Monday, December 31, 2012

First Impressions of Windows 8

I'm writing this on Windows 8 while listening to iTunes.

How ironic.

Anyway, if you don't know me, I'm an Apple guy. When I was really young, I unknowingly used an old Mac to play games. However, after that I used Windows until I was about nine. I wasn't that big into computers then. I mostly just used them to play games (Flash and actual games on my hard drive/disc) and sometimes go on the Internet. Then when I was about nine, my dad came home with a new Mac Mini and a keyboard and mouse. Before this, I made movies with my friends and we were stuck with either Windows Movie Maker (*shudder*) or other complicated movie editing and DVD burning software. And, I did try to make music with some music program from Sony but I never got far with that either. But when I got that Mac, everything changed. It was actually doable for me and my friends to film something midday, get it edited using iMovie (although iMovie '08 wasn't the best iMovie ever, it was a whole lot better than what I had X3), make a DVD using iDVD, and being able to watch it later that night on the TV. It was awesome being able to see yourself on the "big screen". I was also able to make (bad) music easily with Garageband.

That's really what propelled me into computers. I then got an original iPod Touch which then led me to an iPhone 3Gs (which, unfortunately, got shorted out or something after two years X3) and then an iPad and so on and so forth and I never looked back at Windows. That is until I got an interest in computer gaming.

When I got addicted to Minecraft about two years ago, I started to get back into gaming (prior to this, I wasn't that much into it). I got a Steam account and started spending more money than I probably should have on games (I still do) and started playing those along with Minecraft. But, as everyone knows the big money maker in terms of gaming is Windows and I decided to make a Boot Camp virtual machine (it's basically a way to boot into Windows on a OSX system) to play Windows games since virtual machine programs that run in OSX don't give the same performance as ones running in a true Windows environment. So, since I barely have time for gaming during the school year, I barely booted into it. However, since it's winter break, I decided to boot back into Windows to play some games. Then I remembered that Windows 8 had been released and it was having a special for $40 (yay!). I was curious and I'm an early adopter so I downloaded it. Here's my experience.

First you download a Windows 8 Compatibility Checkermabob and it checks all of your apps and your system to make sure you can install Windows 8. That went pretty smoothly and I liked how you could pay and do everything from the app instead of Microsoft sending you to a web browser (or even worse, IE). Then I started downloading Windows 8 and of course, after I'm 90% done with the download, they say I don't have enough space on my hard drive. Thanks for warning me ahead of time. So I deleted some things and started it again. I then had to go into OSX to set up a back up disk so I could back Windows up. The Backup program in Windows is a little confusing. I mean, shouldn't a system backup program backup the information necessary to restore your computer to its near current state? Because the default backup option only generated a 1.5 GB file and I was confused. I didn't want to deal with trying to find all of the files to backup so I just went ahead with the installation (because I live dangerously like that). The installation went along without a hitch except it was forced to restart three times. That wouldn't really be a problem for a PC, but in order to boot up into Windows, you have to hold the Option key at startup so I was forced to keep a keen eye on the installation to not by default boot into OSX.

After all of the hard core installation was finished, I got a nice little tutorial and PC setup thing at the beginning (P.S. The startup logo and speed is a lot better; it's not all pixelated and currently I'm up and running in about 30 seconds). And then I was sent into Windows.

The above picture is my finished Start screen.

I went into the settings and started fiddling with them. Then I figured out I had to activate Windows which required me to, of course, connect to the Internet. But then I remembered I had to install a special Boot Camp program in Windows that enables Windows to properly use the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth modules, properly map the Apple keyboard, etc. So, that means I had to restart into OSX again and download that program from the Boot Camp utility and boot back into Windows and install it. After that was done, I was able to connect to the Internet, activate Windows, and customize the look of Windows more. Something funny is in my previous Windows 7 installation, I couldn't get Windows to activate. The activation program kept crashing and I was forced to dismiss the constant messages of running a "counterfeit version of Windows" or whatever all the time and it was annoying (not to mention the permanent black screen background). So, the fact that it took a second to activate Windows 8 is refreshing and funny X3 After activation, I finished customizing the Start screen into that nice sea/turquoise blue theme and started to work on the desktop and finished that as well. I then started to see if all my things worked and were in the proper place.

This perplexes me the most. Why in the name is all that is good does Windows move all of your content into a Windows.old folder? It's an update, not an "Install a new OS and move all of your content to another place for you to figure out how to put it back to how it was". Maybe I missed something, but my friend uses Windows, was forced to reinstall it, and the same thing happened to him using Windows 7. It just seems very dumb. Imagine someone not very smart with computers, loading up Windows 8 and wondering where the heck all of there program files and other documents went. With OSX, I can start the updater, let it restart, go through the setup process, and come back to my computer basically how I left it. I was up until three in the morning moving stuff back in it's place. Thank God Windows wasn't my primary operating system with all of my files on it or else I would be very angry.

Anyway, after that mini rant, what do I actually think about Windows 8? First of all, it looks nicer than Windows 7. I'm glad they're starting to make Windows look prettier and modern. I love the flatter, more simple UI compared to Windows 7 and it's just those little design changes that make me smile. That doesn't mean Windows is completely beautiful now. Some of the design choices and icons make me feel like I'm still living in Windows XP (which I used to use a lot). They're starting to go in the right direction but from a design stand point, the desktop version of Windows still needs work.

