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

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 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.