Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Music in our generation

Standing in Kohl’s yesterday, I overheard two people talking about the Nickelback song that had come on the radio. “Oh my god, this song brings me to tears,” says one and the other replied “I know, isn’t Nickelback such a good band?”

Normally, I could give a hoot as to what you listen to, but seriously? Nickelback? If you enjoy listening to music that is based around the same tone of voice, the same chords, the same rhythmic patterns, and the same everything, then I suppose you would like them. Personally, I don’t think they’re anything to write home about.

Don’t take me as being pretentious in saying that everybody should listen to high-brow jazz or classical, turn on Rush for your rock fix, and all that other complex stuff. I listen to Lily Allen and the Spice Girls when I’m bored. At least they have a different flavor to each song. I don’t feel like I’m going to a white bread buffet.

A few years ago the biggest thing was Linkin Park. Now, I remember I tried getting into them when Hybrid Theory was released, but after a month of playing the record on and off, I realized that I still couldn’t tell the difference from song to song. They all sounded exactly alike. This has been a trend for YEARS, but I don’t recall a previous generation that revered this music so much. Perhaps I am pretentious. *Turns up Beethoven*

Monday, December 28, 2009

Religion, Christmas, Oh?

The bulk of the holiday season is over this year: Thanksgiving through New Years) and we’re getting ready to bring in the new year. Stop.

I want you to think about something: Bringing in the New Year.

How exactly do you “bring in” a new year as opposed to a new month, week, day, even second? What’s the difference? Is New Years a holiday worth celebrating? It’s a day or two off from work and another excuse to get plastered and party. Oh. How is this different than a weekend? Maybe I’m just overly cynical or too much of a “blah” as my mother calls me.

As for Christmas, most people that know me very well know my distaste for Christmas. I see this season as being a happy time for three people. The businessman will most likely make a fortune in preparation for this time of the year, although a percentage of them might go bankrupt due to an underwhelming Black Friday or something of that nature. The Christian will celebrate the birth of their savior. The child will open presents under a Christmas tree and have thirty new toys to play with for a week before they get bored.

I’m none of these people.

Another reason to enjoy Christmas is getting together with family for fun times, relaxation, great food, and laughs all around. Although that is the case with me to a limited extent, I can’t say that I’m all too fond of that idea. My family is small, I see them normally, have fun times, relax, have great food, and laughs all around. Christmas in my case feels like any other day, with longer lines, more crowds, and more pressure.

So, the season of giving? Businesses advertise “Big Savings” and “Season of Giving” to consumers as a ploy for them to get more money. Ever think about that $200 thing you bought on sale for $50 during Christmas? Yeah, you probably thought, “Wow, what a great deal!” Think deeper. Think about the family that didn’t get paid because of the cost difference. Think about that minimum-wage store employee that has to get written up for not selling an insurance plan with 20x as many customers in the store that need to be engaged. Great bargain? Yeah, for you while dozens more get the bad end of the stick. I hope that makes you feel wonderful.

I don’t think that there should be a day specific to the world that we have to be nice to each other. If you truly enjoy being with somebody, that should show year-round.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Dumbest Generation, really?

So the point in question is this book, The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future (Or, Don’t Trust Anyone Under 30).
http://tinyurl.com/ydovxev < can be purchased here from Amazon.com
The author has an interesting point and brings up a number of facts, but I have a serious argument to make, actually… Three.

First of all, skills required in today’s world differ greatly than those that existed in previous generations. There’s a level of ignorance that overshadows this and many people from yesteryear’s generation refuse to accept this change. Our society treasures the ability to read, write, and articulate things in every day life, but careful analysis of the business of social networking will show you that even those in the generation questioning our generation fall to these problems. Bad grammar isn’t solely found among generation X, in fact, in my experience, I find that it’s more problematic in older generations!
So back to the point of my first argument, the skills required in today’s generation are of computer literacy. Without literacy of today’s technology, one cannot enter the workforce of tomorrow. I think that we all can agree on that. Today we face problems like identity theft, which computer-literate people are not immune to, but more protected from it. You don’t need to know how to spell, as spell-check is available to you. Seriously, the amount of time wasted to just open up a dictionary could lose you several minutes of productivity and will throw you off task. Your next sentence might not even make the same sense or bear the same consistency had you not looked that word up for a simple spelling of. Today’s world doesn’t necessarily NEED the ability to spell in order to be successful. You need the ability to create a point and validate and justify it.

