June 17th, 2013
The games companies play are just too funny! From ‘clubs’ to ‘save you money’ at the not-so-super-market, to ‘rewards’ so you ‘make money while you’re spending money’, I find it kind of insulting to my intelligence. Here’s an interesting one to add to this list: when you rent from Hertz they REALLY want you to become a “Gold Plus Rewards” member. If you rent a car for a thousand days, they’ll give you one for free! I’m exaggerating, but you catch my drift. Now here’s the catch: as I hunted around for deals ($10 is two days food at the moment) it became clear that when you book as a member, you don’t get the same rates as when you do as a ‘guest’! Upon further investigation I found out the nitty-gritty: in your membership preferences, in order to collect rewards you MUST select a preferred vehicle size and you simply cannot choose the economy size I actually want! Compact or bigger only! Those sneaky bastards! It’s almost as bad as the prepaid gas scam they try to talk people into…..
Here’s a tip: Hertz has all kinds of coupons floating around, and many specials on its homepage which come and go. A simple search might save you $35 off a week! I’ve made reservations, only to make another one for the same period the very next day because the price dropped by $40! Just cancel the first and you’re good to go….
June 15th, 2013
Now that I’ve made the move to become contract-free, I will also be buying phones at full retail price. I’ve had my HTC Inspire 4G (aka the Desire HD) for more than 2 years, and even though its manufacturer has dropped support for it a LONG time ago it’s turned out to be a great purchase. You see, while it officially never got any newer version than 2.3.6 (=Gingerbread), the geeks out there have pretty much perfected builds of 4.2.2 Jelly Bean on this device! I flashed a ROM called “Jellytime” and now my phone is literally better than ever! It’s got all the newest Google bells and whistles and runs buttery smooth, even after installing all my apps. Can’t believe it, but I really have no need for buying something new until it breaks. The 4.3″ screen is still excellent, mapping flies, it browses nicely, it’s got the newest camera interface. The improvements Google has made in its OS are quite impressive: it’s not often that old hardware will run a newer version better than it ever ran the older one……
At the same time, I’m really glad to see that there are some great low cost new smartphones hitting the market. From Samsung’s Galaxy Ace series (4″ Android for $200 or so) to Nokia’s Lumia 521 (4″ Windows Phone 8 for $150), you can now get a device that does just about everything without breaking the bank. I’m talking full-fledged phones with the newest versions of their respective OSs, just with slightly lower specs. It just seems sillier and sillier to spend the typical $700 for the newest toy, doesn’t it?
June 13th, 2013
I did it today, said goodbye to AT&T and subsidized cellphone pricing! In the end NET10 seemed to be the best option because I could still find the right SIM to use the phones I already have at 3G speed, for $1 shipped by the way. Bought a $49 monthly plan from callingmart.com and the whole process took about 20 minutes! From what I’ve been reading, if you automatically renew through NET10 it’s only $45 per month, for unlimited calling/texting and unlimited data, which does get throttled after 1.5GB; there’s no tax on that! I was paying $63 for 450 minutes calltime, NO texting and only 200MB of data, technically on the exact same network! More, for less….isn’t that what we all want?
June 12th, 2013
That’s what it looks like: a really fancy trash can! I am talking about the new ‘professional’ desktop that Apple has announced. It’s different, that’s for sure, but does it make sense? People that use high level workstations have very different needs from regular consumers. When you’re rendering super high resolution videos, time is money and it takes a long time! It’s worth upgrading your video card every year to the latest greatest model if it saves you money. Unfortunately, that’s not possible with the new Mac Pro; want to add another SSD in the case? Not gonna happen, it’s Thunderbolt only expansion! Four USB ports only? Check! Here come the hubs and all those cables. It’s truly idiotic. I never understood why anyone who runs a business would want to do it on a computer that you can’t buy parts for and repair yourself, but this goes so much further. Do you know how much Thunderbolt peripherals cost? I would be amazed if this works…..
And then there are the software ‘innovations’ that the big Fruit has worked up. Basically it’s all just catching up with the competition: flatter design, better multi-monitor support, swipe up stuff…… the iPhone 5S is gonna come out with the same puny screen, I bet ya. I was listening to some money program on talk radio Sunday and a guy called in asking about betting on Apple stock to recover as he fully expected. It’s fanbois like him that are going to delay the plunge just long enough to make it twice as painful. Halfway during Stan’s session, the musicians, all Mac users of course, were getting impressed with the ease and speed of the system and started asking about it: “What software is that?” Sonar X1 is Windows only so they’d never seen it before, because like good soldiers in the order of the Fruit, they only visit Apple.com and Facebook. As we discussed studio software and such, it turned out a couple of these guys are running some OLD machines, literally more than 10 years old. “But it’s worked flawlessly!”…..they don’t even realize how much MORE a new machine can do, although now they got a taste. Mouse’s machine is a 2007 Core 2 Quad, about the speed of a low end i3 from he current series: in other words, you could build a machine with similar performance for $500. At some point even the most diehard Apple fans will have to realize that they are holding themselves back needlessly……
June 11th, 2013
Stan Sargeant is the man, that’s all I have to say. Yesterday he assembled an awesome group of musicians to record at Mouse’s for his new record. Rayford Griffin was on drums, Darrel Crooks on guitar, Ronnie Gutierrez on percussion and Haakon Graf play keys. It was a 12 hour day for some of us, but the results are just awesome! Three tunes with the whole band and then on three more various overdubs. “Don’t Fight It” was my favorite: a true slow-jam so sexy, I’m still wet! The 2007-era Q6600 based computer worked flawlessly all-day, running 4 separate headphone mixes and full effects on all instruments: guitar amp VST, reverbs, EQs and Compressors on everything. Just mind blowing really.
