Jazz Funk Soul – Blues Alley, Washington DC – 18 Aug 22

On Thursday, 18 Aug 22, I had the distinct pleasure of catching the opening show of Jazz Funk Soul at Blues Alley in Washington, DC. Earlier in the month, I caught Instagram updates from Jeff Lorber, and Paul Jackson, Jr, the keyboardist and guitarist for supergroup Jazz Funk Soul, saying they’d be at Blues Alley on that date through Sunday, 21 Aug. I immediately purchased two 8pm show tickets for myself and my wife and shortly after, my music production/business partner purchased two for he and his wife. We were set for a show that was undoubtedly going to be good.

Jazz Funk Soul is composed of:

Jeff Lorber – Keyboards, Paul Jackson, Jr – guitar, and Everette Harp – Sax. Joining them that night were DC’s own bass guitar phenom, David Dyson, and on drums, Lionel Cordew

Here’s a shot from Jeff’s IG feed showing the one and only soundcheck they did on the afternoon of August 18th.

We arrived about 20 mins before the show started and the club was pretty much full. We ordered dinner and shortly afterwards, the band entered the stage. Jeff, in his cordial way, talked about the history of the band, including the debut album members, Everette Harp, guitarist Chuck Loeb, and himself. They ha ve three previous releases, and their current one, “Forecast”, was recently released. More information about the first three projects can be found at Discogs.

The setlist for the show was:

Speed Of Light (from the self-titled debut release, “Jazz Funk Soul )

Monserrat (from the Jeff Lorber Fusion release, “Galaxy”) 

Life and Times (from the third release, “Life and Times”)

Hustle (from the current release, “Forecast”)

Serious Business (from the self-titled debut release, “Jazz Funk Soul” )

Going Thru Changes (from Everette Harp’s release “First Love”, written with G. Duke)

Forecast (title track from “Forecast”)

Tune 88 (from Jeff Lorber Fusion’s release “Water Sign”)

Every track on the setlist was performed flawlessly. The sound system in Blues Alley, for the size of the club, is really nice so from every seat in the house, you get premium sound.

Lionel Cordew and David Dyson were really good in holding down the bass and drums for the group, providing that phenomenal groove foundation for the entire setlist. The highlight of seeing the band was finally seeing the incomparable Paul Jackson, Jr on guitar. His immense session work as a guitarist across multiple genres, and as a solo artist, has caused him to be a major influence on me as a guitarist. Here’s a point in the show where he cuts loose.

Everette Harp, groovin’ the melody to Jeff Lorber Fusion’s classic track, “Tune 88”

A few photos from the set

This was a fantastic opening show of eight total. If you ever get a chance to see Jazz Funk Soul, seize the opportunity!

Jazz Funk Soul’s latest release, “Forecast” can be found at Amazon and similar outlets, as well as on all major streaming platforms.

Thanks for the read,

Fresh!

Back to the future: Hello iPod

Greetings all. As many have seen and heard, Apple has discontinued production of the iPod, a device that was undoubtedly pivotal to Apple’s trajectory of success. The iPod was produced in various formats since its debut in 2001. I was fortunate enough to own the original iPod, the little brick with a click wheel, Firewire connection, and capability of holding up to 5000 songs on its 5GB drive, if memory serves me correctly.

I, like many of you reading this, have owned at least one iPod. I’ve owned several – the mini, 2nd gen Nano, 4th Gen Nano, 6th Gen Nano (that I wore as a watch for fitness tracking (see below)), 1st Gen iPod Touch, and still have a few of them. The iPod, specifically those prior to the iPod Touch, did one thing, well two things, simply well – sync and play your music (via the use of iTunes). Those two things are the biggest attraction to me for the iPod and makes the pre-iPod Touch versions much more attractive. The obvious reason for me, which I’ve read others talk about and I’ve discussed with my brother-in-tech, DarrenKeith, is the fact that there were no internet apps on those earlier versions to distract the listener from the music listening experience the iPod provided.

The largest capacity iPod I owned (and had two of at one point) was the 160 GB iPod Classic, in black. Talk about a workhorse. To date I don’t remember what happened to one (it may have crapped out on me), but the other is now owned by my sister (which I forgot I gave her and wish I didn’t – LOL). I have fond memories of listening to my over 7000 song iTunes library through the years. It provided just the right listening experience for so many events from just cruising around town to chillin’ at home, to flying across country and then half way around the world. It was 2005 or so when I discovered and then regularly using the Minidisc platform, first for band rehearsal recordings to then making my own MDs for a similar listening experience the iPod provided.

