Author Archives: blindgordie

iOS11 So Far

Hi folks. Here is my first post on how iOS11 is doing so far, since it was released on September 19th. There really isn’t much that I have noticed that is worthy of disgussion here, except for a few things.

First, the new Siri voices sound better and in particular, the American female Siri sounds rather hot. I loved the female Austrailian Siri but the new American Siri is just so good. Oh, the male Siri voice hasn’t changed all that much, much like the male and female Austrailian Siri voices. It’s just that the sound quality and some inflections have been tweaked. Other than that, the files are bigger and you have to be carefull which voice you want, so you don’t run out of space.

Speaking of which, I like the new offloading feature, for apps what you don’t use anymore. Although, I try not to use it because I just might want to use one of my apps which I have accidentally gotten rid of and by the way, if you want to re-download the app you should go straight to the App Store to do that. For some odd reason when you download the app using the app it’s self, it only downloads as much as 1% of the app. I have no idea why this is but that has been my experience so far.

Something else which I should talk about and nobody has mentioned to me is the peculiarity of the Apostrophe punctuation being replaced with a quotation mark in its place. Perhaps I should explain! If you type in an apostrophe using a Bluetooth keyboard or the screen keyboard it gives you a quotation mark of some sort and not an apostrophe as it should. However, if you touch the icon where this punctuation mark is and you hold your finger on it for the alternative characters, it shows up as an alternate character. My question is why? This is stupid and should be fixed immediately because this makes myself and others who are using this to compose emails, text messages, blog posts, etc, look like we can’t type properly. This also is the case with dictation, where the punctuation mark replaced by a quotation mark of some sort. Again, this should be fixed as soon as possible because more and more of us these days use our iOS devices as our main computer, while mobile. Am I right on this? However, there is a way to stop this and that is to go to Settings, go to General and go to Keyboard. Then look for Smart Punctuation and if it is on, turn it off. Now you can type ‘ to your hearts content. However, this should have been told to us that if we use the Smart Punctuation it will mistake an quotation mark of some sort for an Apostrophe.

There was also the issue of battery drainage but, I didn’t notice it that much. In fact, I never even knew about it until it was mentioned on the Internet. I find my battery in my iOS devices work just fine, despite the rather large iOS 11 and it’s updates so far, with the exception of iOS 11.1.1.

One thing I really do like is that there is no longer limit of how much you can download without Wi-Fi, in most cases. If you want to download apps which are over 100 MB, go right ahead because you can do that now. This is because some apps get rather bloated because of how much you have on them or how long they’ve been around. For example: Facebook is rather large and the updates are equally as Mammoth with as much is 200 MB per update. Of course, you should be careful with how much you update using data because going over your data will cost money. Right?

One more thing I should mention, if you like moving apps or folders around. For some strange reason you can’t move apps or folders from the bottom row, just above where you go from page to page. However, if you want to do that and if you need to do as such, you just move an app down from the second highest row and keep doing that until you have the apps in place the way you want them. Just be carefull that you don’t approach the border or it will move to the next page. So, you have to be slow and methodicle about how and where you move the icon. It has frustrated me but I think I have a handle on how to do it, somewhat but, this should be fixed and I hope that when iOS11.2 rolls around this will be taken care of.

Anyway, if you are enjoying iOS 11, that’s wonderful and if you’re not, I understand. This is rather a large update and it will take time for it to fully settle in.

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Rage Against The Machine Album: 25 Years Later

Hi all. Today is the 25th anniversary of the release of the debut album by Rage Against The Machine. At the time it was looked upon as an important album which continued the musical shelshock of the mainstream by the Alternative Rock Nation. It also helped to give birth to New Metal a year later, influencing bands such as: Korn, Limp Bizkit and other bands with a similar take on both rap music and heavy metal . Fortunately, it still sounds as good today, as it did back in 1993, when it had become recognized as a landmark album in the further evolution of hard music.

This won’t be an in depth look at it, like I have done with other albums but rather pointing out and emphasizing both the most important and the lease recognized songs on the album One of the most well known songs off this very important album is Killing In The Name, which has the repeated fraise “fuck you I won’t do what you tell me” near the end of it 16 times. Wikipedia incorrectly states that it is spoken 17 times and it may have to do with the word “motherfucker” spoken after the last time this is heard. The beginning of the song is also unmistakable, with both the guitar and bass playing a D power cord 4 times. This song was also released as a single and somehow pllayed on the radio. However, the offending repeated fraise was obviously removed after the guitar solo. Apparently someone accidentally played the album version and something must have happened… Maybe a fine or someone was either suspended or fired. I don’t know but that is how things turned out for the song and thankfully, it has done well despite the use of the word fuck in it.

There are other songs which also deserve attention for their greatness on this album. Know your enemy is a great song with great riffs by Tom Morello, the bass playing of Tim Commerford which is also complimented by the drumming of Brad Wilk and the vocals of Zack de la Rocha to round out the band. This song also features another voice just before the guitar solo, in the form of Maynard James Keenan from the band Tool, who were also on their way up and who toured with Rage for a bit. Maynard sings the lines “I got no patients now… I’m sick of complacence now… Time has come too pay. ” It really isn’t a surprise that both bands were on the 1993 version of The Lollapalooza festival, along with many other popular Alternative bands at the time.

