Recap of 2015…

I let the blog slip a bit the last couple of months.  I usually try to get a post or two off every month.  The last couple of months, I’ve had to slip a bit.  As a friend has put it, ‘Dave, you’re putting 10 pounds of stuff into a 5 pound bag’.  That thought has ran SO true as I look back at 2015.

First off, there have been a lot of things that I’ve been doing that I haven’t written about, but probably should have.  One thing that I’ve been involved in is Toastmasters.  I joined a club where we would meet for lunch once a week.  Not only did I join, but somehow, I stepped up to be the president of the club after only 6 months!?!  Fortunately, the President’s position is more about vision than running around ‘doing’, and the board has some VERY strong people on it, so it wasn’t as overwhelming as it could have been.  I’ve also been giving speeches at the club fairly regularly.  I remember when I joined last year that I thought public speaking would be fairly simple… boy, was I wrong, and I’ve learned an incredible amount.  I still have a LONG way to go, but I certainly feel like I have better tools.  I’m looking forward to 2016 with Toastmasters!

Another thing I haven’t written about is my job.  At the end of 2014, I changed jobs, leaving the company I had worked at for almost 8 years to go and be the lead developer for a project for a small company.  I’ve absolutely LOVED the job that I took for this year, as it got me back programming.  Unfortunately, my financial situation has caused me to take a new position.  It is also a development position, but I’ll be driving a lot more to get to work.  I really hate to leave, but the bills have to be paid. I was working a second development job to get by, but I wasn’t really able to put myself into that like I should have.

Finally, I haven’t written much about the people in my life.  I want to respect their privacy, so I try not to put much in my blog posts.  Just know that my personal life seems to have taken a turn for the better around the end of October, and I’m much happier for it! 🙂

One thing that did happen this year was that my music / sound guy career took off.  I was able to do several shows that I never would have dreamed of doing.  I was able to run sound for everything from over a thousand people seeing a tribute band, to some small, intimate clubs, to several festivals.  I learned a LOT this year.  Unfortunately, I’m going to be backing off a bit during the new year.  Last years schedule was a little too much for me.

2016 also turned into a ‘gadget’ year.  I certainly wasn’t expecting it to be.  After the Apple Watch announcement (which, to me, has been a yawner), the first half of the year was relatively gadget quiet.  I’ve even satisfied my guitarists’ ‘Gear Acquisition Syndrome’ (GAS for short), which still hasn’t flared up 🙂  Although, with NAMM around the corner, who knows what goodies will show up.

Unfortunately, Apple’s second half of the year announcements really did catch up with me 🙂  The iPhone 6S+, the iPad Pro, and even the AppleTV have snuck into my life.  The latest iPhone’s camera has been a huge game changer for me.  Other than that, though, the 6+ is a great phone that I would have normally kept 🙂  The iPad Pro has been huge (pun intended) too.  My mixer, the Mackie DL32R’s iPad interface has already been updated to use the iPad Pro, and it’s been wonderful.  Mackie really did a great job of using the extra screen space.  I just set my Apple TV up today, so I’ll have something to write about it in the coming days.

Overall, I think 2015 wasn’t too bad of a year.  I think 2016 will be a lot better, though!

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It’s been a while! Lots of things going on since July!

I’ve usually blogged at least once or twice a month for almost 10 years.  I can’t believe that I’ve missed the last couple of months.  Too much has been going to for me to even *remotely* keep up.  I’ll be doing that now, as there are lots of thoughts running through my head lately!  There’s a bunch of Tech that’s been interesting, including Apple and Microsoft’s new toys.  My music product days have settled down in a big way, and you won’t believe what I’ve been playing with.  About the only thing that hasn’t changed is the car 🙂  Onward to new blog posts!!!!

Wow, 10 years, where does the time go?

Wow, this blog has been (mostly) active over 10 years.  My writing has been pretty quiet since September.  Not because of lack of activity, but for the complete opposite reason!  Too much going on!  One of the major things that has happened is that I left my job with my previous company, and have started working with a much smaller company.  I’ve moved from DevOps back into Development, and have actually been working with Visual Basic.NET, Windows Presentation Framework, and Javascript / jQuery / Knockout.js.  I have written more code in the last two months than I have in the last 3-4 years, and I’m VERY happy about that!  I am now also mentoring a couple of developers, and doing a LOT of learning myself.

