Monday, 20 December 2010

The Definitive Review of the HTC Desire

I caved.
iPhones are expensive, too expensive for me to be dealing with. *See HERE for an update on this situation.
For half the monthly price, I could get a free phone, unlimited texts, 500 minutes and unlimited internet.*
This seemed a good deal, and the free phone was a HTC Desire. I didn't want to like it when I was playing with it in the Carphone Warehouse, but to my surprise, I did like it. It has a nice screen, the touch screen is better than I expected, not too big or heavy, pretty good camera... Android. That's the bit where it falls. Android. However good the anti-Apple nerds shout, Android will never be an iOS. Yes, it's good. It does the job for me, but it just isn't an iPhone.
In this review, I will compare almost every aspect of this phone to the iPhone 4.

*Not really 'unlimited'... 1GB is what they gave me. It sucks to be a real user of mobile internet, not someone who only wants to show off with a fake iPhone.


So, the review:

The Business.
The phone seems to be well built. Rubbery texture on the back, plastic on the front. Glass screen. No surprises. The screen is pretty good, apart from appearing to love trying to scratch itself. The iPhone has Gorilla Glass, scratchproof. It's had this on every iPhone and iPod Touch released, and even a 1st generation iPhone's screen will look almost brand new now, under general use. The Desire's screen, although mine never got scratched, seems very scratch prone. Don't keep it in the same pocket as keys or coins. I bought a screen protector as soon as I got out the shop, before even using the phone. Even with this plastic covering, the touch-response works well. Typing and clicking small buttons and links online can be troublesome, more later about that.

The Eyes.
The resolution is 400x800. Pretty good for a phone it's size, but looks like a 1980s digital watch compared to the iPhone 4's Retina display, with it's 960x640 resolution.
The Camera is pretty good, I think. Most reviews say it's sub-par, but it's 5MP, with autofocus, flash, tap-to-focus and it seems to work well enough to pick up text for Evernote.

The Shell.
The Build Quality on the phone is pretty solid. I think it should survive a few missed-pockets. Like all my new things, it suffered the 'Slippery Gadget Syndrome', in which all my brand new and expensive thing wants to do is land on the floor, by any means possible, from as high as it can. So, from personal experience, I know it can survive a drop off the desk, a tea spill, a missed-pocket into the snow. It does have a rubber case, but that's mainly to protect from scratches and hopefully to make it less slippery.

The Fingerspace.
The touching business is a lot better than I was thinking. Accurate 90% of the time, however it doesn't agree with cold fingers, gloves, or accidental touches.
Typing is good most of the time, but sometimes the software just seems to have a little fit and go mental, replacing words like 'know' with 'Oklahoma'. It's favourite auto-correct error is changing 'the' to 'Tue'. Massively irritating. Moving the cursor to midway through a word it has changed can't be done. So, if I have typed a word like 'toffee' and actually wanted 'coffee', I'd have to delete the whole thing and write it again. It also cannot understand abbreviations or acronyms, for example, CD. I have to type C, then select it as only being C, then type D. If I don't do this, it will auto-correct to something else, apparently the first word it thinks of beginning with C. Other times, it finds words completely at random, such as Oklahoma from trying to type 'know'.

The Guts.
This phone is not very technically powerful. It has a tiny amount of RAM compared t the iPhone 4, a processor incapable of multitasking, video hardware which can't play videos properly and about 300MB of internal storage, which is embarrassing compared with the iPhone 4's minimum of 16GB. Luckily, there is a 4GB memory card in the phone, upgradeable to 32GB. Even then, the iPhone could double that with the 64GB model.
The battery life on it is horrible. From fully charged at 9AM on a morning, send a text, float on the tubes for about 10-20 minutes, check the time on it a few times and the battery is below 50% by 5PM. Multiple times have I forgot to charge it at night and it be completely dead by the morning. I am used to my Samsung D500 lasting around 6 days without a charge under use described above. The reason? The battery is Lithium-ion, whereas Apple products and old Samsung phones use Lithium-polymer. Polymer is more expensive, but lasts around 5x longer than lithium-ion.
The moral of the story is to never go anywhere without a charger. If you go somewhere regularly, buy a second charger to keep there in case you forget the first one. Even turned off it seems to suck up power for something.

The (Paranoid) Android (of Notre Dame).
The Android operating system is not iOS4. Far from it. It tries, but falls short in so many places. There appears to be no easy way of doing things, such as changing the wallpaper, selecting your ringtone, deleting text messages, finding contacts, making new contacts, typing a text to someone who you have not already texted recently... All involve multiple menus and buttons just to get working. I don't like reading instruction manuals. I can usually work out phones and computers pretty well, but a lot of this seems to be designed by masochists or The Riddler.
There are a few easily noticeable glitches in the OS. I'm running the newest version, 2.2 I think (No easy way to check, can't be bothered to Google how to do it). Firstly, I get a lot of mysterious error messages in the menu bar, which look like random phone-related words arranged in random order.
Also, it suddenly decides it no longer wishes to text people. Despite having signal, unlimited texts, and the other person having signal, it will sometimes say "Cannot deliver message after multiple attempts". That's it. No error log, no reason, nothing. What does that mean? The only way I've found to solve this is by deleting every single text you have from that person in the recent conversation thing and start again.
Often the lock gets stuck with the slider at the bottom of the screen, and to fix this you need to turn the screen off and on again with the sleep button on the top.

