

Time to start planning my tour. I asked Bina to get me some M&M's but take out the brown ones....she wasn't impressed.


Monday, 19 September 2011

Getting the hang of this moosik lark.

After 1 day this is #12 in the Blues General "charts"
» highest in charts: # 30 (46,501 songs currently listed in Blues)
» highest in sub-genre: # 12 (19,996 songs currently listed in Blues > Blues General)

Quite pleased with that, I had not noticed that some of my "tunes" were actually in a chart, lol its just dawned on me, these are open to anyone who goes on that site..gulp...I thought it was just a repository to store sound clips.

Anyway, for future reference, this is Frankie, my Telecaster (I said strat on teh notes for some reason) going into my mobile board with the 808 on, but no amp, straight into the Mixer board, mixed with my voice then into Garage Band which has that nice Cm Backing track playing.
Done in 1 take after 20 or so tries to get the levels right and work out how to phrase it to suit.

Very pleased with the guitar work overall, could have done with a bit more play on dynamics, and a couple of twiddles are not really needed and hang in the air a bit, but I was singing and playing at the same time so it was more of feel thing so I left them in, I didn't do any post take edits at all, but I did add a bit of reverb and compression to beef it up.

Its all improvised as I was singing, but its very much on the theme of the original and just had to start with that opening vibrato note but after that I went with the flow, though of course a few trademark BB pings are in there ;)

Vocals are being autotuned to death by my VL 4 with a "big" persona setting to lower the tone and add a bit of depth to it...maybe a bit too much. I've finally worked out that the best way to use the VL4 is to actually try to sing in tune and to add some effects and tones to get a more naturual sound.

I've not really found a sweet spot that suits me yet, to my (and mums) ears this does not sound much like me (which is probably a good thing) but at least I've got out of the habit of setting everthing to 100...except me it needs it.

I missed out a verse cause I just could not get the phrasing on it right but its not missed that much.

of course.....nothing quite beats this amazing version....I'll keep working on it.
Lyrics | B.B. King lyrics - The Thrill Is Gone lyrics


Saturday, 10 September 2011

Finally, storage problems resolved

On obvious issue with having a large collection of wood and string beauties, is that they need to be stored..I have some on the walls, which look great btw, and some on stands in the corners, but I have to admit I have reached capacity now...and a few of my babies are stored away in their cases not seeing the light of day very often.

Being one of those people who wants to have my guitars on show and easily to hand for a bit of plinkyplonkystrummywummy stuff. Storage and display is a bit of an issue....But there is this, wonderful item

Its a Hercules 6 way stand. I've been trying to get hold of one of these for ages, but they don't have many european stockets, and by the time you factor in shipping (if indeed they will ship them to The Netherlands) buying from the US or UK has been bothersome.

But happy to report I finally found a stockest in Belgium who has stock and will deliver...not actually all that far from where we are but lack of car and fear of buying too much other stuff if I go into a shop stops me visiting.

This should tidy up my guitar corner quite nicely. I have one of their 3 way stands and its a solid bit of kit, as you would expect from the name. I'll be able to display all my guitars when this comes and put the cases away in the shed or someplace untill I need to transport them..So in fact it will provide a bit more space....hmmmm maybe I will visit Belgium after month.


Monday, 5 September 2011

Larry is sick

With the arrival of my new pedal board and the ability to just plug in a wireless bug ratehr than messign with wires, I have taken to rotating my guitars when I play...probably not a smart idea for practice reasons but for noodling around its a lot of fun and ensures that every one of my babies gets a little bit of loving.

It also shows me the vast differences in tone and output from my guitars, quite staggering, you don't really spot it till you plug in a succession of guitars and find which are the loud screamers, which are throaty and which are the quiet warm homey ones.

And then there's Larry, my GS60 hmmm something not right with her, she's got a serious case of laryngitis. When plugged in I just can't get enough output to drive the amp or pedals..even the tuning pedal can only pick up on a low E and A.
Considering she has a van Zandt humbucker in her bridge, which should scream, something is very wrong. I had noticed on occasion she does go quiet when I switch pups, but flicking back seemed to resolve it..clearly a problem which has now got worse and perhaps no longer resolvable with a simple tapping of the electrics

Time for her to take a trip to the guitar shop and get her checked out.


Friday, 2 September 2011

New Rules Suck

As we start the new academic year, we're being bombarded with meetings and information. Some if it interesting, some of it useless,to me at least, some of it quite worrying.

Interesting and worrying was our general lack of graduationg students. This is not a reflection on our staff, but more a problem with the fact that our standards and resulting drop out rate are so high that by the time they come to 4th year we don't have many students left. Or they've taken an extra year to complete.

