tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:/posts Matthew Supert 2017-03-27T01:57:13Z 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.




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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. 

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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
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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
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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.
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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. 

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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. 


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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. 

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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
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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. 



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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.
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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. 


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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. 

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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. 

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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? 

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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. 

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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. 

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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. 

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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. 

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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1101642 2016-10-25T14:50:54Z 2016-10-25T14:53:26Z DM'ing My First Dungeons and Dragons Session

This past Friday I had the opportunity to be a Dungeon Master for my first session of playing Dungeons and Dragons.

Go ahead...Chew on that....Yup, it is the same D&D that you saw stereotyped when you were a kid. 

I always had a fascination with D&D. I was a nerd at heart growing up and I almost certainly would have played D&D as a kid if my friends played it. A few years ago I got my first taste of roleplaying when I decided to try out Pathfinder when visiting the Wandering Dragon game shop in Plainfield. 

Pathfinder is an RPG system much like D&D. I played a few times at the shop, but it sort of fell by the wayside when there weren't a lot of people organizing games. 

D&D came around about three or four weeks ago when a group in Elmhurst was looking for some people to play. I jumped in and went to the first session. Unfortunately, the DM who was supposed to lead the session never showed up and the three of us who were there were left wondering what we wanted to do. Luckily the Elmhurst library happened to have the D&D 5e starter set on their shelves so I popped it open and we dove into trying to do that first game on a whim. I found that I enjoyed the session while reading through it. 

And that is how I found myself a couple of weeks ago volunteering to lead a regular session on Friday nights in Elmhurst. 

I was nervous all of last week. I only had about two days to try and figure out what the heck I was supposed to be doing. I had papers and print outs and books and all sorts of paraphernalia crammed into a book bag.

The night started last Friday and we were away. I couldn't tell if I had enough stuff with me. Did I print up the right sheets? Did I bring the notes I needed? Did I have too much stuff? 

Thankfully the group we played with was pretty good.  Everyone had the same idea of just telling a story and having a good time. The night turned out to be a success and Megan even jumped into the fun and had a good time. 

Friday night ended with a huge sigh of relief and I think everyone had a good time. My first DM experience was a success. I think I may end up doing more of this. 


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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1099321 2016-10-17T02:50:31Z 2016-10-17T15:55:54Z Légère Artificial Clarinet Reeds - I'm Never Going Back to Cane

Anyone out there who is a woodwind player knows the nightmare that is having to deal with reeds. They are expensive and finicky. You are lucky if you get a couple in a box of ten that are good. At one point I used to be one of those individuals who would sit there an sand my reeds, tweaking them to try and get them to be better. It was a pain and it honestly never worked. 

I have had my eye on various artificial reeds now for a while. Reviews are mostly positive about them, but you always see purists who just won't have anything of them. I noticed that someone in my section was playing on a Légère reed a few weeks ago and she said she loved it since she picked it up. That was it for me after dealing with another night of a sub-par feeling Vandoren. 

I ordered a Légère the very next day. It was not cheap, around $30 on Amazon. When it arrived two days later I put it on my clarinet and the different was noticeable right away. It was immediately responsive when playing and I knew right then and there that I would probably never play on a cane reed again. Why had I waited so long to get one of these? 

Now, playing on the Légère does feel a bit different than a traditional reed. First off, the surface is incredibly smooth and my bottom lip was sliding all over the place. The overall reed characteristics are also different than a normal reed. The tone is for the most part excellent, but if you aren't careful with your embouchure, the open holed notes like the middle G, A and Bb can sound very "plasticy". The rest of the notes above the break and in the low register sound great though and with a little bit of careful playing the open tones sound fine as well. 

I initially had some trouble playing the high register notes well above the staff, like the high E, F and G. I think I may have been biting down on the reed too much, causing it to stop vibrating. I think most of that will just come with some time on the reed. 

I'll also have to see how long the reed really lasts. Will it last a year? More? Less? We'll see, but I am super pleased with my initial impressions.  

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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1099043 2016-10-16T00:41:31Z 2016-10-16T00:41:31Z Alternote - My New Favorite Writing App

As some of you who have been following me know, I like to do some writing here and there. I have done Nanowrimo twice in the past few years and both times I successfully completed the 50,000 word goal on both attempts. I won't be competing this year, because I would like to actually finish the two previous novels that I wrote for it. 

So for my writing I have been using Evernote. Many people use Google Docs, Word or even some specialized writing apps like Scrivener. I have liked using Evernote. It is a super clean and simple interface and I was able to keep my writing notes and the writing itself all together in one location. Evernote has some basic text formatting, but that is really all I need for writing. All of the bells and whistles that Word has just aren't necessary. Evernote's desktop application presented two major issues for me when writing. The first, it did not have a "night mode" in the app. Everything is white and it made working on a document in the evening really stressful on the eyes. Second, was that the management of the text size was a bit cumbersome. I like to work in a minimized interface and at times having the text nice and "big" on the screen helps to keep me focused. 

Over the past month or so I have been doing some testing on an alternative. I settled on an app called Ulysses, which I had demo'd for a few weeks. It had just about everything I wanted, including the customizable night mode and some other features. It wasn't perfect though as the text was justified to the left in the minimal interface and it was also $35. Not crazy expensive, but not cheap either. 

Just when I was about to pull the trigger on Ulysses though I found an app called Alternote. It is basically an alternative app for Evernote which happens to have all of the features I was looking for. Even better was that I was able to sync just the notebooks I wanted to (my writing notebooks) to keep the workflow efficient. 

A couple of other nice touches are that it shows me the word count right on the bottom right of the screen, and the text size can be adjusted with a slider if needed. Best of all. It was $7 on the app store. 

