Practising bass (2016 version)

Yes it is the annual day for recording bass! I try to play once every week (or more—sometimes less) for fun. Once in a while it’s good to listen back and see how my playing has changed.

Here’s my attempts at playing Hey Ya! which was one of the first songs I learned. I’ve worked on the tab a couple of times so it’s easier and more fun now. I think it’s getting more consistent, though I still make mistakes 🙂

Here’s a random set of other songs I played:

There’s a couple in there that can be compared to previous years too!

Fragile Bird

My first bass tutor had me play this in my first lesson. It blew my mind trying to play on off-beats. I’m not sure why but there was a habit there that had to be unlearned first. Good exercise!

Sweet Virginia

I think we played this once in a jam after work. Quite peaceful to play on the bass, and it’s a lot of fun varying the rhythm during the sax solo!


Practicing bass (2015 version)

Bass guitar continues to be a fun hobby, and a great break from all the other busy activities in life! Need to play more (playing is practice!) to smooth out the sound and make fewer mistakes. I also need to learn how to use the recording settings in Amplitube because I recorded the traditional ‘Hey Ya!’ to compare progress. Well, I played it into the iPad. I did not record it. I will have to play it again.

In the meantime, here’s a selection of other bass lines I enjoy playing. Cringe-worthy mistakes and all!

Can Arc Touch Bluetooth Mouse…?

I’ve been meaning to blog more about my experience with the Surface Pro 3. I posted how the first one I got was a dud after it died the first night. The second one has been rock solid and a joy to work on. But this is not that post. This post is about the Arc Touch Bluetooth Mouse.

Arc Touch Bluetooth Mouse shown on (curved) and off (pressed flat)
Arc Touch Bluetooth Mouse shown on (curved) and off (pressed flat)

It’s a very cool mouse, especially for portability. It’s light, it’s flat (when not in use), and it’s comfy to use. No usb needed. The touch bit instead of a scroll wheel is perhaps a bit odd. I’m not sure how I feel about that yet, but it is definitely far superior to the trackpad on the typecover, and more precise than the touch screen (especially for apps that have tiny UI elements, those not built for the high DPI screen). Overall, great mouse and highly recommended!

It comes with a nifty windows 8 app to configure it. The app is also called ‘Arc Touch Bluetooth Mouse’ and the first time you use it, you will be pairing your new mouse to it and that’s when this dialog appears:

Screenshot of UI dialog
Can Arc Touch Bluetooth Mouse use your Arc Touch Bluetooth Mouse?

Can Arc Touch Bluetooth Mouse use Arc Touch Bluetooth Mouse?

Sounds like a trick question doesn’t it.

Is it me, or is it just as weird for an app to refer to itself in the third person as it is for real people to do so? Even weirder when the app shares the name of the subject of the sentence. Holy confusion Batman.

I’d ask an editor to bring some sanity to the sentence. You can too—excellent editing services available right now at East Edit, check ’em out 🙂

Surface Pro 3 in 24 hours

I’ve been intrigued by Microsoft Surface for a while. The mix of tablet, laptop and sketch pad is a compelling combo! I have an iPad 2. It’s fine, but I’d like a retina display (for comics) and I’d like to be able to code on it! The restriction on which apps you can install bugs me. Also, no flash means no watching Animation Mentor lectures. I have a MacBook Pro, and it’s nice but it’s heavy and has destroyed more than one backpack with it’s weight.

So I was keen to try a Surface and finally nabbed the deal to get the mid-tier model (i5, 8GB RAM 256GB SSD), with $50 store credit and an xbox controller thrown in for $10 more. Good deal. Got a type cover too of course. (Yes, I know it’s not a gaming laptop, but some casual games would play ok!)

It arrived yesterday and was pretty nice. Lovely screen. Good solid feel, nice light weight. Heavier than an iPad, but larger too. Actually a really good size for a tablet. Comics look fantastic—sadly the Comixology on Windows 8 is buggy (like, you must reinstall to download new comics buggy!), which is entirely unlike the excellent iOS and android apps.

Spent an afternoon setting it up and an evening playing with a few things. Tried sketching very briefly with the pen. It’s no pencil and paper, but was interesting. More practice and could be pretty good maybe. Ran Transformers Universe ok for a game which is pretty cool. And I had all my coding apps ready to rock: Sublime, github, browsers for testing…

But today it all went horribly wrong. I turned it on and … nope. I didn’t even get that far. It can’t be turned on. I don’t know what happened overnight (it was fine when I left it), but today it’s a brick. An expensive brick at that. Surface Pro won’t turn on has troubleshooting steps, but was no help in my case.