Fast forward to the introduction of Spotify and other streaming platforms. It made listening to music extremely convenient and even though iTunes (now Apple Music) became available on mobile devices, the combination of having all your phone/internet apps along with your music was highly convenient, but the distraction (to me) made listening to music less focused, or as I’ve heard put, made music “disposable”.

I have Spotify and the Soma FM app on my phone – my only two streaming platform apps, and yes I listen to streaming music (I’m actually listening to Soma FM as I type this post). I’ve never downloaded music to my phone (or Apple Watch) primarily because I didn’t want space taken up, let alone the fact that why do that when I can stream music. Call me sort of a neo-luddite, but I’ve always preferred NOT having to solely rely on the internet to listen to music (as common as that is today).

When the announcement was made that the iPod was being discontinued, as expected, all versions of the iPod Touch sold out within a day afterwards. I predicted the price gouging to appear on eBay and as expected, I saw a 160 GB iPod Classic with a starting bid price of… $1500 USD (smh).

I confiscated a 16GB iPod Touch from my son some years back that was sitting around doing nothing and decided I would make that into my dedicated music player. I have a 1GB Shuffle but the battery is not the greatest. I attempted to sync the Touch to one of my MacBooks that has Apple Music (vs iTunes) on it. I was able to sync most of my purchases from iCloud, but the vast majority of my collection comes from CD. I had one or two CD imports to this library but couldn’t get them synced. Maybe I’m not as familiar with Apple Music as a successor to iTunes but it was way too cumbersome. I then remembered my mid-2011 Mac mini in my recording studio, the predecessor to my current M1 Mac mini. I had moved my entire iTunes library from that drive to an external drive. I connected that drive back to that Mac, set it up as the main iTunes library and synced as much as I could to this little 16GB iPod Touch. It brought back a lot of found memories, including the auditioning of many tracks I featured on my podcast, The Sunday Soundtrack. What else did I really love about the early iPods? The early ones came with the Nike+ Training app (known as the Nike+ iPod system) that first worked with a Nike running shoe sensor and a transmitter that connected to the 30-pin port of the iPod. Later the Nike+ app was created for the iPhone and iPod Touch. I blogged about that whole ecosphere (and my love for it) many times on this blog site.

Now I’m a happy iPod camper again – 1265 songs in my pocket (thought I’m a bit anal in that a fair amount of tracks don’t have artwork – a must for me since this is an iPod Touch…haha…I have to fix that issue). The iPod has a regular headphone jack and I prefer listening with over the ear headphones, so I’m good. I can hook it into my car audio system via USB as well and it’s small enough that I don’t mind carrying both it and the iPhone with me.

I really thought about getting another iPod Classic, but will learn to live with this one (unless I can somehow convince my sister to fork over the one I gave her…LOL!).

Thanks for the read…have a good week.

Fresh

Oversharing – Is there such a thing in social media?

Greetings all…

This particular post is twofold, maybe threefold, in that it piggybacks on my previous post about the Twitter doomsday posts/articles regarding Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter. What I mean by threefold is the genesis of this post comes from the aforementioned, something I heard on a recent podcast called “Off The Hook” by the well known hacking culture organization, 2600 and, lastly, what I consider to be a very well written blog post by my friend Darrenkeith Wyatt. The post, I’ll let you read at your leisure, you can find it here: Social Media + Holidays = Superficial.

What I found interesting in this podcast is commentary that aligned with me for years. The commentary begs the question that is the subject of this post – does the advent and ease of using and engaging in social media cause users to share too much? What is “sharing too much”? Of course, the definition will always be open to interpretation, but is there really a definition answer to what oversharing is?

Being not born a digital native but watching the internet be born and then social media to follow, I remember the strides one had to go through to share their lives. For the everyday person, it generally involved things like the following:

  • Wriing letters and sending physical photographs
  • Pulling out a wallet with an accordion-type plastic photo holder to show photos of family to another
  • Sending email and attaching digital photos
  • Phone calls
  • Livestreaming video (FaceTime, etc)

These examples, and similar, took more effort and extended time in comparison to the shooting of photos and video that can be instantly uploaded to your social media site of choice.

I’ve come across people I follow and don’t follow on social media that appear to share at a very high frequency. The content is varied from user to user, some post content constrained to a certain topic, others anything and everything, but again, does that constitute oversharing?