On the music front, they ‘year-and-a-bit more’ of gear continued.  I swear I thought that I was done recently.  Time has a way of changing that, though!  I’ve picked up a LOT of sound gigs lately, and they are paying much better than the late night bar gigs.  To continue doing them, though, I’ve had to make a couple of updates, which I’ll be reviewing soon.  Plus, my taste in guitars has changed a bit recently, too.  I’ve got to say, Fender and Gibson have stepped up their game in the last couple of years, and I think that is directly correlated to the fact that PRS guitars sound and build quality is amazing.

It been an interesting ride, and it is going to get more interesting!

Wow… 9 years already

I knew that I started blogging in December… just didn’t realize it was over 9 years ago!!!!

What’s amazing is how much has changed in those nine years…

  • Homeowner
  • No more Corvettes, until I have enough money to actually keep one serviced correctly 🙂
  • Have stayed at my current job for almost 7 years
  • Have switched from Dev to DevOps
  • Have switched from PCs to Macs
  • Have actually been playing music, recording, mixing, and running sound for people rather than being academic
  • Cat changes (please do not ask me about it)
  • No longer a PRS only guitarist 🙂
  • Switched from flip phones to iPhone
  • Mainly use iPad around the house instead of a computer
  • Went from 1.5 meg DSL to 50+ meg cable
  • Went from a single CRT TV to two LED TVs
  • Gained weight, lost it, and then found it (and it brought friends)
  • Have performed more than 200 times for people during the time frame

To say the least, it’s been an amazing ride.  Looking forward to year 10, as this is a year with lots changing, and lots for me to write about.

A decent Christmas for once

Good day today.  Since Christmas is probably one of only 3 days in the year that I can almost guarentee no support calls, I decided to do a quick one day trip to Walt Disney World.  Living in South Florida, playing tourist is a LOT easier here than it is for most people.  Unfortunately, I almost never do.  I’ve been thinking about a Disney Christmas for many years, but this year was the one that I finally got off my rear and did it.

And ya know what?

I had a blast!  Heck, I didn’t even ride any major rides.  I just got out, and spent a lot of time walking and just enjoying the day.  So, no rant about prices, lines, times, food, general rudeness, etc… All definitely could rile me up, but today was about relaxing and enjoying life.  I was lucky that I was able to even make it into the park, they hit capacity by 11 a.m. (I got into the park around 10:00).  Plus, having to focus on ‘dealing’ with it helped me be a lot more cheerful than I usually am during the holidays.

Now, if one is going there to ‘do Disney’, all I can say is Christmas is NOT the time.  Check the internet for best times to go, and follow that!  If you just want to enjoy some serious people watching, and can take the nuttiness, Christmas can be a LOT of fun.

Jammin’

This is kind of a zen post, a bit of train of thought stuff, but I wanted to capture the moment…

I picked up an interesting guitar book recently, Introduction to Jazz Guitar Soloing.  In the first couple of pages, the author made an interesting statement, ‘Most key centered solos can be compared to pointless conversation’, and that really hit home.

Ok, gotta back up and explain what that means before moving forward…

When playing a solo over chord changes, there is usually a specific ‘key’ of notes that can be used over the whole chord progression.  One can play any note in the key, and it will work with the overall tonality of the chords, and sound OK.  Personally, I don’t think that there is much wrong with this, but it amounts to ‘noodling’ (something I do a fair amount of! 🙂 )

What the author is point out is that without some idea of where you are going, or what you are trying to achieve with a solo, it can be just kind of a ‘random note’ thing.  Of course, he has his ideas of how to not have ‘pointless conversation’, which is interesting to absorb.

One of the first exercises in the book is to play over a progression, and record it.  This is great practice, as it gives one a better idea of how one REALLY sounds 🙂  Tonight, I decided to create my own backing track to play over for the exercise.  I decided to play around with Logic X, as the new drummer piece is incredible for doing good backing tracks.  I recorded a couple of bass lines to add some basic definition, and then proceeded to jam out on the guitar.  I didn’t even dial in a fancy sound or anything, just used Amplitube’s default patch of a nice clean sound.  Wow, did I have some fun.  My little backing track had enough dynamics for me to switch up a bit on, and I tried a bit of the different techniques from the book.  That turned into some very cool stuff.  I haven’t played like this in a while, and, boy, did it feel good to have some nice melody and dynamics, and it was pretty much effortless.