Second, the point about Social Networking. Social Networking is one of the fastest growing fields in the business industry. Utilizing it is free, fast, and you can get to a large audience for a minimal amount of time, especially with the creation of bots that will advertise for you. Anybody that’s taken a basic course in computer programming should know how to make their own, or you can just hire a student to do one for you for under $100, and you have a free advertising tool at your fingertips.

Particularly in my case, I don’t use sites such as Facebook (I do now - Dec. 23, 2009) and Myspace. I do have social networking, but I can justify my reasoning for each one. I use Twitter as a replacement for RSS feeds; I use Flickr since I don’t use Facebook to make photo galleries online; Last.FM is a great place to find new music, etc.

The older generation of people that I know are on such sites like Facebook more often than most of my friends. A certain family member, for example constantly informs me of family matters on Facebook that I could honestly care less about. This person is 51 years old, and I’m 24.

Last, I’m finding that older generations may claim to be supreme readers and such, but from observation alone, I found that most people older than me are too tired from daily work to read, or at least that’s what they claim. When they do read, it’s typically “Pharmacy literature” and has little stimulation to the brain. They also watch more TV than most people I know that are my age. In fact, most of my friends don’t own a television, or if they do the only thing connected to it is a VCR or DVD player (Or Blu-Ray for you high-techies).
I conclude this by saying, “Hey, old people, accept the change. Our necessary skills for life are vastly different than yours, so just accept it already!”

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Student piano recital, Dec. 3, 2009

Unfortunately, all of these videos have been taken down. I closed my Youtube account for personal reasons. Thank you.

February 25, 2010

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Nichole Genco's bedtime story

Tonight I'm having a rather difficult time sleeping, so my friend Nichole was tricked by me into reading me a bedtime story. She didn't have one available so over AIM she sent me this cute little story, written completely impromptu and it made my night better. I think I'll go to sleep now.