I think everyone shares whatever they do for a specific reason or reasons. The use of social media is so varied these days that I won’t get into the many reasons why. I will say that some of Darrenkeith’s blog post centers around one of the many discussions we’ve had on the topic of social media evolution, especially in terms of sharing content and consuming of such versus creating.

I remember driving home some years ago listening to a podcast (I think it was via NPR but I can’t recall the name right now) that broadcasted an episode centered around the term “oversharenting” – how parents continually “share” pictures of their children (sometimes from birth) into their teen years and how in those early years, the child doesn’t have any say about whether they want to be all over social media, day in and day out. The episode went on to cite a few teens who ended up disliking the fact that so many photos of them sequencing their growth, have been put on public display without their agreement.

In any event, give Darrenkeith’s blog post a read, I found it to be very interested and agreeable to a few thoughts I’ve had for quite some time.

Thanks for the read…

Best,

Fresh

The Doomsday being presented as Elon Musk’s Twitter

I joined Twitter in November 2006, upon being told about it by a friend I knew from the days of AOL Instant Messenger, iMusic, Yahoo Instant Messenger, and Blackplanet, Lis. Shortly afterwards, I began to connect with other early adapters like Ray, Kenya, Brian, EJ, Will, Terri, and Todd aka The Big La. “In the early 2010s, when Twitter, which launched in 2006, was still relatively fresh, the site had a dramatically different atmosphere. People were more likely to tweet about fairly mundane things: school gossip, lunch, Shonda Rhimes’ hit TV series “Scandal.” Twitter was a place where ordinary people could talk about ordinary things”1 For me, it was just that, posting about the what DID appear to be mundane things – what you had for breakfast, lunch, dinner, running late for work, how you’re feeling, etc. I posted about all those things and, in addition, mainly about tech and music production (to include podcasting), along with other hobbies of mine. It was a relaxed, friendly, and fun place that forced you to be confined to the microblog’s limit of 140 characters. It was about or year or two later when my friend DarrenKeith aka DK joined. He and a number of us, including EJ, Fave (RIH), BSOTS, and many others were hosting podcasts on a regular basis, some weekly like DarrenKeith’s My Love For Music, Fave’s Friday Favecast, EJ’s Wayback Wednesday, and my podcast, theSunday Soundtrack. We are all pretty much regularly blogging back then. I know DK and I still do.

Fast forward to 2022, Twitter has changed tremendously as Internet technology advanced. Twitter was once known as a social network (like Facebook), but that term died and has been replaced with “social media”. Twitter has adopted a slew of new features, just like many other social media sites, but with the growth of technology, the advent and ease of first person news reporting, the use of advertising, algorithms, mobile device social media apps, and the like, Twitter has grown to possess the good and the bad (the latter I like to refer to as being akin to a cesspool).

Recently, the news has been full of the fact that Elon Musk has purchased Twitter. Most of that news (I’d say close to 100%) is that Twitter, based on who Elon Musk is, will suffer greatly at the hands of this millionaire and what he proposes to turn the site into, with respect to free speech and non-anonymity. From what I read, it’s a forthcoming doomsday for sure. Frankly, even with all Elon has been in the news for, the good and the bad, it’s speculation, which I treat as just that. Many say they’ll be part of the exodus already, despite the fact that he hasn’t fully taken over and no changes will be seen for at least six months from now.

Being a user of Twitter for as long as I have been, I’ve seen its evolution and know pretty much exactly how it works. I choose to follow who I do and use its privacy settings available to make my Twitter experience as pleasing as it can be for me. I can’t stand its algorithms in the least bit, BUT, algorithms are innate to social media technology so it’s something we all must live with.

As of today, I have no desire to leave Twitter and don’t plan to UNLESS (under the guise of ‘”free speech”) the environment becomes unavoidably more riddled with hate speech and the like. If that becomes a reality, I’ll take my 65000+ tweets and hit the road – meaning I will not participate/engage as a user any longer. No, I am not going to create a Mastodon (or similar) account and start all over. There is one site similar to Twitter, pnut.io, 100% user run, that I will continue to remain on (since joining in 2017). What I will also do is something DK and I have discussed ad infinitum – crosspost my blog posts from my blog (or walled garden as DK and I refer to it), along with future episodes of my latest podcast Tech Times, and give Twitter users the opportunity to visit. Might as well leverage social networking tech, yes? I’ve lived without Twitter prior to it’s existence, and if I feel the need to do so in the near future, I will. I enjoy Twitter for what it offers me and have connected with many great and resourceful users over the years that have expanded my personality, as well knowledge in a handful of personal interests, for the better. For what it’s worth, I never saw Twitter as a “race thing”, but a community of global users. Yes, racial issues continue to plague us today, but nonetheless…

Time will tell with regards to my exodus or not.

