Monday, December 31, 2007

Bye Bye '07 may you never return

In around 12 hrs time I say bye bye to this year. It was a year full of cold and striking emotions - broken relationships, untamed promises and uncharted feelings. But it was also a year where I experienced new things, made new friends, and I'm also getting a new job. All in all, there were too much things to handle for one single year. I am really looking forward for my next challenge, '08. Not all that begins bad ends bad after all!

Having said all this, I wish all my new friends a very happy new year, full of peace and luck.

Friday, December 21, 2007

SMS prices in Malta

If one views Vodafone and Go Mobile's websites, one finds that after January 1, 2008 SMS messages will be charged at €0.05. These are currently charged at 2c.

If Lm1 is equivalent to €2.33, then it stands that 50 SMS should also cost €2.33. Yet, one finds that as from January 1, these will cost €2.50. This is an increase in price of seven per cent just because of the euro changeover. With about 40 million SMS being sent on a monthly basis, this adds up to an extra €1.6 million in revenue to the two mobile providers.

Is this FAIR?

Monday, December 17, 2007

Bass Lesson: Playing the G Major scale across whole neck



In this lesson I will describe how to play the G major scale across the whole neck of a bass guitar. This is useful for improvisational skills and more - you will find out yourself. The trick is to begin with the G Ionian ascending, then A Dorian descending, B Phrygian ascending, D Mixolydian descending, E Aeolian ascending, G Ionian descending, and finally A Dorian ascending...

I hope you enjoyed it. I did, although i had a cold!!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Dodge Ball

I spent the bunch of Republic Day playing at my first Dodge Ball tournament. It was really fun, and I never played and laughed so hard at the same time. Then I spent the evening at Ta' Qali MFCC to watch Zoo goes Fairyland, a very hilarious comedy show by Zoo. These two events signed the beginning of my 14 day leave off from work (i.e. till 4th of January). I know you're jealous, ain't you? :)

Saturday, December 08, 2007

How not to get bored on a Friday evening

This is a quasi-perfect recipe:

1) Bike ride with fellow bikers - done...
Tonio of Paqpaq organized a bike ride where we exposed our bikes in Republic Street, Valletta...it was quite fun indeed! (ok i know the pics suck)





































2) Play some naaaasty groove and feel the music - done...



It would have been super if I spent the rest of the night drinking beer with friends and fooling around till late...but it's damn cold outside and I admit I preferred the warmth of home this time...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Ouch my mouth!! Let's play with Facebook

After a year contemplating whether to do it or not, I finally got my wisdom tooth surgically removed. It really hurts and I can feel every stitch in my gum getting tighter with every gulp I make. I am quite sure that I will lose a couple of kilos as I can barely open my mouth to eat. Oh well, the positive thing about this is that I've finally stayed quitely in front of my computer and completed my first Facebook application - Toni Sant's Muzika Mod Iehor Online Poll for 2007. If you are a Facebook user, you can participate by simply clicking here.

In the meantime stay tuned with the sister site of this blog, madvip.net, for I will very soon mention how I developed my application on Facebook's platform.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The food fight

Actually I was contemplating whether to title this post The Food Fight or The Bachelor's party of my best friend because I don't know which was more important :P Haha joking. So basically yesterday I was at the bachelor's party of my best friend, Keith. I honestly wish him the best of luck with his future wife; I'm sure they are one of the best couples around.

This party was a bit particular and makes it difficult to forget - first of all I have seen all of my old friends, and secondly we met at this knight-era styled place in Sliema were we were served chicken and lamb to eat with no forks or knives, and there were loads of wine and beer. After an hour of eating and drinking, the owner rang the bell to start a food fight - and this was a chaotic moment. We threw all the leftovers to each other in the form of a projectile (excluding the big bones of course - we didn't want to have any casualties lol). Needless to say, in a few moments there was a complete mess - I was prepared and went to this place with the worst clothes I could find. Everyone had his personal target, although the purpose of this was originally to assault the bachelor. At the end, after a quarter of an hour, the bell rang again and we had to stop. I had nearly lost my ring during the fight, and luckily it was found later on. My friend nearly risked his life as he too lost his ring, but his was the wedding ring. Like mine, it was find later on as well.

As we left we had a particular smell on us - Eau de Poulet - the latest fragrance.

I know you are probably scrolling down to see any photos of the event. I will post them as soon as I get them.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

EU starts NicoMarket

I happened to stumble a curious website, NicoMarket.com, which at first I thought was a weird joke. Then I realized it was a reverse psychology campaign against tobacco. This campaign is initiated by EU - I found that out when I continued to play their 'joke' and tried to buy the Nico-Breeze :)












Wicked eh? :)

Friday, November 09, 2007

MADVIP.NET is now online

It is official - my new content management system hosted on my personal Linux server, can be accessed through madvip.net. Here you will find all of my techie stuff - infact the old r00tb0x will be also migrated to madvip.net. If you are a geek I suggest you to check it out.

PS: Why madvip.net? Madvip used to be my handle, way back when (i'm talking about 12 years ago). There are still some cyberfreaks who remember me by that name. It is nice to commemorate my old school hacking era by hosting such a system under this name :]

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Major Scale Deluxe

After several weeks contemplating and scratching my head how the hell those monster bass players manage to play a simple major scale all over the whole neck and make it sound so wicked, I finally managed to work it out. The trick is to basically split the major scale in 5 forms (modes) - ionian, dorian, phrygian, mixolydian, aeolian. I am compiling a doc found here. Check it out. Notice that the order of the modes is always the same. So if I begin on a mixolydian, the next form will always be an aeolian. If I begin on an ionian, the next form will always be a dorian. For any given key, you need to find which is the lowest form and start with it. Example, for the C major scale, the lowest form is G mixolydian.

I will soon post a video of me playing these scales in ascending and descending orders through the entire neck. Needless to say, this is a key exercise for improvisation skills.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Need some sleep

Seriously, this week is being so intense with me, so far, that I am barely sleeping. This morning I just arrived from Italy after being at one of my clients in Rome to provide them with some consultancy service. Due to the bad weather and Rome's airport inefficiency the flight was delayed by 3 hours. Waiting that amount of time crunched in an aeroplane is no joke and I seriously need a nice massage :) Thinking about it, today is halloween, and considering that this morning I looked like a zombie in front of the mirror, I might as well fit in the event.

In a few minutes I will get back to my office and after that, I am looking forward to meet a fellow musician to jam with. In the meantime I am trying to find some time to study for my new certification, learn new songs, commit myself to the gym programme, and many other stuff.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Dirty Drowning Man - Bass Lesson

My Motorcycle Diary - Chapter 2 (28/10/07)



My second motorcycle vlog. Time: 00:30, and I am heading to St. Julians to have some beer with friends and basically getting wasted (taking advantage that we have to move 1hr back). I rant about my week, how injust are competitions, unsupportive team-mates, and work tasks cropping up at bad times! The consolation is that it is weekend and we can get wasted no matter what.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

"Riders on the fog"

Yesterday night, on my way to St.Julians, I found myself suddenly closed in by a bank of fog - a rare phenomenon in Malta, especially considering that it covered approximately the whole island. What appeared to be a little bit of a scary moment, for several reasons, eventually turned into a very interesting and unique experience on two wheels. Needless to say, I was careful about it - not seeing 5 seconds ahead of me is no joke. Driving slowly (to avoid skidding) and tailgating behind the cars (to be easily spotted by other drivers), did the trick. I admit that this experience has boosted my self confidence in biking in non-optimal weather!

