Err…. Rougherer

Tonal Experiment Ok, this is again for posterity and I make no pretenses about this being a desired piece of audio for most people. It’s a second experiment with GarageBand and my fledgling Shakuhachi skills. Difference this time is that I put a bit of midi tonal instruments to it, and well….. you can tell my tuning isn’t quite matured yet. 😉

Apologies in advance to anyone with both perfect pitch, good pitch or just a musical ear and insatiable curiosity as some of this recording WILL make you cringe. It does it to me, but I’m not composing this stuff yet, just noodling and combining and capturing the raw ideas. Oh yeah, and dropping them on the handful that read this blog. It’s got some interesting ideas I like enough to commit it to the digisphere, so I keep my errors and my good bits in.

Curiosity got the best of you? Pain tolerance up? Musical sensibilities off and into the whiskey? Then have a listen. I’d say “enjoy:, but I think “experience” is more apropos. (Dashboard translated “Tonal Experiment” to the Kanji on the left. Dunno if that’s right, but there it is. The previous one was “Music”)

If you think it hurts now…..

Get there. See it. An Inconvenient Truth is a must-see film. It’s
not a seat-edge gripper, but it’s probably about as good as you can get
for communicating our impact on the planet, and the path that we’re
following with ever-increasing speed. You owe it to yourself and more
importantly the next generation to see this movie. The science is
extremely well supported and accurate. The message is clear and well

Let’s set the stage. I’m no luddite, and while I support the Green Party
platform and party, I don’t advocate going back to horse and carriage
and unplugging the power stations. (In fact, it’s a balanced,
sustainable approach that the Green Party advocates that draws me to
them.) The fact remains is that we’re actually incredibly wasteful of
the energy we use. Vast amounts aren’t used for the purpose we target,
but feathered off as heat, or inefficient power to do far more than we
really need. I admire efficiency in its many aspects, and I believe that
it’s films like this that should illustrate just how inefficient our
society is, and how much room there is for improvement.

As Gore states in the film, quoting a context long in our past, “We are
entering an era of consequences”. We need to act to head off an era of
decimation and upheaval. We have the ability to begin to mitigate and
manage our impact, but first we need to be aware of it, and motivated to
act. I believe that this film is the vehicle for the majority of people
to achieve just that. Please, show you have a more open mind than
President Bush and his staff, who sit in complete denial of our impact
and footprint, living for today without planning for tomorrow. Theatre
listings are at
If you go, pledge to go via the link banner on the right, and
then, tell your friends, take them with you. Awareness is that critical
first step that we can all participate in.

Time passes

2006_06_26_22-38-55-987_n0.large.jpeg I miss my dad. Father’s day was very, very…. sobering. Only seven years
ago did I join my dad on the honored end of Father’s Day. Now it’s having
Father’s Day without a father to call and talk to. My boys and my wife
sure made me feel special that day though.

My parents bought me a shakuhachi for Christmas this past year. Yes,
they too thought I had taken leave of my senses. I never got a chance to
show my dad that I could in fact play something that didn’t move the
table across the floor (I play drums) and keyboard (organ mainly). I’ve
been poking at it on my own now since Christmas. For those who don’t
know, a shakuhachi is a traditional Japanese bamboo flute. Nice part
about this
is that it is made of PVC rather than bamboo. The tone is quite
nice, but the PVC makes it cheaper and a lot more resistant to drying
and splitting in this dry climate in Calgary.

It’s a very pure, solitary instrument in sound, and it has been a goal
of mine to be able to play it since I visited Japan in 1991. Thanks to a
mic, GarageBand and some practice, I’ve eked out a very simple recording
of me pretty much “hacking” on the shakuhachi. It’s not a great demo of
the instrument, but I’ve recorded it for posterity, and to at least show
my mom that the gift is being used and was well received. Thanks Mom! It
might sound a bit contrived and there’s parts where my tone and control
show “rookie” in flashing lights, but I’m happy with more than a few
portions. If you’re curious how it really sounds, iTunes
has a whack of Shakuhachi music by professionals. One good disc would be
the Japanese
Masterpieces for the Shakuhachi
Various Artists - Japanese Masterpieces for the Shakuhachi

All that warning and diversions aside, I’ve got the AAC
(3.8 MB) of my little experiment
. I’ll post more as I get better,
but please send me your impressions on the email chain at “dallas (at)
hockley . ca”. Minus the spaces and filling in the at sign as needed. ;-)

A Long Time

2006_02_17_21-08-39-885_n0.large.jpegIt’s been a very long time since I cranked up the blog. Busy Christmas,
much to do with work, a number of trips for work to the US and UK.

That all came to a sudden halt on the 7th of February. The fine
gentleman on the left, my dad, passed away suddenly that day. I wasn’t
going to blog about it, but this blog is my own sort of diary in many
ways, and I can’t think of how to put another entry in without at least
one about him.

I’m still coming to grips with all of this. I’ve never come close to
this level of loss in my life. I’m very lucky that I have a strong and
loving wife to help me through this, as well as my boys, a great family
and many friends offering support and comfort. I’m not the only one that
this has ever happened to, and unfortunately there will always be more
to come, but I’m very thankful and relieved that I was very close and on
excellent terms with my dad before he left us. He was a loving man, and
always ready to help people and offer advice. He brought smiles to those
around him with his fun and teasing, his quick wit, and his eccentric
character. He was and is my hero, my role model and someone I have and
still strive to follow in the footsteps of. I’m proud of my dad. I miss
him terribly and probably will the rest of my life. I will continue to
try to do what I believe would make him happy and proud, and hopefully
be as good a father to my kids as he was to me.

In honour and loving memory of Clifford Lloyd Hockley, November 12, 1934
– February 7, 2006. We’ll all miss you, but we’ll all smile when we
remember you.

Trigger Points

Well, after a very enriching and quick trip to Germany and back with A
Band of Outriders for a music Tatoo in Hannover, I’ve come across a very
interesting blog that seems to have flashpointed a few thoughts that have
been rumbling around my head and slowly gestating since the advent of the
DMCA south of the border.

Before I go there, I’d just like to say as I’ve now left the Outriders
for a second time, due to family commitments, to all the great friends
and fellow musicians in that group, thanks for the best two years of my
musical hobby in my whole life. The band is evolving through great
people and great leadership, and is light years ahead of where it was
when I left it the first time. Keep it up! I’m cheering for you from the
stands now!

Back to the topic that fired up Bloged on this, Matthew Russel was
blogging on
DVD fair use over at O’reilly
, and it comes to mind that just as the music
industry has slowly started to see that the distribution mechanism was
hindering sales, and that the piracy issue was actually a cry for relief
from stupid packaging and wasteful distribution networks (my opinion,
doubtfully theirs), the motion picture industry is going to get hit a
thousand times harder in the next few years, and it’s more likely to get
mortally wounded. Here’s my thinking:

The points Matthew made in his article are pretty solid I believe, and
there is a sense of “rightness” that contrary to the opinions of the
MPAA, RIAA and other publishing associations, most of the
dollar-weilding consumers out here in the real world adhere to. We will
pay fair money for fair product and fair use. That’s why iTunes Music
Store took off and the iPod is populating the planet’s pockets – because
we DO own a lot of music, and we want it to be with us everywhere, and
thankfully for the music industry, and for Apple, they get that the
majority of us will NOT hand it out all over the place for free. We know
it’s wrong, and we respect the ARTISTS that created it.

The MPAA and their ilk in the movies aren’t quite as free-thinking as
the musician-spawned recording industry is. They are very big-business,
big-dollar corporates that see any piracy as some sort of personal
affront. But read what Matthew wrote. If I OWN the DVD, I should be able
to take advantage of my technology and transfer it to my laptop on hard
disc and watch it without taking an inherently more fragile medium of a
DVD with me. As long as no other party uses the DVD while I’m using the
copy of it, the spirit and intent of the law is upheld. The letter of
the law in the warning is violated. Basically, I am inconvenienced and
held in contempt by this industry because I paid for the product and
don’t like being bound to the disc when I have other options.

The reason this will cascade more violently on the studios is because
independent studios are actually more respected and have more visibility
than the indie labels in music. Those indies are moving forward faster
in both realms, and it’s possible that one or a group of them will go
ahead and give a fair-use license on their media, and in doing so garner
a ridiculous amount of press attention. “We support the rights and
ability of our customers to enjoy our works in a lawful and respecting
manner, and will not restrict them or their freedoms in doing so when
they support our creative works.” Probably run that through a PR firm
and make it less wordy, and the studio goes up a few percentage points
in market share from being forever associated with the good guy
backdrop. Like Apple with the burning policies for the iTunes Music
Store, allowing the use, ripping, burning and such for personal use,
with minimal but fair protection schemes, they are seen as treating us
with respect. Like Dave Matthews posting a defeat to the copy protection
of the CD on his site, there is a powerful message in this action. A
studio could become a major player with that sort of public sympathy and
respect. The MPAA is pushing back harder than the RIAA ever did with the
secure-channel and broadcast flag aspects, and it just treats us all as
criminals and defeats our ability to use our own products, content and
technology that we purchase in more effective and innovative ways for
our own enjoyment.

It’s Big Brother telling us what to do and how to do it. I hope a lot of
the indies get together and start a “Consumer First” coalition that brings
the mindshare up on this and gives us a hero for our rights to support.

The Alberta Windfall

Well, here we are again. The difference? Paul Martin surprisingly enough.

Alberta, lucky as we are in having a whack of oil under the ground, has
a almost obscene surplus this year. And a lot of that cash is going into
the infrastructure of the province, as well as $400 cheques to every
resident of Alberta. Wow. I’ll admit it, we’re pretty lucky.

But now the “majority of Canadians” as our media puts it, wants a piece.
As many Canadians know, that means Ontario and Quebec want a piece of it
primarily, as that’s the majority of the population. The difference is
that Paul Martin, unlike Pierre Trudeau, has a sense of fairness. The
NEP was supposed to balance, in that cheap energy went east, cheap
manufactured goods went west. Well, nice idea. Only implemented the
first part and flipped the west the bird while he was at it. Paul
Martin knows the division of responsibility, cost and revenue, and
respects that, rather than rewriting the priniciples of federalism to go
with the commodity prices. Thanks Mr. Martin. But there’s more to it.

Hold the phone fellow Canucks. You already get a piece. You get the fed
transfer payments which none of us complain about in Alberta, we’re
happy to help out and be a big part of Confederation. Unlike a chunk of
Quebec, who would as soon take the money and make a new nation. Also,
the oil that’s pulled out of the ground isn’t just in Alberta, but the
Feds DO get a cut of the pie. As does the nation as a result. All the
money the oil companies earn gets taxed, the gas and oil they sell gets
taxed, and the whack of oil off the coast of Newfoundland (which has a
debate separate from this entirely) is mainly Federal profit. So you’re
getting your share. Before you get more than that, lets take a look at
what we’ve also put up with over the last decade before this windfall

Major cuts in infrastructure for schools, health care, roads, transport
and services. We told our government, get rid of the debt, and they did
exactly that, and every single Albertan took it in the teeth for that,
and as a result, we’re out of debt. We got out quickly thanks to higher
oil prices, but we got out because we stopped spending a lot of money.
Now we get to rebuild the infrastructure in a hopefully responsible way.
This is the reward for the sacrifices we made to have responsible
budgets. We’re still lucky, but the luck was also coupled with fiscal

I don’t judge all the benefits Quebec residents get via the very
different government system they have at the provincial level. I don’t
begrudge (too much) all the Federal contracts and handouts that go to
the big population provinces where the majority of the votes are. We
deal with it, and know that this country is a lot more than money and
porkbarrelling. Apparently some people think that all the profit should
be shared regardless of law, rights or earning it.

Tell you what. Put a plan together for a national fund that benefits all
the citizens equally, and is forward thinking, and is based on science
and industry. We have enough cultural programs and cash flowing there
for now at the national level thanks, and it’s mostly in the east. Make
a plan for bulking up the centres of excellence in our universities, get
a plan for diversifying us off of oil so we can export it as well as
more sustainable technologies.

Then we’ll talk about each province investing in our future. Not
just adding cash to unbalanced deficit-ridden budgets.

And on that note, Mr. Klein, thanks for the cheque, but we should look
to that renewable diversification ourselves, so we can lead the next
wave of energy supply and technology as well as the current one. Using
oil to fund the next generation seeds of that industry is just a great
and lucky coincidence waiting to be taken advantage of.

Perfect…. They Don’t Suspect a Thing

A friend of mine forwarded me a bunch of interesting research around
global warming and solar activity correlation over the years. Much of it
appears to have decent science and legitimate correlation behind it. He
then also forwarded me an
interesting link
to what can best be described as a far right-wing
American blog.

Let’s be clear. I’m not a left-wing activist. But I have kids, and I’d
like them to live in and experience a healthier world than the one I’ve
grown up in, and here in Canada, that world is pretty good to begin
with. But our modern society is still rooted in some pretty bizarre
ideas of what progress is.

So essentially, this blog (this post by Timothy Birdnow) dismisses
global warming as unrelated to CO2 levels being released into
the atmosphere. And then he extrapolates, from his limited frame of
reference and perception, that the Kyoto accord is designed to cripple
and limit the US economy. Uhhh….. ok. Sure. Whatever you say.

Let me propose an… alternate reasoning for Kyoto. Let me, in my
naive and optimistic way suggest it’s rooted in sustainable development,
and perhaps in the thinking from the very, very excellent book,
Cradle to Cradle.
So if you think along the lines that perhaps global
warming is not the reason, but simply being more efficient, effective,
and causing less of an impact through our industrialized society might
be the core reason, then you arrive at an alternate situation.

The world will move to sustainable development with or without the US,
despite what they may believe. Already, Europe is arguably ahead in some
ways for renewable energy. What Kyoto is doing is pushing everyone to
make a leap forward, and like it or not, we are very, very good at
creating and using oil and gas. So moving over to any other source will
take time, and to get started, you do need a fairly solid nudge. Global
warming may or may not be a factor, but there’s acid rain, oil prices,
air quality, energy security, and a large number of other aspects that
Kyoto actually assists. The point is that it reduces the consumption and
consequently the reliance on fossil fuels.

So let’s say it’s a really blundering attempt to cripple the US economy.
I for one can’t think of a single reason to even want to do that,
but let’s just assume that’s because I’m Canadian, and I like a lot of
the people down there. So let’s say the US doesn’t follow Kyoto. What is
likely to happen?

Well, some of the US is still pushing forward (a million solar roofs in
California) and such, so it’s not like they won’t have some capability
in new energy. But the expertise, the core competency and the best
capabilities in the production, generation, and manufacturing of these
systems will be in those Kyoto adherents, and in the countries that
manufacture for them. Those countries will enjoy less smog, less acid
rain (well, in areas not close to the US and others), and a lower cost
of energy over time than the US will. Let’s face it, if we get more
efficient fuels, and specifically fuel that has lower initial cost like
wind, solar, tidal and others, the cost of the energy will eventually
get below the cost of today’s fossil fuels. At that point, the Kyoto
adherents will be in a better economic position and likely have a higher
quality of life than the US will at that time.

Now this is based on some big assumptions, some fairly major
extrapolations, and a bit of thinking. So by no means is this a solid
prediction, just a possible scenario. So think what you want. I like
the idea of Kyoto, as there’s a small chance of that wish for my kids
coming true.

Mighty Mouse Enhanced iTunes 5?

Mucking about with the Mighty Mouse and the latest release of iTunes while
listening to “A Northern Chorus” – cool Canadian artist if you’re into a
bit more of an ambient rock idea. In doing so, I noticed what I can only
describe as “enhanced for Mighty Mouse” behaviour. If iTunes 5 is the
active application, the scroll bars in the music/track display area
function just fine in 2d with the scroll ball. What I didn’t expect
exactly was the volume slider also acts like a scroll bar, and the active
region is location dependent.

Thus, if the pointer is over the table region, those scroll bars are
active and controlled via the the scroll bar, but moving the pointer
over the volume slider area, and the tracking region is slightly larger
than the volume slider graphic, enables the horizontal direction of the
scroll ball to control the volume slider. It’s actually quite intuitive,
but pleasantly so, and honestly given the bulk of apps out ther,
somewhat unexpected. -)

I would venture it’s exactly what should happen, but it does
represent a bit more coding and behaviour in the controls, changing
active regions properly. Although I haven’t delved deep enough into
Cocoa to know if that’s an almost-freebie. It could be via attaching
events in the nib, but I haven’t dabbled with components that much.

A good example of doing the right thing™.

Well if it’s patent infringement, it’s environmental destruction as well….

