October 28, 2016
The latest news, not from Australia
The latest news is not from Australia, though things are going great here and Spring is finally springing, but rather from Appleton, Wisconsin in the USA.
My son Christopher is a professional musician and I'm very proud of him, and a big fan. He was named Wisconsin Singer-Songwriter of the year last year and he's a hardworking guy who is out there every weekend and a lot of week nights, while still being a great husband and father. Yes, I am very proud. Christopher and his wife Tori have done such a great job of raising a bright, fun, thoughtful young man and now my grandson Oliver is starting to get up on stage himself. Here is a video of Christopher and Oliver together in the studio.
If you want to sing along yourself, here's a version with the lyrics. I had not thought about it until this morning, but this could be a good anthem for entrepreneurs.
Finally, because I can't get enough of watching my boy playing, here is a video from his latest album release party at the Rock Garden Studio with his band The New Old Things.
Christopher does a lot of benefit concerts, and his big Toy Drive is coming up soon. He's also helping to raise money for musicforautism.org and you can support them by buying the audio track from the Roll On video above at http://christophergold.bandcamp.com/track/roll-on-feat-oliver-gold. For more about Christopher Gold, check him out at www.christophergold.com where you'll find links to more videos, tracks and his blog.
Not to leave her out, but my daughter Amanda is doing great too. More on her another time . . .
November 01, 2014
Getting back to the blog
In a couple of days I'm going to have a lot to talk about here on my blog and elsewhere, so I want to make sure it's still working.
To test it out, check out this video that you have to see for the technology, as well as the catchy music. This video by OK Go shows off the Honda UNI-CUB which looks like a unicycle version of a Segway and it was filmed in one take using a specially designed quad copter.
May 20, 2009
Jim Collins and Steve Martin arrive today
What an interesting day! The new book from Jim Collins arrived today and in the same box was Steve Martin's new Banjo CD. I got in a chapter or two at lunch and I expect I'll finish it tonight. "How the Mighty Fall and Why Some Companies Never Give In" is available now and looks really interesting. It seems to be trying to answer the question, "What happened to the companies mentioned in Built to Last and Good to Great that have fallen from greatness? Where did they go wrong, and what lessons might we learn from them?"
I think I might cut out the quote from the back cover and stick it on my wall.
"Whether you prevail or fail, endure or die, depends more on what you do to yourself than on what the world does to you." -- Jim Collins
And what about the Steve Martin reference? Everyone knows that Steve Martin is a funny guy, and some people know that he plays banjo, but not many people know that he's a REALLY GOOD banjo player. He's also a friend and student of Boulder's own Dr. Banjo aka Pete Wernick, and he's just released his first serious music CD. Pete played on some of the cuts as did Dolly Parton, Vince Gill, Earl Scruggs, Bela Fleck, Tim O'Brien and Mary Black. You might remember that Pete is the Banjo Player for Hot Rize and Tim O'Brien is the mandolin player, so there are a couple of Boulder connections.
The Crow: New Songs for the 5-String Banjo is available at DrBanjo.com and other fine music retailers. It comes with a nice set of liner notes (is that what they are called now?) and I'm looking forward to getting home and listening to it while reading Steve's comments about how he wrote the tunes and who was playing on each one.
Here's a Youtube video of the title cut.
January 13, 2009
This week Anthony Hannigan emailed me an article about some new software by Microsoft Research. According to the Seattle Tech Report, the software called Songsmith was to go on sale on Thursday and would be available through Microsoftstore.com The software was supposed to be able to record someone singing into a microphone, and then it would figure out the appropriate chords and create a backing track for the vocals, including guitars, drums, keyboards, strings and whatnot. Presto chango, you too can be a rock star. It sounded too good to be true, so I plunked down my $29.95 and downloaded my very own copy three days before it was supposed to go on sale.
I spent a little time with it last night and didn't get great results. (If you've already watched the video, you might argue that I STILL haven't got great results!) Due to some technical problems with my microphone and interface, which is my problem, not Songsmith's, I couldn't get anything interesting to happen with vocals, but then I realized that the software also works with guitar, keyboards and probably any musical input.
