Romey's Ramblings

April 12, 2014
by Romey
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Vacation Photos

Over Spring Break we took a trip back to Kansas to visit family and spend some time at the Miles Family Farm.  We had a wonderful trip, especially getting a lot of quality time with Clara and capturing some fun moments. Outside of that, I got to tag along and photograph a pasture burn.  I got a lot of practice and towards the end of the burn I felt like I really got things dialed in.  Despite a thorough cleaning, my camera still smells like smoke – but the pictures were definitely worth it.

Here are a few of my favorite ones:

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There are a lot more pictures over at Flickr. We also got some really fun pictures of Clara throughout the week as well, which are also on Flickr.

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March 24, 2014
by Romey
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New drum cover and more YouTube problems

It’s been nearly a month since I posted my last drum cover, and the busyness of work and life interfered with my goal of posting one drum cover per week.  I was definitely anxious to get another one out there and build momentum, but with the YouTube copyright troubles this one has given me, my momentum is all but dead.

I went and covered one of my favorite Muse songs, “Time Is Running Out”. I nailed it in the third take and am now to the point where editing the video has become the easy part.  I started the upload to YouTube only to find that my version got blocked in some countries – actually one country – the United States.

Confused, I searched for other drum covers of “Time” and found quite a few of them out there.  On one of the more successful ones, I noticed that he raised the pitch of the recording. I went ahead and tried the same thing and made Muse’s Matt Ballamy sound like a woman, but I was hopeful that I’d be able to get my video posted.  No such luck, it got blocked in the US again.

Frustrated, I was about to delete my video, but found that it was already getting a few views and even a comment from users in other countries, so I decided to leave it be.  I’m trying to dispute the blocking on the video, on the grounds that this video is for educational purposes for other drummers, but I’m not too helpful that my dispute will be successful.  We’ll see.

Look, I get that Muse’s record label and publisher is acting within their designated rights here, and that these drum covers are on pretty shaky ground.  What sucks here is that there’s some kind of double-standard with the same freakin’ song.  After already being burned by my Kanye cover, I’m pretty leery about putting in the work of practicing and recover a song, only to have it immediately flushed.  Seeing the number of “Time” drum covers that I can see, I assumed that the labels saw this as a promotional vehicle for their music and were happy to collect ad revenue from the videos. It looks like I was wrong.

I guess for now I’ll stick to the more obscure songs or spend some time which researching which labels are cool about covers.  However in the meantime, this process is royally broken.  By the time you discover the end result, it’s too late and you’ve already wasted your time.

Luckily my original video has found a home on Vimeo:

Vimeo has a really nice platform and some great tools, and my video may still be up because of their “security through obscurity” model – but YouTube is where I’ve been trying to grow my channel.  However, with half of my videos now crippled by these blockings – I don’t have much to show for it.

March 23, 2014
by Romey
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Is it time to give up Foursquare?

foursquare

Yesterday turned out to be a pretty busy day for us. In addition go going out to breakfast and running errands, we were also treated to a date night (dinner and a movie).  Ultimately we went to over a half-dozen places, and for each one I neglected to check into Foursquare.

I started using check-in apps back in 2009 with Gowalla. At the time Foursquare was gaining popularity but wasn’t yet on Android at the time. When Foursquare finally released their Android app in 2010, I switched allegiances and was quickly checking in at every place I went. What initially attracted me to Foursquare was their presentation of your statistics.  I loved the gaming aspect of the app: the points you get from checking in and the mayorships you collect.  My whole family and a lot of friends got onto Foursquare, and we had a lot of fun trying to one-up each other in points and check-ins, especially when mayorships were on the lines.

As with all tech startups, Foursquare had to figure out how to generate revenue, and over the years you’ve seen the app design and focus shift from the gaming aspect to trying to become a recommendations engine.  If you look at the app today, the points you get for checking in are no longer display by default, and you have to dig pretty deep in the app to get your mayorships or the scoreboard with your friends.  Whenever you check in anywhere, it doesn’t even tell you who is the mayor or how far away you are from stealing their title.  The news feed showing where your friends last checked in still adds some value, but without the gaming aspects I find myself questioning whether my friends really do care whether I went to the grocery store or gas station.  Part of it is attributed to the fact that my activities are probably a little more mundane now that I have a baby, you don’t see as many bars or restaurants in my feed anymore, but even if I’m somewhere interesting: Foursquare is providing me with little incentive to bust out my phone and check in.

