tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:/posts Matthew Supert 2017-07-10T02:14:26Z Matthew Supert tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1172035 2017-07-10T02:14:26Z 2017-07-10T02:14:26Z Cuba Cruise - Day 0

Megan and I just returned this past Friday from Cuba. Yes, that Cuba!!!!

We left Chicago on July 2nd to fly into Miami. We flew into our cruise the night before this time, because if you remember our last cruise adventure, we missed our flight and almost missed the cruise. No mistakes this time. 

We arrived in Miami late that night, around 8:00 pm. There wasn't much to do, but go grab some dinner. We ate at CVI.CHE 105, which as you may guess, is ceviche! The food was amazing and we of course ordered too much. Megan and I both agreed that we should try and spend some more time in Miami at some point. 


]]>
Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1172032 2017-07-10T01:56:26Z 2017-07-10T01:56:26Z 42 Mile Ride on a Whim

Yesterday I decided to go for a quick bicycle ride, which turned out to be a 42 mile trek. I have lamented about the lack of good bicycle routes in Bolingbrook, but did some thinking yesterday about a route to get onto the Centennial Trail right from my house. Well, it totally worked out great and I can even get onto the Cal-Sag trail too if I really wanted to pull an insane day of riding. 

This is also the first ride testing Strava on my Apple Watch. I have done a few rides now with the native fitness app, and I really like that a lot. The interface is great. I do miss Strava a bit though for the social integrations that is has. I'm not a premium user, so we'll have to see how I continue to use it or not. 

Overall it was a brutal, but fun ride. 
]]>
Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1165046 2017-06-18T13:43:27Z 2017-06-18T13:43:28Z I Finally Bought an Apple Watch

About two weeks ago I broke down, after looking at Megan's Apple Watch for six months, and bought one of my own. 

Since the Apple Watch came out I was one of those people in the camp stating "why do I need that?" I never understood the appeal of a smartwatch. I have been a Fitbit user for a long time, close to five years now and I have loved that device for tracking my fitness and sleep habits. There is something about all of that data that I find interesting. The Fitbit app is pretty good, but I have constantly had trouble with my Fitbit devices. I was replacing the bands on them constantly, as often as every three months in some cases. 

I picked up a Fitbit Charge 2 in the fall of last year and for the most part I was pleased with it, but it was not the ideal device that I wanted it to be. It routinely lost my heart rate measurements when I had an elevated heart rate from a workout. 

Watching Megan have her Apple Watch really began to make me jealous. So why did I end up switching to an Apple Watch then? 

Data/Apps 

Apple's Healthkit is perhaps one of the biggest reasons I switched. The integration of my health data across various apps, which allow me to control which data goes where, with a high amount of fidelity is really impressive. Fitbit has integrations through its API to other apps, but that integration just isn't very deep and there are some significant "gaps" in apps supported. External apps do not have good access to heart rate data and there are certain programs, such as mediation which just aren't effectively measured on Fitbit. 

There are also some fantastic apps out there for the Apple Watch which do measure very specific types of workouts. For example, there is an app called Ace Tennis which can measure my tennis serve, the angle and velocity of my racquet. There are a number of third party tools that can also integrate with the system as well for golf clubs and other sports. Using a third party heart rate monitor is easy to do as well.

Accuracy of Heartrate Monitor

Speaking of accuracy, I have found the heart rate monitor on the Apple Watch to be much better. The Charge 2 was pretty good for most exercises, except weight lifting. It would constantly loose my heart rate while weightlifting, which I read online is due to the flexing of my wrist. The Apple Watch has been much more consistent and I have noted it holds my hear rate much better at extremely high rates. My resting heart rate is around 58, but during tennis or running it is not uncommon for my heart rate to get up to 170. The Apple Watch appears to track those numbers much better. 

Build Quality 

The build quality on the Apple Watch appears to be much better than Fitbit. Yes, you are paying at least 2x's as much, but Megan's Apple Watch looks basically brand new after eight months of wear. My Charge 2 had to have the band replaced after just four months of use. The Apple Watch is noticeably more comfortable to wear. That isn't to say that the Charge 2 is uncomfortable, but the silicon band on the Apple Watch is extremely soft and really disappears on the wrist. I thought that the larger and heavier device would be more noticeable than a Fitbit, but it isn't. 

This Smartwatch Thing is Handy

So, this whole smartwatch thing is pretty cool. I bought the Apple Watch primarily as a fitness device, which I still believe is the primary reason someone should get one. The Apple Watch is one of the best fitness trackers out there though, hands down. That being said, there are some pretty neat features for the smartwatch. Quickly viewing texts, declining calls and viewing my calendar appointments is very handy and effective. It does allow me to keep my phone in my pocket and not have to have my eyes on it all the time. 

 


]]>
Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1158579 2017-05-29T19:32:19Z 2017-05-29T19:32:19Z New Music - The Streets of Whiterun

I have just realized that i have not posted some of the music that I have recorded over the past couple of months. I am currently working on an EP of remixes and cover songs. I am covering various film and video game scores that I have always enjoyed. the track here is called "The Streets of Whiterun" and it is from the Skyrim soundtrack, one of my favorite soundtracks of all time. 

