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Category Archives: Technology

New Gear, Part 3…

During the past seven months I’ve bought some new equipment. I could have bought a new iPad but instead, I bought Cubase Elements 7 and Zoom G3 for my PC. I didn’t find a good reason to buy an iPad because this combination is mobile enough for me.

But the bigger problem is finding the time and the inspiration to (once more) listen to the ideas on my phone and on my Dropbox account in order to write new songs. After writing songs for Eternal Tears of Sorrow the same way for fifteen years (recording ideas on the phone / computer and making them into demo songs on Cubase), is it possible for me to find a new way for writing songs? (And that fifteen years is as a matter of fact twenty-three years…)

And it’s not just the way of writing that needs some updating, it’s also the end results. In other words, I (and we) need a new perspective to the songs. We need the eight album to sounds fresh and new.

Well.. IF the eight album ever comes out. For the first time, I’m not sure if there’s going to be another EToS album. I don’t know if all of us will find the time to do it. I don’t know if we get a new record deal that’s good enough for us to record an album in our ways. (The music business has changed and the record companies seem to be poorer than ever…) All I can say that there’s not going to be a new EToS album in 2015 or 2016.

But then again, you never know about our band. In 2001, when our fourth album “A Virgin and a Whore” came out, we were 101% certain it was going to be our last album ever. In 3½ years, we were planning a new album. Things were different then, though. We were sick and tired of the band and each other then. Now we’re just too busy with all the other things that are supposedly more important.

So, if we’ve learned anything from the past, we could say there’s going to be a new EToS album… Sometimes in the future. But EToS has not split up. Neither is it officially on hiatus either. We’re just taking it slow for a while. You know, our chief weapon is surprise. Surprise and fear! No wait, that’s what Monty Python does. Our chief weapons are 1) how much we love music and 2) that most of don’t make music for a living, which gives us a lot of freedom when it comes to making music.

EToS is not a job but it’s not a hobby either. It’s more like a way of life. It’s a bit like a house that we started building a long time ago and now it has seven rooms. And every time I get back to the house I am like ‘oh wow, this building is quite amazing, we could need at least one more room, so let’s see what we can do about it’.

P.S. I finally got rid of Samsung phones. Or technically, my last Samsung phone went dead and therefore got rid of me. Now I’m a happy owner of an LG phone.

 

New Gear… Part 2.

One idea has haunted me for several days, or more like several weeks. Getting new gear. It’s not that my current equipment is broken. It’s just old and, well, boring. And most importantly, it’s not mobile at all. I’ve got an old desktop computer that it’s just too heavy to be carried around. (Besides, I switched from Windows to Linux early this year so I have hardly any music software on my computer…) So, when I’m not at home, I need to record all my ideas with my mobile phone. If I’ve got a guitar, I can record it acoustically. If I don’t have my guitar with me, I need to record my whistling. And because of this, listening to the old ideas can be frustrating. Their quality may be very bad, so the original idea may even get lost or distorted.

So, I’ve slowly come into the conclusion that I need new equipment. I’ve already mentioned Kemper Profiler Amps, which are nice. But for now, I’ve decided to concentrate on something smaller and less expensive: a new, mobile sequencer thingie. I mean an iPad, an audio interface and Cubasis. That would be a bit more than 400 euros (a bit less than 600 USD). That would be the first phase. The second phase would be a new Windows laptop, a new audio interface (conpatible with both iPad and the laptop) and Cubase 7. The third phase would be a Kemper amp that would be nice for both home recording and gigs.

Why am I just writing about these things instead of just buying them? Well, first, I like to plan things like these. And I want to be sure this is selection of equipment would be the best for me. Also, I don’t need the equipment now. At the moment, I’m going through the phase of collecting new ideas. I need to redefine my styles (yes, that’s a plural form) once again. I need new approaches to writing songs for EToS. Carcass did it splendidly with Surgical Steel, so I’m sure I can do it, too. It just needs some time to gather new ideas. In addition, I want to try new styles, new things, new approaches to music as such.

Anyway, here are a couple of videos I’ve watched lately. They’re about making music with iPad and Cubasis. Enjoy (if you’re interested in stuff like this :D)!

 

2014!

Happy new year everyone!

First of all, I suppose you can guess what happened to my ambitious project? It was a total failure, although not a complete failure. During the last months of 2013, I read many (well, several) books, listened to a lot of new music (meaning: music that’s new to me), watched some excellent movies and television series and so on.

2013 was not a bad year at all. In short, it was a better year than 2011 or 2012. And 2014 has already been a bit different. I’m talking about my dear computer i.e. my media center and my music studio. I half-accidentally got rid of Windows 7 and started using Linux Mint.

Why? The most important reason is: Linux Mint 16 is faster than Windows 7. And a bit safer to use, too. And much cheaper!

But after installing Mint and installing nearly all the software I needed, I still needed to get answers to three questions:

  1. How to use Netflix and other services that use Silverlight?
  2. How to use Office?
  3. How to make music with Linux?

The Netflix question was relatively easy to solve. http://namhuy.net/1867/how-to-install-netflix-on-ubuntu-linux-mint-and-fedora.html The only problem is that as the solution is a bit complicated when it comes to technology, the FPS on my old computer is not as good as it should be. So, I’ll use Netflix on my tablet.

The Office question was simple: Mint is equipped with LibreOffice. Besides, I also have Google Keep and Google Docs, which is where I keep most of my documents, anyway.

But the third question remains. How to make music with Linux? After using Cubase on Windows for ten years, that is a quantum leap into the great unknown. VST on Linux? Perhaps, as far as I know.