It just all comes back around to having fun making music.

Ok, Zen off… 🙂

Lot’s to say, just not a lot of time to put it on the blog!

Wow, where does the time go?  I want to get back into the habit of posting a bit more often.  Many tech toys have been in my life lately, and I’ve written NOTHING about them!  An iPhone 4, an iPad, a Spider Valve MkII, and some other stuff, too.  The devices are getting used!  I’m finding new ways to work with them in my life.  The iPhone 4’s video camera and voice recognition for making calls… how did I live without that before?  The quality of videos that was done of the band that I play with is pretty darn good for a freakin’ PHONE!!!!  I’ll post the videos on Youtube soon!  I love the iPad… games, reading, notes for work, and surfing.  The iPad really is a game changer.

Ok, so today is just random thoughts.  Tomorrow, the Apple event.  I’m hoping for some interesting information.  I just hope the new iLife SHIPS tomorrow!

Dave, the plumber!?!

Today was one of life’s small victories…

A couple of days ago, I came home and found a note on my door, saying to call the water company due to high usage…  Now, my water bill is usually quite low, as one man and one cat do NOT use a lot of water.  I went and checked my bill online, and lo and behold, my bill is FOUR TIMES what it normally is!!!  Ack!  One cool thing about my water company is that they have a usage graph for the last several months.  And last month was WAY off the charts.  Thus begins trying to find the leak…

One day during the last month, the lever that closes the toilet hinge had gotten stuck open, and it took me a day to notice it.  I did not pay any attention to it after fixing the running water, though.  After seeing the bill, I took a closer look.  The toilet looked like the water was trickling out constantly.  Uh-oh  Sad  What do *I* know about fixing toilets?  The word ‘Zilch’ comes to mind… I’m a programmer, not a handyman!  One thing about living in an apartment for 7 years, you don’t usually have to worry about stuff like that!  Time to search for the problem and solution on the internet…  Turns out that there are some simple answers.  After draining the water from the tank, I messed around with it, and discovered that the little lid that controls the flushing (it’s technical term is a… wait for it… flapper) wasn’t sealing completely.  Looks like a trip to Home Depot was in order.  One lesson learned here is… take the part you need to replace with you, or at LEAST know what the part is coming from.  I got very lucky, as I did neither of these, but I did end up with the right part.  The rest was fairly easy, just unhooking the old flapper and put the new one on.  Then, the moment of truth… turning the water back on to the toilet… and… NO LEAKING!!!  Yeah!!!

Maybe someday I’ll actually get a household ‘handyman’ status… right now, I’d rather stick to computers!  Smile

Four years, and counting….

December 4th was my 4 year blog anniversary… what an amazing trip so far!  It is always interesting to go back and read old posts…  I’ve written a LOT, more than I EVER thought that I would.  My old English teachers would be proud!  I remember in one class, we were supposed to write a journal entry every day for a specific time period.  Me, being my procrastinating self, would always just write everything a day or two before turning it in.  What a learning opportunity missed 😦  One thing that I’ve really found with the blog is a great way to write down ‘what I’m thinking about right then and there’.  I have a lot more ideas and thoughts that I will start sharing. 

The reason I’ve kept some things private is because of the purpose of this blog.  Originally, I wanted to use it as a springboard to write a book, or get a job.  I’ve certainly written enough technical articles on here.  I get a lot of searches for Crystal Reports, Powershell, and Visual Studio.  I seem to get ideas in my head that end up breaking one of those programs, and I haven’t found answers on the Internet, hence why I write up my experiences.  I may split this blog up into a technical blog and a personal blog, as both are useful.  They might suffer a bit on content, though 🙂

We’ll just have to see where the NEXT four years takes this blog!

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Happy Thanksgiving All!!!!

This has been an amazing year with LOTS to be thankful for.  I am most thankful for my family and my friends for helping me get through a year of unreal changes.  I am thankful that those changes happened, both the good and the bad.  I am thankful that even with all the craziness in the world right now, I still have my job and my house.

I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving Day!

Down 37 pounds!

