Why Pink Floyd?

8 10 2011

Since this blog seems to have taken a musical interlude anyway, we’ll just carry on with that theme here. A few weeks ago, Pink Floyd re-released their entire studio catalog (everything but a few compilation and live albums), digitally remastered by James Guthrie. Several years ago, they released all their albums, digitally remastered. From what I gather, they did it again because their recording contract obligates them to another release, but the band is pretty definitely done. So my understanding is that they did this to skirt the issue.

There was a boxed set for the previous remasters called, Oh, By the Way, and this time is no different with the Discovery boxed set. Unlike last time, though, I’m fully aware of what’s going on, and with the boxed set coming out a little cheaper that purchasing the albums individually, and knowing that I would want to replace my entire collection, I went with the set.  Read the rest of this entry »


Music Exposure (part 1)

20 09 2011

So, about all that good music…

Please give all of these a listen. You can’t judge any of them by what the others sound like. And don’t judge the videos. Many of them don’t have official videos. Some may be fan made, or not exist at all. And some may just be plain bad. I’m also linking to the artists’ official sites when I can. I was going to only do one song per artist, but I found myself “having” to include two for many of these, so I just decided to increase the default number of songs to include.

AfroCelt Sound System

First up is “Lagan” by the AfroCelt Sound System, from their album Volume 3: Further in Time. ACSS began as a project at a Recording Week at Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studios. These Recording Weeks took advantage of the large population of musicians from all over the world around the time of the annual WOMAD festival, and led to some very interesting musical pairings. ACSS is a fine example, as Simon Emmerson had the idea of merging traditional music from the British Isles with that of western Africa. This first song is followed by “Riding the Waves,” which is from the same album, but showcases an entirely different feel.

[Be sure to continue reading after the break below the videos!]

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Speak Geek: Music, or “Tear Down the Wall!”

12 09 2011

Since my new iPod arrived this morning, I figure I’ll contribute to the Speak Out With Your Geek Out movement today by talking about my love of music. For more about the Speak Geek campaign, see their website or my previous post about it.

Unlike many music aficionados, I did not grow up with a strong musical background. My parents listened to music sparingly, and usually only as background noise on the few occasions when it would play. I don’t remember now whether I disliked radio because I didn’t like most of the music, or because of the endless commercials (both are reasons I still despise radio for the most part). My older brother was more into music than I was, but I was still generally unimpressed.

At one point, probably in 2nd or 3rd grade, my mother signed my brother and myself up for the Columbia Record Club. I could pick a few cassettes (remember those?) out of their catalog, and have them delivered by mail. This was an awesome prospect for me! I get to pick my own music, and get mail? What kid doesn’t like getting mail? The problem was apparent as I looked through the pages of album covers. I had no idea what any of these albums were, who the artists were. I remember selecting a Night Ranger album because I liked the band name, and a Billy Joel album because I recognized his name (I don’t think I had any idea of his music beyond the name). I don’t remember if it was in my first order or a subsequent one, but eventually I stumbled on “Weird Al” Yankovic. Read the rest of this entry »

Speak Out With Your Geek Out!

9 09 2011

There is a movement going to promote geek pride during the week of September 12-16. Going under the catchy name of “Speak Out With Your Geek Out,” this is something that I wholeheartedly endorse. The idea is pretty simple: during that five day stretch, engage people however you can about your favorite geeky hobby. Or hobbies. No reason to limit it to just one. Someone (I wish I remembered who) commented that, despite the name, this need not be limited to geeky things. I tend to agree. Speak out about whatever you enjoy doing, whatever makes you happy.

The movement was originally the idea of Monica Valentinelli, and it quickly grew beyond her original concept. You can read her original post here, but notice how it’s been edited a few times to incorporate the changes. There’s already talk of making this an annual event, and a blog has been set up in anticipation of next week here. There’s already plenty of interesting articles there, helping people to prep for the week. And of course, there’s a Facebook event and a Tumblr dedicated to helping everyone share their thoughts.