If you decide to leave Twitter, for whatever reason, what will you do, where will you go?

Thanks or the read.

Fresh.

1: Elon Musk’s possible takeover of Twitter is unsettling for many Black users

Attachment to Tech

When’s the last time you noticed you were attached to a tech device? Whether it’s of the latest and greatest to hit the market or something used for years, I think we’ve all experienced it to some degree at some point. For me, it’s been the Pebble Watch.

The Pebble Time Steel

The Pebble watch shot to massive stardom m back in the 2012 time frame, boasting an always on e-ink display and long battery life on one charge (many times in excess of seven days). While I won’t get into the history of its rise and fall, there are may things, outside of the two above, that I like about it. It’s ecosystem is very much still alive by dedicated fans and developers via rebble.io. One of the most enjoyable aspects is the hundreds of watchfaces capable of being downloaded or sideloaded to the watch. I use an iPhone and the Pebble app still works quite well on iOS 15.4.1

The watch in the photo above is my dedicated dress watch showing one of my favorite watchfaces, FEELTTMM, designed by Albert Salamon. While my Apple Watch does a lot of the heavy lifting far better than any Pebble watch today, I sometimes prefer everything that the Pebble ecosystem presents to me. It’s different and offers and experience that is still quite enjoyable to me.

Long live Pebble.

Thanks for the read.

Forward Motion – The WIP Rescore of a Dune 2021 Battle Scene

Greetings all, thanks for stopping by.

In my quest to become better at composing music-to-picture (film music composition), I set out to find a short film clip to compose to. The exercise was two-fold in that I had small Logic X projects set aside as ideas that could be used as film cues or similar. In reviewing them a few weeks back, I came across one entitled “1st Encounter”, which I first composed, just as the COVID-19 pandemic was getting underway in April 2020.. The track, I thought, was reminiscent of something you may here during some sort of battle scene. Being only 28 seconds long, I began to work with various arrangements of it while thinking of different science fiction battle scenes and how this track could possibly fit.

After that exercise, I decided to search Youtube in hopes of finding some footage that was similar to what I’d been imagining. Searching on a combination of keywords such as “encounter”, “first encounter”, “battle scene” and similar, soon proved to be exhausting…until I came across videos about Dune 2021. It didn’t take me long afterwards to find a scene what would pretty much be perfect for the length of “1st Encounter”. The scene is the beginning of the Atreides vs Harkonnen & Sardaukar battle footage. I removed the initial music during the ships approach, then further worked with the tracks in “1st Encounter” by applying track automation where necessary and adding other elements to help describe the emotion of the scene. I call it a work in progress (WIP) because although the scene is short (34 seconds), I have additional, but minor, ideas that I could try to further flesh the composition out, however I think I’ll leave it as is. The result is below.

It turned out to be useful exercise in a number of ways but, most importantly, it’s further motivated me to continue with these rescore exercise to improve myself as I take this journey. I hope you enjoyed it. Comments are welcome.

Please feel free to subscribe to my YouTube page if you’re interested in more.

Be well, stay safe.

Doug

Overcoming Writer’s Block – An Effectual Approach to Writing Music for Film, Television, and Related Media

Greetings all. This year, I’ve decided to focus my efforts in one of two areas of music production:

1 – Composing music for film/TV/media

2 – Sync Licensing

The first item I have some experience with, coming from scoring the ten-episode web YouTube webseries entitled “At Risk – The Series”, back in 2017. The second is uncharted territory that I’ve been planning to explore and traverse for two years now, and is the topic for an entirely different group of blog posts. The following actually applies to both. I’m sharing advice and considerations from the current mental state I’m in and the approaches I plan to undertake to push beyond said state.

“Writing for film has its own set of rules and skills thatmust be mastered. Just because you can write apop song doesn’t mean you can write a score forfilm (and vice versa). I often hear musicians sayingthat they would like to be film composers. They write a song and say something like ‘that sounds like something that would be good in a film score’.
Just kind of messing around and ending up with something that sounds ‘soundtracky’ and actually writing something that adds to a film and enhances a scene is something completely different; not to mention the overhanging loom of unrealistic deadlines.”