I hope you guys enjoy this ambient rendition of the sound as the reverb slowly devours the song as the music progresses. 
]]>
Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1158091 2017-05-28T03:52:50Z 2017-05-28T03:52:51Z Book Review - A Natural History of Dragon
A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Simply put, this was fantastic. Marie Brennan did such an excellent job subtly crafting a "fantasy" world around a 16th or 17th century style English empire. The countries and nationalities are all unfamiliar here, but at the same time completely familiar. The reader is able to suspend their disbelief and is truly convinced that dragons are just a standard animal in this world.

The dragons here are crafted in a wonderful style, purely as animals to be studied as any other. They are not viewed as magical or mystical.

I really loved the characters as well, especially a Isabella Camhurst. She was crafted expertly as an independent and intelligent woman, but she was throughout the book believable because she acted as a "proper lady" of her social status. Modern, 21st century sensibilities were not foisted upon her and her character was crafted as someone, even as a progressive, during her time period.

If you removed the dragons here this definitely has elements similar to Jane Austen or the Master & Commander series, showing fun and convincing characters from a pre-industrial British style empire.

View all my reviews]]>
Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1158088 2017-05-28T03:48:37Z 2017-05-28T03:48:37Z So how is that D&D gaming going? - May 2017 Edition

So how is that D&D gaming thing going? Well, it is honestly going pretty well, at least for most of us. We have had a turnover in players recently. All of the new players in our group are really cool and easy going individuals. I believe everyone is having a good time, except for one guy who decided to leave. Not just leave our group. He left Meetup.com and I think left playing D&D. 

We had an instance during our game session where our players had the opportunity to help a hill giant they came across. The one player really wanted to help this giant, while the rest of the group was just sort of "meh" on the idea. It probably took our group an hour to discuss what they wanted to do. In the end they chose not to help the giant and the player who wanted to had a meltdown right there at the table. 

I was amazed to be honest. He got up and stormed out of the room after having a bit of a verbal tirade. 

So this resulted in him not only leaving our playing group, but he quite the Meetup entirely. Thing is he was the main oganizer for the entire Meetup.com page. I received an email the next day asking me to take over and what do you know, a couple of weeks later I am not the organizer of the entire Meetup.com group.


]]>
Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1154683 2017-05-17T14:02:23Z 2017-05-17T14:02:23Z GrooveboxSociety.com Officially Launches with its First Podcast

The GrooveboxSociety.com website has officially launched this past week. Our first podcast is officially up on the website and you can find it at the following link: Episode 1 - Welcome to GrooveboxSociety.com.

The podcast is also available on on all of your favorite podcast catchers

iTunes

Google Play

Stitcher

We have a lot of good things lined up for the podcast for the next couple of months, so please take a listen and if you are a musician or know any musicians who might be interested in submitting to the podcast, please feel free to send them to our submission page.



]]>
Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1152580 2017-05-08T20:56:17Z 2017-05-08T21:41:51Z GrooveboxSociety.com - A new Project for GrooveBox Musicians

I am proud to be kicking off a new music project that I hope will be take off over the next several months. The GrooveboxSociety.com will be an online artist collective to showcase music and musicians creating with Grooveboxes and hardware synthesizers. 

Hardware synthesizers have experienced a renaissance over the past several years and there have been more interesting devices released recently than ever before. It is with this in mind that I hope to create a site that educate people on the tools and introduce them to the musicians using these tools. 

Our first major project is to launch a podcast to feature the community's music, establish the artist collective and to get our presence through a medium that can allow people to easily listen to and share our music. The audio podcast will also be a good way to also establish a means to develop interviews with the artists in our community, talk about and share those creative processes with listeners. 

Part of this journey is about the means and methods of production in addition to the music. 

I have attached some of the design sketches for the upcoming website here and you can find the video instructions to submitting to the Podcast at the link below:

I'm really excited that this site could take off. 

]]>
Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1145932 2017-04-12T13:57:15Z 2017-04-12T13:57:15Z Book Review: Earning the Rockies: How Geography Shapes America's Role in the World
Earning the Rockies: How Geography Shapes America's Role in the World by Robert D. Kaplan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book sure comes away with a lot of quotable one liners.

I liked the concept that Kaplan was going for here, the idea of chronicling America's geography and influence upon its place in the world. The final execution though seems to be all over the place.

The first third of the book comes across as an almost "Ken Burns style" historical discussion on the history of the country. I found this early section the most interesting, with its invocation of the "Great American Frontier". Bernard DeVoto was mentioned several times (which makes me want to go read his books) and there is an almost romanticized portray of America's growth.

The tone shifts, almost suddenly, to a modern day narrative of Kaplan then driving across America from east to west to describe the importance of the rivers, natural resources and the trade impacts of the interstate highway system. The sudden shift was a bit jarring as was the change from a historical narrative to a more modern one.

The final leg of the book then shifts once again to discuss geopolitical conflicts and the U.S. military and U.S. Imperialism. At times Kaplan infers to the impacts of geography on other nations and I think he was trying to illustrate how their geography has influenced their growth compared to the United States'. He doesn't go into enough detail on other nations' geography to bring the message home though. China, India and Russia are only briefly mentioned, their rivers specifically, but there is no deeper discussion about their natural resources, political divides or varying climates to counter against what he states for the U.S.

