Archive for March, 2006

Roy Ayers

Roy AyersWhen it comes to good funky jazz and soul, one of the artists that always comes to mind is Roy Ayers. His music expresses many of our care-free summer feelings in just a few words “Everybody loves the sunshine”, and the musical skill of both himself and his band (Ubiquity) is practically unrivaled. It was therefore to my utter delight when I realised that he would be playing here in Leeds on March 17th at my favorite jazz club, The Wardrobe.

Never have a I seen the venue as packed. I had a ticket in advance, but of those who bought on the door many were disappointed, and the gig was sold out and the club rammed within a mere half hour or so. By the time Roy came on stage the atmosphere was electric and the dance floor in front of the stage was rammed 10-15 rows of people deep, all eager to be as close as possible to the first blast of sound.

I’ve only ever heard Roy’s music on CD or internet radio broadcast, and all I can say is that neither medium does him and Ubiquity any justice what-so-ever. As soon as the first riff rolled out across the club, I knew I was in the right place.

Roy started easy on the vocals with occasional vibes, but it warmed the audiance up nicely, for what was soon to come – a 15 minute long jamming session for the band, in which each member displayed outstanding skill. Matt (a friend who came along with me) and myself were just jiving to the amazing work of the guitarist and saxophonist, who also turned out to be quite the “Bob Marley” on the vocals when it came to it.

Roy has certainly got a solid band, with each solo as good as the last, with no clear winner in an all too often biased competition with most groups. The combination of Roy’s presence and skill on the vibes, combined with the awesome sound of his badn created one of the most atmospheric and electric events I have gone to to date.

Everybody Loves the Sunshine was the highlight of the whole evening as I always knew it would be, but not half like I had expected. Cool as ever Roy thanked everyone for coming down, and then with a glint in his eye said “And who loves the sunshine down here tonight?”. We all went crazy. After what we’d just heard from the group, we knew this song was going to be the highlight. Roy got us all joining in with the words, and we were treated to what can only be described as a funk marathon as the band jammed their way through Roy’s most famous number.

Traditional jazz fans were also rewarded when Roy and Ubiquity covered some superb Dizzy Gillespie tracks, which really put the icing on the cake, and was a throughly enjoyable chilled out few minutes in what was otherwise a gig of excitement and constant frenzy.
An hour and a half exposed to this kind of quality jazz funk and soul gives you what can only be described as a super “high” or “trip”, really quite something, and I wouldn’t hesitate to go again. Really inspiring and refreshing stuff.

Luckily for those of us who struggled to come down off such a trip with a bump at midnight, they played some great hard bop, jazz and house over the speakers until 2am for us all to continue dancing and jiving too, and it made the whole evening that little bit more polished and complete.

If you haven’t seen Roy Ayers and Ubiquity live yet, you haven’t lived. Thats all I can say on the matter 🙂

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RAM on the way

Its taken around 2 and a half months since I ordered, but between stupid international delays and things getting lost in the post I am now finally going to get my RAM. No, this isn’t an e-mail promise, this is a tracking number from FedEx that informs me it is currently in Stanstead airport, but has got through customs, and is on its way to me by 12noon tomorow. Yay! Faster Lara just around the corner 😀

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Pretty GUI

Well, not only is it pretty, but it’s functional! The list of files you can see in the screen shot are some of the tags of MP3 files on my machine, and the column headings can be clicked on to re-order the list according to their headings in ascending or descending alphabetical order. Fields can also be edited, although at the moment the changes are not saved, committed to the db and written to the files. But they will be able to be soon, its only a matter of time. It’s very nice to finally see all those little methods being slung together and creating a functional and usable app at last. It’s felt like a long time coming, but there is light at the end of the tunnel!

TIM Screenshot of MP3 Tag list

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Racing to the finish line…

Its amazing, but its nearly the end of my second term here at Leeds. It only seems like 5 minutes since I was taking my exams at the beginning of the term. Things have gone by so quickly, and yet there is still so much to do in the week and few days that remain. Coursework, programming, an updated CV, a couple of awesome jazz gigs and of course my ever-present mandate to update a variety of websites. Will be nice to put my feet up for a week or so at Easter I can tell you!

I’m off to see Roy Ayers tomorrow, and am really looking forward to it. Should be great music to chase away the end of term rush, after all, theres nothing quite like the start of spring and the promise of summer then you’re listening to “Everybody loves the sunshine” played live by the man himself 😉

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Fast indexing

Well, today Dan and I were back on the python case in true pair programming mode and made some modifications to the indexing process. For the first time we tested it on a real archive of MP3 files, everything in my collection to be precise. Approx 30 seconds later over 3000 MP3 files had been successfully indexed by the program. This bodes very well for the final application, as the lack of waiting time for the user is important 🙂

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Technical meets personal

Someone on a forum I help administer posted this up in the free chat area, thought it was amusing to talk about these kind of things in such technical terms!

Installing Love

Tech Support: Yes, … how can I help you?

