Thursday, November 28, 2013

Software's Unfinished Songs

How would you like it if you bought your favorite bands new album, and although it cost you $400 you paid it because you love them and need this album to keep your life meaningful in this tech-filled world. But, when you go listen to the album you find that some of the songs are incomplete. Upon further listening you discover that there's sudden interruptions in the middle of songs, in-which you can hear the band talking about what they should play there. They fiddle with a few guitar riffs then say "Awe. F**k it. Let's just move on! We have to get this out by next month." They continue, and the record company releases it like that anyway.

That's what new software releases have been like for some time now. Unfinished songs from an album that you paid $400 or more for.

How do we deal with these "unfinished songs"? Well, for me, most of the time when I have problems with my computer or cell phone, I search the internet for a solution only to find other people who are lost in the forest of internet forums, asking questions, not exactly like mine, but similar to mine. And there's nobody answering them, or the answers are basic, like "Try restarting it." Or, the answers can be ridiculous "My cell-phone was doing almost the same thing as yours but I put it in a zip-lock bag then stuck it in the freezer for a couple of hours. It fixed mine right up!"

I wouldn't stick a $400 piece of technology in a freezer. And if that's what fixes it, then I have a disproportionately engineered four hundred dollar piece of shit.

Anyhow, I think part of the reason there are so few answers to peoples technical questions is because even the people who work for the software/hardware companies know that the complaints they're getting are for the current version of things, which will be obsolete in a year or less. So, why waste time becoming an expert at it and trying to fix it, right? Soon they're just going to release a new version to sell to you. And, you'll probably buy it because you need the upgrade that fixes all the shit that is wrong with the version that you purchased and have now.

Is this how it's going to be from now on?

Because, if so, I'm going open source, because then at least the software problems that I have will be from software that is free.

Friday, November 08, 2013

Going to the Record Store

What it was like going to the record store?

OK, imagine some guy or girl sitting at their computer wearing sweat-pants and a t-shirt and clicking-and-clicking on stuff to listen to in their living room. It wasn't like that. 

Going to the record store was planning it the previous day, or even the previous week, or the week before that! "Man, let's go to the record store this week. What? You can't? OK, then let's go next week. I need to get that song I heard yesterday and explore some new music."

So you would pick out something cool to wear (even if the look you were going for was the 'I don't care what I look like' look), comb your hair, and get excited about going to the place where all the bands hard labored crystallizations were collected for you to brows through. Sometimes, you would want to go solo if it was time for a deep and personal introspection into the music scene, which sometimes could be used as a delightful escape. Or, you'd go with a friend and show each other the things you'd find while hunting for new artists. Regardless, you would walk out of the record store feeling a similar catharsis to watching a great movie in a cinema.

And, it was likely that you'd make a new friend or have an interesting conversation with someone. Since, they were obviously browsing the same genre that you were, you most likely admired each others style.

Anyhow, I'm getting ahead of myself.

So, there you were. You got to the record shop dressed appropriately and feeling excited because you were about to absorb the album artwork, the fonts, the smells, the song titles, the album producers, the record companies, the guest artists. You analysed, meditated, and weighed every one of these details. There was a whole experience that went along with merely finding new music, and many of your music purchases were largely intuitive. (My best intuitive purchase was Surfer Rosa by The Pixies - I'd never heard of this band, but judging from the album art, their name, the font, song titles, I could almost hear the sound of a band I liked.)

How long you'd spend at a record store? Well, like I said, it wasn't like you could sit in your living room and just click away. It was a place most people went to about once a week. So, hours could go by in the record store, you got there a little after Noon and when it was time to leave the sky was threatening dusk. After spending all that time contemplating your new music, you felt pretty good about your choice.

Also, Record stores were like the coffee shops and bars of today. They were one of the coolest places to work (if not thee coolest) and the line of hardcore music enthusiasts who wanted to work at one, and who were cooler than you was long. Admittedly, I was a fairly awkward Chicano kid so I didn't fantasize about working at a record store too much.

Maybe you drove to the record store, maybe you took the bus, maybe someone drove you. Whatever the case, what you had in your bag was a very personal and even spiritual thing. So, sometimes you didn't want to listen to it right away. You wanted to wait till the moment was right. - When the moment was right, you were excited to open your new cassette, CD, or LP. And, you'd read every single thing on it, from the title on the cover to the copyright date on the back page.

When you bought this new music. What you had done is you made a commitment to listen to the whole thing from beginning to end (It's not like you were able to just move on to the next anyhow) you gave the artist at least that amount of "respect", if you will. And, if a particular artist's sonic landscape that you found pumping through your headphones or speakers didn't appeal to you right away, you worked to try and understand what the artist was going for; What they were trying to say.

It would be at least a week before you decided that you didn't like the album. Remarkably, you wound up liking and appreciating almost everything you got. 

Can you believe all this rich experience existed in merely finding new music?