Wednesday, December 21, 2011

iPod Nano Bluetooth Watch Review

As I have mentioned in the last post, I purchased an ipod nano after Steve Jobs death, a sort of commemoration of sorts.  I am using the nano for running, as the ipod touch or iphone was too big (even with the arm band) and I also needed a radio. I don't need a GPS when i run, cos i always run the same route. I have already measured the distance with GPS on my iphone; so I can simply input the distance onto my nano.

I have found that if I am walking with the nano, the best way to use the touch screen is to use it as a watch.  Using corded headphones with the nano as a watch is very uncomfortable, hence my splurge on the Sennheiser btd300i bluetooth module & iwatch z watch band.

Sennheiser btd300i

The module is bigger than other ipod bluetooth modules you can get, but I was after the bluetooth streaming protocol APT X rather than A2DP (being the audiophile I am).


I have 2 pairs of headphones I can use with the nano & btd300i.  The first is the "closed" Sennheiser 210BT that uses the APT X protocol.  (There are only 2 models available with APTX; the PX210BT & PX310BT headphones. The PX310BT are larger over the ear headphones, but I wanted something a little lighter for mobility).

I also have the mm100 open neck headphones (I use these with the iphone so I can answer calls, plus they are good when I ride the bike, but not so good when I am lying down! These dont use APT X)

The Sennheiser MM100 (Don't let the cheap look fool you!)


The sound is fantastic, you have to use EQ as the PX210BT is midrangey. I find electronic or rock preset is the best.  I am surprised how good it sounds, it is indistinguishable from using a cord.  The other thing I like about the PX210BT is that you can also use a cord & easily attach and detach the cord, so if you break it, you can easily replace it (something I would do a lot with the PX100). The mm100 also sounds very good and it is surprising how it sounds better than using bluetooth from an iphone or the mac!


Unfortunately there are a few things I am disappointed with.  First off, the PX210 BT aren't loud enough, I suppose it is good for your hearing, but I would like to turn it up to really rock out.

Second thing is on a windy day there are drop outs, it really should be smooth all the time.

Thirdly, the btd300i chews battery, I only get an hour using the nano, as compared with 8 hours using buds!

Lastly, I wish the ipod nano could listen to the radio without having to plug in corded headphones.


It really is enjoyable to walk around with a nano watch and listen to my favorite podcast by Tiesto and see the song pic change on the screen of a watch! It really is the future, an iphone this small would be great with mm400 headphones! Do we really need to have an iphone when we walk around or ride a bike. I can understand you need an iphone in the car or when you go out, but on most occasions I dont need to surf a website when away from my PC.  Perhaps with Siri we won't even need to that so often and a watch phone could be enough.  I can also imagine a bluetooth camera/video clip that could communicate with your watch phone!

The whole computing experience is certainly changing.  Next blog I will talk about the irig mic and the vocalive software you use it with on an ipod/iphone/ipad.  A recording studio in a phone!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Summer TECH Update

It has a been a while since my latest blog as I have been busy studying Cisco Certs and MS MCITP Certs (lookout Windows Server 8) for the new year and have been busy with my profession in IT. Recently I have been testing an ipad 2 and have enjoyed the experience but have not seen it as worthwhile investing in personally.  I found the ipad2 a little bulky and also not too easy to watch movies in bed, something that I can do more comfortably and easily with my netbook using VLC.  I would also like a higher resolution screen and I miss having usb ports to add devices such as a Roland Quad Capture'or TV Tuner etc. ***Instead I purchased an ipod nano for my running! ***


I have found the ipod nano watch to be annoying with cabled headphones so I have purchased a Sennheiser bluetooth adapter. More on this next blog because the sound is amazingly audiophile from this thing! The only problem is I can't get the radio with bluetooth headphones.


I do a lot of reading in PDF's and want to read outside so I wanna use e-ink tech rather than the TFT tech in an ipad.This leads me to ereaders and I have researched them thoroughly but just don't see it being right for me at the moment. Amazon's can't do pdf reflow and the Sony TRS seems to have a slow processor. Kobo might be a possibility but am not sure of the PDF reflow capabilites. I will put this on hold.

MAC OS X LION (The Vista of Mac OS X?)

Now I am a full time Mac user again and am quite enjoying Lion; 8GB certainly helps with any sluggishness. I would like to use 16GB of ram but the cost is $600 as compared to $80 for 8GB so this is also on hold.  I am currently using Oracle's Virtual Box to run Windows and I love seamless mode, I can have windows and Mac running in the same screen!  I am having some crashes and problems here and there which is unusual for Mac OS X (More on this later).  As I use Adobe CS 5.5 there have been some extra issues with Mac OS X Lion.  I have had to unhide the user preferences which is annoyingly hidden within Lion and have needed to adjust this with frequent problems with Adobe Audition.

These links will help you if you are having any problems with Adobe Audition or any other Adobe Apps and Mac OS X lion.


I have also been back into recording and recently got an irig mic for the ipod touch and vocalive. I have also got myself a Roland quad capture.  More from me soon about these amazing devices.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Latest Tech Thoughts Spring 2011

Tech Thoughts Spring 2011 (Australia)

It has been a whilst since my last blog and I have been patiently waiting for IOS 5 and the new ipods/iphone. I have also been thinking about getting a Garmin GPS watch and an Apple Time Capsule. I have always been interested in digital devices rather than having computers. This is what I believe is part of Apple’s recent success, keeping an OS (IOS) more streamlined and simple, so that it works like a fast responsive machine that turns on instantly; rather than sluggish error prone computers, we have all become used to.


This is a hard decision as Garmin GPS watches are awesome but quite expensive, depending on the model. I am currently using an ipod touch when running but this is such a bulky solution. For music I can use my ipod shuffle when running with a Garmin watch (but I will miss out on the Nike coach when I reach personal targets!!!!). The other bonus is I can use it whilst riding as well; unlike the pedometer with the nano.

The questions are, is it worth getting a heart monitor and would it be better to wait for an ipod nano with this feature with GPS?. Will this ever happen on a Nano and if so how many years will it take?


