Wednesday 31 July 2013

The Cockchafer

Some more piccies.

Samsung camera, hence the distortion caused by a short focal length lens and smoother, solid colours.

Saturday 27 July 2013

Have 'worship' videos created a style that's copied?

I've just come across the Black Star Riders 'Bound For Glory' video, and in terms of presentation it reminded me of some 'worship' videos, with the way words were managed.

Outside of that it's nothing like, but instead sounding incredibly like the old Thin Lizzy back again (though Scott Gorham is the only original). Sadly they're doing the hell-bent rocker schtick, and I'll probably not invest in their music for that reason, but the band sound really good for those of us that like classic rock.

Friday 26 July 2013

In absence of anything else - pictures.

Cinnabar moth (Tyria jacobaeae) caterpillar.

Sunday 21 July 2013

Saturday 20 July 2013

Does anyone else every do silly things with images?

Dumb question.

Basschat had a competition with the theme 'words' this month, and I wanted to do something a little different, plus learn GIMP 2.8 a little more.

Maybe I should title these communication breakdown?

Tap dancing

It's been a while since I posted anything related to music creation, but I just came across this video demonstration on Harmony Central and it floated my boat, so thought I'd share.

I've created somewhat similar sounds at various times, including the synthy tones at the end where I once actually had a keyboad player check his gear over because he though the keyboard was doing it! The guy is the video does it especially well though, and I'd love to be able to play/use gear that well. I've saved it so I can go back later for ideas.

Hope you enjoy the clip.

Thursday 18 July 2013

Recommended reading?

For most of my life I have been opposed to formal theological training. Hopefully that comment will have made some ears twitch, but bear with me.

I know where it comes from.

As a new Christian, who also discovered that there was so much more to church than simply going to traditional meetings through being baptised in the Holy Spirit, I was dismayed by the approach taken by the faculty of a well known local bible college who seemed to want to stamp out God having such a direct involvement with His people. That also extended to observing some - not all - of the young guys that were enrolled at that institution appearing to be squashed into a somewhat lifeless mould by the time they graduated. It planted a deep distrust in me for bibliologists, as I called them, and I've not been overly impressed by what seems to be a teaching that imparts more questions than truth and doubt than faith. That's not to say one should not question, quite the opposite, but my scientific training taught me to find answers by investigation and research instead of accepting there is a vast array of opinion and any of it may or may not be correct.

I've just finished reading the preface to Richard D Phillips book 'What's So Great About The Doctrines Of Grace', in which he suggests that his work was to present these truths briefly with only the persuasive power of God's word, and that other books should be read for more detailed study. Sometimes I wonder if Christian Theology has more in common with the Atheistic philosophers  of Douglas Adams creation, opposed to people actually having answers: "I mean what's the use of our sitting up half the night arguing that there may or may not be a God if this machine only goes and gives you his bleeding phone number the next morning." I do very much wonder if an awful lot of theologians over the years have had more in common with Majikthise than Paul of Tarsus, who seemed terribly keen to help everyone understand and live in the grace and power of Jesus. And it seems to me that we should have a phone number available, to a degree.


As I'm trying to move forward in this Christian leadership thing I'm starting to read and seek out useful material, healthy, sound, useful for building up instead of tearing down. Some of you will know how much I hate having to read stuff continually looking and finding problems, usually because of the same issues the Sadducees seemed to have when confronting Jesus.

So without further ado, let me say that what I've seen from Alex Absalom so far looks pretty good, and I hope to use his APEST series of videos to help build the church up later in the year.

Wednesday 17 July 2013

Second meeting of the new worship team tonight.

And the first time singing and playing.

I'm grateful for these people. They don't sound half bad either.

Tuesday 16 July 2013

Looks like we'll stay 'hotter than Africa' a bit longer yet.

Just looked up the weather forecast - more of the same up to the weekend.

