Monday 29 March 2004

More on CD sales


CD sales have not fallen, despite the fact that downloaders are buying fewer albums. That means that everyone is actually buying more albums, to make up the difference, and keep sales broadly static between 2002 and 2003. And don't forget that album sales have grown over the years to 2002, despite the Napster and Kazaa 'crises'. "Between 1998 and 2002, worldwide sales of recorded music fell by 18 per cent. Over the same period the value of sales in the UK rose by six per cent," the BPI said separately.

From The Register.

So in fact more CDs are being sold, rather than less. It would seem that the increase in Australia is higher still.

So what effect has P2P had then?

Most amazing photostory.

A motorcycle ride through Russia. It looks like some of the places I played as a kid in London, but the dosimeter tells a different story.

Sunday 28 March 2004

Had a great time of worship this afternoon.

I lead worship again today, and for the first time I came away feeling really pleased with how it went.

Now before you all think my head is swollen, let me put things straight. When I lead, because I don't sing well I tend to take a back seat as much as possible. Rather than being the driver of a finely tuned racing car, I'm much more a shepherd, just applying a little gentle guidance here and there. The worship that happens is what arises by the Spirit in people's hearts - it IS NOT inspired by me. The less I say the better. All I want to do is provide a platform upon which His praises can be built.

But it was great. People sang in the spirit, we had a couple of prophetic songs and various people got prayed for. There was a real sense of peace and gentleness. Musically it was like playing up a green field. Jez, our man on keyboard (who's really a drummer) brought some great sounds out, and was able to move out on his own with much more confidence than usual, so I wasn't having to carry it single handed, and that was fantastic. Songs flowed, hearts opened, the Spirit touched. Hard to ask for more. Other than another dose :-)

God has also given me insight into some practical issues too. Modifying my amplifier cab has made the sound much more open (it's really a high gain rock amp, designed to punch through, which it did all too well before), and laying the piano amp on it's back also cut out the swamping effect from that. Ben was on the desk balancing up the sound using his sensitive young ears. I know the kit shouldn't matter, but setting things up properly helps so much. It's great when it works with you, rather than having to fight it all the time.

Makes all the effort worthwhile.

Ever wished there was another way?

Just read this article over on the Jordon Cooper website.While I'm not a fan of pirated music either I'm increasingly coming to the conclusion that the whole music/movie biz really wants to hold the world to ransom.

I don't really want to discuss the reasons for CD sales declining, although I'm sure P2P and piracy have little to do with it. However as a musician I feel the whole industry has turned the craft on it's head. I'm beginning to consider seriously trying to record stuff. If I do, I want to make it freely available to everyone, and the internet is an ideal means for that. I really hate the copyright on christian stuff too, especially worship songs. If God gave someone the song then it's His. If they wrote it then I'm not sure it has a place in church anyway. I do understand the need for excellence and high standards, but also have major misgivings about the idea of professional worship writers.

My feeling is that people should increasingly boycott the traditional album sales cycle. New bands should put their stuff on the net, rather than treat it as a 'get rich quick' opportunity.

As for films, I can see things are a bit different, since there is a cash investment up-front, often of titanic proportions. But no-one is going to not see a film in the cinema if they liked it when they downloaded it from the net - in fact they're more likely to go. The only films that will lose will be the 'also rans' - those too mediocre for anyone in their right mind to bother. Incidentally I bought one of those on DVD last week - Biggles - astonishingly bad. I hadn't managed to see it in the 80's when it was first released. It was expensive at £3.99 for the quality of acting etc. But for the length, it could have been shot for an am-dram society.

Saturday 27 March 2004

And next week will be fun too!

Friday morning I'm off to Webster Tx. I'll be going to HQ to do some manufacturing development work on a process that won't behave itself. Just hope I can A) see what the real issues are B) find solutions & C) sell them to the guys there without upsetting anyone or getting caught up in local politics. I already know what I want to do, but this is a family company, and the normal rules don't apply. I love some of the guys there, but it can be too easy to get caught up, being everyone's friend, sitting in meetings and eating prodigious quantities of meat (not all bad then ;-)

I'm also going to meet a new 'woman'.

I plan to bring back a Heritage 'Les Paul'. Apparently in immaculate condition, this is around 25% - 30% of the UK new price. In a guitarist magazine test of singlecuts with a Macinturf, Gibson, PRS and Heritage, the heritage was reckoned to have the best sound. Can't wait.

BTW Chris just walked by and told me her 'bum had gone to sleep'. My offer to massage life back in wasn't taken up for some reason :¬(

Well that was a week, that was.

More crisis management, and I'm bushed.

We're having to CE mark (register and 'type approve') some of our kits for sale in the EU. Never thought we'd have to because the parent company was going to make their own version, but there have been hiccups. So we've now had to upscale production, having run it to zero.

Then a contractor failed to deliver a reagent on time, and came in 2 weeks late.

Then a reagent that is critical decided that it wasn't going to be manufactured the same as every previous lot. 2 operators, 2 dates a week apart, and they both behave the same, which is different from every lot ever made before. We now have customers jumping up and down and giving us a hard time - fair enough, since they've got patients waiting.

So a series of early mornings and late nights later and we've got a strategy and way to move forward. I've actually really enjoyed the pressure and discipling required to produce a lot of data in a short time. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday I hardly left the lab, but that was great because I'm really good with assays and assay development, and this was like coming home for a bit. The downside is that my brain won't stop when I leave after a day like that. Wednesday I went to bed at midnight and woke at 4.00am. Just full of thoughts and feelings and ideas.

This (Saturday) morning I forced myself out of bed and we painted the ceilings over our stairs and landings, plus re-doing another wall. I was obviously still on the go a bit because Chris commented that she couldn't believe we'd finished before lunchtime. Shame none of you can see it - like a trip back to the 70s (works though!) with the walls either side of the stairs 'natural saffron' and the main window wall 'toffee apple red'. We're just waiting for replacement stair carpet (the current one was here when we came, 14 years ago) and then we can do the livingroom........

Well that was a week, that was.

Friday 26 March 2004

Nothing to do with US presidents either.

Too much to do. Too little time. Too little energy.

I'm trying to both prioritise and reduce my net useage, as I seem to be getting increasingly addicted to it. I struggle with the internet here at work, because I find I want to surf instead of working, and that isn't right. And it's from here that I've tended to blog as well.

Presently work is taking over instead, so in a way I'm grateful that it's breaking through the dependency. It's been really good to be forced to focus hard too. And It's boosted my confidence that I can both produce a huge amount of work when I need to, and innovate to meet new requirements. The only downer is that this is very tiring, and getting home late produces GBH to the ear'ole, and a ratty & stressed wife. Oh, and I tend to neglect my wider responsibilities too.

Hopefully today will be less brisk, and I can start catching up on other things.

BTW if anyone out there reads this and fancies praying, Ben is doing the first half of his GCSE art exam (5 hours worth) today.

Monday 22 March 2004

Wednesday 17 March 2004

Have you ever noticed about temptation?

That it really does happen more when you're vulnerable.

Last night I went shopping late (after housegroup). When I got back I was tired but had to do some emailing and really wanted to blog as well. Just had a quick wander through the fotopic site looking at new galleries. I realised where I was heading with one gallery, and quickly backed out before I ended up in porn.

This morning as a coffee break exercise I went comparing prices on Amazon with one of the other cheap suppliers. Suddenly I've got the 'see more in the page you made' (I didn't make it!!) advertising window showing images from the book "shaven nudists".

I just don't need this, especially not at work. Having said that, at least I'm less likely to risk looking than if I were at home, so I guess I should be grateful. I seem to be stressed in many areas at the moment, and the one thing I REALLY don't need is to not be close to God.

At last - 5 mins to blog.

In housegroup tonight we were working through a series of studies by J John about the 10 commandments. One of the verses and a comment by Liz Davies triggered something for me.

The verse was "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth".

The comment was that this was to prevent escalation of reparation out of control. You have an accident or someone wrongs you - you get compensation in equal measure to the wrong.

The UK is becoming increasingly litigious. Adverts for 'no win - no fee' lawyers are frequently seen in magazines and public places. I have long felt that justice by litigation is an unrighteous, dishonest and corrupt practice - the sign of a sick and rotten society. The claiming of punitive damages, or setting out to 'ruin' someone runs counter to everything in the bible. And especially as it seems to depend on who has the money for the best lawyer; not on reality or justice.

We are told to turn the other cheek if someone strikes us. Difficult enough. How will we resist the temptation instead to take the shirt off their back for it?

Sunday 14 March 2004

I had today (Saturday) off

So I spent the day with my mum.

Like Randall's, our parents are at that certain age whether things come to bits. It was really good to just spend time with her while I've got the chance. And she's still got an active and enquiring mind, experiencing new things and learning all the time.

As part of our time together she put a problem to me that's bothering her. She has a friend (that she's conselled previously) who's trapped in a loveless marriage. His wife, children and now grand children take advantage of him. He's just their meal ticket and servant. The wife also has a boyfriend, kept at a discrete distance. He's put up with this for years, but suddenly he's met someone and now wants to do something about it. But even that isn't straight forward - he's only known the woman a month. She's from Ghana, and as well as all the cultural issues and differences, there is the question of whether all she sees in him is a British passport and citizenship.

On top of that, he's got his Christian witness to lose if he slips. AFAIK they've not 'known' each other yet.