But the Start screen is awesome. Yes, lots of people have complained about the fragmentation of the OS with Microsoft splitting it up between a Metro and Desktop interface. I will get to that. But, I am pleasantly surprised. Originally, I had to push my mouse into the corner every time I wanted to get to the Start screen and that was a little annoying. However, I found that the Windows key (or the Command key on an Apple keyboard; we finally know what that key is used for!) opens the Start screen and Windows + Q opens the Search which is really all I needed. With these shortcuts, the Start screen might actually be better than what Launchpad on OSX has to offer and the Start menu on previous versions of Windows had. On OSX, if you want to access applications then Launchpad does the job simply and beautifully. But the Start screen has access to live tiles (apps that provide information on their icons in real time), search functions, and settings so it's just more inclusive and convenient. It's easy to access the search on OSX (called Spotlight) by just pressing Command + Space and it may be a little more convenient because Spotlight searches everything on your Mac while Windows 8 defaults to just apps which can be slightly annoying. So, really both have their pluses and minuses. It's quick and painless to get to the Start screen and I don't feel any fragmentation while switching between the two. And you can always pin stuff to the Taskbar at the bottom or to the desktop. It would also be nice if you could pin anything you wanted to to the Start screen instead of just applications as well. And as a random side note, the second display support is great on Windows 8. I like that you can have the desktop on one screen and the Metro interface on the other. Also, when you're in complete Desktop view, there's one Taskbar on each screen which is better than OSX because there you only get one menu bar on one screen.

Minimalist Desktop

Now, I have some complaining and I've seen this said by other people. On the Start screen bar thing on the right, there's a Settings button and that brings you to nice list of options where you can change the brightness, volume, etc. and an option to go into more in depth settings. But here's the problem: in order to access all of the settings, it's sometimes necessary to go to our good friend (sarcasm) Control Panel. That's fragmentation. It's like going to a bakery to make one half of a cake and going to another bakery a block away to make the other half. Especially for the people who are using Windows 8 on a tablet, put all of the settings (or at least all of the ones that apply to tablets) in the Start screen Settings menu. People who are using tablets should never have to go into desktop view (that's one of things I don't like about Windows 8, but that's a whole other story X3).

Also, I don't really like the fact that you have to sign up for a Microsoft account to access the Mail app on the Start screen. Really, that doesn't make any sense. Also, there's no way to edit your Microsoft profile without going into a web browser. And the People app is a little confusing to setup and navigate. It looks pretty, but it's just not that intuitive and functional. The Weather app is great and the Mail app is okay. The Store also works fine and I hope more apps get made for it because it's kind of dry right now X3


So overall, Windows 8 is not great enough to switch from OSX. I mean, I've migrated my whole life to OSX so it'd be pretty hard to switch over anyways X3 But, by itself, Windows 8 seems to have promise and it seems to be much more friendly, beautiful, and quicker than the former Windows 7. Some little quirks, design choices, and problems made it a little bit of a hassle (including a display driver problem that I eventually fixed) to set up and get how I wanted. However, I believe Windows 8, especially if you have interest in it, is worth an upgrade, especially now since it's only $40 until the end of January. Like I said, this isn't an in depth review and I probably missed some things or didn't touch on everything that I thought about. However, I thought it'd be interesting for people to read about an Apple guy's reaction to Microsoft's answer to the Post PC era.

Thanks for reading and tell me what you think of Windows 8 in the comments!

 - Aidan

Saturday, December 15, 2012

I'm Not Good Enough

I fail a lot of people in my life.

I have a 72% in Chemistry and I don't know whether I'll be able to bring that up before the semester. Who knows, I might have to drop out of the class.

I'm partially failing my math teacher. I have a B+ in that class I don't know if that will slip or not.

And also, I feel like a failure online. When I spend hours and hours making music (or anything for that matter) for someone and they never respond back to me, it feels like they don't care. I feel like I didn't meet their expectations.

But most of all, I fail my girlfriend.

It feels like I try, but I just can't make her happy. I failed her on the one day I needed to make her happy. The one day and I made her probably hate me. And now I feel horrible and I feel like I need to punch a wall down. I wish I could turn back the clock...

So I feel like a failure in many aspects.

The only time I don't feel like a failure is when I'm with my friends or when I'm playing music.

So, yeah. I don't know what to do. I can try to fix it later but I don't know what I can do now.


- Aidan

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Owl City, Pop Music, and Society

 Warning: this post may take up to thirty minutes to read if you watch all of the videos that I link with it.

So, I've recently been listening to a fair amount of Owl City (more specifically Ocean Eyes) lately.

I'm slightly addicted.

It all started when when of my fellow cellists brought in an easy piano book of this album a couple of weeks ago and suggested I sight read it for him since I am *ahem* pretty good at sight reading if I do say so myself. So I played some of the songs (never hearing them before) and I liked them. He also suggested I go and listen to some of Owl City's songs and I said I would.

Now before I listend to this album I of course knew the famous "Fireflies", the song that took over the charts sometime in 2009, because I distinctly remember it doing so. In fact, I remember one of my friends asking me to buy it off of iTunes because he wanted to listen to it (it's now been replaced with the deluxe version of Ocean Eyes). I did (and currently do) like that song, but I never thought that genre of music would be right for me; it just didn't seem like something I'd be interested in.

Boy was I wrong.

When I got home, I previewed all of the songs on iTunes and decided to buy the deluxe version since the additional songs on that album seemed good and it was only two bucks more.

Best $12 ever spent.

The first time I listened to it, I liked it. But the second time I listend to it, I wanted more. Although this was pop (and pop isn't my most favorite music in the world), there was just something so addictive, charming, calming, and refreshing about the synths/guitars, the simple melodies, the poetic and dream-like nature of the lyrics and not to mention Young's soothing voice. I felt like I was dreaming when listening to his music. The reason I like his music so much is because with all of the pop stars I've heard, they always seem to be talking about the same thing (Shawty in the club, being who you are, I want that girl, partying, youth) and some of it sends a bad message to children (which, unfortunately, I'm starting to see in my sister) and/or has no good purpose. With Young, he talks about mostly love and it's effects. He also talks about random, dream-like, or just silly things which I love. It set him apart from everyone else and it makes him so refreshing. One good word to describe his music: innocence: I feel innocent when I listen to his music. So, Ocean Eyes (including even the songs in the deluxe version) is one of the best albums I've ever listened to.