The First Step

As you can see, we’ve just touched the tip of the iceberg when it comes to learning the craft of writing for film. Like any other endeavour, it starts with a single step. Take what you know so far and grow from there. If you’re an electronic musician, try writing to certain scenes with your current set up. With all of the videos online, there is no lack of sources to write to. Start with your instrument and grow from there. Try some of the ideas I’ve listed here (for example writing for certain instruments). If it’s all completely new to you, get some material and get started. Try writing something right away. As soon as you learn a new skill, use it in your writing and memorize it as quickly as possible.

(excerpt from “Writing Music for Film: First Steps by Robert Maddocks / January 18, 2010)

“More often that not when someone is stuck and can’t move forward it’s because the person don’t know what to move forward with. The potential of infinite choices leads them to make none. Think of the car salesman, who doesn’t ask “Do you want this car?” (infinite reasons yes and no), but instead asks “Do you want it in red or blue?” (a very simple choice and your brain will make one)

Don’t worry about doing things the right way, or the way you’ve seen someone else do it. Just focus on what works for you and allows you to actually output work instead of just thinking about outputting work.”

(excerpt from “How To Kill Writers Block and Start Composing Now” by Robin Leach/16 Aug 2013)

Finally….

8. WRITER’S BLOCK (HOW TO UNBLOCK YOUR CREATIVE COLON)

Composing and computers are an uneasy marriage. Step away from your mac or PC and go for a walk. Motion and creativity are better bedfellows, if you’re sitting at your workstation you’re in the wrong bed! Don’t think of work as work if you don’t do any composition there… If the park is where your ideas come to you, that’s your work! Analysts feel that true creativity is when you’re in the moment. This will be when the desk of your mind is clear. Usually when there isn’t anything you need to think about other than what you’re doing. No one is about to turn up, the bills haven’t just hit your doormat, and there’s not someone bugging you on Facebook. Many people say early mornings are the most creative time as you’ll be free of disturbance or distraction. However I would argue, this is the most productive time. For many, creativity happens just at the moment that they’ve decided to leave the door. This is the moment when you’ve decided you’re finished… This is when you’re in the moment. Try to sit at your piano at this point and if anything comes, note it down somehow. For me a very rough charcoal sketch of a tune or cue will enable you to wake up and ponder it in the bath in the morning. Then by applying those magic productive early hours to a preconceived concept you will reap the biggest turnover of material.

(excerpt from “10 Rules of Media Composition – The Spitfire Labs Team/Spitfire Audio)

This article, https://blog.native-instruments.com/composing-for-film-and-tv/, from the Native Instruments website depicts some of the very things I went through mentally, via different approaches, when composting for the web miniseries mentioned above.

Finally, some solid advice for moving forward….

What advice would you give composers?

Louisa Rainbird: Definitely play to your strengths – it’s better to be known as a great composer in a few key areas than to try and cover all bases, particularly when the genres and styles covered by production libraries are so vast. Also, look at what is being used currently across film, advertising and different TV genres to give you an idea of what the trends in each area are – there’s no easier research to do, just turn on the TV!

Brian Bennett: Be original. Be brave. Take risks. Believe in yourself and your music. Don’t get complicated. It’s all about the picture. Make great demos. Don’t let a client guess what you mean. Keep the music in the same or relative key to make the music editor’s life easy. Be prepared to make changes. If a client doesn’t like your music, it doesn’t mean its crap, it means they’re looking for something else. Don’t get too precious about your notes.

Sophie Urquhart: I would advise composers to do their research on the libraries that will most suit their style of music. And listen to their advice, they are specialists in what broadcasters and sync people are looking for and can help mould their style accordingly to give it the best shot of being used, hopefully numerous times!

Also, I’d encourage them to focus on where their strengths lie, better to be an expert in their field rather than a jack of all trades. There’s more competition than ever before so it’s crucial that they have an identity which sets them apart from the rest.

(excerpt from “How to Get Into Composing Library Music – Anita Awbi/ 3 Jan 2019)

That said, permit me to reintroduce a re-scrore of a Mercedes Benz CLS promo I completed a little over a year ago. It’s the first of many reels I have planned to showcase my work, and progression of such, in the future.