Just like with Twitter, I realize that Foursquare needs to monetize in order to be sustainable – but I don’t understand how you can call yourself a social network when you take out all that is social.  If I want an app that is going to give me good reviews and recommendations, I’ll go over to Yelp or just stick with Google Maps.  I can respect a company trying to pivot, but now Foursquare is pretty much out of bounds.

March 22, 2014
by Romey
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Happy 8th Birthday Twitter – will you please grow up?

Twitter turned eight years old yesterday and offered folks the opportunity to go down memory lane and see their first Tweet.  Over 7 years later, mine is pretty terrible:

I first heard about Twitter through the Boagworld Web Design Podcast, where it was described to me as a networking tool that enables you to keep tabs on acquaintances, with the home page of Twitter asking “What are you doing?” I spent my first few months on Twitter answering that question every time.  Over time my usage of Twitter has changed from being a semi-anonymous brain dump of my rants and ravings (that is until my friends and family discovered the service), to now being a platform for anything I think is remotely clever.  Twitter has also become invaluable when it comes to gaging immediate reactions to any events, having conversations with mutual followers who share my same interests, as well as breaking news in things that I care about.

Out of all the social networks I use (and there’s been many of them over the years), Twitter has been the one that has been most integrated into my daily life.  Every day I have Twitter open in the background on my computer, and Twitter is 2nd on my list of apps that I go to when I have a few minutes to kill on my phone (Instagram is currently the first, but that’s another story).  When Lent came up, giving up Facebook was a realistic option, but it would be a real struggle for me to give up Twitter.  I have a lot of stake in Twitter and want to see it succeed.

That said, Twitter needs to grow the hell up and remember when it came from.

Two weeks ago, MetroTwit, my favorite Twitter client shut themselves down because they became too popular for Twitter.  Back in 2012, Twitter imposed a stupid 100,000 limit against other people’s clients.  Imagine discovering an awesome local band, but when they finally get some exposure and explode in popularity, you’re not allowed to listen to them anymore.  This is essentially what Twitter’s imposed on clients.  If you find an awesome client on your phone, tablet or computer, you better hope you discovered them early, otherwise you’re not going to get much usage.

Twitter is obviously doing this to discourage developers from releasing clients, and driving people to their own official app.  I can appreciate that, and realize that Twitter is a business that needs to make revenue.  The problem is that Twitter didn’t even have official apps when they started and built their popularity on the backs of the very developers that they’re not stabbing.

As I mentioned above, the way I consume Twitter has changed over the year, and it was through some of these apps that inspired this behavior.  Digsby taught me to read Twitter from top to bottom and taught me to read Twitter in a linear fashion, starting 100 posts back and catching up.  MetroTwit was one of the last desktop clients that had the “timeline stays in same position when refreshes”, allowing you to catch up.

This is even more evident in the mobile space, where the Twitter is even more limited. A few months back I moved away from Twicca (which is a great Android App) over to Tweetings , which is a very attractive client.  It’s only a matter of time that a client this awesome will become too popular for it’s own good, and Tweetings will need to raise their price to something outrageous to try to curb development.

Twitter’s definitely entitled to make money, but they’re going about this all wrong.  I’m sure if they imposed a modest fee to exceed the the 100,000 limit, clients can pass that over to their users.  They could require that these clients maintain Twitter’s ad stream. There are a ton of possibilities when it comes to playing together nicely, yet Twitter imposes these draconian policies that make no sense.

So happy birthday Twitter, here’s to maturing.

February 26, 2014
by Romey
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New Drum Cover–Close To You

If you were to judge by my posts on here, you wouldn’t have realized that last week I failed in my attempts to record a drum cover per week, letting a week slide without one.  However, I posted a “better late than never” cover of one of my favorite songs, John Butler Trio’s “Close To You”.

I have to admit I cheated on this one. I used to cover this song when I was playing with Ken and the Action Figures, so my prep time was cut down quite a bit.  While this song isn’t the most technical one out there, it features a solid groove and an awesome solo section.  It’s songs like this that have made Nicky Bomba one of my favorite drummers. I have a fond appreciation for the sounds that he’s able to generate from his kit.

After I finished recording this cover, I played around with another JBT song. Something tells me that you may see another cover from this band soon.

As always, I’d love any feedback.