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 These days, I mostly post my tech musings on Linkedin.  https://www.linkedin.com/in/seanmcgrath/

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Newbie geek strums # 1

Revelation time. I have decided to learn to play guitar. Acoustic guitar.

End goal? To be able to pick and strum my way through some Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Niel Young songs.

Starting point? Zero. Actually, less than that. The musical knowledge equivalent of -273 degrees centigrade.

Handicaps and hangups? Left handed. Yes, I have heard about the greats who where left handed. That doesn't amount to a hill of beans when you are starting from -273 degrees centigrade. Most of the diagrams I see are the wrong way around dammit and it seems that guitar stuff is wall-to-wall diagrams of various types.

Hangups? I am fairly competent with a computer keyboard and over the decades, have trained my hands and brain that pressing down on two or more things at the same time is *wrong*. Consequently, I have my doubts that I will ever be able to (a) get two hands working independently yet together and (b) get my fingers to agree to press/pluck strings *at the same time*.

Opening observations and remarks.

  • There is a ton of very useful stuff out there on the Web. I am finding Guitar Noise a great place to start - working backwards as necessary to the fundamentals needed.
  • Bob Sutor (fellow geek) is a guitar player and has started blogging about starting with the guitar.
  • The concept of written music on the Internet appears to be in the midst of a big copyright stink at th moment. Lots of resources for chord/tab diagrams say "Come back later. Lawyers in the boardroom." Lots of resources point to http://www.olga.net/ as a great place to visit for stuff but, well, go there and see for yourself.
  • The good news is that community minded folk post videos like this which are excellent at demystifying the terminology
  • Most "music theory" material I'm finding is not theory at all. When guitar folk talk about covering the theory, they appear to be mostly talking about covering the notation. Thats not theory in my book, it is language. If they called the language bits "language" rather than "theory" they wouldn't scare folks like me to readily
  • Being a geek, the real theory interests me. I.e. the physics and maths of it all. I came across Music: a Mathematical Offering which is a rather heavy for my needs but at least starts where I feel confortable : the physics of sound, sine waves, amplitudes and frequencies etc.
  • As a geek, I like absolute numbers for things. I know about the octave thing but it still drives me nuts when I read about the note "A". Which A? What frequency are you talking about. What do you mean it doesn't matter?! It is something I will have to get over
  • On the subject of absolutes. I have found the concept of 4/4 time a bit shocking. Everything about the naming of the thing would lead you to believe that it tells you the *timing*. Not so. It tells you how many beats there are in a measure but doesn't tell you how quickly those beats come. To find that out you have to listen or judge for yourself what "moderately fast" might mean or look up quaint Italian words that sound like cars like Allegro.
  • What about volume? Surely that is the amplitude of the sound waves right? Yes, but you have to go all Italian and relativist again - forte, diminuendo..
  • Barre Chords? I refuse to believe it is physically possible to do one of those on fret 1. I hope that opinion changes


Friday, November 24, 2006

Ubuntu boxes getting closer

http://www.ubuntuboxes.co.uk/. Great.

Now for real bonus points, I'd like to be able to buy an Ubuntu box with Ubuntu Studio pre-installed.

Ubuntu Studio appears to be still in planning stage but what a great idea. The thoughts of fighting all the driver and interfacing battles with Ubuntu Studio fills me with dread. Would I buy a pre-configured box rather than fight those battles? Yes.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

The Python Papers

The Python Papers is a Python developers journal publication. Vol 1, issue 1 out now.

It has grown out of the Python Journal ...or something...details here.

More good stuff for the print-it-and-read-it-leisurely-offline stack.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Wonderful Programming Quote

Titus Brown quotes Brian W. Kernighan:-

    "Debugging is twice as hard as writing the code in the first place. Therefore, if you write the code as cleverly as possible, you are, by definition, not smart enough to debug it." -- Brian W. Kernighan

That is a gem.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006