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.

How Many People Have Died This Year

Hi folks. It is near the end of 2016, the year of the Grim Reaper. Yes, this year will go down as the year the Grim Reaper made headlines by killing off many celebrities who have entertained us throughout our lives. Can you possibly count how many people have died this year? I mean, counting all the big-name celebrities who are no longer with us. Just recently within the past hour or so I learned that Debbie Reynolds, the mother of Carrie Fisher, the voice of Princess Leia has just died, shortly after her daughter has joined the parade of dead people.
Obviously, death is a natural part of life but let’s be honest here, this year was a real downer, if you are a fan of nearly all kinds of music: from country to metal, from jazz pop to dance Pop. Let us not forget the actors who have passed on leaving their mark on such things as the Harry Potter movies, the TV show Growing Pains and The Brady Bunch. We are being robbed of our favourite entertainers and unfortunately, that is the way the cooky crumbles for this year.
Let’s not forget how young most of the people who have passed on. Most of them haven’t even reached the age of 70 and David Bowie, who was the first one to fall this year was only 69, along with Alan Thicke. Singer George Michael was only 53, when he died Christmas Day. Even the two recent passing of legendary North American broadcasters (Bob Coburn and scruff Connors) were only 68 and 64 respectively. I’ve talked with both men on their respective radio shows at least once and in the case of Bob Coburn and his radio show called Rockline, I managed to call in and talk to The Cult. Actually, I had a chance to ask Singer Ian Asberry and guitarist Billy Duffy about writing songs on the road. I should also mention that this was when the album Electric was out and I was 14 years old and, my voice hadn’t changed yet.
In the case of scruff Connors, I had heard him on at least three radio stations in my lifetime and his lifetime, for that matter. I called in when he was working at Mojo Radio and his guest was David Phillips of Environment Canada. I never got to meet either of those people but they both left an impression on me, which was positive and I’m very grateful that they were in my life, if even only from a distance via the radio.
Even The Simpsons wasn’t spared from the year of death. A couple of guest starres and a writer had been taken from us, way too soon. I’m just glad that none of the voice actors have bought the farm yet and I hope they are with us for a long time.
If we could stop all these deaths from happening I would be the first one to try and do it.  I’ve never had to touch a dead body and I don’t want to either. I’ve heard about what it is like and it sounds really awful, that someone you knew and loved who was breathing is now lifeless and their skin is all dry, with all the moisture taken out of their body. The death that surprised me the most  was Frank Sinatra Junior. From where I sit, he sounded to me like a very nice man, compared to his father and people had said he was one of the good ones. how many good guys do you know who have passed on? My guess is many, especially in the entertainment business. somehow I believe that George Carline was also a good guy, despite that his comedy in his more recent years was very dark. oh yeah, let us not forget that the album I Kinda Like It When A Lotta People Die came out this year, as George Carlin’s second posthumous release. His first was his 2008 album It’s Bad For Yah. All though it could also be his final album, recorded while he was alive. Anyway, I digress.
Will 2017 be another year of entertainers buying the farm at a high rate? I don’t know but I have to say possibly yes. We are going to see more and more of our celebrity heroes dying off and there will be more and more people from the current generation, paying tribute and talking about how they grew up with the celebrity Who had just died. Also, some talkshows Will focus on how people died and they already are, in some cases. For example: after Alan Thicke, George Michael and Carrie fisher had died, a talk radio station in Toronto, focussed on how they died and that their deaths were caused by either heart attack, heart failure or aortic dissection, which I had never even heard of until Alan Thicke passed away.
I wonder who will buy the farm this year. There are many big names reaching past 70 years old and some are even hitting 80 this year. Bill Cosby will be 80 years old on July 12 and Tommy Chong will be 79 this year, although he sounds years younger than that. We even have many people who are just turning 90 this year or older and could they be on the way to see the Grim Reaper? Even vera Lynn is still alive and she was one of the big singers during World War II And she is well into her 90s.
Anyway, let’s hope this year is done with, without anybody passing away today, tomorrow or New Year’s Eve.

Three Christmas Favourites For 2016

Hi folks. This post is my pre-Christmas post in this blog, about 3 of my favourite Christmas songs. The one thing they have in common is that they are not traditional Christmas carols and are original songs written by the artists. Something else they have in common is that they are not necessarily well known by the mainstream and only to the audience of the band and or radio format they are played on.
The first song on my list is Thank God It’s Christmas by Queen, which is written by guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor. This song was released in December 1984 at the end of The Works’s album cycle and it has appeared on a couple of Queen albums since. The most recent appearance is on the 2011 Deluxe version of The Works. I had performed it in 1992, with my best friend Bob Reid at our school and it went over well.
Fairytale of New York by The Pogues is my second choice as one of my favourites. I had actually heard it for the first time, during Christmas 1995 and it didn’t really catch on with me, until some time in the last 7 years or so when I had heard it on more radio stations and recently read about the song on Wikipedia. It’s the second least known of my choices but I like it because of the dialog in the song and the fact that the woman refers to the man as “you scumbag you Magette, you cheap lousy faggot” probably referring to the man’s drunkenness.
My third choice and the least known for sure, of all three songs is x-M@$ by Corey Taylor of Slipknot and Stone Sour. It was release in 2010 as a Christmas single, with any money from sails going to charity. In the song, The protagonist is a man who hates Christmas and all that goes with it and would rather be drunk or stoned on this Yuletide holiday. There are even a few four letter words in the song and a clean version was also produced for radio and for people who would be offended.
To those who would expect a more traditional song from Corey, I say that it isn’t surprising that he wrote a song for those who hate Christmas and also, Corey plays music that is subversive and is not for the Grandma’s and Grandpa’s of the world. It’s for the younger croud of 50 and under who would get that the song is not a serious hatred of Christmas tune, from the singer. I’ve heard that Corey actually likes Christmas and I believe him. I’ve met him and despite him throwing people out of Slipknot shows and throwing water on people, who are texting during the concert, I have nothing bad to say about him. He was great to me and we had Tim Hortons coffee together and he had it black and I had a double-double.
I have other songs which I could have chosen but I will leave them for future Christmas posts. If you want to hear any of the three I have listed here, you can find all three on Youtube and I will leave that to you to look for them. Have a great Christmas and a happy and healthy 2017.

