Friday, August 15, 2014

Dear Apple...

You and I have been together many years, I was there in the 1980's with the Apple II/e. I became a serious user with around 1990/91 with a Mac IIcx.  I've stood by through the rough years of Gil Amelio when it was just pro users and I happily went from my Quadra 650 to my beloved but difficult to open 8500.

Steve Jobs came back at some point and drove the company into being a serious market competitor with the iMac and iPod. He ultimately hit pay dirt with the iPhone but around that time the boutique pro company had changed into the mainstream, the big corporation, the man. Apple was no longer the underdog, the hippie run computer run company that had forged its way with an attitude that said, yeah we are more expensive but we are worth it.

The idea that Jobs maintained that he was right and the user was wrong, that he knew what was best for us regardless of whether that was about dumbing down pro software or forcing how we went about using our computers. This on going insult was made all the more pointed as models of computers became harder for users to fix or upgrade and not critical applications became non removable from mobile devices.

The most recent slap happened when Apple decided that forced upgrades on mobile devices was not only going to be the norm but Apple would remain non responsive to the vast amount of pleas when people suddenly were stuck with a new OS (7) that dropped battery life so significantly some users just gave up.

I recently was forced to upgrade my iPad, a device I absolutely adored from 6.xx to 7 because Skype insisted on it and there was no way out, it would no longer launch. I use Skype for work, so this was a proverbial gun help to my head. This is an offensive business practice and one that has made me consider leaving Apple a lot over recent years. 

I upgraded to iOS 7 thinking I'd get used to the changes as one does, after all I have been through many computers and I know that ultimately most things one adjusts to or removes them from ones work vision. iOS 7 is different, yes it's ugly, yes it changes how one does many things in most cases without much reason or logic BUT it also eats the fucking battery power.

How bad can that be? Well from my own experience I used to change the iPad a couple of times a week and now it's every day. Reports all over the internet are exactly the same, not in time but in general battery drain. There are tons of articles to make the problem a bit less gigantic but none that make it small enough to not notice it.

Because Apple has made it impossible to downgrade devices, I am stuck without hacking my device (which I don't want to do and shouldn't have to)..  Apple has chosen the big brother approach, the lowest common denominator towards its users and now they have taken away a product that I found extremely useful and enjoyable.

I have some connections in and around the company but I would rather not use that route, I would rather find some realistic and permanent solution to the current position that Apple is right and many long time supporters are wrong. I want to be able to run an older OS instead of being bullied into using a new OS which seem to serve to only make machines unusable thus forcing people to buy more product.

Personally I don't know that I would buy another Apple product new until their attitude towards customers changes, which I imagine won't be happening any time soon. So Apple, consider whether treating your users like prisoners or idiots is a good long term plan. I don't care to ask "what would Steve do" -he was often wrong when it came to the human factor, I don't know that he "got" people.      

Fix my iPad.

Monday, March 3, 2014

The New Muffwiggler store

Though some may not know this but since the late 90's there has been a modular synthesizer Renascence. This was spear headed by companies like Doepfer and numerous forums, most significantly in recent years by MuffWiggler which has not only allowed synth geeks to find each other all over the world but it has allowed many builders to have their own pseudo focus groups to discuss possible features and price point.

Today, not to many's surprise a store baring the name MuffWiggler appeared.
Although based of years of Mike "Muff"s personal ethics, the store and the forum will probably remain fairly separate and open debate, complaints and all the other stuff the internet is known for will take place uncensored.

I decided to weigh in on what some worry about in terms of impact on what is a somewhat small fringe scene. I mainly focus on what I think the choices will mean for everyone involved.


I done a fair amount of business with Shawn at Analog Haven and before that Douglas at Enport (anyone know how he's doing). I have never had any issues with either gentlemen which probably has had an impact on my not using Switched On, Control, Big City or Noise Bug or any of the other US dealers as often.

This is a market that probably needs a bit of competition as much as it needs support among users and manufacturers. At this point in time there a very few full time builders, but a huge amount of part timers. There are an awful lot of products coming out to an audience that seems very happy to try things and then resell them.

All of this is going to change to some degree, not because of the new shop but because markets change. If the shops want to stay in business they are better off supporting each other to whatever reasonable way that they can.

If buyers want to cease this moment and try to push competition, they should consider aiming those demands in areas of pricing like cabling, shipping that have a lesser impact on the builders and if the stores want yo compete they should try to keep it in the areas of how they handle customers and builders.

This is going to be a big moment that could weed out some of the utter shit product. This could be the moment where dealers try to focus on costumer service, creating their own unique style in the choices of what they carry and very importantly treat the people who build the modules with real support and respect because at least 20% of those folks would be well able to carry on doing only direct mail order and be paid better.