11:03 PM: once upon a time
11:03 PM: there was a village
11:03 PM: where the townspeople walked on their hands
11:03 PM: they had legs and feet
11:03 PM: but were never told how to use them properly
11:04 PM: the king made sure of this
11:04 PM: as he wanted his monarchy to be the fastest, most powerful of all
11:04 PM: so he walked on his feet
11:04 PM: his wife, the queen, walked on her feet
11:05 PM: and their son, the prince, also walked on his feet, although he was a toddler and fell quite a bit as toddlers do
11:06 PM: one day there was a wheelbarrow accident in the town
11:06 PM: and a wheelbarrow had fallen off its wheel and fell on its owner
11:07 PM: everyone yelled, but nobody could help him
11:07 PM: they yelled for the king
11:07 PM: who
11:07 PM: stomp
11:07 PM: stomp
11:07 PM: stomped
11:07 PM: over to where man was injured
11:07 PM: and lifed the wheel barrow up with one arm and pulled the man out with the other
11:08 PM: what a strong king!
11:08 PM: everyone in the town clapped their feet together
11:08 PM: well
11:08 PM: meanwhile,
11:08 PM: a townwoman was giving birth to a baby
11:09 PM: a baby boy named elias
11:09 PM: elias didn't know it, but he had had a curse put on him
11:09 PM: but an old hag from next door
11:10 PM: the old hag's husband was actually the father of elias
11:10 PM: and elias' mother had had an affair with the old hag's husband
11:10 PM: 9 months earlier
11:10 PM: so, elias had a curse put on him
11:11 PM: the curse was said in swedish, so nobody was really sure what the curse was about
11:11 PM: but they knew, as soon as elias popped out of the womb
11:11 PM: he had
11:11 PM: no
11:11 PM: arms
11:11 PM: !!!!!
11:11 PM: elias' mother screamed in horror
11:11 PM: because this meant, elias could not walk!
11:12 PM: if you remember, townspeople walk on their hands
11:12 PM: so poor elias
11:12 PM: did not have arms
11:12 PM: as he grew
11:12 PM: his legs, strangely, grew strong
11:12 PM: and his feet, strangely, grew big
11:12 PM: and strangely, he was able to walk
11:12 PM: ....
11:12 PM: on
11:12 PM: his feet!
11:13 PM: as a toddler, elias could run and jump and do all these amazing things that the townspeople had only dreamed of when they dreamed of their precious king
11:13 PM: he was able to do all these things! amazing!
11:13 PM: well, the king
11:13 PM: was FURIOUS
11:13 PM: he soon had ordered elias to be mutilated by dogs
11:14 PM: the king screamed
11:14 PM: well
11:14 PM: when elias was thrown into the pit of wild dogs
11:14 PM: the dogs were amazed with the lack of arms
11:14 PM: and even more amazed that elias could run and jump and twirl and dance!
11:14 PM: they immediately became his best friend
11:14 PM: (s)
11:15 PM: so elias and the dogs were buds and the king sure was sore!
11:15 PM: he screamed
11:15 PM: elias was thrown into the tiger den
11:15 PM: and the tiger took one look at him
11:15 PM: and yawned a big yawn
11:16 PM: the tiger didn't care about elias one bit!
11:16 PM: he fell asleep right then and there, even with elias there as bait
11:16 PM: the king screamed
11:17 PM: the tied elias to a large pole
11:17 PM: and got the sticks
11:17 PM: they beat him with the sticks
11:17 PM: and then BAMSPLAT!
11:18 PM: one of the armymen accidentally stuck a stick into elias' missing arm hole
11:18 PM: he tried to pull it out but it was a no go
11:18 PM: he couldn't get the stick out
11:19 PM: and the other army men were so amazed by this
11:19 PM: one of them said, "let's try it with the other side!"
11:19 PM: and they did it then too
11:19 PM: elias was in pain from this
11:19 PM: he couldn't take it
11:19 PM: and he shrieked and writhed
11:20 PM: and the binds were pulled
11:20 PM: and he was set free from the pole
11:20 PM: elias ran through the crowd
11:20 PM: and up to the old hag's house
11:20 PM: she was on her death bed
11:21 PM: "m'aam please. i know i know i am your husband's child, but i need your help."
11:21 PM: she must have been delirious
11:21 PM: because she said, "you have to help yourself."
11:21 PM: and as she said that she put her hand on one of the sticks
11:21 PM: and shook it as if it were a hand
11:22 PM: elias didn't realize what she was doing
11:22 PM: but she was changing the curse
11:22 PM: to a happy uncurse
11:22 PM: the sticks
11:22 PM: had become
11:22 PM: ARMS!
11:22 PM: and elias was able to move them
11:22 PM: and pick things up
11:22 PM: and he ran to the king
11:23 PM: and the king said, "YOU FOOL!"
11:23 PM: and elias ran up to him
11:23 PM: and stabbed him right in the chest with his stick arm
11:23 PM: the king was dead
11:23 PM: and elias taught everyone in the town to walk on their feet just as they should have in the beginning
11:23 PM: the end.

Monday, November 30, 2009

More on Twitter / Wave

I basically limit myself to using Google Wave and Twitter constantly. They're always up now.