The track Settle For Nothing is the slowest and darkest track on the album but make no mistake, this song is no balid and contains the same amount of anger that permeates the rest of it. The song is supported mainly by a bass line and ominous speaking by Zack. I think it is cool because it shows that the band isn’t just about political anger and anger in general. It tackles the topic of abuse in the home in a way that nobody had done before.

The final track Freedom is a tipical Rage song in that it is angry and it is also dynamic. Just before the musical chorus, Zack speaks the words “anger is a gift “then the band kicks in with the faster chorus. At the end of the song, the affect of the band trashing their instruments is heard, as the last thing you hear is buzzing from an amplifier, just to end it all on a distructive note.

Ever since the album came out, Rage has released 3 more albums: Evil Empire, The Battle Of Los Angeles and Renigades. The latter came out after singer Zack de la Rocha left to start a solo career. In the meantime, the other three members formed a new band, in the shape of Audioslave with former SoundGarden frontman Chris Cornell and released three albums, the self-titled debut album Audioslave, out Of Exile and Revelations. Then in 2007, Rage got back together and have worked with each other in various forms ever since. The latest is the supergroup Profits of Rage, with the 3 remaining members of Rage Against The Machine and wrappers Chuck D of Public Enemy and B-Real from Cypress Hill, along with DJ Lord. They have released music and were formed because of the political climate today in America. Also, Chris Cornell died on May 18 of this year, so no chance of an Audioslave reunion.

The Rage Against The Machine album is one of the few that Tom Morello has recorded, with the exception of his work with Audio Slave, that has more conventional guitar solo’s on it. It is also an introduction to what sounds out of his guitar, we would hear on future Rage and Audio Slave albums and elsewhere. Some people have stated that this album sounds unusually fully formed for a debut album. This may be partly because of all the members of Rage being in previous bands and having experience in the studio. Another thing that us Canadian’s can hang our hats on is that it was produced by Fanshawe College alumnist Garth Richardson, who is the son of Canadian producer Jack Richardson.

I have owned this album since 1996 and I have never grow’n tired of it. It always gets a frequent listen when I am doing something and I want to hear some good angry political music. This is despite that I absolutely can’t stand politics because of what it is and what it does to people, who become politicians.

If you don’t have this album in your collection and you are a fan of rock or heavy metal, I insist you get it in whatever format you choose. You can get it physically and as a digital download from iTunes. There is also the 20th anniversary edition which I don’t have because it doesn’t have everything I want on it, such as the studio version of Darkness Of Greed from The Crow soundtrack in 1994. However, I’m happy with just the original album in my collection and that’s okay with me..

