Author Archives: blindgordie

iPod Touch Seven

Hi folks. I feel I should talk about the iPod Touch today, because I have recently learned that the iPod Touch 6th generation may be discontinued as of iOS11.3. Currently, the 32 and 128 GB models are available for purchase but the prices have dropped. So, what does this mean for the iPod Touch in the future?

When I purchased my first one back in 2014 I had a 32 GB model, which was enough for a bit. But, I realized that I needed more space and so, I had acquired bigger capacity models and I currently own two 128 GB model’s. Why two of them you may ask? Well, one is for The Simpsons and the other is for everything else in my music, movie and audiobook library. I also bought them because I don’t like to listen to music on my iPhone because I can be more easily interrupted by all manner of things: text messages, tweets, Facebook posts, phone calls, etc.

Since the iPod touch six generation might be reaching the end of its life, I am hopeful that a seventh generation will be coming down the pike soon. After all, I mentioned earlier that the six generation might be discontinued as of iOS 11.3 and I stil have more episodes of The Simpsons to purchase, before I complete my collection of purchased episodes. What does Apple have in store for the iPod Touch? Will it die like the Shuffle or the Nano? I hope not, for reasons I had mentioned earlier and that we will have news coming soon, with new products from Tim Cook and company.

If the iPod Touch is killed off it will be a real shame because you will have less options for streaming and having it around does provide you with more than one option for this purpose. Even if you streem you may be able to keep the audio on more than one device and what ever device you choose. I’ve done it with both Spotify and Apple Music and, I’ve had varying degrees of success with keeping the music I downloaded. However, I am quite aware that with any streaming service we are merely renting the music and not necessarily keeping it forever, without paying every month for it with a subscription.

Also, what about the compact disk and its slow death? Yes, vinyl has made a resurgence but it’s not quite as portable as the CD or an iPod touch. With 12 inch records you can cary them around but only when you aren’t listening to them. Also, they and the CD can skip and scratch, if you are careless with them.

With an iPad you can use it as you could use a laptop in that, you can put your music on it, TV shows, audiobooks, at Cetera and of course, do all your work on social media and answering emails, for business or pleasure. Yes, an iPad is portable but not quite so durable in that, you can’t put it in your pocket and that is why an iPod touch is the most convenient and ideal device to cary with you. After all, it is light and not in any way, cumbersome.

Getting back to how we consume our music, I prefer buying mine through iTunes because with a few taps the song I want is mine, provided I have enough credit for my iTunes balance. Also, keeping music is ideal so you don’t have to connect to wifi and search for songs, for a specific purpose and then throw them out when you are done with them. This devalues the music and the work the artist has done with long hours and sweat in the studio. So, I will still purchase digital downloads because I want to keep what I listen to and not just have it temporarily or thrown away, because of a lack of space.

Also, with only an iPhone you have other things to contend with, for space. Think of the contacts and apps which you have purchased from The App Store and the software updates. Also, don’t forget about those who may have more than 128 GB of music, movies, TV shows, books, audiobooks, etc, they may have accumulated over a number of years. The Simpsons alone, would require almost 256 GB which (at this time) you would need 2 iPod touches or one iPhone 8 or iPhone X, with that much capacity. Get my drift?

As for the forthcoming HomePod, I’m not quite so sure how it will work or how accessible is to not just people could see but also others who can’t. Using Siri to do things for you is one thing but using VoiceOver allows you to do a lot more and without use of data.

If there is to be a new iPod touch I hope that it will expand to 256 GB to allow for even more memory or maybe even 512 GB on one device. Yes, it’s a tall order but this would surely be a good thing for me, so I can store everything on one audio playing device and not worry about running out of space.

Before I forget, I should mention that I had read about the possible discontinuation on Wikipedia. I don’t know if it is correct but there are times when it is right on the money. If this is true then I will be happy to have told those who may not have time to read about their iOS device.

In closing, my request to Apple is to please, please, please consider giving us another iPod touch model. If you have decided to kill it off, please, please, PLEASE, PLEASE reconsider, for reasons I have stated above. After all, the sixth generation came out around the time Apple Music was launched in July 2015. Why not the seventh generation coming out this year too? After all, iOS11.3 is roomered to have changes to Apple Music in it so, why not? If you want to surprise us a new iPod touch seventh generation would be a pleasant one, even if it is bewildering to some. It would be a bold move, with The proliferation of streaming services, including Apple Music it’s self and Apple could add a few new goodies to the device. How about touch ID? I certainly hope that Apple is thinking about everything and not just the next iPhone or just how to further innovate. If that isn’t in the cards, I might as well contemplate getting an iPad Pro, with the capacity of 512 GB. After all, it would be my first ever iPadin my possession. Come to think of it, maybe the next iPad or iMac might have a capacity as large as 1024 gigabytes. Maybe I’m wishing for something really grand bud, I can dream. Can’t I?