The Time-Wasters.
Downloading applications is an arduous affair. The Android Market is their version of the App Store. It seems to have about 3% of the Apps of the App Store, most of which either need paying for or suck, or both. I have often had apps crash the entire phone whilst downloading, and the only way out is to un-battery the phone and turn it back on. I have also tried to download a coin-flip widget, which has been claiming to be 'Installing' for the best part of two weeks now. The 'Cancel Download' button is blocked, so it's always there, stuck floating in Application Purgatory.
Lastly, the most annoying this is that HTC and Android have filled the phone with their own terrible apps. I thought: "Fair enough, I'm getting a non-Apple product, it will be filled with demo bloatware." The problem is, though, that bloatware can be uninstalled. HTC and Android apps can't. This means I'm stuck with two sets of almost every app, GMail/Mail, Calendar/Google Calendar, Twitter for Android/HTC Peep. I can't uninstall any of them, and they are just taking up loads of space with their turdness. There are also Facebook apps I can't get rid of, which really annoys me. Worst of all, none of these apps can be programmed. They are exactly how HTC/Google wanted them. They all open on their own, using up the phone's already limited RAM and sucking up my not-so unlimited internet. So yes, that annoys me, especially since I only use the GMail app, which sucks itself.
The GMail app is unbelievable, really. It's pretty counter-intuitive, to be honest. I can't find anything in the settings to allow it to automatically check my account for new mail, and alert me when there is. When I first got the phone, it worked well, and it alerted me whenever a new email came. Now, however, it never alerts me. I need to manually click 'Refresh' when in the application, even then, it will say there is no mail when I know there is, because I can see unread messages on my computer. When it does find emails, it will sometimes say 'Inbox (5)' but not load the 5 unread messages. I don't know how to fix it.
As for the Android OS's ability to use Flash, well, I will say that it needs work. Flash barely functions on the Internet browser. Often the phone will revert to the home screen and close the browser app when it encounters Flash objects. I have the option to not load Flash unless I touch the object, but it doesn't seem to like that at all. So, I do like the option of having Flash on my phone, but I want it to work.

The Verdict.
So there it is. The Definitive Review of the HTC Desire. I might add more to it as I think of more ways to creatively say it's not as good as an iPhone, but I probably won't.
Overall, it's a good enough phone. If you can live with Facebook apps and multiple of everything else, and have access to electricity 24/7, then it's great.
If you've used an iPhone, ever, you will instantly see endless limitations.
Finally, it could be a lot worse. Non-Apple phones still suck as a whole, only a few make it through the suck-pipe unscathed.

The Pros :
  • Pretty well built
  • Good enough screen
  • Flash capability
  • Physical buttons on the case
  • Better than the Samsung D500 in most aspects
The Cons:
  • The Android OS is buggy
  • Poor battery life
  • Very little internal memory, MicroSD limited to 32GB
  • Technically not very powerful
  • Can't sync with iCal, iTunes
  • Very few useful Apps on the Android Market, not many developers support the platform over iOS
  • Inability to delete unwanted HTC/Google Apps

Is it recommended?
Well, if you want a new phone, ask yourself this:
Can I afford an iPhone?
If the answer is Yes, then get the iPhone. Without question. If the answer is No, then I think the Desire an alright runner up.

Lovely Day for a Guinness.

My return has happened!
It was foretold in the ancient scriptures!
I am Alpha and Omega!
It is the best of times, it is the worst of times!


Friday, 3 December 2010

A Day Will Come...

Posts will be happening shortly. I'm doing a hiatus, like System of a Down, but will return in full force with more posts than your eyeballs can keep up with.
There is a lot to discuss, Lord Elrond, The Bucketed One has done some fresh slabs!
All will be revealed. Good things come to those who wait, like Guinness.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Banjo Binges

The other day I got my Limited Edition of Spinal Clock from TDRS. It's Limited because the first 500 pressings were signed and numbered by Buckethead, which I like.
I got #2, which I was a little bit disappointed at, but not too much. I was hoping for #1. On my copy he signed and numbered it, as well as drawing some arms and hands coming from the banjo's spine.
On the whole, it is a much, much better album than I was expecting. The tracks are actually structured rather than a recording of a guy strangling a banjo. The standout tracks are Lafayette's Landing, Spinal Cracker and Skeleton Dance, which all seem to be structured. The other tracks are OK, but nothing special.
But, as always with Buckethead LE albums, it has it's fair share of complete arse. Notably Gelatin Nerve and Whale On This.
Overall, a good way to spend $25, if you like Buckethead, and possibly banjos. But it's likely that the banjo nerds on their version of the TDPRI will see this as sacrilege.
It sounds a bit as it could be the theme to a Western film, and is less inbred sounding than I was expecting.
I will do a review shortly. I remember when I ordered this I thought it would be a play once and iPod straight away and then not listened to much again, but I think I'll certainly listen to it every once in a while.
There is a scan of the cover of mine.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Apple's New Stuff

It's that time of year again. A few months before Christmas, so Apple decide they have to release a whole range of new Poodies to allow them to continue to buy themselves diamond-encrusted iPhones and all that.
All the info I have here is taken from the Apple Website and the Engadget.
Anyway, to the matter of goosing:

iPod Touch G4:
Not much has changed, dramatically.
-Thinner
-Same amount of GiggleyBytes; 8, 32, 64.
-Front-facing camera so you can see your hideous friends if you want to talk to them. If you over-use this feature, you are probably better off getting an actual iPhone.
-Retina Display, just like the iPhone 4.
-720p Video Recording, I don't think it has a camera on the back as well, so you might not be able to see what you are recording if you have to use the front one. (Unless you are Bootsy Collins)
iPod Nano:
I Have no idea what is happening here. The iPod Nano has become some little, stumpy Elephant-Man version of the iPod Touch. This is no way a winning design. I think next year they will revert to at least something more like the old ones.
-Smaller, square.
-Multi-touch screen
-8 or 16GB capacities
-Clippy thing
-FM Radio (very surprised!)
So... That's it. I'm not a fan.


iPod Shuffle:
It's basically a remake of the old version. Apple seem to want to kill the iPod Shuffle by making the last design with no buttons on it at all, but they might have brought it back this time. Maybe they are hoping stupid people will buy both the Shuffle and the Nano because they think it's an optional Click-Wheel.
Not much to say about it, really. It's an iPod Shuffle.


iPod Classic:
No changes at all, as far as I can see. Just the regular old iPod. I'll get this one if I do any upgrading.


