Ubuntu 6.06 LTS is released, I possibly have no life


Considering it is 2:40am, I’m sitting in a Freenode chatroom (#Ubuntu) with over 1000 other geeks, and until just a few moments ago was eagerly anticipating the scheduled release of the next version of Ubuntu.

Not only did I feel the Internet noticeably slow (okay that’s hyperbole), I’m watching before my very eyes a real-time Internet. The release was announced on the lists, which was then copied to #Ubuntu, and then I saw a digg, DistroWatch, and Slashdot article appear. I’m still waiting for the BoingBoing article, and I’m waiting to see who will update the Wikipedia entry.

Life is a roller coaster

Whoever first made that analogy was dead on. The musical aspects of my life certainly have cycles, but now I’m beginning to see that those cycles are even part of much larger peaks and valleys. Let’s take a look at the history. When I graduated high school and started college, I was:

  • Leading worship in 9am (a rock/worship band)
  • Leading worship at a church (Sandario Baptist)
  • Playing keyboard at another church (Mission View AG)
  • Singing in two choirs at Pima CC
  • Writing/recording for Stand Alone

Somewhere along the line, 9am fizzled out, but I picked up a gig as the lead guitarist in the Priority Band at First Southern Baptist. Several changes and a year later, I was:

  • Playing guitar for the Priority Band
  • Playing guitar for the BSU
  • Leading worship at Refuge Center concerts

And that eventually was reduced to just the Priority Band. Sure, Stand Alone was still writing here and there, but it has never really picked up momentum. So, for several years now, I have been simply:

  • Playing guitar for the Priority Band

Of course, as many of you know, I recently switched careers to audio engineering. That made it impossible for me to play on Sundays for Priority Band. Very depressing, but I have been lucky enough to continue playing with Priority for several worship gigs. And now, every coaster goes up after going down. In only a matter of weeks, I am now:

  • Playing guitar for the Priority Band (just not on Sundays)
  • Filling in and playing guitar for the Pantano Christian worship band
  • Writing/recording and leading Stand Alone (in the works)
  • Leading worship in 9am (in the works)
  • Playing guitar for Holding Ground (another worship band)

See? Told you! It would make a beautiful graph.

Alright, so now that I’ve prefaced it, here’s the real purpose of this post. I have a vision and a proposal. Imagine a one-night worship concert experience. Imagine hours of music and prayer. Imagine 3 bands and 3 worship leaders. This could be the most influential and powerful night of worship that Tucson has experienced! They don’t know it yet, but I’m going to ask the Priority Band, 9am (my old buddies), and Holding Ground to sit down and collaborate an agenda. The worship leaders: Lyle Thompson, Philip Cain, and Sean Stone. Man, this could be awesome! Right now, the most obvious place to host it seems like Pantano Christian Church. I’ll provide more information as it develops.

Ala Consumerism

“Are you spoiled?

Go through the list. Tick everything you have or have done. If you can tick 40 or more, you’re spoiled. ”

(x) your own cell phone
() a television in your bedroom
(x) an iPod
(x) a photo printer
(x) your own phone line
() TiVo or a generic digital video recorder
(x) high-speed internet access (i.e., not dialup)
() a surround sound system in bedroom
() DVD player in bedroom
() at least a hundred DVDs
(x) a childfree bathroom (no kids!)
(x) your own in-house office
() a pool
() a guest house
() a game room
(x) a queen-size bed
() a stocked bar
(x) a working dishwasher
(x) an icemaker
(x) a working washer and dryer
() more than 20 pairs of shoes
() at least ten things from a designer store
() expensive sunglasses
() framed original art (not lithographs or prints)
() Egyptian cotton sheets or towels
(x) a multi-speed bike
() a gym membership
() large exercise equipment at home
() your own set of golf clubs
() a pool table
() a tennis court
() local access to a lake, large pond, or the sea
() your own pair of skis
() enough camping gear for a weekend trip in an isolated area
() a boat
() a jet ski
() a neighborhood committee membership
() a beach house or a vacation house/cabin
() wealthy family members
(x) two or more family cars
(x) a walk-in closet or pantry
(x) a yard
() a hammock
() a personal trainer
(x) good credit
() expensive jewelry
() a designer bag that required being on a waiting list to get
() at least $100 cash in your possession right now
(x) more than two credit cards bearing your name (not counting gas cards or debit cards)
() a stock portfolio
() a passport
() a horse
() a trust fund (either for you or created by you)
() private medical insurance
() a college degree, and no outstanding student loans