My office was above 29'C most of the day. The lab is air conditioned (thanks be to God!) but I had to turn the A/C off for some of my work this afternoon, and could feel the sweat starting to trickle under my labcoat.

Riding home was nice when running flat or heading downward, but climbing up was a brutal experience with the sun beating down and no breeze. The guys riding the tour are incredibly tough to maintain 30mph average speeds in the temperatures they have to endure.

Monday 15 July 2013

Would you wear a white suit in church?

A while back one of the asian guitar manufacturers produced an acoustic guitar in 'righteous white' for worship players. Yeah, right.

A friend sent me a youtube link to a particular song, and in the section on the right where YT suggests other videos there were a bunch showing a well known preacher dressed all in white, ready to perform. "Man looks on the outside but God looks on the heart" was our childrens song yesterday, however often the heart can't hide itself .

Judgemental? Me? Sometimes.

Saturday 13 July 2013

Tonight it's warm.

This morning an African told me our sun is hotter, more vicious than theirs:  the cold of England colder and the heat hotter than other countries that get warmer and cooler.

Friday 12 July 2013

So tonight was sermon prep night

Think I'm hearing right - will be talking about a tale of 2 halves (that's as far as my football references go) and talking out of Luke, but it's mostly done now.

Tuesday 9 July 2013

Following up the previous post

Completed my HDD swap.

LinuxliteOS really is enormously quicker on the little lappy than Pear Linux, and the old Macbook HDD it runs on is much cooler and quieter than the WD drive I have Pear on (even though that drive should be slower.

So LLOS it is on this machine then.

File under *stuff*.

Is 'stuff' good, bad or indifferent?

And the answer is, of course, indifferent, obviously.

One of the things I appreciate about a certain Mrs. Croes is that she does challenge conventions. Whether that works all the time may be open to debate, but in this society where the aim appears to be to own as many toys as possible I very much appreciate an alternative view.

Why now?

Well, when we do birthdays & Christmas round here there is a basic requirement to produce a list of things you'd like, so that your friends and family will buy useful stuff instead of useless junk that requires carefully constructed mis-direction so you can pretend you're grateful instead of really being grateful for something you like. Hope that makes sense.....

So I've just put together a list. Useful things, stuff I'd like.

I've never had an allergy to toys, and yet my life seems full of them in some ways. A shed full of mostly worn out bicycle stuff. A livingroom full of guitars, amps and effects pedals. More amps in the cupboard under the stairs. Amps, amp parts and effects pedals upstairs. Then there's the computers, including the main home base unit, (3 years old, freebie) the retired main base unit (6 years old) the previous retired main base unit (9 years old - still works for mechwarrior under W2000/XP) the Macbook (due to be retired some time in the next 12 months) and the little Philips machine I took to Zim, now with replaced keyboard and 2Gb RAM (the RAM is a story in itself - ebuyer had it on offer for £16.50, but I didn't buy it to not spend the money. Went shopping next day & picked up a winebox only to realise that was the same price as the memory that would make the computer work better. Put wine back, bought memory).


I'm enormously grateful to have been able to own and enjoy all these (and so many more) things, but it is starting to seem like a lot of stuff. I did give away a bunch of photographic D&P stuff a few years back, because I knew I'd not play those games any more.

A friend has several times related of his days in Africa, where people would continually buy things, play for a little while, then store them. Eventually they'd run out of space and need to build bigger storage to keep everything. If that has biblical overtones for you then that's probably a good thing. But is there a better biblical model of clearing stuff than simply giving it away?

So as I'm swapping HDDs around trying different things to optimise a toy/tool I keep thinking about 'stuff' and the good, bad and indifference of it.

And this morning I was mostly

Getting a jackdaw out of the chimney.

Each spring a pair try to nest on top of the chimney stack, and on this occasion one fell right down the chimney. I was up early this morning and heard some squawking that sounded like a scrap coming down the chimney, then suddenly there was a lot more noise, the sound of things falling down onto the register plate and then the sound of flapping around.

