A record to call my own

So, here it is, at last. Today I am announcing the upcoming release of my new album, Forward. It will be the twelfth official release on my basslin.es imprint, available worldwide in a variety of digital formats on August 16th, 2014. You can even pre-order it right now.

Although it's technically my second album, this one really feels like the beginning to me. My first solo release in 2011 was more of a found art project than a proper record. It's interesting, and I'm glad it's out there, but it's only the beginning of the story.

Forward is an intentional composition, from start to finish, and unlike the other myriad records I've worked on over the years, this one is all me. It's far from perfect, but I think it actually sounds pretty good. It incorporates elements of many genres and styles without wholly giving in to any of them. It's completely instrumental; wordless, but the songs still tell stories, and although it's completely digital in origin, it's also full of analog warmth and acoustic character. It is enigmatic and contradictory, love and sadness, joy and pain.

At least, it is all of those things to me. While I very much hope it finds an audience, I made this record for myself. If some day you should happen to listen to it, I hope that you hear something you like, too.



I love science. I truly believe in it. In a very literal way, it is my religion, and I am passionate about it; I preach quite often, taking every opportunity I can to explain to people how devices work - from mechanical pencils to the Internet, the most advanced system ever conceived by humankind.

For me, it's all about understanding and appreciating the world around me: not only the big picture, but the minute details. I refuse to perceive the technology that surrounds us as some kind of modern magic.

It's now 2014; I wrote the above paragraphs about two years ago, but never published them. I'm sure I had some bigger idea for that post, but I can no longer recall what it may have been - but those words are still good words, so here they are.


Hands on Android 4

While the mobile phone industry buzzes like a beehive about Ice Cream Sandwich and all of the shiny new devices designed to run the latest version of the Android mobile operating system, I'm discovering that a couple of old phones from 2010 run the new software brilliantly - no purchase necessary.

My phone is an HTC Desire Z, better known in the US as the T-Mobile G2. I never ran the stock software on it at all; it was rooted and reflashed with CyanogenMod 7 as soon as it came out of the box. (It's a decent phone, although I probably wouldn't purchase another one or recommend it to anyone else - it doesn't have quite enough RAM and the Z-hinge keyboard design makes it heavy, bulky and unnecessarily fragile. Honestly, I think I'm over the need for a physical keyboard now; soft keyboards have improved dramatically over the years.)

I've been waiting anxiously for CyanogenMod 9, the new major version based on Ice Cream Sandwich, since the Galaxy Nexus was first released in October 2011. Unfortunately, CM9 has been a long time coming; it's April now, and the developer releases are still alpha quality, although I expect things to start shaping up quickly with the advent of their brand new build infrastructure. With that said, not all is lost: their open source code base is frequently adapted into unofficial builds, and some of these are impressive indeed.

Enter Andromadus, an ICS ROM for the Desire Z based on CM9. I've been running it for a few weeks now, and I'm quite happy with it so far. Although Beta 1 had a couple of ugly glitches, Beta 2 is really quite stable and does everything I need it to do. It does spontaneously reboot from time to time, but I'm not sure how much I can really blame the ROM for that; the phone only has so much memory, and I push it awfully hard on a daily basis.

Next up: the T-Mobile myTouch 4G, my mom's phone. Although she was perfectly content with the stock firmware for two years, she recently changed carriers and the extensively T-Mobile-branded software suddenly became very unhappy. Third-party firmware to the rescue once more: the interestingly-named Zips Creamed Glacier is another ICS ROM based on CM9, specifically for the myTouch 4G. It loaded up quite smoothly and seemed very fast during setup, and although I haven't spent a lot of time using it myself, I haven't heard any complaints yet.

In conclusion: if you're interested in running Android 4 and already have a decent handset, then you might just be in luck! Although the CM9 alpha ecosystem seems to be a bit fragmented at the moment, I am hopeful that things will start to converge in the near future; all indications are that, when CM9 becomes stable, it's going to be great.


So, what else is new?

2012 ticks relentlessly onward, in much the same manner as many years before. It has been a very good year, for me, so far.

In March, I left the United States for the first time, to attend my sister's wedding in Tokyo. I can hardly even begin to describe what a transcendental experience that trip was for me - Japan is amazing, my sister is amazing, and the new Japanese branch of my family is amazing. These things have now all become tangible parts of my life in a way I never imagined possible.

