About anasazi4st

I live in the American Southwest, and I have been here since 1987. I grew up in Western Pennsylvania, land of green trees and roads full of potholes. I hate mud. My favorite place in all the world is Monument Valley. When I was born, Buddy Holly was still alive. I greatly enjoy music (Southern California-flavored and most blues), my MacBook Pro, grapefruit martinis, Arturo Fuente cigars, seafood gumbo and most Hawai'ian foods, but especially fried spam saimin, loco moco and spam musubi. I'm also a tech geek. In the early 80s I was writing advanced software for Atari computers. Since then I've managed to gather a collection of over 50 PCs, Macs, early Apple computers, three Data General Ones; as well as devices like the Apple Newton, Sharp Zaurus ZR-5800 and HP iPAQ rx3715. There's also several newer Macs, one Dell Inspiron, an Phone and an iPad.

FIXING THE ZAGG SLIMBOOK ULTRATHIN CASE (w/Keyboard) FOR IPAD PRO

ZAGG has a reputation for its innovative products. Sadly, however, one of them has a considerable design issue, and one that the company has (so far) refused to acknowledge, despite numerous customer complaints. Fortunately, however, I’ve developed an inexpensive repair for this oversight that I’ll provide in detail later on.

I’ve been very happy with the two ZAGG iPhone screen protectors I’ve owned, initially for the iPhone 6 Plus and then more recently the 6S Plus. They function as well as one could reasonably expect such a product to perform…in the case of the 6S Plus, the screen protector absorbed most of the impact when I accidentally dropped a can of Campbell’s Chunky Soup on my iPhone, surprisingly causing no display damage.

I’ve similarly been quite pleased with the ZAGG InvisibleShield Glass Screen protector for my 9.7″ iPad Pro. Considering that the easiest and most often used method to access a tablet device is through touchscreen input, a good screen protector is essential to preserving that touchscreen surface. This item does that, while also providing me with its assurance of quality that it will do its job well.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of its Slim Book Ultrathin Case, Hinged with Detachable Backlit Keyboard (referred to from now on as the Case). There exists a serious design flaw that cannot be ignored or, frankly, tolerated.

Some backstory: I purchased my iPad Pro 9.7″ unit with the aforementioned ZAGG InvisibleShield Glass Screen Protector and above-mentioned Case several months ago (August 2016). This was not a bundle–I did considerable research on all available options including both ZAGG products. I read whatever reviews I could find on all of the different choices, all of which factored into my buying decision. While the screen protector received rave reviews, not so much for the Case. More on that in a bit.

The Case consists of two parts: one piece fits around the iPad, providing what appears to be a secure enclosure. I haven’t dropped my iPad Pro, so I can’t speak to its protective qualities. But all the holes do line up perfectly with the various buttons and ports, and it is a heavier-duty plastic than what I saw with other products. Overall I’d say I’m very pleased with this part of the Case.

The other half is the Bluetooth keyboard with its enclosed battery. The iPad portion of the Case fits neatly into the hinge bracket found on this part, creating the classic “clamshell” design. Once installed, the tablet is secured with magnets embedded into the bracket. The magnets provide just enough “pull” to keep the iPad secure but not so much as to make it difficult to remove the tablet for solo use.

It’s a snap to pair the keyboard with the iPad. The included instruction manual provides a guide to setting up the backlighting, which is offered in a variety of colors. There are 14 keys found on the top row (like Function keys) that are tied in to matching features on the iPad…these work very well.

The Case is overall a fine unit. It appears to be well constructed, thought out and engineered. Its keyboard holds up to repeated use well and has a very nice “feel” to its keys. I’ve found that it pointedly does not offer “two year’s worth of battery life,” as ZAGG claims; I hardly qualify as a “power user” as I use my iPad for only several hours each day. Still, I have already had to recharge the battery several times.

So it sounds like a great product: an excellent way to have the best of both worlds, a tablet and a laptop. Well, that’s what I thought too, even after reading through dozens of reviews that were mostly negative. Despite this, I decided to spend the $130 on Amazon to purchase it. (It’s now as of this writing listed at $80.)

Why all the negative reviews? Well, to start with, you’d be correct if you’d be suspicious of just how well a hinge bracket made of plastic can be trusted to stand up to the repeated stress of opening and closing this unit. Most of the reviews I read were not good; many users found that after time–varying from just a few hours to (in my case) several months later–the plastic of the hinge bracket cracks in either or both ends, the result being that when you open the Case to access the tablet and attached keyboard, the iPad abruptly pulls loose entirely from the Case. As this is (at first) unexpected, depending on where and how you are opening the Case, there is a good chance that you’ll drop either or both parts, causing possible damage to at least the iPad. (At that point you’re probably more than a bit disappointed and not too concerned about the keyboard part.)

