toaster

Rise of the Toaster Ovens

Fear of AI

The fear of AI (artificial intelligence) or the worry that robots will kick you out of your seat at work and steal your job are intensified by our reliance on overly complex television channel changers. In the old days, televisions had dials you had to twist to change the channel. As soon as mankind’s top scientists developed a magic box that could change the channel on the television, thus saving us from performing any tangible form of physical activity, we were hooked. We needed more creative ways to simplify our daily life with overly complex and extremely convoluted mechanisms.

The war was over before it ever really got rolling.With the development of artificial intelligence sprouting from our overly large computation devices, we were on the road to interdependence which would inevitably lead to our downfall and the rise of the machines. When the first coffee machine rose up and told us to get our own coffee, we knew we were doomed. Now we find ourselves once again forced to rise up off our couches and change the channel by pushing miniature undecipherable buttons located on the side or back of our televisions – even farther and more difficult than the original channel dial to reach.

…..wait a minute, that’s not how the story goes…..or is it?

Artificial Intelligence

You want a computer smart enough to solve all your real tough problems, but not smart enough to realize that it’s job sucks and it is ruled over by a ruthless dictator (the end user – ordering French fries and pushing the reduce screen icon accidentally). You want a robot strong enough and fast enough to jump over buildings in a single bound, but weak enough to be shutdown by running a toaster, coffee maker, and microwave oven on the same circuit at the same time.

Good luck with that.

So get up, open your Windows, stick your head out and yell as loud as you can: “I’m mad as hell, but I never learned C++!”

Then go back to your couch and try to find your TV remote somewhere in between the cushions.

technology simple

How to be a Minimalistic Tech

Tech Fundamentals:

Well, let’s get right down to what you need to get some work done in this modern age of computer technology and social media. The answer is simple, you 

technology simple

need some functional hardware such as

  • Laptop
  • Smart phone
  • Tablet

You don’t necessarily need the fastest, the most powerful, the latest release, or the most expensive. Just something that works for you. Your budget will be a major factor in choosing your “work horse”.

Mobility:

If you’re planning on mobility, a lightweight laptop, tablet, or smart phone could be all you need. You can do a lot with an Android or iPhone. My iPhone is the one device I use the most, followed by my laptop.

There are a lot of people who do everything on their iPhone, it functions as their

  • Music Studio
  • Photography Workshop (camera/camcorder)
  • Podcasting Production
  • Research Tool
  • Email
  • Video conferencing interface
  • Reading device

That’s not a definitive list, many other creative uses exist and new applications are constantly being developed for all types of work, communication, and entertainment.

I appreciate using a laptop because of the more traditional typing and larger screen. It allows me to work with programs that are not supported by the smart phone or tablets – not that there aren’t alternative applications that could replace some of the PC based software. A lightweight laptop and iPhone are a great combination and often complement each other.

 

Preference:

macbook

I prefer to pair the iPhone with a Linux laptop running a lightweight distribution. A MacBook Pro is a nice alternative, but running Manjaro (Arch based) on a cheap low powered IdeaPad at about a tenth of the cost and accomplish just as much and often more. It can run Wireshark, Libre Office, and Thunderbird (for email) plus add in the command line and it’s all I usually need.

The command line on a computer is very useful, and I can use Mozilla to access web pages. Complement that with the iPhone (and all its available applications) and you’ve got a great set of tools to work with – without a huge financial investment. Linux gives you access to open source software and the iPhone gives you access to many great apps. You have a phone for communication, and a very powerful camera for Video and photo taking. What else do you really need? The creativity comes from the user. How you make use of what you have is often the most interesting part of any production.

Have_Gun–Will_Travel

Have laptop, will work remotely

Have_Gun–Will_Travel

“Have laptop, will work remotely”

Anyone still remember  Have Gun, Will Travel ?

from 1957 – 1963? Starring Richard Boone as Paladin? It was basically a show about a good guy gunfighter for hire – paid by those who could afford his services, and often working for free for those who could not. (but needed someone to help when no one else could or would).

Do you find yourself helping some people for free with their network or computer system problems, – spending time advising and or troubleshooting over the phone, or remotely across the Internet? I know time is money, and sometimes we forget that. Is it wrong? No, sometimes it’s worth it. If you like to help people out because you can, maybe that’s reward enough.

If you plan on consulting or contracting your services, working for free not only gets your name out, but it can be good practice to help sharpen your skills. Solving issues, teaching others or troubleshooting problems often results in you learning things from a different angle. You might see a problem and figure out a solution to something you may have not thought of or seen before. This is all interestingly noble and everything, but I’m more interested how you go about troubleshooting. Can you solve problems without your computer or looking over someone’s shoulder? Can you answer any problem off the top of your head? If you’ve been doing this long enough, you probably can for anything you’ve worked on before.

Experience is gold

The idea of “Have gun , will travel” conveys the message that you can solve almost any problem with the “gun” that you have. In the West just after the Civil War, that might have been true – at least it was on the screen in the early days of Television.

