Category: Opinions and Facts

01
Nov
2021
19:07

Medeli AKX10 Review

Recently I found myself needing a live gig keyboard. I have my trusty M-Audio Keystation 88 in my studio that I use with all my soft synths, and on the rare occasions that I’ve needed a live keyboard, I’ve taken it out with my laptop running my soft synths and it’s been fine, but as I’ve started to play more keys in a few projects I wanted a simpler solution. The thing is, I’m still mostly a guitarist and bassist and so that, combined with the fact that I was only playing some keys and I did still have my MIDI controller and soft synths made it hard for me to justify a high end Nord, Kronus, or the like.

That’s when my friend and bandmate David Houston introduced me to the Medeli AKX10 which he had just ordered for the same reasons, as he hadn’t played much keys in a while and had just taken on a keyboard gig. Now like a lot of musicians, I initially had my doubts about this keyboard for several reasons. One it’s sold as an “Accompaniment Keyboard” for one-person band type situations, like bistro singers who want to be able to have features like one-finger left hand chords and backing accompaniment that can follow your chord changes in various styles and arrangements. That plus the fact that any keyboard with built-in speakers, to my experience was mostly a low level keyboard that would make pros would turn their nose up. I found myself falling prey to some of these biases as well. Though to be honest, I do like some of the frills like the pulsing colored lights on the sides of the keyboard and the different color schemes you can choose from for the buttons. I just needed a big variety of great sounds, good feel, and a great usability, so why would I want to pay for a bunch of extra stuff I’ll never use like the auto-accompaniment and such?

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05
Sep
2021
0:51

Dell Ultrasharp 4K Webcam Review

Years ago, when I was first looking for a good webcam for streaming (and since the pandemic, tons of Zooming, etc.), everything I read led to the Logitech C920 series. I ended up getting the newest one in that line at the time, the C922x. Overall it’s been a fine camera but there were a few quirks that always bothered me. Firstly, as noted all over the internet, it has the very annoying quirk of not saving the camera settings. Streamers are always complaining that they have to tweak their cameras every time they use them. I ended up downloading a third party program called WebCamCfg which is pretty slick and let’s you save/load settings using any .txt editor to alter a .cfg file. However I was still annoyed that I needed this at all. Also there were several Logitech software suites for the camera and none of them did everything. They each did some things. I ended up settling on LogiCapture as my favorite because you can actually use the program itself as your video source (instead of the camera directly) which allows you to tweak settings, zoom, etc., while live with camera, which you usually can’t do with every other camera software suite I’ve used. Usually the camera can’t be in use by another program if you want to adjust it. But even LogiCapture did not give me the ability to turn off auto-exposure which I like to do as I like running everything manually for various reasons.

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26
Mar
2020
18:12

One Capo To Rule Them All

Guitartists: I have found the one capo to rule them all. The G7th Performance 3 ART capo.

I have used Kyser, Dunlop, Shubb, D’Addario, Thalia ($75!) and they all have their issues. The most common capo issues are that guitars have different neck radiuses (or Radii) or how flat or curved they are. Capos are a fixed radius and therefore may not follow the profile of your fretboard perfectly and could cause buzz on the outer or inner strings depending on the capo vs. your radius. The Thalia capos seek to remedy this by having different shaped inserts for the capo. You pick the one that matches your guitar’s radius. However this means that if you want to use the capo on another guitar with a different radius, you have to change inserts. I also had to order a special pack of XL inserts to fit my Rain Song acoustic. The standard ones weren’t tall enough. I also found the Thalia too bulky. Playing a B7 shape at the 7th fret was difficult with the high profile of the capo. The Thalia also suffered from the other common problem…

The other is that any spring-loaded capos have a fixed tension and I find that on some guitar, they will push the strings sharp. Now recently, I found the Shubb and D’Addario capos remedied this problem with adjustable tension. The Shubb had become my favorite due to it’s small size and just generally having a good quality feel.

