'Technology' Category

Admin :: New Home, New Name

This site, formerly known as ‘zebpedersen.co.uk’, has undertaken its third official server move.  Since the first post on Sept. 15th, 2010, the site has inhabited Uncle Meat – an HP DL380 G3 which was loud as hell,  Lumpy Gravy – a homebuilt PC which was much more civilised, and most recently Phaze III – a rented VPS on a 200 meg pipe (up from the 512k home broadband the original machines ran on).

That server grew to be slow as hell, and I’m serving more professional content now which means uptime is important, and the old box wasn’t cutting it, and was expensive. And thus we arrive at today – the old site, reborn on a new, faster, more reliable, cheaper server (named Thing-Fish), and with a new domain to boot. The original zebpedersen.co.uk will soon redirect to the new zebpedersen.com, my portfolio site, so update bookmarks etc… to the somewhat new zeblog.co.

New Pedal :: xotic BB Preamp

I visited Regent Sounds Studio in Denmark Street earlier this week to test out a few pedals and was totally blown away by the BB Preamp by xotic effects, USA.

Testing with a Telecaster, and straight into the front of a Fender Princeton reissue, I was originally comparing the xotic AC Booster and Wampler Paisley Drive. I loved the tone of the Paisley in a YouTube clip I’d watched the night before, and was particularly excited because that clip had been recorded with a Tele and a ’70s SF Princeton (just like mine). When it came to testing it out ‘in the flesh’, however, the xotic pedals came up trumps. One of my highest priorities in choosing this stompbox was transparency, and it’s perfectly possible to set the AC and the BB where you just won’t notice they’re on. The Wampler, on the other hand, had a bit of an EQ agenda. I’m sure it’s a really, really clear pedal, and it definitely has a great drive sound…but man, next to the xotic boxes it was way, way too colourful.

When it came to deciding between the AC and the BB it was a pretty tough choice, but the BB, with more drive on tap, just seems a bit more flexible. So far I’ve been enjoying it into the front of my Princeton, but the rig in the picture above is waiting to be experimented with. This thing is a total chameleon, so if I get some time I’d love to do a video of it with a few different amps. For now, it’ll be rocking in conjunction with my 1981 Mark IIB and ’09 Deluxe Telecaster.

 

Dedication ::

 

Last night, I caught a link to the unveiling of the first Steve Jobs statue, a bronze affair unveiled yesterday in Hungary.

(I guess being single-minded, derided and adored in equal measure, and having a statue in eastern Europe are now par for the course in my estimation of genuine greatness.)

I just don’t feel the point of it. For anyone in the future who gives a fuck, my immediate thought, in a tweet:

Frank changed the way I hear every piece of music. Steve changed the way I perceive every digital product. That’s the legacy.

You don’t need a statue of someone like that. Their effect is already profound enough.

iPhone 4S Camera :: 1981 MESA/Boogie Mark IIB

It struck me while I was playing today how awesome the Mark II looks, sitting on top of a 1×12 EV loaded extension cab and pumping out just the best tone. This thing really delivers. Anyway, as I’ve had the 4S for a couple of weeks now I decided to have a go at taking some more decent pictures of the Boogie. Bottom line: I’m really starting to enjoy the camera on this phone.

The parallels between MESA/Boogie and Apple are pretty clear to me – the beautiful hardware, the build quality and unparalleled functionality. While I’m certain I won’t be using the 4S in 30 years time, at this moment in time is seems like a nice pairing of camera and subject.

More pictures below

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Influence ::

Via Walt Mossberg

Reading List :: Sunday 23rd October 2011

Steve Yegge has posted a much more interesting followup to his reply-all Google+ critique post from a week or so ago. The fact that he trashed Google on G+ was tickling, and reply-all accidents are always entertaining. But underwhelmed as I am with Google+ it wasn’t exactly hot news. The follow up, a story from his time at Amazon about presenting to Jeff Bezos, is really good. I feel like Bezos is standing today where Gates once was – mythical, exalted, feared, respected – and this story is a decent testament to that. He might prefer a Jobs comparison (I don’t know), but I think Gates is more appropriate if Yegge’s tale is anything to go by.

On Jobs, what a remarkable piece of fortune related by Cringely this weekend. The classic 1995 Steve Jobs interview, the highlight of the uniformly excellent Triumph of the Nerds, an interview introduced with the phrase ‘Rivers of Blood’, has been discovered in its entirety. The full 64 minutes of an interview we’ve so far seen only about 6 minutes of is apparently going to become available in some form, and soon. Bob describes the footage as ‘essentially an unedited interview — definitely not the sort of thing you’d normally see on TV.  It’s me coaxing Steve into a great performance’. I can’t wait.

There’s a certain contingent of nerds who feel pretty bitter about Dennis Ritchie’s death being overshadowed by that of Steve Jobs, which has lead to some total horseshit commentary by a few free software assholes and some pretty thoughtless (and transparently biased) comparisons of influence. Now that those so inclined have got the blogger-BS out of their system, there have been some really nice and, importantly, balanced, professional takes surfacing on the influence of Ritchie’s work on the lives of billions across the globe. I particularly like the Economist piece, bookended with Jobs references for context. A fitting tribute.

Quality ::

Steve Wozniak on Steve Jobs:

Steve once told me that Apple only lost money when they built junk. It was his focus on good products that I believe was the biggest thing. All we have to do is make great products.

John Bowers, Founder, Bowers & Wilkins:

If you can make a better product, then you will sell it

Reading List :: Thursday 20th October 2011

Well it looks like Google can’t win. Yesterday’s (still ridiculously named) Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich announcement brought with it the revelation that the folks in Mountain View were finally ready to shed the By Engineers, For Engineers vibe their mobile OS has been bugged / credited with (depending on your geek-factor). Yes, Ice Cream Sandwich is full of design changes and the general consensus is that it brings the OS’ level of polish up a great many levels, an area it’s never been able to draw parity with iOS or WP7 in no matter what speeds and feeds get crammed into handsets.

Of particular note was the switch of system font from Droid Sans to Roboto. Personally I think it’s okay, but Typographica and ‘The Understatement‘ seemed pretty pissed this morning, with the former calling it a ‘four headed Frankenfont’ and the latter feigning impartiality in a piece headlined ‘Roboto vs. Helvetica’.

Anyway, I like Roboto, or at least am indifferent to it. The idiot anti-Apple / anti-Android camps are basically using this one as a battleground: Gruber makes a number of good points to counter some guy’s stupid anti-Apple beef piece, and on the other side of the coin ‘The Understatement’ linked above is an equally stupid and thinly veiled, pro-Apple prime slice, probably exactly the sort of thing that the Android guy was railing against in the first place.

Dream Theater continue to bug the hell out of me. I cannot stand about 90% of their music, but there are so many things I adore about John Petrucci. The best way I’ve found to enjoy his playing is through the many promo videos he does for my favourite company in the universe and the builders of the greatest amplifiers on the planet ever, Mesa/Boogie. This morning, Mesa blogged a couple of sweet videos of John’s touring rig, one from his tech and the other from the man himself. I’ve gotta get myself a Mark V, man. Seriously.

Adobe have cleared up a few mysteries behind that awesome video of the ‘Deblur’ Photoshop preview from the MAX Sneak Peek a couple of weeks ago in a post to the Photoshop blog. If you’ve watched the video then you can pretty much just skim through, the meat in the sandwich is the before/after JPEGs. It’s amazing. Like fantasy, TV magic. Very exciting.

Finally, I got way too distracted by the Sony Design History page. One of my (very) early tech favourites were Sony’s catalogs, which I basically read from cover to cover ever year until I was about 10. Looking back at the company’s design history is very nostalgic for me on that level, but also illustrates just how many classic products Sony has built over the last 60 years, and how few of the real revolutionary ones came in the last 15.

Reading List :: Wednesday 19th October 2011

I’m in the middle of a big (final, major) software project at the moment which has prevented me from posting any longer bits to the site in a few weeks. This project isn’t going anywhere – as in, I’m definitely going to be working on it for the next few months…it’s progressing, but it’s also big – so in order to keep the site ticking over I’m going to start a semi-regular ‘Reading List’. If there’s anything insanely great that pops up in my morning reading session – guitars, code, consumer electronics, whatever – it’ll get featured on the list. Simple!

This morning has been pretty much dominated by coverage of the joint Google/Samsung press conference which, having been held in Hong Kong, took place at strange o’clock in Europe and the US. Oh, and Motorola (Google?!?) also had an event and announced the coolest Android phone in the world for all of about, oh, half an hour. Rather than any of the ‘news’, which in Android-land is ridiculously ephemeral and kind of difficult to get excited about most of the time, the most interesting article I found was Joshua Topolsky’s interview with Matias Duarte, the Danger/webOS UI designer who has been tasked with classing up Android and who’s first wide release of the OS (I’m not counting Honeycomb) will be the stupidly named but intriguing Ice Cream Sandwich. I full on dig this guy’s attention to detail, and his shots at the faux-wood/leather/etc are so, so justified – even Gruber said so. Google should give him carte blanche; he’s totally got what they’ve been missing.

I’ll be downloading the Android 4.0 SDK for a play at some stage – I’m an iOS developer, but like so many I learned the ropes on Java…so the only thing stopping me from writing for Android is the godawful SDK. And Eclipse. Hopefully this one will bring parity with Xcode, but I’m not holding my breath.

This is actually from yesterday, but is very creative, very cool and very creepy indeed. Nothing we didn’t know already (what, Facebook has loads of my data? Whoa!), but man, what a visceral way to present it. Just remember to delete it from your applications after use.

Lastly, Forbes’ profile of Dropbox. I love Dropbox, but interesting that Jobs told them he’d crush them with iCloud – I’ve already got it synching my MacBook Pro and iMac, and will add my iPhone 4S when it arrives later. iCloud has already obviated two of my regular cross-machine sync solutions, might Dropbox be next?

Microsoft BUILD 2011 Video (sans Silverlight)

Microsoft’s BUILD 2011 conference is currently underway, and with its focus on what’s shaping up to be the most revolutionary update to Windows since 95 eclipsed 3.1 over 15 years ago there’s big news coming thick and fast out of Anaheim. Just like Apple has in the past required the OS X version of Quicktime to stream coverage from developer events, the video content on the official BUILD website is presented using Silverlight, precluding a great many from enjoying the available footage.

Luckily, MSDN’s ‘Channel 9’ video repository has streams in raw MP4, with a high quality option for ‘iPad, WP7’ and standard, for ‘iPod, Zune HD’.

The streams are located here, so get ready to make a tear in the fabric of time and space by watching Steve Ballmer pump up the developers, developers, developers on your Android or iOS devices.

Day 1 keynote embedded after the break. (more…)