Thanks for the read, be well.

Doug

Quick Portrait (2022 Update) – Studio A

Studio A

Greetings all and Happy 2022. I hope this new year is starting out well for you and will continue in that fashion.

Back in November 2021, I posted an quick portrait about the main studio space I work out of, Studio A. Since then, I was saving up for a computer upgrade and found a nice sale price on an M1 Mac mini to replace the current (and still capable) mid-2011 Mac mini. Since that computer is already 11 years old, I decided to replace it with a newer Mac for (at least) future proofing in the years to come (the older one is now in Studio C, the subject of a future Quick Portrait post).

With the new Mac comes not only the expected advanced OS, but a new (as of 2020) Apple M1 Silicon chip architecture. The result of that is determining what software, most (if not all) of which is now 64-bit vs 32-bit architecture, along with current hardware that has to now run on the M1 architecture as well. The research (which is ongoing) involves continually watching a particular music production software developer website, Native Instruments, for updates on how they are coming along announcing how many of their products are compatible with the current Mac OS (Monterey), and the M1 architecture. The official compatibility comes via the completion of successful regression testing and the announcement of them now being able to support trouble tickets for user submitted issues. Of course, there are many Native Instruments products that do work with Monterey BUT are not officially supported.

Thus far, I seem to be fine on the software side for my needs, however, my current digital audio interface is an entirely different story. While my Mac came shipped with the prior OS, Big Sur, my MOTU 828Mk3 Firewire audio interface is no longer officially supported. Be that as it may, fervent web searches resulted in finding out that there are users that have gotten it to work not only with Big Sur, but Monterey. I’m halfway there in that I’ve successfully installed the unit’s audio driver, however the interface driver is showing as outdated, and cannot be installed (despite it working for others as of Sept 2021, though my initial thinking is there as been a dot upgrade to Big Sur since Sept 2021, which is what I have, and suspect this is the issue). I’ve replied to those who do have it working in hopes of realizing a similar solution on my end – now to play the waiting game. I’m saying all this to say it is my way of trying to avoid spending at least $400 on their lowest of the line audio interface that will be compatible with my OS. I broke down and purchased a newer, yet older, MOTU 828x digital audio interface that should be here by the weekend.

In the meantime, I’ve upgraded to a 34″ ultra wide monitor and incorporated a USB-C hub with M.2 NVME SSD and 2.5 SATA SSD support for additional memory and ports, (see the connection diagram below)

I also got a good deal on a new 8TB desktop SATA drive that will be used for Time Machine backups. So far, I’m happy with the upgrades, but just need to get started on and continue with projects on deck. I should be receiving the final upgrade piece, the 1TB NVME SSD drive mentioned above, in a few days from now, that’ll be installed in the hub for storing all audio libraries. Stay tuned for more.

Have a great week,

Fresh

Quick Portrait: The Lab – Studio A.

Studio A on The Lab. This is where the heavy lifting happens. The central recording and music production tool is Logic 10.4.8, with Native Instruments Maschine and other NI products integrated into the music production workflow. The computer – a mid-2011 Mac mini running High Sierra is the center piece. Despite it’s age, it gets the job done but I’m currently saving up for the M1 Mac mini, 16GB and a newer MOTU digital audio interface (the 828 Mk3 Hybrid) for use with the M1. To the right and out of the picture is a 16-space rack of vintage synth modules. An Akai MPC 2500 sampling drum machine sits on top.

Been spending a lot time in hear during the last two weeks working on tracks for a collaboration project dropping in January 2022, as well as a sophomore project my recording partner and I have been working on for quite some time. We’ve got three singles that will drop prior to the entire project next spring.

Right now, this man is tired and the alarm will go off mighty earlier.

Transmitting from my iPhone 22 mini via the WordPress for iOS app. Goodnight, sleep well.

Oceans of rhythm….

Doug

Vintage Apple Memories (Macs, iPhones, and other Apple products)

Greetings and thanks for stopping by. Recently I came across a photo of an old ad (ten years ago) for the iPhone 4S. This was the model that introduced the world to Siri. It was also the second iPhone that I ever owned – an upgrade from my first one, the iPhone 4. I still have both those phones, still in near immaculate condition. Seeing this ad brought back fond memories all the way back to the first time I ever used an Apple product. That product was the Mac Plus (and the Mac SE/30), back in July 1988. Looking back on being an Apple fanboy to present day, I consider the late 80’s into the early 2000s as the “golden era” of Apple. This (long) blog post describes my journey and fandom (as it has evolved), from then to now. This post evolved from a series of tweets I posted on my Twitter feed from 28 Sep 2021 through 2 Oct 2021, which can be read here.