* * * * *


Anyways, from the last time I spoke about my riding experiences, I have improved my riding stance. Some points one may need to consider if he rides a cruiser bike:

* Never lock the elbows (this can be achieved by relaxing the shoulders and keeping them low) - after all, ideally the bike is kept in balance with your body weight and not with your arms
* Use a centred riding stance - this will most probably put your knees automatically in a correct position
* Lean with the bike - if you turn left, shift the body to the left, and vice-versa
* Tuck your knees firmly against the fuel tank
* The arms should be parallel to the ground
* Lean your back a little bit to the front as if you're gonna take a sports bike stance - in reality what you are doing is straightening the back - you get the sensation of leaning forward because of the bike's layback seat :)

I will try to take a photo of my riding stance. I'm quite sure this will help a lot of beginners.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Fight like a brave

Is it just me or are we living in a society dominated by spineless individuals who are afraid to express their own opinion - cowards who regardless what they have been through, still want to forget and live as if nothing happened?

People who are afraid to voice their opinion, do not deserve to be rewarded with 'free speech' (remember Metallica's good old lyrics 'Free Speech For the Dumb' ?). Not only they won't be grateful towards you for taking their defence, but most probably, they will stand against you because now you made their opposition know that he's not gonna take it anymore. The spineless prefers to succumb and to go with the current, and you brave people need to just fight for *your* right. Ergo, not to fight for the benefit of individuals or communities, but purely for your own.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Bass Guitar Modes 1

I have just compiled a document which serves as an exercise for us bass players to play the modes on the entire neck of the bass guitar. It is available on google docs. Hopefully I will try to find the time and compile a similar document for five string bass guitars.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Got the LPI level 1 certification


Yesterday I did two exams to obtain the Linux Professional Institute certification, level 1. I got 81% and I'm quite happy about it. My advice for those who would like to take this exam, is to *use* Linux, and not just study for the exam...Good luck for other LPI takers!







Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Servi della Gleba



This is one of my favorite songs by 'Elio e Le Storie Tese'...Guess what Elio is talking about :)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

LinkedIn

As you can see, I added a LinkedIn button on the right hand side of the website which will redirect you to my LinkedIn profile. I recommend professionals to register their profile with LinkedIn. Check it out to see why.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Malta commemorates the Independence Day

...and I officially commemorate my 1 year length of hair :)

Nearly scammed by Ertishop.com!

I was just about to get scammed from what seems a bogus online company Erti Shop (aka Ertis Shop) and lose $720. Fortunately I always use Paypal for all of my online transactions, and I recommend everyone to stay away from other payment methods (especially e-Gold and Western Union since they pose certain risks for customers if you read well their FAQ).

So what's the story about? Recently I've been interested in acquiring a 13" macbook so I've been lurking through ebay a lot. It's been through ebay that I stumbled across the Erti Shop 'sponsored' link, and I am very unhappy about it...Well I visited this website, and wohoo..Unbelievable prices! I was going to get this macbook brand new, 12 months warranty parts and labor, free shipping for just $720! I read all the terms and agreements and ordered this product and paid it through Paypal. So far all was good and I was already dreaming about this macbook and happy about the bargain - so I returned back to the website to add it to my bookmarks to show it to my friends...however I noticed that the macbook was still in the shopping cart and didn't clear out, so I sent an email to Erti Shop. I got the below reply after a couple of hours:


Dear James Attard,

We accept payment by direct Bank Transfer, Paypal, Western Union and E-gold. Bank Transfer and PayPal is available for returning customers,
and for new customers at this time we can accept only Western Union and E-gold. That's the reason we cannot move forward with your order.
Your order has been cancelled but you can visit our website and resubmit anytime a new order.
We do send both order confirmation (You will receive further information on processing the transaction) and shipment confirmation emails automatically to the email address you provided. Occasionally these emails get mistaken for junk mail by email filters and firewalls (because these emails are generated by a computer). Check your junk email folder and set your email filters to allow emails from ertishop.com.

PayPal probably charged your credit card, but we didn't receive the funds. However in case they charged you, the full amount will be refunded to you. Most orders will be shipped within 48 hours of the payment clearing. Once payment has been received you will be notified of your personal tracking number.

If there is anything else we can do to assist you, please contact us at customerservice@ertishop.com. We are always happy to help.

Sincerely,
Quinlan

Customer Service Department
http://ertishop.com


I read that email quite a couple of times to make sure I really understood what I've been thinking to be as a scam. So I began my research on this company by doing an enquiry about their domain name, and guess what:

Domain Name: ertishop.com
Created on .............Fri Sep 07 19:42:15 2007
Expires on .............Sun Sep 07 19:42:15 2008
Record last updated on .Fri Sep 07 19:42:23 2007
Status .................LOCK,

Administrative Contact:
Brent Daily
Brent Daily
3730 Tecumseh Dr
Domain Name: ertishop.com
Created on .............Fri Sep 07 19:42:15 2007
Expires on .............Sun Sep 07 19:42:15 2008
Record last updated on .Fri Sep 07 19:42:23 2007
Status .................LOCK,

Administrative Contact:
Brent Daily
Brent Daily
3730 Tecumseh Dr

Well well well...what does this mean? In a nutshell 'Erti Shop' was created two weeks ago..on the 7th September 2007. This contradicted the footer of the website which stated a copyright on this website since 2004:



Further research led me to discover that Mr. Brent Daily appeared to work for a construction company in Arizona. This ticked an alarm inside my head and rushed to Paypal to cancel the payment...As stated before I was lucky enough to have always chosen Paypal for my online transactions - Paypal has a feature which protects customers from frauds by not letting them pay recipients with an unconfirmed Paypal account (and therefore fraudulent accounts, which most of them are untraceable). The cancellation was successful and I resumed my research about this seemingly bogus company. Apparently other people were bitten. Check out this link.

I hope this article opened your eyes and veered you from ErtiShop. If you had a similar experience with this company, leave a comment below.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Scat Singing

Recently I discovered the potential of Jazz scat singing, like in the below video clip where we see Ella Fitzgerald scatting on an impromptu Jazz tune.



Imagine if I replicate her melody on a bass guitar...super!

Some Jazz please

Yesterday was a really long day full of stuff and ended with a Jazz night at BJs, with Roberto Badoglio on bass guitar, Paul Giordimania on piano and some German dude on drums. But before I consumed some beer to make sure I enter the mellow mood :)
























Ok...and this morning my eyes are still red and I can hear my brain cells popping...

Sunday, September 16, 2007

My Motorcycle Diary - Chapter 1



My first motorcycle vlog. You will hear my voice for the first time (wohooo), although I sound like I am squeaking (maybe because of the camera microphone). I talk about my last week at work and bass guitar master classes, water puddles and crash related episodes and finally I see a beautiful lady by the street.

Somebody Told Me



"Breaking my back just to know your name
Seventeen tracks and I've had it with this game
I'm breaking my back just to know your name
But heaven ain't close in a place like this
Anything goes but don't blink you might miss
Cause heaven ain't close in a place like this
I said heaven ain't close in a place like this
Bring it back down, bring it back down tonight
Never thought I'd let a rumor ruin my moonlight

Well somebody told me
You had a boyfriend
Who looked like a girlfriend
That I had in February of last year
It's not confidential
I've got potential

Ready? Let's roll onto something new
Taking its toll and I'm leaving without you"

Say hello to my new Squire

I have put this video on YouTube for two reasons - first of all to test the audio recording with this new bass, a Squire Deluxe Jazz V. The other reason for this video is for those fellow bassists who may have seen a Squire in a local music store and are pondering whether to buy it or not, just because it's a "squire"...Put off what have you heard aout Squires for a while and test them yourselves. When I managed to go across this brand name stumble block , I grabbed a very nice one, yours truly showed in the video, and tested it for around 45 mins. The action is very low and the ebonol fretboard not only looks cool, but sounds good and plays fast. Although the basswood body may not be the most expensive wood out there, it is very nice - mine was coated with an eye catching sunburst finish.



PS: yes i am again with a bare belly, a shorty shorts and didn't shave the beard...lol...so??

Saturday, September 08, 2007

V-day

Today Malta celebrates a national holiday - the Victory day - to remember two victories which coincidentally happened on the same day (8th September) - the Greate Siege against the Turkish and the second World War on the fall of the Axis.

...in Italy they celebrate the V-Day as well...the Vaffanculo Day. Read more about it here!

Friday, September 07, 2007

Roberto Badoglio Master Class


The least I can say is that I am honored that I am amongst the few Maltese bassists sitting for master classes with Italian genious Roberto Badoglio. Roberto, born in Trieste, is a bassist with a large portfolio and experience to boast of. He has recently come to Malta for one month to deliver some advanced bass lessons to fellow Maltese musicians. Today was the first lesson and I really like his approach - playing with an incredible technique and singing jazz phrases on the bass were few of the highlights of the lesson. Looking forward for the next couple of lessons!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Boom!



"Modern globalization
coupled with condemnations
unnecessary death
matador corporations
puppeting your frustrations with a blinded flag
manufacturing consent is the name of the game
the bottom line is money and nobody gives a fuck
4,000 hungry children leave us per hour from starvation
while billions are spent creating death showers"

Sunday, September 02, 2007

White Crimson live next Wednesday

I hate putting up these posters of my band, but anyways, on request:














My rig - revisited

Many months have passed since I talked about my musical equipment. At the moment I only have three guitars - 2 basses (the Musicman Stingray which I use in my live performances, and an old custom p-bass which I use for rehearsals), and a guitar (a Fender Mustang strat, which I'm still learning how to play). Regards amplification, I had acquired a new one a few months ago - a 300W Ashdown combo. I have also used various strings for my bass guitar - at the moment I'm using Ernieball Regular Slinkies which suite my style at the moment. The more I play them, the better they get.

Let me talk about my overall bass rig, and how I am connecting everything. The bass is connected to the SansAmp BDDI preamp. I found that in this way the output level of the bass guitar matches perfectly without losing any signal strength. The output from the preamp goes to the input of the Boss GT6B and finally I take the mono signal to the Return input of the amplifier.












The preamp is set as follows, with a little bit of drive to simulate tube amplification:












Regarding the Boss GT6B, which I spoke about in some earlier posts, I have removed the compression which I used to use. I found that with this setup, the signal is already compressed, and further compression just diminished the overall punch. So I basically use the Boss GT6B to put some chorus, wah, flanger, octaver, distortion, volume control, etc. I am always keeping the Chorus active - puts some nice effect especially on the higher strings.












As much as possible, I try to control all the EQ from the bass guitar - At the moment I'm happy with maximum treble, flat midrange and bass. I am not losing punch and yet I have that nice zincy presence on the higher strings.

Facebook rocks

Yesterday I subscribed to Facebook and I realized how silly I was not subscribing there before (hi5 networking is for kids anyways). I also looked around their APIs - if I have some free time I might develop a Facebook application. For now, I just made a quick profile there, and still learning something new whenever I take a look at this networking site. One thing is for sure - things are more organized here and abuses are minimal from what I'm seeing.

Nightrain bassline

After a day studying for the LPI 101/102, I concluded Saturday evening with my rendition to Guns 'n Roses powerful song Nightrain.



Oh well, back to study :/

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Simpsonized

This morning we had some fun at work by creating Simpson characters of each of us. This is the Simpson version of myself according to a workmate hehe...















...And these are some of my fellow colleagues (laus, joey joey and sammut):













Bed Jumping

A few weeks ago I made my first bed jump in a local hotel and took a photograph of it. Lo and behold the photo was featured on www.bedjump.com. The exact link to my spot can be found
here. Take a look at other photographs and discover what this phenomenon is all about :)

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Smile when you smoke


Look at it this way...Even the health department says it all - Smoking "Seriously", will harm you. Stop taking life seriously and smile when you smoke lol





Saturday, August 18, 2007

My Motorcycle Diary - Prologue (18/8/07)

Taking you to my motorcycle vlogging, I setup a camera to take videos of some of my motorcycle rides. I masked the voice with a Judas Priest soundtrack after I realized I was blabbering stupid things :) But this video serves me as a prologue to this motorcycle diary. Enjoy!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

SaturDAY

It was a Saturday as it should be. Relaxed, got things done, encountered with the strange event of the day, took a beer with my friend, went for a ride. What is reserved for me for this night? Unlike the majority of the Maltese, I'm not going for the Gigi D'Alessio concert tonight, so I will probably drop by some nightclub having a beer with a couple of strangers.





You would ask, "What about that strange event you mentioned?". Have you ever been mistakenly called by some hottie (whom you have NO IDEA who she is) thinking you are someone else, more specifically, thinking you're that guy she fucked last week? Well that happened to me this morning. PRICELESS! lol

My new Kodak V570

I have finally got the V570 ultrawide angle digital camera. This is my first video clip that I took with it and I am trying to show how I managed to connect it to my Linux box. First you need to download 'gphoto2' and then stick the camera to the docking station, press the Easyshare button, and voila. Fire up 'gphoto2' without arguments to get a list of options as seen in this clip. To download all the files from the camera use the '-P' argument. Next stage is trying to fit this camera inside my helmet to begin vlogging motorcycle trips. So far I had no luck...I think I have to get a bigger helmet.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Puttana la maestra!

How much I like this video! Makes me laugh everytime I see it...



...because it reminds me of someone I know in the blogosphere!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Only a pipe distinguishes man from beast


Today I went to a tobaccoist in Valletta and bought my first pipe (an olive wood Maltese pipe) together with a pouch of black cavendish vanilla flavoured tobacco. I was contemplating to buy a pipe for the past two years, and finally my mate gave me a sense of courage by illustrating me how to enjoy smoking the pipe. I will now have a cold shower, go by the seaside with the bike and smoke my first pipe (I know it won't be pleasant for the first couple of weeks or more as a new pipe needs to 'break in')...Next time I will also bring my friend Jack with me to balance the taste...


PS: Before making any false ideas, the picture just shows me posing by the Sherlock Holmes museum in London!


Monday, August 06, 2007

Maltese band on Virgin Radio??