Wave is starting to seriously grow on me. I like it, I dig it, the interface is gorgeous and will only get better (hopefully), the real-time everything just makes it fantastic. I had the fear that it would pull a second-life, meaning it would die due to it's lack of portability, but apparently it's already on the iPhone. That's pretty cool. Wave me at Jscognamiglio@googlewave.com

Twitter is great, as I've met cool people like the k8black that I mentioned, one blogpost older than this one, and other cool people. Here's a few Twitter accounts that I think are noteworthy. (no particular order)

So that be that. I'm going to make a post about Thanksgiving and the "Season of Giving" that follows it in the coming days.

Liberals, conservatives... No, please, just no... Thanks.

So today I had an enjoyable discussion about politics with an interesting girl I met on Twitter. See k8black on Twitter. OK, so this triggered some thoughts in myself about what I think of political ideologies and such. Most people would know that I lean strong on the left side of things, but that's not to say that I don't share many conservative beliefs as well (death penalty, nonsense ERA amendment and such). I've noticed a few things from random "modern-day proverbs" that I've been hearing tossed around by people that probably can't explain their meanings.

1. Liberals vote their hopes and conservatives vote their fears.
2. If you're 18 and not liberal, you have no heart. If you're 30 and not conservative, you have no brain.

Now, these two sayings are fairly accurate, BUT they can be severely misleading. The first one sounds like Liberals are much more worthy of respect. The way that I see it, liberals tend to spend a lot of time concerned with other people. In their eyes, they're doing the right thing for everybody else. Conservatives view this as being nosy and idealistic, but far from realistic and a waste of time, resources, and brain power. I can agree with both sides there. Conservatives protect themselves, their property, and their lives. They're much more down-to-earth and realistic, but liberals view this as being self-centered. I can agree with both. Reason would say that the obvious choice would be to be a moderate. This can be a bad thing, as most moderates that I found aren't moderates because they share a balanced set of views between both groups, but they just want to avoid having to deal with it, so they just have no opinions on anything. 

As for the second "proverb," whatever your age is, it's never good to consider yourself entirely one thing. an 18 year old can be a mature one, has a lot, and thus is conservative. A 30 year old can be poor and would greatly benefit from universal healthcare, and thus is a liberal. That saying makes absolutely no sense if taken literally. Generally speaking, however, there is a truth to it. 

The point I'm trying to make, and probably doing it poorly due to my constant deviation of topic is that liberals need to stop trying to make an ideal world because you need to think more realistically and conservatives need to give a little more and realize that not everybody can achieve the same things.

I thought about it today as this:

Conservatives tend to see a small piece of the world and globalize it, meaning that they take their lives and apply it to everybody else (which can work, because to them, the rest of the world is the UK, France, Canada, and Japan - Poor countries don't even exist). Some people just can't achieve the same things in life that you can and there are people that need and/or want your help, not just to take advantage of it, but to actually appreciate it. Stop screaming "socialism!"

Liberals take the whole world and apply it to themselves, so they are under this weird impression that we should just give up everything we have and help those in need (because to them, the rest of the world is Tibet, Myanmar, North Korea, Darfur, and those war-faring countries - nobody else exists). Not everybody needs our help, not everybody wants our help, and quite honestly, we can't help everybody. Stop thinking you're better than everybody else.

In the end, what I suggest is that do your socialist thing of the day and help an old lady cross the street or recycle a bottle and finish it off with a $70 glass of wine for yourself.

Don't take that statement literally, but do take this one -
Do what makes you happy, so that when the end of the day comes, you are in bed with a smile on your face. Nothing else matters.

If you're wondering why I didn't mention religion... That's another post, another day... Preferably when It's not the last thing I do for the day.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Bach, Mozart, Beethoven! GAH!

"Gah" indeed. So what of it? I think that we give at least one of these composers a bit too much credit. I don't suppose you know who I mean, but that's alright for now. You'll know by the end of reading this. 

Close your eyes and hum to yourself the tune, Fur Elise, then open your eyes. What composer was that? That was a Bagatelle composed by L. v Beethoven, WoO. 59, written April 27, 1810. The composer was 40 years old, and nobody knows who Elise was. The score was lost and not published until some 55 years later. 

