Tech

At the electronics mecca that is CES, it’s easy to get caught up in all the big ideas–things like Ultra HD, connected cars and natural input–that aim to transform the world. But sometimes, the neatest gadgets can be found on the fringes of the show floor, where the goal is simply to make life a little easier.

Here are a few of my favorite small-scale, clever ideas from CES 2013:

Wi-Fi-Connected Light Bulbs (pictured above)

Greenwave Reality has gotten rid off all the electrical work required to remotely control your house’s lighting, and instead just stuck Wi-Fi chips in its light bulbs. That allows users to turn lights on or off–either by room or individual bulb–through a free smartphone and tablet app, or with an included remote control. Users can also set lighting profiles, such as “Work” or “Away,” and program daily lighting routines.

The up-front price is a…

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Henry Ford once wrote “Don’t find fault, find a remedy”. Applied to ourselves, it might be stated as; Stop being pessimistic and be more optimistic! But how exactly does one go about being more optimistic when you’re lying in bed at 3:30 in the morning assaulted by the problems you face? Telling yourself that “I’m going to be more optimistic” about such and such a situation just doesn’t seem to work at times like these. The old “power of positive thought” is a pep talk that no longer carries weight and was little use to me. So if I can’t talk myself into being positive without my mind drifting back into problems what was I (and possibly you) to do?

Stop talking negatively to ourselves. What is needed is an interruption to the flow of negative thoughts that run through our mind without restraint. However, to do this we must first be aware that they (our thoughts) are negative in the first place. Price Pritchett, author of “Hard Optimism: How to succeed in a world where positive wins” states “probably 70 percent of your negative thoughts slip past without your consciously perceiving them as being negative”. So recognizing negative thinking when it occurs becomes the first exercise that we need in place. And the earlier the better as Pritchett states, “It’s far easier to protect against negativity in its early stages than to overcome it successfully later on”. This was originally an “a-ha” moment to my thinking, “I’ll catch my mind talking myself down and out and that will be that”, mistakenly thinking that now that it was something I was “aware” of, that would be the end of it. Not so, I soon discovered that negative conversations that I had stopped came back to life minutes, sometimes seconds later! This was and is, definitely going to be more work that I had originally thought.

All bad habits take work to get rid of, and this was going to be no different. The seed had been planted though, and I began regularly catching myself in a negative dialogue and ceasing it when it began popping up. In effect I was replacing a ‘bad habit’ with a good one. This effort must be relentlessly carried out if we’re to allow room for constructive thinking. And this is just the beginning in dealing with a problem that can hold us back from a more creative, happier life. Put this first step into practice and you’ll find that the body responds as well. No longer tensed up over difficult situations or people, it is more relaxed and unworried, avoiding the effects of stress and giving our mind the opportunity to entertain solutions to our problems. To start your path to a more optimistic life I recommend ” Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life” by Martin E. P. Seligman. You can also enter the following phrase in your favorite search engine; recognizing negative thought patterns.

Now is the time to put an end to that “negative Nellie” haunting your thoughts. You spend more time talking to yourself than anyone else, so stop beating yourself up with pessimistic thoughts and make room for optimism in your life.

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Top 5 Myths About The Music Business

Top 5 Myths About The Music Business
By Isaac O Hughley

If you are involved in the entertainment business then you’ve probably heard a few tall tales. The following is a list of some of the top myths about the music business.

1. People in the music business will help you out of the kindness of their hearts.

Facts:

The music business is called the music business for a reason. It is a business that just so happens to sell music. Businesses are in business to make money. They are not in business to make ART, however they will sell it. You may find a handful of good Samaritans willing to help for free but generally speaking if helping does not benefit the other party, they won’t help.

“People (not counting loved ones) will help you if they think your art will make them money. They will not help you if they think your art will not make them money.” -David Naggar, Esq. from� The Music Business Explained In Plain English-

2. Since the economic decline people aren’t buying music anymore

Facts:

People are buying music, but they aren’t buying it in the same way they used to. Sales of CDs may be down but the sale of single tracks is up! If you are still an unbeliever just check iTunes sales records. Reportedly, Apple has sold 10 billion and counting!

3. Music superstars have and are making tons of money.

This is one of the biggest myths in the entertainment business. When you see a Sean Kingston or Lady Gaga on television you may think that they are living the good life, but really the amount of money he/she brings home is really dependent on the terms of their contractual obligations as well as their money management skills. Simply put, if you spend more than you make you are bound to go broke sooner or later.

Need examples:

MC Hammer

Marvin Gaye

Michael Jackson

Willie Nelson

Toni Braxton

Billy Joel

George Clinton

Isaac Hayes

Jerry Lee Lewis

Ron Isley

Need anymore? The list goes on.

The fact of the matter is that all of these artists have seen the highs and lows of the music business. Micheal Jackson, the “King of Pop”, even had his money woes. No “superstar” is exempt. Good money management skills are needed in order to maintain a “superstar” lifestyle.