As most of us who work in an office do in the early morning, I turn on the online virgin classic rock radio while doing the usual routine and check my servers. At one point in time as I was hearing the first 20 seconds of the song I was like falling off my chair...There you go I said - finally a Maltese band managed to make it to Virgin radio! But wait...It was Aerosmith playing 'Living on the Edge'...For a while I thought Stoned Joker's new single, 'Alone', which has a lot of similarities in Aerosmith's big hit melody, made it abroad. Apparently I wasn't fooled alone - I heard similar opinions afterwards. Both great songs though!

Surprisingly no beer belly

After a week and a half intoxicating myself with beer, I spent yesterday evening at home taking a big break and a decent sleep to recover back all my energies. When I woke up this morning I noticed I had no beer belly. I think i know whom to blame - my new friend, aka the Whitehead Murderer hehe...

Friday, August 03, 2007

I will use Google

Not my creation, and I don't know who is the artist. Very handy when discussing in forums :)









Sunday, July 29, 2007

Stepping stone for White Crimson

Last Friday we had our first big local gig at the Farson's beer fest. With a warm crowd of more than five hundred people, and very positive feedback after the show, I really think that this was a major stepping stone for the band. Our five original songs, especially our newest one, Road to Love, together with our interpretation of legendary songs like Let there be Rock and Nightrain were much liked, not only by our friends who continuously follow our gigs, but also by other general people.











Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Back from the mental asylum

For the past weeks I had been thriving to get back to my feet again after a negative emotional blowup with the opposite sex. Well, today, I achieved the peace of mind, just about three days before my gig at the Farson's Beer Festival. Speaking about this gig, everything seems to fall apart - with our drummer recovering from chicken pox and the singer from a nasty cold, we are doing the impossible to prepare for Friday's concert (more info on www.whitecrimson.com) in Ta'Qali.

But me, being a possible reincarnation of a Buddhist monk, tries to see the positive out of this shitstorm of bad karma which lately seems to be inundating my miserable life. From a geek perspective, I am doing great results - recently, me, together with my hacker friends managed to implement IP over DNS so we can have free WiFi access everywhere. Also, I am finding some more spare time to study for the LPI and OCA certifications. On non-geek annotations, my Sicilian buddy, Renè, got a motorcycle similar to mine so we can go biking together during the weekends. In the evenings I am also finding some time everyday to practice meditation, bass guitar excercises, twenty pushups, and hopefully from next week I'll also find some time for a little swim after work.

On enjoyable terms, I'm really looking forward to the beer fest - getting mandra with beer for an entire week is very appealing in my current agenda. It's in these periods of your life where you appreciate the importance of friends :)

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Supreme Nerd God


I am nerdier than 100% of all people. Are you a nerd? Click here to find out!

I don't think that this was one of the usual lame tests one finds on the inet - I don't normally do these kind of online tests anyways, but curiosity struck me when I saw that the author of a whitepaper I was reading, a respected research and security engineer, actually took this test. It was a three minute test, and although I knew I was a kind of nerd, I didn't know that I can be classified as a Nerd God.



"According to the score summary:
0% scored higher (more nerdy),
0% scored the same, and
100% scored lower (less nerdy).

What does this mean? Your nerdiness is:
All hail the monstrous nerd. You are by far the SUPREME NERD GOD!!!
"

Please take the test as well so I have an idea of whether the results were exaggerated or not, and post the results here. And another thing - since now I was proclaimed a God, I do expect to begin having certain privileges in da house! :p

Saturday, July 07, 2007

chmod 777 today

Today it might be considered a lucky day by many people, due to the 07/07/07 date, but 777 is defintely a no-no in linux administration :) Which reminds me that yesterday I completed the four month old LPI course. Thanks goes to my instructor, a Debian maintainer, and good friend, Alberto Gonzalez. Your wisdom has helped me a lot in being a better Linux administrator.

Friday, June 29, 2007

The boys are back in town


Oh London, London, sinful as Sodom and Gomorrah. The decree is gone out: repent or burn. Back to Malta - and thinking that I was used to the low cold temperatures of London even now that it is summer. Now I couldn't even sleep this night - the hot sticky air of Malta compelled me to write this little anecdote to share my little experience in London.





It was last Saturday when I took Ryanair flight to London. Although I had minor trouble the week before to book the tickets online (it turned out to be that they had trouble with the Internet backbone), the prices were cheap but the service was great - the flight was not only in time but I managed to arrive to Luton airport even 30 minutes before the schedule! This gave us some time to eat a snack while we waited for the taxi which I booked online some 7 hours before.



Unfortunately there were engineering road works along the way and we had to do a long detour. The voyage from Luton airport to my hotel (in Clapham south) took two and a half hours!! (It was supposed to take around 50 minutes). Needless to say, this meant extra cash to spool :(




Anyways...once I arrived at the hotel, lo and behold, the first thing I did before even taking a look at the rooms, opening the luggage or anything that a normal human being would do, was taking off my clothes, turn on my laptop and searched for any wireless networks in a struggle to get internet access. But since the week before I was too lazy to actually implement a hack I've read to crack wi-fi, I was punished and well...no internet for me.



By the end of the holiday I estimated that I've scanned more than 50 hotspots which weren't open to public, yucks. On that not so positive note, I slept to get conserve the energies for the holiday. The bed wasn't bad at all :)



I took a very healthy breakfast based on Guinness, Red Bull, fried chicken and chips and took my first shower. PS: I was a damn lucky guy to have a shower in my hotel room, as most of the other people had to share a common 'en-suite' and the slightest thought to share those kind of things with some old fart really puts me off. Anyways, after breakfast, we went to the nearest tube station (two minutes by walk from the hotel) and got ourselves some maps to get used to the system.





In a few minutes we got the whole idea - the southbound platforms take you to the south, the northern ones to the north, use a prepaid smart card (known as oyster card) to top up your journeys from one tube to another, and if you don't want trouble with the police, make sure you don't traverse to zones you haven't paid for - for instance in my case I had to travel between zones 1 and 2 (central london) - so if i were to got further out - like to go to the Wembley Arena (which is in zone 4), I had to pay extra for that trip.


As I was saying, it was Sunday, first day out in the streets of London. Weather sucked...for all that matters, it sucked during the whole stay - you go out at 8AM and the sky is cloudy, rains shit but I enjoyed the cold temperature - at least after hours of walking I didn't sweat. For a first day in London I visited quite a few touristic places - too many to mention. And I'm not bothering to post photos of Buchingam Palace, Leiscter Square, Hyde Park, Green Park, St. James Park, etc...I mean, they still look the same if you google an image of them.

In the evening the streets of London are usually more hectic and less secure. In the metro people have boring ugly faces, and on our way back to the hotel one would notice the wannabe black gangsters lurking in the streets (aka mother fuckers) - the type of ppl you would probably see in Malta in few years time if the government doesn't tackle the immigration problem. I'm saying this because during my 4 day stay in London, there were around 16 killings, mostly from these type of mobs. Ah..to make it more thrilling, most of the crimes just happened a few streets away from Clapham, Brixton..



During the next day I went shopping at Primark. The clothes' prices were ridiculously cheap - with Lm20 I bought what I would buy here in Malta for more than Lm100. As regards electronic equipment I wasn't really interested since I get that kind of stuff from ebay.





