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Messages - rpruyn [ switch to compact view ]

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Living Room / Re: Jazz Recommendation Thread
« on: December 10, 2013, 05:07 AM »
Ah! I spy something I can help with. Get over here!

Last year, I was stuck with the same problem: I knew some classics, but had no idea in which direction to go next. So I've been asking for advice and doing lots and lots of listening.
I've already seen ton of great recommendations above, and I can really second the spiderweb strategy. For me, that was merely the beginning: all great artists evolve and a lot of the albums  most of the 'greats' made do not appeal to me.
Lee Morgan is a good example: I'm in love with The Procrastinator, but I can't really get into The Sidewinder, one of his more famous albums. Live at the Lighthouse I haven't even heard yet (it's next on my list!), but Grant Green's Live at the Lighthouse I love and own. And Morgan is not an extreme example: he was tragically killed at a young age, whereas artists like Coltrane, Hancock and Davis have been evolving throughout each decade.

Anyway, without further ado, here are some of my recommendations. I really mention specific albums that are personal favorites, and I've added a short description. I hope you like some of them or discover great ones through the spiderweb strategy. Good luck!

Yusef Lateef - Eastern Sounds (Lateef is an amazing multi-instrumentalist, who plays the saxophone flute and hobo among other things. With this album, he incorporated Indian music into jazz, and I still listen to the result on a weekly basis)
Idris Muhammad - Power of Soul (New Orleans drummer converted to islam and responsible for an amazing string of collaborations and groovy albums. This is one of those spiderweb albums, because it features Bob James (Nautilus anyone?), Grover Washington Jr. and Randy Brecker)
Grant Green - Live at the Lighthouse (Grant Green is one of my favorite artists, and this is one of his most compelling live(ly) performances. The album cover speaks volumes about the music.
Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers - Moanin (Art Blakey has been running his own private jazz academy for decades, with tons of talented musicians passing through the ranks of the Jazz Messengers. Moanin' is merely an example; there are tons and tons of great albums by this group)
Cannonball Adderley & Bill Evans - Know what I mean? (Simply so pretty that it makes you want to cry. Cannonball was a powerhouse, but toned it down a bit to match Evans' playing style on this classic album)

General Software Discussion / Software Hall of Fame
« on: August 04, 2011, 04:54 AM »
Ever so often, I see the usual suspects of lists like 'best products in IT-history' or the 'Biggest tech flops' pass by, but I almost never see those rankings for software, unless it is a summary of the best 'freebies of 20..'. It's like everyone uses programs, and then erases from their collective memories when the next OS/major software update comes along.
So I was wondering: do you guys have any programs any mind that deserve Hall of Fame-status? The ones you used on older operating systems, the ones that were ahead of their time, or the ones that radically changed the way you use your computer? Especially in the early nineties, as that period precedes my own fond memories...
I'm real curious. Hope this is the right place to ask  ;)

I love Readability. Been using it for a while now, and they keep adding new goodness with every version. It's also very customizable (see screenshot).

Living Room / Re: Some initial reflections on using an ebook reader
« on: August 14, 2010, 04:52 PM »
Been lurking in the dark on this forum, and since I have some experience with testing ebook readers, I'd like to share my thoughts with you.
As I am in Europe, the Kindle revolution passed me by somewhat. I had a short experience with the device, and haven't tried out the pdf-conversion service or the Amazon store experience. So I will stick to the hands-on experiences I had with the ones I had with me a bit longer.

First the bad ;)
1. Make one with a built in reading lamp. A lot of people still read mostly at night, and it's rather annoying having to be close to a lamp to enjoy the book on your reader. I have been searching for a way of attaching a little reading light, but so far have come up short finding something tailor made or halfway affordable.
2. The interfaces of most ebook readers are counter-intuitive, involve too many buttons, and are terribly slow. From all the devices I tested, including Sony Reader, BeBook Neo, Samsung E60 etc. etc. there wasn't a single one I found myself happy with. Indeed, the Kindle handled itself better than most, but I still wasn't thrilled about it. There is something enraging about having to struggle with menus to get the right fonts, leaf through to the right page, or skip between two books.
3. On most ebook readers the contrast is a serious issue. I am happy to see Amazon responded to this with the new, small Kindle, and there is a new generation of e-ink devices on its way. If the letters are too flimsy to read, you will still strain your eyes while reading.
4. I partially agree with the earlier posters there should be a better way to annotate and look up references. Some ebook readers will allow to select text and store separately, but organizing and exporting these notes leaves much to be desired.
5. Reading pdf's, the dominant format for all those wonderful learning materials, is a drag. Conversion with the (wonderful) Calibre fixes some of the issues, but displaying more complex material like tables etc. just doesn't work. Maybe I should just quit trying to read pdf's on a 6" screen  >:( and buy a Kindle DX.
6. Getting the books you want is a big problem. In Europe, that is. Again, I have no experience with the Amazon store, but most vendors here make it as enjoyable to buy a digital book as having your toenails removed.

Now the good :)
1. As Mouser said, it's GREAT to revisit (or visit) all those classics in the public domain. and Project Gutenberg are both excellent sources.
2. You read faster! By being able to change the font size and the position in which you can hold the device (landscape/portrait) I find myself going through books way faster. Plus, you can wipe off food stains of the reader, which is something you can't really do with a paper book.  :-[
3. I love the dictionary function built into most modern ebook readers. It's such a thrill to look up words right away, especially for a non-native speaker like myself.
4. Battery life is the scourge of most gadget owners, and it's amazing not to have to worry about this problem so much. My Sony Reader will have tendency to run on empty if unused for a week or longer, but that's easily fixable.  ;)
5. Try out books! As with music I like to read a book through once. If I absolutely love it, I will still buy a nice hardcover edition, and put it somewhere I can see.
6. Having a place to store manuals, documents etc. etc. If you are disorganized like I am, it's nice to keep a digital copy of important documents on the side, so you don't spend ages looking for that one piece of paper you know you've put somewhere.

I still think that ebook readers deserve a place next to the iPads, Androids and netbooks. I hope they are going to stick around for a while. If I don't buy a Kindle 3, I am looking forward to Asus' ebook reader, and the Plastic Logic reader, although I think the latter will be horribly expensive, if it ever gets here.

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