Who's drumming with needles?

Welcome to drummingwithneedles.com. The content here is provided by me; Robert van Loghem, Rhenen, NL. A guy who develops for iPhone/iPad and is interrested in lots-o-biking.

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If it's a good idea, you'll remember

I am over enthusiastic, keep thinking of new ideas, trying to combine different concepts into a new one. As i get older i noticed that it's becoming very tiring, having 5 to 10 new cool things pop up in your head a day. How do i remember them? How do i know which one is really important, has the top priority?

2 years ago i had installed my own wiki onto my Macbook Pro. If i had a new idea, i would put it there, in some page, in a list, with or without some extra explanation. The pages, lists started to pile up. Reading them again and again was fun, but it didn't move me to actually execute them. I had more ideas then i could execute.

The next step was to do some prioritization? Move the really, really, really good ones on top and the "what was i thinking" to the basement. Did that work for me? Sort of, but i kept changing the priorities. This week i would work on a site, next week electronic music. The site was never finished. The electronic music was 80% done. Ideas in your head look a lot nicer then a site half done. It was awful, changing priorities too often meant that i would start on something but never finish it.

I gave up on the wiki, prioritizing. Took too much time and was very frustrating. I did nothing. If i had an idea, i would think, well this is good and then didn't do anything with it. What happened next was amazing! Some ideas kept popping up in my head. After 6 months, some ideas were still there. Hey wait! perhaps they're good and important to me. The cool thing about these recurring ideas are that they stand the test of time.

For example, my girlfriend and i are thinking of moving to another small-city, Rhenen. We've had this idea now for at least 3 years. Every 2 or 3 months we visit the city, we talk about it every week. The idea is again! confirmed. It's important to us. Now in 2 months we'll be selling our apartment.

This website is another fine example. I always have fine discussions with family, friends and colleagues about technology, life and music. I have opinions about, explore and experiment with them. These are things which i want to share with anyone. How to do it? A blog of-course! The website-blog idea has been lingering in my mind for at least 9 months. It still holds up and it's still great.

The "If it's a good idea i'll remember" way of living has given me peace of mind.

My rule of thumb
1. When i have an idea in my head, i think nothing of it.
2. When i get the same idea over and over again, i act upon it.

Review of The Prodigy's album "Invaders must die"

I like to listen to music, heck i used to DJ and produce it as well. The stuff i listen to gets rated using the iTunes stars-rating-system in my car and in the train while i listen to my iPod. This is the first review I'm doing based on the star-ratings i give in iTunes, you can use it to perhaps buy an entire album or just buy individual tracks.

Last week i bought the new Prodigy album from the iTunes store, "Invaders must die", after a girlfriend recommended it to me. She told me to check it out because i really like the old skool Prodigy sound (Charly, Out of Space, etc.). I even produced some mashups as Soundbites. You might say I'm a bit of a fan from the early days.

Sitting in front of my laptop i listened to the too-short 30 second previews from the iTunes store, the first couple of tracks sounded like the "Voodoo People" remix from Pendulum. It sounded ok, then i heard some old skool beats with some old skool sounds and a massive bassline! It was decided, i immediately bought the whole album. A couple of days later i put the album onto my iPod and started listening and rating the individual tracks.

Track rating of "Invaders must die"

The first two titles are massive sounding clean produced tracks which have a Pendulum versus Prodigy sound to them. There are a couple of other tracks which also sound that way and it is not quite what i like and thus have received a lower rating (2-stars). If you like Pendulum and the Prodigy, this is the album for you. Massive beats, with the ever so recognizable snare drum and well produced.

Then there are what i think are the old skool tracks and of-course are my favorites, less well produced and with beats from the 90's. "Take me to the hospital" has it all, rave, bassline, a beat that sounds like it came from the "Fat of the land"-album, vocals, reggae and a police siren which has been skewed and is dangerous to listen in a car because you think the police is chasing you. Then there is "Warrior's Dance" (4-star) which is simply amazing, when i first listened to it it gave me goosebumps, twice! Old skool beat from waaaay in the beginning of the nineties, screaming "drum and bass" bassline, a catchy female vocal but best of all at the very end there is an air horn! You cannot rave without an airhorn! The other three tracks that have gotten a 3-star rating are; "Omen-reprise", It gets 3-stars because I'm a big sucker for Vangelis, it's like track 2 but without the beats and a lot more synth, building up to a climax. "World's on fire" is so so in the beginning but then a very recognizable rave sample is used and i get goosebumps all over again! btw the rave sample has been taken from Vamp from Outlander. Finally, "Stand up" is just nicely experimental (3-star again).

Although i don't think every track is as good, i have found a couple which have become favorites. To me the Prodigy have proven that they are still the kings of rave.


Use iPhoto to rate wine (or any other drink)

This weekend i bought a nice bottle of red wine from a shop in Utrecht, Margaret Wines. The guy from the shop suggested a red Bordeaux made by a Dutch wine-maker living in the Bordeaux region. When i got home i swapped the last empty bottle of red wine with the new full one. When i put the empty bottle in the bag with other empty bottles i thought to myself, the now empty one tasted pretty good, i should remember it. But how can i remember it? If it's good, if it's bad, how much it was? and it also would be cool to have that information with me when I'm at the supermarket shopping for a new bottle.