To compare his music to what is most popular today, I've provided an example:

"Locked Out of Heaven" by Bruno Mars
Number 4 on the Billboard Top 100 for Pop Songs December 1, 2012

Never had much faith in love or miracles
Never wanna put my heart on deny
But swimming in your world is something spiritual
I'm born again every time you spend the night

Cause your sex takes me to paradise
Yeah your sex takes me to paradise
And it shows, yeah, yeah, yeah
Cause you make feel like, I've been locked out of heaven
For too long, for too long

(with random oohs and repetition of certain phrases and stanzas thrown in)

(On a side note, this song sounds like something Sting/The Police would produce)

Vanilla Twilight by Owl City
Number 36 on the Billboard Top 100 for Pop Songs March 6, 2010

The stars lean down to kiss you
And I lie awake and miss you
Pour me a heavy dose of atmosphere
Cause I'll doze off safe and soundly
But I'll miss your arms around me
I'd send a postcard to you, dear
Cause I wish you were here

I'll watch the night turn light blue
But it's not the same without you
Because it takes two to whisper quietly
The silence isn't so bad
Till I look at my hands and feel sad
Cause the spaces between my fingers
Are right where yours fit perfectly

I'll find repose in new ways
Though I haven't slept in two days
Cause cold nostalgia chills me to the bone
But drenched in vanilla twilight
I'll sit on the front porch all night
Waist deep in thought because when
I think of you I don't feel so alone

I don't feel so alone
I don't feel so alone

As many times as I blink
I'll think of you tonight
(Tonight, tonight, tonight...)

I'll think of you tonight

When violet eyes get brighter
And heavy wings grow lighter
I'll taste the sky and feel alive again
And I'll forget the world that I knew
But I swear I won't forget you
Oh if my voice could reach back through the past
I'd whisper in your ear:
"Oh darling I wish you were here"

How could those songs even be in the same genre?! And notice their places in the charts!

First of all, there's hardly any repetition in Young's song compared to Mars'. "Vanilla Twilight" tells a story; this song paints more of a picture or dream. He talks about missing someone badly, staying up and thinking about her non stop. Not only do the actions he states in this song speak his message, but the imagery he creates is so enticing and, in a way, intoxicating. You see a sweet, vanilla twilight. You see him looking off into the sky, fumbling with his hands, on his front porch. And that's what I love. That you feel dream like qualities coming from Owl City's songs while still producing a strong emotional connection or proving a message quite well. In this case, he proves that he misses this girl passionately and with every fiber of his being.

So what do you get from Mars' song? Sex with this girl makes him feel amazing and makes him feel like he had a religious experience. I mean, that's basically all we can say about these lyrics: they don't have much diverse language and the meaning is pretty clear cut, that he deeply enjoys (no pun intended?) having sex with her and that's that. To be fair, his new album that this song is from is called Unorthodox Jukebox and I'm assuming that the other songs on this album are similar to it. I know and realize not all pop songs are like this but it is becoming the trend more and more these days where songs are not poetic and just state the (usually bad) purpose of the song. It's more the sameness of songs today rather than the subject quality that I actually don't like. Equally as important as the music are the lyrics and both are starting to become less sophisticated and beautiful. In fact, I recently saw this great picture on Twitter about this exact same topic:

"Gangnam Style" kind of proves that you can make a song that people don't even understand and as long as it can be danced to and makes you feel somewhat energized or happy (or even you could like it because it's so bad or weird), it will succeed; this is sad. If you have a more simple song (like a pop song; I discuss that later), the lyrics should make up for it. That's why there are no lyrics for Chopin's Nocturne in Eb Major or Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata because they paint a picture and invoke strong feelings in people; lyrics aren't necessary. When you have just simple chord progressions in a song, it's necessary to put somewhat meaningful lyrics into it or else it just states a simple fact or feeling and is somewhat devoid of any meaning or feeling.

Another thing I wanted to touch on to is while I was listening to these songs everyday, I wondered why it was so addicting? Was it the chords, the tempo, the melody, the instruments? So I set off to find out. Although all of the things I mentioned above contribute to the addictive nature of these songs, I thought most likely it was the chords so I went a found all of the chords (I only did the choruses or repeating parts of the songs) and put them in their scale degree numerals. If you don't know what this means, it is basically what note (but technically chords) in the scale is being played. Example: IV (or four) in the the key of C (or just on the note C itself) is F (count up, C, D, E, F). Scale degrees numerals are the basis of basically any piece of music and it's easy to do for pop songs since they have simple melodies and thus simple chords. I did this for every song in Ocean Eyes:

1. Cave In


2. The Bird and the Worm

I iii vi V I iii vi V IV vi I V... (Da Da Da) I V IV

3. Hello Seattle

Uses same four chords basically the whole song


4. Umbrella Beach

IV I vi V (variation of this)... I V IV of IV IV

5. The Saltwater Room

IV I IV I vi V...

6. Dental Care

IV I V IV I V... vi IV V vi IV vi I..

7. Meteor Shower

I vi IV I IV I

8. On the Wing

IV I V (Pretty much repeats the entire song)

9. Fireflies

IV I V IV I iii IV IV I IV V vi IV I (V of V or V)

10. The Tip of the Iceberg

I IV V vi... (and variations on these chords)

11. Vanilla Twilight

I V vi IV I V vi IV I V ii IV

12. Tidal Wave

IV I IV I V (repeat)... IV I vi V

So, what does all of this data mean? You may have noticed I bolded and underlined every instance where there was some sort of succession of the chords "I V vi IV". 50% of the songs in Ocean Eyes are based on this chord progression.

A couple of weeks ago, I watched a video called "Will We Every Run Out of New Music?" by Vsauce (I highly suggest you watch it; it was well done, interesting, and very informational) and it mentioned this other video called "The Axis of Awesome: 4 Chords Official Music Video" which talks about how the chord progression "I V vi IV" is almost a hackneyed progression used in modern music. They mash together 47 popular songs and I suggest you watch it:

This shows how much humans gravitate towards that sound. Maybe it's that there's two good sounding chords, then we're brought to minor chord, making us want a release from that tension, and finally a good sounding chord follows, but not the tonic (the first, original note) so that makes us want more. It's like a reward but a tease at the end. It's the same effect you get from a drug which makes sense because some of this music is positively drug like.

