Chris Harris's Blog

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Current: August 2015

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22 August 15 (permalink)

STILL STEPPING

I've spent an inordinate amount of time over the last month or so playing guitar, and as I said last month I think I'm making real progress. The guitar sounds I'm getting now are inspiring me to keep working on the technical ability, too. The Zoom G3 effects box has pretty much replaced amplifiers when I record stuff these days. I'm feeding the output directly into the desk and listening in stereo on my monitors. Despite working through several different power supplies, I'm picking up some nasty hum on some settings, which I'm cutting with judicious use of noise gates and equalization. As an example, the guitar tone I achieved on this instrumental version of "The Scarecrow Was Right" is about as good as it gets...

Right now I'm three or four tracks ahead of schedule for achieving my goal of writing fifty songs by 1st October. And they keep coming. I was lying in bed last night trying to get to sleep when another one arrived. I switched on the light, stumbled out of bed, grabbed a notebook and wrote down a complete set of lyrics. It's a fun song and I'm looking forwards to recording it later today. When you're trying to be creative, always have a pen and paper nearby and write down your ideas as soon as they arrrive - I lost so many good ideas before I learned that particular lesson.

Focusing on musical creativity has meant that the blog's been taking a back seat again. I've done very little else over the past couple of weeks. I've hardly read anything, I have watched a minimal amount of television (other than watching the spiffy new Blu-Ray edition of The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across The 8th Dimension on my birthday, that is) and I've been to the cinema exactly once, to see Ant-Man (which is likely to become one of my favourite MCU films - go see it, it's a hoot; the gag involving the Cure's track "Plainsong" had me laughing out loud). But I am still here, honestly.

1 August 15 (permalink)

WINDOWS EX

Unless you were living under a rock for the last week, you'll know that Windows 10 launched on Wednesday. I've got it up and running on three of my machines so far and to be blunt, I'm not impressed. Why?

  • It's very closed system. Microsoft's new Calendar application looks nice, but it doesn't give me any option to import my existing calendar from Mozilla Thunderbird. I'm not going to type everything in again from scratch, so it's not going to get used.
  • It's thin on functionality. For example, the Photos application "organises" all your photographs according to image metadata and sorts them by date (even if the date is thirty years in the future, I noticed). And that's it. It doesn't allow you to organise things how you want or, god forbid, present stuff to you using the folder hierarchy that you'd organised things with in the first place. The "editing" controls consist of single buttons with no explanation of what they do or control over their use. That's when you can use them at all: editing photos wasn't possible on a large number of the pictures I tried it with.
  • It's buggy. At present the sound card on this PC keeps crashing every half an hour. The only way to get sound back is to restart the machine.
  • It's plastered with adverts. Groove Music, the replacement for Windows Media Player, vomits huge picture after huge picture of artists I've never heard of at me in a pathetic attempt to get me to buy their stuff. Old favourite solitaire now comes in a cut-down version. If you want to play without being advertised at, you have to cough up. I can't play a video without being told I really need to buy the latest Tom Cruise movie. Thanks, but I'll stick with VLC Media Player.
  • It's all about the horizontal branding experience. You want to use your computer? Hey, how about we give you a Microsoft account instead, so you can sign in to everything using that and we can track your usage for advertising purposes. You want to play a game? Sign in with your X-Box account. Not got one? Don't worry, we'll create one for you, regardless of whether you want it or not.

Using Windows Ten is an alienating and frustrating experience. It might be free, but that's only because the user has become the product. And MS are going to exploit that product every way they can.

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