Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Google Spam

Why is it every time I look for specs on computer hardware all I get is shopping sites? Ridiculous! It is making Google a less valuable resource, but what can you do? Google is it. If you can't find it there, where can you turn?

I generally have to add the site:some_manufacturer_site.com tag to my search, but sometimes even that won't cut it...

Sunday, January 14, 2007

RyG on Letterman

Update 9/22: Replaced removed video/link

How did I miss this?!

Rodrigo y Gabriela performing a live number on the Late Show with David Letterman from December 18, '06. They rock the house as you will see...

YouTube Link

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Power Tab Editor

All right, I'll admit I am not familiar with any of the commercial tablature editing programs available--if there are any. As I said, I really don't know. But if there are, I say forget about it! Power Tab Editor is all you could ask or hope for, and for some reason, it's free!

As you can see, it doesn't just do tablature but standard notation as well, and will export your work to MIDI files. Both of these features combine nicely for me because it is helping me understand rhythm in standard musical notation. I am sure it will also assist me in learning the notes in standard musical scores as well--something the average guitarist (such as myself) seems to shy away from. Too many options I think. Piano is one key per note, (relatively) simple. Guitar, we can play the same note in several places--a little more daunting from my perspective.

Anyway, back to Power Tab.

This application is just amazing! It has a chord finder that helps you locate the right inversion for your particular needs. It has a "score checker" & "score polisher". Shifting tools. It is easy to navigate and enter/edit your notes. It has options to enter musical directions. It can import MIDI files and convert them to Tab & standard notation. What can I say, it has it all. Too bad there is no port for Linux (yet), otherwise this program is perfect. Free? What are they thinking? But I'm really glad it is...

Power Tab.net

Download Page

PS Grab CutePDF to print out your Tablature/Standard Notation creations to PDF files.
Once it's installed, use File --> Print --> CutePDF Writer as your printer and it will generate a PDF of your musical score for you. Very convenient and it looks quite nice as well (compared to ASCII output ;-)

PPS Promote Power Tab Editor!
I kicked out these buttons with The Gimp & Button Maker . Save one and add it to your site:

Power Tab Editor or Power Tab Editor

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Upgrade The Flashlight You Love To Hate

What can you do? The Mini-Maglite is almost a necessity to have around in many industries. I use mine constantly. We must have about five of them around the house.

However I have always had a few gripes with them. One, the batteries drain far too quickly. Two, the light isn't very bright to begin with. Three, the bulbs burn out too fast.

Again, what can you do? Well, my friends, now we can do something about these annoyances. For about $5-$10US you can get a conversion kit from a company called Nite Ize that adds three nice & bright LEDs to the flashlight in place of the single (weak) lamp, and a convenient on-off switch to the back of the flashlight.

I'm betting the LEDs will outlive the flashlights, and the need to change batteries will diminish immensely. Very cool.

Cheesy (but effective) image from
the Nite Ize product detail page.

Yes, there are a mass of new LED flashlights on the market now, but why spend $30 or more on a new one when (believe me) this $5 conversion kit will do the job just as well in comparable instances. I love it.

Circle of Fifths

Update 4/3/07: Fear not!! Fun with the Circle Of 5ths and Identifying Chords referred to below is actually quite understandable and very useful. Check it out! Much more useful then my example, that's for sure...

Update 1/9/07 11pm: A Circle of Fifths Chord Application

I have recently been checking out the Circle of Fifths and trying to see what kind of patterns I could find. I was really happy to discover how easy it was to use to find Major & Minor triads, among other things.

Here I demonstrate how simple it is to find triads in the image above. (Diagram courtesy of Wikipedia.) I was pretty impressed when I showed the patterns to my six-year old and he was able to use them to come up with the correct notes to other triads from the chart. Cool.

I have been checking out the diagram for a couple of days now trying to find all the patterns that I can. My little example above is nothing compared to what someone has done in a post entitled Fun with the Circle Of 5ths and Identifying Chords. Wow! If you have any interest in this subject at all you should see what he has come up with. It looks like you can do it all with this chart if you put your mind to it.

Geometry, math, music. My head is spinning...

I think I just need to break out one of the guitars and play an AC/DC song or something!

Update: I have been looking for applications that will allow you to rotate the Circle of Fifths depending on what you are looking to find. Here is one that allows you to set the key and it will generate the chords for that key: Julie Waters: The Circle of Fifths

If you find applications of this nature, please leave a comment.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Randy Ellefson: An Amazing Triumph

A composer/guitarist develops tendinitis in his arms and his life is basically ruined for years, but he overcomes eventually and records an album. Pretty amazing, even if instrumental rock is not your thing. Check it out. Good stuff; and really a tribute to the strength of the human spirit.

Programming a drum machine with his feet?! Man, now that is some serious dedication!

Here is a section called Perspective from an article entitled Got Tendonitis? What To Do

Sometimes I hear people complain about not playing guitar a few days or weeks when their arms first hurt, so to help your perspective, here are some details on my situation. I could not play at all for an entire year, then could play really simple music for 30 minutes, twice a week. Three months later I reached 90 minutes every other day and slightly harder music. At two years I developed a second case of tendonitis in both arms and started over. After five years, I was up to 2-3 hours at once, still alternating days on and off, and could finally play most of my own music. It wasn’t until 8 years passed that I could play guitar two days in a row, with one day being a "light day" of easier music, though I could get away with up to 6 hours at once, depending on complexity. It is now 10 years later, and three days in a row is still unwise.

These numbers are rough, but I received physical therapy once a week for about five years, sometimes more often, sometimes less, and slowly tapered off to nothing after about 8 years. I did stretching for 9 years, heat for 9, ice for 8, ibuprofen for 7, vitamins for 3, slept in arm bands for 3, and used a foot mouse in place of a hand mouse for 5 years, and a dictation program for most typing (especially heavy) for 8 years.

In short, tendonitis does not affect only your guitar playing, but can impact every activity you use them for, including things you take for granted like sleeping, dressing, grooming, driving a car, opening things, and even how you are perceived by others. After all, there's still contempt for the seriousness of the injury and some people will disrespect you for having it.


Randy Ellefson is an instrumental guitarist with endorsements from Alvarez Guitars, Peavey, and Morley Pedals, and a Bachelors of Music in classical guitar, Magna Cum Laude. His debut album was independently released in June 2004, and he is now recording a follow-up and performing in the U.S. The album's title, The Firebard, is a nod to his experience with tendonitis, which took away his playing for five years before he fully recovered it and rose from his ashes. For more details, mp3s, tabs, articles, videos and other cool stuff, visit the official site, www.randyellefson.com.