But what about the all of the other songs that don't use this progression? Look above and you'll notice that most of the songs (the ones that I only bolded) are based around the chords
I, IV, and V. These are the basic good chords that are the base of simple music. The IV and I sound produce the "A-men" sound that is very common in hymns and the V is the dominant chord, the second most important chord other then the tonic. Here's a video on Youtube teaching about chord progressions in which, in the first part of the video, a guy makes a chord progression and variates upon it using the I, IV, and V chords.

On an interesting note (pun intended), my favorite song from the album is "The Bird and the Worm" which is interesting because it has the most unique chord progression in the entire album. Maybe it has something to do with me liking it so much...?

But anyway, all of this applies not just to Owl City's music, but for much of the musical world. Throughout history, people from all around the world have used these basic notes to make music themselves and it's used in much of the musical world today.

This is not a bad thing. I am not discriminating the use of simple melodies and songs because sometimes those are the best kind. I am not saying that all music must be complex and sophisticated because it shouldn't.

However, it shouldn't be in the direction we're putting it towards today.

More and more music is getting simpler and very similar to each other. So simple that two or even only one chord will be used in a song and that the song itself relies on the beat guiding it. The sole purpose of the song is to provide a beat to dance to. I'm also not saying this is wrong; we should have music to dance to. But all dance music should at least have some musical substinence and not just focus solely around a beat. And also lyrics are getting more pushed to the side and have less meaning. With rap the lyrics are mostly dictated by the beat. Rappers are forced to rhyme with the last line (sometimes with weird or even comical results) and say the words incredibly fast to stick with the ever important rhythm. And, in my opinion, rap just sounds bad to the ears.

I've unfortunately seen this trend in Young's latest music.

After listening to Ocean Eyes an umpteen amount of times, I decided to check out his other albums to see what they had to offer, because after all I loved Ocean Eyes and assumed that his other music couldn't be too different.

I came across his most recent album called The Midsummer Station. As I scrolled through the reviews on iTunes about this album, lots of people commented on how awesome it was. I especially saw a lot of comments about it being great to dance to, which was fine, but had me worried. Was Young's music becoming more mainstream and just made to dance to? Then I saw some disappointed reviews and saw what I had feared: they had said Young had lost some of what had made him special. Some people said his music was lacking those beautiful, poetic, quirky lyrics and losing some of the beautiful synth work that they were more accustomed to. I went out to see how much it had changed. Just listen to his latest single "Shooting Star":

You know what I instantly thought of after watching this? Katy Perry's "Firework":

After listening to both, you can see how Young is starting to conform more to more popular artists. The tempos of both songs are exactly the same. Young is also starting to use more of a beating rhythm and is definitely putting less effort into in synths. Lastly, he has a very similar, trite message to "Firework": just be yourself and go be adventurous. Let yourself shine, whether via a firework or a shooting star. And it almost seems like Perry's lyrics are more sophisticated than Young's. Look at the lyrics:

Close your tired eyes
Relax and then
Count from one to ten
and open them
All the heavy thoughts will try to weigh you down
But not this time
Way up in the air
You're finally free
And you can stay up there
Right next to me
All this gravity will try to pull you down,
But not this time

When the sun goes down and the lights burn out
Then it's time for you to shine
Brighter than a shooting star
So shine no matter where you are
Fill the darkest night with a brilliant light
'Cause its time for you to shine
Brighter than a shooting star
So shine no matter where you are... tonight
Woah, Woah, Woah
Brighter than a shooting star
Shine no matter where you are... tonight

[Verse 2]
Gaze into my eyes when the fire starts
And fan the flame so hot it melts our hearts
All the pouring rain will try to put it out,
But not this time
Let your colors burn and brightly burst
Into a million sparks that all disperse
And illuminate a world that will try to bring you down,
but not this time


A thousand heartbeats beat in time
And makes this dark planet come alive
So when the lights flicker out tonight
You gotta shine


Comparing this to "Vanilla Twilight", you can see how much more generic and less poetic these lyrics are getting. The best part lyrically in the entire song is Verse 2 but it's nothing compared to "Vanilla Twilight".

This song isn't bad; in fact, it's quite good compared to other pop songs today. But I'm just sad that Young is starting to conform to general pop music and not do his beautiful lyrics and synth melodies that made him stand out and made me like him in the first place. If all of his new songs are going to be like this, I'm not really that interested. I believe this was his first non-solo album so maybe others influenced him? Hopefully, this is just a phase for him. I'm not saying he should go back to his old style of music because as an artist, you should do whatever music you feel like doing in your heart. However, his old style of music was just so unique and so much better and I hope someday he will do more songs like in Ocean Eyes.

Looking at Owl City and other popular music of the day, it is clear that lyrics are becoming more and more irrelevant and less thought out and meaningful. Although it is fine to listen to dance songs, dubstep (heck, I listen to dubstep sometimes), or rap and the like sometimes, it is not fine to make that your sole or primary musical choice. If all you listen to is meaningless lyrics and songs with a "good beat", then you're missing the whole point of music. The point of music is to invoke emotions. If all you're getting is an adrenaline rush from the pounding of the drums and the sounding of the good chords, you're listening to music very wrongly.

And most of this probably applies to my generation. I know I will sound 20 years older when I say this, but kids these days just aren't appreciative of music before their time. Maybe some kids are, but that's not what I observe in my day to day life. And maybe it's generally like that with most kids. Maybe kids in the 80's groaned whenever their parents cranked up the Beatles or Elvis and went on listening to Kiss through their Walkman headphones. I don't know. But my point is don't get just sucked in to popular music. Although most popular music is fine and well done, listen to other more substantial music too because if you're not, then you're missing a big, beautiful part of life.

