The future of piracy? 27Feb13 | 1

How deeply does the government bother tracking “illegal” web traffic, a modern day Saint Peter?  Who bothers paying money to operate an anonymizing webmail service?  If you can track the comings and goings of bitcoin payments by using this data trail to focus resources, you wouldn’t need to literally scour every last inch of traffic.  Identify the interesting bits, flag for collection.   Unless there is so much processing power available it’s irrelevant and you can scrape every last literal bit…

Corporations craft legislation that is a very strange combination of horribly fucking invasive and very broad.  Showing that they’re basically an extortion arm of the government.  In effect…if given the ability to craft their own weaponry.

Pay for all content, regardless of literally anything.  Doesn’t even matter if you actually own the content.  If you don’t toe the line, the government has the ability to trace through pretty much any attempt at obfuscation.  How long until the NSA and MPAA drop any pretenses and openly join forces?  Like the various armament corporations did with our permanent standing army, and the resulting “Endless War”.

Sigh…

Ten Cent Days – Ten Dollar Album 01Jul12 | 0

Ten Cent Days recently released their first offering, a record titled Ten Dollar Album.  Having followed the evolution of the majority of the music on this album by venturing forth to various local venues over the past year or two in order to regularly to enjoy the obvious potential of this album’s creative director, Caleb Banas, I thought I was in a reasonable position to take a stab at a decent review of the album after the band recently requested this through various social media websites.  After spending a bit of time contemplating the matter at hand and making many revisions while attempting to put to the written word exactly how music that makes me feel and think makes me feel and think, I came away with a new appreciation of just how difficult of a task it is to stay concise, clear, and meaningful…hats off to lyricists everywhere!  Oh, brevity truly is the soul of wit…now, to mediate between the band and you, constant reader…with shorter, tighter, and more concise verbiage…

What is a Ten Cent Days, you may wonder?  Ten Cent Days is self described as a ‘flea market’ of musicians who each have an ‘eclectic style with a dirty old-timey twist’ and interestingly Victorian-era inspired garb…they are also percussion, various stringed instruments, melodica, bass, various guitars, and a lot of singing!  They are typically of an acoustic mindset, although a small handful of heavier numbers incorporate a little fuzz into the mix.  Haunting, dark, desolate, complex, beautiful, joyous…Ten Cent Days are all of these things and more.  Unfortunately I have no personal experience with other bands that may provide a frame of reference for you to easily hook into, so I must do with this incomplete description: while the basic melody of the acoustic folk music is fundamentally straightforward, the complex layering of instrumentation and vocal harmonies creates a rather unique sum that only rarely delves into any kind of conventional rock or pop sensibility.

Ten Dollar Album opens with a rather dark number titled “October”, and closes with a rather dark number titled “Country Folk Death Song”, somber and slightly irreverent, respectively.  In between, songs internally swing from downtempo dirges describing utter dejection that seamlessly transition to uptempo and remarkably beautiful rejections of suffering.  The transmutation is a joy to behold, and it is a process that repeats within many of the songs.  This is certainly not homogeneous and commoditized modern pop or rock!

Across the album, the songs are nearly universally a cathartic release of the lyricist’s personal turmoil.  As with all great art, there is more than enough room internally for the music, the tone, and meaning to be instantly relatable.  This is no simple task considering how intensely personal the moments are that have been condensed and distilled.  Combining the relatable lyrics and tone with the band’s deft interplay of melody and harmony quickly hooks the listener, allowing one to listen past discomfort until they’re faced with the bare and honest truth of the recorded experience.

Only got a minute, and need an instantly accessible song?  Try Only in Theory.  Appetite whetted and want something more complex to sink your teeth into?  Try Black Marbles.  Ready for a deep and beautiful musical foray that explores what it means to be human?  Put on your listening ears along with the best pair of headphones you can track down, and try Flowers for Rick.