Wine event in iPhoto

Well the solution for me was very simple. Take a picture of the wine bottle with my iPhone (or any other camera), import the picture into iPhoto, add it to a "Wine event", rate the picture and if needed add some description to it. What i have then is a list of wines, well pictures actually, with ratings (1 star is horrible-do-not-drink-again, 5 is wow!) and a short description of how it tasted, where i bought it and perhaps the price.

Now the only thing left is to have the list easily accessible when I'm shopping for new ones. Hmmmmmmm, well i found a pretty nifty solution , it's the all magical iPhoto->Smart Album->iTunes->iPhone combo! You start off by creating a Smart Album in iPhoto, then setup the conditions as seen in the picture.Open up iTunes, plug in your iPhone (or iPod), go to the pictures tab and click from the Selected albums the "Best wines" album. Now hit the Sync button and you have an album of best wines added to your mobile device (aka iPhone or iPod)! So what just happened? I have a fully automated way of adding pictures of great tasting wines to a picture album on my iPhone. Whenever i add a picture to the "Wine" event in iPhoto and give it a 3-star or more rating it gets synced to my iPhone. Of course this is just a taste of what is possible with rating pictures of bottles of wine and syncing them back with "Smart albums". I'm going to be adding "Smart albums" for "Best Whiskey" and "Worst wines" (so i don't accidentally buy them anymore).

Currently this wine is at the top of my list! (price is a bit steep but hey! the taste is great!)

Chateau D'Aurilhac 2005 Haut Medoc


Finding little gems hidden in sleeves of 2nd hand records

Yesterday evening i was listening to some vinyl records on my Thorens TD-160 MK 2 with Ortofon 2M Blue needle (no not the knitting kind). I started with some Miles Davis, then some Air (you know, with their hits "All i need", "Kelly watch the stars" and something with a monkey) and lastly put on some Steve Miller Band - Fly like an Eaglewhich i bought 2nd hand recently.

I sat on the couch drinking some wine, bought at the local grocer and noticed some brown piece of newspaper lying on the floor. I reached to pick it up and it was a cutout of a review of the record in German. It must have fallen out of the paper sleeve of the vinyl record when i put it on! I read it, didn't think much of the review itself but the nice thing about it is that somebody put a review of an album in there some 32 years ago (1976) (when i was born ;) ). Perhaps because it was the reason why he or she bought the album, perhaps not, but the record felt personal, like it really belonged to someone.

Anyway that kept me thinking during the day. It's nice that you can attach some information to media, be it a vinyl album, cd or mp3. You can add, pictures, pieces of text to add some personal touches and read the descriptions on your Apple TV or other favorite media center and even discover them 32 years later. So as of today i decided to add some personal notes, reviews, pictures i find to songs in my iTunes library. I can use the description field and artwork to personalize my digital media, to make it mine and not something i just downloaded from the Apple iTunes store like everybody else.

oh before i forget! Here is the piece of brown newspaper i found.

German review from 1976, Steve Miller Band - Fly like an Eagle


Yep! Getting rid of paper...

My girlfriend and i are going to be moving soon (may-june) from the city of Utrecht to the very small city of Rhenen. That means that we have to get our current apartment in order to sell it. So we started cleaning and throwing stuff out. There was but one major problem lying on our desk and in the living room. Paper! bills, notices, contracts, warranties and so on! How could we clean up the mess and still be able to find all our paper if we ever needed it?

Piles of paper lying on our desk at homeLast year we tried to put everything into boxes, sorted and labeled but as i am a nerd i gave up on it. I couldn't be bothered, trying to look for the right box, finding the appropriate place to put the paper in.

But after listening to Andy Ihnatko on the Macbreak weekly podcast where he recommended software to scan in your receipts, business cards and so on, it got me thinking about our paper mess and perhaps scanning would solve a bit of our problem.

So i looked for some scanning and paper organization software for Mac OS X because we already had an Epson perfection 1260 scanner in the house. I found Yep! from Ironic Software which organizes PDF documents just like (what they say on the site) iPhoto. 

Yep! is an application that can scan documents using a TWAIN scanner driver and then create PDF documents. The biggest feature for me is the use of tags which you can assign to those PDF's. For example; if we have a receipt for some apple stuff we scan in the paper, and just assign some tags to it, like; receipt, apple, <store-name>. The application also allows you to quickly search for PDF's based on those tags. This is very powerful which i experienced when doing my taxes last month. Normally it would take me at least 2 hours of sifting through piles and boxes of paper to get the information needed to do my taxes, this year i measured it and it took me 15 seconds!!! I just typed in the appropriate tags, like taxes, overview, 2008 and it returned all 8 documents which i needed.

Wow! this is a nice life improvement for me and my girlfriend.

Now for some quick tips;

  • Make sure the PDF's and the tags that go with it are backed up. Yep! PDF's and Library settings are on my Drobo, which in turn is backed up on a separate disk.
  • The Epson scanner will sometimes stop responding! and the only way i could get it working again was to restart the Macbook Pro. But yesterday i found a solution! Launch Activity Monitor, kill Yep! and the Epson Scanner program, unplug the scanner USB cable and plug it back in. Then launch Yep! again and you are ready to go!
  • Make sure everybody that does the scanning knows about the tags and what they mean ;)

Currently i've only scanned in 75% of the piles, in 4 hours smeared out over 4 weeks i'll be done with all of them!