Customer: Well, after much consideration, I’ve decided to install Love. Can you guide me through the process?

Tech Support: Yes. I can help you. Are you ready to proceed?

Customer: Well, I’m not very technical, but I think I’m ready. What do I do first?

Tech Support: The first step is to open your Heart. Have you located your Heart?

Customer: Yes, but there are several other programs running now. Is it okay to install Love while they are running?

Tech Support: What programs are running ?

Customer: Let’s see, I have Past Hurt, Low Self-Esteem, Grudge and Resentment running right now.

Tech Support: No problem, Love will gradually erase Past Hurt from your current operating system. It may remain in your permanent memory but it will no longer disrupt other programs. Love will eventually override Low Self-Esteem with a module of its own called High Self-Esteem. However, you have to completely turn off Grudge and Resentment. Those programs prevent Love from being properly installed. Can you turn those off ?

Customer: I don’t know how to turn them off. Can you tell me how?

Tech Support: With pleasure. Go to your start menu and invoke Forgiveness. Do this as many times as necessary until Grudge and Resentment have been completely erased.

Customer: Okay, done! Love has started installing itself. Is that normal?

Tech Support: Yes, but remember that you have only the base program. You need to begin connecting to other Hearts in order to get the upgrades.

Customer: Oops! I have an error message already. It says, “Error – Program not run on external components.” What should I do?

Tech Support: Don’t worry. It means that the Love program is set up to run on Internal Hearts, but has not yet been run on your Heart. In non-technical terms, it simply means you have to Love yourself before you can Love others.

Customer: So, what should I do?

Tech Support: Pull down Self-Acceptance; then click on the following files: Forgive-Self; Realize Your Worth; and Acknowledge your Limitations.

Customer: Okay, done.

Tech Support: Now, copy them to the “My Heart” directory. The system will overwrite any conflicting files and begin patching faulty programming. Also, you need to delete Verbose Self-Criticism from all directories and empty your Recycle Bin to make sure it is completely gone and never comes back.

Customer: Got it. Hey! My heart is filling up with new files. Smile is playing on my monitor and Peace and Contentment are copying themselves all over My Heart. Is this normal?

Tech Support: Sometimes. For others it takes awhile, but eventually everything gets it at the proper time. So Love is installed and running. One more thing before we hang up. Love is Freeware. Be sure to give it and its various modules to everyone you meet. They will in turn share it with others and return some cool modules back to you.

All I can say is watch out all you who ask my advice on MSN 😉

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Views on cheating

It’s interesting, because I never said I would blog about relationship things, but the latest posting on Laura’s blog has got me thinking seriously about my stance on cheating. You should view her posting before reading on further so things make sense.

It has taken me quite a while to think about and write this blog posting as it is not normally an area I write in. But I will fill in a little background first. I have always said that I disapprove of cheating, and I feel that I am rarely alone in that regard. I have commented as such to friends, and some of them know it very well! I have gone further than this though in my own actions as to say I wouldn’t date someone who had cheated in the past.

This is where the buck stopped with my description of cheating, my reasoning behind my statement and everything else. This was too short for Laura, and the lack of grounded reasoning, I admit, also had to be addressed. The issues with my short statement are as follows (Laura in fact brought most of them up, some outlined in her blog posting, so these are almost quoted directly from there and an MSN conversation or two):-

– What constitutes cheating? (Sleeping with, kissing, even just flirting a lot?)
– How do you define past? (Indefinite, past month, year, 5 years?)
– How strong is my “wouldn’t date” are there any exceptions?
– How fair /right is it to base such a decison purely on one thing?
– Are there any situations in which I would break my rule?

Well, as ever I was given quite a lot of food for thought on these things, and in places I could already see some holes appearing in my argument.

For a start, the first one; for me to told such a hard line I would obviously have to know if someone had cheated. If their definition was different to mine though, I could pose the question, they could give an answer and yet I, and indeed they, could still be in the dark. Laura asked me to provide a yard-stick definition, and I did, and then realised it was full of holes for everybody, including me, so I’m not going to quote it here. I have refined it to be as follows, and in fact its much simpler. I have also made it only applicable to me, my argument and my stance on the matter, as other people will, and have the right to, disagree wholeheartedly or in part. “Cheating is the act of doing something while in a relationship that your partner considers cheating, irrespective of how you feel on the matter”. This is the only fair definition. In a relationship you have to rise to the highest boundary. Whoever has the stricter definition of cheating, that is what you both must honour, else there will be all sorts of problems. Ok, so far I got my argument to hold water – just.

Defining past was a problem, and in fact Laura is reading this defninition for the first time, but it has dawned on me it has to be this one. I define past as the relationship before the one they would enter into with you. In other words their ex. After all if they cheated a while ago but were faithful to their ex. you shouldn’t close the door at the outset, there would be all sorts of factors to consider and at the very least they wouldn’t be a serial cheater. Ok, still holding water 😉

*CRASH* ok, on the third point the house of cards just collapsed. Laura is right here. How can I say in advance of all possible other influences with 100% certainty I would say no based on my reasoning alone – I can’t, I simply can’t. Few of us can, unless perhaps you have some higher faith determining how you take your decisons. For someone like me who bases decisions on logic and morals mosty, it would be impossible for me to do so. You don’t know what circumstances may exist, what kind of person they might be, how you may feel about them etc. So I lost here.