10 Years Of The iPhone Influencing Our Lives

Hi folks. Yesterday was the release of iOS 11 and this year is also the 10th anniversary of the iPhone itself. I found a post a couple of days ago on Twitter which lists five ways the iPhone has influenced the world around us. As a companion piece to this article, I thought I would mention how the iPhone has enhanced our lives in general. Although, there will be some overlap in this list between this and the other article but, there are things which has made the lives of a certain portion of the population (with disabilities) easier in reading, writing and communicating with others.
Apple Pay
Apple Pay is something that took a long time for me to grasp because, I didn’t have an iPhone which was compatible with this feature until late last year. Also, I didn’t feel comfortable with the concept at the time until this summer. I guess it was the safety which I was concerned about! Now, I use it as regularly as I can and can do it with ease. Although, I do need guidance as to where the sensor is so I can put the iPhone on it and bingo, I’ve paid for my item. I hope that one day everything can be paid for using both Apple Pay and other companies equivalents to it, so there will be no need to carry cash.
Social Media
The use of social media has also been a great benefit to myself and I guess everybody who uses Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat these days. Even doing this blog wouldn’t be possible without my iPhone in 2013 and I’m very thankful for the use of social media because, it has help me stay in touch with old friends and make some new ones in the process. Even getting a chance to communicate with my favourite musicians and actors has been possible with the iPhone. For example: I follow five of the six main voice actors on The Simpsons and have communicated with a few people associated with The series on Twitter. Also on Facebook I have had the opportunity to meet and disguss topics which I have an interst in with a group and I have even become an Administrator of one or two of them.
Safari
The use of Safari also has enhanst my ability to go on the web and search for things on Google. I even bookmark things which I want to read again later on because, they May change as time goes on. I do this with my favourite bands, TV shows, etc and that is how I follow some of my favourite famous people outside of social media. Even YouTube has been possible to use with an iPhone because at first, when I had the iPhone 4s in 2012 there was the YouTube app. However, when iOS 6 came along that app was taken off and I had to find YouTube videos using Safari. fortunately, I was able to do that quite easily and I have tried the free YouTube app on the App Store but, I didn’t like it because I didn’t have as much control as I do when using Safari.
Apps
The use of applications in general has made my life a lot easier and much less reliant on The media and other people at times. For example: I use a few applications for getting the weather in my local area and some of them also have weather warnings, which are sent out via push notifications. This has not only helped myself but other people around me, when severe weather or nice weather is on the way. I even use applications for getting around using local transit and this has also made life a lot easier. The only thing is that you need to have more than one transit app, in order to find the best one for you and I use 2 of them, depending on the situation at the time. As far as I’m concerned, any app which helps me get around is alright with me.
Voices
Not only do I get voice interaction from Siri, but I also get to hear voices on my iPhone with the use of VoiceOver. In case you don’t know what that is, it is a screen reading software which operates using gestures and double or two finger tapping on icons on the screen, in order to activate an app or to type out a letter or punctuation mark. With VoiceOver, I can do this either on the screen, use dictation or use a Bluetooth keyboard to help me type out: emails, text messages, posts on Twitter or Facebook, composing blog posts, etc. It is not only useful to the blind but also people with learning disabilities such as dyslexia. In my case, I’ve been blind since birth and this feature of the iPhone is what I use most of all, out of any feature on this device. Even the voices have expanded to many different languages and are both male and female sounds. I’ve talked about the voices themselves in past posts here but I will say that I am quite impressed with how many voices in different dialects there are, in Apple’s speech library. With iOS11 the new Siri voices sound even better than I thought. This is especially true of the new female Siri, who sounds quite nice, in what ever dialect you select. The American female Siri souds younger than the other voices in the past and both male and female voices, are available for download. But, they are bigger files than ever before and take up more space. As for the other voices, not much has changed, with the exception of promoting Nikki from being the American female voice of Siri, to being a standalone voice for download in VoiceOver.
iTunes and Apple Music
With the iPhone we were all able to listen to music digitally, through iTunes as well as streaming services like Spotify and various applications, which allow us to listen live to individual songs and albums and radio stations. We also were given the chance to buy our music on the iTunes Store for a cheaper price, than a compact disk would cell at a record store these days. Altho, in my last years of buying CD’s, they have come down in price to about $10.00 or so. However, some albums on the iTunes Stor have sold for as low as $4.99. The real plus with the iTunes store is that in some cases, you could buy albums you could no longer find on CD, because they are out of print or no longer sold where you live. Sometimes it goes the other way, in that the album you want is not available in your country’s iTunes Store. I had run into that a numbr of times!
I have had a lot of joy browsing and purchasing music, TV shows and some movies from the iTunes Store in the past years and that is how I have managed to come up with posts for this blog and my other blogs, related to The Simpsons and even Weather Radio.
With Apple Music, I can now listen to and download (for free) albums by bands which I can’t afford to spend money on at the moment. I can even do that with songs which are only available as an “album only” track on some albums, instead of having to buy the whole album. This has made my listening experience even more enjoyable and has been a big help, with having to learn songs to sing for people in my apartment. I wish that was around back when I went to school because, that would have been a great help in learning songs for my school ensemble.
Text Messaging
I have been able to text since 2011 but this has greatly improved since I have migrated to the iPhone in 2012. Even iMessaging has been a real plus for me, when people can’t simply text me and I don’t mind that. The only thing I don’t think is necessary is adding affects to a message but, I wil add emoji’s to some text messages.
Hearing The Real Voice On The Phone
With iPhones and some other smart phones we get to hear a persons actual voice and not just the phone quallity voice on the other end of the line. I notice this the most with the iPhone and I love it when I hear the actuall sound of a voice so I know what to listen for, when I meet them in person later. Some other phones also allow this and I think it’s great, that we get to hear the voice as it was meant to be heard. We can leave the phone quality voice to walky talky radios and landline phones, thank you very much.

Other Miscellaneous Things
I like being able to create reminders for myself, to let me know about up coming appointments and engagements. For those who like to play games on their phones, there are plenty of them out there. The news app is a good thing to have so you can keep tabs on what is going on in the world. The callender is another good thing to have, so you can plan events throughout the year without having to put down the phone. Taking photos is another thing which is good and the quality of the picture is even better now than it was with other phones and, with iOS11 there are even more improvements to photos. For those who are hearing impaired, there are options for hearing aids and such to compliment the iPhone. Watching TV is now possible with your iPhone and even your iPod Touch and iPad, with the new Apple TV app. If you are recording a voice memo it comes out in your actual voice, much like on the phone.
Those are just some of the things thatthe the iPhone has given us to improve our daly lives and make the world easier to live in. You could say that your iPhone is your: Computer, note taker, calendar, phone, radio, two way radio, virtual girlfriend or a boyfriend, Road map, GPS, etc. in your hand and there is no telling, what Apple will do in the future to improve the iPhone or discontinue it in the coming years. I guess 10 more years as possible but it won’t be the same into thousand 27. You can be sure that the iPhone you’re holding in your hand now will not be around 10 years from now and you will look back and wonder where you would be without this device.