The Time Capsule is tempting but I wish i could put my itunes library on there and play it directly to my ipod. That way I don’t have to have my laptop on to stream music to my airport express. The other issue is getting 5 ghz performance. This still isn’t available on portable devices such as ipods and netbooks. If I would get an 5ghz adapter for my netbook it would be expensive and bulky.


HD Audio is finally getting decent albums available on the web (rather than a whole lot of unheard jazz & classical artists!!!). I have finally bought my first album that is @ 24 bit 96k (Foreigner 4 from 1981). Disappointingly my 3 year old Dell laptop does not support this format over hdmi but my little Acer netbook with the AMD Fusion APU (that has a Radeon 6250) can support HD Audio over HDMI. I need this so I can use the hdmi output to a converter; spdif for my headphone amp or Roland M15a speakers.

***BTW Foreigner 4 sounds fantastic in HD Audio***

My Apple Airport or ipod/iphone does not support the format as they are only 16 bit 44k and these are all the problems you can encounter when upgrading to HD Audio.

The format certainly has more depth, spatiality & dynamics but can sound a little thin at times. I think thinness is just part of the digital format. With HD Audio I can no longer hear a telephone ringing in the background which is what seems to happen a lot with the red-book 16 bit 44k standard (although a decent DAC can help with this). HD audio also sounds live and full of musicality as compared with plain old 16 bit 44k.


I am quite impressed that my little netbook Acer Aspire 522 can play blurays at 1080p. I wish the bluray standard could be standard in windows 7 as the Cyberlink power dvd app (which is the only app that works) is quite expensive.

Monday, July 11, 2011

NETBOOKS aren't Trendy Anymore

So I have decided to get a netbook.  Even though tablets are all the rage at the moment (such as the ipad), there are features in netbooks that aren't available with these devices  such as VLC, hard drives & peripherals (such as a tv tuner). Also if I am lying in bed I don't want to be holding an ipad up. I have an ipod touch for quick stuff, such as checking email in bed or footy scores.

My netbook is a secondary laptop so I haven't got the mindset that I will be transcoding video and loading heaps of apps on it.  I can use the dvd player from my other laptop, so a lot of these shortcomings aren't important. The DVD adds bulk and I want something light that I can take with me in ease.  I will not even install Word on my netbook because Wordpad is fine. I will install the bare minimum as I want convenience. If I need to spell check, I can open the word web app or Word on my 15" laptop at home.I dont need to do editing on the road, I will leave that for a more powerful laptop or PC at home.

I also want something to quickly whip from under the bed and watch movies.  A bulky 15" laptop doesn't do this, and I use my 15" laptop as a more permanent setup at home connected to an external monitor, 1.5TB hard drive etc.

I wanted the Atom Fusion APU for the impressive WEI 5 Graphics performance so the choice was between the Toshiba NB550d and the Acer Aspire 522.  The Acer has a better screen res but no bluetooth.  Toshiba has nice harmon kardon speakers, but to be honest I use headphones on the road and connect via my airport express at home, so laptop speakers aren't that important for me.  What concerned me about the Toshiba was the screen res as it couldnt play 720p and also the inability to change hard drives as it was custom.

So even though the Toshiba NB550 looked nicer and had Wake On Lan and Bluetooth, the screen resoloution to me was more important.  Also the battery life is better with the Acer and it comes with a nice case. I am disappointed the Acer didn't come with bluetooth & WOL but I can live without it. I did have visions of putting a 750g, 7400rpm hard drive into my netbook, and using my ipod touch to send magic packets to turn it on in the middle of the night.  But you couldnt do that with the Toshy anyway as the hard drive is to small for all my music & custom sized that makes it difficult to change.

If I do listen to music with my MM100 Bluetooth Sennheiser headphones it will come from my iphone (it wont work with the Acer), at home I can use my more serious Sennheiser HD650 with the Airport Express.

So it is the Acer.  I was very impressed with the performance even with only 1 gig of ram.  The next day I put 4 gigs of ram in and Windows 7 Pro.  Putting in ram wasn't as easy as it used to be, having to remove the keyboard and a whole heap of screws.

2 or 4 gigs certainly makes a difference. With 1 gig there were plenty of blue circles and pausing etc. Whilst watching Inception as a stream, there were moments of freezing etc. But once I had 4 gigs of ram  streamed movies played seamlessly. I have been watching dvd's in bed, using VLC and accessing a wifi n network from my laptop in the room next door.  I installed Airfoil and I can now stream the audio from my netbook to my airport express that is connected digitally to a DAC that is then connected to my yamaha 2.1 speakers.

You have to synchronise VLC so the audio matches the video.  It is usually around 2 seconds, varies and can drift.  But it is oh so worth it as there are no cables connected to the netbook when you watch a movie, and you get the full surround sound experience.It is killer. The screen is fantastic for watching movies.  Even though it is only 10", the lightness of the netbook makes up for it, because a 15" laptop can be heavy whilst lying in bed . I hired Surrogates with Bruce Willis for $3 at the oovie vending machine at Safeway.  I couldnt find it on bluray so had to settle with DVD.  I chucked it into my other 15" laptop and ensured I shared the dvd drive.  I simply opened the dvd from vlc over the wifi network. I then opened airfoil so I could stream the audio and used A/V sync in VLC with the airport express.

There are occasional stutters whilst watching the movie which I will outline below.
For some reason I can only get a 65MBS connection on my wifi n network with the Acer whereas with my Dell 15" I am getting 72MBS.  The reason why it is half speed is that I run the n network on 2.4g so I can use the ipod touch with the Aiport Express. It comes in handy with the ipod touch as I can use airplay from it (particularly late at night).  With 5 ghz I have a feeling I will get better performance.  The network is only running at 20% but latency is the most important issue here.  There is more interference with 2.4ghz and this might be affecting the streaming.  I could copy over the DVD from the network to my Acer and then delete it after watching but that would be a pain.  The other option I am considering is getting a SSD.  This will help with performance boosting the HD WEI from 5.9 to 7.7.  It would also help with the portability aspect.  I dont know if I need 250 gigs, but I am thinking of using the Acer to record tv so am still unsure about getting a SSD  It is a considerable expense that increases the price of the netbook.