Do you:
() shop for non-needed items for yourself (like clothes, jewelry, electronics) at least once a week
() do your regular grocery shopping at high-end or specialty stores
() pay someone else to clean your house, do dishes, or launder your clothes (not counting dry-cleaning)
() go on weekend mini-vacations
() send dinners back with every flaw
() wear perfume or cologne (not body spray)
() regularly get your hair styled or nails done in a salon
() have a job but don’t need the money OR
() stay at home with little financial sacrifice
() pay someone else to cook your meals
() pay someone else to watch your children or walk your dogs
() regularly pay someone else to drive you
() expect a gift after you fight with your partner

Are you:
() an only child
() married/partnered to a wealthy person
() baffled/surprised when you don’t get your way

Have you:
() been on a cruise
(x) traveled out of the country
() met a celebrity
() been to the Caribbean
() been to Europe
() been to Hong Kong
() been to Hawaii
() been to New York
() eaten at the space needle in Seattle
() been to the Mall of America
() been on the Eiffel tower in Paris
() been on the Statue of Liberty in New York
() moved more than three times because you wanted to
() dined with local political figures
() been to both the Atlantic coast and the Pacific coast

Did you:
() go to another country for your honeymoon
() hire a professional photographer for your wedding or party
() take riding or swimming lessons as a child
(x) attend private school
() have a Sweet 16 birthday party thrown for you

It seems I scored a 19.  Not bad. I would’ve thought it higher, but preferred it lower.

A Perfect Computing World

I have a dream. In this dream, all our digital content is stored securely online in public data farms. Higher-education institutions have teamed together with goverments and the world’s largest corporations to create an infinite amount of storage space on the Web. Every person with access to the Internet also has access to this StorageWeb. Data is secured via biometric (palm and retina) scanners. Biometric scan data is permanently encrypted.

Data and media are not only stored online, but created, viewed and manipulated online. With the exception of processor-intensive high-end applications (gaming, multimedia production, etc.), everything is done in a web browser. Several corporations have offerings; some free, and some commercial. But one thing is constant: digital file formats.

Digital file formats have been standardized by Open Standards groups, supported by governments, civil liberties groups, and higher-education institutions. Federal regulation requires that software developers, online services and device manufacturers strictly adhere to these standards. This has created a world where users don’t even think in “formats,” they think in “types.” You have music, not mp3, WMA, or AAC. You have videos, not avi, mpg or mov. You have documents, not Word docs, ODF, WPS, or PDF.

Many early open standards have survived to become official Standards. PDF (Portable Document Format) was opened and became the Print Document Standard. ODF (Open Document Format) became the Digital Document Standard. XHTML, of course, remained as the Web Document Standard. MPEG Layer-3 music files were forced open, the patents absolved, and it became the Digital Music Standard. Quicktime and the H.264 codec became the Digital Video Standard (think – all your cameras and camcorders now only record to the Digital Video Standard).

When creating and working with data online (such as a document), your work is saved every 10 seconds and backed up in realtime. Lost files are extinct. As the Web makes this easy, you can collaborate with colleagues or friends in editing documents or other media, in realtime.

My brain is exploding at the possibilities. Projects like Oxygen become so much easier. It may actually make the world a better place. The only reason you would need a full-fledged PC is to play games or make complex media (pro music, video, imaging). You can always play on an XBox and mix your videos with a non-linear hardware video mixer. Or buy a Mac, which reminds me, Apple would continue as always through any major industry shakeup. They would just have to follow standards. Yay!