- Aidan

Friday, November 23, 2012

Commission Info for Rainbow Foxy and Aidan Jones

So, you've come here to know how to do commissions with Rainbow Foxy and/or commission music from me (Aidan Jones). Read on to find out! It's pretty simple:

If you have a Paypal
  1. Log into your Paypal and at the bar at the top, click the tab that says "Send Money"
  2. In the form you see below in the box that says "To", put in this email address:
  3. Then, in the "Amount" box put in the amount of money that you and Rainbow Foxy have agreed upon as a price. Don't try to charge less or something because I always double check the price with Rainbow Foxy. Also, if you would like a thirty second piece of music from me, add $3.00 to the total price (Scroll down more to find out more about this music from me). If you are just looking to commission me for music, just put in $3 for every thirty second song you request.
  4. In the "Purchase" box, make sure the "Goods" selection is checked and click "Continue"
  5. This will bring you to a page to confirm all of the information that you have previously entered. Double check to see that all of your information is correct and then if you're ordering music from me type in the message box at the bottom of your screen what type of music you would like me to make. See the bottom of this post for what to say when explaining what type of music you want. If you're not ordering music, just click the "Send Money" button at the bottom after confirming your information and you're done!
If You Don't Have a Paypal

First of all, you do not need a Paypal in order to order these commissions! Just send me an email at and I will talk with you and send you a Paypal invoice. With this invoice, you can use a debit, credit, or bank account to pay without having a Paypal account. While you're talking with me you can tell me what kind of music you want if you ordered any.

If You Want Music

So, previously I said I would give out a thirty second piece of music free with any commission of Rainbow Foxy's work. What I found out after doing one piece of music is that it takes a while just to do thirty seconds of music. For example, the first piece of music that I completed "Rue's Getting Angry" (Soundcloud Link) took about six hours. That's a lot of time! And plus I have about four more of those to do so you can see how much time that will take me. The reason I spend so much time on these is I want to create good, quality music. If you listen to the piece I linked to above, you'll tell that work went into it and I myself am quite proud on how it turned out. All I'm asking for is $3 added to the price of the commission you're buying from Rainbow Foxy for an original, thirty second piece of music. You can also commission me separately from Rainbow Foxy's artwork by contacting me on Twitter or via my email. Also, for people who already purchased a commission from Rainbow Foxy, you will not need to pay extra for your music; you will still be getting it free. However, any commissions from after 1:26 PST on November 22nd on will need to pay the $3 requested.

But why is it $3 for a thirty second piece of music? I can get full length songs elsewhere for only a dollar! 

At first, this does seem like I'm ripping people off, I can understand that. But, here's my reasoning: people who make a song $1 usually have a good amount of people buy it. So, if you make a song $1 and 20 people buy it, that's twenty bucks right there (assuming you're using a service that gives you the entire profit) and usually more people would buy your song than just twenty. However, in my situation, I am spending a good chunk of time making a quality song and getting money from only one person. In other words, I will only be getting $3 total from the song and none more. After I make a song for a specific person, I put it up on Soundcloud so that people can listen to and download it freely and can use it adhering to the Creative Commons license. People could then possibly think, "Hey, this guy is pretty good at making music! He gives out his music to the public for free use and I'd like to support him and get some personalized music from him that I would personally enjoy for only $3". I am using this system because I am not popular enough to invest hours upon hours making a full length song (or even more crazily) or album and expecting people to buy it. Not enough people know about me for word to spread about this album/song so that I would get fairly compensated for my work. Thus, I have to start small and build a musical portfolio so if and when I eventually grow a big enough fan base for my work, I can start making songs and/or albums and sell them at the general price of $1/song and $10/album. Another reason why it's worth the money is that with a standard mp3 version of the song you can download on Soundcloud, you (and you only if you so want it to be that way; you can always distribute the link to the higher quality version or whatever I give you) will have access to the highest quality version of the song (usually in .aiff CD quality format). And, if you so request it, you can have access to the original Garageband and/or Logic Pro project files that I used to create this music as well as access to the album artwork that I happen to make. So, basically you'd be getting a lot more than buying a song off of iTunes. 

I'm ordering music and I want a specific type of music. Are there examples of what I should say?

First of all, you can request any instrumental musical genre that can be done with a keyboard/synthesizer and music editing software (I can't sing so don't ask for any singing). When describing what you want, you can use genres such as Classical, Jazz, Latin, Electronic, etc. Or you could use adjectives such as dark and haunting or happy and light. Or a combination (e.g. Happy and Light Electronic music). And furthermore you can reference an existing song and say you want something that sounds similar to it. And if you’re feeling lucky, you can just let me make a surprise piece of music for you :)

What if I want to commission a song that's longer than thirty seconds for a higher price?

I would gladly do that except, unfortunately, I have a life. I am in high school and it's very time consuming. So, I only really have time for thirty second commissions right now. I guess I could take longer than thirty second commissions but it would take a very long time for it to get to you so I'm going to have to say no to those for now. In the future I might consider it, but for now the answer is no, sorry.

And I think that pretty much covers it! If you have any questions, feel free to talk to me on Twitter @throughthemines or email me at 

If you do decide to order music from me, thank you from the bottom of my heart. It means so much to me when people have in interest in what I do and getting paid for it is wonderful. And please, if you could, tell your friends about my music if it's something you think they'd be interested in.

And if you order from Rainbow Foxy, I know she appreciates it a lot so thank you for that as well!

So, thanks for reading and I hope you'll find an interest in both of our works,

 - Aidan

Also, this exact same post is on my FurAffinity page if you're interested

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Screw You EA

So, I had this great idea for a series. It was called Keeping Up With the Jones' and it was in Sims 3. I was going to do a whole series in it, taking care of myself and my family and seeing how they progressed. It was a great idea because this could last a long time and it could be fun watching a family grow and someone commentating on it.

But no, EA just had to put copyright infringement on my video even though I never mentioned owning any of the content I posted; it also put my account in bad standing.

So I had to delete the video.

Thanks a bunch EA.

I realize that people can infringe on copyrights. But do you have to automatically give me a mark on my, I think, totally clean record, tell me "Take down your video or else your account will be in bad standing", and ban it worldwide? Really? All while I was promoting your game. I told people I like the Sims 3 and that it's a fun game.