I wish Mike and crew the very best, this is a good an interesting moment and I hope that everyone chooses to not act like a bunch of assholes.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Th Joes Garage Sale

Good Frank

OK, perfect moment for a dumb story.

When Frank Zappa died his family sold at very low prices his tour gear, some may remember the Joes' Garage Sale. At the time I had more space and decided that despite my not really giving a shit about famous people's stuff I'd rifle through the list.

Despite my initially looking for bargains, I spotted what clearly was in my mind a perfect tribute to the artist and his sense of humor, it was his wardrobe road case.

Frank Zappa was not the best dressed guitar player on the block, in fact he prided himself on saying fuck you to what ever was hip at that moment. By the 1980's his wardrobe was amazingly awful, sometimes making him look like a pastel Cosby sweater joke.

Bad Frank
I figured it was the most ridiculous item I could possibly buy from the estate. He had nothing to do with music, represented something I didn't feel was his strong point and would be hard to find any realistic use in the studio for it.

I called the guy who was handling the sales, bought it and received a faxed receipt.

Sadly, as is my understanding of what happened the guy who was "in charge" was selling multiple people the same items. He wasn't putting payment through he just was going through the motions. I think I was told that he was simply not capable of handling this job, screwed things up for the family who were no doubt busy was more important things like mourning and I think one collector ended up just buying everything lock stock and barrel.

I admit that it was disappointing because it was as if I was having a laugh with Frank Zappa who had certainly given me a lot of music to enjoy over the years and I had felt it was a tribute he might have liked.

I still keep that fax and maybe one day I'll here what really happened or another similar story. I have no real idea if the details as to what went array with the sale are correct, simplified or erroneous. Either way I am glad to have the story.   

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Change is sometimes good

I have felt for a long time that the need for me me to write about such a specific subject area has kept me from writing anything at all.  Aside from the simple fact that there are plenty of people who write on the subject the equipment centric aspects of creativity and do it better then I, I feel that I am as an artist and as a human being far to multi channeled to function in this way.

I don't know whether I will make some minor changes to the other all blog in terms of links or old content or i'll just move forward. Actually, it's entirely possible I will post this and then disappear for another year or so.

Stay with me if you will, perhaps I will put on a decent show.

Tommy Dog, NYC.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

another one

His snare drum arrived today and I started fucking around with positions.

I did manage to fry one transistor in the outputs but that was my first fail in a while.

nitty gritty

Before I get accused of calling a single solenoid being held by a puppet a robot, let me fill you in on some of the details of how this little guy is actually set up in real life.

The controller board from Highly Liquid allows for MIDI input to trigger solenoids and motors. I am writing a number of apps in Max/MSP to allow for things like randomization of different parts of the playing within a clocked rhythm.

The Robot Drummer's set up actually has 16 channels set up divided between two boxes, one is set up for a 12 volt load the other for 24. So stuff like his eyes of different strikers can be individually controlled.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Robot Drummer Preview

I wanted to build a Robot Drummer back around 1990 but I was even more lacking in the skills needed to do it. Along came Highly Liquid with awesome products that made my dream become a reality.

In recent months a flurry of obsessive work has made it impossible for people to be around me without being forced into talking robots.

Yeah I know there are a lot of drumming robots out there. A quick google search will reveal some of the lamest shit excuses for bombastic drum wankery in video form. People who do this 1. don't have a clue where there sense of humor might be and 2. seem to like both drum machines and over playing.

My robot is made to play Punk Garage fuck you music. He's meant to make a racket. Now I can tell Plague Monkey to go fuck himself, he's been too gimmicky for too long.

The sad part is that most people will be disappointed when all is said and done because how could I live up to the hype. The good part is I don't give a rats dick hole what anyone thinks. I am pleased as a pig in donut fat with myself.

I should say that John from Highly Liquid was awesome as hell and David & Jeff really were great friends and teachers and shit, my wife should have tossed me out months ago for bringing home all kinds of garbage every day.

Anyway, here's the first real peek at the Robot Drummer.


UPDATE: for some details go here

Sunday, August 22, 2010

shits and giggles

If you don't know what project I've been obsessively working on the last few months this video isn't for you.

Actually it really isn't for anyone but me, I just wanted to document something.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

"hello David"

Here's a little improv done with Livewire, Doepfer and Bubblesound modules. The main voice is the ULFO and the Doepfer A-112

It got it's name because when I heard the sound I thought I should push David to get a A-112 because it sounded great processing the ULFO in oscillator mode.

Hello david by Tommy DOG