I can’t believe I’m writing this (on SEVERAL different levels 🙂 )… Yesterday was the start of a new session of Weight Watchers.  This is session number 3.  When I first started Weight Watchers I weighed 234 lbs.  Now, 8 months later, I am down to 197.  The math works out to losing 37 pounds in approximately 24 weeks.  To me, that is just amazing.  I still eat what I want, but I’ve learned a LOT about portions and control.  I hope to drop my weight to somewhere around 180.

Taking a day off

Yesterday was one of those rare days where I just needed a day off.  I have been VERY busy lately.  Heck, last week I was home only one evening, and this week was about as busy.  Next week, my schedule will be back to normal, with just band practice and trying to catch up with my friends 🙂  I still can’t believe it is October already.  Scary how quickly this year has gone.

I’m not dead (although many people *wish* I was)

No, this has nothing to do with Steve Jobs and the latest publication of his premature obituary.

This blog entry has to do with the fact that *I*’m still alive. In fact, I missed my usually ‘monthly update’. How could I possibly not write something, ESPECIALLY when my birthday fell in the middle of the month!?! Well, I plan to detail the whole story. At this point, no one’s going to be upset with me for talking about the last three/four months, and it will be good to get it out on blog.

Also, I plan to do some more technical writing. I have been getting a lot of hits for people searching for the solutions that I’ve posted on my blog. More of those to come!

Lot’s o’ changes going on

A sharp eyed reader (Rick) noticed that I have added a photo gallery called ‘Guitars for Sale’  Well…  it’s true.  I have put two of my guitars up for sale on Birds and Moons.  Considering all of the trouble and craziness that I’ve done to obtain them, you ask… ‘Why sell them?’  Good question.  The answer has nothing to do with the need for money, nor the desire to buy anything else.  Nor does it have to do with paying off bills, even though the funds will certainly go a long way towards that.  No, the real reason is because I have finally understood my reason for WHY I bought them.  And, it’s not a pretty reason.  Ok, so it’s not an ugly reason either, but it IS a very human reason.  Now that I understand why I have them, I feel that I can let them go. 
 
Ok, so what’s the darned reason?  Low self-esteem.  I felt that my playing wasn’t very good.  I did not believe in myself.  I felt that if I had an awesome guitar, people would like me despite the fact that I played badly.  It wouldn’t matter how I sounded… 
 
Yep, pretty damn silly/stupid/crazy, right? 
 
In hind-sight, it was.  I have realized that I like my guitar playing, no matter WHAT guitar I play on.  I feel like an average player on a good day, but I actually LIKE that now.  To really get better requires a level of dedication that I don’t have the ambition for.  So, I’m learning to be happy with what I can do.  And, I think that means removing the unbelievable guitar factor.  I’d actually like to get a chance to play WITHOUT the ‘what a cool guitar’ effect 🙂
 
There are more changes going on.  I figured out that the car was the same issue.  So, the ‘vette’s gone too.  Ok, so it was replaced by a Lexus, but not because it’s a Lexus, but because I can save some money.  The house has a similar problem.  I didn’t feel comfortable doing anything to it becasue it was ‘for someone else’  (whom, I have NO idea).  That’s changing as well.  Soon, there will be some paintings that *I* like up, maybe some paint on the walls to get rid of the white ‘sterile’ look.  It’s *my* house darn it.
 
So, I’ll be blogging more about changes.  Heck, maybe this IS a mid-life crisis 🙂  I don’t know.  All I know is that I feel FAR better than before 🙂

Interesting article on ‘going green’

Rob Conery has a great article on how we can ‘go green’.  Now that we are starting to ‘take it in the wallet’, I think information like this will become more and more important to find.  Personally, I LOVE the idea of doing the solar power on the house.  Unfortunately, my townhouse probably WOULDN’T let me put something like that up.  😦 Maybe if I ever move up to the mountains, I’ll CERTAINLY do something like that.  🙂

I just wonder if one could set up solar power + wind power, and never need to worry about electricity for the house / electric car ever again!

Yes, I’m still alive

Yes, I’m still alive.  Unfortunately, the blog has been the LAST thing on my mind lately.  Too much going on, and NONE of it is anyone’s business at the moment.  As things get settled, I’ll talk more.  But for now, I’m on a blog holiday.  I may come back, I may not.

