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Entries in just about me (14)


rewind 2012:  music

rewind 2012 continues with what music was I listening to this year. Here's my top 10 most played songs of the year along with some general music commentary

1. Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You) - Kelly Clarkson

2. Home - Phillip Phillips

3. The Last Song I'll Write for You - David Cook

4. 3 Words - Elliot Yamin

5. Somebody That I Used To Know - Gotye

6. Dancing on the Ceiling - Lionel Richie with Rascal Flatts

7. What Makes You Beautiful - One Direction

8. The Vision of Love - Kris Allen

9. Blown Away - Carrie Underwood

10. Skyfall - Adele


I guess as I get older I listen to less and less new music, but for the purposes of this rewind I tried to focus on what type of music I was listening to that was new. I have to say that I was very surprised at the top 10. I listened to Kelly Clarkson's "Stronger" album a lot and I did get to see her live at the Hollywood Bowl this summer which was fun. She's a great singer and seems so genuine and I think that's why I'm drawn to her. She's also not bad to look at. I liked the album a lot and many songs on the album came close to the top 10 most played.

I think by looking at this top 10 I noticed it's very post American Idol stars heavy. I guess I tend to follow a few of them and since the show's been on for 10 years, it does figure since I get a lot of my new music from that show. I definitely watched a lot less this year, but I caught most of the last 3 episodes and that Phillip Phillips didn't super impress me. But his song "Home" really did. I don't know what it was about that song, but it really resonated with me. It made me buy the kid's album which came out in November and it's not bad.

At 3 and 4 is David Cook and Elliot Yamin. Both of these guys sound great and even better than they did on Idol. I really enjoy listening to their music and David Cook had my most played song last year with "The Last Goodbye". He just is fun to listen to. Elliot Yamin I'm surprised that I still stumble into his music. But a good soulful voice for a crazy teethed white guy.

Number 5 on my list is Gotye. This song just sounded cool and I just loved it every time it came on the radio and I finally bought it and just played it over and over. It has such a cool sound and I should really listen to the rest of his album, but I haven't so far.

As far as the rest of the top 10, Lionel Richie delivered an excellent album called "Tuskegee". It's an album of covers of his songs as duets with country artists. It was really enjoyable to listen to and I listened a lot. It just so happened that "Dancing on the Ceiling" brought back so many memories for me, that I kept playing it more than the rest. One Direction is my guilty pleasure. It's a boy band and so corny pop music. I bought it for my niece after hearing them perform on "Saturday Night Live" and I just think it's got a great hook. It didn't surprise me to learn that Simon Cowell engineered the band and they were finalists on UK X Factor. They will burn bright, but may fall fast. Boy bands usually do. Kris Allen's album was very enjoyable to listen to and "The Vision of Love" just got into a larger rotation in my playlists. Carrie Underwood is always good and her record this year was no exception. Adele's "Skyfall" managed to get into the Top 10 this year even though it didn't even get released until October. I really like this song a lot. It's classic James Bond style theme song and her voice sounds amazing on it. She's so talented. I also still played the hell out of her album "21" this past year.

Some other music that I bought and listened to this year included Atomic Tom, one of my most played songs last year, I bought the record in January. Jack and White featuring Brooke White from American Idol. She has such a Joni Mitchell kind of voice sounds cool. Nate Fowler who I found via Twitter and he was giving his songs away for free. Dude is talented and played some of his stuff a lot. Madonna's "MDNA" album came out. It was decent, but she's starting to get older and still trying to perform like she's 20. I'd like to see her do something classier and do a Vegas act or something. Partnering with Nicki Minaj (who's nuts by the way), doesn't make you relevant. One of the most fun songs last year was "Moves Like Jagger" by Maroon 5 and that album isn't too bad. Their new record "Overexposed" featuring "Payphone" was more of the same. Otherwise, this year I listened to a lot of Fun. We Are Young was right up there in one of the most overplayed songs of the year, but it grew on me. Not enough to buy the whole album, but worth listening to on Spotify. How great is stuff like Spotify and Pandora? So good to listen to music on the go and discover some new stuff. I have to say that music is everywhere these days. I also discovered a few bands' music through "Saturday Night Live". I listened to Frank Ocean and Passion Pit after seeing them perform on the show. I also discovered a few new bands on iTunes including Safety Suit. It helps when they have albums for $6.99. I like to encourage that price point and I also bought music on Amazon a few times this year, especially when they sold them for under $5. I really dug a few albums as a whole too. Babel by Mumford & Sons is a really solid album and I tend to listen to that one as a whole. I also really like El Camino Real by Black Keys. Some killer songs on that one. And I really liked Pink's new record. I kind of got back into her last year with "Raise A Glass".