I’d highly recommend Ten Dollar Album to anyone whose taste for music runs deeper than the Top 40.  This may not the most immediately enjoyable record that you will come across this year as it is quite often very dark and intensely personal…but after allowing the album a place to live and grow in your heart, you will find the songs are timeless and that you’ll soon be coming back for repeated listenings.

This listener is personally quite interested in what the future holds for Ten Cent Days!

Find Ten Cent Days…

On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tencentdays

On ReverbNation: http://www.reverbnation.com/tencentdays

Stream and buy Ten Dollar Album on BandCamp:  http://tencentdays.bandcamp.com/

Asus Eee PC X101CH minireview 01Jun12 | 0

I originally wrote this up for Newegg, figured I might as well put it here as well where I can post a few reference links…

Pros:

  • Extremely inexpensive.
  • Very thin and light.
  • Matte LCD with matte white bezel around LCD.
  • Appears to be quite sturdily built.
Cons:
  • Upgrade issues: fixed 1GB memory (unacceptable), unreasonably difficult HDD access (borderline unacceptable), non-standard height 7mm drive (becoming more common with newer drives / SSDs)
  • The keyboard usability is a bit lacking, especially when comparing the X101CH side by side with the 1001P. The feel of the key-presses does not inspire confidence while typing at a brisk pace, whereas the 1001P is relativity decent for a netbook/laptop.

If this had simple access panels on the bottom for the memory and HDD, this would be the single best computing value out there. After adding a modern SDD and a 2GB stick to my eeePC 1001P, it is an amazingly capable every day computer. Hooked to a full-sized mouse, keyboard, and monitor, and it is entirely possible to forget you’re using a netbook.

The eeePC X101CH, however, will never be more than a very limited machine. This is a true shame considering the amazingly compact form factor, build quality, and fanless design.

My eeePC X101CH was purchased (and is now operating) as a file/print server. I wanted something fanless that could run 24/7 without breaking the bank. It also has the positive of having a built in keyboard, monitor, and touchpad…quite unlike the Atom-based nettops that (ridiculously) usually run for a bit more. It fulfills this role admirably, but wouldn’t recommend it for much else.

I’d give it 4/5 with the caveat that it has a very specific niche that it fills very well: fanless, 24/7 operation of a very lightweight task.  Compared against my Eee PC 1001P however, it pales a bit: I’m very much able to use the 1001P as an every-day, general purpose desktop with the addition of a second gig of memory, the SSD, a keyboard, monitor, and mouse.  I can barely tell it apart from a regular desktop…except for the fact that I know it’s only pulling about 15 watts of power, a tenth of the draw of a typical desktop and a serious consideration for me given that we have 6 computers.  Some running 24/7, some only used during business hours.  We’re talking about an electric bill of perhaps $10 per month instead of $40.  Pennies add up quickly.

The guts of each netbook:

http://liliputing.com/2010/02/asus-eee-pc-1001p-dissected.html

http://liliputing.com/2012/03/asus-eee-pc-x101ch-netbook-teardown.html

$75 worth of upgrades that make the 1001P an entirely new beast:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820227510

