Monday, March 27, 2006

Shawn Colvin & Martin Guitars

I saw Shawn Colvin play at Club Passim last November. The video (captured with a still digital camera) isn't great, but it's an amusing story she tells about her love for Marting guitars, and the Signature Edition that Martin made for her.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Hardware Hassels

I got a 1GB card to upgrade my iBook, and I thought I was all set.

I had a grounding strap, and I thought I was all set.

I had a PDF with instructions on how to install the memory, and I thought I was all set.

Then I opened the grounding strap and discovered there were no instructions....what was I supposed to attach it to? A friend suggested the water tap.

Then I went to undo the screws that kept the memory shield in place and discovered that I didn't have a screwdriver small enough...I discovered that my Swiss Army knife blade worked okay.

Then I put the card in, reassembled the whole thing, started it up and....the machine didn't recognize the card! No change at all!

I have such bad luck with computer hardware; is there any wonder I hate to upgrade machines?!


1) I didn't install the memory correctly (I tried re-seating it and still no go.)

2) The memory card is faulty (or worse, I screwed it up)

3) The computer doesn't actually support more than 1GB. (I checked, but it can be a little confusing to figure out which iBook is which and what memory they support.)

This just sucks. Now you know why I don't play electric guitar.

Friday, March 24, 2006

I'm Trying To Be Good

Guitar Center has some kind of 3 day sale going on.

They have sales at least a couple of times a year, and sometimes you can get something interesting at a good price.

I gave it some serious consideration, and was really close to going in and taking a look today, but I think I have talked myself out of going. I am so tempted, but the reality is I absolutely, positively don't need anything right now, and going in would just expose myself to temptation!

I keep telling myself that:

a) they don't have anything I want (probably true)

b) anything I would be interested in won't be on sale (if past sales are any indication, the best I can hope for on a good guitar is about 60% off anyway, which I know how to get from other places)

and c) the guitars aren't in good condition (probably not true, the GC in Boston seems to be pretty good about taking care of their stuff.)

But boy, put guitar and sale together in a sentence and I find it difficult to resist!

Thursday, March 23, 2006


Most people seem to think that MiniDisc's day is done. They are probably right.

I have an old Sharp MiniDisc player which I've used for recording stuff here and there. It's easy to use and does make good recordings; but transfering the audio to the computer is a bit of a hassle. Some time ago, Sony took steps to improve the transfer of audio from the computer to their players, but they limited the transfer the other way (allegedly to stop bootleggers.)

I went off and bought a CompactFlash recorder (it's so much easier to transfer files to the computer from a CompactFlash card) but the MiniDisc is appealing because you can leave the original files on the disc as a backup.

Sony has tried to pump new life into the MiniDisc with the Hi-MD format, and they now have announced the MZ-RH1 which will transfer audio to your computer using USB 2.0, and it will work with Macs. Woot!

But it's probably too late. MiniDisc never was that popular and has always been a bit of a niche product. As much as it makes sense - and it does make sense for some applications - I think it will get steamrollered by all the solid-state devices that can record audio.

Probably just as well. I don't need to be spending $360 on another recording device.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Carol Noonan

Carol Noonan
performs Creatures of Habit with Kevin Barry and Duke Levine at Club Passim.

I really liked the song, and the jam at the end is icing on the cake!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Digital Trumpet

Hammacher Schlemmer's Digital Trumpet can generate over 20 sounds and allows musicians to perfect valve fingering, tempo, notes, and key changes before learning to master breath control and mouthpiece placement of an actual brass trumpet.

Sounds include; seven trumpets, eight brass instruments (including the tuba and trombone), five woodwinds (including oboe and clarinet), strings, and a synthesized human voice. By simply humming or singing into the mouthpiece, you create the notes and tones.

But at $399.95, wouldn't you be better off saving your pennies for a real trumpet?

Monday, March 13, 2006

Guitars Are A Fad

Video from National Association of Manufacturers covers history of Martin Company and takes you through the manufacturing process (though this video was made in 1996 so the manufacturing process has actually changed quite a bit in that time)

Martin Guitar Company

Friday, March 10, 2006

Karl, if you're watching...