Late Night

Hi folks. I came across an article on the web through Twitter, about a feature which makes music louder on an iOS device. This was quite recent and in fact, I found it a couple of days ago. This feature is called Late Night and is in the EQ section of the settings app for the music app, on your iOS device. To get to it you can go to settings, go to Music and look for EQ. Go to Late Night, tap on that and it’s ready to be used.
The article said that with your iPhone (or whatever iOS device you have) the setting makes the music louder from the speaker. It’s true but the real fun is when you hear the music with this feature on, using your earbuds, headphones, EarPods and maybe even The new AirPods. What this does is take all the dynamics out of music and with the loss of the dynamics it makes you able to hear quieter parts equal to the loudest parts of a song. For example: the song Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen is a perfect song to try this with because, there are so many parts to it. If you know the song well, there are three sections: the ballad section, the operatic section and the rock section. Obviously, the ballad and opera sections have the most shifts in dynamics and gives this feature a real work out. If you have a song in your library or can stream it, just take a listen and you’ll here what I mean. In fact, it will sound like the song is being played on the radio and that is why I purchased the song in the first place because, I like hearing songs on the radio like that with many shifts in dynamics. It’s a real shame that today’s music has none of that because of the compression and every song having the same loudness and in general, sounding the same.
Another band who has songs with shifts in loud quiet dynamics is The Smashing Pumpkins and especially the albums Siamese Dream and melancholy And The Infinite Sadness. I will give you an example from both albums, where you can use this feature.
Siamese Dream has many examples of this loud quiet dynamic but the best one is in the track Silverfuck, which has many shifts in loud and quiet. For example there is the traditional drum bass and twin guitar attack from Billy Corgan and James Iha. In the first verse there is the bass, vocals and tribal drumming from Jimmy Chamberlain, with the chorus going back to the guitar bass and drums, with Billy’s shrieking vocals. The next verse is where we see Late Night at work. In this verse there is a haunting bass line with some equally haunting vocals and carefully placed guitar feedback. Well this is going on, the drums are plotting away quietly. After a few minutes of this, the instruments cease and we hear Billy singing the line repeatedly four times (By himself with echo delay) “bang bang you’re dead… Hole in your head”. After this the band finally kicks back in, with backwards echo on the first word Billy sings.
The next example is from the album Melancholy And The Infinite Sadness and it is the track 1979. It’s not the best example but it’s a classic. What really makes this song stand out as an example is that the song fades in, with electronic beats. If you have the song in your collection you know that but if you’ve only heard it on the radio you know the song starts immediately. To make Late Night work for this song, put the song in a playlist where the previous song has a fade out which is Close enough to make the transition as seamless as possible. If you do that you will hear the electronic beats at nearly the same volume as the song, as they fade in to start the song itself.
For TV shows I have one example I can give you right off hand. If you’ve watched the episode Waldorf Salad from the British TV show Fawlty Towers, you know that there is a part where the guests are complaining to basil about the myriad of mess ups which occurred throughout the episode, including the loud American guest. Near the end of the complaints the American guest says “satisfied customers. Huh? Hot dog!” and laughs in triumph. Meanwhile we see basil getting angrier and saying quietly at first “this is typical… Absolutely typical… The kind of arse I had to put up with from you people.” during the quiet part when basil says “this is typical… Absolutely typical… The kind of…” you hear more of a hiss from the audio and the voice at normal loudness as if he was speaking at a normal volume. When basil screams the word “arse” The audio reverts back to normal loudness without the hiss. If you heard it normally without late night that part would be quieter until the word arse was spoken.
I was one of the first people I know of, to put The word out about this feature on the web three years ago. However, I’m glad that somebody else discovered it along with myself and hopefully others use this feature before it changes or is killed off. I have a lot of fun with music with dynamical shifts and unfortunately with today’s compressed loud music of any type, the days of dynamics are pretty much gone. As much as I love some sub genres of heavy metal, I find them boring because there is no real switch in volume in some cases. However, with a band like Slipknot there are some songs which have such a range to them such as The Shape. However, the best examples are mostly in classic rock and all of its genres within such as: Art rock and progressive rock. Check out the progressive rock. Of Genesis and you will hear some very interesting music.
It’s very sad that today’s music is so boring, bland and loud and lacks interest. Yes, I’m old but I like music which has something to keep me interested, while listening and not just to make me dance and jump around. Even recent jazz records are sounding more compressed and they too, are lacking in dynamics which is very wrong. Well, I guess that is the way music is going these days so I guess I will have to get used to it. One of these days musical sound so compressed and squished together it will be unintelligible. I’m kidding about that but you know what I mean, when I say that eventually the musical become so compressed it will sound very different from what it was meant to sound like. The instrument which is most affected is the drums, because they keep the beat and in jazz they provide the most interesting parts when the drummer takes a solo. Now they sound more clattering and dare I say, harsher. Anyway, I digress.
I hope that someday music will get back to its dynamics again, so we can use Late Night as it should be used through our speakers or headsets. In the meantime, let’s enjoy the original albums of the classic songs and listen to them, to hear them louder and to hear the dynamics taken out by choice.