Back here, all of the projects I've been involved with are going well. I'm organized, motivated and efficient, and I have a lot to show for it. Professionally, I am expanding my consulting business at a comfortable pace and doing work I can take pride in. My technical abilities and problem-solving skills are stronger than ever. (I'm modest as hell, too.)

Although my musical endeavors have yet to top the charts and make me world famous, the new material I am working on is better than ever, and constantly improving. I'm also collaborating with many new artists, and getting noticed by some serious players. Simply put, my stuff is blowin' up. The label site has been quiet for a while, but my SoundCloud page can provide your ears with further insight on this matter.

Last but not least, after so many years of false starts and unfinished attempts, I'm finally having some success building a community network in my own neighborhood. I've been fortunate enough to make contact with some local business owners who understand what Personal Telco is all about, and some real progress is being made as a result.

Oh, yeah, I also turned 28 a couple of weeks ago - but that's just another number.


Printer blues

Well, there are many more interesting things I've meant to write about, but this is annoying me just enough to want to write more than a tweet will hold, so here it is.

I bought a new printer just over a year ago - a Canon iP2702. Actually, I have the invoice: I paid $39.99 plus shipping for it on January 7th, 2011. It seemed like a great deal, at the time.

Since then, I have used it to print maybe 50 pages. Actually, I think that's a pretty generous estimate - it has hardly been used at all. I just printed a simple single-page PDF with it, and I was surprised to discover that the output quality has been diminished to the point where the ink is hardly readable.

Why has this barely-used device suddenly decided to obsolete itself in such a dramatic fashion? I find myself inclined to seek outside services for my printing needs, in the future. I've paid $0.79 per page for this device, over it's lifetime, assuming that I have actually printed 50 pages with it - and that isn't including the cost of the paper. In contrast, for example, one popular online printing company claims that they will print and deliver to me the same document for $0.75 per page.

I like doing things myself, but here I am with a worthless pile of plastic that now needs to be recycled. I think it might just be the last printer I will ever own.


Spreading the word: PDX

Two weeks have passed since the official release of the debut Hundred Round Drum album, entitled PDX. I am pretty satisfied with the quality of the finished product; it is the culmination of several years of composition and many months of serious audio engineering, and I think it has a more refined and coherent sound than any of the other music I've worked on over the course of the last 15 years.

Now that all the hard work inside the studio is done, I find that I am suddenly faced with another task of epic proportions outside the studio: actually getting people to listen to the music. Although I like our new name, and intend to stick with it for the foreseeable future, the change has done nothing to help our fan base. Any kind of "brand recognition" which may have been earned over the years, with the 5 oh Trees name, is now dust in the wind.

To complicate matters further, I don't really know anyone who listens to rap music, other than the small group of people who were already involved with the record. I'm starting from scratch, armed only with a few great tracks and a modest Internet presence. The only help I seem to be able to muster comes in the form of words of encouragement; wonderful as these are to hear, they do little to improve the pace of downloads.

With that said, not all of the news is bad news. I'm certainly not the only one trying to promote my music on the Internet - there are a multitude of popular (if shady) web sites which are intended to aid me in this quest, and I'm gradually expanding my group's presence on a few of the reasonable-looking ones. One such site even goes as far as reporting that HRD already places at #75 in the Portland rap charts, which is very encouraging. Discussions with a couple of my music-oriented friends have also landed me some great ideas. The future is bright, I just can't wait for it to get here!


New toys for Personal Telco

As I mentioned in November, the Personal Telco Project recently received a generous grant of two Dell PowerEdge servers from Free Geek. Thanks to the concerted efforts of Russell Senior, Tom Fitzgerald and myself, those servers are now operational!

The first machine to reach its new home was red, a Dell PowerEdge 2650 with 2x Intel Xeon 3.06GHz processors, 12GB of RAM and 5x73GB SCA disks. It's being hosted in rack space provided by the National Psoriasis Foundation; special thanks to Tom Fitzgerald for making this possible and helping out with the installation.

The other machine is called blue, and it's a Dell PowerEdge SC 1435 with 2x AMD Opteron 2212 processors, 8GB of RAM and 2x1TB SATA disks. It is being hosted at the same Integra Telecom Amber Glen facility where our faithful old server, donk, has resided for many years. Thanks are owed to Dat Nguyen, who provided the hard disks, and Russell Senior, who assisted with the installation.

Various services will be moved over to these new machines over the next few months. Access to blue will be available to Personal Telco members on request - let me know if you want an account!