I hope you enjoy the read.

It was June 13, 1988 , the first day of my first job as an engineer. My previous job, working in the materiel coordination department of a major airline, saw the office full of IBM PC-XT computers, not one Mac in sight, but this new job had two, a Mac Plus and a Mac SE/30. The Macintosh line of computers were launched in 1984 and I had new of them through various ads, but didn’t pay too much attention overall. What I did remember is them touting the ease of “right out of the box” use, and how friendly the experience is. The business analyst in our office, David, was an older gentleman, maybe pushing 60 or greater, but what struck me was his affinity and love of the Mac. He was the one that embodied all that Apple was advertising in a Mac user. As he continued to explain to me how the OS worked and I began to see how different the experience was from using a PC, I also began to see and feel exactly what Apple was advertising as well.It was weird to me at first, that they can connect to a user through a computing device, so warmly, friendly, and easily, but I was totally getting it

As I worked to be acclimated in my position, the work was standard and enjoyable (it was actually my dream job in the field I grew to love and still work in). While the programmatic and design engineering work were done on PCs, David did a lot of the business aspects aligned with his position description on the Mac platform. The small set of Macs in the office expanded from that Mac Plus with a 20MB external drive, a Mac SE/30, to a Mac iiCi, and a really nice Apple Laserwriter II printer to a brand new Mac IICi. Any chance I got, I asked David what he was working on (though I knew nothing of business administration and the like), just to work on the Macs, System 6, System 7, etc. Working on the Mac platform almost seem eerily magical and captivating. David introduced me to a lot of software made for the Mac that existed on Windows, and software solely made for the Mac, like the Mac version of WordPerfect, AEC Information Manager (a database program for the Mac), After Dark and After Dark II screen savers, and many others. It was during this time I discovered the magic of Hypercard, loading software via 3.5″ floppy discs, and so much more. Everything about Macintosh ecosystem had me hooked beyond hooked – it was a scary pleasure, one that I still can’t quite figure out how Apple instilled that in so many users. The friendly usability right out of the box, the print ads in tech/regular magazines, the commercials, everything, I remember the feelings VERY clearly, about how this tech company can lay grip on the psyche so easily with a product…whew.

Three years in 1991, after gleaning so much from David about the Mac ecosystem (during work and after hour office social functions), I scraped and saved enough to by my first Mac – The Mac Classic II, from a small Mac computer shop (whose name escapes me) on Georgia Avenue, in Silver Spring, MD. When I finally got it home that night, took it out of the box, connect the mouse and keyboard to the serial port, plugged it in, and turned it on, it was more than exciting. I felt everything I described at work but now this was far more special because that was MY Mac. I felt like Ralphie’s dad, from The Christmas Story, the night the Leg Lamp personally delivered to him!

The Mac Classic II was running System 7.0 and I learned the ins and outs of it. Eventually I got a 14.4K modem which allowed me an introduction to BBSs, as well as a Stylewriter printer. From that point, I was SET. Every thing about that Mac Classic II was gorgeous, aesthetically and user-wise. I don’t remember when it met it’s demise, but years later I was able to get a used Mac Classic to replace it. I did so because it was my first Mac, of which I still hold sentimental feelings for, and it was my first opportunity to use the Mac for music production. The Mac Classic is sitting in my studio, as I type this, running a freeware screen saver called Darkside – the same screensaver David told me about around the time of After Dark.

The next new Mac I bought was the Macintosh LC III (aka the “pizza box”). It’s slim design was one I came to love, especially because of how well it served the ergonomics of workspace, not to mention it being the first color Mac I ever owned (oh, I guess I DID mention that LOL). Once again, I had it for quite some time, but for the life of me, I can’t remember what ever happened to it. I don’t remember selling it so…. hmmm.

