Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Every single MacBook sucks (Oct 2016)

It used to be that I would get serious techlust for Apple products. Those days are over. All of Apple's current MacBook offerings all suck. Here's a breakdown of what is wrong with every single one of them.

MacBook Air MacBook MacBook Pro (2015) MacBook Pro (2016)
Price$1,119 CAD$1,649 CAD$1,549 CAD$1,899CAD
CPU1.6GHz i5-5250U
Broadwell (Q1, 2015)
1.1Ghz m3-6Y30
Skylake-Y (Q3, 2015)
2.7 GHz i5-5257U
Broadwell (Q1, 2015)
2.0Ghz i5-6360U
Skylake-U (Q3, 2015)
Cores2 cores, 4 threads
GPUIntel HD Graphics 6000Intel HD Graphics 5300Intel Iris 6100Intel Iris Graphics 540
Resolution1440x9002304 × 14402,560 × 1,6002,560 × 1,600
Battery life12hrs10hrs10hrs10 hrs
Ports2xUSB-3 1xThunderbolt-2 1xSDXC1xUSB-C2xUSB-3 2xThunderbolt-2 1xSDXC2xUSB-C or 4xUSB-C
PowerMagSafe 2XMagSafe 2X

Now, when you're looking at this table, how does this shit make any sense at all? This is fucking ridiculous.

What it boils down to is this:
  • MacBook is useless for everyone. Expensive, slow, no ports, and no MagSafe. Of no value to anyone. DON'T BUY
  • New MacBook Pro (2016) is fast and expensive, but it also doesn't have any ports and no MagSafe. So if you want to plug ANY of your existing devices into it, you'll need adapters. So you're gonna blow $2k on a computer and still have to buy more shit in order for it to be usable. That's just fucking insulting. DON'T BUY
  • Old MacBook Pro (2015) is fast and moderately expensive, but it's got the ports you need and MagSafe. OKAY
  • MacBook Air (2015) is slow and cheap, but again it's got the ports you need, MagSafe, and the best battery life. Unfortunately it's got the shittiest screen resolution. OKAY

There is no OMG BUY YES YES WANT WANT WANT on any of these because they all suck at least a little bit.

Conclusion So I think the only viable purchases at this point are the Old MacBook Pro (2015) or the MacBook Air. But even then you're buying outdated hardware at premium prices, but that's always been the Apple way. It used to be that you would buy an Apple and it would Just Work. And you would be constantly in a state of wonderment as you discovered all of its cool features. Now it seems like you buy an Apple, you can't even plug a USB stick into it, and none of your devices work, and it has less cool shit than before.

Other The only important factors I'm not including in there are:
  • SSD speed. sadly I wasn't able to find precise technical information on the SSDs except that the MacBook Pro 2016 SSD is the fastest.
  • Touchbar. Because yeah it's cool, but seriously? Naw. $2,299? Bro, are u serious? Why not do this with many users' pre-existing iPhones & iPads? Encourages product integration.
  • Screen size. Because if you want a 15" laptop, maybe you should really have a desktop or an external monitor.
All of them are light and slim, so that's not a distinguishing factor. The keyboards are all slightly different, with the shittiest one being on the vanilla MacBook, again more reason it's a garbage purchase. The new MacBook does have a massive trackpad, which is kinda cool. And if you care about colour options you're a fucking idiot.

Bring Steve Jobs back!

Friday, January 03, 2014

Happy Holidays y'all!

Let It Snow Acapella! In 5 Parts + Interpreter (Merry XMas 2013)

Another year, another incredibly late Christmas video. My first 5 part chorale, first video with me horribly singing (have your ears stopped bleeding yet?), first video with my new console (works great, thanks Alvas Music!), first totally solo xmas video. And for those who don't know me, no, I'm not clearly not a singer ahahahahaha.

Hope it brings a smile despite it being super late! Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year y'all!

I'll be putting up the chart of the arrangement here in the next few days!

Previous XMas videos:

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


The grand experiment is over.

If you follow(ed) me on Google Buzz, you have been subjected, for the last month, to an endless barrage of imported tweets. I tried to keep them as boring and mundane as possible but unfortunately a few tweets containing actual amusing content slipped through.