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820148162

~~~

Update 12/16:  This eeePC X101CH netbook failed one month after the 12-month warranty expired.  I replaced it with a fan-cooled Dell Ubuntu Netbook that survived about 7 months through 2016 until it was hit by lightning through the Ethernet port.

The 1001P lasted until 12/15, where it seems either the motherboard killed the power supply, or the power supply killed the motherboard, and then killed itself.   Replaced with an absolutely amazing but lightly flawed Dell Latitude E7450 (extremely intermittent problems ‘detecting’ the smaller tablet battery).

To: Time. From: Time. 06May12 | 0

We are each a little speck of animated universe: chemistry and physics, matter and energy, set in motion across time. We’re dimly self-aware for brief moments from time to time. Usually we’re busy reveling in our animal madness. We (the angels in the hearts of men, so to speak) can see a better way to be, but are continually led astray by our fallible animal nature. As an aside, if five billion people take baby steps towards being better people…catch my drift?  …back to the point at hand:

 

The notion of humans “having souls” is cute. Yes, let us imagine ourselves lifting away from our base animal nature: that is absolutely a noble goal for us to fix in our imaginations. “To be a human” means something new, certainly not an animal,  how horrifying and improper. At least, perhaps our undoing.

We are a thin green scum living in a warm and shallow pool on some random planet in a fairly young universe. Yes, being dimly self-aware does occasionally mean we catch a glimpse that we are fundamentally interconnected with the rest of the universe (consisting seemingly entirely of time, space, matter, and energy) in a way that we recognize as true, but can only crudely recreate to approximate reality for others to share as information: not yet having the correct terminology nor much knowledge means we cannot form proper opinions to entirely share of our collective situation. Give us five hundred years…if we manage to avoid devolving into mindless viruses, consuming and brutalizing everything we can crudely grasp onto.

We’re animals. We’re terribly smart for animals, very clever. We have a reasonable (but not exceptional) memory.  Memory has been established. We’ve evolved an innate ability to use “language”: a very unique tool considering how flexible and adaptable our bodies and minds are. We have started forming permanent memories and have founded civilizations (as far as it is currently known, this seems to have started in the fertile crescent): we started history, the reliable passing on of knowledge in a very fixed and intentional fashion. Those are physical things we’ve done as animals.

Now, we also have a desire to understand the world (and by extension, the known universe (matter and energy interacting via the rules of physics and chemistry through time)) around us. We have quite the vivid imagination. Clever little things. We are constantly trying to make sense of things way beyond our existing knowledge, outside our ken, beyond our ability to quantify and place into easily recongizable labled boxes. We create stories to make sense of the complex and imbue these stories with belief: I believe this to be true (in reality, what we believe to be true is nearly universally a mental shortcut, a tidly labeled box: an approximation, regardless of our belief, based upon our incomplete information). Our desire to understand has historically led to religion. Lately it has been expressed via the scientific method.

At various points in history, our imagination/belief and the desire to understand reality intersects in a uniquely (for us human beings) self-aware fashion. People feel a desire to improve our shared human condition. Let us build a roof over the area where we sleep. Let us build a shed to store extra grain so that we may have bread through the winter. Let us codify laws that allow complex society to interact smoothly. Let us consider ourselves and be self-aware: the historical buddha immediately springs to my mind. I suppose for people who feel interconnected with the story of Jesus, his teachings would a familiar intersection. To continue that “higher nature” to it’s natural conclusion, I would posit that humanity can imagine their own future into being.  Yes, that’s a powerful responsibilty.  Sometimes they do this intentionally. Sometimes a group of individuals work together to push through their own vision. Sometimes unstable situations collapse into chaos when pushed wildly in many directions.  Sometimes, we listen quitely to ourselves and find the thread.   The moment.   Truth.  An approximation, as we’re woefully incomplete at this early date…

Only partially related, and to repeat myself: In my mind, it seems the human desire to have a soul is a crude approximation of a desire to be a permanent component in the universe (which of course we are barely prepared for). We’re afraid of dying, afraid of being the temporary little things that we are. Buddha said all things change, and letting go of our grasping allows us to experience reality without profound suffering. Jesus said that we should be better people and foster a noble vision of love into our hearts in a deeply profound way (and we’d be rewarded with eternal life in heaven (at least, that was what was passed on, who knows what he actually believed)). I suppose there have been others in the meantime who said we should be better people in various fashions and to various degrees…what does it mean to listen?

Therefore my lesson is to listen.  Clarity, kindness, confidence.  Each day, more aware and slightly better than the past.  What a terrible responsibly.  What a heavy burden to bear.  I want to say this is sarcasm, and yet I cannot pull it off myself.   Yet, eh?

To quote poorly: “Never forget: just believe in yourself.  Not in the you that I believe in, not in the me that you believe in, have faith in the you…that believes in you!”      …a crude approximation.

Memory has been established.   A new way of being.   Incomplete, but recognized.  Baby steps, children.