TV:
A few changes here, nothing enough to make me want one, or be able to see the point in them, but at least they've tried.
-It's smaller, blacker and looks all better compared to the last one.
-Streams HD content better, apparently
-Still no TV tuner, still basically the same as plugging your iPod into your TV.
-Looks like the name iTV was scrapped. Just as well, really. Not only were the real ITV annoyed, it also sounded ridiculous. TV/ATV is good.


iTunes 10:
A new iTunes has been announced to match all the new iPods, and I don't think I like it. They are trying to get me to join up to a silly social networking service called Ping. It's basically Last.fm but probably not as good.
They have changed the logo, from the CD with a note in front to a blue circle with a note in it. I don't like it at all.
Also, they have moved the window-control buttons on the top-left corner to go vertically instead of horizontally. Not a fan of that either.
I think I'll be better off keeping with iTunes 9.
The lack of a CD in the logo makes me worry that in a few more iterations of iTunes the rip from/import from CD functionality will be dropped, allowing only for management of downloaded files or ones previously ripped.

The good thing about being a Pessimist is that you are always right or being pleasantly surprised.

Spinal Clock

I found out about this the day it happened, but I've been too lazy to make a post about it.

Buckethead has announced an LE. Another one. Called Spinal Clock.
It is a CD filled with 9 Banjo Binges, and it will be out 'on or around September 15th' said Travis.
It was $25 for the Limited Edition version, which will be signed and numbered by Buckethead.
Originally, there was only supposed to be a limited run of 300 copies, but they sold out so fast that Travis upped the limit to 500 copies. Slightly un-rarifying them, but these will still be one of the lowest numbered Limited Editions ever.
I think I have a good chance at getting my mittens of #1. It will be a good day then.


Monday, 23 August 2010

I Done a Binge

Since I have started to get some money in the bank, I have suddenly amassed a lot more stuff than I would have from (mainly) Amazon.
It started with a simple celebratory purchase of a White Coily Cable from Bullet Cables. I bought that as consolation for not winning a Snarling Dogs Whine-O Wah pedal off eBay. That really annoyed me when I lost that because my internet was too slow to place another bid in the final seconds.
Then I floated to Amazon, goosing my Wish List and picking out my most desired things from that. To date, I have Peep Show Series 6 on DVD, Come Down With Me by Errors, Lucas amd Kissing the Rain by Kevin Brooks, Unison and Cobra Strike CDs from TDRS, A massive Flaming Lips Poster, a preorder of Imperfect Harmonies by Serj Tankian, an Aphex Twin T-shirt, a Praxis/Transmutation press poster kit (in the post now) and Break the Cycle by Staind.
Quite a binge, I think.
And I will get paid again in three days, so, it will be another worthy reason to buy more stuff.
I'm thinking I need Maggot Brain by Funkadelic and Alchera by Heirs next. And I need to get Transmutation on CD...

Monday, 2 August 2010

The Definitive Review of Best Regards

So. Here it is. The only review you will need for Buckethead's latest effort: Best Regards.
I also think that this could be the longest post I've ever done on this Blog... Unless you count the Honduras Diaries or Internet Diaries as one post being segmented.
I will do a track-by-track dissection of the set, trying to describe the style of music on each differs from the others where applicable. I don't usually like this method of writing reviews, because I know it can be boring. So, for that reason, I will label the ones I think are imperative to the set so you don't have to read through the ones I'm not especially keen on.

I
II
III
IV
V

There are some real, actual, structured, well-made tracks on here. Others are what you should expect from a Buckethead Limited Edition release such as In Search of The... or Cyborg Slunks. The ones that are clearly planned are ones that I would not be disappointed if they were to be on a regular album release. However, these are not the 'usual' kind of music from Buckethead, but more of the niche albums like Dragons of Eden or Population Override, sans the Travis, who is replaced by Melissa.

I will review this as I would in order of the discs coming out of the box.

Blue

I. The opening track on Blue disc is amazing. Track 1 is pretty 'epic'. By that, I mean it is epic in both the Soothsayer/Forgotten Trail way, and also that of the way Padmasana or Mrs Beasley way. This disc plays out like I expected: Amazing opening track, but in my mind I was thinking: "There is no way it can be this good throughout". I was partially right. Each disc has it's highs and lows, but there aren't any discs which don't have their share of both halves.
The Blue disc, as I said, opens amazingly. A trumpety, heroic sounding battlefield soundtrack which you could easily put a slow motion, lachrymose montage of images to. Track 1 finishes, leaving me thinking I had struck gold.
Track 2 happens.
I check... Is this the same disc? Yes. From the loud and monumental opener comes an odd collection of clicks and killswitch things, with the pitter-patter of drums behind it, and a variety of odd sound effects (likely from Melissa's keyboard). These include whirring, whistles, canned applause and dripping water. Eventually, it slows to a more 'conventional' sounding LE track. Buckethead doing oddness and the occasional drum tapping.
Eventually, Track 2 ends. It's been a long haul, but I think Track 3 makes up for the second's randomness.
II. It's a swirly, spacious chamber of sound, which has some slow and melancholic guitar in it. No drums here. It reminds me of an Aphex Twin/Selected Ambient Works Vol. II kind of feel, or even something more like Death Cube K's Maggot Dream, which I don't see as a bad thing. I think that once you get into the envelope of this one, it can feel as big as Track 1. I really like this one. Good thing I am, too. It's a long'un at 15:02.

Orange

The first track on the Orange disc follows a similar pattern to that of Blue Track 2. It opens with some sounds that don't seem to fit together that well, and a low hum in the background which I thought originally was my CD player. I realised it wasn't when it changed pitch to match what Buckethead was doing. This isn't the best track. Nowhere near. I'd rank it higher than Blue Track 2, but not by much. It's odd throughout, with very little in the way of 'music' as I would say. Regular kind of ISOT styled stuff here.
III. Track 2 opens with a quiet, soft piano type thing, followed by a nice smooth guitar, and slow drums to match. I think this could be a contender for one of the favourites on the set. Buckethead continues to do the guitar, while Melissa seems to be more active in this one than in previous tracks, as she provides the 'lead' as the guitar gives the slow, steady backing. If I had to say what other track it was like, I would say either like Padmasana, Track 8.1 from ISOT or Aunt Suzie from Cyborg Slunks. A long, slow and very nice track. This is what I wanted from the set. This is my favourite style of Buckethead - The Real Diamond/Shadows/Electric Tears type.
Track 3 opens sounding similar to Track 1, but quickly you realise that it is certainly one of the structured ones, eventually creating a repeating section and a relative tune. It's pretty samey throughout this one. Not a huge fan of it, really, but it's better than the 'noise' tracks.