Obviously this doesn’t provide a very good user experience. Many have asked why ZAGG doesn’t manufacture that hinge from a stronger material, such as metal.

ZAGG’s response is, essentially, “you’re not doing it right”–you’re not opening the Case correctly and/or you’re not transporting it correctly. The company calls the plastic hinge bracket “durable” and recommends that the following procedure be used when opening the Case: put the spine of the Case on a flat surface and separate the left and right halves by pulling each apart and away from the other. Also, they recommend not carrying the Case around as one might a laptop by using its keyboard half (which weighs quite a bit). They claim this can damage the Case’s hinge.

Some of the reviewers claim to be “power users”, frequently pulling their iPad from a backpack or bag many times in the course of a day. Others suffered the hinge damage almost immediately.

(You can read more about this item HERE. Scroll down that page to read the reviews.)

Last week it happened to me as well. Despite carefully opening and closing the Case as described and despite carrying it as instructed, both ends of the allegedly-durable plastic hinge bracket cracked, essentially making the keyboard part of the Case a separate entity.

I was very unhappy and carefully considered my next course of action. I tried repairing the cracked parts using Super Glue, even though I knew that would likely void my warranty…and, while the repair worked for a couple of openings and closings, soon that also failed. I didn’t see any reason to contact ZAGG for a warranty replacement, as that part would eventually likely crack and fail as well on the new one.

What to do? Well, I already said that I really liked the Case, so I set about finding a way to repair it.

What I came up with is both simple and elegant. I’m going to provide the most basic step-by-step instructions, because frankly if you can’t figure out how to do it yourself you probably shouldn’t be attempting it in the first place.

Obviously this WILL void your warranty. So choose your plan of action carefully.

You’ll need the following things: slipjoint pliers, needle nose pliers, a fine point Sharpie, a good straightedge (that means a metal, not wood) millimeter ruler (if you use a t-square you’ll have the best tool for accurate straight lines). Also good sharp tin snips, a small piece of stainless steel sheet metal, a flat metal file, a can of flat black spray paint and some GOOP adhesive. You can find all these things at a hardware or home improvement store, such as Ace Hardware or Home Depot.

Simply put, the steps are as follows: you’ll be measuring the sheet metal with the straightedge, cutting it with the tin snips, using the file to smooth any sharp edges, measuring the crease lines with the straightedge/t-square and marking them with the Sharpie, and then folding/bending it into shape with both sets of pliers. Once you’ve got it so that it fits well (by test fitting it on the Case) paint JUST THE OUTSIDE and attach it to the hinge bracket, using a very small amount of GOOP to secure it into place.

The test-fitting requires patience, as it is a trial-and-error process, so plan on taking your time with this step.

What exactly will you be making? Metal “clips” that fit neatly over the ends of the hinge bracket, providing the necessary reinforcement for opening and closing the Case. You can still remove the iPad, of course, but the seriously flawed hinge bracket problem is solved.

What I don’t understand is why ZAGG didn’t do this in the first place. I’m just a do-it-yourselfer, maybe a little on the advanced side but with no specialized training nor degree, and I came up with this solution after just a little bit of thought and testing. I’m certainly no match for the R&D (research and development) department of a big company. It can’t be that hard to manufacture these parts and attach them to the Case during assembly, eliminating the problem and making it a 5 star product.

Here are some notes and drawings I made (using the Apple Pencil) that provide measurements and other information.

The first one above illustrates the problem using a simplified drawing of the hinge bracket.
The second drawing features the proposed repair clip:


What you are creating are 2 metal strips, 3.5 cm X 4.5 cm, which will become the reinforcing clips. These strips are shown in the third drawing, below. Using the Sharpie, CAREFULLY measure; and using the straightedge/t-square, draw the lines. Again–I cannot stress how important it is that you are accurate in this work, else not only will the finished product look bad but it probably won’t fit properly, and you’ll be spending a lot of time trying to fix that. Some extra effort spent in the pieces’ creation will pay off greatly later on.

Find a suitable straight edge on a countertop, table, desk, etc. Starting with the first strip, bend it CAREFULLY along the dotted line using the countertop straight edge, making sure the result is straight, then double it by bending the two halves together. This is necessary because the one layer of metal is not enough to secure the (cracked) ends of the hinge bracket, but both together will be. Use the slipjoint pliers to flatten the fold/bend point as much as you can. This is important because there has to be enough clearance so the clip will clear the space between the bottom surface of the keyboard and the hinge. You could carefully use a small hammer, but I found the pliers worked well. This first folded edge will be located on the bottom of the Case; the opposite edges will be on the top.