The other common problem is that any spring-loaded capos have a fixed tension and I find that on some guitars, they will push the strings sharp. Now recently, I found the Shubb and D’Addario capos remedied this problem with adjustable tension. The Shubb had become my favorite due to it’s small size and just generally having a good quality feel.

Then I discovered the G7th Performance 3 ART capo. They ART stands for “Adaptive Radius Technology.” The pad on this capo is built in such a way that it can adapt to the radius of your neck. It also has a really cool and unique tensioning mechanism where you squeeze it on and it stays however tight you squeeze it so you can put just enough pressure as necessary to get a nice clear sound without pushing strings sharp.

At $45 it’s more expensive than any of the others except the $75 Thalia, but I think it’s worth it. My second choice would be the Shubb. Enjoy the fruits of my labors and the knowledge gleaned from way too much money spent on capos over the years.

The other is that any spring-loaded capos have a fixed tension and I find that on some guitar, they will push the strings sharp. Now recently, I found the Shubb and D’Addario capos remedied this problem with adjustable tension. The Shubb had become my favorite due to it’s small size and just generally having a good quality feel.

Then I discovered the G7th Performance 3 ART capo. They ART stands for “Adaptive Radius Technology.” The pad on this capo is built in such a way that it can adapt to the radius of your neck. It also has a really cool and unique tensioning mechanism where you squeeze it on and it stays however tight you squeeze it so you can put just enough pressure as necessary to get a nice clear sound without pushing strings sharp.

At $45 it’s more expensive than any of the others except the $75 Thalia, but I think it’s worth it. My second choice would be the Shubb. Enjoy the fruits of my labors and the knowledge gleaned from way too much money spent on capos over the years.

A video I made, pretty much just saying everything I just said here.

11
Jun
2019
21:36

Intellectual Elitism

Books are not superior to film, TV, or video games. And on the other end, video games are not mindless wastes of time for immature people with Peter Pan syndrome.

Aw crap, Heath has something stuck in his mental craw and has to spout off about it.

This should not be a controversial or inflammatory statement, but likely it will be for some. Anyone who knows me even a little knows that intellectual elitism and snobbery is a huge hot button for me. People who think their opinions are facts, or are somehow more valid. “You like that thing? You have no taste then. That thing sucks.” It’s something I encounter quite often in various ways with regards to books and their superiority, and conversely about video games being the other end of the spectrum. A meme I’ve seen posted many times including a list of what “Successful” people do versus “Unsuccessful People.” “Successful People read books. Unsuccessful people watch TV.”

I saw a question online that asked “Could you date someone who plays video games for 2 hours a day?” To which a LOT of people answered “No.” And one of the key things that bothers me about these kinds of snobbery is that they tend to be one direction. I’ve definitely heard many folk laud the superiority of books, while I’ve never heard anyone who prefers film/TV/video games say “You READ for 2 hours a day? Pathetic. What a waste of time. I could never date someone who reads so much.”

I personally believe that they are all different but equal and equally valid. Books leave more to the imagination and allow you to revel in prose and (hopefully) well-crafted sentences. TV and film can have great writing, breathtaking cinematography, and incredible acting. Video games can have immersive original stories, exercise your problem solving skills and hand-eye coordination. They can all be some wonderful escapism and entertainment. They can all have soul moving gravitas. They all educate. They all have masterpieces as well as pieces of crap. In this day and age especially, TV and video games have really outgrown their stigmatic roots and come into their own with regards to creativity and originality to match the greatest books and movies.

But in the end, it’s a preference. An opinion. None are “superior” or “inferior” to the others. I like to get my share of all of them, personally. A (not quite) balanced diet. So, maybe try not to be so judgmental. You might be cutting yourself off from some seriously amazing people, and cutting those people off from the amazing person that is you. Let go of the tribalism. There’s enough room for us all to like what we like and still find plenty of common ground.

