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Firebrand

This is a pretty old tune that I originally sang. The first recording was done in the late 1980s / early 1990s on a Fostex 4-track tape with a Yamaha mini keys keyboard, an Ibanez digital delay and a couple of foot pedals. Despite the limited tech, the end result was pretty good. (I might transfer it from tape and post it some day for interests sake).

This time around I didn’t feel like singing so just did the main melody with a synth line. And I gave it a sorta i Robot update. Digital age…

But still, I left in retro “Disco Toms” and California-style lead guitar. So it’s a bit of old and new.

All the VSTi plugins are freeware. Some were slightly modified with other paid-for VSTs that come with Reaper, which itself is a very modestly priced DAW (digital audio workstation).

Photo (cropped): www.flickr.com/photos/ihearaviolin/8103585130/


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Sign of the Cross – Sign of the times?

Originally published in 2007 at Earthpages before we migrated to WordPress

The other night Turner Classic Movies ran a wonderful 1930’s production called The Sign of the Cross. Basically it’s about early Christians being hunted down and persecuted in the Roman empire. Toward the end, the film gives a dramatic portrayal of the power of faith as imprisoned Christians face the prospect of being eaten alive by wild beasts at the Colosseum (which really happened), with an especially inspired performance by Elissa Landi.

After the close of the movie, the critics at TCM said absolutely nothing about the power of faith but zeroed in on the importance of a woman’s breasts being partially shown in a milk bath and how a lusty gay scene was mostly edited out some years later once Hollywood prohibitions kicked in. Interesting stuff, but really quite tangential to the main message…


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A little ingenuity goes a long way

IMG_0622-fixA few years ago I purchased a really nice, small USB keyboard for 10 dollars at one of those downtown liquidator outlets. Either I got a lemon or was outright suckered, I’m not sure. But much to my dismay, when I got home and eagerly tried it out, the CTRL key was dead. I tried everything. I pressed it repeatedly. I pressed it hard. I pressed it soft.  I even took the back cover off the keyboard to see if there was anything I could clean. But it was all too tight and mysterious for my limited expertise.

For bloggers and writers, the CTRL key is key, as it were. I use it all the time for quickly bouncing thru words one by one, as I imagine most writers do. So I was miffed, and felt cheated. I’d seen other people returning stuff at this place and didn’t feel like going thru the usual runaround. Also, even if they gave me another keyboard, it would probably be flawed too if the place was a clearing house for defective stuff (which I was starting to suspect it might be).

So after getting some limited use I packed it up in the basement. But today I thought, why not just remap the keyboard? There must be a way.

Turns out there are several ways. I chose this cool little program because it was free, light, and didn’t require installing anything else along with it.

http://www.majorgeeks.com/files/details/keytweak.html (KeyTweak 2.3).

I found it very easy to use with a practically self-explanatory user interface.

So if by chance your laptop keyboard or some other keyboard is not working on a particular key, maybe try this. You can see the dead key in my photo. I remapped that to the key that my pen is pointing to, a key I never used. But you can remap to almost any key.

Works great!


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Finally got my Flickr back!

Image via Flickr

When we changed ISPs we lost an email address that was associated with Flickr. And it seemed there was no way to get back in. Many other people had a similar issue. There’s a four page forum (plus or minus) at Yahoo/Flickr about how to get back in. And it seemed that many weren’t having much luck. But, as the old saying goes, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. If nobody had mentioned the issue, nothing might have happened. Luckily, I got an email from Yahoo/Flickr today that made it easy to get back in. Thank you!

I’m celebrating the return of my Flickr account with a pic I took the other day.


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Thanks Microsoft, for sending me to computer camp!

Cortana in her original form in Halo: Combat E...

Cortana in her original form in Halo: Combat Evolved (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last week I thought I’d try out Windows 10 before the free offer expired. I’d actually tried it out months ago, so probably was already digitally entitled. But just to make sure, I did it again before the free offer expired.

My initial impression?

I liked it. I enjoyed the funky blue/black color scheme. I had fun playing around with MS News, Edge and asking Cortana to look things up as I blogged.

The whole experience made me feel more “connected” and current.

I also liked the clean install from an ISO, which means no bloatware whatsoever. Win 10 leaves about 450 gb of my supposedly 500 gb (really 466 gb) hard drive free after installation, and that included a recovery partition. Whereas Win 7 only leaves about 393 gb free on the hard drive, including recovery.

Okay, so all good, right?

Well, no.

The only fly in the ointment, and it was a nasty fly, was the fact that Win 10 and my Broadcom WiFi adapter were not a good fit. It worked, but intermittently. And yes, I tried every suggested fix on the web. I even did MS support, which didn’t help—not directly, anyhow.

So giving up, I decided to go back to Win 7. But oh! My computer was now telling me that I could not go back.

Ouch.

English: dvd burner operating with cover removed

dvd burner operating with cover removed (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is when MS inadvertently sent me to computer camp. Looking back, it was a good experience. But really, why did the MS scan say my computer was compatible when it was not?

I fiddled with this thing for a week. And I’m not saying it wasn’t fun nor enjoyable. But it was also a bit stressful. Had I not time to fiddle with it, I probably would have been forced to buy a new computer.

Am I ticked off? Not really. As I say, it was a good challenge. But I’m clever with these things when I have to be. And not everyone is.

My solution involved learning about partitions, volume labels, and related software; also, making an ISO image of a System Repair CD. To create the ISO I used an older version of Image Burn, a freeware program that now uses Open Candy (not so great). But using the older version, I avoided the Open Candy.

From the ISO I made a bootable USB using a really nifty and free program called Rufus.  I also made a system image backup to my external HD, using the native Win 7 tool. So I never have to restore Win 7 OEM with DVDs again (keep my fingers crossed!).

Anyhow, I got it all together. Everything works fine now.

I learned a lot. I had fun. But I think MS should have been more honest in the first place.

Win 10 and my computer are NOT compatible. Even though MS said they were.

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Playing around with Windows 10 – Artificial Intelligence, Cortana

Cortana has a sense of humor… Image via Tumblr


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Windows 10 free upgrade ending soon! – July 29 2016

win10aI tried Windows 10 when it was first available and didn’t like it for several reasons:

  • Windows Defender seemed mandatory
  • not as many options to control Windows Update behavior
  • used more RAM than Windows 7
  • seemed like a lot of ads that I didn’t want

But I am a sucker for free things so am installing it now before the free offer expires on July 29. I can always go back to Windows 7 if I want to. But I doubt I will. I have an old machine running Windows XP and fully realize what a hassle it is when software updates are discontinued.  January 14, 2020 in the case of Windows 7.

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