The final section also comes across with a pro-imperialist message, describing that the world economy, culture, etc, are the way they are because of America's military might and geopolitics. I don't believe his insights are incorrect, but he doesn't take much time to explore any of the counter points on the imperialist agenda. The message again comes across as a bit altruistic.

Each of these three sections were fairly interesting on their own, and should probably be expanded to their own books. I just felt that they didn't quite come together with cohesion as a single unit very effectively.

View all my reviews
]]>
Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1143211 2017-04-02T03:27:32Z 2017-04-02T03:27:32Z Film Review: Ghost in the Shell (2017)

Megan and I just got back from seeing Ghost in the Shell and "whew", I have to say I am really pleased with how the live action adaptation turned out. 

The original Ghost in the Shell anime from 1995 is one of my favorite movies of all time. It is a quintessential cyberpunk story that perfectly hits upon all of the nuances that make sci-fi-fi and cyberpunk as fascinating as they are.The original film deftly touches upon the philosophical and moral questions around "what is human?" The animated film also has some of the most iconic and beautiful music and artwork ever created in animation. Check out the excellent video from NerdWriter regarding the original film.

So the adpation had a lot stacked against it from fans. Taking an iconic film in this genre and adapting it is a tough thing to do. The adaptation doesn't go as deep with the philosophical questions that the original, and its subsequent series tackle, but it does bring enough of those questions to the table to those who are looking for them. Viewers who don't want to be bothered don't have to get bogged down with the depth that some of those questions can bring. 

The new film does a good job of hitting upon many of the famous scenes from the original and draws upon influences from the original film for the story, while still changing it up enough that the story can stand on its own. The new film also brings to the table several memorable and impressive scenes of its own such as the opening dining with the geisha's, and the drug house fight.

One of the large early criticisms of the film was the use of Scarlet Johansson to play Major Motoko. Early internet critiques argued of "white-washing" since the original film is Japanese and takes place in Japan. While I can understand some of this sentiments, I think Japanese animation does have a history of drawing female characters to have a more "western" look to them. I personally don't think the original Motoko design screams "Japanese" to be beyond the inherent style of the animation.

Scarlett Johansson did a pretty good job playing the Major, but I would have liked to seen her haircut look a bit less like a bad mullet. I hope we get to see some more films out of this, because we really need to see some more cyberpunk stories make it to the big screen. 

For anyone out there looking to go a bit deeper into the Ghost in the Shell universe, or looking to get into those deeper philosophical questions, I highly recommend you check out the original film and the excellent "Stand Alone Complex" series that followed it. 

Ghost in the Shell (1997)

Ghost in the Shell - Stand Alone Complex


]]>
Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1134485 2017-03-27T03:00:00Z 2017-03-27T01:57:13Z Journey into Modular Synthesis - Part 3: Sequencers

Modules - Sequencers

Ok, so here is things will get a little crazy. As I mentioned before Modulargrid.net has a nice portion of the website where you can build your synth. Better still, you can see what other people are building.

So here is what I have laid out so far. 

Crazy right? There is almost $3,000 worth of modules laid out in that rack matching what the Mantis can hold. So what exactly do I have going on here? Let's break it down and I'll explain what I know so far about how this can work. Keep in mind that these may be acquired over months if not years. 

The first two items that I really should probably get is a sequencer. One or both of them may end up changing as I continue research on sequencing techniques and what I may want to get out of a sequencer. I am currently trying to find out more information about CV/Gate sequencers, which are small little sequencers that can be manipulated with other cv/gate data. 

Stillson Hammer Mark II

So the first module is the Stillson Hammer Mark II. Two things are immediately attractive with this sequencer. 

It features up to four tracks of sequencing with CV/Gate. That right there allows me to get the multiple tracks I need to get a groove sort of setup. The analog sliders also make for quick sequencing capabilities. 

Ilntellijel Metropolis

The second sequencer is the IIntellijel Metropolis. At first glance you might think that these things basically look the same and they are in fact very similar. 

The Metropolis only has one track which it can sequence, but it utilizes a unique feature with the 8-stage switches on it. It is hard to describe and best if just shown in the video below where you can see how unique it is. 


Sequencer Alternatives

So both of those sequencers are very cool, but they are also very expensive, around $600 each. As you can see from the rack posted at the top, they also take up a ton of space. There are all sorts of cool alternatives out there. Unfortunately I am at a loss on exactly how to use them. Here is a quick list of the ones that have caught my eye so far though. 

TipTop Audio Z8000 

This is another super popular sequencer. It is a bit cheaper, but works on a grid matrix.

Malekko Heavy Industry Voltage Block

Very cool because this one can be easily "stacked" with the Varigate 8+. 

The list goes on with problematic sequencers, euclidean sequencers and cartesian sequencers. I'm sure there are even more.




]]>
Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1139004 2017-03-15T18:58:15Z 2017-03-15T18:58:15Z Top 10 Summer Songs

Megan and I had a conversation the other day about our top summer songs. These are all songs that I have some sort of particular memory or connection to summer. Perhaps it was a cool summer night, hanging around a campfire, going to a rave in a warehouse or something else. 

So in no particular order, here are mine. Let me see your favorite songs in the comments below. 


Katy 180 - Sixteen Candles

This first one hopefully no one will know except my high school friends. This was a local high school band and they put out a fun album. Several good songs on there, but this one is a personal favorite that I am uploading directly to my blog here. 


