tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:/posts Matthew Supert 2017-11-17T02:56:04Z Matthew Supert tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1205493 2017-11-16T01:00:00Z 2017-11-17T02:56:04Z One Week with the iPhone X

I have had the iPhone X for about a week now. There seems to be a lot of talk about this new phone. Some people are loving it while others are scorning it for various reasons. I have been due for a phone upgrade for a while now and we did happen to get a couple of these at work for testing. So, after a week of using it how does it stand up? 

Well in short it is an iPhone. It is a very good iPhone, but fundamentally it does everything previous iPhones did and continues to tread the path of design aesthetic that Apple has been known for. As you can imagine, this is going to lead to some strong opinions on the design. My general impression has been that those who are the strongest critics of the new phone are not Apple fans or iPhone users to begin with. The design choices Apple has made very much stay with their design methodology and whether you agree with that or not really just comes down to you as a user. Here's the thing, you don't have to like Apple’s choices and there are tons of other phones out there if you prefer something else. I do think what Apple has done is interesting though. So let's take a look at what I like and what I don't like.


What I really like 

The Screen 

I simply love the screen. It is bright and crisp and very responsive. The change to the near edgeless design is really fantastic. I really like the look of the rounded corners on the screen. Going back to my iPad with the square corners and the bezels really feels like a step back. I really like how the corner information like the battery and cellular network are tucked away out of the main viewing area with the black tab, but they also still feel cohesive with the background continuing through to the screen area. It is hard to describe, but it does feel like an amazing design aesthetic. 

While we are talking about the screen we might as well talk about the black notch at the top. I have found this to be a non-issue when using the phone and it "disappears" after a few moments. The dual depth cameras and IR sensor that are included in that notch really are a nice asset, and I feel like the phone’s design aesthetic would be worse if the black bar did continue across the entire top. 

There is a "notch remover" app in the iTunes store now which creates a black bar across the top of the screen and quite frankly, I think it looks terrible. The phone feels unbalanced. But, to each their own. 


The Camera

The camera is great and the dual camera setup on both the front and the back adds a lot. This is one of those things that could justify the extra price tag for most people. The portrait photos look fantastic and the low light ability is a huge step up from my iPhone 6. I do wish that Apple had done a bit more with the photo filters or given us something a bit more on the software side. 


Face ID

Face ID is a really cool addition and it works really well. I just wish it didn't involve the removal of the touch ID because I still prefer that in some instances. There are times when you simply don't want or can't bring your face directly to the phone. 


So what Don't I like? 

The Hardware Design 

The phone feels amazing in your hand and it has a nice "heft" to it. Unfortunately this feels like a super fragile phone and the back is made of glass. It is extremely slick in your hands and I feel like this is an instance of Apple just moving with blinders. They really should do a better job of hitting their design aesthetic while making a phone that isn't this fragile. What's the point of making something so pretty if you have to put a case on it? 

Also the continued "bump" from the rear camera. I can't believe that we still have this. Just make the phone thicker so it can rest flush on a table. 

The Removal of the Home Button and Touch ID

Despite the new edge to edge screen and Face ID, I miss the home button and Touch ID. Touch ID feels like a more secure feature, especially for Apple Pay. While the new screen gestures are easy to get used to, you still lose something without the home button. 

I used Apple's "Reachability" feature a lot on the old phone. The new phone is almost impossible to use with just one hand. The reachability mode was previously accessed by double tapping the home button. It now has to be turned on in the accessibility menu. Actions now have to be accessed via a little "bar" on the bottom of the screen. Unfortunately, while holding the phone in my hand I can't really reach the bottom of the screen. It makes for an awkward experience at best and at worst an opportunity for the phone to slip right out of your hands. 

I really would have liked to see something on the bottom of the screen. The notch actually mirrored on the bottom of the screen with that touch line and haptic feedback would be really cool I think. You could get the gestures you want while still having a physical component for your hand to be guided to when using the phone. I really want to see touch ID come back. 

iOS 11 UI changes 

Some of the UI changes to accommodate the loss of the home button also are not quite there yet. I like what Apple did by moving them to the corners. I have been using the hot corners on my Mac for years, so this make sense to me, but they are not that responsive. Opening the App Switcher is a crap shoot and it just doesn't feel good. It is also difficult now to figure out how to turn off the phone and force close apps. Unfortunately I feel like these changes were driven by the hardware, and while some of them are good, some just don't hit the mark. 