13
May
2018
20:04

Heartbreak Vs. Death

I find it interesting that in general I am very hesitant to post things of a darker, heavier nature. It’s always more pensive and philosophical in my head, but I fear it sounds more depressed or depressing when expressed. I find it also interesting that this is why I am am expressing these particular ruminations here on my blog. Because, generally, not many read it and people are pretty hesitant to leave the walled gardens of Facebook and such to read things externally. SO in a weird way, the fact that my website gets next to no traffic makes it a safer, more private space. And yet, if I’m writing something publicly then why do I care about “privacy” at all? I could not write it or write in a private blog or journal. I do not have an answer for that question. I just know I want to express these thoughts, but not necessarily to the widest audience possible but I’m also not afraid of anyone finding or reading this. So, in short, I don’t understand my brain either, but here we are.

I’ve discovered that, for me, heartbreak is worse than death. Death as in losing a loved one, not as in my own death. Because while I don’t fear death and have on occasion, kind of wished that my time was up, that’s a very “permanent solution to temporary problems,” as I’ve heard it put. Now I feel there’s a few very important facts related to this highly individual and personal opinion:

  1. I have lost people I was very close to including my father, so I do know that kind of loss.
  2. BUT, I am also someone who deals with death very well. I am very zen about it. It’s a part of life and I know that my loved ones would not want me to be sad or suffer when they’re gone, just as I wouldn’t want that of others. I believe our culture really fears it and feels that we should be utterly shattered and devastated by it. This is really a whole other can of worms, as I believe we have far more choice than we think we do about our feelings, but I also know that it’s not as simple as “Well, hey, just don’t feel that way!”
  3. This is simply an expression of my thoughts and opinions and not at all an attempt to sway anyone else’s opinion. However you feel about it all, your feelings are completely valid and there is no “right” or “wrong” here. This is in no way meant to diminish or trivialize any loss anyone has felt or feels. It’s all so personal and individual.

In death, someone leaves this plane of existence as we know it. We miss them. It sucks. Depending on your personal beliefs on death and what, if anything, happens afterward, your experience with it will likely be completely unique from anyone else’s. I’m not sure exactly what I believe, but the scientific law of Conservation of Energy states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed, it can only change forms. So nothing is ever “destroyed” or completely gone. Our energy continues to exist somehow. Maybe it gets reincarnated. Maybe recycled into stars, trees, rocks, gas, everything. Maybe there’s ghosts, souls, spirits. Many possibilities, but it is science that our energy will definitely continue to exist in some form, whether it be sentient or not.

In general, we are not given a choice about it. My father didn’t choose to die of pancreatic cancer. He most certainly didn’t choose to die of pancreatic cancer because I was somehow not a good enough son. I don’t think I even shed a tear (again, I”m pretty good at dealing with death). Sure I miss teh hell out of him and wish he was still here, but I’m at peace with it, as he would want me to be.

Now in a heartbreak, especially and particularly a non-mutual breakup, someone makes the active choice to no longer be with you. Now there can be any number of reasons that this supposedly has nothing to do with you or your worth. They just need to “figure their own shit out,” or sometimes despite you both being great people, you just aren’t compatible as a couple. I’ve heard many different, totally legitimate reasons from people who weren’t just full of shit or making excuses or whatever. And to be clear, I’m talking generally, not about just my own personal experiences.

But in the end, that person chooses not to be with you. People will tell you, “They’re an idiot. If they don’t see your worth, you deserve better any way,” or any other number of platitudes. The thing is, even if you know your self worth, even if you have great self-esteem and love the hell out of yourself, it doesn’t change the fact that the one person you choose, does not choose you. And that one indisputable fact lodges in the back of your mind like a little, black, poisonous seed. It infects your subconscious.

“I’m very happy with who I am. I think I’m a good person!”
But not good enough for them.
“I am special. I’m an amazing partner. I am seriously a magical unicorn of a catch.”
Hmm, and yet they had no problem moving on and deleting your existence from their life.
“What we had was true love. Magical. A bond beyond this world. No one will ever compare to me!”
Except that new person. And probably a bunch of other people. Maybe you’ll wind up in the top 10.