Green

Track 1, again, is similar to the other non-musical tracks. It's the second-longest on the set, at 30:53. For the most part it is a selection of noises and beeps put together in a kind of semi-tune. Every few minutes thought there will be something which hints at a real tune, where the three instruments work together rather than fumbling around trying to find sounds which will match together.
IV. The second Track on the green CD is another one of those that don't have much to live up to by going from previous tracks on this disc. This one, however, is a beautiful, Colma-styled, echoey mythology, which goes on for only 10:18. They keyboards on this one are styled to make a violin/orchestral sound, and it works together brilliantly, and similar to Blue Track 1, could easily be used for a meaningful montage towards the end of Saving Private Ryan. This is also a strong contender for the favourite.

Yellow

Track 1 on Yellow opens with a very short, but odd sound. The first second is what sounds like a chicken noise being made on the guitar. I don't know why we don't hear this more often on Buckethead's albums. Despite the odd opening few seconds, it turns to a track which is not actually that bad, but a bit repetitive. I like the drumming on this one, and the keyboards are set to a kind of backwards Stylophone thing, which I'm not sure if I like. Buckethead's favourite effect returns, just like it did on ISOT. I'm not a fan of this effect to be honest. So, Yellow is not off to a great start.

Track 2 is not very good either, really. It sounds a lot like Green Track 1, in which it is a mush of sounds floating around hoping to work well together. Melissa making plane noises, Brain rustling on the drums and Buckethead fidgeting. The guitar effect on this one is similar to the sound of the acoustic guitar in Can You Help Me? off Bucketheadland 2.

V. Track 3 on Yellow is another one which is very clearly inspired by Dragons of Eden. Slow, smooth and almost upbeat sounding, but not too much so. This track is long and calm, with Melissa using the sad-violin sound on the keyboard, and Brain doing steady drumming. This track is most similar to Orange Track 2 because Buckethead provides the backing music while Melissa and Brain are more in front than they would normally be.

Yellow Track 4 is similar to Track 1 on this disc, in that Buckethead does fidgeting, Melissa provides the backing hums and Brain pretty much leads the song with lots of fast drumming. This track, I think gets better the further you get into it, and like Green Track 1, has moments of good matching. Most of it however, is a bit messy.

Purple

The first track on Purple opens with high pitched jingles on the guitar. Drums kick in and the whole thing evolves into a semi-organised mess. More organised than tracks like Green 1, but a lot more improvised-sounding than the better tracks on the set. As it progresses, the guitar becomes more electric sounding, but the drums remain pretty much the same throughout. Melissa occasionally chimes in with what is similar to the opening sounds of Blue Calx by Aphex Twin.

Track 2 on the Purple disc is the longest on the set, coming in at 31:53. Brain seems to lose the full drumkit on this track to replace them with a set of bongoes, making a rhythmic, almost African-sounding background. It is also quite similar to Slapatron by Pieces. Eventually, the amount of bongo decreases, and is replaced by electronic drums, likely by Melissa. Throughout this, Buckethead is messing on with a variety of hideous effects which I don't care for too much really. Occasionally he will chime in with something which sounds pretty good, but like the other improvised tracks it rarely lasts more than a minute or so. Towards the end of the track it tuns into something I wouldn't be surprised if Aphex Twin had released it. Fast electronic drums, guitars which sound like synths and repeating loops.
I'd say Purple is the weakest disc in the set, being the only one which doesn't have what I think is a 'good track'. I don't think the Purple disc would feel out of place if it were put into ISOT back in 2007.


So there it is. What I would call a well crafted and in-depth review and overview of Best Regards. It took less time than I was anticipating...
In conclusion, I really like this set. I was very pleasantly surprised when there was a good percentage of the tracks that I actually really like. Maybe the others will eventually grow on me in a similar way to what ISOT did. First impressions were much better than that of ISOT, so as far as I'm concerned, it's a victory.
Was it worth my $75? I think so.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Best Regards - A Review Foreword

I will be eventually writing a somewhat in-depth review of Best Regards. It might take some time, because I'm both forgetful and lazy. Also, the long-promised review of In Search Of The... took a good few months to finish (I had it saved as a Draft for ages) and was only actually completed and uploaded a few weeks ago, where it received [not so] much critical acclaim.
I will be holding off on one of my world famous 'Definitive Reviews' for a few reasons, other than the laziness and forgetfulness listed above: My Blue Disc doesn't play at all. I tried on my CD player, iMac and Xbox, and none of them played. I emailed Travis and he is sending me another one out. I got an email reply within 1 minute of sending it - That's what I call good customer service.
I will also hopefully get a review of Alan Wake up shortly... I finished that the other day. Pretty good, I think, but not without a few irritating drawbacks. And I also want to do a post about the book I've just finished reading: A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon. I thought it was actually better than The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Google Has Turned Poogle.

The new Google Images Search is awful.
I can't be bothered to wait around 30 seconds for the page to load about 10 miles worth of images just so I can click on 'Switch to Basic Version' only to have the page load again.
When clicking on an image, it takes you to the host site, only with a silly box in the middle, which the image never fits into because it's either been shrunk or overly enlarged.
If I decide that I want to actually look at the site, then I click on the X in the corner which makes the page load again.
Maybe if I had faster tubes I could use this. It isn't that I don't like it, but it's that I can't use it. Also, the image sizes are not visible until I mouse-over the image, which takes loading time, up to another 5 seconds.
It's tedium.
I'll use it for a bit longer to see if there is an option to permanently change back to the original Images search... But if not then I will start using another search engine.
Come on, Google. Nobody likes/uses/wants Bing. There is no need to try to better it by doing the same thing with image search.

Update:
I have managed to make a crude fix, with some help from Lifehacker.com.
So: I use iGoogle as my Homepage. I like it. It has gadgets and all that which I use, as well as links to my GMail.
I added a gadget to the page which allowed me to store links I use regularly, so I used the same thing as in the above link, and searched for the word 'Google'.
In the URL, I then changed it to add '&sout=1'. This makes it display the old, better, cleaner, easier to use settings.
I have also added this link to my Bookmarks bar, so I never have to use the new Google Image search again.
I don't know whether to feel proud of myself or sad...