Overall Thoughts

Overall, this is a nice phone. I like the camera features, but it is too hard to try and justify the prices for this first round. I hope to see the screen design get into future phones and iPads, but I want to see the Touch ID come back. 


]]>
Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1202389 2017-11-01T02:12:18Z 2017-11-01T02:12:19Z Music Listening: AAC - Liam Gallagher - As You Were

Oasis is (was), hands down, my favorite rock band. Its ironic that I like them as much as I do considering I really do not like the Beatles at all. Oasis is as close as you are going to get to a Beatles sounding band without being an actual cover band. For those of you out there who are Oasis fans, you are well acquainted with the long standing feud between the Gallagher brothers. They are in short assholes and they are assholes to each other. Liam, the lead singer, developed an almost historic reputation for his antics and the journey that was Oasis came to an end around 2008.

All of the band member's have experimented with projects for the past decade, but we not have before us Liam's first solo album. I have always been able to enjoy his and Oasis' music without having to like the member's personally. I don't need to be friends with them, so what they do with their personal antics are of no concern to me. 

This album is pretty much exactly what you expect it to be. It sounds like Oasis, and for me that is just find. Some good, solid brit rock is always welcome. The opening track "Wall of Glass" is a great sounding song that captures that glimmer of Oasis and Liam. That quintessential Oasis guitar riff is featured right there while the track opens. 

The rest of the album is good, but doesn't really present any truly memorable songs. If you are an Oasis fan, like me, then you will probably love this album. It is good to have fresh album in my library with this sound. For everyone else out there, I would say check it out. It is sort of like how the new U2 albums are. When you listen to them they are all solid albums and well produced, but not necessarily "memorable". 

]]>
Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1198505 2017-10-16T02:42:03Z 2017-10-16T02:42:04Z My New Favorite iOS App - Momento

https://momentoapp.com

This past week I have come across a new favorite app, that is now sitting on my iPhone. Momento was featured this past week with several apps in one of Apple's daily lists. Momento caught my as a private journaling app that has a really clean interface and the ability to automatically import content from your social media. 

I like the idea of a private journaling app at lot to just capture quick things throughout my day. The added benefit of the social integration makes that even easier because my Facebook, Instagram, etc. posts can automatically find their way into the app, which makes it ideal for weekend and vacation adventures. 

What is particularly cool about the social media import though is that it will actually bring in content that you are tagged in from someone else. If a family member tags you in a photo and posts it on Facebook, it will capture that automatically. Even cooler still, is that it is smart enough to see all of those tags across different social networks and identify those people or places. So you can then go in and find your spouse for example , and find everything, going back years with photos and posts with her. 

Another great feature for just looking back on your journal is the "One this day" feature on their calendar. You click on it and you can see every entry for that day/date going back years. It is sort of cool, but also freaky that Facebook has content back to 2008.

This app has filled two holes for me. I was a big fan of Flavors.me, which was a personal landing page website that aggregated all of your social media into one place. It was a great tool that really should have a replacement online. This doesn't replace that for a public profile, but offers a lot of the same features for private use. 

The other app it replaces is Foodspotting. I loved Foodspotting and it was my goto app for taking my food photos. Unfortunately it hasn't really been updated in years and while Instagram and Foursquare can serve that purpose for public usage, having something for private food tracking that can tag people and places is nice to have. Evernote Food unfortunately never got a replacement app. 

So I would highly recommend people check this out if they are looking for a great app to have a quick and small personal journal.  It is also a very affordable app to ranging from free to about $4 depending upon what you want to do with it. 

]]>
Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1198332 2017-10-14T23:59:51Z 2017-10-14T23:59:51Z October 2017 - Videogaming (Gone Home)

I finished playing the game Gone Home last night and I have to now recommend this game for everyone to play. It is one of the most emotionally impacting video games I have ever played and also perfect for a rainy, overcast October. 

The game is extremely simple and only takes a couple of hours to play. You find yourself in the front porch of your family's new house. There is a storm raging outside and there appears to be no one home. Over the course of the next couple of hours you will progress through the house to find diary chapters form your sister along with notes about your Uncle who used to live in the house. 