If anyone is looking for a nice writing app, and you are using Evernote, or if you just are looking for an alternative Evernote client on Mac, give this app a look. 

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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1095480 2016-10-03T02:54:57Z 2016-10-16T00:24:55Z 2016 Pumpkin Pie Ride

Fall is here and it is time for the Pumpkin Pie ride out in Ottawa Illinois. This is the second year that we have done the ride, but this year Megan had a true road bike. The weather could not have been better. It was about 65 degrees and overcast and we did the 45 mile ride. Megan did great and we had a really fun time. This is definitely going to be a regular ride for us. 

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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1093475 2016-09-26T02:10:41Z 2016-09-26T02:10:42Z September 2016 - Reading List

The year is coming to a close. We are now in the last quarter with fall quickly coming up upon us. For the past couple of years I have really enjoyed reading one of the Harry Potter books during the late fall, early holiday season. I have read the first four books, so I am just starting to now make the turn into the darker side of the series. That also means that the series starts to get a bit longer as we move on. 

I have had an opportunity to read a lot of books this year, especially since I have taken advantage of my library's audiobooks. I can't say though that anything has really captured me with the exception of Ancillary Justice. The collection of Nebula Award short stories was extremely good and I truly enjoyed the Last Wish, which I just finished a few weeks ago. 

I am currently reading an indie book called Render. It is the follow up with Shatter, which caught me by surprised a few years ago. I am hoping to wrap up some series that I have had hanging out there for a while now before diving deep into any new long standing series. I really want to get the Malayan series wrapped up soon as well, since that one only has a couple of books left in the main series. 

I am struggling so far with Render since I cannot remember pretty much who any of the characters are. One of the troubles of reading a follow up series so many months later. Since it is an indie book, I have also been unable to fins a synopsis online to refresh my memory. It has been a struggle thus far to get into the book. 

I am hoping I might be able to knock out two more books before the end of the year. 

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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1090983 2016-09-17T16:19:06Z 2016-09-17T18:03:18Z New Album: Songs of the Solar Empire

I'm proud to announce the release of my latest album. It has been four years since I last released an album and a lot of work has gone into this latest work. The music here is once again an eclectic mix of tracks ranging from ambient to techno to even dance. The opening track, "Lowered Fog" was featured on the Ambient Collective vol. 5 compilation about a year ago. 

Once again, all of the songs were composed on this album utilizing only hardware. After taking some time off to look at new synthesizers I picked up a Waldorf Blofeld for leads and pads and also complemented by Korg EA-1 with a Tech 21 Flyrig 5 to give it a grittier sound. I think those new sounds come across nicely in the tracks.  

All of the tracks were recorded in 24-bit audio and you can download all of the tracks from bandcamp in lossless audio. This is the best sounding album I believe I have ever done. 

So please enjoy, and share. 
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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1087704 2016-09-10T21:55:15Z 2016-10-17T15:57:11Z Ridelog: South Dakota, Wyoming and Colorado

About two weeks ago I had the opportunity to do another great summer trip on my motorcycle with some friends from MEWS. Last year we went to the southeast and hit up the Tail of the Dragon, among other roads. This year we went west and went to the Badlands, Mt. Rushmore, Rocky Mountain National Park and more. The weather was unpredictable ranging from 102.2 degrees Fahrenheit to 40 degrees and raining.

So, let's see how the trip went. 

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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1086967 2016-09-05T23:35:47Z 2016-10-16T00:24:07Z Biking Barrington Hills

The weather was great this weekend and Megan and I took the opportunity to do another ride from our "Biking Illinois" book. This time we hit up Barrington Hills, which is a well known biking area in Illinois. Lots of really quiet country roads nestled in with horse farms. It is quite a picturesque area. 

The ride worked out that we were also heading up to the parents and in-laws places for an afternoon grill out so this was on the way. The ride was a ton of fun and I would love to head back to this area in the fall when the leaves change. Megan had some difficulties with the hills. We did end up cutting our ride a few miles short since she also got a flat tire near the southern end of the ride. We literally had just left a small ret area in the DuPage Forest Preserve when she got the flat. We were a mile away, but the road we were on had forest preserve on either side of us and almost no shoulder. We changed the flat there, but my small bike pump couldn't pump the tire back up to the 110 psi she needed for her bike. We got her back up to around 55 psi and worked our way back north on Old Sutton Road. 


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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1079749 2016-08-09T00:54:36Z 2016-08-09T00:55:19Z Ridelog - August 6th, 2016: Wisconsin and Cave of the Mounds

I had an amazing ride this past Saturday with a group of friends. Celebrating one of the member's birthday we did a ride starting from Park Ridge going up into Wisconsin and seeing the Cave of the Mounds. It was a great route through Wisconsin country roads and the weather could not have been better in the low 80's. 

We took most of our morning ride up through Wisconsin and arrived at the Cave of the Mounds to check it out. It is a small cave located just west of Mt. Horeb. After getting there and seeing the price and how crowded the cave was we opted not to go in the cave itself. We enjoyed the grounds for about an hour before hopping back on the bikes for another ride before doing lunch at the Grumpy Troll.

The Grumpy Troll is pretty much as staple for lunch stops up in this area. It is a small brew pub that has all of your standard bar fare, including Wisconsin cheese. We left the area around 3:30 and made our way back home. 

I didn't get back in until close to 7:00. It was a long day. Close to 400 miles for me since I had to ride up from Bolingbrook. 

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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1077734 2016-08-01T00:57:30Z 2016-08-01T00:57:30Z Ridelog - July 31st, 2016: Rockford Lunch

Been a while since I have posted a ridelog. Took a quick lunch ride today up to Rockford with the MEWS. A nice farm country road ride. No twisities, but a good group. 

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Matthew Supert