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Best Regards II

Today my set of Best Regards turned up in the post, in great condition, and without any stupid people ransoming it back to me at customs.
I got #3. Nobody knows how many are being made, but I think it's up to the #500-600 now, so probably either 999 or 1000.
I'm glad I got in there quickly!
Number 3.
III.
Numero Tres.
Nr. Drei.
Número Trois.
The Big Dog.
The Lord of the Rings.
The Bourne Identity...
I got carried away.

Anyway, enough chit-chat!
You want pictures, and pictures thou shallt receive!
You'd better put seatbelts on your eyes, 'cos they are going for the ride of their lives:
GOOSE!

It's a good day.
Speedy shipping as well.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Winter

My favourite Month is November. It has the best of everything: Cold sunlight, beautiful Autumn colours, dark nights.
Sometimes I feel like I just wish that it would be Winter again. There is something about late Autumn and Winter that I love - Not Christmas or my birthday, but I just love the dark nights, rain hitting against my window, going outside in the freezing wind but being warm under a massive coat. Listening to Electric Tears with a big a mug of tea or Horlicks, looking outside at the wind and rain and feeling cosy.
That smell that's in the air which smells like it's about to snow, the wet leaves on the ground, in beautiful colours and shades of reds and orange. I like it how I think of this scene and can see, feel, smell and hear everything as though I was there now.
I like going away for the weekend in a cottage in the country, sitting out in the crisp air at dusk and admiring the beauty of everything around me. Being able to smell the log fire smoke from the chimney.
It's times like these when I wish I lived in somewhere like Canada, where I imagine it to be snowy for most of the year, but even when the sun is out, the air is still cold and crisp, and each morning the grass outside has frozen.
Despite having a horrendous Winter in this country last/this year, I still want it to come back, even though when we were in it we couldn't see the light of Spring.



You feeling that?

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Best Regards

Remember In Search of The...? Well, when that was first released in 2007, the firs 999 copies were hand drawn, signed and numbered by Buckethead himself. After that first batch of 999, they were all the same, like mine is.
Today, I was innocently perusing on TDRS Music, and lo and behold, I was slapped with this lovely, but entirely out-of-the-blue surprise.

It is a new Limited Edition box set, with 5 coloured CDs and around 4 hours of music. It is called Best Regards.
The people involved are Buckethead, Brain and an unknown someone called Mellisa, who is playing the keyboards. I have no idea how many of these limited copies will be produced, what is on them or what else to expect. I ordered them without a second thought.
Here is all the information on the set which was provided by Travis, on THIS page:

New! Limited edition box set from Buckethead and Brain.

"Best Regards"

5 discs of all original music. Each disc set is hand drawn and numbered by Buckethead, Brain and Mellisa.

Burned to colored CDr's and housed in a 5 disc case.

Buckethead-guitar
Brain-drums and keyboards
Mellisa-keyboards and percussion

Orange Disc:
Track 1: 13:00
Track 2: 13:24
Track 3: 19:22

Blue Disc:
Track 1: 9:50
Track 2: 19:37
Track 3: 15:02

Green Disc:
Track 1: 30:00
Track 2: 10:17

Yellow Disc:
Track 1: 13:06
Track 2: 12:58
Track 3: 9:28
Track 4: 11:35

Purple Disc:
Track 1: 17:05
Track 2: 31:53

The unnamed tracks and the absolute immensity of this looks like it could be like a smaller ISOT, but I think that Buckethead only does really strange, sometimes unlistenable stuff when he's on his own. Other people seem to make him do structured music.
I'm hoping for each disc to have it's own sound. Or for it to be a large set of Population Override or Dragons of Eden styled tracks, but I never know what to expect from Buckethead.
I should have it in 1-2 weeks. I can already see that they are going to drag along until I get this. I love this. Me, the proud father of a Limited Edition Buckethead boxset.
It is a good day.

Friday, 2 July 2010

BT, Ich haße Sie.

The Broadband is starting to go downhill again. Ever few hours, sometime on the hour, I get slapped with this picture:


Sick of it.
Is BT so different from Tiscali? Looks unlikely.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

The Rejuvenation of Klaus III

Yesterday I finally found some 240 Grit sandpaper in the garage and decided to finish off the sanding of Klaus.
The 240 Grit got rid of all the tiny little white lines and scrapes off the body, but I think I'll still have to redo the sides before it's completely finished. The top of it is pretty hard to sand evenly.
Anyway, soon I hope to get some Butterscotch paint from ManchesterGuitarTech... One tin should do, so I'm only going to buy one and then if I need more I'll buy another one. I know that if I get two initially I'll only use half a tin or something.
I'll get the Clear Gloss lacquer a few weeks after the Butterscotch because it takes about 3-5 weeks (!) to harden anyway depending on the weather, humidity and temperature.
Here's some more pictures to clap yo' eyes on:


Monday, 21 June 2010

The Boxer

Today I got my copy of The Boxer by Kele Okereke. I preordered it about two months ago off Play.com because I would get a 'Limited Edition' signed copy.
So, it's come today, and it is signed! (Suck on that, UK Undercurrent!)
So far, it's a pretty good album. It's a lot like Intimacy by Bloc Party, but also has bits of the other two albums by them as well, but mostly from Intimacy with hints of A Weekend in the City, like a fine wine. But, it's very clearly not Bloc Party. It sounds very similar and has a similar style, but there's something about it which makes it not Bloc Party.
So far, the standout tracks are Everything You Wanted, The New Rules and Yesterday's Gone, with the last one being quite similar to Ion Square by Bloc Party.


Mmmm... Signatures...