I've put up a lot of videos from big publishers (an example being Valve) and I've very rarely gotten copyright infringement. I've gotten copyright infringement notices three times not including this one and two of them weren't legit and the other one I handled correctly. But I don't want to mess with EA. They have too much power and I'd probably lose my case which would further damage my Youtube reputation.

So, I'm sorry EA and I will never promote or do a Let's Play of one your games ever again since you don't seem to like it.


 - Aidan

Sunday, November 4, 2012

We are Insignificant

You see that tiny blue dot in the middle and a little to the right? That's Earth. One pixel on an image taken 6 billion kilometers away from Earth.

Read this quote please:

From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of any particular interest. But for us, it's different. Consider again that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity – in all this vastness – there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. The Earth is the only world known, so far, to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment, the Earth is where we make our stand. It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known. 

This quote hit me hard, especially the first paragraph. This guy's right. Everything that's important to you, everything that you love, everything that has caused you great suffering or the greatest joy, every wonderful or evil person, thing, or idea that has, currently, or will be on this Earth, the place you call home, is a freakin' speck. A speck in a range of space that's incomprehensible to the human mind.

So, you, I, and everyone on this planet and the problems that we face are pretty insignificant. We're just specks upon a speck in a big, giant space. We are alone.

And again, like he says at the end, we need to cherish what we have. We have to be nice to our planet and the organisms living on it because, right now (and probably for a very long time) they're the only things we have got.

So just soak this quote, the picture, and these ideas in. Think about this for a little while and you will feel enlightened.

I also invite you to look at the Voyager website that NASA hosts which tells you all about the spacecraft and gives you some of the media that was on the disc and on the spacecraft. Also, there's this great Youtube playlist that gives all of the music that was on the disc and it really shows you the different music that was on the disc sent on the Voyager that is currently traveling through dark space, spreading the pictures, sounds, and information of mankind throughout the cosmos.

 - Aidan

Thoughts on the New iPad Mini (and it's Commercial)

I'd trade my current iPad 2 for an iPad mini.

That's how good and unique it is.

I will talk about why it's so good first and then I will dissect, what I think to be, the brilliant iPad mini commercial that Apple has released.

So, why is it worth trading an iPad 2 in for an iPad mini? I got to go to an Apple Store two days ago and try out all of the new products Apple has released (the new iPod Touch feels like you're holding nothing; just in general all of the new products are great). I finally got to try out the mini after 25 minutes of watching one person after another stealing a spot at the crowded table.

First of all, when you pick it up it's incredibly light. Not the, "Oh my God am I even holding anything" light but shockingly light nonetheless. It's noticeably lighter than the iPad 2 which is a big reason that I'd trade it in. I mostly read on my iPad and any reduction in weight is fantastic. It feels like I could hold it for hours. Furthermore, it's very thin, and as Apple puts it "pencil thin". This is also great because although my iPad isn't bulky even with a case, it can get a little tiresome to hold after a while because of it's size. The iPad mini seems to nail this perfectly because not only is it light enough to hold for extended periods of time, but it seems to be the perfect size: the screen is big enough so that text is clearly legible even at small font sizes and nothing is too small to be seen and the iPad itself is perfect for comfortably holding.

So far, I'm liking this iPad. I start browsing around on it, looking at the apps, practicing typing, watching videos and whatnot, and I realize, "this has nearly the same specs as the iPad 2 but it's even better than it" (go here for a full comparison). Although this iPad has the same A5 processer as the iPad 2 as well as the same screen resolution (which now looks slightly crisper due to its shrinkage), a couple things are better about the mini: the cameras have dramatically improved to ones slightly better than the one on my iPhone 4 (the video quality is 1080p from 720p on my iPhone 4 and the iSight camera has increased to a "HD" status; the ones on the iPad 2 are pretty bad) and there is Siri on the iPad mini as well. 

Since I liked the more compact nature of this iPad as well as the improved specs of it I thought to myself, "I would totally trade my current iPad in for this" which kind of surprised me; I always thought that a 7 inch tablet (well, in this case it's 7.9 inches which makes things surprisingly much better than regular 7 inch tablets) by Apple would provide a less than pleasant experience than the regular iPad probably because of the fact that all existing 7 inch tablets I'd come across were clunky, too constrained, and too cheap feeling. Obviously, Apple has triumphed the cheap feeling and clunky problem with their software and hardware but I was worried that a seven inch tablet would constrain iOS so much that the hardware or iOS itself wouldn't matter.

I was wrong.

That's not to say that I would choose this iPad over any other; if I had any choice, I'd choose the iPad with retina display because the screen is big and gorgeous and I, of course, do a lot of reading and video watching. But the iPad mini would be my second choice because of it's portability, lightness, and it's ability to retain all of the software and hardware elements that let it live up to the quality that Apple continuously shows.

Excellent job.

Now, for the iPad commercial. Watch it:

Why do I like it so much? Well, first of all it perks the interests of musicians as well as anybody who has heard Heart and Soul on the piano (and especially people who know it because it seems to be a song a lot of people know). Although I don't like this song anymore because it gets overplayed, them playing this song connects the audience to the commercial since it's a common song that everyone knows and gives them a sense of familiarity. Also, in the beginning it shows what's possible on the iPad if you didn't already know what you could do with it; you can play the freakin' piano on it people! If I didn't know about Garageband on the iPad, I would find this pretty cool. Then, we pan over to the iPad mini playing the primo part of this duet. This shows that the iPad mini is capable of what the regular iPad that everyone knows about does. It shows them that you don't have to sacrifice anything in order to buy an iPad mini; you can still do the extraordinary things you can do on an iPad on this smaller device. Another interesting side note is that this version of Heart and Sole is arranged slightly differently which makes it more pleasing to the ears of people (especially the musicians, and further, pianists who have heard this song a myriad of times). The notes in the later part of the commercial are slightly different and (I think) the primo part switches to playing octaves later but I digress. 