So I rang up to report the issue. It would take 2–3 weeks for a replacement Surface. Same amount of time for a refund. I took the refund option. Very disappointing, I was hoping to use it on my commute when I go back to work next week.

I agree with Microsoft that there’s room for a device that can replace a MacBook Pro and iPad, but I guess I’m gonna have to wait for another solution.

Update 5 October

Well, my refund came in early and I picked up a new surface from JB HiFi. They gave me a discount too, sweet! It survived overnight and still turns on so that’s a great start. Comics look more awesome than I remember 😉 I also quite like the touch input (with keyboard detached). Still need to learn how to use the pen 🙂

Playing bass, two years on

It probably won’t catch on as an ANZAC Day tradition, but last year I posted a comparison of me playing Hey Ya! on the bass from 2012 and 2013.

Here they are again with a 2014 update. I can’t really tell if I’m improving, but I still love playing 🙂

So here I am, in 2012, fumbling away at a bass line after a few days practice…

And here I am, in 2013, fumbling away at that same bass line after a year of practice…

And here I am, today, still fumbling 🙂


Android update 2013

In 2012 I made the switch from iPhone to the Galaxy S3, and from iOS to Android. I posted my impressions at 1 day, 5 days and a couple of months later with a custom rom.

I am still using android—Kit Kat on the LG/google Nexus 5. This is the phone I wanted! It looks good, feels good and runs fast. The battery can run down quick though so that needs watching. Android continues to impress: Kit Kat is fantastic (I’m not a fan of iOS 7, but it does the job). I still use my iPad and haven’t entirely left the apple ecosystem behind. It’s interesting using both.

So how have my initial gripes changed?

  • I still love the larger screen. The screen on the nexus is fantastic, and better in more lighting conditions than the S3
  • Widgets—I don’t use these as often as I did at first, but they are still a nice option to have
  • App ecosystems are highly competitive and apps that are cross platform are excellent (Windows needs to catch up)
  • Integrated stores are still better on android: iOS still forces purchases through iTunes and some apps don’t support that
  • Account integration is pretty good on both
  • Keyboards have improved: I’m using the google keyboard with swiping now (although I think swype may be a bit better). I find it a little more hit and miss than iPhone, but it might be swiping vs tapping. I like that on android the keys switch when you press shift. I thought iOS7 had regressed on that, but it turns out the letters are always uppercase—a hangover from Apple’s skeuomorphic approach?
  • google play gift cards have appeared in Australia. iTunes gift cards still have better deals, but I think that will change. It’s good to have both platforms and buy where cheapest
  • headphones: I am happy with my M80s, though I do miss volume control on the cable
  • syncing music is still painful but doubletwist airsync is doing a good job (finally, it was updated a couple of months ago)
  • google music has been released in Australia and is excellent (and sometimes cheaper than iTunes)… keeping both in sync is a little tricky but it’s mostly good. I love the online backup and would love the cloud play feature if it respected the volume adjustments I’ve made with MP3 gain—I don’t like having to adjust the volume for every song while listening!
  • iBooks is still not available outside apple but did make it onto the Mac at least. I haven’t missed it at all: kindle, kobo, google play books and aldiko are all great (and comixology for comics!)

All good. Some recent surprises:

Kit Kat lock screen widget for music playback

There’s no reason not to be happy if you prefer iPhones (or plain ol’ non-smart phones), but if you’re into android it’s going great. My one piece of advice is to check carefully before buying a non-google device. It really bugged me that Samsung loaded extra UI gimmicks and delayed android updates, and the custom roms were brilliant but had some niggling bugs (hats off to the devs for making them available though, some impressive work!) So if you’re buying a branded device from Samsung, HTC, Sony, etc. check that you like what they offer first. Otherwise, I highly recommend the nexus 5. Awesome bit of kit (kat)!

INXS – Kick bass tab

Groovy bassline, no tabs but there is this helpful video: INXS – Kick ((BASS COVER))

Let the reverse engineering commence!

The main riff isn’t right yet, but it’s a place to start.

   Gb                A                 E                 B
   1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &   1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &   1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &   1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &  

Main riff
   1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &   1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &   1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &   1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &  

   Gb                A                 E                 B
   1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &   1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &   1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &   1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &  

Saxophone solo
   Db  A
   1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &   1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &   1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &   1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &