Thursday, 6 January 2011

farewell, farewell

Technology is a great thing as long as it works!  Over the New Year both my phone and the computer decided not to work properly. This just causes all sorts of problems and ill feeling.  And bad language.*

The computer decided on New Year's day to stop recognising the router - on a wireless system.  It recognised the neighbour's and our son's PS3 but not the one about three feet away.  Ah well, such is life.  At least, for a price, the Geek Squad are around.  I'm not advertising their services, but as a TalkTalk customer, they're the first stop. Again, at a price.  There is no way I'd have ever found out the somewhere in the deep recesses of its cybernetic brain that our computer had simply decided to switch the connection off.  Hours of anguish. Anyway - for now, I'm back online. Sorry if you missed me.  Tough if you didn't.

Back in July I posted about clip-on guitar tuners and how ubiquitous they had become (It all comes round again).  I also mentioned the 1970s prototype I had bought from the back of the Melody Maker.  Well, it's turned up (thank you Mr M) and in the true style of finding something ridiculous to do rather than any serious work, I decided to do a head-to-head test.  The 1970s model is called a Vu-Pitch.  If you remember (or are still awake) I drew a sketch of it from memory.  Here's the real thing:

So, as you can see, my memory - for once - was quite accurate.  It is incredibly clunky and really doesn't work that well.  You may recall that it features a series of vibrators (again, I can't think of a better word).  Our modern digital world allows us to use touch sensitive technology and accurate tuning to an undreamt of accuracy in the 1970s.  Pure science fiction.  You can also tune your strings to any pitch and it will tell you what the note is whereas the Vu-Pitch could just about manage to let you know when you have hit A.  Actually, that's unfair because in my head-to-head  using the Vu-Pitch I actually tuned the guitar quite accurately.

It never caught on and I can't find out anything about it  - I can't be bothered to Google it again.  Nothing came up the first time I tried.  I'm sure nobody other than me can remember the damned thing but I remain smug in the knowledge that someone had thought of the device years ago before the technology was available to actually produce them properly.

I cannot let the day disappear without mentioning the sad passing of Gerry Rafferty.  A great songwriter gifted with a lovely mellow voice.  I am listening to his most famous album, City to City as it features one of his all time greatest songs.  And it's not the one you're probably thinking of.  I'm referring to The Ark.  It's the opening track with a plaintive Gaelic tune played by that great lost Australian band, The Bushwackers.  The obvious song which has been played endlessly, no doubt on various radio stations was okay for its time.  It is, actually, a great song.  It's a shame that the hook of the saxophone became so ubiquitous throughout the late 70s and early 80s.  I know Rafferty was not happy about it.

Ironically, Mr R couldn't cope with the fame it brought.  Evidently he has been earning about £80,000 a year ever since.  Still.  33 years later! I would have loved to have only had one song that allowed me to do what I want for the rest of my life on the back it.  It's the premise of Nick Hornby's About A Boy, you may remember.

Radio 4 seemed a little coy about reporting his death.  I'm glad they celebrated his life albeit briefly.  However, they termed his death coming after a "lengthy illness".  The truth is, he was an alcoholic and had been for a long time.  He had left home to escape his father's violent temper from drinking. Ironically, he ended his life through first, liver failure and then, yesterday, succumbed to kidney failure.

I know some would consider him just a peddler of "soft rock" but he was more than that. I have always considered him a talented songwriter with an excellent voice.  Although he had not released anything new for many years, it is a sad passing indeed.

* I have just spent the last hour with my son hopefully getting rid of a Trojan Horse virus infection. Death penalty for the bastards who create this stuff?


Mike C. said...

Hi Dave, wondered where you'd got to. That Trojan sounds worrying --it's worth investing in some decent anti-virus software (all the top names are OK, Kaspersky, MacAfee, etc.) and putting up with the processing load it adds to your PC. Especially if you do a lot of online purchasing.

One tip: turn off your router every night, so you get a fresh IP address every day -- makes you a moving target.

On Gerry Rafferty, I was surprised they didn't make more of the Billy Connolly and Reservoir Dogs connections...


Dave Leeke said...

Hi Mike. Yes, I always react like the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse have arrived whenever anything goes wrong. I use AVG but we pay for it rather than use the free one. The Backroom Boys at school recommended it - a better and more efficient service they reckon. It's pretty good but these blasted Trojan Horses are worrying.

I do try to get the router turned off every night but having an 18 year old in the house makes that difficult - but thanks for giving me a perfect reason as to why it must be turned off every night!

Poor old Gerald - the obituary in The Independent was good today.

Andy Wright said...

Hi Dave. Great to have you back. I agree with you as far as Mr. Rafferty is concerned.Very talented and a sad loss to the music world. Talking of music, I am ashamed to say that I was not familiar with Jethro Tull's 'Christmas Album' until number one son enlightened me. Best 12 quid on a CD I've spent for a long time......particularly as it was from the Cambridge branch of HMV, an outlet and pleasure(in respect of browsing and often purchasing is concerned)that may soon be denied me if that particular branch is on the 'Hit list'. What are we doing to our 'High Streets?'
Anyway I've been away from Jethro Tull for too long and the album has rekindled my interest and just made me wish, even more than ever, that I had a signing and indeed speaking voice that comes anywhere near that of Ian Anderson.
Enough already....I hope that 2011 brings you and yours all you wish for. We will discuss the Christmas that has just passed etc in greater depth and detail when we two meet again. (On that note I will send you a few dates,very soon, to consider via another medium). As I said....Glad you are back......."I believe in fires at midnight, when the dogs have all been fed. Golden toddy on the mantle ,broken gun beneath the bed......."

Andy Wright said...

Er....that should have been 'singing' voice, although a 'signing' voice is probably quite a useful thing to have too!

Dave Leeke said...

Hi Andy - good to have you back too.

I must admit that I thought a 'signing voice' might be good, Probably good for hard of hearing people. I still think Bowie at the Rainbow and too many VdGG gigs have damaged the old hearing!

I do actually like JT's Christmas album - I've just discovered that KT Tunstall released an MP3 Christmas ep album which is worth accessing via Amazon. In time for the next festive season, anyway.

Actually, I've probably got a better signing voice than singing voice.

Dave Leeke said...

And another thing . . .

I know what you're saying, Andy, about the disappearance of shops from our High Streets but, for example: I bought the re-mastered "Stand Up" album by JT for Christmas (otherwise it's only socks and chocolates to open on the day) which would have cost £27.99 in HMV but only £17.99 on Amazon. Obviously HMV have to charge that because of overheads etc but that gives me a) another £10 to spend and b) £2:00 in free MP3 downloads on Amazon.

I personally don't like HMV and would rather support Fop and, even better, independent record shops but the internet has everything I want.

And things I want tend to come on a whim. My local HMV has a few cds and a large amount of PS3 games and T-shirts. They certainly don't have much of the sort of music I'm interested in.

Also (I'm ranting now, aren't I?) I've been able to buy some new boots from Clarks online that my local shop can't get. I guess this is all part of the loss of the High Street shops - but I, like others, want what I want and don't want to put up with what I can get in my local shop.

Rant over: Happy New Year all.

Andy Wright said...

Fair comment and I'm a massive hypocrite really. I buy loads of stuff from Amazon too. (By the way I think HMV own Fopp).

Dave Leeke said...

That must be out of the frying pan and into the fire for Fopp then - I can't see HMV surviving for very long.

The internet really is an easy way of shopping. I ordered some Gore-Tex boots a couple of days ago from Clarks. I couldn't find any in the shops I wanted. They turned up today, perfect. And at 30% off, too!

Also, if you mess up an order at Amazon they're brilliant at sorting it out. I cocked up a download yesterday - it was sorted within an hour. I didn't have to leave the house. If we could only get rid of the scum that send out viruses etc . . .

Martyn Cornell said...

*Sits smugly in front of iMac untouchable by PC viruses …*

Today's "word verification" word is "tesco" - my zeus, the bastards are even taking over Blogger!

Dave Leeke said...

Yes there is something insidiously sinister about them - I try not to use them.

So, Martyn, aren't there viruses aimed at Macs, then? Or have they managed to do that better than Microsoft as well?

Kent Wiley said...

Pretty much, Dave. Since Apple has only about a 9% slice of the home computer pie, "the Bastards" don't generally bother us Mac users. Why should they, when they can infect so many others so much more easily?

Good to see you back. I was wondering where you went to.

Dave Leeke said...

Thank you, Kent.

I used to use a Mac years ago when the internet was in its infancy. My brother-in-law is an IT techy-type person and prefers them. I understand they're better for recording on too.

Maybe I'll be able to convince Mrs Dave about changing over next time we have to buy a new one. I don't know about Macs but PCs tend to have quite a short lifespan.

Kent Wiley said...

Yeah, there's a bunch of things that are simpler. And they come with iMovie (which has rekindled my interest in film making in a BIG way) and Garageband, which I haven't used much, but I can see has a lot of power to it.

I'd been a pc man for years too, and finally w/ the last purchase - a year ago - got the Mac for a change. Not sorry that I did, so far.

Kent Wiley said...

Not yet: too cheap. (Me, that is.)

Kent Wiley said...

Whoops, sorry Dave. That last one was for Mike!