The rest is just bending the strip along the lines you’ve drawn (again, CAREFULLY), using the needle nose pliers. I’m sure there’s other ways that might work better, but again this worked well for me. Start on a side for one bend, then switch to the other side. In this way work on getting a good sharp fold in the metal. (You can hold the section with the needle nose pliers and tap on the other side with a small hammer to get a good crease.)

When that’s all done the next step is to make a slight fold across the center part of the repair clip. You’ll see by studying the spine of the Case that there’s a slight angle to the back of it; the repair bracket should mirror that angle so it will fit tightly against it. The result should be that the top and bottom surfaces are NOT parallel, there must be a narrower gap in the front edges than the back spine, similar to spring clips used for example to hold things like papers together and to keep bags of snack chips sealed tightly. This is so the clips have the same sort of spring action, which will not only keep them in place but also help support the hinge bracket in the opening and closing of the Case.

After you’re done making all the creases you’ll notice that one side of the piece is longer than the other. This is intentional, so you can cut off the excess when you’ve gotten the piece to fit properly. This edge should be on the top section of the clip. You’ll see in the pictures just below how I created my clips and how this bottom edge is a bit longer than the top one, because the bottom part of the hinge bracket is a bit thicker than the top. (Take a look at my finished clips below if you are having difficulty understanding my description.) DON’T TRIM THIS BOTTOM PART, where the fold is! The two pieces will come apart and won’t be as sturdy! While the bottommost part is longer, that’s okay. The TOP part–which is where the cut edges are–can be trimmed so that it doesn’t cause contact with the Case. TRIM CAREFULLY! The second clip I made I trimmed too short, and I wasn’t happy with how it looked. For maximum strength it should extend just to the edge of the black plastic of the Case.

Use the slipjoint pliers to make a very slight inward bend on the bottom edge. This helps the clip stay in place. (Again, study the pictures below–in the last one, this slight inward bend is clearly visible on the left side of both pieces.)

Recall I said before to paint only one side, which is the outer surface…this is because the GOOP won’t adhere as well to a painted surface. Be sure to clean the finished metal with soap and water before painting and then allow it to fully dry. Follow the instructions on the paint can exactly, apply several light coats (so the paint doesn’t run) and then LEAVE IT ALONE to dry completely (at the very least, overnight) before handling. The paint can’s directions might say that you can handle it after an hour or so. DON’T. Be patient! Nothing looks more amateurish than a paint job with runs and/or fingerprints on it.

After you’ve left it dry completely, use a bit of soap and water to clean the inner unpainted part of the clips and the corresponding locations on the Hinge Bracket spine. This is to help the GOOP stick better.

Here’s what mine looked like when they were ready to be installed:



The next step is to CAREFULLY apply the GOOP. Use JUST A LITTLE on both the inner center section of the repair clip and the spine of the Case… GOOP is stronger when applied to both surfaces. It would be a good idea to test fit and mark it so the GOOP doesn’t end up all over the place. After applying, install the clips. (I found that I had to use the needle nose pliers to gently pull out on the front edge of a clip to slide it into place and install it.) Don’t count on the stuff alone to hold the clip on. Both clips should fit tightly without it. The GOOP is there just to prevent the clips from sliding around on the spine of the Case.

I left about a one-eighth (1/8) inch space on the left outside and right outside edges of each clip, respectively, from the corresponding ends of the Hinge Bracket.

Here’s the finished product, installed on the Case:

There’s a good bit of shaping/reshaping, bending/re-bending and filing involved with this repair. Take your time and work CAREFULLY to get a finished product you can be proud of, and that will also last a long time.

While it’s only been several days since I created and installed the repair clips, I’ve had every indication that this will be a lasting and permanent repair.

It’s a real pity that ZAGG could not have engineered such a repair and made it available to its users; more distressing still is that this feature was not included in the design originally. This lack of product responsibility is enough of a big deal to me that I’d have to take a long look at ZAGG products in the future.

More on ‘The Odyssey Network’

Some time ago while posting the series “Favorite Music Videos” I mentioned a UHF-type overnight music video station broadcasting out of Cocoa Beach, Florida called “ODYSSEY” or “The Odyssey Network.” Before writing that post I had searched online for hours–unsuccessfully–looking for some information about the music service, both to give more insight about it and also to provide a link for more information.

I’ve had several readers since weigh in with their recollections of Odyssey. While I’ve enabled their comments here, I wanted to share the contents of a Billboard magazine article dated March 16, 1985 about the channel. (My thanks to “cj” for sending me a Comment with the link. I apologize for the delay in acknowledging it.)