One of the highlights:
buzzkillor buzz was the matrix revolutions of google

But for the most part the tweets were as boring as humanly possible.  You can check them out in all their asinine glory here:

So, what the hell was the point of all this? Well, when Twitter first came out I decided it was the Stupidest Thing Ever, mainly because it seemed like Facebook status updates with minor sugar- and easy enough for Facebook to implement the features necessarily to replicate and kill Twitter. I have now amended my position to say that Twitter simply does not suit my needs- although it is still true that Facebook could easily implement the features required to kill it. When Google Buzz first came out (and still to this day), it was the new Stupidest Thing Ever. Google has customarily been known for releasing products that are a clear cut above the competition. Google search had the most accurate translation of your query into usable results. Gmail had huge mail storage capacity and conversation-threading, among other great features. Google Maps had the best UI (click and drag map scrolling and zooming in and out via mousewheel). And so on.

So what did Google Buzz have? Nothing good.
  • No ability to require followers to authenticate first.
    Yes, I realize that one can remove followers after the fact but that is hardly a solution.
  • No ability to filter out friends' Buzz content by import stream.
    For example, the ability to filter out all imported YouTube updates but still get everything else. Do we really have to wait for Farmville to get ported to Buzz before Google realizes the value of being able to selectively filter out feed content? Of course haha I'm just kidding, Zynga wouldn't be dumb enough to waste their time porting to a failed social media platform.
  • No privacy controls whatsoever.
    No concept of groups of friends with differing levels of visibility, the aforementioned inability to require authentication before allowing a follower, etc, etc.
  • Use of email for notifications, effectively devaluing email.
    Note the way Facebook uses a separate notification system, a separate requests system, etc. Using email for everything will just cause people to either start ignoring email (which won't happen) or turn off Buzz (which will).
Anyway, it was a clusterfuck, and their worst product launch ever, as far as I can remember. So, in response, I combined my twin hates of Twitter and Buzz and devised a plan. If only I could have done it all on a Netbook, I would have achieved the trifecta.

I created a Twitter account aptly-named "buzzkillor", set Buzz up to automatically import its tweets, then disabled buzz in my GMail. What this amounts to is that I would be able to annoy the everliving fuck out of people following me on Buzz without actually being on Buzz and thus not receiving any of their annoying updates or comments or likes or whathaveyou.

Here were the results (click for bigger):
day 1. mar 21: 39 followers
day 2, mar 22: 35 followers
day 3, mar 23: 35
day 4, mar 24: 32 followers - end of day 4, admission: no i'm not on buzz
day 5, mar 25: 31 followers - sera hill follows on twitter
day 6, mar 26: 28 followers - rachel stops following
day 7, mar 27: 28
day 8, mar 28: 27 followers
day 9, mar 29: 27
day 10, mar 30: 27
day 11, mar 31: 27
day 12, apr 1: 26 followers
day 13, apr 2: 26
day 14, apr 3: 26
day 15, apr 4: 26 followers - started ikariam tweeting
day 16, apr 5: 25 followers
day 17, apr 6: 25
day 18, apr 7: 25
day 19, apr 8: 24 followers
day 20, apr 9: 24
day 21, apr 10: 24
day 22, apr 11: 24
day 23, apr 12: 24
day 24, apr 13: 24
day 25, apr 14: 23 followers, mentioned that everyone should unfollow me the day before
day 26, apr 15: 23
day 27, apr 16: 23
day 28, apr 17: 23
day 29, apr 18: 23
day 30, apr 19: 23
day 31, apr 20: 23

I started with 39 and quickly dwindled down to a very Discordian 23. I can only assume that the 23 followers who remain are some combination of the insane, stalkers, and/or also have Buzz disabled and thus haven't seen my deluge of tweets.

I'm hoping that Google fixes the problems with Buzz, but thus far their response has been fairly weak. Facebook is in serious need of strong competitor, especially given their repeated privacy violations/questionable moves.

Designing a social media platform today without placing privacy considerations at the top spot is a recipe for failure.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Scientific Analysis of Swing Ratio

My friend Andre Majaes brought this paper entitled "Jazz Drummers' Swing Ratio in Relation to Tempo" to my attention. It provides a scientific look at the ratio of the long-short pairs in swing 8th notes.

What is not known is the exact relation between the long and the short note. It is not specified in the score and music students are often advised to learn it by listening to recordings. Such knowledge would contribute to the understanding of the perception and production of music. It would also be useful for generating synthetic performances on a MIDI sequencer, as well as being helpful for students who wish to learn how to swing.

The essential conclusions they come to are that:

  • Swing 8th notes are not triplet-based nor are they dotted-8th and 16-note pairs. The feel varies from drummer to drummer and, as is obvious to the ear and well-known, becomes more straight as tempo increases.

    It is interesting to note that Jack DeJohnette, compared to the other drummers used in the study, actually stays closer to a 2:1 triplet ratio regardless of tempo than the other subjects.