Review Of Hydrograd

Hi folks. Today is June 30, 2017 and the release of a new album, by a band Who (in my opinion), is rather underrated. The band is Stone Sour and they are fronted by Corey Taylor, who also sings for the band Slipknot. The album is called Hydrograd and is there sixth studio album overall, along with two Extended play’s, an iTunes only live album and a non-album single or two. Before talking about the new album, let’s talk about the band and how it’s evolved from its initial inception to today.
First of all, let’s ask the question which came first? Slipknot or Stone Sour? The answer is Stone Sour, Who first formed in 1992 and went on its initial hiatus in 1997. This is because singer Corey Taylor joined Slipknot, with guitarist Jim Root to follow in a year or so. Slipknot released their self-titled debut album in 1999 and Iowa in 2001 on Roadrunner records. Then, they went on hiatus. While Slipknot was on their first hiatus Corey and Jim resurrected Stone Sour and released it’s self titled debut album in August 2002, with the big single being Bother (Also on Roadrunner records). This song first appeared under Kory Taylor’s name on the soundtrack to the movie Spiderman earlier that year. Then of course, the song was under the band name Stone sour and as I mentioned earlier, it became a big rock radio hit. Even as a fan of Slipknot I don’t mind the song at all because it is good to hear Kory actually singing, as opposed to just singing screaming most of the time, with clean vocals as ear candy. This band and the album show a different side to Kory, both as a vocalist and as a songwriter. With Slipknot the songs are more rooted in extreme metal, while Stone sour is more hard rock and dare I say, alternative rock. Although, I think of them more as the hard rock and heavy metal band because that’s mainly where their influences lie and I will explain that later on, when I get to talking about the two EP’s with cover songs on them.
As for the rest of the debut album, it’s good for a first album and there are stand out tracks for me. Obviously, I like Bother but the songs: Blotter, Get Inside, Take A Number, Blue Study and the spoken word track Omega are highlights of the album for me. I like the fact that the album is so diverse in that there are songs which have hints of Slipknot but, there are songs would show that Kory can actually sing and can write a decent hit song. Even Omega was a refreshing surprise in that this is a spoken word track. Both Kory and myself admire such people as Henry Rollins and during a later interview, he mentioned both him and Ani DiFranco as an influence in this track. It sure is a far cry from Slipknot! Right?
During the albums touring cycle The band made a stop in Toronto, where I met Corey at a radio station and I’ve mentioned this in a past post. All I will say is that he was very nice and we had coffee together. As for the show, it was great and the album was played in its entirety, along with a non-album track called Rules Of Evidence. This track would later show up on a special addition of the album, along with a compilation of artists on Roadrunner records.
After the tour ended both Kory and Jim went back to Slipknot to record the next album Vol. 3: The Subliminal Versus and went on tour until late 2005. Then in early 2006, Stone Sour regrouped and besides a change of drummers, they recorded the second album come What Ever May. As for the drummer change, The bands original drummer Joel Ekman left the band in the early part of the recording sessions and was replaced by Roy Mayorga, Who previously played with label mates Soul Fly, whom Corey had guested on a track of their’s in 2000 on the album Primitive. With the new drummer, they recorded the second album and it was a step up from the debut album in many ways. The songs were stronger and the album was more well-rounded, with even more twists and turns. For example: the singles: Through Glass, Sillyworld, Made Of Scars, 30/30-150 and Zzyzx Rd are all different from one another in both musical style and tempo. The track Zzyzx Rd is an emotional ballad written on piano and the track 30/30-150 is more along the lines of the heavy side of Stone Sour. The album was a real success and the tracks Through Glass and Sillyworld had a lot of airplay on rock radio, when they were released as singles. They also went on the Family Values tour with Korn as well as doing their own Canadian tour in early 2007.
After the touring cycle for this album ended they went on hiatus to make way for Slipknot, to record what became their first number one album All Hope Is Gone in 2008. In late 2009 Stone Sour got back together and put together the next album Audio Secrecy, which came out just after Labor Day 2010. To me, this would be the quintessential Stone Sour album because this is where everything came together musically and with the Alvin sequencing. The single Say You’ll Haunt Me actually rocks but has a bit of a pop sheen to it. This song certainly is the closest thing to a hit single that they released and it should’ve been bigger than it was, as well as the second single Hesitate. The trouble with that song is that it was edited and so was Say You’ll Haunt Me but, The former song did better on radio over here in North America. Unfortunately, the album didn’t do as well as it should have (in my opinion) and some people think that they stumbled. However, I don’t think so because they actually became more focused on this album, in that the songs were still diverse but there was more of a cohesion to The sequencing. The album is more consistent but it still retains somewhat of a range to it. For example: the tracks Hesitate, Miracles and Imperfect are three of the slower songs on the album but they all have a bit of an edge to them, with Imperfect being the only acoustic track not to feature drums besides the title track, which features piano.
During this albums touring cycle, things begin to become weird. At one point Roy had a stroke and thankfully, he made a full recovery. The spot was filled by such drummers as Mike Portnoy, who played drums for Avenged sevenfold and Dream Theater. Original bass player Shawn Economaki missed some shows and at the end of the touring cycle, he left the band but on good terms.
In 2012 the band went back into the studio with producer David Bottrill, who is from Dundas Ontario. He has worked with such artists as: Peter Gabriel, King Crimson, Dream Theater, Staind, God Smack, Mudvayne and Tool, to name a few. Together they gave us the double album House Of Golden Bones. The first part of House Of Golden Bones was released October 23, 2012 and the second part dropped on April 9th 2013. together, the two albums make up a concept album complete with a storyline and a graphic novel. I like both albums very much and the standout tracks for me are: A Roomer Of Skin, My Name Is Allen and The Travelers, Pt. 1 and two and the last track Last Of The Real from The first part and Black John, Stalemate, The Conflagration and The House Of Golden Bones, which of course is the title track of both albums. Once again, both albums are much more evenly sequenced and the heavier songs were released a singles such as: Absolute Zero and do Me a Favour. I wish the song Stalemate was released as a single because this song satisfies the musician in me. I like all the key changes it goes through near the end of it and the melody is good too, besides it being a great rocker.
As for who is playing bass on both albums, well… If you’re into the late 80s hair metal, the nameRachel Bolan should be familiar to you. He plays bass for the band Skid Row. They were a band fronted by Canadian singer Sebastian Bach for the first three albums. Then, he was let go and he started a solo career which he still has to this day. The new bass player for Stone Sour is Johny Chow of Fireball Ministry, Soul Fly and Cavalera Conspiracy. Both albums did well and it seemed that everything was stable within the band. However, in early 2014, guitarist Jim Root was let go and was replaced by Christian Martucci, making Corey Taylor and guitarist Josh Rand the two remaining original members, with Jim playing with Corey in Slipknot to this day.
In 2015 the band released to extended plays: Meanwhile In Burbank and Straight Outta Burbank, which consisted of entirely of covers by bands who influence them such as: Judas Priest, Kiss, Metallica, The Rolling Stones, Alice in Chains, Slayer and others. They also released a non-album single The Dark, which is a cover of a song by a band called Metal Church, which was the title track of their 1986 album of the same name. I love that version and especially since we get to hear Kory laughing with that Erie laugh, he uses for Slipknot and sometimes in Stone Sour, during heavier songs. However I like it most of all for proving that artist from today can do a good 1980s metal song justice and they have done well with it, as far as I’m concerned. There were supposed to be three covers EP’s released but it was decided to release only two of them and to keep the rest of the songs for later usage.
Now, onto the new album Hydrograd and I will go through it track by track talking about each song as best I can. Before I do that though, this album is much different from The bands pass releases in that, it is much more focused and straightahead rock, without that many musical die versions into acoustic songs or balids like which appeared in the past. The overall album sound is much more even and if you notice from album to album, that has been the main point of progression. I’ll explain that later on after talking about each song individually.
The track YSIF is an instrumental which could be another background music show opener. Both of Korey’s bands have used this technique on most, if not all of their albums to start them off. On iTunes it says that is explicit but the only word spoken in the song are “hello you bastards” at the beginning and at the end there something spoken backwards, which could sound like the word fuck is in there but I’m not sure. Anyway, it’s there and leads right into the next song.