The point is that this casually, smoothly, and with a rather fun mood shows that the iPad mini does what the iPad does. Just because it's smaller, doesn't mean it sacrifices functionality like other seven inch tablets will do. Some people miss the point completely and say, "Oh great, it's showing me I can play the piano on my small iPad. Why would I want to do that?". That's not the point. The point is to show how it's the same iPad experience, but in a smaller and lighter package.

So, to sum it up: the iPad mini and it's commercial are well-built and fantastic. Awesome job, Apple.

- Aidan

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Punishments in School

So, I had the worst P.E. class I've ever had this past week.

We were in class and currently we are playing basketball in small teams. A few people in the class didn't follow instructions or were not sure on what they were supposed to do (e.g. When there's a three against four game, what happens to the rotating of teams to different courts when the final score is tied). My P.E. teacher apparently was tired of this and thus made all the boys do arduous physical activity (the girls apparently were doing everything perfectly in their separate teams). He's an angry man and very easy to set off.

I will assign the following set of exercises to the variable x:

He made us run back and forth across our gym for about three minutes, then made us do fifteen pushups, and finally made us do twenty sit-ups.

So, anyway we were playing as usual and I guess someone did something wrong so he finally cracked and made us do x. Then he lined us up on a line, yelled at us, and put us into teams again.

Then we start playing again. One person did something wrong and guess what? We do x again. He then yells at us some more and puts us into new teams.

This would be bad enough. But then, he makes us do x again after another person screwed up. He didn't put us into new teams but after that no one screwed up again and we played basketball peacefully for the next 6 minutes.

My teacher is using a technique that I think is flawed. What he should do is instead of punishing the people who have followed his orders and do well in the class (like me; I've always been respectful and good to him, I've only forgotten my clothes for one P.E. class ever in high school, and I've averaged about an 8:15 mile) is punish the ones he thinks are misbehaving. Go tell them to do x instead of making all the boys in the class do it. Because of this, my chest/arm have been hurting usually pretty badly since the day after that class and it's been really annoying.

But maybe this was worth it. I mean, it was annoying having him switch our teams (originally, I had a really good team and he ruined it) because of people acting out and it seemed like this worked. Everyone was scared into making sure they did everything right. However, it was hard and it hurt me afterwards so I still think he should have punished the bad kids instead of the good, innocent ones.

Just a thought Mr. B,

 - Aidan

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Thoughts About Youtube's New Layout

<sarcasm> Hey, lookie there! Youtube is rolling out a new layout to their site! </sarcasm>

But anyway, Youtube recently showed off the new theme of their site. Although it's not public yet, you can easily get the theme by following the instructions here (it only takes 30 seconds).

However, I advise against doing such things as these.

Open that image in a new tab and read along for my critique. Or you can just read along and trust that I know what I'm talking about.

Anyway, the critiques. One thing is we have another case of "Whitespace". Maybe their design isn't completely finished yet, but this is a recurring theme with Google. Look at this screenshot I just took from my Google+ homepage:

Google seems to love ugly whitespace on widescreen monitors (which everyone has these days). If they could just put in some code to center the video, description, and comments for the particular screen it was on, then that would be fantastic.

Another issue is that this redesign looks like the Youtube from before the 2011 redesign. The background is white and I don't like it. Well, more specifically, the greyish matte color of the other design was a lot better. It was easier on the eyes and let me focus more on the video than the white color did, not to mention it was a lot sexier. I don't know why Youtube changed this; it seemed so much better. It baffles me.

Another gripe I have is the comments. The comments used to be so much more sexy (well, that's probably due to the grey color) and compact. Before, the comments were the Youtube account holder's name, the comment, and when you'd hover over a comment, it would give you the Like/Dislike and Reply feature. Now, you get the uneccesary picture of the Youtuber (seriously, who cares about pictures when you're just reading the comments?) and the Reply and Like/Dislike buttons are static. This just makes the comments less functional and uglier in my opinion.

Because of all the white that Youtube threw on us, the player looks out of place. The black player doesn't really go with the whiteness of the whole background. If you inverted the color of the player, or better yet, made it the grey that I liked, it would blend better with its surroundings.

However, the bars on the left and top of the page are nice. The left bar is collapsable and compact and they're nice grey color. They're not amazing in terms of design, but they're nice.

Final Thoughts: Overall, I'm sorry Youtube but I don't like it. I've seen many Youtube refreshes (as well as refreshes of things from Google in general) and I've never seen one that I didn't really like until now. This seems like a step backward from where it should be going and I hope that this is just a prototype and not the final thing. It's lack of sexiness, functionality, and common sense leaves me confused and disappointed.

- Aidan

Sunday, October 21, 2012

How Modern Society and Technology has Influenced the Younger Generation

Typed two days ago and finished today:

I've been doing some thinking today. Thinking about how society, and more specifically technology, has influenced people. Some of those people include people close to me and that's what I will mostly talk about in this blog post.

So, the first one is my sister. I'd say she is a stereotypical teenager at twelve. Yes, twelve. She just got into middle school. Technology has made her, I believe, less creative and motivated than she used to be.

Ever since she got a computer (and then an iPhone) it's always been Facebook, instant messaging, Instagram and it never stops. I'll see her texting four people at once and constantly scrolling through pages of photos on Instagram or scrolling down to the depths of Facebook while on the phone with one of her friends. And this is a lot.

Too much.

I feel like she needs to put down the phone and actually focus on us sometimes. It's not that she doesn't talk to us or that she ignores us, but she's just always on it. When I'm out with my family, friends, and (especially) girlfriend I rarely, if ever, look at or check my phone. It makes the other person think, "Hey, this person is paying attention to me, thus I'll pay attention to him and talk to him". This is good. It enables conversation and promotes doing things together. Like yesterday, I went to a friends house with another friend. We played the piano together, played Super Smash Bros together (notice, this includes technology but we are all doing it together and conversing at the same time; it's actually quite funny and conversation inducing), played cards together, looked at a turtle, and ate cookies. And it was fun just with the people!

My sister, however, spends most of the time with her friend in her room, listening to music, texting, going on Facebook, etc. Do you notice what's familiar about these activities? They were the ones that I mentioned above that you could do alone. I'm not saying you can't or shouldn't do with your friends from time to time, but when you're with them you should focus mostly on them because with technology, it's a gateway to others.