The word is gonna get out about Mad Meece Studio as it’s called. Mouse is such a great guy, done it all, from touring with Elton John and Kiki Dee to composing to producing. AND, he has an awesome space, in a way better than a typical studio because it’s just comfortable, like a house, but has SO much space: pool in the fantastic yard etc. etc. Now that all the gear is refreshed, the sounds we’re getting are fantastic and with all the mics and stuff he has there’s almost nothing that couldn’t be done there. We just have to find an engineer who’s good with Sonar, because I’m hoping to be too busy playing music to be able to do that job!
June 9th, 2013
What a blessed weekend it has been; last night was the gig Sergio Gonzalez put together and it was even more amazing than I had hoped. Not only Jonathan Butler played, we had a horn section consisting of Rick Braun, Michael Paulo and Shilts, three stars in their own right! Phil Settle was happy that Mr. Butler plugged straight into the P.A. so he could jam along, Matt Rohde was just excellent as always and nobody grooves harder than Sergio. We did a run through of “Lies” and “Sarah Sarah” at sound check and Jonathan came to play! He was only supposed to do those two hits of his, but ended up jamming with us for 6 or 7 tunes! It’s nights like these that can carry me for months, if you know what I mean….
Tomorrow Stan Sargeant is doing an all-day recording session at Mouse’s and I’m gonna help engineer the whole thing. Rayford Griffin’s playing drums, Ronnie Gutierrez is on percussion and I believe Darrell Crooks on guitar. Twenty years ago, that was the studio where I did my very first recording sessions, and I’m so happy I can call some of these guys my friends now. It’s also great to see that folks are starting to realize this not Mouse’s old tape-based home studio of yesteryear, but a modern, efficient digital paradise! Good to be working…..
June 8th, 2013
Watch out for that name “Ace Michaels” if you live in L.A.: he feeds on people’s desperation in their pursuit of stardom and will take advantage of you for as long as you’ll let him. The amazing thing is, he’s been doing it as long as I’ve been in town! Always changing the name of his ‘company’, it’s incredible how he keeps actually being able to book shows at major venues in Hollywood. My friend Brittany Ham ‘worked’ for him at the House Of Blues last year, and he’s constantly running ads on Craig’s List, looking for musicians and singers. Of course when push comes to shove, everything is an audition and the only one making money is he. Just google “Ace Michaels Scam” and you’ll see what I mean…..
June 8th, 2013
It’s funny, when everybody seems to believe that having more, money, stuff, will make you happier and then one day you’re reminded how messed up the mind can be. Last night we played with the Ronnie Gutierrez band and an awesome birthday party at Rick Braun’s house. He’s an awesome guy who cares about people, that much I know. He’s also quite successful so naturally lives in a fantastic neighborhood, high up in the hills overlooking the San Fernando Valley. We’re NOT a metal band, we’re not out of control kids, but guess who showed up at 10:30PM on this lovely Friday night? Of course, one of his neighbors, in her 40s I would guess, dressed in pajamas and a robe; Now, it’s one thing to come complain, which to me would have been ridiculous enough, but this story gets much deeper!
When Rick underage daughter asked the lady a question she lashed out at her, to the point where Emma was crying. The next thing I see is the angry neighbor standing in his backyard, calling the police. But here’s where it gets unbelievable: she refuses to leave! Rick asks her again to please leave the property, she barks at him to shut up. He tells her she’s trespassing and the group of people surrounding her is trying to nudge her out the gate, she starts yelling: “Don’t you dare touch me again!” Ronnie had the best idea of the night: we should have hosed her down, but by the time we started looking she finally left, perhaps 15 minutes later.
You know, it’s that balance that the universe always seems to try to achieve, isn’t it? This woman has achieved a lot in her life if she’s living in that neighborhood; there are no chicken shacks around there….I’m sure she has adversity like the rest of us, but come on! It reminds me of the Hollywood Bowl, that incredible amphitheater, where rock bands play at volumes comparable to the muzak at your supermarket, because the RICH people who live around it don’t want to be bothered by the best of the best. Meanwhile, drive up into Van Nuys and see the Mexicans having a grand ole time in their neighborhood! Who are the winners now?
June 7th, 2013
Here’s another awesome thing iPhoners are missing out on: an app/ecosystem to network your Android device to your computer via WifFi. Not just wireless syncing, that’s for simpletons, but true connectivity: drag and drop files, see the devices contact list, even send SMS (aka texts) right from your desktop/laptop browser! You can access the camera on the device and remotely view it. It works simply and beautifully, and best of all, completely for free! Highly recommended!
June 6th, 2013
This is turning into a great week! I just got word that Jonathan Butler is sitting in on a couple of tunes that Sergio hired me for! It’s gonna be a great band, with Matt Rhode on keys and Phil Settle on guitar. It’s one of those amazing things about Los Angeles: you never know who’s gonna be on a gig…..