I had expected to find the bird as soon as I removed the plate, but there was no sign - only lots of dirt & soot. We opened the windows and closed both doors in the hope it would come down during breakfast, but there was no sign. I got a torch and peered up, to see it clinging to a ledge a couple of feet up. However my intrusion upset it enough that it became agitated, started flapping and then fell off, down into the fire place. I managed to trap it with a dustpan that I'd used to clear up a bit, then grabbed and held it firmly so Chris could see the source of our trouble.

Let me tell you - they are smaller than you'd expect, but with a vicious-looking beak close up and an eye that's as mad as a herring with a chainsaw.

It was still a bit wriggly in my hands, so I took it to the window and launched it into the air. It flapped away sulkily, not really gaining height and showing more anger than gratitude - as if birds are really capable of either emotion in a human sense. Never the less, it was lucky to be alive - I can't say it wasn't tempting to just leave it there and let the chimney sweep sort things out in a couple of years time.

Now my hands smell of sooty tar, but at least I know the chimney is clear.

Wonder what the wildlife will do for us tomorrow?

Monday 8 July 2013

What contradiction?

I have just realised that, almost simultaneously, Matt Redman released a song saying "We shall not be shaken" and Paul Baloche released one that said "everything that can be will be shaken".

This made me grin a little.

It also makes me wonder about the things we sing and whether they are true or not, even from an 'our perspective' view. There was a time when people were writing and singing a lot of "we will do this in your name" songs, but they have mostly disappeared now, which I see as a good thing, even if they were declarative.

But in the context of those 2 songs, I've seen a lot of lives shaken over the last 18 months - a lot of church structures too. I can't say that's been a bad thing, but it does make me wonder how much we kid ourselves about what's firm.

There was a hole in the grass behind our house this morning.

Big deal?

At first I wondered whether someone's dog had been around and dug, but on closer inspection I could see bees moving about in the hole. When Chris saw the remembered seeing another similar hole further up the road. It looks like a badger had come along in the night and dug out a bees nest from the ground. When I went down just before leaving for work I could see the bodies of many bees around the hole, and lots of bee activity inside, presumably repairing the damage.

There has been a bit of a furore over here about both badger culling and how many bees are dying. I'd say that the badger population has grown considerably in the last 20 years in this area, to the point where a sighting isn't special, and they may be one of the reasons bee numbers are decreasing.

Friday 5 July 2013

I need some bigger hair.*

Wednesday evening when I cycled several of the tunes that came up on the MP3 player were from Def Lepard, and I quite enjoyed the (over-processed) guitar tones.

So I've just spent 30min or digging some of those sounds out of my gear:

Moderate overdrive - check.
Chorus (on overdrive) - check
Digital delay - check
Compression - check

It's not *that* close, but here and there there was a distinct return to a 80's that never happened on this side of the pond. And with all those effects running it was kind of fun to handle a guitar that almost played itself, the only requirement being note selection and timing (which is about 30% of what playing clean electric is about - don't believe me, go listen to Stevie Ray).

So I started out using the Jekyll & Hyde for overdrive, Rothwell Love Squeeze compressor, MXR Carbon Copy delay and Arion chorus (boring name, great effect). Dialled the carbon copy back to give just one repeat with the delay level set slightly above dry signal and a delay around 350msec. The chorus pedal is curious, because at low speeds it creates a flanging effect as well as chorus and there's almost a Van Halen quality with it. However this wasn't really doing what I wanted because the drive from the Jekyll was just too much, and the CC was dirtying up the tone too.

A quick swap, off came the fuzz from the pedal board and on in it's place went a Danelectro Transparent Overdrive. These had a great rep for tone in a  budget pedal, and were reputed in the MkI version to be a clone of a boutique pedal. This is a MkII, which runs a little cleaner & snappier than the MkI, and has a fair bit of sparkle. That was set for a very mild classic overdrive, and instead of using the Carbon copy analogue delay I used a Danelectro PB&J instead - a great little digital delay. Set up for 5 or 6 repeats**, around 200msec delay and to favour the echo & away we went. Sounded really nice, less smokey, more sparkly and with a taughter, almost wiry kind of tone. Sped up the chorus so it stopped flanging and bam - 1987 here we come.