If you're not familiar with the tune, listen to it here - You'll recognize it as soon as you hear the first few seconds.

Now do the same, and think about the haunting melody of Toccata and Fugue in d minor. Once again, if you're not familiar with it, listen here, and you should know it in the first few seconds:

Now, that you know what that is, you should know that was composed by J.S. Bach somewhere around 1705 as a warm-up piece for Sundays at church. It is BWV number 565.

Now that you know at least one Beethoven tune and one Bach tune, do me a favor, close your eyes and think of a Mozart tune, any will suffice. 

Keep thinking... think... wait? You can't come up with one, can you?

Here's some popular tunes and their composers, so you know who they are and who they are not:
Beethoven - Moonlight Sonata, The Fifth and Ninth Symphonies, Pathetique.
Bach - Fugue in G Minor, Minuet in G Major
Liszt - Hungarian Rhapsodies
Chopin - Funeral March, Revolutionary Etude
Tchaikovsky - Nutcracker Suite
Gershwin - Rhapsody in Blue
Rimsky Korsakov - Flight of the Bumblebee
Brahms - Lullaby

So none of those are Mozart.

Now, that you might have thought of Rondo Alla Turca, A Little Night Music (NOT the Sondheim musical, by the way), or Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, or you may have not. 

So let me ask, why is Bach and Mozart so popular if of 627 published works, you may only know three of them, yet with Beethoven composing less than 150 works, you know more at first thought. Bach had well over 1000 published works, but only a handful of popular ones. Why do we all know the names Bach and Mozart? I studied music history, and quite honestly, I can only hum the melody to about 30 Mozart pieces, but I can at least one movement from each of Beethoven's 32 piano sonatas. I didn't know the amount of Bach that I know until I started playing piano. Why do we know at least 2 of nine Beethoven Symphonies but none of Mozart's 41? Why do we know more Beethoven than Bach, who wrote twice as much as Mozart? We know more Chopin than Mozart and Bach, and he had less than 100 composed pieces. Seriously? Bach invented the way we play the keyboard today, so to a pianist, learning his music is vital. But Mozart? Choose who you wish. Mozart is overrated.

Apple vs Microsoft - My opinion on the matter

So Mac vs. Windows... iPod vs. Zune... Big debates, a lot of opinions flying around, a lot of facts, and even more misconceptions. Also a lot of unfair biases are thrown around constantly. First of all, let me get the most unfair comparison out of the way. This one REALLY bothers me...



Now that my vent is cleared out, let me get to my opinions of things.

So, to start let me say this. Macs and PCs are the same price. PCs have cheaper hardware and more you can do with it, but a stupidly expensive OS. Macs have much more expensive hardware that you can't do anything with, but a much cheaper and reasonable OS. The software package that comes with a Mac is much better than most of the software you must buy for Windows, especially in the audio / video realm. The webcam features on a Mac are also far superior. (Talking about base operating system, mind you). You do get much more for your money with buying a Mac, BUT the price will run you much more. That's just the way things go. When Windows has a new Service Pack, you don't pay for it. Every time Apple revises something in their OS (like leopard to jaguar to snow leopard to saber-toothed tiger, etc...), you must pay for it.

As for graphic design, I will tell you that I have a much easier time working on Photoshop on a PC than on a Mac. Primary reason for this is the way that Windows handles the actual software window. Macs open up all of the windows that the software needs and they look separate and scattered. I also have found that alt+tab on a PC allows me to quickly access different tools that I need when working in InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, and other such programs. Dreamweaver and Flash operate about the same in both. Both are equal here.

Video - Final Cut is better than anything that can exist. Sorry, but I'm very biased on this one. Mac wins by a long shot here.

Audio - GarageBand... Comes free with it... and nothing on Windows quite comes close to what it can do without going into Cubase / Reason... And if you're going to spend that kind of cash, just get ProTools, which is available on both. I've had my problems with Mac ProTools, but that has more to do with the OS than with the actual software. Both are equal, IF you are willing to spend the $200 on a PC for a better sound card, by M-Audio or something. Mac wins here.