4. You can become an overnight celebrity in the music business.

This is one of the most common myths about the music business. People believe that you can sign a record deal and then all of sudden you are magically on magazine covers and receiving Grammy awards. All of this talk is nonsense. At the end of the day it takes a decent amount of leg work, dedication, passion, perseverance, and strong networking relationships to achieve “success” in the music business. NO ONE HAS BECOME SUCCESSFUL OVERNIGHT however, some people have achieved their goals faster than others. Artists such as Wiz Khalifa, Kanye West, and Eminem spent years building their reputation and brands to become the people they are today. This is why working smarter and not harder is essential in the music business.

5. Talent Trumps Work Ethic

In today’s music business, talent still counts but work ethic counts for more. An extraordinarily talented person with average work ethic will generally not do as well as someone with extraordinary work ethic and average talent.

A strong work ethic, more often than not, means that you can be consistent which is of the utmost importance in the music business.

Why?

One word. Marketing. Being able to consistently deliver high quality to the consumer is paramount.� This is where work ethic trumps talent. A person that is able to consistently deliver a satisfactory product to the consumer is, in the words of Charlie Sheen, WINNING! Because of our increasingly shortened attention spans, having someone or something consistently in our faces helps in branding the product, service, or person. Ultimately, this results in people getting paid!

http://www.almostfreebeats.com

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Today my daughter “shared” a video on Facebook of a talented young lady by the name of “Lindsey Stirling”. Lindsey has come across the idea of combining “dubstep” with her style of violin playing. I became amazed at her ability to contort her body into all manner of form while playing during her video of “Crystallize”. Young ladies prancing around the stage while playing violin are nothing new, think “Celtic Women Tours”, but Ms Stirling seems to do it with new charm. Perhaps it’s her innocent demeanor and facial expressions that carry you away on her musical journey.

A quick jump over to “YouTube” yielded a whole slew of Lindsey videos and music to enjoy! I eventually found one of her on “America’s got Talent”, where she received both “kudos” and harsh criticism, which she seemed to easily handle. This is one artist to watch as she delivers a wholesome, enjoyable experience. I wish I could be there with my daughter to see her when she takes the stage in Arizona.

I highly recommend the trip over to http://lindseystirlingviolin.mybigcommerce.com/ to pick up her album. And no, I don’t get an affiliate cut on this one!

© 2012 Lindsey Stirling

This past week I had accompanied my girlfriend to her annual convention of Maine Counties. Well, actually my band was hired to play after one of the dinners but I was there helping (a little) and enjoying the final days of summer. It was all pretty tiring but we made it to Friday, which was the free “Lobster Dinner” we were promised. Since it was at a park along Boothbay Harbor I brought the camera that I had remembered to pack. I had been thinking lately of doing some new creative work and I wanted to make a point of owning as many of the pictures that I use as possible ( avoid paying for someone Else’s work). So down to the waterfront I went with my old Sony 4mega pixel camera (one that I had bought five years ago to shoot images for eBay sales).
I must say that there was a wealth of imagery to shoot. The Sun was darting in and out of light cloud cover and it presented a good amount of light and shadow. I’m interested in the idea of repeating a image over and over in a piece of work (something I learned in my old design class), so I sought out some rock and sand formations. Along the way I spotted some nice shots so I snapped a couple.
The real fun came though when I started playing with the after effects in Picasa 3, Google’s free image software. I hope you enjoy these. Oh, and if you’re wondering what this has to do with playing drums, remember that I said my band did play one of the nights. I’ll talk about that in another post!

Boat launch at Boothbay, Maine

Focusrite USB audio boxRecently, I decided I’d give another look at USB audio interfaces. My first attempt at using a computer to record audio (3 years back) didn’t go so well. I had installed a low-end audio card in the computer I owned only to encounter the dreaded “latency” issue. I have to admit to being impatient at the time though. I just wanted to get going recording stuff and instead I had to deal with the technical issues of having a slow computer and the learning curve of the technology in general. It proved to be frustrating so I bought a Zoom Digital 4-track and was quite happy…for a time.
Since then, I’ve been in a computer science program and thought, ha! I’m ready to take this on again! So this past Christmas I bought a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 USB box. Not without a lot fretting about which box to get though. Most of the units in the $99 to $199 price range were getting pretty terrible consumer reviews and I was unsure if my HP Pavilion dv6 could handle the processor load.
I had received a $50 coupon from “Guitar Center” for recent feedback I’d given them in regards to the timing of their sales, plus, the Scarlett 2i2 was on sale for $149.99. That meant I could get this puppy for only $100! I whipped my PayPal card out faster than a sixteenth stroke roll and soon after had it in my possession. Setting up the box was a snap. The included software disc and USB cable saved me from having to make a trip to the local Best Buy for an overpriced printer cable (You need one with a USB-B connector on one end). I did have a scare when I realized there were no midi inputs for my Yamaha DJX keyboard but the included software had no trouble “seeing” it plugged into one of my USB ports on the laptop.
Speaking of the software, I have been thoroughly thrilled with the included Ableton Live Lite 8 software. I’m quite able to express myself with this user friendly platform, even if I am limited on the number of tracks. Plus, the world of Ableton users have been opened up to me, allowing me to experiment in completely new ways. Frankly, the software included is almost worth the price and I haven’t even gotten around to trying the Focusrite programs that accompanied the product.
This is a great purchase for those setting up their first computer interface. A quality product (built into a study metal box) all around.