Blink 182 - Dammit


Southern Sun - Paul Oakenfold


Superdrag - Sucked Out


Spacehog - In the Meantime


Soundgarden - Burden in My Hand


Daft Punk - Around the World/ Harder Better Faster Strong


Basement Jaxx - Where's Your Head At?


The Mighty Might Bosstones - The Impression that I Get


The Chemical Brothers - Block Rockin' Beats


Bonus Song

John Digweed - Heaven Scent

I'm gonna throw a bonus song in here, in particular this scene and track from the movie Groove. This whole vibe is very emblematic of some of the warehouse and Goa Trance parties Megan and i used to go to. This movie in particular just puts a huge smile on my face so go give it a rental. 

]]>
Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1139000 2017-03-15T18:17:19Z 2017-03-15T18:17:19Z Book Review: Ode to Kirihito
Ode to Kirihito by Osamu Tezuka
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Interesting...

That is how I would describe this work. This is a strange story about a doctor who is researching a disease. The story then unfolds with betrayal and corruption in the medical world of Japan. At the same time our main character is taken on an emotional and physically brutal trip through several countries enduring the bigotry of the disease he has caught.

The cultural sentimentalities come across strange at times, dated even. There was a passage early on in the book where a female lead character is raped and no one seems to care. The perpetrator, whom she knew, just walked away and she gave into it as if she was supposed to. It was odd to me and actually unbelievable.

The artwork was extremely well done though and at 800 pages has to be one of the longest graphic novels I have ever read. I won't put myself in the camp of "masterpiece" as others state, but it was a good book.

View all my reviews
]]>
Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1137599 2017-03-10T20:01:32Z 2017-03-10T20:04:56Z Book Review: The Golden Compass
The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Well, I don't know quite how to rate this book. There were a lot of things I liked but there were also a number of things that pulled me out of the story.

Audiobook
Let's start off with the audiobook itself. The audiobook was really well produced. It was read by Philip Pullman and fully cast with actors, resulting in a pretty immersive listening experience. Some of the characters in the book came across better than others, but most were quite good.

Philip Pullman also did an excellent job as the narrator and he has quite a good reading voice.

The Story
The story left me a bit mixed. I felt that there were too many instances of the narrative had to be resolved by a "deus ex machina", where Lyra just happened to have the right tool, or set of words to get her out of a situation. The alethiometer was a really cool device in the story, but often times was just too powerful of a plot device for Lyra.

Lyra's character also really left me mixed at times. I liked that she was portrayed as a strong female protagonist, but she sometimes swung from a helpless child less than her age, to someone who had the intelligence to outwit most of the adults around her. I was able to believe the latter, but the former felt out of place for the character that Pullman developed.

Most of the supporting cast I truly enjoyed. They were well developed and people you could love our hate truly based upon their character. Lyra's parents we come to find out are absolutely crazy. I enjoyed their insanity, but I did have a bit of trouble trying to understand how they fell in love to begin with. Their personalities seemed so far apart and they were insane for different reasons.

This was a pretty solid book, but I wasn't quite "wowed" by the hype that has proceeded it. I am not sure if I am going to go onto the second book in the series.

View all my reviews
]]>
Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1136266 2017-03-06T02:07:56Z 2017-03-06T13:18:04Z Ridelog - February 17th, 2017

It has taken me a couple of weeks to get this posted. The weather was in the upper sixties a few weeks ago in the middle of February and the Mews group for out for a quick Sunday afternoon lunch ride. We rode out to Sycamore Illinois and ate at the Courthouse Bar and Grille. 

It was a great lunch ride for a an odd day in February, but a ton of fun.
]]>
Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1134487 2017-02-27T18:00:00Z 2017-02-27T23:57:36Z Goodbye Flavors.me

This past week I received an email from Flavors.me that it was being shutdown. Flavors has been one of my favorite website tools over the past several years. It was bought out by Moo.com about four years ago and it appears that they have put the team on Flavors over to their own Monogram app. 

Flavors has been a wholly unique platform that unfortunately there is no good replacement for. It started out as a sort of landing page website, similar to About.me. Flavors.me had the great feature though of aggregating social media sites into a page for you. It didn't just link to your social media, but it actually brought the content in. They had links to dozens of social media sites, so it was really a great tool to bring in all of those platforms that musicians and artists are already using. Flavors really was probably the best website photographers, musicians and artists could have used. 

In my photos above you can see how i used it to bring in content from my blog via RSS, Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Instagram, etc. It is unfortunately a site that isn't replaced by anything else and at $20 a year it was quite a deal for the service it was. 

After spending several weeks trying to find a replacement I have settled on a Wordpress.com site. The basic Wordpress.com site can be had for about $2.99 a year. It won't give me the same features of bring my social content into the page, but it will allow me to have my landing page setup once again. I am still in the process of building my new page, but you can find to at http://matthewsupert.me.