After a long day at work I came home tonight and as I often do I relaxed by fooling around with a guitar. Next thing I knew I had the tune and video above. Recording the music took at most 10 minutes. Using Windows Movie Maker took another hour as I futzed around with the photos and titles.
I haven't talked much here about my secret life of music, but it's every bit as important to me as being an entrepreneur and playing with technology. When the three overlap, I go into the zone and come out hours later happy and ready to go again.
I'm impressed with Songsmith, and I'm looking forward to how it evolves. Over ten years ago I played with The Axe software by Harmonix. The idea there was that non-musicians could create music by twiddling controls on their computer. It didn't get much attention, but that company went on to create Guitar Hero.
It's easy to write Guitar Hero off as a toy that doesn't help people learn music, but it sure has got a lot of people to at least stand up and keep time with the music. My dream is that one day people will get just as excited about playing a real instrument as they do with Guitar Hero and I think the software innovators out there like the folks at Harmonix and now the musicians at Microsoft are getting us closer to that day. (If you follow the link above to my Banjo Hero post, realize that only the first two paragraphs are true. The rest was my idea of an April Fools joke. Do a search on "Banjo Hero" and you see that plenty of people didn't get the joke. If you are SERIOUS about playing banjo, go to DrBanjo.com and please accept my apologies. I know it's not nice to make fun of banjo players.)
I believe that everyone should have the chance to play music, so while I'm sure some musicians will write this software off as being a toy, I'll bet others will take it and come up with some great songs. And if it gets a few people to put down their plastic guitar, turn off the TV and step up a bit to making real music, then the developers will have done a great service to the world.
If you want to learn more about Songsmith, click here to visit the Songsmith team web site.
December 12, 2006
Thank you Apple, Thank you Zune
Rather than rant about which is better, an iPod or a Zune, which I frankly got tired of hearing the same afternoon I got my Zune, let me say thank you to the iPod developers and to the Zune developers. Long ago, before there were any MP3 players or digital music of any kind, I became passionate about all kinds of music. This was even before 8-tracks. I had a nice stereo and I would sit in front of it for hours with my guitar trying to imitate what I heard.
During college when I should have been listening to even more music, I was working to make a living and the music all but died for me. I still played the guitar, but not so much. Skip ahead to the iPod being released. I didn’t get one on the day it was released like I did with the Zune, but I soon found my passion for music again. It wasn’t just that I could take my music on trips or to the office that made the difference. I think it was the simple idea of playlists. Suddenly I could easily organize my music and play what I felt like listening to at any moment. I ranked my music compulsively from the beginning and so I always had a playlist of “Most favorites, least played.” Although I bought a few tracks from iTunes, I still mostly bought CDs and ripped them to the iPod. In fact I bought a lot more CDs thanks to MP3s. Most CDs were ripped and put on the shelf and never touched again.
Last month the Zune was released, and now the way I listen to music has changed radically again. Music makes me really happy, and I’m listening to more of it and I’m discovering new types of music too. I do like the Zune better than the iPod, but that’s not the point of this post or really the reason that I’m listening to new music. Every Zune comes with a free 14 day free trial of Zune’s subscription music service - that's what changed everything. I may never buy another CD. I’ll warn you, if you try it you may get hooked just like I did.
Here’s how it works. You install the Zune software on your computer and then sign up for the Zune Pass subscription service through the Zune Marketplace. Then you can search by artist, song, genre, album or year. There are also lots of “Top whatever” lists. Most songs, but not all, can be downloaded and transferred to the Zune. At $14.95 a month, it’s still going to be too expensive for a lot of people to justify, but I probably spend that much on CDs now and some of them are duds. With the subscription service I can download as many albums or a track as I want with the only limit being the size of my hard drive. If I don’t like an album, rather than being out the price of the CD, I just delete it. There is one big catch. If I ever stop paying the subscription fee, the tracks that I downloaded stop working. You don’t have to use the subscription service though. You can still buy tracks from the Zune Marketplace, just like iTunes, and purchased tracks never expire and can be burned to a CD.
Because Zune allows the tracks to be played on three different computers, I’m going to have access to all my music at work, at home and even in the FJ, and of course on my Zune. Even the Xbox 360 can access my Zune library at home making it easy to connect to a media center.
So thank you iPod for bringing music back into my life, and thank you Zune for opening up a world of new music.