I just checked the battery, I have used the laptop from 100% when I started writing this article.  It is at 9 hours 22 minutes. The battery life is amazing.  This is another reason why I prefer the Acer to the Toshiba.
The keyboard is a little cramped and I occasionally hit the up arrow on the track pad which can be annoying, but overall considering the size it does the job.


Sunday, June 5, 2011

Singstar, Apple WWDC


A bit late to the game but I have recently purchased Singstar for the PS3 and the mics.  Although I have had some fun, there are a few major flaws that upset the playing experience.

1. Latency issues.  The game does not give accurate-enough latency times.  You can only choose 10ms blocks and you really need to have more granular settings as the Audio & Video sync is somewhere inbetween 0-10ms for me.

2. Scoring.  The singing steps ruins the singing experience.  The notes you have to sing are far too long, longer than what is required to sing which ruins the fun and naturalness of the vocal performance.  Quite often I am hanging onto notes and getting out of breath to get a good scoring  performance. The other problem is that it doesn't always detect the right note, especially if it is a low note or a fast word.  Sometimes the notes for scoring are a wrong note or the parts change singers without time to breathe and if you sing a different in-tune note because you might not have the vocal range, or for breathing, you are penalised. You are also penalised if you don't sing the note flat, no embellishments are allowed, even if the original track has it!!!!!!. There should be an abililty to adjust the steps and duration for the singing-scoring and then people could agree to the scoring system for the song online with the club feature.

Apple WWDC

I am so excited, we have heard all the Windows 8 stuff at D9 and Asus at Computex, but every1 is waiting for Apple.

I want to purchase a Time Capsule and Macbook Air, but have been waiting as new models are imminent.

The rumours of the Time Capsule sound amazing too, I want to be able to stream music to my ipod without having my computer on and the rumours I have heard, sound like that the Time Capsule will be able to do this. With an A5 processor, the Time Capsule should have plenty of power as a wireless Itunes Server. The other great news is that Wireless Sync might finally come of age with IOS 5.

I have wanted to get a Macbook Air but the 3 year old C2D has made me wait....If the Time Capsule has an Itunes Server, the 64 GB MBA  model should be fine, as I have 400 gigs of music that can go on the capsule (which I don't need on the road).

iCloud doens't really interest me.  I use Tune In for music which is already a cloud service for music anyway.  I am not going to put 400GB of music in the cloud. This cloud stuff is a big Hype.  I already use the cloud for podcasts, tune in music etc.

Will we get true multi-tasking in IOS5.  I doubt it!!!!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Cheap Bedroom Audiophiling, Wireless & Bluetooth Audio Streaming, How to listen to AFL live Radio on your IOS device for $1.19 at home,Multiple Speakers, streaming dvd's to IOS, Netbooks & other tech


I have really been impressed with my DAC (Firestone Libby) lately.  I have resurrected my trusty 10 year old Yamaha YST MS30 2.1 bose-copy speakers for the bedroom. They are connected via my Firestone Libby headphone DAC and Airport Express via an optical cable. The Sub is under the bed and the tiny satellite speakers are on either side. The speakers are very non-obtrusive & almost invisible which is what I am after, yet they are quite powerful. They are loud enough for what I want (30W RMS), as I don't want to have music too loud, while I am falling asleep or listening to podcasts and football. Listening to Tiesto late at night with a SUB pumping under the bed and a spatial sounding DAC is mesmerising & DAC-Magical, even from these cheap speakers (it is nice to get a even sound from single speakers, Yamaha always give a good sound even if they are cheap, they have some great active crossover circuitry as well as excellent stereo imaging). The other enjoyable activity is playing Infinity Blade in bed and having the game-music & fx stream out using airplay, so I dont have any cables connected to my ipod touch 4G. Cables are major suckage when playing games on the ipod touch 4g in bed!!!!The sound is not interrupted whilst playing Infinity Blade, unlike the blue-tooth connection (but more from that later). Infinity Blade's soundtrack & FX does sound amazing BTW!

Ugly but cheap, practical, decent sounding & affordable--the Yamaha YST MS30

I am impressed with the spatial imaging and fullness of sound from the Firestone Libby DAC. The vocals really cut through clearly and there is plenty of room in the high end, so that I am perfectly happy with a flat EQ. Mid Range is sweet too with clear definition between instruments and an excellent reverberation trail. In fact I think the DAC is more important than spending $400 more on speakers and then using the crappy onboard DAC of either the ipod touch or Airport Express. All my complaints of a harsh static digital sound seem to go way with a good DAC. I always want to turn treble up using cheap dacs because they lack detail, and even then they need treble because cheap DACS have poor output stages. The only problem with the Libby is an audible 60hz hum, but it is only heard when there is no sound.


Because I have a separate wi-fi n network for audio than my internet, I don't get drop outs and I am able to use the multiple speaker option in itunes without any delay (for two sets of speakers). It sounds fantastic. I have tried setting up 3 sets of multiple speakers with an Apple TV, but there was a noticeable delay on the Apple TV which was the furthest away (possible 50-100ms but I haven't measured it), maybe a wifi N 5ghz would fix this, but as I use 2.4ghz N to be compatible with the ipod/iphone, I haven't really got a need. It would be nice to have an adjustable time difference between multi-sets of speakers, so hopefully the next version of itunes will have it. If the ipod touch/iphone could have a dual wifi chip @ 2.4 & 5 ghz then you could have a sonos type setup with adjustable time settings on each speaker as well.

Bluetooth Streaming Audio

Sometimes I have a need to use bluetooth with my speakers in the bedroom, when I want to save power from my airport express or save time from waiting for it to boot.  Also sometimes I want to download something from the internet to the ipod and I want to listen to tune-in on my ipod touch 4G at the same time, when I can't access itunes via IOS remote to my laptop to my airport express (which is what I usually do).