Its really quite a big issue, any university is measured by the quantity and quality of its graduates, we've got quality all right, several high ups in the industry are starting to say that. But we need to address the quantity.

That's going to mean a lot more pressure on students to get on with things, there's far too much larking around at certain key stages so we're going to monitor that more closely and make more effort to keep them on track.

Of course this means work for staff who act as mentors (like me) but overall its worth it. It should mean our low/mid skill range students will get more attention and hopefully we can push them forward rather than having them fall away as has happened in the past. OFten they are perfectly good students who just take a bit longer to "get it".

One or 2 things I am not happy with though, which may in the future cause issues for my job security.

There was a huge scandal recently over a university chain called InHolland which in light of similar issues with poor graduation figures, took a foolish route of downgrading the quality of the courses and basically let students get thier degrees for no work. This totally undermined those degress and many students have been forced to hand their certificates back and seek alternative tution to graduate again.

Madness of course, but once uncovered it created a massive stink at government levels, which of course has produced a typical political knee jeerk reaction with several new laws being proposed.

Some make forcing students and schools to pay for delayed graduations, (education here is heavily financed by the government so putting a limit on how long you can take before having to pay will be a major issue for slow students).

But others are just a bit daft...Like the insistance all teachers/lecturers are educated to Masters level....yeah you guessed it, I don't have a Masters. I don't even have a degree. I had planned to go to university to be a Vet, but when I messed up a year at school and got lower than needed grades I didn't go and instead drifted into computers.

When I got into games, there really were no equivilent degree courses that related to the games industry. I, like others of my generation helped lay the foundations of the game industry as it is now, and like others of my generation was self taught and have been constantly motivated to maintain and update my skills by the constant rise in industry standard.

I won't ever claim to obe the greatest coder around, but I do feel I am an industry veteren, an expert in my field and good at what I do...Thats why I was hired so many times as a freelancer as well as a code slave. Its also why I was hired to teach at NHTV.

How would an academic background help me be better at that? Academia and the Games industry have in the past been so far apart in both standards and goals that its long been known that game courses were generally outdated, impractical or even usless for entry into the games industry.

This is why I was so attracted to NHTV's IGAD program, here was a university clearly making efforts to build bridges and produce industry standard graduates, not academics with paper qualifications who would still need a years training if they were ever hired, many of whom may even end up going back to academia to teach without ever having produced a commercial game in anger. Are these the kind of people the government wants to teach the next generations?

After nearly 30 years in the industry nearly 70 self coded projects, 100's of producer credit projects and god knows how many lines of code and sleepless nights working out how to do things that now go into books I would have to read to gain a Masters, and quite possibly being supervised by people with a fraction of my expereince and knowledge???

A Masters will not make me better as a coder, it will not add significantly to my knowledge, (though I am not so arrogant to assume I won't learn something, even my students teach me new things which I love.)
It won't make me a better will probazbly teach me a few new things, show up some bad habits I have and perhaps even force me to rethink the way I do certain things...but I do that every time I start a project. So how will it make me a better teacher having MA or whatever after my name?

The idea that a masters or Phd makes you a better teacher is nonsense.

If this does become law, and the university tries to enforce it...I could have issues. Fortunatly I have a life time contract here, which has no stipulation about qualifications so I could fight it..
And I will, for as long as practical. But hopefully it will only apply to people who are working towards life time contracts. Bina for example...she however WANTS to do a Masters so she has my full support.

I don't... (I won't say never, since I LOVE my job and want to keep it), want to do a masters. I will not be forced to take a qualification I don't need, don't want and don't see any need for.

Hopefully this will be recognised as a human rights issue...we'll have to wait and see if the law comes into force and people start to fight it..who knows I might be the test case ;)

Rant over.......

I also worry that this insistance on a masters is going to drive away potential industry people who want to move into teaching. IGAD is now almost totally populated by industry nerds who are jumping at the chance to show students how it should be done as industry demands. Many in fact there becuase of my spreading the word.

A few of those don't have masters or life time contracts, and are now being forced to take them...some more willingly than others.

But I know many many people in the industry who are not academically qualified who would be great teachers, able to provide incredible uptodate insight into the black arts of game development and who would now be unable to take up a position here....unless of course they WANT to do a pointless 2 years masters course to prepare them for an insutry they already excel in!!!

Thats just plain daft. I really do hope that Academia does not start retreating back to its ivory towers insisitng it knows whats best for the games industry while the Game industry again establishes it market driven 10 year lead on academia as a result of idiotic blinkered shortsightedness.

At least IGAD for the next few years at least has Industry bods at the help producing top grade people......but a few years from now, we're going to need new..old blood to keep us in front, and it won't be there!

Rante really over now!!