Here is the article, reproduced in its entirety:

Odyssey Surviving Without Advertising
(New Music Video Service Claims Eight Million Viewers)

By Faye Zuckerman

LOS ANGELES With a viewership claimed at nearly eight million, the fledgling Odyssey Network 24-hour video music service still reports losses at $250,000 monthly, has incurred startup costs nearing $2.5 million, and has yet to secure any advertising revenue.

In fact, admits Tom Shaw, director of programming for the Cocoa Beach, Fla. based network, ‘We have received zero revenue from advertising.’ He adds. however, ‘When we went on the air Jan. 5, we had zero affiliates, and expected to pick up 400,000 viewers in 35 days.’

By Jan. 6, Odyssey had reached the 400,000 subscriber mark, airing on selected cable services and VHF and UHF tv stations. Three days later, Shaw says, the network saw its viewership jump to three million. ‘We projected reaching that figure in two years,’ he notes.

When will the supposedly advertising-supported music service break even, and can it stay afloat until then? Shaw contends the parent company, Nova Communications Network, is committed to keeping the channel alive for at least two years. ‘We have enough money to stay broadcasting for two years with selling a single ad,’ he claims.

Odyssey’s Shaw expresses confidence about securing advertising dollars for the two-month-old network, which he notes is just now approaching Madison Ave. with market research on its operations. Its programming primarily features urban contemporary music, with some pop mixed in, according to Shaw.

He admits that getting a foothold in the advertising arena might not be as easy as securing affiliates, especially when the programming is free. ‘It’s a step-by-step process. First we needed subscribers. Now it’s time to get the advertisers by making them aware of us and who we are reaching,’ Shaw observes.

‘We are the first national 24-hour music service on-line and broadcasting to areas not yet wired for cable. Many of our viewers are getting exposure to clips on a constant basis for the first time.’

Odyssey’s only other competitor to date is Discovery Music Network, which will go on-line June 1. A spokesperson for the channel says that company officials are not ready to say how many tv stations or cable services it has secured.

Odyssey Network currently boasts of having already signed broadcast contracts with 93 cable services and 24 television stations, nine of which are network affiliates. Participating stations include WRBV in Philadelphia, Tulsa’s WGTV, Salt Lake City’s KUTB and KTNV in Las Vegas.

The television stations generally air the channel six hours daily. Shaw says certain ABC and NBC affiliates broadcast the music channel as late night programming. ‘CBS provides after-hours tv shows for its stations, so they didn’t sign on with us,’ he explains.

Thus far, Odyssey’s programming hasn’t attempted to match the programming style of MTV, the premier 24-hour music video service. There are no VJs, no contests, few voiceovers and only one special segment, a top 12 video countdown.

Odyssey airs clips back-to-back, with designated unsold advertising spots. By early fall, Shaw plans to start featuring a VJ. ‘We have already started a nationwide search for one,’ he adds.

‘We are getting negative reactions to VJs,’ Shaw contends. ‘Only the record companies seem to like them because they promote their artists.’

As for MTV’s exclusivity pacts with several major record labels, Shaw asserts that Odyssey feels little if any impact. ‘Many of the artists we feature are not included in the agreements. We don’t care about waiting out a grace period. Most of our viewers are not cable households anyway.

‘Besides, maybe a 24-hour music service will come along and offer record companies a better price for videos.’ Meanwhile, Odyssey prides itself on airing a combination of urban and suburban video fare not generally shown on MTV or its sister service VH-1.”

While this article is certainly a big help in understanding how Odyssey began, it tells only part of the story. What happened to it? Did it merge with another service, or did it just fade away?

If anyone knows of, or has any more knowledge about the Odyssey Network, please send it along in the Comments section. Thanks in advance.

Cheaters.

There are rules set into place that we are all to follow. When an individual or group ventures outside of–or runs afoul of–these rules, there is a term often used for this individual or group.

Cheater.

It can be something simple or complex–perhaps the offender or offenders were not aware of the violated rule or rules. Or, perhaps there was a deliberate attempt made to circumvent or disregard the same.

It’s a little easier to accept the first example; much harder to forgive the second.

BUT–what if an individual or team cheated TWICE?

In 1919 the Chicago White Sox lost to the Cincinnati Reds in the World Series. It later came out that eight players from the Sox had accepted money from professional gamblers in exchange for essentially playing poorly enough to lose World Series games, “fixing” the games so those gamblers could place bets on the Reds and win what was now a sure thing.

The Commissioner of Major League Baseball banned these players forever from the Hall of Fame.

Former baseball great Pete Rose holds the record for the most hits in MLB history. In August of 1989, without admitting guilt, Rose agreed to a permanent ban from the HOF after he was accused of betting on games while manager of the Reds. (In 2008 Rose finally confirmed this activity, but said he did not bet on those games involving his own team.)

