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Back in December, I wrote about my attempt at diversifying my hobbies.  In October 2008 I started taking guitar lessons because I had a Fender ‘laying around’ that was getting unused.  Since then I’ve really enjoyed it and picked up an acoustic (which I actually enjoy playing more).  I’ve also picked up some computer equipment (M-Audio Black Box) so that I can mess around with software like GarageBand and actually record some of my practices.

I’ve moved quite a long way from my happy birthday recording in that blog post :-) but I’ve still got a long way to go.  Traveling certainly puts a dent in practicing for something like a musical instrument – especially when you don’t travel with it.  I’ve pretty much been gone from mid-April until mid-May which means I haven’t practiced much at all.  I’ve thought about getting something like the Martin Backpacker guitar, but just haven’t picked one up yet.

I have found some great online resources that have made learning the guitar a lot more fun for me as a geek.  Turns out there is a bunch of great info out there for self learning.  Of course, I don’t think anything can fully match 1-on-1 instruction from someone in person, but for in-between lessons, here’s some things I’ve found fun and useful.

  • iLife 09 music lessons – I had big hope for these and it is turning out that they just aren’t that exciting once compared to other free (and more frequently updated) offerings are out there.  I still have the basics (the celebrity lessons are lame in my opinion) which do a decent job covering things like the 12-bar blues, etc.  The production quality, as expected from Apple, is of the highest quality…just wish the content was updated and more appealing.
  • JustinGuitar.com – A UK guy who uses YouTube to deliver free lessons on basics as well as some fun/modern guitar riffs.  He’s got a great personality and goes at a pace a beginner like myself can understand.
  • Ultimate-Guitar.com – one of my favorites.  Once you learn how to read guitar TAB notation, this site is fun to check out.  It is user-contributed content, so reader beware, but most of what I’ve found is pretty good.  When I hear a song I might want to check out, I search this site and learn.  I learned how to play a Bob Marley tune completely in a few hours by just what I found here.
  • James from Handsome Alvin – James uses YouTube puts up some great  videos walking through popular songs with strumming patterns and at a pace perfect for me as a beginner.  I’m frequently more of his videos a lot because I like how he puts up the strumming patterns and chord progressions.
  • Marty Schwartz from GuitarJamz.com – A new resource I just found that, like others, uses YouTube to deliver.  Marty has a great personality about him and slows things down for beginners.  And he takes requests via Twitter.

My private instructor is great as well and like I said, nothing can replace that.  Having these things in-between lessons at my own pace moves me beyond lesson exercises to learning things that catch my ear and have fun doing it.  I’m still having a blast, even though it is immensely challenging for me technically – as well as finding the time to practice!

Happy hobbying!

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well, it's been over 12 hours since leopard was available to the masses and the early reviews seem to be in.


i just got my discs and will be updating my machines soon to see (i'm going to try to update one and clean install the other).  but i'm reading the reviews and they aren't promising.

dave winer says the upgrade process went fine, but he seems left with wondering what did he upgrade too? he says:

Net-net, my first impression of Leopard is that it isn't a big deal one way or the other.

interesting.  i thought this was supposed to be apple's biggest os ever.  i'm sure to some it will be.  when i look at the 'over 300 features' i laugh a bit.  since when do we call fixes and critical updates features that count toward a benefit to upgrade?  i see some key updates in leopard.  spaces, time machine, some UI glitz (transparencies and new dock features), etc.  but are those core enough to make it that much better?  ichat backgrounds...do those improve your daily experience with leopard?

and what is with the blue screen of death on leopard?!?!? i thought that was trademarked by microsoft?  i love the comment that at least steve jobs could have picked a different shade of azure or someting ;-) -- if more of these BSOD reports come in, wikipedia will have to change the definition of BSOD!

i'm doing a little wayne's world flashbacking in my head about all the vista reviews of how the UI improvements were crap if that is all that was included in vista.  flip3d, yawn, etc., etc. -- so there is some of that happening with leopard.  maybe the geniuses of user design/experience should have been more public with their beta to get feedback?

matt neuburg has a write-up that caught my eye as rather than just pointing out general statements he articulates on some of the key 'features' and what he sees the problems are.  i think his points are valid and does make me wonder about the user experience design elements that went into some of the things he's pointing out.

it also gets me wondering about what i just paid for.  did i just pay for a service pack?  sure, spaces and some things are new, but are those incremental improvements?  when i look at the 300 improvements i seem to see some service pack-y things rather than features:

    • Descriptive Error Messages
    • Dashboard -- are these new improvements or just new widgets?
    • Improved full-screen interface
    • Video quality improvements
    • improved iCal interface (not a new version, just 'improved')

you get where i'm going with this.  it somewhat bothers me as a msft employee a bit that leopard (OSX - 10.5) is considered a 'new operating system' when really it is an incremental improvement over tiger (10.4).  really, i think i just paid for a service pack.  apple has always said that microsoft took 5 years to update their operating system, but at the same time has considered 'dot' releases to OSX as major upgrades.  by that definition, what is XP, XP SP1, XP SP2, etc. -- those are 'dot' releases providing improvements and incremental updates.  c'mon apple, fess up that leopard is a service pack with some glitz.  it's okay to admit it, people will still by it.

i'm starting my upgrade/install now and will see how it goes.  i'm jaded by some reviews already but they seem to hit features that i use, so if i'm negatively affected, i'll be upset.  what is funny is that leopard seems to enable the ability to go back to different modes, but it involves terminal commands.  at least windows gives users UI options to toggle to their preferred settings.

another fair review from macworld themselves states "...in reality the changes are a mixed bag"