On Wednesday I went to Madam Toussant (£25 entrance!!!) to meet my celebrity buddies...let the pictures speak by themselves...
























Later on in the evening I went to the Wembley Arena to the concert of The Who...they may be dinosaurs but they still rock!!! Pete Townsend doing the guitar mill, dressed inside Syd Barret's jacket alongside Roger's charisma, made the evening magical. The Charlitans were the special guest band and I must say that they are a very great band as well!
















Yesterday was spent merely just for travelling..Two underground metros, from Central London to Kings Cross railway and then an express train to Luton Airport. Finally a three hour flight to Malta.

Check out more photos in the gallery...

Saturday, June 23, 2007

London here I come

In about eight hours time I take the flight to London. My first idea to go there was to attend the concert of The Who at the Wembley Arena. But let's face it...I really need a holiday so I'm going to spend a couple of days more there while visiting London's main attractions, filling my tummy with Guinness beer and having fun.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Sporting a good riding technique

After about 9 months riding the motorcycle (5 months with the instructor on a 400cc sports bike and another 4 months riding my current 125cc custom bike), which is about a total experience of 5000km on the clock, I am finally getting a good idea to sport a safe riding technique in a venture to master the so-called 'countersteering' - a must know technique for serious bikers.

The idea of countersteering is to steer to the left to turn to the right, and vice versa. This technique is important because one could make sharp and safe cornering - when mastered, this can save a biker's life in case of an emergency (such as to avoid an obstructing animal which crosses the street, or a car which swerves across you, or maybe a distracted pedestrian dangerously crossing the street).

To cut it short, I found out that when riding my custom bike, placing my left foot a little back on the footrest, and my right foot a little on the front on the footrest (having my toes out of the footrest), I achieve a very good balance on the bike which helps me countersteer easily in both directions. Moreover, since my right foot is in front, it can easily reach the rear brake pedal and use both brakes when stopping or slowing since this is the only way the bike has the best balance when braking.

It is also important to keep the back straight and to never lock the elbows - so I have to sit on a good spot on the seat - not too close to the handlebars and not too far - 2 inches from the tank is a good position. I know this all sounds emperical and mathematical - but luckily this has become natural nowadays.

For all bikers reading this little article - good luck and happy safe riding!

YouTube fun

I just spent an hour finding ways how to save youtube videos on my computer. With a sniffer and some common sense, I managed to save my first videos. A few minutes later I wrote a little php script to download a video given the youtube URL. tcpdump really rocks!

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Matrix Ping Pong

Now this is really ingenious ;) La Corrida doesn't even begin...

Thursday, June 07, 2007

White Crimson, behind the scenes - part 2/2

This is the second part of the interview, thanks to Motionblur. This time were are situated in the garage where we rehearse, and here we speak about how we work on a new song.


Edit: I have temporarily removed the videos since I was asked to do so by the producers of the programme. I will put them back once the programme will be aired next October. Hold on! :)

White Crimson, behind the scenes - part 1/2

On popular request, I'm also uploading the interview bit of my band so you can know who we are behind the scenes. Remember this interview was for a TV programme, BANDS. We speak about how we met, our hobbies, our weak points, and our love for rock music. Probably this programme will be aired next October. The second part of the interview will be uploaded on the next blog post.



Edit: I have temporarily removed the videos since I was asked to do so by the producers of the programme. I will put them back once the programme will be aired next October. Hold on! :)

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Julia!

Two months ago, Motionblur recorded a gig of my band and an interview which will be featured in a new music TV programme which will be aired during the next season. Enjoy the snippet (our first song, Julia):



The lyrics for the song Julia:

Pretty baby, I will love you till I die.
Uh. Pretty baby, tell me why you made me cry.
Oh no no no

Pretty girl you got me crazy, instant love for you,
From the moment I first saw you I've planned my life with you,
And though I always had a doubt that you won't really care,
I was glad to have a go and try to make you understand.

And I don't want to be, just a friend need you with me, Julia.
Give me a chance and I will show you, how a relationship would be,
you and I could be the perfect couple,
Just like you told me once you'd want it, until the end of time,
July with me you can achieve it.

Julia you got me crazy, instant love for you,
and from the moment I first saw you, I've planned my life with you,
give me a chance and I will show you, how a relationship would be,
you and I could be the perfect couple, yeah.

And I don't want to be, just a friend need you with me, Julia.

Pretty baby, I will love you till I die.
Uh. Pretty baby, tell me why you made me cry.

Oh baby
Pretty baby
Julia.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Time for some updates

Some people were asking what happened to me, and I think they deserve some updates on this blog. My new excuse for this hiatus - Loads of ordinary things happened from the last article I wrote - things which consume my time and deprive me from reflecting a bit on what's going on. Nah that's bullshit...I was just having a good time and ended up procrastinating from updating the blog :p Ok so here are some updates from last time I managed to write something:

- Linux: my geek adventures are increasing more than ever - yet I have sinned to you compatriots because I have promised to update the r00tb0x blog - I know it's a matter of copying and pasting my personal notes, but for the past weeks I have always procrastinated from doing it. This week hopefully I will do something.
- Guitar: I have swapped an old bass guitar with a Fender Mustang electric guitar - yes I intend to learn some basic guitar chords when I have time
- White Crimson: my band is in a hibernation to produce new original songs. Meanwhile we had an interview for a TV programme which will be aired next october by the name of 'Bands'
- Work: nothing fancy...after my hacker colleague left, I ended up with more and more work. Yet it's fun as long as it's related to linux and databases
- Motorcycle: had a minor incident with it while I was driving in a wet road a couple of weeks ago. I discovered that the nylon tires were the culprit - for those who don't know the difference between nylon tires and rubber tires, picture the nylon tires as soap bars when the roads are wet..this lesson costed me a lot of money since i had to repair damages on the braking system, and replace the tires with rubber ones. But now everything is back to normal! Another thing...the rebel riders marathon was sheer fun! Looking forward for next year...
- Entertainment: I won two tickets for the Who concert: yes that's right. I took part in a UK competition, and I was one of the lucky winners who will see The Who next month at the Wembley Arena.
- YouTube: now that I learned how to record audio and video in GNU/Linux, I took the opportunity to record more stuff and place it on youtube..Just search for my name on youtube to view the videos.
- Hair: my hair is now a couple of inches long. Last week after eight months, I had my first trim to keep it in a better shape.

That's all the stuff which i can remember for now. Anyways this week is gonna be interesting as I have part 3 of 4 of the Linux Certified Administrator course.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Riding by the worker's day

Following an indundated series of gigs with White Crimson (ok now that really sounds arrogant, lol, but believe me - we really had a lot of gigs in a little span of time...just check our site) we are now having a little break. This means working on new material while at the same time having some more time for ourselves. For geeks like me this means - having more time to read emails, update the blogs, fooling with Linux etc...Ah yes, and this reminds me to upload my huge backlog of Linux documentation to r00tb0x blog. Well...let's get to the subject of this blogpost.

Last weekend I was stumbling across some local forums when I came across an advert which captured my attention - there was this guy who sought friends to join him and his partner for biking experiences. I took the opportunity and we got in contact and to cut the story short today we passed the afternoon cruising with our custom bikes from Golden Bay to Marsascala, stopping by a couple of bars sipping some beer.