You know you are too busy when…

You have to schedule yourself for computer repairs (and you may end up being bumped!)

It’s a mark of how busy things are when I have to schedule ‘me time’ to fix my computer on my calendar.  Yes, the might Mac hiccupped, and I have to do a little bit of work on it.  Thank god it’s the mac and not a PC.  All I have to do is copy off my data files, reinstall the OS, and copy everything back.  Not really a big deal, but a pain.  And, before I get any mail about having to reinstall the Mac OS, this was my own fault.  I was fully aware that I might need to do this, so I certainly am not upset.  I just found it funny that I had ‘pencil myself in’ for my tech services!

A belated ‘Happy New Year’

Just wanted to wish everyone reading this a ‘Happy New Year’.

Gotta say, this one is at least starting out better than most.  Monday was a great day, I caught up with some friends, hung out at the Hard Rock, played pool, watched the ball drop, and watched the fire works.  All in all, a great night.  Then Tennessee went and beat up on Wisconsin in the Outback bowl on Tuesday!  Yeah!  What a way to save their season.

During the course of hanging out with my friend Rick, we ended up talking about last year’s focus, and this year’s goals.  I have to admit, last year was a ‘stuff’ year for me.  Between the house and all the things that go into it, my focus had been upon acquisitions.  Fortunately, the road trip in September to my cousin’s wedding put me back on the path of what is important.  This year (and EVERY year!) is going to be about friends, family, and relationships (well, hopefully FORMING relationships this year!). 

The last couple of months have been real eye openers.  I’ve been hanging out a bit with one of my cousins who lives near me.  She’s helping me get on the ‘straight and narrow’ about getting life a little more organized.  Then, I’ve been hanging around another friend who’s family I was able to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with.  That was really interesting.  I had a great time, and gave a lot more meaning to the holidays than I’d realized.  I’ve got to admit, Christmas was a lot more fun with a lot of kids running around laughing and playing (and going home to stay with THEIR parents 🙂 )

Then, I ended up getting the best Christmas present ever.  Someone whom I hadn’t talked to in a while texted me with a Merry Christmas.  I honestly didn’t know if it was a mistake or what.  It turns out it wasn’t a mistake, nor was it a generic text blast.  I am truly touched that this person was thinking about me.  I don’t plan to loose touch again.

Ok, enough rambling!  Happy New Year!!!!

Decorating for Christmas this year!

Well, since I had a complete room with nothing in it, I decided to put a Christmas tree up this year.  This is the first time in over 12 years that I’ve had a tree up.  My friend Trish did most of the decorating, as I have NO eye for how this thing should look.  Looks like it turned out pretty good.  I also took a couple of pictures of a little quilt that my mom did for the house.
 
 
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Sometimes, you’ve just got to walk away…

This is not one of my nice little ‘how-to’ articles.  In fact, most of the content is not nice at all.  But, it’s life, and in particular, it’s MY life…

First up, I changed a relationship that I’ve had with a friend for over 10 years.  Lately, that friend has turned up the sarcasm to offset my more serious demeanor.  I’m sorry that I haven’t made a lot of jokes lately, but that’s mainly because things haven’t been that funny.  I am really struggling through some hard times, and I need friends that help, not ones that are snide.  So, off they go…

Second, I left the band.  I have many reasons, some logical, some not.  I mainly feel that it is not the direction I wish to go in.

Having done both of those things this weekend, I thought that I’d be feeling depressed.  Surprisingly, I’m not.  I feel like some weights have been lifted, and I can now move on.

I’ll blog more about this stuff as things change…

Back to Basics, the Introduction

This is going to be kind of a rambling set of posts.  I’d like to detail some of the important, but often (VERY often!) overlooked ‘basics’ for my hobbies / profession.

What got me to start writing about the basics?  Well, I always remember what my karate teacher told me… "A martial artist who understands the basics will always defeat a person who doesn’t".  So I proceeded to try to truly understand the basics of martial arts.  I don’t know if I ever succeeded, but I learned a LOT for trying to understand that stuff.

So, I plan to try to pass on the things that I think are important in guitar playing and / or computer programming.  I might even happen to throw some other ideas up.  Please, take an run with them, and add to them as anyone sees fit.

I’ll start tomorrow with some guitar tips!