Alright, that’s it. According to this
, the state of today has changed such that you can’t refill an
ink cartridge (in the US) if it is marked as “single use”. Doing so puts
you in breach of contract and…. patent law?!?!?

Well, let’s assume that the wonderous special interest protecting court
system has this down, and that this law sticks. If that’s the case, then
I would contest that putting such a restriction on a product, by
forbidding it from being reused/recycled, imposes a deliberate
environmental impact. It’s one thing to design something to be
disposable, and assume that it won’t be recycled or reused, but this is
forbidding the product from being reused or recycled. In essence, using
the law to create a product that must be fired into the recycle

With all the computer manufacturers getting mangled with recycling and
disposal fees, I think this makes it pretty clear that printer
manufacturers need to be levied with the same, if not a heftier,
penalty. There are circuit boards in these print heads, and all sorts of
mini-controllers, and I’m sure with them some hazardous waste and heavy
metals as well. I personally feel the practice is moderately
reprehensible due to this legal lockdown on both economy and limiting
the crap we throw away.

I will stick with the Canon printer I have for a few reasons. Quality,
double-sided printing, and the fact that the ink is cheaper due to the
print head being separate, and not getting a new one with each print
cartridge. As well as all separate inks. For reference, I use a Canon
Pixma 5000 printer. Nice printer, great resolution and all that. I don’t
use it enough to worry about the ink cost, this tirade is purely about
the almost monopolistic protection these companies are after. Rubbish.
Compete or file for bankruptcy. This is utter nonsense, and I’m quite
disappointed in the US courts on this one. Hopefully it won’t get across
the 49th parallel, but then Canada might have a new trade fight on it’s
hands with our southern neighbours, being a gray market ink cartridge
trade. ;-)

The second mac…. Mac mini for my wonderful wife….

So after supporting and having my dear wife put up with a Pentium III-450
for a long while under various versions of Windows, I asked her what she
would like for a new computer. The iMac G5 was a bit pricey for current
budgets with school coming up for our boys and all. So after mulling it
over, we decided to go for the Mac mini. We did go with the SuperDrive
model to better complement our Canon DV video camera. I’d had a bit of fun
editing video together with it, and she figured it would be kind of cool.

So when it finally arrived, the look on everyone’s face at just how
small it really is was priceless. If you haven’t seen one of these
things, go find one at an Apple store or Apple reseller. Inside, a 1.42
Ghz G4, 512 MB RAM, 80 GB hard drive, 802.11g and bluetooth, and a DVD-R
drive. Now, it’s not top of the line as Apple product goes, but it’s got
all the power and space needed for a home user to have a whole lot of
fun with. But it’s small. And it looks cool. Oh yeah. And it’s pretty
much silent. The ambient noise in the room where it’s located has
dropped to almost silence, compared to a not-so-subtle flood of white
noise from fans and hard drives in the tower on the PC.

So that was all good. But that was, as it is with most computers, only a
small part of the story.

Enter iLife ‘05. And specifically iMovie. I had shown Trudy only one
title and a couple of transitions while editing some old video of her
winterguard. She had a few videos of rehearsals and she decided to edit
them. I gave her zero help on this. Within about a day, and by no means
continual work in that time, she showed me an edited 5 minute video of
sort of a promotional style for her winterguard, complete with
transitions, titling, an overlaid soundtrack and pretty good
composition. It really is that good a tool. No such chance with
Microsoft Movie Maker. And of course, free with the new Mac.

Then with one of her cousins and his boys coming into town for a visit,
she did a videographer number on them, and edited that down over the
visit of four days, and then added in chapters and mastered it onto a
DVD via iMovie and iDVD. Again, with overlaid soundtracks, and up a few
notches in appearance and composition. These things are enjoyable to
watch, not your general boring home video. IMHO of course. But these
tools truly do empower users.

And we even brought all the email and things over from the Windows box
intact with minimal fuss as well. This is really the way computers
should be for everyone. Including me. I may be an “expert” level user,
being a professional programmer and having development and sysadmin
experience spanning over 12 years on Unix, Linux, Windows and a bit on
the Mac for fun, but at times I want it to be a fun tool for creative
work, rather than a hobby unto itself. That’s why I love this platform,
and by the looks of it, that’s why the old Windows box hasn’t been
turned on in a couple of weeks. -)