I won't spoil the magic of these passages, but the game has a beautiful atmosphere and perfectly told story. There are moments where your own imagination will get the better of you, but you should just keep going forward for the story. This won't "scare you", I promise. 

https://gonehome.game

]]>
Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1197909 2017-10-12T21:32:04Z 2017-10-12T21:32:04Z Novation Circuit and Novation Circuit Mono Station - Second Thoughts

It has been a little over two weeks now with the Novation Circuits. I am having a good time with them, but I have quickly hit a wall with the learning curve. The quick jam sessions are fun, but taking the next step to actually try and create some songs are proving difficult for me. I think this is mostly due to me needing to actually learn the kits. I have gone through the quick start guides, but a full reading of the manuals is in order, especially since there have been numerous firmware updates to these things over the past year. 

I am already beginning to think about what sort of additional equipment I might want to add to these to build out the sound palate. A modular synth is enticing and I have seen several setups using one. 

The Roland Aira line looks like it could also be an excellent complimentary set of equipment for the Circuits.  

The Aira line not only has the looks, but possibly the interface for a sort of hands on performance aspect to what I want to do with these Circuits. 

The MX-1 mixer looks perfect for this sort of setup with 6 audio inputs, AIRA integration and live performance effects. Where I go from there is the real question. Do I need the TB-3 baseline synth? How about the System 1M for deeper synthesis, or perhaps the SP-404A for more percussion and sampling. 

I don't know where I will end up, but I think the next couple of months could be fun. 

]]>
Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1194864 2017-09-29T19:07:23Z 2017-09-29T19:07:23Z Novation Circuit and Novation Circuit Mono Station - First Thoughts

It has been years since I have really purchased any new music hardware for my music setup. It is hard to believe that most of my equipment is 10+ years old now. About two years ago I was looking at some new hardware, but I was unable to find anything that I liked. I settled on an effects pedal to spice up the sounds of my Korg EA-1, and that has worked out great. 

I have still been wanting to try and find something different. I love most of the gear that I am working with, but at times, I find that it can be a bit cumbersome. What do I mean by that? Well, the Command Station is a wonderful sequencer as are all of the other synths that I have, but I often feel that I have to spend a lot of time trying to create the sounds before I can create the music. They don't necessarily lend themselves to improvisation. I also find myself getting fixated on the minutia of the sequencing.  That isn't a bad thing, but it does lead to instances where I end up not doing music for months because I look at the gear and see a "process" of several hours in an afternoon of noodling around without much process. 

I have wanted to try and find something that can provide me some "instant gratification" for quite some time. A box that I could instantly sit down in front of to get some notes playing and also make live-streaming more fun. I looked at the Korg Volca series and several other synths, but I decided to go with the Novation equipment for one primary reason. There is no screen. 

Novation's motto for these little boxes is something like "happy accidents"

This is exactly the type of gear I am looking for. Something to crank out some fun tracks on, where I don't have to worry about them being polished studio productions. I hope they can get me to play live more on Twitch. 

My first couple nights with the boxes has been fun. The interface is hard for my mind to digest and I am intentionally avoiding reading any sort of manual at this time. I hope to get them properly setup this weekend for some streaming and jamming. 

What is going to happen to my other gear? So, I think I am going to downsize quite a bit. I will keep my EMU Command Station, since it is the best sequencer ever made in my opinion. The sound engine on that is unique and quite good for ambient, something else I want to get into. Everything else might end up going. I think I am more excited to offload most of the equipment to allow me to purchase some effects or something for the Novation or EMU. 


]]>
Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1190990 2017-09-13T16:24:31Z 2017-09-13T16:25:14Z Music Listening: AAC - The Destiny 2 Soundtrack

I have finally found a game that has broken by addiction to Overwatch (more on that later), and with that game came a soundtrack that almost broke my addiction to the Skyrim Soundtrack. 

Destiny 2 released this past week and with it came a beautiful soundtrack that includes 44 tracks of beautiful and haunting orchestral music. The music here is simply gorgeous, and while it does feature several tracks with repeating melodic themes, it really does capture the melancholy mood of the game. The highlight of the soundtrack is the song "Journey", which is performed by the Kronos Quartet. The song comes in the story at a time when your character is broken, both physically a mentally. As a  player you find yourself in the wilderness, exposed and vulnerable to death and perhaps even hollowed out by the loss of the "light". 