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WTF

Hi folks. It’s nearly the end of 2017 and what a year it was. Actually, what a year it was for deaths in music and particularly, the two passings I’m focusing on today. We have had many deaths in the past couple of years of notible people in music but the ones which really made me stand up and say “what the fuck” were singers Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington. Both of these deaths are linked together because of the methods of ending their lives, meaning suicide by hanging as well as their close friendship. Both these guys sang in more than one band and in fact, they sang in three bands each, during their careers as recording artists. Chester was lead vocalist for the bands: Linken Park, Stone Temple pilots and Dead By Sunrise. Chris was the singer for: Soundgarden, Temple Of The Dog and Audioslave and they both were working at the time of their demises.

The first to join the choir invisible was Chris on May 18th and he had just finished playing a show with Soundgarden in Detroit and was staying at the MGM Grand Hotel. He was found by his bodyguard in the bathroom with an exercise band around his neck, hanging, suspended . I had been a fan and a follower of his work since the Badmotorfinger album and the song Rusty Cage, especially. My first Soundgarden album I had bought was Superunknown and my favourite songs were Black Whole Sun and Like Suicide. I liked the vocals and how his voice sounded different with each octive of his range and in the case of Black Whole Sun, I liked the panning voices from left to right, when he sings the title of the song. That album made me want to get more Soundgarden songs and I continued buying CD’s until they broke up and the best of album A -Sides came out in 1997.

As for Audioslave, I had the first album and I liked a lot of it too but he sounded different in that he sounded like he had, or was getting over a cold. If you have the first Audioslave album, listen to his lower range especially and you can hear what I heard and still hear in his voice. The next two albums went bak to his normal voice but it also retained the nasally sound in the higher range. The sound would stay with him until his death.

As for his solo albums, I wasn’t interested in them at first and I don’t know why. I think it was because I didn’t have a place in my Collection for them. I was always organizing my music by genre and I couldn’t figure out where to put Chris Cornell and his solo stuff, alongside his work in Soundgarden and Temple Of The Dog. Even after Audioslave had been and gone, I had stayed away from buying his solo albums but I have always kept up with what he was doing.

When I had bought them (after he died) I began to gravitate towards Scream because of one song. I thought that Long Gone was cool because it reminded me of gnarls Barkley and what he was doing at the time with that song suited his voice, regardless of what he was supposed to be known for as a singer. I also began to listen to some of the Higher Truth album and the songs: Dead Wishes, Bend In The Road, Worried Moon and the single Nearly Forgot My Broken Heart are my current favourites from that album.

As for the last Soundgarden album, (King Animal)I think it is fine for what it is. It isn’t the same as the older stuff but everyone had changed in their playing style and Chris had that different sound to his voice. However, it worked with songs like: Bones Of Birds and Eyelids Mouth, as my current favourites.

When Chris died I was shocked and all the memories of my favourite songs came flooding back and even his influence on me as a musician. I had recorded a song in 1997 called No I Can Not Stay, which had a similar sound to what Chris did with his solo albums. It isn’t available anywhere as a Digital download and appears on a compilation put together bye Hamilton CNIB. For the record, I sing and play all the instruments on the song! Anyway, I went out and bought everything again, as well as albums I hadn’t previously bought by Chris and the bands he played in. Yes, it is the classic case of when someone dies, you go out and buy everything they put out or as much as you can find.

In the case of Lincoln Park and Chester Bennington, my love for his music took a lot longer to grow then with Chris Cornell. I couldn’t stand his voice at first and I didn’t much care for the songs either, at the time. However, they eventually grew on me but I decided not to buy an album and just follow on the sidelines. I grew to respect Chester and the rest of the band and continue to follow them and keep an ear on what they were doing.

When the album One More Light was to come out in 2017 I had a feeling that it was going to be a turning point for the band. Sometimes I can sense these things but I can’t really explain why, until it’s too late and whatever happens, happens. For example: when Korn released the album Take A Look In The mirror in 2003, I sensed something was about to change in the band but I couldn’t fathom what it was. It was because of the sound of the album and because of how poorly it did, compared to their past albums. Then in 2005, Brian Head Welsh left the band and didn’t return until 2013.

Another example of this is when Queen were not touring to support The Miracle and innuendo albums and obviously, singer Freddie Mercury had been sick throughout the making of both albums and he died in November 1991, of bronchial pneumonia. This was more sudden, much like The suicides of both Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington but, there were indications that something was about to change. For example: listen to Freddys voice and it is thinner on the more recent material but, he could still hit the notes. Also, lyrically on the song The Show Must Go On, it was about Freddys bravery despite what he was dealing with and again, he nailed that vocal and there is no indication that he was sick other then, his ailing voice. There was also the lack of touring which really got people going, with roomers about Freddie’s health and well… we know now why.