Taipei Person / Allah Tea is a great anthemic and defiant song. That’s all I can say about it and that’s all you need to know about the song; really. It certainly is one tailor-made for live performances! 

Knievel Has Landed is a great song with a really cool baseline and reminiscent of the song Digital from Audio secrecy. Also no, the base is not a synthesizer. It’s just put through some studio effects to make it sound interesting. Either way, it’s a great song.

Hydrograd is a song which I think has some slide guitar on it. It’s a little slow and lumbering but the melody is great and the guitar riff is really cool. There is also some great drum work to check out, as well as the guitar solo.

Song #3 is the first single for radio off the album and it reminds me of a song like Say You’ll Haunt Me, in that it rocks and is also quite catchy as a decent pop song. Both songs I have mentioned here should have dispelled the notion that the band can’t write a decent pop song and let’s be honest, writing such a song is not exactly the highest priority for the band. The main objective is to put out music that rocks and gets people going

Fabuless is the other lead single off the album but unlike the previous song, this is not meant for Radio as such. It’s a great song but it’s more of a fans song along the lines of Mission Statement or 30/30-150. If you notice before each album is released, there are two singles which come out: one for Radio and one which is meant for the fans or as a teaser. Every album has their first two singles but come out around the same time and for this album, it is no coincidence that Song #3 and Fabuless are right beside each other in the albums running order.

The Witness Trees is a great song in a minor key. The melody is very good and the chorus is very strong, making up for rather haunting verses.

Rose Red Violent Blue is not a dumb song, in fact it’s a really good one. What interests me is that it switches keys from vers to chorus. My guess is that it probably won’t be released as a single in the future but, I like it.

Thank God It’s Over is a Great rocker with a strong melody and Coris and a pounding drum beat.

St. Marie is a slower and quieter song and an interesting one, which sounds to me like it has a Country rock Flavor to it. However, it has a great melody and the backing vocals are superb.

Mercy is another great rocker with a strong melody and a large chorus. I love the guitar solo and the subsequent key changes which occur throughout it.

Whiplash Pants is one of the angrier songs on the album and is a traditional song, with Corey both singing and screaming on it. Check out the beginning with the distorted piano on it.

Friday Knights is an example of a song with a loud chorus and a quieter verse. It has a great riff and the melody is excellent.

Somebody Stole My Eyes is a fast song, with a crossover of influences between Metallica, Avenged Sevenfold and the standard Stone Sour heavy sound.

When the Fever Broke is the last song and the last of the two softer slower songs on the album. My guess is that it might be a single if the album charts long enough but it’s hard to say. Either way, I like it. This song is another one which also has piano in it as well as other interesting sounds, which could be synthesizers but I’m not sure.

Overall, this album is if not the perfect Stone Sour album, it’s the best they’ve done yet. Corey Taylor and company should be very proud of the work they’ve done in the studio this time and I hope that it goes straight to number one. This indeed is the new quintessential Stone Sour album and has all the elements which makes up the bands sound.
I’m sure that when they go on tour, most of this album will be played in the set list and I hope that there are more than three singles released from it.