It will fuck with your self-esteem. Like Wormtongue to King Théoden of Rohan in The Lord of the Rings books (and films). I consider myself to have a very strong mind. A very strong mindfulness and meditation practice. An extraordinary sense of self-awareness. Yet even my tools and defenses are not enough to make me impervious to this insidious poisoning. You question everything you think. Everything you know. Unlike a death, this is a choice. And you know this person is walking through life everyday. Without you. Each day, a constant reminder of their choice to not be with you. Might as well set a Calendar alert. “DING! Tuesday: [person’s badly mispronounced name] still chooses not to be with you!” Because somehow you fell short. You were deficient. You were not good enough for them to want to continue sharing a life with you. It doesn’t matter if they’re “wrong,” “blind,” “stupid,” “self-destructive,” “delusional,” or any other adjectives anyone wants to apply. The end result is the same. They do not choose you, Pikachu. It’s almost like reliving a death daily.

I think this is compounded by the fact that I’ve never really “dated.” It’s really rare for me to connect with someone on that level so I only really bother when it feels like something really special that might last a lifetime. So if that ends, it feels like a tremendous loss of something exceedingly rare and precious. A loss of a huge part of life. So much time and history invested and now you’re back at square one.

“Buck up, Buddy! Time heals all wounds!”

Shut yer platitude hole. I know them all. Yes, I’m working on “me” and self-improvement. Yes, whatever I feel is valid and okay and I don’t beat myself up.
The Law of Attraction says you can manifest any reality you want by just picturing the way you want it and then genuinely feeling the feelings and gratitude of having that thing! Live and think as if it’s already reality!
But Eckhart Tolle says all pain comes from resisting what is and not accepting the now and living in the past or future. Now I quite like both the Law of Attraction philosophy and Tolle’s writings but these two things seems directly at odds to me. (Please keep any disparaging opinions on these or any other philosophies or new age ideals to yourself; my intent is not to bag on them but to point out that sometimes even our own beliefs can be contradictory and confusing). Can a person walk in two worlds simultaneously? Not giving up hope while also continuing forward?

I know it’s all about perspective and so much is just the lies that our egos and fears use to feed themselves but that doesn’t necessarily make it easier. So, while I understand it may be a controversial statement and not true for many others, for me, heartbreak is worse than death.

Well, shit. I don’t know how to salvage this into some cheery ending. Go Google some cute baby animal videos or something. Those are always awesome spirit lifters!

04
Oct
2017
22:18

The Magic Of Radio

I can’t remember the last time radio was a part of my life. I got my first vehicle somewhere in the mid-90s and from that point on it was CDs, iPods, iPhones, and podcasts. The last real, strong radio related memories I have are laying in bed on Sunday nights during high school and listening to Dr. Demento from 10 until midnight.

Recently, my friend and band mate, Karl, was espousing the SiriusXM Beatles channel and I was intrigued. I have the capability in my car but have never subscribed since I have more than enough podcasts, audiobooks, music and Spotify to fill all my time. However this Beatles channel sounded cool and I wanted to check it out so eventually, after encountering a mountain of annoyances and technical problems in the research and signing up stages alone (bad form, SiriusXM), I finally managed to sign up for a free 30 day trial of their streaming service.

I found myself lying in bed trying to drift off to sleep to all things Beatles and feeling a little of that magic again. Feeling a connection to the world as these waves streamed in to my bedroom live. I had no control of what played (though there is on-demand content as well if you like) and no idea what would come next. I found it especially appropriate to be reliving this with The Beatles as they often spoke of the influences they heard on the radio that had such a hug impact on them. I felt a kinship knowing that John, Paul, George and Ringo probably spent many a night listening to these magical sounds of rock and roll streaming into their bedrooms.