So I decided to buy a Belkin bluetooth receiver but it sounds so crappy, that I really only use it for podcasts. I tried playing infinity blade but the sound would cut out all the time, and music sounds like a fish underwater or a bad skype call.  My Sennheiser MM100 bluetooth headphones sound awesome and Bluetooth is acceptable in the car so I know it isnt the bluetooth format. Considering it cost just under half of a refurbished airport express it is a rip off. I have my doubts over Belkin as it markets itself as a premium brand, but is usually really cheap & crappy with a nice design & package. I often have a lot of cognitive dissonance with the brand.

The non-impressive Belkin B/T Receiver

Netbooks & WOL (Wake On Lan)

Sometimes I want to use a little laptop in bed rather than my ipod touch 4G and I don't want an ipad. I also want to have WOL so I can turn my laptop on from my ipod touch (using remote desktop & magic packets) in bed and stream music through to my airport express, as 750 gig of music won't fit on an "i device."

I have been looking at the Toshiba nb550d as it has WOL and features the new impressive AMD Fusion chip. 

Unfortunately with netbooks, they only come with 1gig of ram, and by the time you upgrade the ram, HD and the version of windows, you might as well get a full functioning and more powerful laptop for a similar price.  The Sony Vaio YB has the more impressive ZacateAMD fusion, which gives it more grunt than the Atom dual core for CPU intensive tasks (kills it of course in graphics). The other bonus with Sony is that it comes with 2 gigs of ram and full windows.  So by the time you spec out the Toshiba it will not be much cheaper than the Sony which is a far better laptop!!!! Also the Toshy has poor battery life and I would like to have a MacBook Air type of battery length, so I can stream music at length whilst the netbook is in its laptop bag (that i havent taken out of!!).

The problem with the netbook market is that they are underpowered with Windows 7.  Windows 7 is best with at least 4 gigs of ram. 1 gig doesn't cut it and Windows 7 starter is crippled. Netbooks should come with 2 gigs of ram and I think with the coming Intel Atom "Cedar Trail" it will be on its way.

So at the moment netbooks are best to be avoided. I really wanted a cheap laptop for $250 & 2 gigs of ram with WOL and none at the price even have WOL. You have to start spending the price of a cheap 15" laptop which is far more powerful. I am considering a Macbook Air, might as well get a good performing laptop with a good screen and battery life.

The Magically magic netbook MBA or Mac Book Air


Australian Rules Football has a live football radio stream on its website  Unfortunately for IOS devices they have disabled their internet radio station so I can't listen to it with Tune-In.  As there is no Adobe  flash for IOS unless you jailbreak it, I have been unable to listen to live AFL radio. But I have discovered an app called Splash Top Remote that is completely awesome and only $1.19. It is the best Remote Desktop App going around for IOS.

It will stream whatever is on your laptop to your IOS device including sound.  I have even been able to watch my DVD collection from VLC streamed over it.  Now I can listen to live AFL without having to pay a fortune buying the IOS AFL app with a huge monthly prescription!!!!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Headphones Sennheiser HD 598

It seems like these days I have become a Sennheiser & Apple fanboy to a high degree :-)

I really have a liking to these headphones...HD 598

The Senn 5XX have always had a reputation of being bland and boring and my HD555 certainly have that look. But the tacky look of the HD598 really appeals to me ;-)

The Boring & Bland HD555

The posts I have been reading about the HD 598 are by in large very positive. But as I recently purchased a set of HD 650 I will not tempt myself to listen to the HD598. In fact as a result I have been listening to my HD 555 again and they are great value fones.  I have been enjoying the lightness and comfortability of the phones and the single cord. A great new feature of the 518/558/598 series is that you can replace the cord with something shorter for more portable listening. The HD650 are heavy & sacrifice some speed for that extra bass & detail.  I have heard the HD 598 have a great soundstage. Recently I have just been using a set of Yamaha YST M8 for my headphone amp and it is surprisingly quite good (although lacks bass of a dedicated headphone amp). So I am entering a new phase of thought on headphone amping.

Creative Zen m300 ipod nano copy

If you can't wait until September for the new ipod nano or have a feeling they won't introduce bluetooth with the next generation, there is the recently announced Creative Zen m300 coming in June that features bluetooth 2.1 EDR.

I have recently become a convert to bluetooth with the Sennheiser mm100 that I use with my iphone and my espow watch phone.  Bluetooth has finally come of age and with the popularity of podcasts such as Tiesto's club life and A State of Trance, the difference between bluetooth and cable is minimal, particularly in mobile contexts. I prefer the convenience of not having cables and I particularly enjoy the Sennheiser mm100 whilst riding my bike (this is the only neck bluetooth headphone I am aware of and therefore fits well with a bike helmet).  My watch phone has bluetooth, but unfortunately has dropouts which does not occur from my ipod touch/iphone.  The ipod touch or iphone is too large for bike riding and running and I am looking for something smaller hence an ipod nano with bluetooth.  I have been using nike + lately but maybe it is a gimmick as it is quite inaccurate, particularly if you change your speed of running, so that feature perhaps is not so important as being built in (like it is with the ipod touch).

The problem with the Zen is lack of use with my existing itunes library.  This is where Apple is quite smart by locking you into their ecosystem as I like to keep all my podcasts synced, as I listen to them across multiple devices.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Lack of Innovation

I am not the only one to say this but there appears to be a lack of innovation in the consumer IT industry at the moment. I am surprised there isn't a PS4 or XBOX 720 being released soon. The PS2 was released six years after the original Playstation and yet they are announcing a 10 year cycle for the next  generation. Where is the Sega Dreamcast when you need it!!! No-one is able to compete with Apple in the itunes, ipod & ipad space, yet these products could be improved upon.

There are too many me-toos companies, spending their time waiting for what apple does and then copying them. *note Samsung Lawsuit*

There are moves from Microsoft

but they are taking a long time.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Well I have been in & out of Helldesk jobs for the past few years and they have been tough.  It is not that I am incapable of the work, it has been the behaviour of the people in the workplace that has been the stumbling block.