Ideas for iOS 11

Hi folks. This is yet another post on iOS but this time it’s all about iOS 11. I have some ideas of what I would like to see when iOS 11 rolls around in September.
To start off with, I like iOS 10 so far and thankfully with the latest updates, some problems have been fixed. For example, when I’m reading an article on Wikipedia when I select a section it reads it twice and says “edit”. For example: when I’m looking at a band or a person and the section is “History” it says history twice then it says edit and goes on to read all about the history section of the article. Another thing which I am very happy about is that finally The Simpson’s is acknowledged on my iPod touch. Ever since I had one of them, when it reads the TV show titles it has always left it blank or it says “in iCloud.” Thankfully with the last two iOS 10 updates this has been fixed.
Now we’re going to start talking about iOS 11th and what I would like to see. Before we do that, let’s talk about what we know so far. First of all, we know that the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5c are no longer a part of the future iOS updates as of the end of iOS 10.  We also now know that Siri will be revamped with a more human sounding voice and I wonder if since new voices have been added to VoiceOver, will Ava and Tom Be the new Siri voices for North American English speakers? it would make sense because those two voices are used for GPS and telephone IVR systems, as I have mentioned in past posts. The same could be true for other voices and dialects around the world, which were added on for iOS 10.
Also, the App Store will get a redesign and I wonder what that will be like. I hope that it will be just as simple for people like myself who are blind to get around, as well as those who can see their devices.
Anyway, those are just two things that jumped out at me when I First read about iOS 11 on Wikipedia. now let’s talk about what I would like to see in the update for iOS, which is not been spoken about and yes, I will mention voices which I and others would like to see added on in September. 
First of all, I have an issue with the alarm clock in that it does not play the full song anymore, unless it’s under 15 minutes. I specifically but one of my songs in my music library as and alarm to wake me up. Unfortunately the song is about 22 minutes long but as of iOS 10 it only plays 15 minutes of it then it shuts off. I hope that with iOS 11 goes back to iOS 8 and how the alarms used to Play an entire song, no matter how long it is whether it is two or 20 minutes long without repeating it.
As for the voices I would like to see in Voice Over, I hope they all stay because all the voices are good in their own right. I especially appreciate the fact that we can download the Siri voices as I mentioned in the past and I’m not going to get into it any further. However, I want to see some new voices added, particularly for North America. Some of the names I like to see added are: Paul, Mike, Jennifer, Donna and or Crystal in iOS 11, along with everything else. I like Donna because much like Alex, she actually breeds but she does sound a little more robotic then most of the voices we have here. However, she does have a human intonation to her voice.
This brings me to changing the internation of a voice, which you can currently do on the computer but not on an iPhone or an iPod. I would love to change The internation of some voices, to make them higher and maybe even deepen one or two of them slightly. For example: I would love to make Ava’s voice just a bit higher and she’ll sound even better to me. I think this could be done with the option of changing the pitch. Simply, they can add the option to change the pitch not by toggling anything on or off but by creating a new option to change the pitch or intonation of the voice, as well as maybe the inflections of the selected voice. In some cases some voices don’t speak properly in that they don’t acknowledge questions by the voice going up at the end. Karen is a prime example of this and I would like to change that if it is possible with iOS 11. Also, I would Play with other voices to either make them lower or higher, just so I can hear what they sound like. Now that we have Fred, you could do the same thing with my proposal of adding on the pitch change option. Imagine me Fred sound more robotic?
As for other things I would like to see in iOS11 and later, iTunes should have a section where if you can’t find the album in your country store you should be able to get it from another store around the world. We could do that and record stores where they sell imported copies of albums at a higher price. Why not with iTunes? Obviously the price will be higher because it’s an import but, at least we would all get what we want without having to get another iTunes Account in another country or address. It would certainly save a lot of headaches when looking for an album on iTunes using Google and finding out it’s available in another country, other than where you live. I’ve been burned by that many times and I had discussed that here and in other blogs.
The same could go for apps on the App Store, where if you can’t find what you want and it’s available somewhere else, you could get it at a higher price. Once again, this would save a lot of headaches when searching for something on Google. Although in the case of apps, I can understand why some aren’t available everywhere because not all apps apply to everywhere around the world. However, in the case of iTunes, music does apply to everywhere around the world and everyone should have the same access to the same music, where ever you live. The same with audiobooks because I’ve done the same thing on Google and as I mentioned earlier with music, I’ve been burned by finding out an audiobook is available somewhere else and the same thing with movies and TV shows.
To end off this post I have some other ideas: I would still like to see video playlists being added to the videos app because I would love to watch episodes of some TV shows in a certain order. Also for the Maps app, I think that the iPhone should speak with all options while going somewhere. I find that it doesn’t say anything when using Transit options. Yes there are transit apps but the maps app does have The options for driving, walking and transit directions. It talks while driving or walking but why not for Transit?
For the notes app I think that you should be able to move attachments from not just iCloud and the “My iPhone” folders but two other folders throughout the app, encompassing your email or (email addresses) if you have more than one. Also I think that for iBooks and the audiobooks portion, not just the title and author should be shown but who also narrates the book. For example: I have a copy of A Christmas Carol which is narrated by Patrick Stewart. It does not say that on the outside but if you open the book, the voiceover says it before the story starts.
If we have apps with sounds Or voices attached to them they should be automatically a part of the suite of ring tones, voices and alert tones. For example: One of my weather apps has its own sounds for when an alert is issued. I would like to have that as an alert tone for my phone, for whatever I would like it to be for email or otherwise. further to that, I hope that in the future we can select a voice for voice alerts for apps which allow for it. For example, all the apps so far whitch have a voice alert option use the compact voice as opposed to the enhanced voice. I think we should at least be given the option, as to which voice we would like to use for the particular app and it’s voice alert. Also, since some people like to switch voices on the fly, why not allow for the option for each app to use a different voice if we desire. For example, I would use Tom for my weather apps and as my default voice I would use either Ava or Samantha and for Safari, I would use a different voice. This could be done in either the speak screen or voice over speech setting options and at first, I admit it would look confusing but it would give us what we really want, which is variety without having to change things manually on the fly.
Finally, I hope that all of the upgrades which have been made in iOS 10 continue in iOS 11. I like the text selection, which is great for copying and pasting text from emails and websites, for example. I have also gotten used to the new email format and well, I hope both examples I have mentioned here stay in iOS 11 and future upgrades.