I spent a good part of the year listening to old favorites like Richard Marx, Survivor, Madonna, Top Gun & Footloose soundtracks. Saw Madonna perform on the Super Bowl. I was shocked to find out that Whitney Houston passed away and listened to her music a lot. As well as, discovering some Michael Jackson music again this year. I even watched the Bad 25 documentary by Spike Lee on Thanksgiving night on ABC. Speaking of old favorites, did you know that Heart made a new record this year? Called "Red Velvet Car". It's very good. Duncan Sheik also made a whole album of 80's covers. Interesting. Richard Marx brought out a fine Christmas album this year too. I also went to a few concerts. I mentioned Kelly Clarkson, but also listened to classical & movie music at the Hollywood Bowl. Went to see John Williams do movie music in concert including a big section of E.T. complete with clips from the movie. And an enjoyable night under the stars listening to Pixar Movie Music in concert with scenes from movies. The opening sequence to "UP", made me tear up.

The last cool thing I did this year that was music related was go to the Grammy Museum in downtown LA. I really thought that was cool and I'm planning on going back again and again to see more exhibits and hopefully some concerts. It's a really cool space with lots of interactive exhibits and just a nice venue.

I'm sure there's lots of other cool music that I missed talking about. There was also a lot of really popular music that I thought was OK, but just didn't float my boat. Starships by Nicki Minaj, Call Me Maybe by Carly Rae Jepsen, Gangham Style by Psy or anything by Taylor Swift. Not bad, just not my favorite.  Well, Psy, was pretty bad.  There was also Ellie Goulding Lights, We Found Love Rihanna, Flo Rida, Neon Trees, Bruno Mars, The Wanted, the list could go on for days. Ok, well that's it for my talking about music for this year. I'm not sure what new music 2013 will bring just yet, but I know I'm sure I'll listen to some of it. It's just one of the things I do.


2013 begins and rewind 2012

Happy New Year!  2013 is here.   I'm going to try to update this blog a bit more this year.  I thought I would take a few days to look back at what was going on during 2012 in order to get the year started right with lots of updates.   I really am going to try to update more often and try to do some writing, even if it's only blog posts.  Anything that is more than just status updates on twitter and facebook.

I've got lots to write about and they will be rolling out over the next several days.  I've got a look back at movies, tv, music, apps & technology and the final edition about general news and things I did personally.   Check those out and enjoy!  Happy New Year everyone!



new blog design

I played around today with my blogger design. Using the new "design" tab within blogger. It's surprisingly great. I really like the new look and it wasn't difficult to use. Some great template designs that don't require any knowledge of html, css, etc. I guess it helps, but I literally didn't use anything except the tool. I used to customize my blog html/css code, but I don't think I'm going to bother for awhile. Anyway, if you haven't used it, you should check it out. Just log into Blogger and click on the Design tab. OK, I'm going to post some stuff today.


Converting Audio Cassette Tapes

I have been spending time converting some old audio cassettes these last few months. It takes a long time, but I’m discovering some old music that I didn’t even know I had. Some of it, I can’t believe I ever bought. My basic reasoning is that I’ve spent a lot of money on music in my lifetime and a lot of that was on audio cassette. Just like ditching some of my old CD’s after digitizing into iTunes, I decided it was time to dig into the cassette box and start doing the same thing. I don’t even have a cassette player in my apartment, but I do have one in my car still. I have decided to keep a little more than a dozen. Big albums from my youth that I felt like keeping. Like Van Halen’s 1984. I have that on CD now, but I wanted the cassette. That was the first cassette I bought with my own money and I bought it the same day with Motley Crue’s Shout At The Devil. Man, I remember playing them on my stereo and walkman and being extremely excited that day. Anyway, I decided to keep a few of them. I’m thinking putting them in a box or something to display. Like , look kiddies, grandpa used to listen to these and didn’t have an iPod growing up. That kind of thing.

Anyway, the process is kind of time consuming, but fun. The recordings into iTunes could be better, but they work. I mean these are songs that I don’t feel like purchasing in iTunes, but would like the option of keeping the music in my library of tunes.

I’m using CD Spin Doctor, which is a Roxio product. I’ve got my parent’s old stereo cassette deck which they weren’t using. I hooked that up to my trusty iMac and recording into CD Spin Doctor through the line in port on the Mac. Then after importing into CD Spin Doctor, I can adjust the track lengths and add track names. I add some De-Hisser to get rid of most of the cassette tape hiss and pops. After that, I can easily send it to iTunes and encode it as AAC files. Brilliant! I find the quality acceptable. It doesn’t sound as good as an iTunes download or a CD rip, but it’s acceptable. I did try a few experiments and for 2 or 3 recordings I adjusted the stereo configuration and added filters in Final Cut Express, but ultimately, it didn’t sound that great either. 