I feel emotionally drained and exhausted.  Having recently come down with a MRSA I picked up working at schools I am now suffering a chronic illness.  It just seems that everything has gone wrong. No matter how positive I try to be it just seems I am going thru ever more difficult stages.

Just seems like my life is a whole lot of fits & starts that go nowhere.  All the things I ever wanted to do, I never got the chance to do. Everything just seems like a lot of random events that have no meaning or purpose. It is not like I have had a bad accident or cancer but just a whole lot of negative events happening silently in the background.

I have been reading motivational sites but they don't explain why accidents happen or chronic illnesses.  Also there are 3 million people a day that earn less than $2 so there a lot of people with bad luck. I guess our society only focuses on the winners, who remembers who came 3rd or 4th in the 100 metres?

It is a fine balance on blaming your circumstances or blaming yourself. My mind has been going through all the circumstances and they have been quite tough.  Not much room for error, and constantly at the mercy of those who really should not have any authority.

It makes me really understand that the current established society is no good.  There is no justice and the policies are increasingly atrocious.  As a result authors/personalities such as Alex Jones, David Icke, Zecharia Sitchin really have had my interest over the past few years; as there alternate versions of reality suit my predicament of a reality that has been sour at the behest of the merciless.

I guess that most people get caught up with their life & reality that they really don't think that it could be different or any better.  

One of the errors of our society is the pressure of growth.  Why is growth growth growth so important.  Too much growth causes overcrowding and a burden of work, it depletes its surroundings.  Balance is the key.

When you first look at a big city, the huge skyscrapers make an impression. But the deeper you look, the dome of pollution and the foul rivers of the city, gives you the true aspect of the death & destruction our modern societies cause.


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Disintegration Review (Audiophile & Musician's Perspective)

This was the first Cure album I bought at the time of its release in 1989.

It was a very successfully marketed product having an award winning film clip for Lullaby and The Cure also releasing  for the first time, separate introductory singles (Lullaby & Fascination St.) in the UK & US. The Cure here desperately trying to catch the US market. But it wasn't until Lovesong was released as the third single, that the Cure had their first & most successful US hit, reaching #2 in the billboard hot 100.

The Cure's marketing team worked into overdrive with this release, releasing a picture disc of the album, 2 Lullaby 12", many 7" & 12" of Pictures Of You with different covers and also releasing the Lovebox, featuring a tartan print and Lovesong 7" in a box (I used to own them all). This was right at the end of the Vinyl heyday!

I have not listened to Disintegration for a long time, in fact I didn't even own a digital copy as I had copies on tape & vinyl. After revisiting the album I have to say that this is The Cure's Magnum Opus. Even though I am a fan of their earliest work, there are some important key elements that make this album their best.

When I was a teenager I played electric bass, part of the attraction of the Cure for me was Michael Dempsey's Bass work on their first album Three Imaginary Boys released in 1979.  Matthew was renowned for playing bass solo's and part of the Cure's early charm was that the electric bass played an important melodic and atmospheric role. 10:15 Saturday night released in 1978 (the B side of their first single), highlights this the most from their debut Album.

The Cure at the Reading Rock Festival in 1979 where they played with bands such as The Police, & Motorhead.

A review of The Cure in 1978 at the Hope & Anchor
When Simon Gallup on Bass joined in 1980 (more of a punk rocker than funkster such as Dempsey), the importance of Electric Bass stayed. The Bass Guitar might have changed from a Guild B301 to a Fender Precision Bass (more of a fit with Robert's Fender Jaguar!!!), but the Bass Solo remained in the 1980 release 17 Seconds, featuring on the track At Night.

Simon's black Fender also featured in important melodic hooks such as the track Secrets. But it was the bassline for A Forest that stood out, which has since become a Cure trademark.

The Bass guitar was an important instrument for The Cure.  In fact the single Primary released in 1981 featured no guitars, with Rob Smith playing a black Fender Precision Bass as well as Simon Gallup. This can also be seen in their video on Countdown in Australia and Top of the Pops in the UK.

Why all of this talk with Electric Bass and early The Cure albums when reviewing Disintegration?

Because of this:

                                                          Fender Bass VI

Robert Smith playing his Fender Bass VI September 4th 1989

You first hear it @  1:28 during the first track Plainsong.

As taken from wikipedia:

"The Fender Bass VI, originally known as the Fender VI, is a six-string electric bass or Scale Baritone Guitar by Fender.

The Fender VI was released in 1961, and followed the concept of the Danelectro 6-string bass released in 1956, having six strings tuned E-E, an octavebelow the Spanish guitar. Its other ancestor was the Fender Jazzmaster, with which it shared many styling and technical details. Its body and electronics so closely matched those of the Fender Jaguar, released the following year, that in all but name the Fender VI was a precursor to that model.
It departed from the concept of the Fender Precision Bass not only in having six strings, but also in having a shorter scale and thinner strings."

Notice that Robert Smith used a Fender Jaguar and Simon Gallup used a Fender Precision Bass during the first albums of the band.

The Fender Bass VI is used to great effect in Disintegration.  As mentioned, the baritone guitar tone gives a melancholic spooky sound when used as a lead guitar, that helps enforce the atmosphere of the album. The Fender Bass VI is the icing on the cake that gives the album that famous "Cure Atmospheric & Melancholic Sound."

It just isn't the atmosphere and sound that is important but the vocals and lyrics. Robert Smith is at his best here, from the classic scary goth single Lullaby to the curious/dark side of human nature with Fascination St, the mellow meloncholic Homesick  or the ultra-emotional Prayers For Rain. I also suggest reading reviews elsewhere about this album (I particularly like Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic review who called it the "culmination of all the musical directions the Cure were pursuing over the course of the '80s." Other reviews will go into more general detail about the album, but my focus will be more from a musician & audiophile perspective.

Roger O'Donnell on keyboards adds an important dimension to the album that had been missing since the 1980 release Seventeen Seconds. Thankfully there he doesn't use Synths with digital sampling too much as the early digital sampling synths sound quite awful.