You can bet that I’ll be participating! Keep an eye out here and elsewhere for me to be speaking out about RPGs and other topics. I also strongly encourage you (yes, YOU) to participate as well. Light up Twitter, Facebook, Google+, blogs and forums all over the place with the things we love and why we love them. Don’t have a blog? Find someone who does who will host something you write. Don’t tell me you don’t know anyone — you’re reading this, and I’ll happily post anything you write about.

But here’s something that I really want to stress, something that I have not yet seen in reference to this cause. Yes, it’s important to speak out and share your loves. But it’s also important to listen to what all the other geeks are gushing about during this time, as well. No one is served if everyone’s too busy shouting from the mountaintop to hear what’s being yelled from the neighboring mountain. Maybe you’ll learn about something you haven’t heard of that sparks your interest. Maybe there’s something you don’t like, but might give a second chance to when you hear someone elegantly explain why it interests them. Geeks can be awfully condemning of things they don’t like. Use this next week as an opportunity to open your mind, just for a few days, and maybe erase some of those ideas that don’t quite fit the reality. Maybe you’ll change your mind about something. Maybe not.

But give it a chance.

Caustic Soda

10 08 2011

The “Caustic Soda” podcast has been officially described as both “The podcast that takes on disturbing topics and breaks them down into a bubbling pool of funny!” and “Hard science by soft people.” It is without doubt among my favorite podcasts to listen to, and one of maybe two that has a broad enough subject matter that I would recommend it to just about anyone.

One of the things that I love most about Caustic Soda is that you never really know what you’re going to get. Each episode is about one particular topic, but that can range from Tobacco, Christmas, Funerals, or Rats to Swords, Submarines, Pirates or Ted Bundy. I’m entertained every time, and I learn something new with each episode.

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Social Media

24 07 2011

Social media is one of those things that you either “get” or you don’t. When I first created my Twitter account, lots of people asked me, “What is Twitter even for?” Those that didn’t ask that made some comment about not needing to know what Ashton Kutcher had for breakfast. I resisted Twitter for a while, having very much the same reactions myself. One of the benefits of my job is that I get to sit in on corporate meetings. Most of the time, this is not a benefit at all. But every now and then, there’s an interesting speaker or topic that really makes me sit up and pay attention. One of these topics was social media and how the healthcare industry could use it. They touched on Twitter just enough to make me a little curious. I still did nothing about it. A few months later, a different group had a speaker discuss social media. This speaker was much more interesting, sharing personal stories and examples. I made my Twitter account that night. Here is an updated version of a video that she showed during her presentation:

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Getting Organized and Refocused

10 05 2011

Finally getting back on track and setting some goals, one of which is to update this blog (and my others) more often.

I’ve recently discovered OneNote hiding in the Microsoft Office suite. At first glance, it seems to be a tremendously useful tool, and I’m a little upset that I haven’t even heard of it before. It’s great for organization, which is something that I lack when it comes to big projects. Along the left edge of the screen are Notebooks. This is where I set up the different projects I’m working on. For an example, I’ll use the RPG system I’m slowly designing, which is the first project I added. Along the top of the screen, I can designate different sections. In this case, I’ve got one for the Basic System, one for Combat, and one for Social Combat (until I figure out what I want to call it other than Social Combat). Once I’ve clicked on one of those, I can select different pages along the right of the screen. Under the Basic System section I mentioned, I’ve got pages for Traits, Skills, and the Basic Mechanic that I’ll be working with in this game. The bulk of the screen is whatever page of got selected. When I click on Traits, for example, I see my list of the Traits I’ve decided to use, my short descriptions of them, and a brief note detailing how I think they should work mechanically. Even on the page, everything is its own separate item, so I can move them around easily, placing something that I’ve just written right next to something I wrote last week. I can even toss in pictures or captured web sites.

As a basic brainstorming and organization tool, OneNote really seems like the way to go. I look forward to using it quite a bit more. Anyone else have any other programs or tools that help with this kind of thing, or any experience using OneNote?

OneNote screenshot