The photo above shows our bikes. These two people are really nice and I believe this will be the start of a new friendship with our bikes. If everything goes as planned, next Sunday morning I shall meet them again, together with hundreds of other local bikers for the annual charity ride organized by the Rebel Riders...

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Using the BOSS GT-6B pedal effectively

I will write this little article to help the bass players and our guitar brothers use the BOSS GT-6B (and GT-6 in case of guitarists) in a simple but effective way. I will not teach you how to achieve the perfect tone as this is something suggestive - in fact as you will later see, the perfect tone is achieved from your playing technique, the amplifier/cabinet and your instrument and is something which grows with you!

I bet that nine out of ten people who got this pedal were lost in its complexity and flexibility. The only way to simplify the approach is to treat the BOSS GT-6B as a modular multi-effects pedal i.e. do not look at it as one big complex device, but rather as multiple smaller pedals chained together. Because of this, I will refer to the individual effects as 'pedals' as if we are operating virtual individual pedals. It is also important to realize that there are some of these 'pedals' which you'll never use, or you'll rarely use - fine! Even the geekest of all bassists and guitarists never dream to chain all of the existing pedals in their rig. Before I recommend you which are the most common 'pedals' to use and which are not, let's analyze what's the first step every BOSS GT-6B user should do.









When you connect your instrument to the pedal and to the amp, the first thing you will notice is that your sound has an effect applied to it, some bad EQ, and a different volume (either very high or very low) to the one you used to have without the pedal. This will make the chosen effect impractical to use. So the first step must be to assign a patch with a clean tone. With a clean tone I mean as if you are bypassing completely the pedal - so no effects, no simulations, no EQ, no volume boost or cuts. Unfortunately BOSS GT-6B doesn't come with that kind of patch - instead they force you to press the BYPASS button to achieve this effect. But I think that this is a bad thing since you need a clean patch to start from. So how do you get the clean bypassed tone as if you are playing without the pedal at all? Follow these steps:

1) Remove all effects - remove the compressor, distortion, reverb, EQ, AMP/SPK simulation.
2) Set the master effects volume to 110
3) Set the master volume from the rear panel to just the beginning of the MAX marking
4) Set the footpedal volume to 100

In this manner the sound is as if you had no pedal attached between your bass and the amplifier. It is important to save this to a patch and always use it as your basic building block. Now let's see what effects can be useful to us or not:

PREAMP: You would normally need to disable this unless you're recording and your bass guitar sucks (i.e. if you plug the bass into the soundcard and the sound sucks, you may need to play around this - use the default presets). I have a Musicman, so I always disable it.

SPEAKER: Same as above.

EQ: If your bass has an onboard EQ I suggest not use the EQ of the pedal at all...Or else use it to do some abrupt minor tweaking for example to change from normal finger playing to slap bass. In my case, since I have an EB Musicman Stingray 3EQ, it is imperative to use the 'ray EQ because it's far much more sophisticated than the pedal one. Even if you don't have an onboard preamp on your bass, make only minor tweaks, or disable it at all.

COMPRESSOR: This is the most important pedal and is a must for every bassist. The sound is compressed and evened out. Don't even try to play without it. I normally choose the 'smooth slap' preset.

DISTORTION/REVERB/CHORUS: Add these according to your tastes.

Remember that the trick to master this pedal is to begin from a clean patch! In a nutshell, once you have the clean patch, you can add and remove subtle effects at your pleasure. If you have a decent instrument and amp, try to avoid using the AMP/SPEAKER simulation. Another important thing to notice is that unless you are a perfect geek or you want a very personalized effect, you can always use the preset 'quick settings'.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Ghost Rider (the movie)

While I do not consider myself a fiction intenditore, I only step inside cinema halls to watch superhero movies on a big screen. Before watching this movie, I didn't know the story of Ghost Rider so I will just tell you some survival tips in order you won't get confused when you watch this movie (sparing spoilers of course!) - In the movie, Ghost Rider is depicted as an antihero riding a motorcycle combatting demons who lurked on earth many centuries ago in the form of the earth's elements - during the day Ghost Rider is Johnny Blaze, a motorcycle stunt man, but during the night, Zarathos, a devilish entity with whom his soul was bound, takes over and Blaze becomes Ghost Rider. Ghost Rider existance in the movie is to serve Mephisto, an arch demon, with whom Johnny Blaze made a pact to spare his dad's life. In reality (i.e. fictional reality heh) the story is much more complex than that...













The movie's main protagonists are my all time favorite Nicholas Cage and the beautiful Eva Mendes. This movie may have adverse effects for motorcyclists in a similar way to what Fast and Furious affected most of the car drivers!

April is a damn nice month

This is one of my favourite months - Easter happens to be like Christmas for me - a valid reason to feel more spiritual and love other people. The weather is simply great so I can practice motorcycling more regularly. Moreover this month my band has around six gigs. Check out the band's website for the gig list (still being updated).

Satellite Haven

For the second time, my father needed my help to fix satellite co-ordinates on his Humax 5400 receiver. While I'm no expert, I tried to put my logic and help him out. This thing has triggered me again (for the second time) an avid interest in the satellite hobby. Six months ago I was quite a newbie satellite hobbyist but was able to upload firmware, keys and that basic stuff. Actually it's a shame to be called a hobbyist at that time since my only interest was to help my father since I needed his approval for the motorcycle purchase ;)

Well this time I feel that my interest in satellites is not a false one - infact i spent a couple of hours installing loads of satellite related software on my newly acquired laptop. I was also lucky enough to stumble across a very nice community of satellite hobbists, which happen to have a good percentage of Maltese people in it - www.satellite-haven.com. I know I have other hobbies and stuff, but I will do my best and find also time for this.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Backlog of documentation

I have so many documentation to post on r00tb0x that I don't know from where to start :/ Frankly I need to document them for two reasons - as my own personal reference, and for the fact that I haven't found decent documentation about these topics on the internet. So please be patient and tune to r00tb0x when you have some time to spare.

PS: As of a couple of hours ago I have managed to connect my Nokia 9500 communicator with Debian GNU/Linux over bluetooth (since it's the only protocol supported!) - more about this on r00tb0x ;)

Saturday, March 24, 2007

New kernel, more fun

I've just compiled and built the Linux 2.6.20-4 kernel on redpill (my Debian GNU/Linux box), with NVIDIA 3D drivers. I will post all the details of how I did it on my r00tb0x blog very soon. Now off to the RHCP gig (in which we were going to perform too! Damn Maltese thrifty organizers). Enjoy the rest of the weekend...

Southpark

I believe this is how I would look like if I were a character inside Southpark :P













Monday, March 19, 2007

Centericq and rtorrent

Centericq, a text based msn client, and rtorrent, a text based torrent client, are two of my latest acquisitions in an attempt to move to text based clients. Extremely light, fast and versatile. Yummy...

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Linux Power User

Completing the Linux Power User course doesn't necessarily make you a Linux Power User, but hey, migrating from a fullfetched bloated window manager such as Beryl to something more keyboard driven such as Fluxbox, using mutt email clients, having your keyboard leds flashing to notify you of new incoming emails, irssi chatting clients, and fiddling with screen may help :) For more GNU/Linux content follow the hyperlinks in this paragraph ^_^












I would like to thank agi, the LPE trainer for the past 5 days, and avid Debian system developer. Of course now i feel much more confident on GNU/Linux and i have departed from the drag and drop world to a more hardcore one haha.















