Sunday, August 29, 2010

I'VE USED the free version of AVG antivirus for something like five years and in all that time it has never really found anything more malicious than tracking cookies on my computer(s). It makes me wonder whether AV software is necessary at all if one is careful online. Better safe than sorry though, eh?

Of course, the old Mac Mini never had any such program nor did it need it. I suspect that Windows 7 may be pretty safe too but I did install AVG. Big mistake. The program does not play well with the 64 bit platform. It was causing some crashes, apparently, and was definitely the culprit in Internet Explorer often going into a non-responsive mode.

Not that I use IE much but it is necessary for getting online with my dial-up Net Zero connection.

So I'm busy downloading Microsoft's free AV, 'Security Essentials.' I hope I'm not wasting my time, especially in that there's a fair chance I'll be reinstalling my OS to help clear up the many problems that have cropped up on the new Zino. We shall see.

* * *

In completely unrelated news, I finished working up song number two-hundred this morning. There are three unfinished pieces awaiting more work (the music mostly, lyrics are good) and, as usual, lots of fragments and ideas in my files. I do think I will place the lyrics online somewhere when I have all 203 ready. Possibly put the lead sheets online too, if only for safekeeping.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A QUOTE, to start things off:

In today’s marketplace your single is little more than a business card and your album is just a resume. Both are extraordinarily important but both are just a loss leader for your business. Recorded music is now simply a means of promoting your live show and your songwriting and producing skills. ~ Rick Goetz

All too true, I reckon, and why 'piracy' is somewhat irrelevant, unless one is a big-name song writer who expects regular payments from ASCAP or BMI. That will probably never be me.

* * *

Continuing on the subject of recording, I have a fairly decent (though not particularly up-to-date) live recording set-up here that I have not been able to use for a few years now. I'm suspecting that when I eventually am able to travel again (and take gigs) I will not particularly be interested in doing any more location recording, at least not the bigger jobs I took in the past. Setting up in someone's living room for intimate recordings might be another matter.

* * *

This most recent bump on the open internet highway, the Google-Verizon thing, does not seem as 'evil' as many are making it out to be. But then, I don't use internet (nor anything else, for that matter) over the air so it doesn't really impact me (directly). I suppose it can be argued that it would set an undesirable precedent.

Really, we already have 'tiers' on wired internet use -- dial up versus the various levels of high speed. Those of us who use dial up (whether low income and/or rural and/or just plain cheap) are second class citizens when it comes to the net. There's no denying that those who spend more money get faster internet, right?

Monday, August 23, 2010

We're drawing toward the close of the long hot summer, Florida panhandle version. It's been the worst, far too hot, not enough rain, but we seem to be in more typical summer weather now. Soon, the cooler autumn days will come. None too soon!

It's been hard on the trees and gardens here. The pear set a lot of fruit this year, as the spring was fairly benign, but they are rather small. Most of the trees and bushes saw little growth through the hottest months, if they survived at all. At least the Madagascar Periwinkles love this weather -- my 'bulb garden' is overrun with plants that came up volunteer. I've transplanted a few and will continue to so do. If you find something that will grow that readily, go with it!

And now it's time to think fall garden. I don't know if I'll do any veggies, not because I couldn't but because I may not have the time to dig beds and tend them. More and more of my time goes into my mom's care. I'm rather surprised that she is doing so well physically now, after seeming to be fading last winter. She may well be with us longer than anticipated.

But not mentally. There is continuing decline and I have to be more and more 'hands-on' in her care. I do worry about getting her to eat enough, too, so I try to get nutrient-rich foods into her.

But the garden...sent out a nursery order this morning for a few things, probably all I'll get until next spring. I've had some luck with starting plants from cuttings -- have lots of PG Hydrangeas -- so I could cross a few things off the list I might have otherwise ordered. The only trees this time are a couple of weeping willows. I do not know if I can get them to take here but I do have a low area near the carport where they may do well. I'm recognizing that I haven't necessarily chosen the very best spots for trees so far, in terms of shading the house. And if I ever get the big oaks cut down I'll have to rethink that further.

I went heavy on the bulbs this time, get them in the ground in the fall so I'll (theoretically) have them growing come spring. Sparaxis and Starflower mainly, a few Oxalis and such. More Rugosa roses for my hedging but no Robin Hoods this time; they did rather poorly over the summer and the prices have gone up a bit. Prices were too high right now for more Firethorn as well. I might, when the plants I have get larger, do cuttings.