Wednesday, 31 August 2011


This is tempting

it looks like a reissue custom shop Les Paul, which if genuine is worth £1500-2000+.

But it just screams wrong....its pretty all right but the fret board is too light, the pickup switch is the wrong colour, the control knobs should have a finger pricker position indicator, it should have an aged look on the pups, no case is mention and lack of proper pics on key ID points is odd...Also the price....I mean £475?? If he bought it as a Gibson reissue he'd have paid a small fortune for it...and would be asking for a Buy it now rather than a very low auction starting price.

I've mailed him to ask for specific pics of key points that will help ID it, if he sends them, I'll be tempted...but....something tells me its a chinese copy, and not worth 500quid...200 maybe, but not 500.


Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Some adjustments

I had to make a few adjustments to the pedal much as I liked it, the mixer was not really working since I had no easy simple way to switch out the Zoom G2.1u m,ulti fx pedal, which has a bad habit of buzzing or producing some cpu ticks when in bypass mode.
So back to my friendly switch maker and a bit of re-wiring and purchasing of much better quality velcro, later.

I now have this set up.
..ermmm I was going to upload a photo, but since my PC switch my Ipod->Itunes sync has been totally photo will have to wait.


After THE most contrived series of processes ever....I have finally managed to get the photo...and its crap!!

Anyway, I added a 5 switch loop box, which allows me to select an fx channel, either 1 or a mix of any of the 5. Which then goes to the ABCDE switch to pick an amp/mixer to go to...neat

I also added my wireless system too, so that the guitar is totally wire free. The input then goes 1st into the VL4, to supply pitch data for singing (help) then the thru signal is sent to the loopbox to go onto the selected channels.

I have it going into my mobile fx on pos 1, acoustic Zoom A2 fx on pos2, Zoom G2 on pos3, Bass 607 on pos 4, and pos 5 is clean. The output then goes to the Digitech Jamman, for looping phrases if needed, then over to the ABCDE switch to go to a chosen amp. Marshal VT50, Fender Champ 600, Practice Bass amp, Cheetah amp or G-Dec. I may also put a small 2 way switch in to plumb straight into the mixer but for now if I want to use the mixer I'll unplug the G-dec.

Its bloody awesome, but you need to be sure the jamman is not amping up an empty signal from the VL4 as I discovered that caused some noise. Also the amp you send it to should not have FX running if you send a loop phrase to it or it distorts..But this is all good, just a learning process.


Tuesday, 23 August 2011


There's a few teething issue with my new PC, the video card is borked, but I negotiated a refund on that and am using my old one for now, it also seems to BSOD coming out of sleep mode, which usually means a driver needs updating..

This sounds worse than it is, but what is good is the absolute power that I have got to play with now, 8GB of memory and a 2.8Ghz multi threading Quad core i7 make for a much smoother Windows experience than I've had for quite some time.

I spent last night installing software, as you do, and even though it was a pretty long process the i7 managed to do most of it in the background as I tested it out, with dev packages, games and audio tests..It didn't break a sweat and thats without SSD's!

Hopefully some driver updates will resolve the BSOD on sleep restore, and then I'll be back to having a mega PC again...though you can get faster i7's :) hmmmm next year maybe, for now this is several levels of magnitude better than I had so I'll stick with it.

Going to stick in my drives next so I can get all my data.. I learned some time back not to have data on the same drive as system files so that updates like this are much easier.Just plug in the data drive and restore the apps and all should be well. Quite curious to see if Windows 7 on the SDD in my old machine will fire up on a new board...they usually don't but...lets see :)


Friday, 19 August 2011

Ohhhhh pretty

All clean and shiny, polished and waxed with a new set of strings.

My baby ;)


Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Causing...slightly, less pain to music lovers.

playing with my new pedal arrangement, but I got the vocal levels totally wrong so it gets drowned by the guitar twiddles.(thankfully)...but not bad for 1 take.I need t work out how to do smooth fades on garageband though


Monday, 15 August 2011 vewy vewy quiet, I'm hunting PC's

Yeah.....bugger. Though the main PC is now functioning without BSOD its hobbling along quite badly due to lack of memory. I have a dilemma, is it the chip controller on the motherboard playing up or is it the memory modules themselves...I could buy new memory modules and try them out, it would cost about 80-100quid, but what then if it does not work, that would be wasted money since it uses DDR2 and my next PC is certain to have DDR3 memory. Even if it does work its only going to extend this machines life for a year or so.

Time to upgrade I think, to a mega that will last 2-3 years before the software starts to make it chug.

I usually make a point of building my own mega machines but when I made this one I settled on functioning rather than capable of lasting a few years, mainly due to me being so knackerd from my cancer surgery and needing to replace my last beast.