In the case of Chester, I think it was his reaction to the critical reception to One More Light which should have tipped people off because he never seemed like someone who wanted to cause harm to anyone else, even if they spoke ill about the latest album. Yes, the death of Chris was on his mind and it changed him but I think that the negative reception to One More Light may have also pushed him over the edge. This is despite that Corey Taylor said that he should just give it time and let time change the minds of those who hated the album. Chester admitted that Corey was right and that he is a good dude. I agree that he is and having met him, I trust what he said to Chester, through the press.

fast forward, to July 20th, Chester was dead and I heard about it on Facebook first, before the radio. Obviously, I was shocked and sad to hear of this tragedy and it’s been on my mind, ever since then. I had bought all of Linken Park’s albums and I still have more to get if I wish to complete my collection. I grew to like most of One More Light and in particular, the song Sorry For Now, because of the sounds in the track. They remind ed me of today’s contemporary pop music and all of its quirks. I also became fond of the title track and even the first single Heavy. I also grew to like even more, songs such as: Lying From You, Waiting For The End and Burn It Down. All of these songs have great vocals and other sonic intricacies throughout them which also made me listen to them closer. For example: the samples in Lying From You and Waiting For The End. In the case of the latter, it was the remixed vocals from Chester that I thought was cool. Another song which is worth listening to is Robot Boy, from A Thousand Suns because it is mainly comprised of 3 part harmony, between Chester and Mike Shinoda. This song is (in a sense) completely different from anything in their discography or any band out of the alternative metal stew. It also reminds me of classic Genesis, from the progressive part of their career. For example: listen to most songs from the album Wind & Wuthering and pay attention to the keyboards. I hear some of that influence on the song too. Anyway, I digress.

In the case of tributes to him, my favourite one was from David Drayman from Disturbed, who wrote about going on tour with Linken Park and meeting him and his family. He made me laugh with all of his stories and you can probably still find his tribute somewhere on Google, if you want to look for it and read it.

Something else which made Chester’s death even more alarming was that when he spoke while being interviewed, he sounded like someone I had heard or known somewhere. It really hit me when he was doing an interview during the world premier for the album Minutes To Midnight in 2007. I can’t remember what he said exactly to trigger it but that voice always stuck in my head. Also, the day before Chris died, a panhandler came up to me while I was eating lunch at a donut shop. He asked me for money and said he was very hungry and when I heard him talk, he sounded similar to Chris Cornell. Of course, I didn’t think it was him but his death made me think of that guy.

Unfortunately, both these guys are gone and thanks to their deaths, the topic of depression was brought up in the media. Obviously, it’s very important to be there for somebody who is in the midst of depression and has suicidal thoughts. I’ve been there and thankfully, I am Lucky that mine was so mild that it didn’t require any drugs to alleviate it. Unfortunately, there are some people who are trapped in a more severe form of depression, it has become a source of conversation. It is so insidious that it takes iconic figures to die, in order for us to talk about it? There are warning signs for sure but they may not be obvious and if there is something going on with somebody we care about, we should just check in with them and see how they’re doing. Most importantly, listen to them and let them know that we’re there for them. It sounds so simple to do but it isn’t because of how fast paced our society is these days, with the immediacy of information at our fingertips and the addiction of social media and smart phones. Admittedly, I’m using mine right now to compose this blog post but, I am also aware of the human aspect of my being and that life is very fragile. After the deaths of Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington, I value my own life even more and especially now that I am passed 40. Especially because of their ages being 52 for Chris and 41 for Chester, at the time they shuffled off this mortal coil. I hope that I can live at least to 62 or 80 because 8 seems to be a number which comes up in my own life. My birthday is June 2nd (6th month and 2nd day of the month) and I moved into my own apartment at the age of 26. I bring it up because of both Chester and Chris being born on the 20th days of the month they were born on, as Chris Cornell’s birthday was July 20th and Chester Bennington’s birthday was March 20th. I don’t know how much numerology go to this but because I’m 44 now, I’m in a year of my lucky number so… I wonder what they’re lucky numbers were!

Anyway, I’m glad they were here to give us all music listen to and unfortunately because they’re gone, we have something to talk about and I’m sure there are others out there, who have depression and may or may not die because of it. Hopefully, we can save lives of others by just being there for them and let them tell us what’s going on and not forced to talk about it. I can say for myself that I want to live as long as I can and be happy, for as long as I can be and hopefully, we can help to save more people from this insidious mental illness. Unfortunately, we’re going to see more people dying who are celebrities by various forms of suicide because of depression and it’s going to be repeated again and again, that we should be there for each other. Hopefully I’m wrong and there will be less suicidal deaths in the future. As for Chris and Chester, they are gone but not forgotten you and the music will live on for as long as we live in as long as the fans want to hear their songs either on the radio, via streaming services or to purchase them on iTunes or on cd or vinyl.

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.

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.