Out front is what I think is a Lenten Rose. Can't figure it as anything else, though it seems a little larger than the descriptions. Anyway, I ordered a couple more to set out. Supposedly, they seed and spread themselves rather well. Also going to try a few Coralberries for erosion control and, just for the heck of it, got some Pampas Grass as well. I suspect it will hold up a lot better than the Perovskia I attempted this year.

Btw and completely off topic, I'm over 180 songs finished, formatted and cataloged now. Twenty some to go, assuming I don't write more in the mean time!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

ZINO = ZERO? That's what I was thinking about the new (well, refurb actually) Dell Zino computer. It has been very erratic, lots of blue-screening (although the screen doesn't actually go blue but grayish). I tried various fixes, ran diagnostics on the memory which sometimes said there was a hardware problem and sometimes didn't.

So I decided to try cleaning/repairing the registry as sort of a last non-hardware fix. Many 'experts' claim this to be useless and potentially damaging; none the less, I Googled up a lot of information and ended up choosing two free programs, CCleaner and the older version of RegCleaner (which I had to run in XP compatability). It's probably a good idea to run two programs so one catches what the other misses. Both are downloadable via Major Geeks.

And, lo, I have had NO problems in the two days since running them. They cleaned out quite a bit of stuff, apparently including whatever was causing my problems. Lets hope things stay this way! I may just invest in the newer version of RegCleaner down the line but free seems to have done the job.

* * *

The song project is going more slowly as I'm doing more thorough writing/rewriting on the remaining pieces. Number 170 finished yesterday, my Going to the Springs song which had been lyrics only. If I were very ambitious I could still get it into this year's Spring Fest competition but the deadline is six days away and I can't even find an application form on their website. It's unlikely that I would get it recorded and submitted in time.

I do intend to get something recorded for this year's WillFest, however. The problem now is that I actually have too many Florida songs and don't know which to choose! :)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

THE FINAL round of voting for the Nashville Showcase has begun at The Alternate Root! Get on over there and cast your ballot for Mean Mary! Every day if you can! On different computers with different log ins! :)

Or if you just, for some completely unfathomable reason, don't like MM, the Mayhaws are an acceptable second choice.

Addendum, later in the day: Mary decided to withdraw from the contest so disregard. Unless you want to vote for the Mayhaws, of course.

* * *

Up to 160 songs formatted and filed as of yesterday. There are forty-some to go, some finished, some not quite ready yet, some still in development. I suppose there are poems and lyrics in my files (or on scraps of paper) that I've forgotten but might be worked up in time. Also a few parodies that I'm not counting. And I haven't even thought about the handful of instrumental pieces.

So, over 200 songs I've written (or almost written). Not a huge number, considering how long I've been at it but the majority of my ideas turn into poems, not songs.

Monday, August 09, 2010


Behold the fading of another year:
Though night grows long and dark, be of good cheer.
The celebration of his birth draws near,
The birth of he who came to end our fear.

As shepherds simple in a field once gazed
Upon the star that high above them blazed,
So we may hear the angels' voices raised
And stand with them before the one they praised.

This yuletide, take a moment to recall,
As you may trim your tree and deck your hall,
He who was humbly born in stable stall;
A merry Christmas I wish one and all.

Stephen Brooke ©2010

Yes, I know it's August but I just completed this little Christmas poem, which had been sitting unfinished in my notes a good while.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

The new Zino computer arrived yesterday. It would be nice to have a 'Zeno' model of PC -- a computer named after a Stoic philosopher would be a perfect fit for me.

The Zino may look like a Mac Mini but it is larger -- a couple inches each direction, for probably around three times the total volume (don't ask me to figure that out -- I could but I'm too lazy). It should do fine for an internet machine with occasional other tasks. It does not have the power of the Vista-running machine I reserve for recording, nor does it need it.

No sooner did I get it cranked up than we had a power failure -- a common occurrence here -- and it got messed up and would not boot up properly. Went immediately into sleep mode each time and would not leave it! I thought last night it would have to go back to Dell but this morning it let me start up in safe mode and everything seems to be fixed. Once I set the clock back about 85 years.

Speaking of power failures, sort of, I started up the recording computer this afternoon for the first time in months. It's a mess there in the 'salon' and I have not really had time to get in and do anything. Anyway, it ran fine for a few minutes and then shut off the video and started making continuous long beeps. I, of course, researched that on line as quickly as I could and realized the UPS I have it plugged into was the problem. Not getting sufficient power!