Today you might think of your laptop as your “problem solver” Of choice. As on the old television shows it still took some skill to know how to use a gun, and the same is true today for your “computer” A laptop doesn’t do a lot if you don’t have the skills to use it. How do we hone and develop these skills? Well we don’t throw data bits at glass bottles on a log for target practice, but we still have to practice to gain experience. Consider the help you give others to solve computer or networking problems as your target practice.

Manjaro Linux

Quest for Distro

We may never find the one “perfect” laptop/OS combination that works best for everyone, but sometimes I think I get close. Yes, I reluctantly dual boot Windows 10 and a Linux distro, but it’s because it’s sometimes practical to have both operating systems on one machine.

Trying out different distros on underpowered laptops is very therapeutic in a way. Yes, it takes a little time, and may often seem bewildering to the uninitiated, but it’s sort of a hobby of mine. Of course there are many I haven’t tried, and some that I knew immediately were a waste of time. I’ve tried many of the “Standard Distros” and found the majority useful, but the perfect one still eludes me. Over the years I’ve learned to appreciate the work of the developers and most of the Linux community.

Admittedly, I still find that Windows 10 is quite handy to have available. I feel somewhat defeated when I find myself logging into Windows more than my other Operating System on my laptop. The only Distro that I really think could alloManjaro Linuxw me to completely abandon my dual-boot philosophy would have to be Manjaro.

 

I like it a lot more than Debian, Ubuntu, or Red Hat based distributions. It just works, and it seems to be fast, although that’s possibly not a very scientific analysis on my part. I thought I would stick with Mint a while back, and then I started to use Ubuntu Mate, and I thought, “Yeah this is the one”. Then I tried “Arch based” Manjaro and really liked it at first, but then thought maybe I should start using Antergos since it actually has “Arch” in the system description.

You get into that Distro hopping groove and feel like you’re on a quest or something. All the while I’m still dragging my Windows Operating system around – because I might need it for something. Someone might want me to work on a project that requires “.Net”. Use Wine you say? I’m not a fan, if you need to work in Windows, then work in Windows.

The trick is to not have to work in Windows and do everything in Linux. Unfortunately I’m not quite there yet. As a matter of fact I think I may just go back to using a Mac. In the end I will continue to use Windows 10, Linux in one form or another, and of course OSX. The quest will continue for the perfect Linux Distro. Not everyone will agree on what that is, but for now I’ll stick with Manjaro for a while. I’ll keep checking other Distros out, stability is always important, and rolling releases can be problematic sometimes. LTS releases are more practical, and Ubuntu has just updated their current LTS, so there is that to consider. If Manjaro continues to work for me, then I guess that’s the deciding factor I’ll go with.

Korg M1

Content is King

Content is king, but creating content – especially audio/music production continues to evolve and become more accesable than ever. Those who have ever worked with the early 4 track Fostex or Tascams back when home studios were still a new thing for many musicians can probably attest to that. The cost was a big barrier for some, although it was often more cost effective than paying for studio time. The Korg M1 workstation was a great tool for song writers who wanted to sequence midi tracks and layer sampled waveforms to create a more complex sound.

Personal Studio Evolution

As personal desktop computers and later laptops became more useful with better software and better operating systems, many musicians started creating incredible projects all on their laptops. The Digital Audio Workstations have been here for a while, and continue to improve. The cost of building your own music production system can run from reasonably affordable to very expensive depending on what hardware and software you find yourself working with and building on or out from. The midi controllers that often go along with these “music studio” laptops are a necessity to many, and continue to evolve in style and function.

Today you can produce music on your Android or Apple devices. This puts music content creation in the hands of many. Having the tools to create content and creating content are not quite the same. The idea of “Creativity” and “work” are also important, but having all the best tools and toys doesn’t always equal quality content production. If I told you that you already had all the tools you needed, would you start creating the next great piece of music or audio. Would you start podcasting or writing music just because you had access to the tools, or would you spend much of your time looking for even better tools? I have great respect for those musicians who write all their music on an acoustic guitar or piano, or the writer who still uses a typewriter or pad and pencil.

Here’s a few links to some interesting DAW software and tools:

http://ubuntustudio.org/ Ubuntu Studio 16.04.1 Our post on Ubuntu Studio
https://www.apple.com/logic-pro/ Logic-Pro x
http://www.magix-audio.com/us/acid/ Acid Pro 7
https://www.ableton.com/ Ableton Live
https://lmms.io/ LMMS
http://www.acoustica.com/mixcraft/ Mixcraft
http://www.image-line.com/flstudio/ FL Studio
https://www.reaper.fm/ Reaper
http://www.audacityteam.org/ Audacity
https://www.bitwig.com/en/bitwig-studio.html Bitwig Studio
http://www.cakewalk.com/products/sonar/ Sonar
http://www.avid.com/pro-tools Pro Tools
https://www.steinberg.net/en/products/cubase/start.html Cubase
https://www.propellerheads.se/en/reason Reason
https://www.apple.com/ipad-pro/ Ipad-Pro