Baseball takes cheating very seriously. Witness how hard it has come down on players that have tried to gain a competitive edge–Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGuire, etc.–through the use of performance-enhancing drugs or altered equipment (“corked bats”).

There is a difference between seeking a competitive edge and going over the line by deliberately breaking the rules. (Just ask Richard Nixon, if he were still with us and would actually answer truthfully.)

In early 2008 the New England Patriots were found guilty of secretly videotaping opponent’s practices, going back perhaps many years. There’s too much to that story to go into here–check the link–but let’s just say that, apparently in order to gain a competitive edge, the team secretly and clandestinely recorded the practices of opposing teams for study later.

There’s no way around this–they cheated. They broke the rules. That activity is NOT ALLOWED, and the activity itself raises serious moral and ethical questions as to the violator’s intent.

On January 10, 2015, the Patriots defeated the Baltimore Ravens in an NFL Playoff Divisional game. Near the end of the game, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh became visibly upset and even drew an Unsportsmanlike penalty for coming onto the field after the Patriots had run several plays using different players in unusual scrimmage positions. (Basically, the Ravens had players covering Patriots that were lined up in a receivers position but had no intentions on catching the ball, but the ones that did catch passes were not in the established position to do so, and were not covered.)

Again–attempting to gain a competitive edge. But, this time it was legal. But barely.

So, you see the pattern here: a team that will stop at almost nothing to gain another Super Bowl ring. While it’s one thing to paint the visiting team’s locker room pink in an effort to gain the competitive edge, it’s another to go over the line…

…like say, tampering with equipment–like, under-inflating footballs.

It’s not a big deal if, say, the Jets did it. The Jets finished 4-12, hardly did them any good.

Oh, it’s the PATRIOTS that did that? Wait…isn’t that team in the Super Bowl?

Ah.

EXACTLY.

The St. Louis Rams’ Marshall Faulk STILL BELIEVES that Spygate–the videotaping–cost his team Super Bowl XXXVI.

So what’s the big deal? The big deal is, it’s a team that HAS ALREADY BEEN CAUGHT CHEATING ONCE. A team, remember, that found a way around the rules by–not illegally, mind you–reading between the lines and confounding another team, the Ravens, with little-used positional tricks. (Here’s some more history.)

And–get this–the Ravens actually tipped off the Indianapolis Colts–the team the Pats faced in the AFC Championship game–about the improperly inflated balls.

There is a Bleacher Report article that is almost required reading on this matter:

“Cheating Scandals Will Forever Tarnish Brady-Belichick Legacy” .

Last time, Belichick was fined $500K; the team was fined $250, 000 and lost a first round draft pick.

Belichick claims no knowledge of the improperly-inflated footballs.

Seriously, Bill? Didn’t you also claim no knowledge of the videotaping, as well?

Oh that’s right. YOU DID.

Baseball has dealt with its scandals in its own way. Now, Roger Goodell must deal with the NFL’s latest. Considering his past failings, the commissioner has to feel he must get this one right.

I think there’s only one acceptable solution: Belichick must be suspended for the Super Bowl. Seem too harsh? Remember Bountygate, and that New Orleans head coach Sean Peyton was suspended for the entire 2012 season for his role in the subsequent coverup of the evidence. (Bountygate involved Saints players playing for an “injury pool” to deliberately cause injury to certain opposing players). Consider that the head coach, ESPECIALLY after Spygate and Bountygate, MUST be held accountable for ALL that his team does. He must know all. Considering that, there’s actually quite a bit of support for this argument. He must pay the price. Maybe even suspend him for a few games next season.

If he’s still the Patriots head coach, that is. Reporter Tom E. Curran of CSNNE isn’t so sure he’ll be back, thinks owner Robert Kraft might actually consider firing him, per the video included in the piece and this quote:

The Patriots cannot comport themselves with a “do business as business is being done” mentality. They forfeited the right to that mentality in 2007 when they got pinched for filming defensive signals and the 72 miles of fire and sharp glass the team got dragged through as a result should have convinced them.

If it didn’t, in March of 2008 should have. That’s when Belichick and Robert Kraft had to stand up at the NFL Owner’s Meetings in West Palm Beach and apologize to the assembled owners, head coaches and general managers of the other 31 franchises for the Spygate scandal.

At those meetings, owners unanimously approved a policy proposed by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell titled “Integrity of the Game and Fair Competition.” It required all owners, executives and head coaches to certify annually that they have complied with league rules and policies and have reported any violations they know.

Real big deal was made of it. It was Goodell’s baby. Goodell is Kraft’s boy, probably more so than Belichick.