Personal Update

Fun/interesting things I’ve found around the web just recently:
(Yes, this is entirely for the purpose of padding my tech/nerd karma – see below for the actual post)

EPIC 2015 – A Flash animation depicting a future dystopia where Google and Amazon combine, putting traditional media out of business.

TechCrunch – A technology blog that tracks Web 2.0 sites and products. Sometimes I hate it for the hype, and other times I love it for the coolness. It is where I found the next two links.

Pandora – A musical jukebox/radio that plays music you like, and learns your interests. Similar to Amazon technology, it stores your info in a cookie-accessed profile. Tell it you love Coldplay, it will play some X&Y and then suggest Marti Jones or Cowboy Junkies. Cowboy Junkies aren’t cutting it? You can tell it that, and it continues to learn accordingly. The best interactive radio technology I’ve seen. Period.

CalendarHub – Social calendaring. Tough to really describe, but I can make public calendars, or share my personal calendar with friends and family. As an example, when I login, I’m shown my dates and events, as well as Jenny’s dates and events, as well events from the Refuge Center public calendar. (I’m really only using this until Google buys it or makes their own, for pete’s sake! But keep the hush hush on that; don’t wanna jinx it).

Worth1000 – A Photoshop contest site where every day a new contest is hosted for photoshopping an image based on themes. Some pictures are simply amazing, and where I thought I was good, I now realize I’m mediocre when it comes to compositing skills.

Actual Post
(I got you interested with those links, eh?)

I haven’t found time to post recently. Too much transition, not enough man-to-PC time. But the good news is Jenny and I have bought our first house and we’re finally moved in. The WiFi and a high-speed connection are up, and I’m good to go.

I haven’t spent more than 5 minutes in Kubuntu or Linux for about 5 months now. Why? I started getting very frustrated with an ever-crashing amaroK, and I was tired of waiting for someone to streamline Firefox into the KDE environment (if I said it once, I’ll say it a thousand times, I don’t like Konqueror). So I’ve been daddling in Windows, and now I’m just waiting until I can afford a MacBook Pro. I have a theory that the main reason I was so interested in Linux is that as a Windows administrator, I was fixing Windows problems every day. As a regular Windows user now (keep your IT needs at least 10 ft away please), I can enjoy the benefits of being as smart a Windows user as possible. My WiFi network is locked down tight. My two Windows machines are as locked down as possible for Windows machines (which isn’t much). I can’t imagine what life was like before Firefox (and Gmail, Bloglines, WordPress, Slashdot and Engadget for that matter), and I’m pretty much not using any Microsoft software save for the OS and the Office suite. Oh yeah, that’s another thing. OpenOffice 2 is a horrifying joke. OpenOffice 1 was at least stable, but ancient software doesn’t get you very far. The new KOffice 3.5 looks promising, especially (and only) if it incorporates some sort of page paradigm rather than their standard frame paradigm.

Maybe I should move to Ubuntu (Gnome) to make Linux fun again? Oh yes, and the other reason I had to stay in my Windows partition is Reason. No worky in Linux. Me wait MacBook afford come purchase go boom.

The other (other) reason I’ve curbed my computer use is that my passion-energy, previously devoted solely to Kubuntu, has been transferred to professional audio engineering. This occured by natural forces uncontrollable by myself or others. The only key to saving me as a Linux convert is to get me to a Linux that requires as little troubleshooting as my Windows installation (I say MY Windows installation, because other than the virus I gave myself, it stays relatively healthy, compared to and considering other Windows installations). Not to say that a Linux installation won’t stay healthy, but it won’t stay stable with me at the helm, since I’m unsatisfied with minor quirks and I generally tend to try to fix them (amaroK compile from SVN, anyone?). Professional audio engineering has become the new release of my thought-power, and I spend many hours learning, researching, and thinking through the various audio engineer processes. Being on a church staff has also introduced a new variable that was quite different from the public school. As an audio engineer on church staff, I find myself being involved in ministries and teams I never would have considered otherwise. A time to stretch and learn, I suppose. In all likelyhood, it is a Good Thing(TM) to have all this actual reality social interaction, versus my usual virtual reality (forum/blog/email) social interaction.

