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.