So you may be asking yourself why do I use Posthaven for my blog if I am going to be using Wordpress for my main site? Well, in short I have years worth of posts here at Posthaven now. The other thing is that for the $5 a mont I pay for Posthaven, I have nearly unlimited content uploads for my blog posts. My motorcycle trips and vacation blogs wouldn't happen unless I paid for substantially more for Wordpress. Could I go for a self hosted site? Yes, I could and I have done that in the past. The problem with those is that I have to stay on top of security updates and keeping the plugins, widgets and CMS installation up to date. Quite frankly, I just don't want to have to deal with that sort of stuff right now. I struggled for years trying to find the best place for me to blog. For me I need things to be as simple as possible. Posthaven allows that for me and continues to allow that. For now, Wordpress seems to be the best place to build an affordable personal landing page. 

]]>
Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1131040 2017-02-27T04:00:00Z 2017-02-27T02:48:48Z Journey into Modular Synthesis - Part 2: Cases

So the process into researching a modular synth is now ongoing. The apparent cost of this endeavor is striking, so this will not be something that will be completed in a short run. 

Research is the name of the game going forward. What modules do I want and how do they fit together.

One amazing resource online is a website called modulargrid.net. It appears to be THE place to go when researching modules and it has a truly fantastic community around it. Not only can you view modules from the hundreds of manufacturers, but you can also build your setup and get information on price. 

Before you get into modules though you need to first get a case and power supply. 

The Case

The first hurdle in this process is going to be the case for the modules. Cases as it turns our are expensive. These units from Doepfer and Pittsburgh Modular cost $700 or more. Some are custom built, while others are manufactured. There are some truly great ones out there that are really robust and will fold up for travel. For my purposes though I won't be traveling with the unit so I am going to opt for something a bit more basic. 

The best "bank for the buck" I could find  seems to be the TipTop Audio Mantis. It is two rails of 104HP and can be had online for about $340 with a power supply. Not too bad.

The other top contender for me seems to be a 7U case from Intellijel. During my research I have found that there are various 1U modules that are also available from various manufacturers. Some of these act as mixers or other CV routing options. Not all cases have the 1U space available though. It's unfortunately just another layer of complexity to add to this process. 

The Intellijel 7U case has this option. Here there are two rows of 84HP plus 84HP of 1Up modules. Price is almost twice that of the TipTop Audio Mantis, but it also is a hard travel ready case. They also have a very reasonable joiner to link two cases together, which seems interesting for a future investment on a case. 

So, these two options seem to be the directions so far. I have been doing my research on Modulargrid.net into modules. I'll have another post shortly to explore that. For now, I need to eventually make a decision on a case before dong anything else. 


]]>
Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1132903 2017-02-21T18:00:00Z 2017-02-21T03:37:46Z First Bicycle Ride of 2017

The weather was great in Illinois this past week. Highs were in the upper sixties all weekend long, which meant everyone was able to get outside. 

Megan and I both got out and enjoyed a quick ride at the nearby Centennial trail. It is a great afternoon ride that we have done on numerous occasions. It is an all paved bike path for about 13 miles. A section of the path that was closed and under construction for all of last year had just opened up and we were able to experience it for the first time. It was a nice six mile stretch on the I&M canal which had water on both sides of the path. It was really fantastic. 

We also had the opportunity to try out both of our fitness watches for the first time cycling. Her with her Apple Watch and me with My Fitbit Charge 2. 

Both worked out great, but there were a few hiccups along the way. Megan's Apple Watch has built in GPS, but it seems that the Strava app on it has not yet leveraged that. We left her phone in the car so we missed the first few miles of recording for her. Instead we used the watch's built in fitness recording and that ended up working out great without the phone. Lets hope Strava updates their app soon.

On the Fitbit Charge 2, the connected GPS to my phone worked out well. I had to record the route using the Fitbit app instead of Strava, but the data did push over to Strava in the end, including the heart rate data. Very cool and something I hope to use more of in the future. 

]]>
Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1132765 2017-02-20T15:08:51Z 2017-02-21T02:33:37Z Book Review: The Children of Hurin
The Children of Húrin by J.R.R. Tolkien
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

They don't write them like this anymore. The Children of Húrin is a work completed by J.R.R. Tolkien's son, Christopher. The story reads like a Greek tragedy or legend, as if it was being told around a fire.

The story follows the life of Túrin, son of Húrin, covering his entire life, and focusing brief passages on his key adventures and misadventures. The book does not give you an in depth "play by play" of everything that occurs and it will summarize years passing in a paragraph or two.

What you get are broad strokes about the feats performed by a single man and the tragedy of his life. Rather than a book written for us, this almost reads like a book written for the denizens of Middle Earth, shared with its inhabitants about a tragic hero from the first age.

The readability this book rates high compared to some of the other incomplete works of Tolkien. This is by no means as easy as the Hobbit or LOTR, but it is much more digestible than any of the Unfinished Tales. The stories will be easy to follow, but the locations and names of many of the characters will leave you confused. The book assumes that you are familiar with the locations of places in the world, (again, perhaps it is written for the people of Middle Earth) and doesn't give you much reference.

Christopher Tolkien does an excellent job providing detailed annotations and notes on his father's work along with background information about how he pieced partial manuscripts together.

Overall, this is a great story for anyone who is a fan of Tolkien. If you have read The Hobbit and LOTR and you are looking for a story to make the jump before getting into the difficult ocean of the Unfinished Tales, this is a great bridge book that will give you a good story and also give you the background information about how the world was created.