I still consider myself a baby tux, but i'm sure that in a couple of years time I will grow up (by a couple of years!) :)

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

100% migration to GNU/Linux

As of last article I have completed the transition from windows to GNU/Linux completely. I would like to thank Rene` for his precious support in my effort to complete this phase :D

That basically means that there is nothing I can do with Windows which I can't do with GNU/Linux. Actually, there are many things which I can do with GNU/Linux that I definitely can't in Windows. To be completely fair, there are some specialised Windose software which I forcely have to use...but that's why I've installed a Win2K virtual machine ^_^

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Fumes

No don't worry, this isn't an environmental rant type of blogpost. But the highlights of the past 2 days (at work at least) were fumes. Yesterday I made a toast which burned inside the work faulty toaster and caused the smoke alarm of the canteen to trigger. The alarm rang for about 10 minutes since none of us knew how to turn it off...

Today, while i was not at the work premises (as i was at the linux training), a chimney, which was close to the work building, exploded (apparently due to the rain) and all the employee cars were dirtied by the debris. The responsibles of the chimney came to wash the cars..Luckily I had just arrived in time for a free car wash! :)

Monday, March 12, 2007

Virtual machines on my Linux

Yesterday I installed the VMWare server on my GNU/Linux box and today I created a Windows 2K virtual machine on top of it. So now I can run windows applications on my Linux box - this will hopefully conclude my utter migration to Linux and live happily ever after. The process to install a virtual machine is quite easy - remember to also install VMWare Tools after you create a virtual machine so graphics will be enhanced.

* * *

13/3/2007:
Today I configured the GNU/Linux box as a router/gateway so that I can easily access the virtual machine through samba. Checkout r00tb0x blog for more details about this. This is getting simple brilliant.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Linux Education Programme

Following the agreement between the MIIIT and IBM, commencing from next week, is the infamous Linux Education Programme which I will be attending. For more information about the programme you may click here. Could this be the incubation of many fellow Maltese Linuxers?

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Playing with the RHCP tribute band

I believe that at the moment life is playing some ironic games with me. Today I have received confirmation from Eman of Keith and Co. promotions, that my band will be playing as a warmup act for UK's top Red Hot Chili Peppers tribute band! That is simply amazing because I have seen this band playing live last summer and they are really great...not to mention also my deep passion for Red Hot Chili Peppers per se.















My feeling is that this will be a date not to forget...



Edit: Of course it will be a date not to forget...The promoters decided not to pay us because we will be 'just' a warm up band. Tough luck Eman, we're not a charity band :) Asta la vista and find another band!

Friday, March 09, 2007

Beryl on Debian

I have just installed Beryl on my Debian (testing) box and so far it works really nice although I need to do further testing and configuration. The CPU load is higher, obviously, but didn't exceed 7% of the usual operations. You can install Beryl through this nifty script. In some future blogpost I will put some screenshots of my new environment, which is by far more superior than Windows Vista.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Burton and Jefferson talk about November Rain

Do you remember the cool November Rain MTV video, a debut by Guns 'n Roses? Read a bit this parody, because it's hilarious! Warning though, your IQ might drop a little :)

Friday, March 02, 2007

Mod for the daystar muffler

Last week i made my first motorcycle mod to improve the muffler sound. I made use of simple water faucets which you can find in any plumbing stores, about 60mm in diameter, looking something like this:












Then just glue them to the end of the muffler using either metal paste or silicon, and this is the end result:












Source: Daystar Custom Club Spain

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

My first pillion rider

This weekend I had my first pillion rider, my girlfriend. The handling was a bit tough at first, especially at very low speeds, and I felt that balance was really affected. So basically I need to really practice cruising with a pillion. In the meantime please enjoy my first cruising video clip. It's quite short, but I intend to take short frequent clips whenever I go cruising so you get an idea of the fun in riding a motorcycle especially during a sunday afternoon :)

Friday, February 23, 2007

Streaming Virgin Radio to the workmates

Few hours after I wrote the post about Virgin Radio Classic Rock, I was contacted by the digital media director of Virgin Radio himself, to thank me for the 'advert'! This encouraged me to propagate this internet radio even at work....however I don't want the boss to be angry with me for congesting the whole broadband network so with the help of my friend I'm locally streaming it (the exact term is unicasting) from my laptop to the local area network - this way, only I am accessing the broadband to access the stream, whereas the workmates are using the local network to listen to the stream.

Actually the whole process is very easy. Download VLC and install it where you want to broadcast the stream. We'll refer to this as the streaming server. Secondly, just follow the below screenshots to be able to connect to Virgin's stream and then output it to a private network (for example at work):


























Now everyone will be glorified by the best rock music ^_^

Ryan's Goes Rock

My band is working hard on new stuff and very soon we'll expose them to you guys. One of the venues which invited us to play is Ryan's Pub. My friend Duncan who takes care of the sound has made a concise blog talking about these rock events in Ryan's Pub. So take a look and hear from us very soon!

Virgin Radio Classic Rock

As they state in their website: Virgin Radio Classic Rock plays 10 great songs in a row, every hour, all day. That's more classic rock songs every hour than any other station.










Whether it's Led Zep with your lunch, or some Pink Floyd to kick start your weekend, we want you to tell us the songs which make you rock out! Get in touch with Russ or Leona to have your ultimate rock requests played live and loud on the air...


This has by far entertained me more than any other mp3 or cd playlist, so I installed the mplayer-mozilla plugin on iceweasel to be able to access the classic rock's streaming. Listen to the rock authority!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Going to nickels

Taking advantage of the fact that I'm on sick leave, I dared to change my current bass guitar strings from the current high end DR 'highbeams' stainless steels to some cheapo Dr.Ducks nickel plated steels which were sitting in my drawer for quite a long time. This is the strategic move towards a warmer and less twangy sound which I had till now. Will try them next Saturday at a small gig in Baystreet - so if they suck, noone will notice :D

Edit (25/02/07): Yummy, nickels did work after all :) A full round warmer sound is what I have...

Friday, February 16, 2007

Carnival at home?

You don't normally hear me ranting, but hell, when am i supposed to get sick? Guess when...

1) I soon have an important gig, or
2) It's a weekend, or
3) There are some cool events coming around

This time it happened to be a weekend and the carnival!!! I was really expecting this weekend :( So I will most probably spend the weekend home considering the fever i'm feeling right now. Carnival 2007 - dressed as a patient - take a mental picture of that - a clinical thermometer in my mouth (better than shoved in my ass), red cheeks, and a silly pyjama. duh...

Update: Oh great, I've been diagnosed with start of a bronchitis. Basically bronchitis sucks.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Podcatching on Linux

Podcatching is a term used when you download podcasts. As a matter of fact I've been lately interested in listening to Toni Sant's podcasts, and since I'm migrating to Linux, it was the ideal moment to start podcatching. So here is a simple how-to guide which can help you listen Toni's podcasts:

1) download hpodder
2) add your hpodder feed (hpodder add http://feeds.feedburner.com/maltamedia/podcasts)
3) list episodes - hpodder lsepisodes
4) if you want to download all episodes, do a hpodder download
5) if you want to dowload all episodes of a given CAST ID (obtained from step 3) just do hpodder download
6) if you want to download just the latest episode, use the catchup parameter: hpodder catchup [cast-id], followed by hpodder download [cast-id]. You may also download the latest two or three (etc) episodes by using the -n parameter after the 'catchup' parameter.