Let’s see, the next Mac I owned…hmm…at this point my memory is a bit fuzzy. At this point, music production with the Mac was well underway. I acquired a Power Mac 7100, that was shortly outfitted with an Audiomedia II digital NuBUS card which gave me digital and analog inputs and outputs, allowing me to directly record with Pro Tools 3.4 Free. It was a game changer at that time. It was running Mac OS 9, which also allowed me to run Opcode Vision’s sequencer and use the OMS ecosphere, but I actually used another sequencer called Master Tracks Pro 5.2. This was the brains of the rest of my set up, which included a Roland VS-880EX hardware digital multitrack recorder for audio (the Power Macs internal HD was so small it was prohibitive to record multiple audio tracks into it). I still have the 7100, which really came in handy last summer when I had to convert some old Pro Tools audio tracks from a recording session done in 1987, Mac OS 9 to the rescue.

After discovering I needed more HD space and a faster processor – along came my favorite desktop Mac to this day – the Power Mac G5 1.8 GHz Dual. I didn’t purchase this machine new but when I got it, it was in near immaculate condition, a beautiful looking, beautifully designed machine which allowed simple and easy access to its inner components via the door removal on it’s side. A heavy machine, just like its twin, The Mac Pro, it served me well for years of music production, including upgrading to Logic 8 and finally being able to record audio to its internal HD as well as an external 500 GB SATA drive. I was also, for the first time, able to run dual monitors, which made recording and mixing MUCH easier than doing both via one monitor. This machine is still have as well, though it seems to have the dread fan issue and I was having some issue maintaining video on a monitor. Research tells me the video card may not be seated properly and/or I may just have to replace it’s internal battery. I’ve been meaning to solve the issue and find someway to use it again, from a nostalgic standpoint. Every time I see a pristine looking one in the wild (as with the Mac Classic or Classic II), I’m like….”wow….”.

It was during this time I had found a great deal on 15″ Powerbook G4 Aluminum, from a graphics designer in uptown DC who was looking to upgrade. I had always wanted a Powerbook, but couldn’t afford one prior, at least a Powerbook with similar specs. This PB was sort of like the little brother to the G5 as they were both silver. The PB ended up being my daily runner BUT doubled nicely as my portable recording computer after loading it up with Logic 7.2 and some additional audio editing software. I took it with me when on business in Guam for a month and recorded the first tracks from my first release as a solo artist. Armed with a 25-key MIDI controller, it made a perfect combination for recording in my hotel room after work. Not only did I do music production on that PB, but also technical design and simulation work, so all around it was a great first PB to own. While on the subject of Powerboks, in the years to follow, I acquired the following: Powerbook 5300cs, Powerbook G3, and a Powerbook 165. The 5300cs ran Mac OS 8.6 and I mainly used that with my MessagePad Newton 2000, which was always a seamless connection. I was, with all the Newton software and apps I acquired, hoping to get the Newton wireless via two Orinoco wireless cards I ended up with at some point but that never transpired. The G3 Bronze was another good deal I just wanted to have in my collection. Using it was fun while I had it but it was eventually given to a friend who’s current computer crapped on on her – she and her daughter were Mac users for a short time, then back to the PC at some point…oh well, LOL. Out of all the PBs I owned, the G4 remains, needing repair as it won’t power on now. Maybe one day I’ll get around to it.

It wasn’t until the mid 2000s that I got another new Mac, a white 1.33 GHz iBook G4, entering the world of Mac OS X 🙂 I enjoyed the iBook as well, still being able to use my MessagePad with it, it was new daily runner, while the PB G4 was then my full time mobile music production Mac. the iBook was nice to use also but I think I ended up selling it – I really can’t remember at this point. What I do remember that replaced it was a 2007 Black MacBook, 2.16GHz…blazing compared to the iBook…LOL. Once again, a great deal from an owner who just upgraded to a MacBook Pro, so this suited me fine, as I always wanted to own that “black book”. Yep, still have it, new battery installed, running what I’ve seen said as the most stable versions of Mac OS X – Snow Leopard. It gets pretty warm when in use, so instead of trying to remedy that, it’s just tucked away now. I got some good daily use out of it – technical analysis work and everyday stuff too.

2007 – 14 years ago. Up until that time, I had also in my collection a silver door Power Mac G4, a Bondi Blue iMac G3, and an eMac – all for very short times. It was fun owning Macs that are referred to as vintage. That era of Apple was a great time. This fanboy, besides the aforementioned Macs, owned the iPhone 4 and 4s, Quicktime 100 and 200, PowerCD, original iPod, Newton MessagePads 100 (still have), 130, and 2100 (still have). Apple has done many great (and not so great) things since then, but there is no era like the “golden era”.

If you’ve read this far, thanks for hanging until the end, I appreciate it.

Be well.