Instruments used on the album


Robert Smith :National Val Pro 88 guitar
Ovation Custom Legend 12-string acoustic guitar
Dubreuille R.Smith Signature model (US tour only)
Fender Bass VI (black, previously white)
Boss pedals 

Porl Thompson :
Gibson ES-175 Bigsby modified
Gibson ES-345 guitar
Coral sitar 

Simon Gallup :
Washburn semi-acoustic custom bass 
Musicman StingRay bass

Roger O'Donnell :

Roland JX-8P synth 
Korg M1 synth 
Fast Forward Designs MIDI Step pedals
Oberheim sample player

The intentional lo-fi nature of the mix gives the instant melancholy in your face feel.


Thunderbolt & Cable Clutter

I am not sure what the benefit of thunderbolt is if you need this:

Having a breakoutbox will still cause a bit of a mess, the ideal solution will be having thunderbolt ports on every device such as Monitor, Hard Drive, Dac etc. It has become ridiculous having three monitor standards such as HDMI, DVI and Display Port.

I am currently enjoying a bluetooth mouse, but no bluetooth keyboard as it was too expensive, anything with Bluetooth adds such a huge cost to a device.

I think having a really fast wifi for a hard drive would be better than using thunderbolt. Also if the iphone & ipod touch could sync over wifi, that would also reduce the cable clutter.

The Dev Dilemna

Things are hotting up in consumer IT.  Converging, diverging; it is all happening with tablets, HTPC's & smartphones driving the market.

Dev's have a wide plethora of software building to choose from:


Which platform should an upcoming Dev write for?

Recently I have worked for software development companies, one using ADOBE AIR and the other VB.NET. Both companies have been caught out with the Apple iPad and subsequently both companies have been unable to use their programs on that device.

Microsoft is rushing out to support the rapid growth of ARM based microprocessors as found in all iphones & ipads; with the up-coming Windows 8. Microsoft is also releasing IE 10 as fast as they can adding new web standards to compete with IOS and Google's Android/Chrome platform.

Will Microsoft provide the all in one solution??

Adobe Flash & Steve Jobs don't get along.  Their heated dispute (over the fact that Apple IOS doesn't support it) has been well known throughout the media over the past year or so.  Will Adobe be able to unify the web with Adobe Air?

There are many streams and pathways that an upcoming Dev can choose, but a Dev wants the ability to write software once, that will appear on a multitude of devices, with it being tailor-made for the device.

Josh Topolsky wrote on the 26th May 2010 for Engadget about the continuous client model.

A continuous client experience will also be important for consumers.  Apple Airplay is heading to this direction. But HP WEB OS is the only company making strides here, so that if for example you are watching a video on a device, you can move to another device and continue from there in a seamless way.

There are many streams a Dev can choose.  At the minute Apple is leading the way with IOS but has the "walled garden" approach.  Microsoft is lagging behind with its poor sales & adoption of Windows Mobile Phone 7 & Google Android is too fragmented. Adobe is also in an interesting position.

Web Development has been caught out with IOS, as the App store from Apple has taken away time from visiting Web sites, but will it make a return with HTML 5 and upcoming Web standards?

A Dev's Dilemna...

Monday, April 11, 2011


Whatever has happened to Techno-Utopia---

It hasn't come. Gridlock! Standstill!

I guess I have been wanting extra freedom and prosperity all my life, but it just hasn't come my way.  I know I am not alone here.

Our business leaders and government leaders have led us astray.  We live in an ever increasing violent, polluted & densely overpopulated urban mega-mega-lopolis. There has been no method to growth and as a result we are wasting our technological advancement.

If our leaders spent our energy wealth on exploring the heavens we might have resources elsewhere in the solar system.  Instead we are increasingly spending more time with violent conflicts & increasing poverty.

It makes you wonder if all the technological advancement has been worth it all.  Has it really improved life if it is causing more wars and poverty.

Stephen Hawking warned us in 2006

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Cloud

Nothing has caused as much hyperbole as "The Cloud".  But it is here. There isn't much to it.  All it means is that data-centers are storing information that you need, rather than on your own Personal Device (ie. PC).

In a way it is a return to the old Mainframe/Terminal days=DataCentre/Personal Device.

My fav cloud App is Tune-In on the iphone.  With this app I can listen to all the radio & internet stations around the world and record it if I want to. There is stuttering and the sound quality isn't as good as CD, but hey what a choice I have. Perhaps it truly isn't a cloud product but it is pretty close.


I have been a huge fan of Engadget.

I have followed all the leading tech sites from cnet, gizmodo, revision3, Twit; but nothing is as entertaining and informative as Engadget has been.

But it is not just their posts that has made me a fan, but the Engadget Show & Podcasts with Josh Topolsky, Nilay Patel & Future Paul.  The 3 really work well together, and they provide great humour and honest tech-journalism.  Josh's insight into the tech industry; really points the way, with the direction that the industry needs to go.

Every week I couldn't wait to download their podcast.

But don't listen to me, go ahead & download their TV show now.....

The three have left Engadget and their dispute with AOL has been much publicized over the internet.

I follow their new move to SB Media with interest and hope they will continue to podcast and broadcast their TV show in the same-way---

Read about it here:

Apple AV HDMI adapter

I had to get one.  Expensive at AU $40 but I have my needs.

Apple is simply the best consumer/digital company as far as music goes. I can now get digital audio out of my ipod touch 4g without needing to modify it.  Using the HDMI from my ipod touch I can send audio thru my digitech 4 PORT hdmi with digital coax/optical toslink. Admittedly this is an expensive solution to get digital audio out, but hey audiophiles have no qualms about getting the best audio they can. Still $120 for the HDMI converter and $40 for the adapter is more than an Apple TV, which could do the same thing, but the audiophile purist demands as little jitter as possible, and a wifi connection just simply doesn't cut it.