These images were uploaded with my new Photobucket account, because I don't want to keep using the Dropbox Public Folder for my images.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

A Levels

I've just completed my last A Level exam ever!
Today it was the second module of A2 Biology.. And I think it went really well. There was only 2 questions which I didn't know the answer to after thinking about them and they only added up to 4 marks in total. (One was about Genotypes and the other about the genes involved in Body Maps of a Drosophila Fruit Fly)
The other exams I had have also went pretty well... I had a AS Chemistry resit from January and also the second module of AS chemistry, which hopefully went better than the first time.
So.. Other than getting my results I never have to go back to that awful prison-hospital thing. The worst part of Sixth Form was having to share the building and resources with the lower school childs, most of which didn't want to be there or abused everything in their power. And they stunk, were full of disease and made everything sticky.

I now have an AS Chemistry OCR textbook for sale if anyone here wants it.
£9+Postage... They are £15-17-ish new, and mine is as new apart from a bit of tea-stain on the edge of some pages... Spillage happened. Comment if you want it. I like PayPal.

Tonight I'm going to watch Hancock I've had off LoveFilm for a few days now, and I'm going to play some games, kill some aliens on the Xbox and get some Southern Comfort to suck on. It's going to be an anti-revision par-tay in my house tonight.

Monday, 14 June 2010

The Xbox 360 Slim

So... Microsoft has announced their newest version on the Xbox. It's shiny, black and pointy and looks like a nerd's gaming PC which he thinks looks cool. I think it's pretty hideous.
However, on the plus side, it now has built-in WiFi, which means no more silly expensive USB wireless receivers. WiFi should have been on the 360s from launch, really. Also, it's now thinner and has both an internal Hard Drive and an internal power supply. I don't like the internal HD at all. What if I needed to take my hard drive and put it on another Xbox? What if it breaks and you have to send it to Microsoft? You'll have no save games when you get it back.
The little Memory Cards have now also gone, being replaced by Microsoft's rubbish version of USB mass storage.
So other than that, there's not much change on the inside apart from a smaller, cooler chip (hopefully to avoid the dreaded Red Ring of Death).
On the outside, apart from the new hideous angular design, there is actually a nice on/off button, which looks to be made of chrome... Or shiny silver plastic.
The controller has also had some slight changes to match the new box - The analogue sticks are now black rather than grey and the Guide Button matches that of the on/off switch, whih I like. I'd consider buying one of them if I need a new controller, but knowing how much Microsoft love money it probably won't work with old Xboxes unless you buy a £60 adapter and subscribe to the Controller Service for £40 a year.
That stupid Project Natal is also official now, with a real name... It's now been ever-so-cheesily called 'Kinect' (See what they've cleverly done there? It's like 'connect' but using the word 'Kinetic' as well because it's movement based... Har-har!). It's a silly device. There won't be any more information about it on this Blog... Not in my name!


UK Pricing has it down for a surprisingly cheap £199, which makes it almost identical to the US pricing of $299. The UK may actually get it £2-3 cheaper. Amazing.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

New Design

Blogger has been updated in the last few days, and it's added a load of new templates and backgrounds for me to use. This one came under the 'Textures' list, and I liked it, so here it is. Wood.
I'm currently working on trying to make another header in the top... The last one had outstayed it's welcome I think... Probably been there since around 2007.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Requiem for a Dream

Requiem for a Dream was in my rental list on LoveFilm for ages, but today I've cancelled it because I watched it online for free.
This film is, again, one of those 'completely fantastic films which I managed to not see for ten years'. Possibly the best film I've ever seen for free, it is about four people who all end up addicted to drugs and what happens to them over the course of a year and what effect the addiction has on them.
Harry Goldfarb, the main character, is a heroin addict, who repeatedly sells his mother's TV in order to pay for more drugs, while his mother will continue to buy the same TV back from the pawn shop because she is addicted to TV game shows and self-help programs.
Eventually, Harry and his friend Tyrone begin selling heroin to make lots of money for themselves, while his mother receives a phone call from a TV station telling her she'll be on TV, which is her perfect dream. She decides to wear her red dress to the occasion, but cannot fit into it properly so goes to the doctor to get diet pills, to which she also becomes addicted.
The story is about each character's addiction and the downward spiral their lives take when they struggle to cope with the effects of it.

If there was ever a good enough argument not to start taking heroin, it's watching this film. Then reading Russell Brand's Booky Wook.
I can't recommend this highly enough if you like films which are gritty and harrowing, which I do. I think it has gone straight to the list of my favourite films, along with Seven, The Darjeeling Limited, The Orphanage and Donnie Darko.
I also have Trainspotting in my rental list, and I can't wait to see that.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

The HomeHub

If you remember the last time I had internet problems, it turned into a month-long saga involving phone calls to TalkTalk/Tiscali and BT. I wrote an account of the horrors I witnessed during this down-time, detailing what I had done to save myself from insanity caused by disconnection.
Anyway, it appears that I now have yet more problems, only this time with BT's HomeHub repeatedly losing connection for around 1 minute at a time. When we first got it, we were told that in the first 10 days it may occasionally restart because BT were 'testing the line' (I reckon it was seeing how much speed they could shave off before we noticed). So then it was fine up until about a month ago, when it disconnected, but I assumed it was just an update, and I was used to disonnections happening almost daily with Tiscali, so I didn't pay any attention to it. Recently, it has started to disconnect on (or around) the hour, probably about 5 times per day. By this I mean anywhere between x:50 and x+1:10.
I know it's peak periods, but that silly estate agent guy on the advert is moaning about his internet because '''alf the worwd's onloine!'' but then that other guy off My Family is thinking: "Yeah, you should have got BT" (just like how I think "Should have got a Mac" when everything goes wrong on Dell-Boys). I don't think I'm getting 'consistently faster broadband, even at peak times'.
I've also noticed it gets pretty hot as well... I don't know if it's supposed to, but it does. I mean, pretty hot, like fry-some-eggs-on-it hot.
On the super-massive plus side, when I am connected I'm getting speeds 10x faster than I was putting up with from Tiscali - When not in peak times, I previously got about 14-25kbps download, 3-10kbps upload, but now I'm getting up to 200kbps download and 30-40kbps upload. Serious improvement considering the phone lines where I live are made of cheesestrings or something...

Buckethead

"Got message from Buckethead, he's doing much better, he said he miss everybody's Slaugther-House but he will be back from Bucketland" said Bootsy Collins, via Twitter.