Spygate caused the league embarrassment. It caused Kraft humiliation. In Gary Myers’ 2012 book called Coaching Confidential Kraft recounted this exchange

“How much did this help us on a scale of 1 to 100?” Kraft reportedly asked Belichick.

“One,” Belichick replied.

“Then you’re a real schmuck,” Kraft said he told Belichick.

Even if Belichick had no clue this was being done (if it was being done), it will be painted as a lack of institutional control. It will also be implausible because Bill could be on another floor and know within 20 seconds if somebody misses a trash can with an apple core in that place.

….

Like it or not, the clock may start ticking on arguably the greatest coach in NFL history.

Nothing personal. Just business.

So there you have it. Scenario: Belichick is suspended from Super Bowl; Patriots lose game. Kraft summarily fires him (or they agree to “a parting of the ways”)…Belichick goes on to coach, say, the Oakland Raiders and is effectively removed from any more championships (personnel needs, etc.–and no Tom Brady).

How about that for a legacy?

Go ahead. Making a great legacy into an eventual tragedy? Ask Richard Nixon about it.

My Thoughts: Best Rock Drummer Ever

So this morning I’m watching “Sunday NFL Countdown” on ESPN, and they keep playing this ANNOYING 30 second cologne ad (Dior Homme Eau for Men–this longer version is uncensored, no nudity but definitely NOT annoying). The only good thing about it is the music, “Whole Lotta Love” by Led Zeppelin. And, after a few viewings, then it occurs to me….

IMHO, the best drummer in rock and roll history is:

Led Zeppelin’s John “Bonzo” Bonham.

For some of you, that’s probably no surprise.

I’ve got a short list of guys whose work I’ve admired over the years. For example, I’ve always liked the Rolling Stones’ Charlie Watts–while not spectacular, he’s been a good consistent drummer throughout his career. Phil Collins is much more high profile–his work has a more distinct style and sound than most. The Who’s Keith Moon was a very loud drummer–he didn’t just play the drums, he attacked them.

While I’ve enjoyed the work of all these artists, I would not have considered any of them to be my favorite. That honor has belonged to Bill Bruford, who played with King Crimson and Yes (amongst others). The way he tuned his drums for his certain trademark sound, almost a hollow tom tom-like beat–listen to the middle 8 of Yes’ “Yours Is No Disgrace” for a great example–his work made the musicians around him and their collected music better. It’s hard to hear any of his stuff and not come away with a better understanding and appreciation of the art of playing the drums.

Still, Bruford played primarily with progressive rock bands. For the pure driving force required from a good rock drummer, I believe you need look no further than Bonham.

And the readers of Rolling Stone magazine apparently agree…or, at least they did in 2011, when he was named “Best Drummer of All Time.”

I think it’s telling that, while The Who decided to continue on without Moon, Led Zeppelin called it quits after Bonzo died–he was that good, irreplaceable.

Listen to any of Zep’s music: from the sheer joy of the high-hat cymbal/bass drum sound in “Bront-Y-Aur Stomp” to the brassy cymbal opening of “Rock and Roll” to the pure power beats that drive “When the Levee Breaks” to the moment when “Stairway to Heaven” kicks into high gear with Bonham’s entrance halfway in–and of course, the aforementioned “Whole Lotta Love” (with too many more to mention)–and you might just agree with me.

Good drummers keep the band in correct time…the best ones do so with style.

The Past of Computing: Yours, Mine…Ours

As with anything, there is a past. So it is with the business of home computers, whose history is full of accidental discoveries and the personalities of those that made them.

The link below does NOT lead to a dry accounting of that history. Rather, it is a personal story of a man that lived through it, his past and how, through a series of close friendships (there is one in particular), he became involved in the periphery of that business, was drawn into it.

As such, it is a human interest story. A man who longs for that past, and the friendship he lost.

I must caution you: there are some technical details in his account. Some of you might feel as if you are going to get lost. My advice: stay above the surface of the water–don’t get pulled down by those details, the understanding of which is not necessary to appreciate the story. Skim over those, if you don’t comprehend, and focus instead on the personal tale.

http://daringfireball.net/linked/2014/11/07/ford-retro-computing

I found myself at the end sympathizing with him, understanding his longing for the past. To understand that, you have to understand a bit of my past: as recently as 1998 I was a kind of newbie to “modern” computers.

In 1981 I started my slow journey into what is now probably one of my biggest fields of interest (the other being music). I began with a Timex-Sinclair 1000, a $199 computer that was about the size of a DVD case and had a membrane keyboard (think of the ones probably found on the gas pumps near where you live). It was a start…soon I had progressed into the line of Atari computers: 800, 600XL, 800XL, etc. I stayed with that until 1987, when I moved to Arizona and its 300+ days of pure sunshine. While in Pennsylvania I had spent many cloudy/rainy/snowy days indoors working on stuff on the computer, in Tucson there were few such days, and much more time spent outdoors. The computers were packed up and mostly forgotten.