I’m not sure if I’ll actually subscribe when my trial is over (I also hate the fact that they still use the outdated annoyance model of making customers call if they want to cancel), but the content of The Beatles channel has been cool enough to at least make me consider it.

27
Sep
2017
0:05

One Razor to Rule Them All

For many years I used a Mach 3 Power razor (the one that has a AAA battery and vibrates while you shave). Then on a whim, I decided to try the Harry’s razors since Mach 3 cartridges can be a but pricey. I thought, “Well, I’m sure a razor is a razor and these little guys are doing the world a solid!” I had the top of the line chrome Harry’s Winston model and used it for years. But I noticed I wasn’t really happy with my shave. I tended to have to go over and over my face and the blades were so close together that they were hard to rinse and got clogged.

So, on a whim, I went to Wirecutter.com, my go to site any time I want to know “What’s the best (insert thing here),” and sure enough they’re top pick was the Mach 3 Power. Sadly, I had got rid of mine in the intervening years and the model they specifically recommended has become really hard to find (though any Mach 3 power, or Mach 3 will likely give you as good of a shave). I don’t shave every day and a cartridge can last me quite a long time. Combine that with the fact that you can get Mach 3 cartridges cheaper if you buy them in bulk on Amazon or wherever, and it seemed worth the extra dough for a better shave.

Years ago I tried the whole “Safety Razor, badger hair brush” thing that many sites rave about as “the best shave” but I never liked it. After a year or two I went back to my Mach 3. I just don’t want to put that much time, effort and thought into shaving.

So here I was being led back to the razor I had previously used. Because I’m a weirdo, I wanted the specific model they recommended (mostly because I liked the green) so I ended up getting one off ebay from a guy in Korea for like $20. I just had my first shave with it and I’m never going back. Such a huge difference. So learn from my experience and research, and just get yourself one of the Mach 3 line. I’ve been to Mordor and back, shaving all the orcs along the way, and I can say it is the one razor to rule them all.

“Well, I’m back,” he said.

09
Jan
2016
15:54

On Spoilers: Consideration Has No Statute Of Limitations

I never thought Star Wars and spoilers in general would become more of a hot button jihad inducing topic than religion, politics, Mac Vs. PC, or iOS vs. Android, but it seems it has.

There seems to be a new trend that I’m calling the “Spoilers Rights Advocates” who think that after (T=arbitrary and differing individual lengths of time ranging from 3 days to 10 years) that they no longer have any obligation to be considerate of others and if you haven’t seen the movie then “that’s on you.” I’m sure it comes as no surprise that I disagree. Well, I mean it is true that they have no “obligation” or responsibility to do so, but that doesn’t mean it’s not still a great thing to do.

I know of plenty of people who don’t have the luxury that I have of prioritizing going to see a movie. I have a friend who is always extremely busy, pregnant (not always, but at the moment), and wants to watch the original 6 before she goes to see 7. I’ve read many posts from others with other such reasons for not having seen it yet. And they do care. I’ve had a handful of discussions on the matter over the last few days on social media. Some have been very civil and intellectual. Others have ended up with all kinds of aggression, name-calling and fiery indignation coming my way. “Go outside!”, “Get some friends!”, “Get off the internet!” are just a few choice bon mots. Accusations of grandstanding, martyrdom, gaslighting, and so much more! You’d think you had stumbled into a discussion on race, religion and terrorism. Yes, I am a grade A, top choice, huge ass-hat, like an ass-sombrero for thinking that the world would be a better place with a little more consideration (oh, there’s me playing the victim card again…another accusation). I thought I was coming from a good place. I had no resentment, aggression, negative feelings or anything like that, and yet even apologies were met with outright hostility and indignation somehow twisting my words and attempts to diffuse the situation into more accusations. Eventually I realized there was nothing else to do but leave (which I’d tried to do earlier in the meltdown but that was also viewed as me playing the victim and other “tactics” on my part).