I will always have a preferred posting forum, and it usually never lasts more than a year. I’ve gone from LinuxQuestions to Computing.net to NotebookForums to NarniaWeb to UbuntuForums, and now I can be found lurking and posting at ProSoundWeb. I will occasionally, but rarely, visit my previous forum homes, but we live in an Internet-age rapid-moving society, and frankly, I get bored with an overall subject matter eventually. Narniaweb.com was the most fun because I got to share artistic talent instead of technical knowledge.

The Mile Wide Road Conspiracy

(this is a long post, so brainless zombies should skip to the pictures at the end)

Some years back, I heard a rumor from my buddies that there was an old shady road at the west end of Speedway. It was described to me as a dirt road (which Speedway turns into), where one travels for a few miles, and then approaches a one-lane bridge. One-lane as in one-way. If it’s blocked, then you’re stuck. Traveling down the road a bit more brings you to a second one-lane bridge. I wouldn’t want to be the guy stuck between those two bridges, should they both be blocked. There is a sign at the very end of Mile Wide Road (the dirt highway), past both bridges, which reads “No Trespassing: Government Property. Keep Out.”

I am about to reveal to you top secret information. Just kidding, actually I have no idea what I’m talking about, I just love a good conspiracy theory, and anytime I find a good local Tucson version, I jump on the chance to investigate. Here are the stories I heard, as well as my own investigation into the matter.

First. My buddies had gone out there a few times before, but here is what occured the last time. While driving on Kinney, the continuation of Speedway and the fastest way to Mile Wide, they spotted a black unmarked Suburban. It was clearly following. This was well before they hit that first bridge, so they decided to keep driving. However, once they hit Mile Wide Road and passed over the bridge, the lights of the Suburban in the rear view mirror vanished. Creepy, but they continued. As they began to approach the second bridge, a pair of headlights clicked on in front of them. The shape and brightness of these lights convinced them that it was a similar Surburban, though they couldn’t see color or markings. This vehicle was clearly sitting on the bridge, so the path was blocked, and they couldn’t go any further. This was a bit disturbing, so they did a quick 3-point turn and high-tailed it back east. I forgot to mention that on either side of this dirt road was a deep ditch, deep enough that a car couldn’t veer off into the desert if it needed. Likely, that was a safety feature of this rural highway, protecting free-range cattle from traffic. As they headed east and passed over the first bridge, they half-expected to see the first Suburban. But the only lights they saw were the stars and the wash from their own headlights. Was it a coincidence, a narrow escape, or the government trying to protect something?

(For the record, it is common knowledge that Federal law enforcement officials frequently travel in black unmarked Suburbans).

Second. We soon realized that Mile Wide Road was almost exactly half way between Ryan Airfield, a military training facility turned State-owned airport, and Avra Valley Airport, owned and operated by the town of Marana. Actually, I believe it is officially referred to as the “Marana Regional Aiport” these days. So this shady bit of rural desert with black unmarked Suburbans was in non-trivial proximity to two active airfields. It was during this time of high speculation that we discussed the numerous sightings of UFOs reported from the Gate’s Pass area, as well as rumors of pyramids and secret underground facilities which could be host to any number of government military operations. It is well known that many Air Force bases have extensive underground facilities.

I decided I needed to see for myself, so I convinced them to make one more trip (okay, more like they convinced me to quit freaking and just agree to come with). On this trip, we encountered no black unmarked Suburbans, and travelled safely to the sign. Of course, we did this with our headlights off. Take no chances, eh? There was indeed a sign, and it made clear that you better not pass the gate, and that government property was on the other side. We took a poll and passed the gate. Have you ever experienced a moment of pure fear? Adrenaline surges through your body, and you can feel every one of your veins with each heartbeat. I especially feel a strong pulsing in the neck. It was pitch black; of course we chose a night with no moon. You can see millions of stars out there, especially with no moon. There was a road that continued on the other side, so we walked, but not very far. We spotted yet another sign, but this one was much larger and on the side of the road. Flashlights burning, we read the words “Ironwood Hills National Forest”

Oh. How boring. So at least now we know what the acres and acres of government land was far west of Tucson. But we still never figured out explanations for the Surburbans or the one-lane bridges.