This time I'm not so much knackered as cant be bothered, there's been a lot of leaps in PC tech in the last year and I've not kept up with it, so I'll just buy a prebuilt one...and add my own drives to it to retain most of my stuff....still means installing shed loads of apps but what the hey!

Going to hit ebay and find a decent spec but hopefully quiet I7 beast that fits the bill.

Think I've found one....will see if he takes my offer...its a Gaming machine, which means high spec, but usually with noisy fans, though those can be this space.


Sunday, 14 August 2011

normal...ish services have returned

hmm seems my PC's memory is indeed faulty, but not quite sure in what way.. I took one stick out and it ran fine, passing memory tests no problem, so assumed the stick removed was faulty.

To be sure I put that stick back in, removed the other and ran tests.....and it was fine...eek

Sure enough it seems the memory issues only occur when both sticks are in place... It may be a dual channel thing. I will try one last test with both sticks in running in single channel mode and see how it goes.

Annoyingly I could not find a BIOS option to put it in single channel mode, it may be that plugging it into different slots achieves that...but its quicker to set values rather than get down on hands an knees reaching into computers, so I locked down some of the automated options to known fixed values, like 667 for speed. Then fired it up and ran memory passed.

I'll try a stess test on it...Supreme Commander 2, usually puts it under stress :D and it was the 1st thing that showed up problems.

Honest I'm testing...not playing.


Saturday, 13 August 2011

New PC Time?

My main PC has been playing up big time, randomly hitting bluescreens of death...not good...There seems to be no specfic application or Id on whats causing it, the BoS points out some pretty standard Windows 7 drivers when it fails, which normally suggests a more severe hardware fault, perhaps some RAM on its way out or something...
Even though this was a rebuild after the old beast met its unfortunate end I have never really been 100% happy with this PC, lots of little niggles with it...

So yeah..I think its time to break out the credit card and indulge the other expense in my life, aside from guitars...going to have a look at some i7 beasts and see what they will cost....

This one can probably be saved with a clean re-install of windows or something, but I need something thats 100% reliable and a bit more powerful now for some of the new work I'm taking on. In fact this is probably an ideal use at work PC, since I loathe my laptop....hmmmmm I'll get my PC head on and get back up to speed, its amazing how quickly you lose touch with these things


Friday, 12 August 2011

Fretlight fun, and also cock fun??

Well I'm pleased to see my blog gets onto google, my recent post about my Fretlight expereince resulted in a request for contact from one of the new directors from Optek, makers of Fretlight, concered about the noise and nut issues I was having, a quick check on my blog list showed he'd been directed here from google....mind you so was some guy searching for "cock games"...ermmm????

He said he'd let me try a new cable in an effort to reduce the noise problems and I'd be happy to do that, since as it stands the noise when using the USB cable feeding back into the amp makes it hard to listen to. He uses fretlights on stage with no noise, I can well believe that, but on stage you don't generally have the USB tutorials plugged in.

As I said in the post and repeated to him, I find it a great learning aid for scales and chords but I don't "yet" see any song learming benefit above what tabs give you, at least as it currently is set up. I will keep trying though, but I'm not buying videos for it, Guitar Pro 6 gives me the best of both worlds.

I also asked if I could get a new nut from him, it seems they are changing the nut from the rather crappy transparent ones to something more normal. I think thats wise.

I noticed with a bit of google fu myself that a few people have posted quite negative reviews of the 400 series Fretlights, mainly due to quality..I kind of agree with that. From my own experience there are some clear quality issues, sharp frets, low nut, noise pickups and CPU noise are all issues that relate to quality.

But when all said and done, its not being sold as a high end Gibson, Ibanez or Fender, its priced at the low end of the guitar range but with the added plus of a fantastic training aid...Still..I hope they do manage to resolve these issues and push the product a bit further. The neck is really quite sweet, and bad pickups aside it has good sustain and feels quite nice, bridger and middle pickups give good if unremarkable tone qualities, so its on a par with a couple of my lower end guitars..I just paid a wee bit more for the neck.

I can also say that the software leaves a bit to be desired too...I would not mind having access to their SDK to see if I could come up with something a little more interesting, even if only for personal use...I might ask. (hint hint if you're reading this again Bill)

I hope the new director will be able to do something about that and ensure the playing side of the Fretlight becomes as much fun as the training side of it, which reminds me. After a week away, my fingers are getting soft..time for some scales and new chords, due to some holiday induced inspiration. I've been flooding my brain with loads of Ipod Peter Green stuff this last week...oh boy....just.....oh boy!!! I wish, oh how I wish I could have 1 tenth of that ability to make a single note sing......practice Brian, practice.