View all my reviews
]]>
Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1130909 2017-02-13T15:46:38Z 2017-02-13T15:46:38Z 2017 Motorcycle Show

Megan and I went to the motorcycle show at the Stephens Convention center this past week. It has been a few years since we last attended. 

Last one...promise 😏🏍❤️ #rninetracer #bmw #motorad #theultimateridingmachine

A photo posted by Megan Supert (@nutmeggily01) on

#yamahaspirit

A photo posted by Matthew Supert (@sup909) on

A photo posted by Matthew Supert (@sup909) on

This was also the first year I have bought something at the show. The illusive Transitions lens for my Shoei helmet apparently has actually made it to sales and they had it at the show for a decent $150. I ended up biting the bullet on that one to buy it. 

As I noted in my post a few weeks ago, I need some new boots this year and I also wanted to pickup a Sena 10c camera. They had both at the show for great prices, but I couldn't really justify spending $600. I'll just have to wait and see if I can get those for a better deal somewhere else. 

Overall a fun show and a great time. 



]]>
Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1128665 2017-02-04T18:15:02Z 2017-02-04T18:15:42Z Journey into Modular Synthesis - Part 1: Why Modular Synthesis?

I'm always on the lookout for trying to expand my musical creation capabilities with my synths setup. If you recall, a few years ago I was exploring a change in my groove box setup. I researched a lot of ways to try and mix up my sound. In the end I ended up getting a Waldorf Blofeld and a Tech 21 Flyrig 5

Fast forward a couple of years and I am now once again looking for something different for music creation. This time around though I am not going to try and change my core musical setup. Instead I am going to try and create a new "workstation" of sorts. Now, I have been exploring some various options over the past year ranging from the Korg Volca series, to the Teenage Engineering PO boxes, to even a workstation keyboard like the Roland FA series

I put most of those thoughts off to the side as I tried to finish my album last fall, (buy it btw) and I am once again back looking for something new. 

I have looked at modular synths in the past, but they have always frightened me off. The shear cost alone is intimidating and the completely opened ended nature of the market, with hundreds of modules, by dozens of different manufacturers is confusing. Coming from a "traditional" synthesis world I have a better grasp than most on what VCO's are and how envelopes and LFO's work. But modular synths, are something radical.

]]> Matthew Supert tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1125111 2017-01-22T19:26:38Z 2017-01-22T19:26:38Z Music Listening: CD - The Wilderness - Explosions in the Sky  

I was at the library this past week, checking out some new CD's to listen to and I came across this one sitting on the "New Releases" rack. 

Before I get into talking about this more, if you haven't been to your local library lately you should really go. There is a good chance that they now stock all sorts of music, DVD's, Blu-Rays, etc. that you can check out and listen to. It is a really great way to find some stuff. Some libraries even have online resources where you can do this on an app right from your phone/tablet. 

Back to the album, I saw this new CD sitting on the rack entitled "The Wilderness" from Explosions in the Sky. The cover art is what immediately caught my eye and I decided to go ahead and check it out and see what it what was. I was very pleasantly surprised to find a great album here, so much so that I actually went online to find out more information about the band. 

Explosions in the Sky is an instrumental rock band. Pitchfork has them identified as a "post-rock" sound. I have no idea what that means, but I could see how some of the music here would be familiar to those of you who listen to Mogwai or Tycho. There is an ethereal quality to the music, but it still comes across as "rock". Not hard mind you, but there is no mistaking the instrumentation as being guitars, keyboards and drums. I can see this album as being a great one to listen to when you are wanting to relax, perhaps unwind after the day. A vinyl version would almost certainly be excellent for this sort of album as well. Thankfully, they are on Bandcamp so definitely take a list to the link I provided above. I think you all may be as pleasantly surprised as I was.
]]>
Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1125105 2017-01-22T19:11:30Z 2017-01-23T01:16:46Z So how is that D&D gaming going?

Remember a couple of months ago how I stated I was going to be DM'ing a D&D game despite never having played the game before? So, some of you may be wondering how that is going.

Overall, I think everyone is having a great time, including myself. There are certainly some learning curves and road blocks along the way, but I think everyone in the group is rolling with the punches as best we can. There is a quote that I saw online that I think sums up common problems;

 "D&D is a game where a three hour walk takes five minutes and a five minute fight takes three hours."

There has been two encounters so far in the game where the fight dragged on way longer than it should have. Both times the battle took up most of the evening's play time and I could see that several of the party members were beginning to get bored. I wish I was able to do better in those and find a way to resolve the conflict more quickly, but I'll just chalk that up to inexperience and move on from there. 

One of our players and his wife clearly have played a lot, so he has been wonderful to help me out on some rules questions without interjecting himself too much into the role of being a "sideline quarterback". 

Here is a quick smattering of some of the more memorable moments that have occurred in the game so far. 

  • Our Dwarf has decided to carry a door around on his back. He used it as a shield at one point and never stated that he dropped it, so I have just said to him that he still has the door. It has become a funny on going joke. 
  • Our group has decided to pick a fight with almost every person they meet, resulting in the death of several different NPC's that they could have interacted with. 
  • Our Monk promised to help a goblin to oust her tribe's leader, only to end up killing her when she trusted him the most. He actually felt bad about his actions after that. 