It is disappointing that the video doesnt work properly thru the adapter, when using the Digitech 4 port HDMI.   Apple doesn't support HDMI switchers/converters with the A/V adapter so I was a bit unhappy as my laptop and PS3 have no problem with the Digitech 4 port HDMI. The adapter does work plugging directly in to my monitor via DVI or the Samsung TV's I have tried.

I hope the next update can rectify this problem with HDMI switchers compatibility. For $40 Apple certainly is cashing in with the $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ for a product that can't be fully utilised. The adapter is quite bulky too, so will be interesting to see if Apple will have a mini hdmi connector in future. As good as Apple is with music it can do better or I will move to a competitor that does it better.

What I Want?

Lossless Audio & HD audio from the itunes store with cheaper than CD prices
Dual Wifi cards  (2.4ghz & 5ghz on the ipod/iphone (1 for internet and the other for streaming)
Adjustable video/audio sync like in VLC
ipod touch nano watch with GPS for jogging and cycling and bluetooth for my Sennhesier mm100

There are opportunities for the competition to better Apple but they keep on coming up with inferior products, which is frustrating as even though I own and am happy with plenty of Apple products, there is still plenty of room for improvement.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

the night sky

when I look out through the night sky, I see the freedom though the heavily polluted air.  I know there is life out there enjoying a better world...

Friday, April 1, 2011

another job doesn't work out

another job doesn't work out...

it has happened again...

I have had this occur to me once before, where I am working a people facing job, and even though I am successful with a majority of the people I serve and the job that I do, I have lost the job over a few petty complaints.  The complaints generally have been from grumpy older women (not all older women), and have been quite unfair.

In the whole scheme of things it seems pretty outrageous but then again life isn't fair.  I have tried my best to avoid working "people" jobs as you are always going to get some complaints. It is pretty hard to get on with 100% of the people you serve.

It is hard in these situations because there isn't really much you could have done differently.  You tried your best, went to work early did a great job and that wasn't enough.

I have to adapt and obviously must avoid situations where there are a majority of older women, which are jobs I have unfortunately been trapped in over the past year.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

ipad 2 review from the Apple Store Chadstone (From a predominant Pro Audio and audiophile perspective)

It has been available in the US for two weeks and Australia since Friday but that didn't stop the store being packed full of people. It was an interesting crowd at the apple store.  Certainly not like the stores of 5+ years ago which were only Apple resellers. I secretly recorded video from my spy camera on my watch phone.

The apple store was crowded with Harvey Norman and Fad types of people.  Some of the questions people were asking the Apple Guru's were some of the most basic & rudimentary questions, with customers grappling to understand the difference between the wifi models & 3G. I can certainly understand the stories that ipad owners dont know how to transfer their cd's onto their device and just buy them again through the apple store (at higher prices than the CD). The Apple store is certainly a money making machine.

The ipad has been a tremendous success story and has been reviewed highly, but I am one of the rare reviewers who does not certainly give it a high rating.  I believe that Apple is cashing in on its infamous "mindshare" to hype a product that is not really necessary. I think a lot of people will get disappointed with the walled garden feel of the device when wanting to do more with it.I feel that the ipad2 exploits "dummy" computer users and dumbs them down even more for $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$.

I will be purchasing the Apple AV adapter with HDMI for my ipod touch 4G which is very expensive for $45.  HDMI should come with the ipad2, who wants to carry bags of adapters for sd cards & HDMI adapters (and pay around $80 for adapters).

The only thing that interested me about the ipad2 was GarageBand.  This was hyped big time during the keynote presentation. Being a musician and producer I could imagine situations where you could use some musical artistic creativity with an ipad2.  Wearing my Sennheiser mm100 bluetooth headphones connected to my Espow watch phone  (my headphones have 2 bluetooth channels) , I decided to see what sort of latency I could get with drum kits on garageband. I was able to connect my headphones to the ipad2 after searching through around 40 discovered devices, but alas there was no sound coming out of them from garageband.  I guess garage band doesn't work with bluetooth headphones, which is a disappointment because not having cables gives a lot more freedom with the device. I guess I could use headphones with a cable but I get sick of having cables...

Disappointed I left the store and thought about what else I could use the device for.  I can't really use the device to record a band in garageband because their are no studio quality inputs for a mixer.  For only a little extra from the 64g device I could get a Macbook Air which could record a band with its firewire or usb inputs.  Hell I could even get a netbook for $400 that could record a band at studio quality.

Yes I like to sit outside at the beach or park and read, but you cant do that with an ipad.  Using the ipod touch today at the track to use the Nike software was a pain in the sunlight.  I would therefore purchase an ereader with e-ink for that activity.

Finally you could use the ipad 2 as an audiophile device with its digital HDMI output, but that is a hell of an expense. I can use an ipod touch for that and use homesharing to share my 400g music collection.  I can even purchase a logitech pure-fi speaker system and an ipod touch for cheaper than an ipad 2. Here I can transport these speakers (which sound fantastic) to any room in the house and listen to 400gigs of music through the base ipod touch 8Gig (really handy in the shower). The cost is $250 for an 8G ipod touch 4g and $130 for the speakers.

I am not going to watch video on an ipad2.  That is what TV's and monitors are for, plus it is too heavy to hold.  I cant use flash on the ipad2 (yes you can use sklylight but I dont want to open an app) so am pretty restricted with general web viewing.  For quick checks of email and casual surfing an ipod will suffice.

Finally i understand that ipod/iphone gamers are enticed by the ipad 2, for a new experience of gaming.  Once again I would rather use a PS3 or PC for this activity.  Buying a steering wheel controller is more fun than using an ipad2 for steering (where you have to rotate the screen!!!!!)

So all'n'all I give it a 6 out of 10.  For the money of an ipad 2, a pair of headphones and an headphone amp will give more entertainment, or a set of good speakers. You could even get an apple TV and a monitor to play video from your iphone or ipod touch.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Xanadu and Duran Duran Review

`Lately I have been interested in music from 1979,1980 & 1981.  I even recently saw Xanada the musical because I like the music so much from the movie (Awesome musical by the way it is still on in Australia so see it). ELO have some great albums during the late 1970s and early 80s, where analog synths are in their mightiest glory with analogue-chorusey-phasey-vocals!!!!!!!!