Google has helped me in my continuing search for truth. Google Earth contains amazing satellite imagery which only a few years ago was the exclusive privilege of fortunate billionaires, government technicians, and fictional Hollywood characters. With it, I was able to get a bigger picture of our mysterious Mile Wide Road and the “Ironwood Hills National Forest.” In the tour, I feature the two airfields so you can get a feel for their proximity, and then take you from Gate’s Pass on to the sign. From the sign, we travel up the road to the furthest known structure I could find with Google, the Cocoraque Ranch. Supposedly it is a guest ranch (ever seen “Hey, Dude!” and you get the idea). From Cocoraque there are three interesting items to view in the desert forest of Ironwood Hills. One is a small set of buildings to the south. I can’t distinguish any vehicles or clues as to the purpose of such a remote building. Then, perhaps because of a bit of luck, I spotted a plane out there! The image is fuzzy, so you can’t tell if the plane is flying or grounded. You can see what seems to be the heat signature of the plane misaligned with the actual image of the plane. An interesting effect. The final destination is another set of buildings, this one a bit larger than the first. What are these buildings doing in the middle of nowhere, and why does it appear that an airplane was headed directly for them? See for yourself with my virtual tour of the “Mile Wide Road Conspiracy.” You can download Google Earth and then:


Map Overview
(an overview of the tour)

An airplane?
(clearly an airplane of some kind)

Jenny’s Got a Gun Blog

Sorry, no more Aerosmith references, I promise.

Jenny hooked herself up to xanga (without my help I might add) and has officially joined the blogosphere. Why she didn’t just post here, I’m not sure of. I’d pick self-hosted WordPress over Xanga any day. I guess that defines the difference between Geek and Not-Geek.

Jenny’s Blog

And the winner is… PODxt Live!

PODxt Live Modeling Pedalboard

So here’s what I just spent $$$ on:

  • 36 amp models (vintage & modern, Fenders, Marshalls, Vox, etc.)
  • 24 cabinet models with 4 mic models
  • 80+ stompbox and studio effects, including everything from my DL-4 Delay Modeler (we’re talking distortion pedals, fuzz, chorus, synth, flangers, phasers, compressors, reverbs, and stuff I can’t even describe)
  • Built-in tuner
  • Built-in expression pedal, plus a jack for a second expression pedal
  • Way too many options and combinations. If you do the math, you’ll find that there isn’t enough time in a person’s life to play with every single possible combination of models in the PODxt. That’s a little depressing.

Already I’ve configured custom presets for my Yamaha AEX500, including a schweet sounding acoustic patch using the piezo pickup. I’ve also slowly begun the work of finding distortions that fit my tastes using the Gibson Les Paul. I made a couple patches based on the guitar sounds from Polaris by Jimmy Eat World, and that wasn’t too hard. It was pretty cool actually.

I’m just glad I don’t have a Variax Guitar (yet), otherwise I would be having to set a guitar model for each preset, and not just gate, compression, stompbox model, delay model, modulation model, amp model, cab model, mic model, EQ model and reverb model. If I did eventually get a Variax, I could choose a preset on the PODxt Live, and I could suddenly be playing a ’72 Fender Tele through a ’58 tweed Fender Bassman (which was a combo with a 4×10 cab), mic’d up with an off-axis Shure 57, and on the floor would be a Boss CE-1 Chorus Ensemble pedal, a Big Muff Pi, and a Deluxe Memory Man delay pedal. The very next second, I could be using a ’52 Gibson Les Paul through a ’66 Marshall JTM-45 (you know, before the Marshall scroll logo), a ’67 Marshall 4×12 Basketweave cab mic’d up with a Neumann U-67, and on the floor would be a ProCo Rat, a Vox Wah pedal, and a Uni-Vibe.