Neil Young Appears on the Daily Show to promote his new concert Movie Heart of Gold. Talks about writing songs, the new movie and his dogs.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Neil Young on The Daily Show

Tonight. If I wasn't still sick I'd watch it. Hopefully I'll catch it repeated tomorrow.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Dear Prudence

Ryanhood covers The Beatles Dear Prudence.

Not the greatest video, but what do you expect when standing at the back of the room with a still digital camera capturing in video mode?

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Owen Plant & Ryanhood

Owen Plant and Ryanhood played at Club Passim last night. This is a new song they co-wrote called (at the moment) "Move Me Round The Sun"

Thursday, March 02, 2006

I'm An Idiot

...turns out I only have 256MB of memory in the iBook. Well, duh!

Time to order the upgrade

One Of Those Weeks

It's shaping up to be "one of those weeks" where you end up further behind where you started.

Finally got cranking with GarageBand last night and did some recording. It is fun to record yourself and then listen back and go 'that sucks.' For one thing; you can more easily identify where the sucking occurs. I did a bunch of experimenting with effects ('just how much echo and reverb do I need to add so that my voice doesn't sound horrid?') as well as recording just guitar. For the most part GarageBand worked fine, but I discovered that after recording a three minute piece and playing it back, GarageBand stopped during playback and threw up an error message that there wasn't enough memory to complete the operation. It stopped, and I could restart the playback okay - nothing was lost in the recording - but it is rather annoying that it got lost performing a fairly simple operation.

I had heard that GarageBand was a bit of a memory pig, and I only have 512 MB of memory in the iBook, but still! Had it happened after recording 20 minutes of audio, or after putting several tracks into a 3 minute piece I might have understood, but two tracks of only three minutes?!

Now I'm faced with the next issue; add more memory to the computer, and/or look for different software. I guess the obvious thing to do is upgrade memory; I just have always been wary about memory upgrades after a particularly unpleasant experience.

The adventure continues.

Next issue: how do I upgrade my crappy voice?

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Longer Than It Should Have Been

I spent several hours yesterday trying to get the TonePort UX2 to work with software that I could use. It comes with some weird application that I just couldn't figure out. I had tried getting it to work with Deck, but had no luck. Deck didn't recognize the TonePort at all. I did get it to work with GarageBand okay, but it would only record one track at a time (the UX2 supports 2.)

So yesterday I checked through the Line 6 online forums and found a few interesting things.

1) someone asked if you can record multiple tracks at the same time in GarageBand, to which another person helpfully replied; Yes.
2) Other users recommended Tracktion from Mackie

I also discovered that there was a software update for the TonePort's software.

Armed with this information, I set about trying to get this all figured out last night.

The first thing I tried was updating the UX2's software. I had to register to download the software, and I was having network problems so it took a looong time to download the software. I mean a looong time. And then after I installed the software I discovered that it didn't solve the problem. Deck still didn't recognize the TonePort at all.

Then I tried Tracktion. Took a bit of figuring to get it to work with the TonePort, and I wasn't exactly thrilled with the interface. Also, the demo version plays an audible noise every few seconds just to be super annoying. I gave up after a while.

I then went to take a look at Bias's support, on the chance that maybe they had something about using the TonePort (nope) or that their forum might have something.

I had to find my product serial number to get into the forum. And when I did, I discovered a notice about there being a problem with Deck and Tiger (which I had to upgrade to when I installed the TonePort's software *sigh*) The notice said you could work around it by creating an Aggregate Device through Audio MIDI Setup. Insert a couple of hours of mucking about here. Long story short; discovered that the reason it wasn't working was that Deck doesn't support 24bit devices (i.e. TonePort.)

Then it occurred to me that I was using GarageBand 1.0 on the Mac, and I had a copy of GarageBand 2.0.

Sure enough, installed GarageBand 2.0 and discovered that it added a record button to each track; ta da!!! Now you can record to two tracks at once.

What did we learn from this? Not much other than the fact that what could have been solved in 15 minutes actually took me more than half a day.