The Day The Music Was Murdered

Hi folks. Today is a sad day for me, when it comes to some of my favourite bands and I will explain why, as you read the rest of this post.
Today marks the anniversaries of two murders in rock and heavy metal music and they have both affected me in varying degrees. On December 8, 1980 John Lennon, probably the most famous of the Beatles was shot and killed by mark david chapman, outside of his apartment in New York City. This took place after both him and Yoko Ono had finished a recording session for a song, which would appear on a Yoko Ono album years later. It’s all there on Wikipedia if you would like more information about the events that day. However I will say that John conducted his last interview that day, a few hours before mark david chapman murdered John. You will notice I didn’t capitalize his name because like the other murderer in this post, they don’t deserve to have their names written out properly, as they have killed two important iconic musicians who were and are loved by millions around the world.
Also on December 8th 2004, guitarist Dimebag daryl Lance Abbott was also murdered by a piece of nothing named nathan gail. The difference being that this murder took place in full view of everybody, who was at the Alrosa Villa in Columbus Ohio. This merger took place while Daryl was on stage with his band Damageplan and his brother Vincent Paul Abbott on drums, as they both were on their respective instruments and Pantera. The other big difference with the story is that in this case the murderer was killed, after he had shot, killed and or wounded various members of the road crew or fans. Then, a policeman came in and fired one shot and killed nathan gail, thus saving the lives of many people including Vinny Paul.
Now I will talk about where I was when I heard about both murders. In the case of John Lennon, I heard about it when I was at school when one of the staff mentioned it to me. He said something like “he was shot and he fell down” and I immediately thought that he was killed. I didn’t know yet that you could be shot and survive! I and many other fans of The Beatles were very saddened to hear of this and years later, it finally clicked and how important a figure John Lennon was to not just music but other things like politics. We’ve been robbed of a man who was a very good wordsmith and brought genres like musique concrete almost to the mainstream. If he was alive today I think he would be quite impressed with all the music out there, including the grunge, industrial, Brit pop and even ban such as Radiohead. Of course, he would always go back to his childhood music such as: Gene Vincent, Elvis Presley, buddy holly and the other people he listen to before getting full-time into music. Also, I learned to write songs through a radio program about him called The Lost Lennon Tapes. Most of the demo recordings ended up on the Beatles Anthology albums and elsewhere and that gave me more of the drive to want to try to be a musician.
In the case of Dimebag Darrell, I had actually seen him back in June 2001, when Pantera and a number of other bands played at what was then known as Copps Coliseum, now known as First Ontario Center in Hamilton Ontario Canada. One thing I can talk about is that some asshole threw a beer on me during the first song of one of the opening bands sets. In case you’re wondering, I was wearing shorts and a T-shirt plus my shoes and socks at the time and yes, I did kind of smell like a brewery for a while. However, it was a great show and of course, the last time Pantera would set foot in Canada before both the September 11 attacks and their break up.
 When the album New Found Power from Damageplan was released in 2004, I bought it on CD the day it came out and I loved it instantly. A highlight for me is the guitar solo on the song Moment Of Truth, which should have been released as a single. Then December 8th happened and I had actually heard about it the next morning at home on the radio. At first nobody said if any one was killed but I learned soon after hearing about it that it was Daryl, who had been murdered. It also happened that I was doing my grocery shopping that day and as you can imagine, it was difficult to concentrate after hearing such tragic news.
As for how heavy music has changed since then, not much has changed except the increase in guitar solos from newer bands like: Disturbed, Avenged Sevenfold and Five Finger Death Punch. Even bands like Mud Vayne decided to start putting guitar solos on their albums to augment the sound.
As a guitar player, I was and still am impressed with all the things he is done on Pantera albums and on New Found Power. I’m also quite happy that Brian May of Queen spoke up about the death of Daryl and I have a sneaking suspicion that Daryl was influence partly by Brian and his playing as well. However, he has never said that in interviews that I know of. If Daryl was alive today, I think that he would still be making music and still have the chops. Both of these guys were taken from us too early and if I could go back in time, I would make sure that they were both out of the way, of any danger to their lives.
As for the killers, I am glad that mark david chapman hasn’t been allowed to be paroled and I hope it stays that way. He can say sorry for what he did all he wants but it won’t change the fact that he did what he did to John Lennon. As for nathan gail, he got what he deserved and I’m happy. As for the families, I am glad that everyone is doing what they are doing and I am on their side, with all the annual events and such. I the case of the Lennon estate, keep fighting to keep mark david chapman behind bars and when he dies I will be happy. Shouldn’t he be on death row? After all, he did kill somebody and he knew what he was doing.
Anyway, I will be listening to an album with John Lennons last interview, which is available on iTunes and as for Daryl, I will probably be listening to New Found Power today as well.