Even without the guitar model change, that’s just sick. Speaking of, I’m gonna go play with that Rat.

PODful Birthday

My birthday is coming up in a couple weeks, and I’m now having a decision nightmare. Here’s a little background first: the only mp3 player I own is a 512MB iPod Shuffle, and I haven’t bought any guitar gear in almost 4 years!

I can’t decide what I want for my birthday. I really want one of those new 60GB iPods (with video). But, I recently discovered a piece of guitar gear that could potentially retire all of my current pedals, and would prevent me from having to upgrade my horrid practice amp, a 50w solidstate Fender Princeton Chorus. This amazing device is the Line 6 PODxt Live. It models amps, it models the same delays as my DL-4 Delay Modeler, it models cabinets, it models synth and phasing and reverb. It would even retire my tuner and volume pedal.

So – I need help deciding. The funny thing is that I’m deciding between two totally unrelated “pods.”

The Contendors:

Apple iPodhttp://www.apple.com/ipod/ipod.html

– I could carry around my 6GB+ of music, instead of only 100 songs with the shuffle
– I could download movies and watch them on the go
– I could bring my entire CD collection on road trips
– I could bring Jenny’s entire photo collection on road trips
– I really feel the need for a portable audio player that has all of my music readily available
– It would help with my career as a recording engineer
– I would be the coolest guy for about 2 weeks

– It is very expensive for an mp3 player
– I will never have 60GB of music
– I will struggle with not wanting to upgrade it to the next generation iPod, so it could be very expensive


Line 6 PODxt Livehttp://line6.com/podxtlive/

– One pedalboard, instead of separate delay, distortion, volume and tuner pedals
– I could easily bring excellent effects along for any practice, not just important gigs
– It would work with my Peavey Ultra rig, but also my Fender Princeton combo
– I could plug it directly into a system and not even use an amp
– I could record directly into the computer, via a USB connection
– It would give me the opportunity to bring out my other axes (Yamaha AEX500, Godin SDXT) so I wouldn’t feel bad about owning useless, but expensive guitars
– It is a fair price for a floorboard version of the PODxt, and a fair price for a modeling pedal with that many options
– It would help with my career as a musician
– I would be the coolest guitar player for a while

– Although I love my Line 6 DL-4 Delay Modeler, I’m a bit wary of using modeled distortions and amps. In many cases, there’s nothing quite like the real thing.
– I might end up using it only for the effects, and not the amp modeling
– Line 6 is a great brandname in the prosumer world, but I prefer to have authentic pro gear (although I do understand that many pro recording artists like John Mayer’s guitarist use Line 6 gear). I might be tempted to put tape over the POD logo. Silly me.
– The sounds would no doubt be great, but will they be usable on each of different setups (live, practice, direct for recording, headphones for personal practice)? The POD is supposed to accomadate and adjust tone for those types of differences, but I would actually need to hear it.

Well, I’ve not made up my mind. You may think I being materialistic, but keep in mind that both gadgets have features that would help my career, as well as help me serve God. (Although I don’t think I’ll go as far as to say that I bought an iPod to serve God – I would be able to say that about the PODxt Live). PLEASE HELP!

New Job and New Chapter in Life

I’ve been hired as the assistant audio engineer at Pantano Christian Church, one of Tucson’s semi-mega-churches. There will be good times ahead. Currently, I’m responsible for running the monitor console, as well as front-of-house when I’m needed. I have a lot of goals for the future of the sound ministry at PCC, and this is one church that will move and jump on changes and improvements.

One major goal I have is to get professional recording equipment installed at the monitor console. Audio recording is my lot in life. And with professional recordings (as in, a MOTU 24i/o system hooked into a PowerMac Dual G5), PCC will be able to distribute videos with much better sound quality, and they will also be able to offer CDs for a nominal fee.

“Sounds” like fun!