This morning I’m finding myself overwhelmingly thankful for the amazing family, friends and life I’ve been blessed with- and hope you all have an outstanding day, however you choose to spend it.
I was an early backer of the Pebble smartwatch – well before everyone else jumped on the bandwagon – and the recent update to both watch and app have only made my early adoption decision a more solid choice in hindsight. There’s four significant reasons as of this week why the Pebble continues to be the perfect smartwatch for me, regardless of what existing smartwatches – including the oft-rumored Apple iWatch – decide to cram into their products.
1. iOS Notifications – Turbocharged
With the recent update, the Pebble went from good to great in regards to the notifications you receive on your iPhone, and granular control over how and when they’re delivered to you. Previously, you could recieve basic notifications on iOS – phone calls, text messages and email (by configuring the Pebble iOS app to both monitor your email accounts directly, and provide the notifications via the app itself, assuming you left the app running), but a paltry selection compared to the vast notifications available on the much more hackable Android platform. As of the recent update, however, any app or function that leverages the updated iOS 7 Notification Center framework can send your Pebble a notification simply by assuring that the ‘Banner’ style of alert is set for it in Preferences > Notifications. This is a huge step up for Pebble’s iOS support- and puts the Pebble on par for iOS devices to the support Android’s seen for months.
Knowing others is intelligence;
knowing yourself is true wisdom.
Mastering others is strength;
mastering yourself is true power.
If you realize that you have enough,
you are truly rich.
If you stay in the center
and embrace death with your whole heart,
you will endure forever.
- Lao Tzu
It’s been a long time since I’ve had my ass handed to me. Last month I got the comeuppance I’ve been due for quite some time, and it’s been incredibly humbling. I love to mountain bike, and in particular jump and hop said mountain bike around, between, and over obstacles both large and small. The feeling of flight and weightlessness is something I’ve chased since my skydiving days, and frankly, only get to experience when leaping a bike these days. Having been a rider for most of my 46 years, this type of risk is really nothing new or unexpected for me. I’ve been doing this for so long I take these skills for granted, as the feeling of flight, speed and weightlessness are as close as I can come to feeling superhuman.
However, on October 12th of this year I took what was to be a simple, innocuous ride up and back on the coast- which ended in utter disaster. Approaching one of the many ravines I traverse on this trail, I really didn’t feel differently- no sense of foreboding, hesitation or even concern- I’d jumped off this particular ledge so many times that it’s almost become reflexive. A quick bunny hop off the top and I was floating over the edge, slowly rotating my center of gravity to match the angle of the transition 15′ below me. But as time compressed and weightlessness engulfed me, I knew in my gut something was wrong. The bottom of the hill had been churned up from the normal hard-pack and was instead loamy and soft. The angle I took over the edge had me going a few degrees left of my usual line, and despite a last-ditch effort to push my rear wheel out and down to adjust and shift landing weight off my front wheel, it still dug into the soft dirt and washed out just as I flipped my heels to pop the clips and get free of the bike, and everything went wrong. Horribly wrong.
July was an interesting month for listening. I was a bit over-obsessed with French pop/hip-hop and the grandiose new release from Aussie prog-rock uberheroes Karnivool, but still fit in some old Beastie Boys and a spattering of west-coast American hipster pop fluff. Makes a fun mix for a bright summer’s day.
Love me some pedalboard. I really do.
For decades I refused to use any effects on my bass guitars, being strictly fingers–only when it came to dressing up a note. I can’t deny that self–imposed deprivation helped me master my instrument early on without distractions, and taught me volumes on restraint and articulation I wouldn’t have learned had I jumped right into the effects world. However, after 20-odd years my tone had started to get a bit routine, my phrasing uninspired, and I found myself looking for ways to break out of the rut. Salvation came by way of a critical, distorted bassline I needed to cop for one of my fill-in sessions with a Bay Area electronica band – but cranking preamp gain in my painfully-clean SWR SM–900s was a non-starter. So I grabbed a friend’s Big Muff Pi for the gig, and the rest is history. Years later, I’ve worked and gigged through so many effect combinations, sizes and themes to my pedals and pedalboards that I’ve got my preferences and sounds down to a pretty solid philosophical, aesthetic and ergonomic art.
Philosophically, it’s all about having *the right* assortment of tonal choices when I need them, easily accessed, with as little impact on my basic tone as possible. I still prefer a tone that’s piano-clean yet asskickingly fat via mostly 18v active basses- any effects are simply additive to my primary fingers/instrument/amp sound. That way they stick to their role as the spice in my steady diet of groove, never the main course.
Aesthetically, my effects have got to allow me to enhance my normal tone gracefully (compression, EQ, and chorus), distort the signal six ways from Sunday (boost, distortion, overdrive and fuzz), and filter/add to it (envelope, pitch & synth effects). Efficiency is also a factor (wireless receivers, digital tuners). And it’s simply got to look clean and usable, not some random tangle of wires and boxes that could be kicked astray with a errant toe.
Ergonomically, my pedalboard has got to be playable like an instrument, portable and reliable, and fast to set up & tear down at gigs. It needs to be laid out in common pairings/groupings of pedals in close proximity to one another so I can trigger the more complex, multiple effect settings with a single ‘stomp’ (or at least without signficant tap-dancing onstage).
Tall order, but well-filled now in my current pedalboard. Lets take an overview of my main groups of effects.