Gaming - Yes, gaming. Let's put it this way - if you're going to game, you either need a console or a PC. There's no such thing as Mac in the gaming world. PC wins by a long shot here.

Viruses - OK, here's a big one. People get viruses. A lot of them on PC, but mostly because of things they do that they shouldn't be doing. Checking out your porn or downloading illegal software and media are two things that cause a lot of viruses to get into your computer. Also, misconception time - Adware / Spyware / Malware can seem like viruses, but they're easily removed with a free program like Malware Bytes and Super Anti-Spyware. That and a good anti-virus program are all you need. "But AJ, you don't need anti-virus software on a Mac." Yes, you do, but it's not as important. Keep in mind, the extra $50 you put out a year for anti-virus programs is made up for the $600 for a PC vs $1600 for a Mac. Unless you have that PC for 20 years, it shouldn't even be considered a problem. Mac wins here, but not by much. It's your own responsibility to know what to click and what not to click.

Overall reliability of the system - Hardware is hardware. It will fail or it will last. Nothing new here. BSOD is just as common as BBOD. It happens. I've seen hard drives crash on both. It happens. Both are equal here.

As for other things, I don't like iPods if you're running PCs. iTunes has a problem with my two computers and Quicktime acts like it's a virus, taking things over that it shouldn't. I don't THINK that Zunes will work on anything OTHER than Windows... In the end... 3rd party MP3 players act like jump drives. Just go with those... lol
I feel like Apple is trying to monopolize the industry a bit too much. Jobs and Gates need to get a cup of coffee together and realize they're different. Too much hate in the world as it is.

Just use what works best for you. I don't like Mac. I will never use a Mac unless they do somethings closer to Windows (File management is a big one - I can't say I'm a fan of storing my files on a Mac)... But, why would they do that? In the end, Mac is better for most people. Windows is better for gaming or those that are really fussy about how their system is set up. Linux is free, but that's a different blog post! Seriously though, I prefer Windows, but Mac is better.

Google and Googlewave

Six months ago somebody might come up to me and ask, "AJ, What do you think of Google and the upcoming Wave?" and my reply would be promoting Google, what they do, and their ability to possible "Take over the world" (using that very loosely). At this point, I've been toying with Google products (Orkut, Sketch-Up, Docs, Calendar, Gmail, Earth, Maps, Street, etc...) for quite some time, and now Google Wave. What do I think of it?

So getting back to the topic: What does Google have that people can use - Incredible search engine, Gmail, Docs, Calendar, Maps, Goog-411. What does Google have that people can tinker with? Sketch-Up, Wave, Earth... What does Google have that are most likely going to be simply overlooked? Orkut - With Facebook in full force, what the hell is an Orkut? Wave... I now feel that it will be used by tech-liberal companies and educational technologists everywhere, but by your average Joe, who needs it?

Pros about Google Wave - It's like Instant Messaging, E-Mail, and IRC got together and have a weird offspring of three parents. I suppose in the tech world, tri-sexuality can happen. There are a lot of intuitive uses - like group collaboration on any media-based project (Audio, video, basic "office" files, etc.) and a lot of things done very easily as described very well in this video, like conferencing and teaching. It's much simpler than a reply-all.

The interface is absolutely fantastic, however the ability to edit ANYBODY's posts without an obvious trace of accountability is a bit iffy to me. I don't like that I can be framed for saying something that I didn't with a simple screen shot / delete action.

Google Wave is still in preview mode, and hopefully these problems will be amended soon. I really would like to see a full GMail incorporation rather than a separate @googlewave.com account. If I could communicate with people that don't have Wave via sending them a regular e-mail from it, that would be very beneficial.

All in all, I have high hopes for the product, but I can see this being a passing trend, ala Sony MiniDisc.

Best review of what this app can do that I've seen yet.