The music at Xanadu was awesome, they played chic and other early 80s music in the beginning before the show.  I spoke to a few ppl about the music, but no one seemed to understand!!!! Would have liked some analogue chorus & phase FX on the vocals during the performance for the ultimate early 80s experience. The aftershow 80s band was good but they only played the most commerical 80s songs so was a little disappointing.

********Videos Recorded with my watch phones spy camera**********

I don't like early 80s music because of the generation or history, I actually like it because the synths are non-digital & analogue, there are generally no drum machines or they are used sparsley, and the vocals are generally recorded in a few takes.  The music sounds live & fresh unlike todays music that is mostly samples, autotune & digital drum beats. Music styles moved quickly in the 80s and by the mid 80s, a synthesized, sampled drum machine sound became prominent and music became very commercial sounding and awful. Analogue synths were forgotten about as they were rare, expensive and got out of tune until they returned with the trance/techno movement in the 90s (heavy metal also abandoned the synth). I remember listening to Standing On A Beach by The Cure as a teenager and was really impressed with A Forest 1980, Primary 1981, Charlotte Sometimes 1981 compared with their later stuff on the album.  Little did I know at that time, the reason why I liked those tracks,was because of the analogue synths in a Forest (perhaps their most famous song) and analogue processing. It was The Walk in 1983 that produced The Cure's first big hit, by utlising the trendy drum machine sound at the time.  A controversial video for The Walk that was banned (Cos Robert Smith & Lol Tolhurst looked extremely gay --catching on to the Culture Club craze perhaps???) also helped.  From their they abandoned their synth sound and became poppy goth.

The New Romantic Sound & Film Clip of The Cure 1981 (wasn't a hit so they abandonded the style :-( and sacked the producer) Click below the first clip for the official vid as I couldnt post the youtube clip on my blog!

So i digress, now I continue with the most famous New Romantic Band

I purchased Duran Duran eponymous CD from JB Hifi online because it was only $8 and the quality is so much better than AAC on itunes.  I will probably trade it in for $2, so in the end it is much cheaper than itunes.  I wish itunes would have lossless copies and also be a little cheaper.  I only purchase from itunes if I am desperate and old stuff is hard to get on torrents to (only 1 or 2 people seed LOL)!!! I prefer albums to greatest hits. I have owned RIO 1982, Decade Greatest Hits and Seven and the Ragged Tiger 1983, so was glad to finally get their eponymous debut Album.

****¼ 1981: Duran Duranaudio
"Duran Duran's self-titled debut effectively established their slick, catchy synth-pop sound. Featuring the decadent 'Girls on Film' and 'Planet Earth,' the album set the pace for scores of new wave bands in the early '80s, which were subsequently dubbed the new romantics. "
-- Stephen Thomas Erlewine, AMG

I avoided getting the remaster as I read their were some problems with the original master tapes that affected the sound quality. Plus when you have a really good pair of headphones you want the full dynamic range, remasters can be compressed quite heavily.

The sound is very fresh & transient and sounds like anything from 2011. The first 2 tracks I have heard before on their greatest hits (Girls on Film & Planet Eath) but sound much better. It must have been recorded using better ADC than on their greatest hits album. Girls on Film is one of my all time fav songs so there isnt to much I can say but....

....the  funky disco-new wave bass guitar pumps through my Sennhiser HD650s (I believe it is a Japanese Aria Pro II SB1000), gotta luv the rhythmic drums which have an awesome early 80s phase effect during the tom-tom interludes, funky guitars jangle through and  has some artistic technicality. But then the awesome Analogue synth lines come through which are from a Roland JuPiTer 4 running through an analogue MXR phase unit

One of my fav things about DuranDuran are their music interludes, and Girls On Film doesn't disappoint, their Punchy music interludes are enticing and girls on Film has an excellent analogue synth & tom tom drums bit..

Anyone out there---One of my fav tracks by Duran Duran now!!!!Rocky, Punchy, New Romantic and gotta love the puniky guitars mixed with fresh drums & awesome analogue synths!!!! Wish they kept more of this style

Careless Memories--- I like this Chris Isaak style (even though it was before) with a punky edge and new romantic synth.  Very Cool, once again a style I wish they had kept.

To The Shore--- Opens with a flangey synth, gotta luv that, quite a slow song -nice tune, reminds me a bit of their B side on Make Your Own Way..
Very mellow, another aspect I like about early Duran Duran

Night Boat---Ambient awesomeness, another style I wish they kept as it experimental and has some interesting synths sounds. A lot of music is played which I like, cos they dont always have to sing all the time.  It also has a grungy sound which is 10 years ahead of its time.  Drums sound awesome and punch through.

Sound of Thunder---Very New Romantic 1980-1981 sound, with a strong analogue synth sound and positive upbeat tempo.

Friends Of Mine-- reminds me of Flowers and other New Wave Aussie acts of the 80s.  Very cool.

Tel Aviv--- A filler instrumental track and probably the only let down of the album, but I like the fact that it is experimental and not trying to be commercial.  It doesnt quite work for some reason, maybe it is the strings that just sounds odd, but I like the idea of this track, the interesting synths make up for it. Perhaps if it had an edge like the famous award winning Earth Wind & Fire instrumentals such as runnin' which won a Grammy Award for Best R&B Instrumental in 1978'n_All it would have been cool.

All up I love this album and give it 9.5/10. Simon Le Bon's vocals arent whiny on the album & this seemed to happen from 1983 on their slide down from Mega-Awesomeness with their 3rd album 7 and the ragged tiger!!!! If you had to own an album by Duran it would be tough to choose between this Album & Rio.  I would go for this album just because it is more experimental and has an exciting newness about it. I wish Duran Duran kept the same styles of their first two albums and pushed into Progressive Rock, instead of abandoning the analogue synth and going samply,drum machine and poppy.  When The Reflex came out with its sampling that was the start of the end of Duran Duran and they had abandoned their "live professional band feel."