In the end, all I need is a nice environment to make drum beats, to record some guitars and additionally to have some virtual keyboard tracks on top of everything else. I’m still working on it. I’ll let you know when I come up with something interesting.. I hope.

 

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Alternatives to the Last.fm Radios…

Image representing Spotify as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

Last.fm decided to sharpen their business model, so they quit their radios in most countries. I suppose 3 euros per month wasn’t profitable enough. Even Spotify has had problems with the profit – and their services are even more expensive, five to ten euros per month. So, I don’t blame Last.fm. They did what they had to do. Online music services – or cloud music services – are tricky in many ways.

Naturally, Last.fm’s sudden strategic change made me change my strategy, too. I needed to find a new way to listen to music, at home and wherever I go with my mobile phone. Earlier, I just needed to press a couple of buttons on my phone or computer and I got to listen to songs I liked (or might have liked).

I like this way. I like exploring new bands and new songs – but I also have my favourite bands and albums that I want to listen now and then. Sometimes it is quite hard to find a perfect balance between these two things – well, naturally the cloud services don’t know when I have the urge to listen to new music and when I am in a more nostalgic mood. But that’s a small problem, a first world problem, so to say.

Image representing Last.fm as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

Last.fm isn’t gone. It still has many great services, including the scrobbling plugin, which is what they are best-known fot. Then, there is the Last.fm plugin for Spotify, which is not perfect but has three nice ways to create Spotify playlists easily. (All of these ways are based on what you have scrobbled to the Last.fm database, by the way).

Create a playlist based on 1) what you’ve listened to during the past three months. 2) what you are listening now and 3) what Last.fm recommends to you.

English: Screenshot of the Last.fm software pr...

English: Screenshot of the Last.fm software program. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Using these three functions, it is relatively easy to create a Spotify playlist that is somewhat similar to my personal Last.fm radio channel. Not as simple, not as handy, but it’s still possible. And most importantly, to make the playlist more Last.fm-like, I use the playlist radio function on Spotify. The system isn’t perfect but I suppose it is sufficiently good for me now.

But some day, some day the cloud music services know exactly what I want to listen. And that will be a scary day. I don’t want computers to know too much or to know me too well.

Would I have other alternatives? Of course. Rdio, Deezer, Rhapsody. I don’t know if Rhapsody works in Finland, though. But one cloud service is enough for me now.

 

 

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Websites and So-called Mobile Strategy

Internet Explorer 1

Internet Explorer 1 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How geeky can things related to metal music get? Well, thinking about something called “mobile strategy for the website” is probably the geekiest thing a metal band can do. The stereotypical metal musicians should drink beer and play their instruments instead of spending hours finishing their websites.

Well, times have changed. In the late 90s, a web designer only had to take care that the website looks ok in Netscape and Internet Explorer. But now, the world is full of different browsers and devices: computers, phones and tablet computers, different versions of different operating systems and so on. And this makes the situation a bit more difficult than before.

Internet Explorer Mobile 6 in Windows Mobile 6.5

Internet Explorer Mobile 6 in Windows Mobile 6.5 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So, one big question pops up. How to make a website look nice and work perfectly on all the possible platforms?

In the end, there are two priorities.1. To make the website easy to use no matter which device and browser you are using. And 2. To make the content of the website easy for us to update. The former one is naturally the primary priority whereas the latter one is just a nice bonus.

Perhaps the easiest way would be just choosing the right JavaScript and CSS files according to the device the end user is using. That’s just an idea and I don’t know if it works. I’ll probably have to make the website to recognize the browser and to load the right files according to the information received. And it may become a total nightmare to make it work perfectly.

By the way, if you are wondering the same things as I am, I recommend Opera Mobile Emulator. It provides a nice way to see how different sites look with different devices. http://www.opera.com/developer/tools/mobile/ 

 
 

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The Zen of Designing a Website…

EToS Website in 1999

I’ve working on the new Eternal Tears of Sorrow website for a week now. Actually, I’ve always made and taken care of our website, since early 1996. There are two exceptions. The current design (@ eternaltears.fi) was designed by Maurizio Marchetti. And the design slightly before the release of “Before the Bleeding Sun” was done by Jussi Järvenpää.

So yeah, we’ve had a website for almost seventeen years and the forthcoming layout will be ninth or tenth version of our site. This time, we want something much more simple than usually. Nowadays, the bands’ websites aren’t as important as they used to be in say, ten years ago. There are so many services you can get band info at.

So, the layout of the page will be nice and simple. And modern. But the techniques behind the site aren’t that simple. It’s mostly based on jQuery and different free/open-source jQuery plug-ins. It was weird to make the very first demo version of the new website. It looked somewhat rudimentary but still, it had a damn modern feel and I liked it, so I went on with the experiment. Perhaps I’ll use some PHP, too, who knows.

But the point of the website won’t be using as many HTML techniques as I can. It’s not about making it look extreme cool either. I just want to make it simple but nice. Usability is more important looking cool. The quality of information is more important the quantity of information. Less is less. And still, less is more.

Our music has changed in ten, twelve years. That’s why our website must change, too. Just check out how minimal our website was in 2005, after our three-year break: http://web.archive.org/web/20050204025255/http://www.eternaltears.info/ That’s so 2005, or more like so 2000! 😀

But well, anyway… The new EToS website will be released, hmm, when I finish it, when I & we feel like it’s ready. It could be before Christmas or in February.

 

 
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Posted by on 29.11.2012 in In English, Technology

 

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