I don’t get it. I don’t get the attitude, the ire, or any of it. It’s really this simple with me: consideration has no statute of limitations. People often come back with “Oh, so are you gonna tag spoilers on [SPOILER FROM ORIGINAL STAR WARS], or, [SPOILER FROM SIXTH SENSE], [SPOILER FROM CITIZEN KANE], [SPOILER FROM THE CRYING GAME], [SPOILER FROM ANY SHAKESPEARE PLAY]?”

Yes. Yes I am. Because it costs me nothing. It doesn’t inconvenience me at all. My quality of life and the enjoyment of it is not in any way adversely affected by not posting that spoilery cartoon. Or at the very least tagging it as such. On several such posts, I’ve commented “SPOILER” not to in any way chastise the poster or try to bend them to my will but simply as a warning to anyone who might stumble upon it and care. And there have been comments from people such as “I haven’t seen it yet…mostly bc I have this little baby and also bc Alamo was sold out when we tried to go over the break. I glanced at your pic and then saw the word SPOILER on your friends comment, so I haven’t looked at it again. Thanks Heath Allyn! (For the record, I’m not a huge Star Wars fan so I wouldn’t cry over a spoiler, BUT I would like to be surprised if there’s a big surprise.)” By the way, that bit about not being a huge Star Wars fan is their quote, not my editorial. Anyone who remotely knows me knows that I am the hugest of Star Wars fans.

So again, I didn’t post asking the person to remove their post, or change it or tag it. I just left a comment explaining why I was leaving that comment as a helpful warning. Which has only been a problem once and led to all the above accusations and name calling. The irony is that I don’t even care that much about spoilers. I do try to avoid them but if I get spoiled, it’s not the end of the world to me and it probably won’t affect my enjoyment, but to others, it is a big deal and I can respect that. I have no reason to say “Fuck you, then! That’s your issue! Stay off the internet because my right to post untagged spoilers after (T: see above) trumps your desire to not be spoiled, which you gave up any way by not seeing the movie fast enough to my liking!”

I actually know of someone who just watched the original trilogy last month. Another friend recently reminded me that she had never seen them until I sent her the VHS tapes somewhere around the early 2000’s. There’s tons of “classic” movies I still haven’t seen. Does that mean I think you’re a big jerkface if you you reveal [SPOILER FROM CAVE PAINTING FROM 550 B.C.]? Of course not, but I certainly appreciate it if you are considerate enough to still tag spoilers or ask if I’ve seen it.

With the reactions of some people you would think I had asked them to strangle a small puppy when all I’m really saying is, some people would really appreciate the tiniest morsel of consideration here, and it’s so effortless and easy. I’m sure I have my share of responsibility in these blowups. Poor phrasing, reacting too emotionally. I know one thing I thought was a good idea but ended up being a mistake was that as I was pruning my feed, there were some folks I wanted to know that though I wouldn’t be reading their posts any more, that I really enjoyed their posts overall and would miss them but that doesn’t work in this context. It just ends up sounding like a big “I’M UNFOLLOWING YOU!” announcement, so lesson learned there.

In the end, there’s some generally great people and some people I don’t know at all who now think I’m the biggest douche-canoe on the planet because I think it would be cool to go beyond our “obligations” and “responsibilities” to maybe, possibly help someone out that you don’t even know would appreciate it and maybe, just maybe make the community of humanity just a little better with a drop of extra consideration.

Of course, the only people who will actually read this are people who probably don’t need to read this, so at least let me say, I appreciate you. And if you can take these genuine, heartfelt words and somehow twist them into something negative, then you don’t know me at all. Which is probably true any way! If this particular form of consideration is just too much for you bear, then try to do something, somewhere, even just the smallest token to make someone else’s world a better place on a regular basis. That’s probably a way better plan any way. I guess all I can hope for is that this is some kind of self-regulating Darwinian mechanism that just keeps me surrounded by only the most amazing people. Seems to have worked so far.