I'm too lazy to learn Hysteria properly, and too out of practice to just pick it up by ear (in retrospect it's probably just Asus2/Dsus2) but you get the idea. I'm also really grateful for the amazing collection of pedals that are available to me, all at super-low cost and all sounding great.

 *One of the guys I met from Harmony Central was also known as Big Hair - he had even less than me.
** I know it's only 1 repeat on Hysteria, but this sounded good too.

Wednesday 3 July 2013

It's not about the nail.

It's not about the nail.

Works for my sense of humour, but please don't take this (too) seriously.

Unless you have a nail.

Via my friends at Basschat.

How can the sound man and musicians get on?

That's not quite the title of this page though it's near enough. There were 2 items that really leapt out at me:

Sound tech:
5. Ask your Worship Leader how he wants the mix to sound from a musical perspective. Then, try to accomplish that.

This would solve half the battles between the desk and the band.

Sound tech:
10. Pray for your Worship Leader and remember that just like every artist, they have insecurities and are putting their art out there for everyone to judge.

Certainly pray for each other (something similar is at the bottom of the worship leader section). The problem here is with the word 'artist' and the assumption that it is art being created. Worship isn't art (it's closer to love and sacrifice) and art certainly isn't worship, although some may find ways to worship through art. But here's that subtle pedestalling that says 'these guys are special' instead of 'these guys are part of us, with responsibility' which is so much healthier.

Otherwise an interesting and useful list. Via Dave Duncan on facebook.

I'm still hunting for somewhere.

This isn't being Abramic (or Abrahamic) but looking for a holiday destination later in the year.

Slightly tempted by the idea of Scotland or Cornwall, but darn, it's expensive to stay in the same country. A 5 star hotel around Corinth is cheaper than a 3 star near Edinburgh, and the price of a weeks trip to Castellon in Spain, including car hire, is about the same as hiring a cottage in Cornwall.

Do I mind flying? Probably not.

A quick update on Linuxliteos

My experience with the live CD was sufficiently interesting to want to evaluate a full install on the 'travel laptop' as it is thought of. So I grabbed the old, slow 160Gb HDD that was left over from my Macbook after the SSD upgrade, now surplus to requirements, even as a backup, and popped it in. This disc is nice because it runs very quietly and is vibration-free, compared to the 320Gb Western Digital that is both relatively noisy and vibrates noticeably (just like the failed disc it replaced!).

Installation took around 20min or so, and although there were a couple of occasions when I thought the machine had simply stopped responding, eventually the CD started spinning again and all was well.

With any OS freshly installed there are always updates, and this was no exception: firefox 21 to 22, thunderbird, various other bits & pieces. Then there were the non-free add-ons, available from the main menu to allow handling of restricted file formats like MP3 etc DVD playback & so on. Excellent that I didn't have to actively hunt down the repositories to enable that, because with some distros that has been a royal pain, and who want's a computer that can't handle music & movies? Then came more software like Audacity & WINE and another round of updates.

In use it really is quite quick, and not noticeably slower than machines packing much faster processors, more RAM and higher data throughput rates. There's nothing to suggest that this machine is 7 years old and limited in spec, and if I popped it down in a showroom full of new laptops no-one would complain about the speed. So if you have some older, slower hardware that is no longer up to snuff I can't recommend strongly enough giving it a go instead of buying more kit.

Monday 1 July 2013

Who would dare to

boycott US technology?

Could we?

An interesting question. Also where does US technology stop? Apple computers (made in China) CPUs (made in Malaysia etc). There are European alternatives to google, but how many know what they are called?


TBH I don't think most Facebook users (i.e. most of the western world) actually mind being spied on at a low level.