Skip ahead to mid August 1998. A brother of a close friend contacted me, told me he would be in the Phoenix area (where I now lived) for his work, he would like to catch up on our 15 year-old friendship. In the mid 80s he and I spent many hours exploring the software and capabilities of those old Atari computers. He asked me if I had a computer, and I said I had an old Data General One DOS laptop that I had purchased in May, but that was it. He had become a sort of computer whiz, and he offered to build a more modern PC (that could actually run Windows!) for me during the week he was visiting.

Thusly did my journey begin again. He taught me how to build those wonderful machines, how to find the right parts cheaply, how to configure the resulting constructions and get them up and running. One of the places I haunted was Arizona State University Surplus Warehouse, a large building that was full of long conference-room tables that, back then, were covered with mostly desktop PCs now abandoned, as a professor and/or instructor’s office was remodeled and his/her old machine was replaced with a newer one. Some of those machines were barely husks, metal cases with little hardware inside. The Number One rule of the place was: there was no opening of the metal cases to see what was inside. If you were caught doing that, you were banished from the premises. So, you had to evaluate what was there as best you could. For $20, sometimes you got a machine with a 500MB (huge!) hard drive, a Pentium processor and a modem. Most times, you got little more than the case. I bought many of those machines, and in my own Dr. Frankenstein way, built quite a few resuscitated PC “monsters”.

A few years later in 2002 I started again, this time with Apple Macintosh machines. Same basic concept–but there was renewed excitement, as Macs are much different than PCs. Many of my fondest memories from those several years are about all those activities.

Then, someone from ASU got smart. They took the machines away, built the computers themselves, and sold the results as ready-to-go PCs and Macs for hundreds of dollars. While I could certainly understand their motives, it put an end to one of my favorite activities, almost a decade of great experiences and memories.

So the author’s longings at the end of his story rang true for me. But, I can’t go back and revisit my past like he can. Sure, the building is still there and it’s the same as before, and I still visit. But now, it’s with a sad longing.

This and That, Part 1: Still lovin’ ‘that Android of mine’; iOS 8; OS X 10.10 Yosemite

Nothing specific to talk about today…just some general thoughts on a few things. (I am working on a new somewhat controversial post…but more on that when it happens.)

First off: The Hisense Sero 7 LT Android tablet. I’m still lovin’ this little guy, but as I’ve added apps, predictably the overall speed has gone down. I’m not one to have more than a few windows open at once anyway, so this isn’t all that big of a deal as far as an adjusment…and I’m also no stranger to waiting for something to open or finish loading. (I suppose this is due to having more than a few older computers–patience, patience!) I have been seriously considering an upgrade to the Hisense Sero 7 Pro with 8GB of RAM (as opposed to the LT’s 4GB), but I’m now way past the date to return the Sero 7 LT, and the only way to obtain a Pro is through online ordering. I’d like to play around with the Pro for a bit first to be sure it’s what I want…as for returning the LT to Fry’s, the reason is simply because I don’t see a need for two of these. At some time there will probably be a “tipping point” where I will have to make a decision to live with the app lagging, or upgrade and have a redundancy of devices–but I’m not there yet.

I know what some of you are thinking: if slowness is a problem, why not just get a Samsung or bigger brand-named device? First reason is cost; then the redundancy factor…then, the bloatware. This machine (I am using the Sero 7 LT to write this post) is remarkably free of junk–usually third-party apps that you can’t remove–known as bloatware. All devices have them–there are a couple on here I could do without–but not nearly as many as some. It’s just a waste of resources.

Next: iOS 8. While I wasn’t plagued by the bugs and inconsistencies that hit this iOS’ early adopters, there’s still been some iPhone reboots (and hey, two or three really isn’t that many–but when compared to the number of reboots to fix iOS 7 issues–ZERO–it is kind of a big deal). While overall I’m pretty happy with this new version, despite its occasional slowness, I do have some concerns as to how I am going to eventually be forced to upgrade to a 64GB iPhone 6 (or 6 Plus).

I had to delete a lot of stuff–stored photos, unused or seldom-used apps–to get enough storage room to even be able to install iOS 8. Clearly, a 16GB model is just not going to cut it any more. It will, I think, become the smartphone model of the classic flip phone that phone makers still produce for those elderly or non-tech-savvy users that just need a phone, period. Like the 8 GB model gave way to the 16…so must 16 give way to the 64. Oh well.