Now, we have had a couple of "rough" moments in the game and one of those moments spilled out to a real heated conflict during our session this past Friday. Throughout the game thus far there has been a sort of "mistrust" dynamic between the Wizard and Monk in the group. So far, it had always been a sort of fun mechanic and the two of them had a "Gimli and Legolas" sort of relationship. They would tease each other, etc. Unfortunately, that back and forth spilled out of the game this past Friday and I had my first instance where I had to pull someone aside and talk to them about some conflicts in the game. 

The problem started when our Monk indicated that he was part of the Zhentarim faction. The group had run in with some NPC's from this faction near the beginning of the game and our Monk was not yet playing with us. When he revealed his membership, he did so in such a way that the people playing the game knew about it, but that their characters would not. This resulted in some problems where one of our members began to unreasonably challenge and question our Monk and in the end he actually just decided to stop actively participating in the game at all. 

It resulted in a pretty awkward situation for everyone sitting around the table. I talked to the character and I hope that everything has been smoothed over and we can continue without any issues as we move forward. 

Overall though, I have to say it has been an enjoyable experience playing and DM'ing so far and I can see myself doing more of it. 


]]>
Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1123390 2017-01-15T22:57:49Z 2017-01-15T22:57:49Z What Motorcycle Gear to I want for 2017?

Is it riding season yet? Man, I really want to get out on the bike again. I can't wait for my long summer trip with MEWs in August, but a weekend trip to Michigan or something would be fun. 

2017 is now here so let's talk about what toys and gadgets I want for the coming year. 

]]>
Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1120929 2017-01-06T02:12:39Z 2017-01-22T19:26:52Z Music Listening: AAC - Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion Soundtrack - Jeremy Soule

My most recent album pickup is the Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion Soundtrack. What is this album you might be asking? Well, Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (also known more commonly just as Oblivion) is a fantasy role playing video game. The soundtrack here is orchestral and if you are a fan of orchestral film soundtracks like the Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter you will certainly find something that appeals to you.  Now the Skyrim Soundtrack composed by Jeremy Soule is the most recent game released by Bethesda and is one of my favorite soundtracks of all time. It is three hours of just fantastic orchestral music. What's more is that being designed for a video game it works perfectly as background music for reading, writing or just relaxing. 

The Oblivion soundtrack doesn't quite have the breadth or volume of music that the Skyrim soundtrack has. Skyrim is Sole's masterpiece of compositional work. Oblivion though is all of the precursor to Skyrim that it is positioned to be. The soundtrack is still extremely well made and well worth adding to your collection if you enjoy orchestral music. 

]]>
Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1119670 2017-01-01T15:21:23Z 2017-01-01T15:21:23Z My Year in Books - 2016

Here is a look back at my books read in 2016. I leveraged my local library a lot this year utilizing the audiobooks and access to comic comic-books.  I would highly recommend people go and checkout what digital resources your local library has. My library has three online digital resources for audiobooks, ebooks, and comics that all comes with smartphone or tablet apps. Utilizing these will allow you access to all sorts of audiobooks and comics (even movies and music) that you haven't had before. 

Here's to a good 2017 of read. What was your favorite reading? 

]]>
Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1115818 2016-12-15T21:20:19Z 2016-12-15T21:20:20Z Moving on from Evernote......

Why is it whenever you find a product or service you really like, it seems to fall apart? If you haven't been following the news this past week, Evernote has announced changes to their privacy policy that take effect January 23rd. The internet has been pretty upset with these changes because the new policy explicitly states that Evernote engineers could be allowed access to view your data for various reasons ranging from law enforcement requirements to them just trying to improve their service. 

Now, perhaps Evernote has been doing this for a long time and they are just now clarifying their practice. What is unfortunate though is that Evernote has now established a trust problem with its users. Evernote has been the better part of the past five years migrating their platform from a note taking application to a business collaboration platform. With that migration has come a rather hefty annual fee. The business account is $120 a year. I paid for that account because I liked Evernote and I prefer to pay for my services whenever I can. The problem though is that when you pay for a product or service you expect certain things in return. If Google or Facebook were to come along and state that their engineers were going to look at my data for their own uses I would be annoyed, but their services are free and they make money off of leveraging my data. 

Evernote is not that service. I am a paid user and when the service costs as much as it does I expect my data to be fully secure. They have courted businesses and it is not unreasonable to expect some of those businesses to now have confidential or proprietary information store in their Evernote accounts. Having any sort of direct access by any personnel at Evernote is just not acceptable. I would even expect these days that my entire Evernote database can be fully encrypted so no one at Evernote can ever access it. 

Not everyone may share my point of view, but I think it would be in Evernote's best interest to encrypt the data so even if law enforcement does come knocking with a warrant, they can simply say "We don't even have access to the data". 

Evernote's CEO posted a clarifying statement this morning, which I don't feel has clarified much. In the end I feel that Evernote's fundamental and core initiatives no longer match my own and what I want to get out of the service. It makes me extremely disappointed. 

I have been an Evernote user for more than five years now. I have everything from my grocery lists to tax information to my creative writing stored in there. They have continued to show that they are losing their way though. They have increased the prices of their service while not implementing features that have progressed the platform. Basic things such as a night mode for their applications, distraction free writing or even archiving of data just doesn't exist. When you have thousands of notes like I do then searching can become cumbersome. 