This makes me a Happy Bunny!

Sunday, 6 June 2010

What's This?! A Review of In Search of The...?!

Yes, here it is. If you read this regularly or remember when I said I was going to review In Search of The... properly back in August last year, you'll find that I never got round to it.
Well guess what? I done a review of sorts. Clap your eyeballs on this juicy review, Motherlickers!

In Search of The... was a set I really, really wanted. I thought that the idea of 13 original CDs in a set was amazing and entirely original, not to mention quite a task to listen to it all (which it still is). However, most of the time before buying a CD (or in this case, 13) I like to listen to it on YouTube/Spotify/Grooveshark and decide whether it's worth getting, especially since I don't have too much money to begin with anyway, making Buyer's Remorse seem that much more bitter to me. Unfortunately, this set has very little representation on YouTube and none at all on the other places I check, so I had to buy this set, for around £70, based on about 5-10 tracks out of ninety-something. So it's a bit of a stab in the dark.

I got it, put Disc 1 into my player, and heard what sounded like an electric horse being cattle-prodded. I thought for a second, bearing in mind the first track is 59 seconds long, and thought to myself: "Oh no... What have I done?"
I pushed this thought to the back of my head, and tried to find consolation in spending $115 on a few CD-Rs in paper cases with nothing but photocopied stickers on the covers.
As a few days passed, I half-listened to each disc in order while doing other stuff. I finally got to the end of Disc 13 and that awful feeling of "Oh no..." came back. During this first listen, there had been some 'standout' tracks that I had noticed as being almost unbearable, where I skipped the track altogether, notably the dangerously similar 7.4 and 11.2, and various other tracks I would personally label as 'sub-filler' standard.

However, I imported them into my computer, and began listening to them in no particular order on my iPod, desperate to find something to console me for what I had heard already. It was around then when I discovered that there really are some good tracks on here, which I would not be surprised to find on a regular album. These include 1.2, 2.5, 3.3, 4.6, 5.1, 5.8, 6.3 and 8.1 as what I would call the 'gems' of the set (Real Diamonds in the Rough you could say... Har-har!). After 8.1, it all seemed to get a bit too odd for me, with sometimes things which sound like a drum kit sneezing and a guitar having an epileptic fit.

Now, about 8 months later, I can listen to a lot of the ones I previously labelled as 'sub-filler' standard. Instead of melting into a large block of similar sounding noise, I can now see that each disc may have been intended to have a unique sound, gradually getting more unhinged as the discs count up.
Despite my somewhat delayed appreciation of the set, there are still up to 15 tracks which I still find absolutely dreadful, and those are the ones which I remembered from my first listen.
ISOT, to me, is a set which I think I will only like more as time goes on and I listen to more tracks individually rather than as a set. I think Disc 5 is the best of the lot, so if you want to buy them individually, get that one first.

There's not much more I can say about it. Almost every track features a strange guitar effect which I can only relate with a smooth-jazz effect, somewhere between a fully clean sound and something which is too loud for a tape recorder to pick up properly, causing slight 'blurring of the edges' of the sound.

I'll end this rather long review by saying that if you have $100 and want to buy a slice of what Buckethead is as a musician, buy this set. It ranges from the gentler, almost Colma themed songs to the mindless, atonal messiness of early Buckethead relea
ses, and has almost everything in between.

As Buckethead once (not so) famously said: Music to me may not be music to most. I think he's proven that here with a pretty inaccessible album if someone is new to him. If someone who's first time listening to Buckethead was some of that 'sub-filler' stuff, I wouldn't blame them for thinking this is music for the deaf and/or insane, but if you're persistent and you take the time to scour the depths of this set you can find some real gems.


Sunday, 23 May 2010

Buckethead - On the Mend

Good news!
It comes from the ever so tight-lipped Bootsy Collins, who posted on his Twitter:
Yeah Bucketbots! I talked to Buckethead today he wants to thank everybody for the prayers, hope in 3 wks he be in "Boot-Cave"
That sounds like good news. He'll be safe and happy in the "Boot-Cave"... It's a top-secret location I'm guessing...
Is it a gigantical coinky-dink that I was listening to On the Mend by the Foo Fighters when I read this news?
Dun-dun-duhhhh....

Saturday, 15 May 2010

The Rejuvenation of Klaus II

Today, the building of the new Klaus has officially begun. General Klaus is one step closer to existence. I went to a little hardware shop where I could get individual sheets of sandpaper rather than a pack of 20 (which I won't need), and I got a few sheets of 120, 150, 180 and 220 Grit. They were 20p each.
So, this afternoon, I assaulted Klaus with a Black and Decker Mouse, armed with the 80 Grit pads I got from B&Q. It took more effort than I thought it would to get it off, especially the clear, hard shiny outside bit. Once the outer coat was off, the paint underneath just melted off.
So, here is Klaus after I attacked him with a sander:

Here he is again, but after I brushed off the main bulk of dust. I thought I'd put some of the stuff on to see what it looked like. I think it's smoo. The wood is a better colour than I thought it would be, and it is less pink (like salmon) and more wood coloured (like... wood).
Imagine how spiffing it would look with my leather pickguard...

^ Click to embiggen

There's still a few orange patches on it, and also the edges and most of the sides haven't been sanded properly yet, so from here it's going to be all by hand. The Mouse is back in the box, and it's time to bring out the wooden block and some sandpaper.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Not a Good Sign

A few days ago I posted about the latest update to Bucketheadland, and how the front splash page has changed the first time since last year.
Well, Bootsy Collins assured us he was still alive via his Twitter account, but today there have been a few more messages posted from him, also relating to Buckethead.

This one was posted yesterday, May 13th, on Buckethead's (now confirmed) birthday:
Okay funkateer's I Just wanted to say Happy Birthday to my best friend Buckethead, say a prayer for his speedy recovery, he's doing better!
I don't like the term 'speedy recovery'. What has happened? Nobody apart from Buckethead and apparently Bootsy know what's happening...

Then, just after that, he posted this:
Been going though some skeletorial Pain that has set him back a few notches but with yalls support he will bounce back.
Oh. The plot thickens. In a bad way. Skeletorial pain doesn't sound like much fun at all... (I think Bootsy means to say 'skeletal', 'skeletorial' isn't a real word.)