The track is simply beautiful and Bungie did a fantastic job of settling the rest of the ambience of the game into the background to let the music shine in your time of desperation. You can find that track below

If you are in any way a fan of orchestral film or game soundtracks then this is a must buy. It is ranking up there as one of my top favorites and I have been listening to it on repeat all week long. 


]]>
Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1188408 2017-09-03T04:24:05Z 2017-09-03T13:33:22Z Ridelog - Niagara Falls, Ontario, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire and New York

This year's big end of summer motorcycle trip was perhaps the longest trip I have ever taken. 2,750 miles start to finish and we traveled through at least seven states and two providences of Canada. 

 Let's see how that trip went. 

]]> Matthew Supert tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1188392 2017-09-02T23:05:29Z 2017-09-02T23:05:29Z Book Review -The Alchemyst
The Alchemyst by Michael Scott
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I just could not finish this book. The two main characters were so dumb and so frustrating that I could not continue on.

Michael Scott did a wonderful job crafting the world here. The Elder race were wonderfully crafted to link back to "real world" myths and legends and Scott pulled that all together really well. The supporting characters we met throughout this story were all fun and interesting to read about too.

Our two main characters Josh and Sophia just tore this book down though. I understand that this is supposed to be a YA novel, but their attitudes and demeanor played to the "lowest common denominator". I couldn't stand that time and time again, when the two were presented with something in the magic world, they would react with disbelief. At some point they just need to accept it and come along for the ride.

The point that ultimately broke the book for me came in the middle of the book. They were staying in a shadow realm and were instructed not to leave because it was dangerous and that Dr Dee's minions could find them in hours. After all of the danger and amazing things they saw that day, they chose to leave the protection of the tree they were in and take off into the night to then try and make their way from California to Utah to find their parents. Seriously? There is zero believability in that.

This book had the world and potential to be right up there with the Harry Potter series. It was just lost on two terrible main characters.

View all my reviews
]]>
Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1180915 2017-08-06T17:00:00Z 2017-08-06T17:00:03Z Cuba Cruise - Day 4

Day 4, our final day on the cruise. This was a day at the private island and we spent most of it just snorkeling. We got to see a sea turtle!!!!!

And that's it!!! The next morning we were back in Miami and heading back to Chicago. 

]]>
Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1180911 2017-08-06T01:07:42Z 2017-08-06T01:09:51Z Cuba Cruise - Day 3

Day three of the cruise, and Megan and I were doing some more tours. This time we were doing two tours for the day. The first was to a cigar factory and the second was to the Old Havana Rum museum. When we arrived back at the main square to meet up with our tour group we found out that  we were the only ones in our tour. Our tour guide this time was not nearly as good as Mercedes from the day before. She unfortunately did not speak very good english. 

We took a cab to the cigar factory, which was located pretty deep into the city. Our cab driver was actually much more friendly and talkative than our tour guide. 

]]>
Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1176545 2017-07-24T13:47:58Z 2017-07-24T13:47:59Z Cuba Cruise - Day 2

Day 2, July 4th, we arrived in Cuba. Megan and I both got up early and watched the ship pull into the Havana port. 

]]>
Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1176534 2017-07-24T13:19:39Z 2017-07-24T13:19:39Z Cuba Cruise - Day 1

Cruise day started out great. We got up early and then had breakfast an a small empanada restaurant near the hotel. We grabbed our bags and then called an Uber to take us to the port. Once we arrived at the port we had to go through the long line of checking in, which took almost an hour. I was a bit nervous about the whole process because I wasn't quite sure how the visa process for Cuba was supposed to work. Some of the travel documentation stated we needed to obtain the visa 70 days prior, but thankfully it was all taken care of by the cruise company. 

We got our visas and then got onto the ship, or at least we were supposed. We ended up sitting in the terminal for another hour or two and the crowds of people just kept pouring in. At the time we didn't know what was going on and Megan's hangry monster was beginning to show up. We later found out that the port authority had discovered drugs aboard the ship. We don't know if they were from the crew or former passengers. 

The ship finally cast off around 5:30 pm. A little bit late, but everything was good. 

We didn't do much else that night except hang around the ship, goto a few shows and have some dinner. 


]]>
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