Just a few months ago I finally found a great writing application that uses Evernote called Alternote. That app is great, but now I feel like I can't really use it. 

So where does that leave me? At this point I am not sure if I can really stay with Evernote unless they come out and really change the course of their ship. Evernote's business account was nice because my business note and personal notes were kept completely separate. I feel like I will now have to bring my business notes over to Onenote. 

The question is where do I end up with my personal notes and writing? Right now I don't know. Apple's Notes app actually looks pretty robust and being an Apple users I think I can be fine living in that platform. That would solve all of my basic note taking needs. What it won't do is get me where I need to be for my writing. I want to have that minimal writing platform with a night mode. 

I may give Ulysses another look, something I was testing a few months ago. Another candidate though looks to be Bear. It is a really clean note taking interface and with a $15 a year subscription it seems affordable. Time will tell though as I begin to test stuff out over the next week. 

]]>
Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1110394 2016-11-23T20:07:26Z 2016-11-23T20:12:01Z Matt's Reading Suggestions for Political Theory

You won't often see me get onto a soapbox on my blog here, but with the whole political atmosphere as of late I have seen too many posts on social media and elsewhere from people who have taken a few words from a political philosophy, put it onto a meme and then expanded that to encapsulate and summarize what an entire political theory is. That sort of stuff annoys me to no end. If one wants to disagree with a political ideology they should take the time to try and understand what that theory is, where it came from and why it's ideals came to be where they are. 

My undergraduate degree was political theory, and while that seems like a sort of useless degree to have in a practical world, I feel like being exposed and reading the works of political theorists has made me an extremely well rounded person and one who can empathize with various points of view. These political theories, philosophies, and movements were born out of a need. They didn't just spring up out of nowhere so there is always at least some degree of legitimacy to what they are trying to convey. Some, in fact many have not stood the test of time, while others ebb and flow in their prominence around the world depending upon various political and socio-economic conditions in the world. While none of them are the Truth, all of them hold some bit of truth and reasoning for why individuals and societies believe what they may believe. 

So with that in mind, I am going to outline a couple of the works that I have found to be the most influential upon me. Hopefully, you will read some of these yourselves. And please, in the future, don't just Google something and take the first sentence or two of Wikipedia and use that as your education on a topic. All of the books here also have volumes of work worth of discussion and critique upon them so I won't go and try to summarize in detail what they are about. Instead I'll try to mention the main topic from each book that is typically drawn out and discussed in conversations.  

Most of the books I will recommend are probably in the public domain, so I will try to link to their ebook and if it is available the audiobook. 

Finally, before I get into my list I want to point everyone to another resource which i feel is way more useful than Wikipedia for a lot of these topics. The Internet Encyclopedia or Philosophy, is a great place to go if you need to get your summarized version for some of these books. Most of these are going to be hard to read so some sort of companion is truly helpful. 

]]>
Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1107878 2016-11-14T01:52:23Z 2016-11-14T01:52:23Z Learning the Mandolin

I am teaching myself to play the mandolin. I have been toying with the idea of learning a new musical instrument for a while now, but I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to latch onto. I was confident that it would be a stringed instrument since that would be completely foreign to me. 

Megan has stated that she has wanted to learn how to play the violin, ahem, fiddle, for quite some time. One idea I had was to try and find a potential companion instrument, with the hopes that we could one day play together. 

Various instruments ranging from violin, cello, viola and banjo have all been under consideration. All would allow me to play some folk music and some Irish music as well for Megan. 

The mandolin emerged as the top contender a couple of months ago. Not only is an entry level mandolin dirt cheap, but I was surprised to find the wide range of music that the mandolin can cover. Being in the lute family the musical repertoire ranges from medieval court music, to just about every folk genre you can find. It seems to have a particularly strong presence in Italian, Irish and American (Bluegrass) folk music. 

So, mandolin it was. My first couple of days with it were productive, but also a real challenge. My form needs a significant amount of work and many of the notes get a metallic "twang" to them, I think due to my bad finger positioning. Through the book I have purchased and also a fantastic website called MandoLessons.com, I have been able to get down the basic notes, understand the basic fingerings and learn my first three chords. 

I hope there is a lot more to come. 

]]>
Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1106207 2016-11-07T15:04:19Z 2017-01-22T19:27:07Z Music Listening: Vinyl - Tour de France - Kraftwerk

I have a couple of recent vinyl pickups which I will be posting here over the next couple of weeks. The first one up is the album Tour de France from Kraftwerk. This is a 2009 reissue of the album and I received this as a birthday present. If you do not know who Kraftwek are, they are an electronic music group from Germany who has been around since the 1970's. They are early pioneers of techno and the Berlin techno scene. Their music is sometimes quintessentially identified as "robot" music since the beats and rhythms are very mechanical. The group is also known for their live performances and visuals. 

This album follows in their standard music profile so if you know that you like or dislike Kraftwerk then you will know what you are getting here. The opening tracks on side A, Tour De France Étape, are probably the best tracks on the album. They are a relaxing, almost downtempo collection of synthetic textures. 

The album also features a really nice 20 page artbook, which is a collection of typographic images. It is a nice touch for those out there who are collectors of that sort of stuff. 

Great album and certainly a good evening listening type of album to put on while reading or relaxing. 

]]>
Matthew Supert