Not easy. Any thoughts?

I can't see any way through this that isn't going to involve suffering. My instinct is to suggest that he divorce to escape the aweful home situation, but weighed against that is the whole issue of divorce being sinful too. I certainly don't think he should become deeply involved with anyone else yet until he's emotionally stabilised.

Monday 8 March 2004

But that helped

I've just spent a hour and a half setting up some new patches on the guitar processor to suit my recently re-pickuped Washburn. You know that amazing singing 'so dirty it's clean' guitar sound that some bands have? Y'know, like REO speedwagon or Toto. Well that was what I wanted. Think "I can't fight this feeling" or "Dave's gone skiing".

Didn't quite get there, but I've got a patch now where the guitar definitely sings at the top of the neck. Further down it's still a bit grungy and gritty, but still a good rock sound. It was great running through some minor pentatonic scales, a bit of dorian mode or even some slightly baroque stuff. I ditched the 'Mesa/Boogie' patch that I never used (it was always such a harsh sound, really abrasive) and replaced the reverb settings with a 450msec delay that runs on for about 4 repeats. Played carefully, this layers up, building harmonies within the melody line. The downside is that if you make a mistake, it's going to get repeated again. And again. And again. And again. And again. It won't get a lot of use, but there are certain songs we sing where it would help carry a bit of singing in the spirit just nicely.

I've also finally found out what I needed to do for the guitar to work well just strumming chords. i.e. for about 95% of the time I have to play. Leave out all compression.

Those Gibson humbuckers have so much natural squash that if you compress at all you lose all openess and attack. I've kept the same chorus settings as for the strat (this Korg unit doesn't do good chorus) since they couldn't be improved. But losing all compression and boosting the upper mids has made it all bright and sparkly, rather than a solid wall of sound.

It's interesting too, how after playing the strat for the last 14 years, I realised that the way I've set the processor up was to give it the handling characteristics of a humbucked guitar. It was only once I'd replaced most of the pickups, especially with a stacked humbucker in the bridge, that I began to realise what I was aiming for. I hardly use the one authentic US strat PU (neck) any more as it isn't fat enough for me.

Now the question remains: do I get the strat re-fretted (really, really badly needed) and if so, tall skinny ones like before or wide smooth ones for flowing lead playing? Or do I do what I wanted to all along, and try to pick up a Les Paul or flying V with a nice short scale neck and bags of sustain?

Choices. Tut tut.

Life has been full

in a manner I don't especially appreciate.

I've managed to bury myself last week. Work has upped the ante: the MD is in Houston leaving me in charge, we've had a customer instrument get damaged while on demo, certain customers required additional QC testing done and I've got an un-hittable deadline to hit. Plus I volunteered (before everything went wrong) to rebuild a PC for someone's father, and THAT has gone defect too (mutters about poxy packard bell, poxy win98 USB non-support, poxy scanners). But hey, what's a little more pressure. Finished tabbing out some data to send to the the parent company about 11.45pm last Thurday night.

Decorated the stairs and landing on saturday. Then got a treacherous tummy as a result of eating too many sour sweets.

Suffering a major dose of the 'wants' at the moment too. I 'want' to get the family a decent digital camera (it would be useful). I 'want' to buy another guitar (it would certainly be used). I don't 'need' any of those things, so I'm going to try to sit this one out. A guitar may get added later, but that's another issue. Greed is a slippery thing to fix, and stress and tiredness make it so much easier to excuse and accept in oneself.

Tuesday 2 March 2004

Anyone would think this was Canada ;-)

-7'C yesterday morning. -7'C again today. This IS meant to be England, and springtime too.

We live in a valley, and it seems to have it's own micro-climate, trapping cold and sometimes warm air. Driving up from our place to Upper Heyford, everything was white and sparkly. But when I got to the road that runs along to top of the valley it was thawing in the sun. Looking down across the fields toward the bottom, you could see the change from green to white as the temperature dropped, despite the sun. It's one of those lovely views that a camera can't capture, simply because it won't conform to a 6 X 4 format. You just have to experience it to enjoy it.

Monday 1 March 2004

Evangelical alliance - good 'IDEA'

Idea is a magazine published by EA in the UK. Usually it's a bit of a snore, and is crammed to the gunwales with requests from all sorts of worthy causes for money. Maybe more on that later.

But for now, I have been really interested in this month's issue. Over the next few days I'll try to highlight and summarise some of the better articles in this month's issue. This should include:

Christians snared by net porn
the origins of post-modernism
Supermarket chaplains

There's one quote that's worth quoting now. "If we cannot show people around us how Jesus makes a differnce to our daily life, why on earth would they believe he will make a difference to their eternal destiny?"

Got me too.