  • The length of the shorter 2nd note of each pair seems fairly constant regardless of tempo- around 100ms. According to the data provided, it appears that the length of the 2nd note only deviates from this fixed amount at slower tempos.

(note: images above from the original paper)

I'm glad to see there is finally somewhat believable scientific evidence that swing 8ths really do vary from player to player and are not absolutely triplet-based.

I do think this study could be done better, however.
  • Better Data Visualization. More data points per drummer, or per-drummer breakdowns, instead of lumping all drummers together. Yes it is visible based on the shape of the data point, but it's had to get a clear picture from it.
  • Control Cases. Comparisons with the same drummers playing straight 8ths and triplet-based feel to use an accuracy baseline.
  • Don't average lengths, but average ratios. I think it is erroneous to average out lengths of notes over the context of an entire song, since variations in tempo (i.e.: speeding up or slowing down) will skew the data. Perhaps this is already done in the original study, but it's not specified.
  • More data. I'd like to see more drummers included in this, and comparisons of relative 8th note feels in different contexts. Also, why not include other instrumentalists as well? I'd also like to see the same drummer at the same tempo, but from different recordings. Perhaps we'll have a clearer justification for why certain recordings "swing like a MOFO" more than others.
It might also be interesting to see a second study exploring the use of accents in swing feel.

[ source: Jazz Drummers' Swing Ratio in Relation to Tempo ]

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

The deal with my Halloween (2009) costume, or I am good at keeping secrets

For Halloween, I dressed as follows:

If you know who I'm dressed as, I hereby award you with 500 Awesome Points. If you don't get/recognize it, try the following clues:

1) Have you see The Wire? (if you haven't seen The Wire, you can skip the rest of the clues, sigh. I mean christ, it's only the greatest television show ever made)

2) Indeed.

3) They were all out of Honey Nut.

4) You see, I woke up one morning, went for breakfast, but found that there were no Honey Nut Cheerios left. The next time Renaldo finishes up a box he's gotta holler on it, yo. So I went out to get some more, but they didn't have any Honey Nut left, which is why I have just the regular kind.

Still no? WTF, what kind of dedicated Wire viewer are you? Sigh.

Ok, fine, here's the answer:

So, for the non-Wire readers, I was dressed as the character "Omar Little" from the show. If you watched the clip above and you're confused, a little context helps- he is one of the most feared and renowned characters in the show's universe, as his primary method of generating income is robbing drug dealers by planning raids on their stash houses.

Ok, so I was a character from an HBO show. What's the big deal? Well, part of it certainly is that my Halloween costumes do tend to go for the "limited audience but intense appreciation" market, which I guess mirrors my taste in music, etc. I'll probably go into further detail on that subject in a future blog post.

But that's not the real reason why I went as Omar.

My friend Jeremy often shares similar tastes with me, and has been, for years now, insisting fervently that I check out The Wire. Although I do typically heed his advice, I took great enjoyment in frustrating him; explaining that I couldn't watch it as I still had to rewatch Elektra and Universal Soldier a few more times.

Although this provided an endless source of amusement on my part, I did fully intend to watch the show and finally watched the pilot episode with my friends Sarah and Michelle about a year ago. After watching it, I got them to swear not to tell anyone, especially Jeremy, that we had watched said pilot. About 6 months ago, I watched the entire series, and kept it a secret. 2 days before Halloween I told my parents my intentions, and 1 day before, when asked about costume plans, I told a friend only that it was a secret but divulged nothing further.

Of course, there were more than a few occasions during the past year/6 months that The Wire would come up in conversation, but I would simply show little interest, and pull out an excuse of the form "oh yeah, my friend told me to check it out but I haven't seen it yet". All the while, a burning desire to blurt out my love of the series would be bubbling under the surface. The absolute brilliance of the writing in the show and its ability to "slow burn" to an eventually tremendously satisfying payoff is quite amazing. But I held my tongue.

One of the reference pics I used for Omar. Yeah, somebody
made a 3D model of him. In fact I asked a hairdresser
friend of mine if she would be able to give me cornrows, but
apparently my hair is "too short and too asian".

Being that Jeremy is in Malaysia (or actually currently in Thailand for a friend's wedding), I decided to dress as Omar, get photos taken, and have him see the photos/tags once they appeared on Facebook. I specifically chose not to dress as Omar in his typical "working" attire of a trenchcoat, bulletproof vest, and shotgun as, with a costume like that, it would not be clear how much of the show I'd seen- it would be quite possible to imagine I'd only seen the 1st season. Instead, I picked this specific look, from this specific scene in season 4, one of the greatest scenes in television history, and a clear indication that I'd seen most if not all of the series. I was eagerly awaiting a "wtf... OMG YOU FUCKER YOU'VE SEEN THE WIRE" reaction.