So I took it off the UPS and put it on a regular strip and all is well again. Whew! It seems likely that the battery was taking power that should have gone to the PC. I had never turned it on with the UPS before nor had I thought to install the software, which may or may not matter.

Oh, to my chagrin I had failed to notice that the Zino does not come with a phone modem. Never thought of it. Of course, I have to have one here so I'll be getting a USB modem shortly. Until then, no getting on line with new machine. This computer stuff is a botherment, isn't it? Maybe I should go back to writing letters on paper and recording music on tape...

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

So here's another old song. I'm at about 130 organized and formatted now.


We owe it all to Linus Pauling --
He was the one to hear the calling
To carry out investigations
About our nutritional rations.
He recognized the fact that we
Need quite a lot of Vitamin C;
That it provides immunization
And gives the system stimulation.

Protects us from the common cold,
Even keeps us from growing old:
I do believe this vitamin
Could almost cure original sin!

When you feel down it well may be
Due to a lack of Vitamin C,
So don't forget ascorbic acid --
If you take too much you'll only pass it.
It always has seemed somewhat galling
That some would not listen to Pauling,
But I think that the wise man heeds
His estimates of our 'C' needs.

So healthy future generations
Should give thanks for his investigations.
Please remember Linus Pauling
And take your 'C' -- no more stalling!

Stephen Brooke ©1994

Of course, I play this song in C. Those middle four lines stand as chorus, the last four are an 'outro.' The whole thing is quite tongue in cheek...but I do take my C everyday!
FRIENDS, Family, Facebook: I have, at this moment (well, I didn't check this exact moment) 85 friends on Facebook. A manageable number, particularly in that half or so of them rarely post or interact much. Anyway, I decided to look at just who these friends might be.

A good two-thirds of them are involved in music some way, the vast majority being part (if only peripherally) of the Florida folk music scene. I know a lot of these people, some well, many not so well. Some I've seen performing but never interacted with them. Some I don't know at all, save through Facebook...but I'm reasonably interested in what they're up to. I was and still am, though rather inactive at the moment, part of that Florida Folkie community.

Almost a quarter of my FB friends are related to me. There is a small overlap with the previous group, but not much. It's a way to keep in touch with far-flung family that one wouldn't normally contact often. The same with the two former schoolmates and three former girlfriends on the list -- these latter also overlap the other lists, one being a musician.

And the other two belonging to the ten percent of friends who are artists, writers or other creative friends. The Facebook friend who lives closest to me would be my sister Carole, at twenty miles. The furthest, would be the Acoustic Eagle, a talented painter and writer in Australia. But thanks to the internet they're all the same distance away. :)

These groups of people are why I'm on Facebook, or any other social site. I'm not one to have random friends with nothing in common. Unless, of course, they're pretty girls...

(note -- I was going to attempt to post this on my Yahoo blog but it simply took forever to load and I gave up. This is one reason why I mostly stick with Blogger and Facebook these days -- they're relatively fast. Yahoo and, to a lesser extent, MySpace are way too slow loading on a dial-up connection to use regularly. Having a WordPress blog on my site was okay but it's easier to embed a Blogger page and quicker to edit or post. Any other sites just seem inadequate or too insular, like Multiply.)

* * *

I do love my big new powerful DR trimmer-mower! I can finally try to get the property here under control again. It's ideal for me, combining as it does a brush mower and a string trimmer in one piece of equipment. The only drawback is that one has to pause fairly regularly to replace the string. But that keeps me from working too hard and too long so it's all to the good!

I also am truly in love with my coffee press. I should've been making coffee this way all along. I'll save the drip maker for when I have guests and need extra coffee. Some call these little devices a 'French Press' but to me that has always been a certain movement in weight-training (basically a type of triceps exercise) so I won't use the name.

There will also be another new arrival at Peanut Road shortly (this afternoon or tomorrow) and that will be a Dell Zino computer. A refurb, naturally -- it's a better deal and, I suppose, one could say it's better for the environment to recycle the computers, eh? It's to replace my Mac Mini. The Zino looks like a Mini, intentionally.

The Mini, which is an old pre-Intel model running OS10.3.9, simply doesn't do the job on the internet anymore. It's not sufficiently updateable, using a technology that Apple has abandoned. Another reason why I'll probably never buy Apple again. It's going to be used offline mostly from now on, for writing, as a media server, whatever.

The Zino will probably become the new internet machine of choice, but we'll see just what it's capabilities are first.