Today, Bootsy then posted this:
teh The Road will beat you down even when you take care of yourself, Pain throughout his body, Doc don't know yet what it is!
It isn't looking good on the Buckethead front. Whenever a Doctor doesn't know what's wrong with you, you know it isn't good.

All we can do is hope he gets better. Bootsy already said 'with yalls support he will bounce back.'
Obviously Slip Disc is trying to stop Bucketbots from having big fun.


Wednesday, 12 May 2010

The Rejuvenation of Klaus I

I have finally begun dismantling, disassembling and de-soldering my Telecaster, Klaus.
I bought it with the sole intention of modifying it, and getting to know how to do some businesses with a guitar, and maybe a power tool or two...
So anyway, step 1 was to take the actual thing apart. This meant taking off the strings, unscrewing the pickups and unsoldering the connecting wires, and organising everything (and the appropriate screws) into piles, and then into labelled bags, such as 'PU Neck', 'PU Bridge', 'Control thing' and 'Strap holders'.
Then I took the neck off, which was surprisingly easy as well... I thought there would be more than just four screws holding it on.
So then, it looked like a trip off to ye olde B&Q was in order. I needed to get a few grades of sandpaper, ranging from 80 Grit at the coarsest and then 150 Grit, and finally down to something around 180-200 Grit to smoothen the wood before putting the new layer of lacquer over it.
I'll be getting this Light Tint Gloss Lacquer from Steve Robinson who owns and runs Manchester Guitar Tech, who makes all the lacquers himself and sells them on to normal people as well as Fender and Gibson.
Hopefully, after all the lacquer has been applied and has dried (well, I hope), I also intend to buy a custom Leather Pickguard from Doug Halliday at Layli.net, who fashions all kinds of amazing stuff from leather. Luckily for me, I'm feeling the simpler, cheaper option of PG-13, but most likely in a darker, more 'antiqued' looking colour. I contacted him and he got back to me saying that Pickguard in a different colour would be $38 in total, which includes shipping to the UK. I'd say that was pretty good for a custom made leather pickguard.
Here's a picture of my 'workshop' in my garage and the disembodied Klaus, sat next to his own neck and a box full of his organs:

^ Click to embiggen

Thursday, 6 May 2010

The Election

"What is Democracy?"
"S'got something to do with young men killing each other, I believe..."
"When it comes to my turn, will you want me to go?"
"For Democracy, any man would give his only begat son."

I don't care about the election. I don't care who gets 'into power' and when, and I barely know the difference between the 'other two' parties. (Those are the ones who aren't Gordon Brown, I forgot the names.)
I don't really believe that people have any say over what happens, despite living in a 'democracy', and I think that the party which gets into power has already been decided, and no matter what votes and numbers say, nothing will change that. They only let people vote so that they feel like they have a choice and think that they are making a difference, but really they aren't.
I also think that all parties and politicians are the same, and no matter who gets into power it will still be the same outcome. (See Nineteen Eighty-Four.)
My reasoning of backing this up is that if the 'Cannabis Party' got the most votes, i.e, 99%, with their one and only policy of legalising cannabis, do you really think they would get any power at all? There is no way that it would be allowed to happen, despite what the 99% of votes have said. 'They' wouldn't let that happen.

Also, the Royal Family are all Lizards, the Moon Landing was shot in a garage in Arizona and Lady Ga Ga is an Illuminati puppet.

I didn't vote.

This was a pretty serious post, so I'll lighten it up with a little game:

What rhymes with 'Election'?
Have a thinky, and highlight the below text to find the answer.

Reflection.
Never saw that coming, didja?

Friday, 30 April 2010

Bucketheadland

Yesterday, I visited Bucketheadland and discovered that the main page has changed from the Michael Jackson Tribute song, The Homing/Landing Beacon, and is now replaced by a billboard type sign post thing, and it looks like this:


Look at that. He appreciates me. He is clearly talking about/to me personally, considering I am his Number 1 fan.
Who knows what it all means...
Perhaps he's having some time off, perhaps he's planning something big like another Limited Edition album or ISOT Part 2 - Maybe he's found 'The...'.
Maybe he's getting a new passport so he can come to the UK...
Maybe all he means is that he'll be updating the site a bit more often now (The Michael Jackson tribute has been there since June 2009), and we all know how Greg couldn't handle the maintenance of the Slaughterhouse.
I s'pose I'll have to just wait and find out.
Maybe Bucketheadland 3?

The mind wanders...

Update:
Bootsy Collins wrote this on his Twitter yesterday:
Doing a track for "Buckethead" on my new album right now. If u thought Buckethead was incredible before, wait til you get a load of this!

Ahh, the plot thickens. Perhaps it actually is another Bucketheadland CD, considering Bootsy was on the last two and did bass and some voices. Maybe he means its another Praxis CD.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Snarly D - The Definitive Review

I finally got me a Snarling Dog. I'm feeling it. Like I might have already said, I got it used off eBay for £36 and £5 postage. I can't believe postage was this cheap - The actual thing is made of solid metal and weighs about 3KG.So that's a pretty good dealio as far as I'm concerned. I would have liked to be able to get a Mold Spore with the few effects on it, but those are pretty expensive - Around £100 used.
So anyhow, it's used. What the guy on eBay didn't put into the description was that there are a few scratches in the paint (which I can deal with) and also that the battery cover plate is missing off the bottom, and to fix this, he has put a strip of duct tape over it. I'll try to find a cover that will fit, but the tape does it's job I s'pose. I also need to get a new cable to go between the pedal and the amp. Currently I'm using a double-ended 3.5mm headphone jack cable with two 6.3mm adapters on each side. Crude business.
Also, the Dog's face glows in the dark, which I didn't know. Also, it's eyes light up when you step on it/turn it on, so despite the crude use of tape, it still looks better than that silly Vox I was going to get. (Also, my liking of Vox has dampened a bit since the last 'incident'.)
So... I might put a video/demo up of me displaying my mad skills on the guitar and Wah-ness. Then again, I might not.