So I dressed up. I went to parties. I had my picture taken. I waited. Eventually the first pics showed up on Facebook... buuuuuut unfortunately due to privacy settings they weren't visible to the general public. So I waited some more. Palms sweating. Finally, Hamza's pics showed up. The moment of truth! My plan, a year in the waiting! Finally! Coming! To! Fruition!

Jeremy:so ummm i don't get the joke
yeah i don't get your costume
Jeremy:was it some movie i didn't see?
me:are you serious
you can't be serious
Jeremy:dude i've seen like 2 movies in the last 3 years
and both were documentaries
me:i can't believe this
Jeremy:it's certainly not in the wire
i still don't know if you're serious or not
Jeremy:i'm serious!
me:read my caption [ed: the caption was "they were all out of honey-nut"]
or my comment
Jeremy:that rings no bells
when you finish the box you gotta pick up another
me:so off i go
in the morning
in my blue (satin) bathrobe
to get some honey nut cheerios
you suck
[ed: I post the link to the above video]
Jeremy:you're supposed to be omar?

I lose.

But no! I will snatch victory from the jaws of defeat!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Best. Present. Ever.

About 2 years ago, my parents moved out of their house in NDG, which was my childhood home, to move into a condo located downtown. Part of this move included throwing out lots of "old junk" deemed no longer necessary. In fact, the cleaning process started years and years ago, even before they decided to get a condo. Those who know my parents know that they have a dark and quirky sense of practicality and uber-foreplanning- some say fatalistic others say realistic. My dad explained the cleanup: "We want to throw out all this junk now so that, after we die, you don't have to go through all of this".

Unfortunately, one of the items deemed "junk" was a Casio VL-1 VL-Tone, which was my first ever musical instrument, and whose demo song was the first piece of music I ever learnt how to play.

Not exactly the hippest thing ever, but back then I couldn't get enough. I mean, christ, I eventually got so good at playing the theme that I would play the melody while switching the rhythms and sounds around at the right spots.

If you've never heard of the VL-Tone, but hear something in it that sounds familiar, it may be because you've heard songs that have used it. The most famous is probably German band Trio's song "Da Da Da".

Anyway, so, like I said, my dad threw it away and I was shocked and horrified- partly nostalgia but also partly because I've had the idea in the last few years to start a project that would integrate retro electronic sounds, and the VL-1 was going to be absolutely integral to it.

Fast-forward to tonight, when I was over at my parents place for dinner. Due to age and my dad's illness, I've been helping out with various chores and repairs that would have previously been trivial, and so, after dinner, I headed downstairs to pick up the mail. There was a package waiting for us.

Suddenly I realized why my dad had been asking me questions about eBay for the last couple of weeks without the slightest idea it was for this. Best present ever.

Also, thankfully I did manage to stave the hand of junk-disposal before they got to my old Transformers toy collection.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Before Music Dies

I'd heard about this documentary about the current state of the popular music industry, that is to say, marketing-driven music, as opposed to music and musician-driven music, a while ago, but never got around to watching it. My loss. Contains some great insights although it comes off as a bit of a commercial spot for ATO Records at the end of it.

You can watch the entire movie here:

Features interviews with record industry execs, random music fans, and lots of famous and not-so-famous musicians such as Erykah Badu, Eric Clapton, Dave Matthews, Branford Marsalis, and ?uestlove. Also contains an amusing insta-popstar creation using the dude who wrote Jewel's big hit, a 17-yr-old model, and of course the wonders of autotune.

This also contains the famous quote from Branford Marsalis about the state of students today, that has been floating around the webtersphere.

I've seen Branford speaking out on various subjects a bit more recently, and he seems to have a similar combination fire, controversy, and intelligence that Wynton has, but I tend to agree with his opinions more. Kinda like my feeling on their music too, haha.

Here's a clip of him talking about race and the objectification of women:

One of the more bizarre/hypocritical parts of the documentary, though, is hearing Erykah Badu talk all about how the music-industry today is all about image over content, but she is doing this while wearing her very notable but very fake afro wig. Hrm.

Found via Zakari's post on Peter Hum's Facebook wall.

(updated on 2010/12/01 with link to video of Erykah Badu's comments, and updated link to movie)