iOS10 Presently

Hi folks. This is another entry in the blog, about iOS10 and how it is doing for me, so far. I’ve commented on it in the past few months and I will get more into some things I just touched on in previous posts.
In the case of the voices, we have a whole host of them to work with in all dialects. The American voices have been expanded to include not just the classic tones but voices such as: Ava, Allison, Susan, Fred, Tom, Kate, Oliver, Serena, Lee and many others. Even the Siri names have been exposed such as: for the American Siri voice as we have Nicky for the female voice and Aaron for the mail voice. For the Australian voice we have Catherine for the female Siri and Gordon for the mail Siri voice. For the British voice we have Martha for the female voice and Albert for the mail Siri voice.
If you recognize some of the voices from elsewhere, you are not alone. Tom was previously one of the voices for not just a number of IVR phone systems but also the mail voice for NOAA Weather Radio, untill 2016. He might be returning to Weather Radio in the future, as the new English speaking voice for Weatheradio Canada. However, it may be a while yet before everything falls into place for changes to the current voice platform.
Ava has been currently used on a number of ivr phone systems for some transit systems and even Greyhound’s phone number. However, in some cases she has been used as the secondary voice, alongside the main human voice with the greeting and the prompts. In the case of Go Transit, she’s the voice who responds to words much like Siri, with such such phrases as for example: “you would like to depart from Union Station. Is that right?” I think she was chosen because she speaks slowly and clearly and this is also evident, when using her on my iPhone or my iPod touch. Her voice also has a calming affect on you and you just wish she could give you a hug, after she helped you get where you wanted to eventually go.
In the case of Susan, the only place I found her so far is on the IVR phone system for MiWay,the transit system for Mississauga Ontario. Again, she is actually the occasional robotic female voice, behind the human female voice who speaks the prompts. My guess is she is used for phrases which may have been too difficult to properly record or process, but I’m not sure. Either way, that is her and I’ll explain how I know this with both her and Ava.
In the cases of both Ava and Susan, I did an experiment using applications for Transit Systems in the GTA or writing out something that would sound similar to what they would say on the IVR phone system. In the case of Ava, I actually wrote out “You’re crazy. Is that right?” I just wanted to prove to myself that nothing was changed in her dialect or inflections and of course, I was correct. In the case of Susan, I use one of my transit applications which also had MiWay as a part of it and I use one of the stock locations I’d heard on the phone. The speed was changed slightly, along with the vocal phrasing but it was Susan, without any doubt. Her voice is very distinguishable from the human sounding voice, which breathes and Susan of course, does not breathe, unlike Alex. I don’t know why but I picture the voice of Susan as a Woman who is tall and slender and a very outgoing and kind personality. In the case of Ava, she sounds like a very relaxed and very nice person, who is more average height and average build, but with a gentle nature.
I think all those voices were chosen because most if not all of them, were and are used as GPS voices. Obviously, Karen Jacobson is a main voice but also Samantha is used, along with Tom and other voices. It’s kind of hard not to imagine any of them saying “turn right at the next intersection. Walk 100 m to your destination” on a GPS system from either Garmin or tom-tom.
As for my own personal use of the voices, I use them for everything you can think of such as: reading things, composing blog entries like this one and yes, using them for going places with my transit apps or my maps app on the iPhone. I know there are still many other voices out there, which have yet to appear on iPhones and other iOS devices, which are available and heard on other mediums such as TV and radio. Also, let us not forget that some voices are used in your local train or bus station and someday they will appear on your iOS device, so you can have a lot of fun with them in the future. Picture creating your own trip plan in your head, to where ever it is you want to go and putting it in your notes app on: your iPhone, iPod, iPad or whatever iOS device you have. If the human sounding Paul is available for iOS11, that would be great for those of us who have weather applications, which have the American weather forecasts available to us. After all, Paul is currently being used for NOAA Weather Radio. Also, let us not forget about Mike and Crystal, who are also voices that have been used for various automated services in the past 13 years or so. Even some amateur radio repeaters use Mike or Crystal as the identification voice to put out the call sign. Even a computerized voice which was used for the old Speak And Spell toy is used on some repeaters for the same purpose. Will it, Mike or Crystal become available for iOS in the future? It’s hard to say but it depends on how big the update is and I’m certainly looking forward to iOS 11 and beyond, to hear what new voices become a part of my life for the next year going forward.
As for everything else, well… Everything else seems to be going along swimmingly. Although, in the case of iOS 10 point to the video app had a bug in it, which didn’t allow videos that were not on all devices not to be shown. I don’t know why but it was thankfully fixed for iOS 10.2.1. I also noticed that I have been able to download things as usual, since I have deleted Siri app suggestions. What I do like is that I can actually go to either music or the iBooks by going to the Control Center and going to page 2. In the case of the music I can play songs in random order which, normally I don’t like but sometimes I let it do that, if I’m feeling lazy. After all, there is nothing wrong with a little variety. Right? My musical tastes are very diverse although, I usually focus on one genre or collective genres of music that I talk about with people. Anyway, I digress.
So, here’s hoping that iOS10.3 is just as interesting and I wonder if it will be accompanied by a new iPod or iPad.