In the end, I’m just happy to listen to some of this music which I haven’t heard in ages and some of it isn’t available in iTunes. Like Mike + the Mechanics Living Years record. A bonus, is recycling these tapes at my recycling center and getting rid of some clutter. Always nice to do that. 

I’m off to do some more. Next up is MC Hammer’s classic Please Hammer Don’t Hurt ‘Em.


i love you apple - but what should I do?

I really would like a new computer. I am the proud owner of a G5 Power PC iMac and I have absolutely loved it over the last several years. I bought it in 2004 pre-iSight integration. It’s been great. But the machine is getting older. It’s having issues. I had the repair from Apple a few years ago that fixed the constant automatic power downs. In the last few days though, I’ve noticed it again - not constant, just every now and again when I’m not using the computer - it’s just sleeping, and fear after reading some posts online that the same issue is starting to resurface. It’s also a lot slower than it used to be and can’t take advantage of some of the new software that is out there for the Intel based Macs. I’m using all this as a good excuse to start looking at a new computer. I considered it last year, but I felt I couldn’t really afford it. Now I believe that I just need to invest in it. I’ve definitely gotten my money’s worth out of this one, but Apple has lots of new toys to choose from nowadays and what to do? I love Apple products and I guess I’m a fanboy now. I gave my parents my old G3 iMac a few years ago and that baby is still ticking. I bought that one in 2000. My first new computer. As you can see, I won’t consider any other type of computer. I'm not buying a PC or a scrawny little netbook at this point.

But do I go iMac again?? Those nice shiny 27 inch iMacs look amazing! I would love one. I keep asking myself, do I need the power of that quad core iMac or is a stock model good enough for me? I always like more power. Not sure if I really use it. I do like working on graphics and video, but haven’t in awhile. Is it because my G5 iMac not working well and it takes way too long, or is just me not taking the time to do it? Ugh! Decisions.

I’ve also found myself using computers on the go a lot more. My work computer is exclusively a laptop (PC though - Ugh!) and I want to consider a laptop as my primary machine at home, but not sure if I’ll miss the desktop experience. Not sure what that even is but will I miss a larger screen? Something tells me if I plunk down some serious coin for a nice shiny new Macbook Pro, I don’t think I’d spend money right away on a nice external Apple Cinema Display. Ooooh, that would be nice though.

Plus, now that Apple has the shiny new iPad out there, maybe that could serve as my inexpensive portable computer? I mean I really want one of those babies, but do I really want a laptop and an iPad? I know that my overlord of technology that I love is Steve Jobs and he says that this is a new device category that I need, but I’m trying to think of why I’d lug around an iPad and a laptop on a vacation or just on an airplane. I was impressed with the iPad presentation and think it would fit in well with my life and my line of iPods and iPhone. I do a lot with my iPhone that I never thought I would so maybe the iPad would satisfy that laptop experience?? Plus, it looks all cool and Star Trek like.

Once I get the new computer I’m going to upgrade my Airport too. I feel a new computer deserves a newer wireless router too. Maybe not right away, but maybe soon. Or maybe right away. Man, it’s not like i have a few thousand sitting around, but I do really want this stuff. I guess I don’t buy new computer equipment or computers often enough. Maybe I'm just a gadget freak and haven't gotten enough new gadgets to play with. The glow of the iPhone 3GS only lasts so long.

I’m really perplexed. Any suggestions? I know in my heart that I can’t get an iMac, an iPad and a Macbook Pro, so don’t even offer that as a suggestion. I’ve definitely considered it (I crunched some numbers) and that’s too much money for me at this time to even think about spending. How about suggestions for re-purposing my G5 iMac. Should I strip it down and use it for something else? Or is it time to donate it to some organization that is more interested in fixing these power supply and hardware concerns? Computers feel like big purchases to me and they always make me nervous. But I always love it when I get them.

My parents could really use a new computer too. That G3 iMac is managing a ton of iPods and some other portable media devices that aren’t as good. They need something new to Skype or iChat with too. I think laptop is the way to go for them. I’m just trying to decide if I get them a standard Macbook or a Macbook Pro. I mean, when I’m back home I will use it, so it might as well be something I like too. I’ve also thought about not spending as much money on them and getting them a simple netbook PC computer. GASP! I know, but I wouldn’t be using it as much. But I like the Mac idea since they are already using iTunes on a Mac and an upgrade of that process would be nice for my nieces too. My sister got an iPod shuffle for Christmas and the thing wouldn’t even mount on the G3. But don’t get me wrong, it’s a fantastic machine still. Just slow at stuff and really showing its age. 10 years for a $1,000 computer though is really good I think.

OK, thanks for reading, if you have any suggestions, please email or leave me a comment on the blog. I will continue torturing myself with ideas until I just break down and buy something. Maybe wait for the next product cycle though......we’ll see.