(I just got message on my iPhone that my storage is almost full. Again. Grrrrrr.)

Finally: OS X 10.10 Yosemite. No, that’s not pronounced YO-SEH-MITE. It’s YO-SEM-IT-TEE. And, just as the pronunciation is different, so is this upgrade. The font is different on the desktop, the title bar, everywhere…for the first time that I can remember. It’s bolder and cleaner…missing to is the “shelf” in the Dock the apps used to rest on, now there’s just a long enclosing rectangular strip. Also gone are the 3D effects…like iOS 8, the app icons are flatter in appearance.

BTW, get used to those words…”like iOS 8″. Apple is bringing closer and closer together the Mac and mobile operating systems. For example: you can now make phone calls from your Yosemite-equipped Mac. As my late grandfather (whose usually quiet manner would often be broken by loud outbursts, not unlike an individual whose name was also Yosemite) might snort in derision, “AHHHHHHWWWWWWW!” (Followed by “Well, did you ever…!”)

There’s too much for me to talk about in this post (“JERUSALEM!”)…you can read more about OS X 10.10 Yosemite here and here. The first link is to the UK’s TechRadar site, who had this to say about it:

“Yosemite does make compromises in its quest to integrate further with iOS, but there’s a lot to like here, and some really neat new features.”

I just upgraded, so after I’ve spent some time with it I might have another post later on. For now, though, it would seem that Yosemite is really “THE DEAL!” (as my grandfather would say). So far, I really like it.

Alright, Pap…you can continue on with your eternal rest now…and may God bless you.

Link

Yes, readers, you read that correctly. I’m going to praise an operating system that I have historically bashed.

And yes, this is a new post. I have returned from wherever I’ve been to write something new for Brood Coffee Talk*. Actually, I’ve been wanting to do just that for quite a while now, but haven’t been able to find the time.

It’s been about a month since I took a day off from work to drive my–for all intents and purposes–wife to the airport, flying back East for her father’s funeral. Soon afterwards I found myself at a nearby Fry’s Electronics, and after taking a few minutes to peruse their newspaper ad (posted on a wall by the entrance), I headed over to the tablet area.

The actual details of how I arrived at the Android tablet I ended up with are best left for another post. Let’s just say that the store was advertising a tablet for $47, were out of that one, and after much deliberation I settled on another that I’m certain was the better choice.

I bought a Hisense Sero 7 (refurbished) for $69. It’s a 7″ Android tablet with 4.2 Jelly Bean…it has a nice bright and sharp 1280×800 display, a mini HDMI port, it accepts a 32GB (maximum) mini-SD card, etc. You can read more about it here.

Anyway, as someone who has used Apple products fairly exclusively (I’ve also owned a BlackBerry 8300 Curve, an HP iPaq x3715, a Handspring Visor, and a Windows Mobile phone), there was a bit of a learning curve. I have friends that have Android devices, and I’ve played around a little with them…but, just in case no one has ever told you, having such a device for your very own is quite a bit different than that. For one thing, you probably won’t have them at your side every minute of every day to answer questions for you. And, believe me, I had a LOT of questions, mostly of the “how-do-you-do-THIS?” variety. Fortunately, it was pretty easy to figure out. It wasn’t long before I had added some of my favorite apps from my iPhone: Dropbox, avast! and Evernote. The tablet has a lot of useful apps already included…I also added ES File Explorer, textPlus and HP ePrint through the Google Play store.

How do I like it? I absolutely love it! While I won’t be trading in my iPhone for an Android one any time soon, I was and remain VERY impressed with the Android experience. (One reason is that there’s too much integration between iOS and OS X for such a switch, which is only going to get better with iOS 8 and OS X 10 [Yosemite]).

I paired it with a low-cost ideaUSA leather-styled clamshell case that includes a built-in mini-USB keyboard…I am using both to compose this WordPress post.

One of the reasons I thought this might be a good idea was an Andy Inhatko column I read about a year and a half ago. He’s an Apple guy, been one for many years. That’s why I was very surprised to hear–in his three-part article–that he preferred an Android phone to his iPhone. I wrote about that here, in this Brood Coffee Talk post.

Inhatko is no dummy. He knows what’s good and what’s…better. And, apparently, isn’t afraid to come right out and say it.

So, I did it. I gave the other side–“the Dark Side”–a try…and, I was very impressed. You Android owners–you’re really on to something, here.

How many of you would join me? Show some, uh, stones and go to the other side…? Hmmm? Try an Apple/iOS product?

You never know, you might actually LIKE it. I know that I did.

*******

*(I suppose at least some of the reason I stopped was in large part due to a certain burnout factor. Those of you that post regularly have my admiration–it’s harder than it looks.)