For my particular scenario I cron the following:
- hpodder catchup 9
- hpodder download 9
- gmplayer [podfile].mp3

White Crimson release their demos

Yesterday evening I put some effort together with my band mates, White Crimson, to record our first three demos. Feel free to listen to them on myspace. That is our sound, which I believe is quite original in Malta, and we expect some feedback from you. Remember that whatsoever, Rock will never die!

Driving (Ira Losco crazy)

My old friend Ira Losco has sent me a response regarding an article I wrote about the BMAs best single awards. Now I understand why this person has made all this success in Malta and in Europe - she's a very down to earth person and takes criticism very seriously. She's a real professional and merits my utter respect.

Anyways, to cut things short, the facts, as stated by Jagged House's report are the following:

"'Driving one of your cars' -which was released by a different artist in Sweden 4-5 Years ago was originally, actually written by Malcolm Pardon and Fredrick Rimer -Very good friends of Ira Losco's team .

The label of the original artist didn't believe in the project enough to promote it outside of Sweden. The publishing company who owned the rights of the song....after hearing Ira Losco , asked us if she would be interested to re-record the song. The publishing company is Murlyn and one of the biggest publishing companies in Europe with artists like Madonna etc.... as you can check on Madonna's new album-' Confessions on a dance Floor'. After hearing the demos Murlyn were so impressed that they asked if Ira Losco can re- write some words and therefore including her as a song writer, granting the right to reproduce the song and launch it worldwide. Although they gave permission to re- release it in Sweden we decided not to and also gave credit to the original artist and the original writers as shown in the album sleve of ' Accident Prone' next to 'Driving one of your cars'

One Example- The song 'Toxic' which was released by Britney Spears is not a Britney Spears song and she also won an Mtv Award for that song. The song was done at Murlyn and it was meant for Kylie Minogue and was before released by another pop artist in South Africa. We know this because we've been to Murlyn more than once ...and as explained it was the place where they asked us if Ira Losco would be interested in re-recording 'Driving one of your cars'. These are world class Music industry people with no time to waste.

Financialy speaking the original writers get the writing royalties every time Ira Losco perfoms the song so much so that they've asked us to collaborate on other songs together.....including Ira Losco as a writer.

No one is cheating anyone and doing anything illegal- Far from it. Like in every normal procedure in the music industry the original writers are always to be found next to the name of the song of the album release...as is the case with 'Driving one of your cars' found on Ira's album.

An artist can make a difference in making a song a hit or not. This is common every where around the world. In fact on numerous ocassions the music industry has seen the charts with the same song performed by different artists.

70-80% of the MTV music awards honored songs not originally written by the artist singing them.Example- Christina Aquilera, Madonna , Bon Jovi, Aerosmith, Justin Timberlake, Nirvana , Seal , Eminem , Nelly Furtado , The Verve etc... etc...
The Bmas is not a songwriters contest- But an award ceremony honoring local artists and songs aired on Bay Radio ( Only )- The artist, all the songwriters, the production, the performance and the marketing team all together can make a song hit or drop out of the charts.

Ira Losco is the only contemporary artist to get such a huge major deal abroad and get in the top 30 German charts with ' Love me or hate me' to date as well as perform support to such big names as Elton John etc.. Another singer who has made us proud and took his career abroad is Marc Storace who was the lead singer of the band ' Krokus' who incidently also had their hit with a song they didn't write called Ballroom Blitz.

Faith has it that a foreign artist decided to cover 3 songs from Ira Losco which have gone up in the Italian, German charts and aired on Prime time Tv- This is also legal and in this case we pocket financially as the artist would still honor the legal copyright and next to 'Love me or hate me', ' someone Else' and 'Get out ' there is nothing but Ira Losco's name.-The only difference is that the artist contacted us and we gave no permission to change the song...therefore it's called a cover version. In 'Driving one of your cars' it's a different story as the publishing company contacted us and we had permission to change words and arrangement and have rights for all territories.

Ira Losco has never ever said publically or not that she is the original and sole writer of 'Driving one of your Cars'-
Some other examples- Natalie Imbruglia's Multi Million seller- ' Torn ' was a number 1 in 3 countries released by a different artist. 3 years later it was given to Natalie Imbrulgia and became one of the most selling songs of our times...Thanks to Natalie....but all the income generated went to the original writer . Another example is The Verve's ' Bitter Sweet Symphony' which was nothing but a Rolling Stones tune which was then released by Verve and also became one of the most selling songs of our times. Everyone thought it was originally written by Verve ... Oh and it won 2 MTV awards- The list of big hits goes on and on with songs being released after being released by a defiierent artist or not written by the artist releasing the song.

The record company of Kelly Clarkson asked us if one of Ira Losco's songs can be used for her new album. So far Ira Losco's publishing hasn't agreed as they own the copywrite to give the go ahead just the same way Murlyn owned the right.
Ira Losco as clearly shown on the album 'Accident Prone' contributed to 65% of the original writing as logged on the album's publishing Out of which- 7 singles released and all went to TOP 10 ...and six went Top 5.

With 23 awards won, 12 Top 10 singles , two number singles ( Just on Bay Radio...) and 4 No.1 album Sales charts clearily shows that Ira Losco has proven to be a successful, credible and yet incredibly humble artist over and over again.
Bay Radio nominated and awarded the most played and voted song of 2006- 'Driving One of your Cars'- performed by Ira Losco."

Monday, February 05, 2007

Ntfsresize rocks

I've just resized my 100GB NTFS partition to 50GB to leave more space for the Linux box. Read here to know how I have done it.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Vertigo

Last year, approximately about this period of time, I commented about Faniello's song which won the Maltese Eurovision song contest. Today I will not comment except for the fact to wish Olivia Lewis her best luck with her song Vertigo. The song was written by Gerald James Borg and composed by Philip Vella.

I don't know if it's my ear or not, but I found that the oriental flamenco pop composition is very similar to the idea and concept we find in Ruslana's song, Wild Dance, which won the contest two years ago. Are we Maltese trying to follow some sort of strategy? (Should we expect an underground Maltese death metal band next year, to compare with Lordi's? :/) tara-ta-tammmmmmm! I foiled the whole conspiracy!

PS: You can find Vertigo's lyrics, and more information about Olivia Lewis, on her website.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Migrating to Linux completely

I'm putting my mind where it used to belong one time, when I used to endorse Linux with great passion. Today I have successfully installed the Nvidia driver on my Debian box by following these instructions. Now I am enjoying 3D acceleration, a 1152x864 resolution and a 75Hz refresh rate! Couple this with Gnome and a 2.6 (i686) kernel, and I'm running a very fast server :)











Apart from that, I managed to get Firefox 2 from here. It was quite a luck actually since Debian Sarge leaves it outdated. Wow, what a browser...just perfect. I also managed to code simple fetchmail scripts to retrieve my Gmail stuff and put them on my local Linux mailbox. I'm using amule as my p2p software, mplayer as the media player and Gaim as my instant messenger client...

...All in all, my migration looks quite positive indeed.