I also therefore reaslised I couldn’t answer the last point due to the above; I have to be honest and say there is no way I can say for 100% certainty that I wouldn’t break my rule. I’m not going to get jailed for doing so, so it will be down to circumstances at the time.

I hold on to the last shreds of my argument with the fourth point though. My reponse is “every right”. Unless you feel 100% sure about starting a relaionship you shouldn’t. If one of your reasons for being less than 100% sure is that they cheated on an ex lover, that is your right. In fact as you are your own person I would say you have a right to use any reasoning you like to not start a relationship. Harsh but true, and for those who have ended realtionships, you must know what I mean here with respect to ending them.
So where does that leave me and my argument? Quite simply its just opened it up a bit and forced me to take into account that all things are not black and white, and I shouldn’t pretend they are till I find myself in a situation where I realise they are not – you need to be open to the possibility from the start.

It is also worth nothing that a person’s present behaviour and attitudes to their future must have a more important role than their past. Far too many people have lost out, missed out and been unlucky simply because they have been stuck in their past.

Laura you have succeeded in partially debunking one of my most hard and fast rules through reasoning and argument, and as someone who values debate highly as a means for drawing conclusions, you’ve done a fine job.

On a lighter, less personal, and more general point to everyone though; Don’t cheat, its wrong. Moreover, don’t make people like me have to debate such slipperly slopes – after all if there was no cheating, there would be no such debate, and I think Laura and I can agree on that one 🙂

Oh, and my lack of blogging about relationships has just been resumed as of…. now! I much prefer the lighter chat anyway….. randomness anyone? 😀

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All Jazzed Up!

Well, as can be expected from what is fast becoming an institution at URY, Jazz Blues Fusion went well last night. If you didn’t catch the show, then you can do so on the URY listen again service.

It was great to get so many e-mails from listeners, and special thanks to Katy Main for listening in her car on the way to fencing and texting me about it – I got your text when I switched my phone back on after the show and your commitment to the cause is commendable!

Being on the show really got me in the mood for Roy Ayers on Friday though; hearing “Everybody Loves the Sunshine” blasting out in the studio and across the airwaves reminded me about just how good his music really is and how much fun its going to be to dance the night away down at the wardrobe on Friday. If you haven’t got your tickets yet and you have the time/money, then now is the time (no pun on Snake Davis there by the way 😉 ) as there are still some left. Kudos to Fabiano for tracking down the opening track in the film Welcome to Collinwood, thats on the show as well in the “Song from a film” feature and also makes the show stand out.

Next term James will be conitnuing the show I am happy to say, with Fabiano playing an ever increasing role and taking the show into next year. Lets see if Jazz Blues Fusion can be made one URY’s longest standing shows on the airwaves apart from the flag ship shows!

Oh, and while on the subject of good music, James recommended to me a show on URY that went out 2 hours after Jazz Blues Fusion; its a new show the supposedly great music. You can listen to that show here

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First run wizard

Well, the project has made some good progress since my last posting. MP3 files in a target directory are now being added into a database, which also holds a table for application variables, although this is a yet unused. The schema for the database is now compatable with most databases that take SQL, and the queries have been moved into functions which would be easy to edit in case of future changes.

The GUI is slow going, but with the rest of things falling into place this is now the main focus of the project.

The first run wizard idea was a nifty bit of coding that isn’t quite finished yet, but which I started yesterday. It detects your OS, then looks in the default place in your OS for a config file for the program. If it doesn’t find it it launches a wizard allowing the user to select a name and location for the database to be stored, and the root directory to index. A config file is created and the database is created and loaded with default application variables, a blank set of tables, and the users selected directory is indexed into the tables. All this before the program finally launches. At the moment the “wizard” has no GUI, but it will be easy to add a one window GUI for this, and will make the program run quite nicely.

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Jazz Blues Fusion

Just to give all Jazz, Blues and Fusion fans the heads up that I will be back in my old seat tomorrow night at 8pm on University Radio York presenting Jazz Blues Fusion. For the first time EVER in the history of the show, James Goodhead and I will share the presenters role and the desk to bring you some of the best music we can muster for the end of term in York.

I will be playing some interesting selections I have had gathering dust on my desk for a moment like this to be played, and James will continue his regular features. Also returning to the show for a special appearance will be the gig guide, this time covering the coming week and all of the Easter univeristy holidays so you won’t be short of good jazz when Jazz Blues Fusion goes off the air for the holidays.

You can tune in live from 8pm tomorrow night by going to URY’s listen live page and following the instructions. Enjoy the show, and remember to send us plenty of e-mail into the studio!

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