She used to do more: go to the park with her friends, play Pokémon with them, paint, go horseback riding, do things that not only benefited her by spending and connecting with others, but benefitting the person at the other end.

Another example with sort of the same problem is my friends Mason and Merritt. Mason and Merritt recently have each acquired an iPad. That's great; I love my iPad and it's been an amazing device since I got mine about one and a half years ago. But, when you spend every second on it, it can have the opposite effect of being amazing. They will go to Instagram, then to Snapchat, then too some multiplayer biking game, then to a text conversation, and then literally repeat the process again a minute later while me and my other friend are in the room.

This is too much.

They are focusing on the iPad and others instead of on me, my other friend, and his twin (Mason and Merritt are twins). They are somewhat addicted to this and I know how this feels. Before these iPads, we'd do more stuff as a group and it was mostly fun. Now, it's just annoying.

I might be bringing up extreme cases but you have to realize that this is happening to three people close to me. It's just scary to think that if a good majority of the people I'm close to are being affected by this, how is it affecting the rest of the younger generation?

Also, this technology is literally taking up our lives. I don't think Chloe, Mason, or Merritt have any sort of productive hobby (I know Mason is in cross country but other than that I don't know). I think people should have something that they can share with the world or "show off". For me it's my writing (including this blog), my music, my videos, and Twitter feed. I feel like I'm enriching peoples lives with those things; sharing my thoughts and opinions with the world. Mason, Merritt, and Chloe are not enriching the lives of others or contributing to anything but rather doing things for themselves. Sure, posting on Instagram can be good (it can be relatable to posting things on Twitter) but if that's all you have, I think you need something a little bit more sophisticated to share with the world. Another example is my girlfriend, @Rainbow_Foxy on Twitter. She posts art on FurAffinity and has a pretty successful Twitter account. She is sharing her thoughts, opinons, and emotions with the world and I like that about her.

Am I saying that they need to start putting in hours at the homeless shelter and start learning the trumpet? No, but they have to do something with their lives other than just pleasing their friends and the people around them. They need to contribute something to others, I believe. Maybe they're not ready for that yet, but they need to start thinking about it soon.

And this is affecting not only the people around me, but the younger generation. They are becoming less motivated, I believe, and strive for less. They accept things with less quality. I saw this great picture on FailBlog that said something like:

"90's Kids -
Rebels: Didn't do well in school, listed to bad music, etc.
Regular Kids: Did well in school, had a good future, etc.

Kid's Today -
Rebels: Do well in school, have good future, etc.
Regular Kids: Don't do well in school, listen to bad music, etc."

I think this is slightly true. It has become more normal to be less than best. This needs to change. Although not all of the blame is on technology, it's a big factor. I could write more about this (and maybe I will in the future) but this is what I have to say for now. I know this isn't as organized as it could be but I hope you get my point: connect with the people that you like around you and don't connect with others. Do something productive that does not only benefit you in a way, but can benefit lots of others. Something as simple as posting things on a blog or posting art is something that I consider to be enriching society.

Thanks for reading,

- Aidan

State of My Youtube Channel

Well, since my girlfriend recommended I do a blog on this I will!

So, if you've noticed (or probably not noticed) I haven't posted a video in about a month.

This is bad. But there are reasons:

  1. The biggest reason is I get (basically) no support. Yes, I know I need to put out frequent videos (or at least videos on a decent schedule) to gain supporters but I did that for about a year. I got very little in support. I maybe get a comment every two weeks if I'm lucky and I get about and average of 10 views on every video I make. So, as you can see it wastes my time and is basically pointless if I make videos for a wall. It's very frustrating.
  2. I have very little time. Ever since school started, I've barely had time to do the things related to video games. I haven't played Minecraft in about a month, the last time I watched any Youtube subscription feeds was a week ago, and I generally just play very little video games now. It's not that I don't want to, it's just that I don't have the time. I have school work, piano, and a girlfriend to take care of and I go to sleep at about 12 every night.
So, those are some legitimate reasons for me not posting videos. My girlfriend (@Rainbow_Foxy on Twitter) loves my videos and it's one of the reasons she started liking me. 

Trust me, I like making videos. There's just no point right now. If I could be doing better things with my time than making videos for no one, then why would I waist my time doing that?

My girlfriend wants to record something with me (like, while she's in the room sort of thing). She's also going to spread the word about this to her followers (she has a lot more than me and I don't know why >_<). Hopefully this can garner enough attention.

I don't think anybody out there cares about me, my videos, my blog, or my Twitter but if you do or have the slightest interest in what I do, thank-you. Any word of encouragement makes me feel ecstatic inside and you can send me message via Twitter if you'd like (@throughthemines). 

What happens if this totally fails?

Well, if after a certain period of time I get nowhere with the videos and nothing seems to be working then I guess I could rebrand my channel. My main interest is music and I could rebrand my channel as "Aidan Jones" or something and try my hand at music; maybe do covers of things, record music, write my own music, etc. Basically, it would be centered around music. I already have musical videos on my channel right now but it's not the main focus. If people obviously don't want to watch me play video games, then maybe they'll want to watch me do things with music. This would also mean I would get more into Soundcloud.

Will you delete your channel or remove your videos from Youtube if this happens?

No. I am actually quite proud of the videos I've made and believe they are of good quality. I will most likely just switch the theme and rename the channel.

So there's what's happening. If you've been reading this, God bless you. If you like what I do, tell your friends, your grandpa, your neighbors, anybody!

Thank-you from the bottom of my heart,

- Aidan

Summer, etc.

So today I went on a walk.

A long walk.

I walked to the park down the street. I then went on the bike trail and sat behind my girlfriend's house for a while. Then I walked to another park.

What I was thinking about the whole time:

I miss my girlfriend.

More specifically, I miss Summer.

I miss how we'd go to the park every week.

I miss how I'd go up to her door and she'd greet me with a hug. We'd then take some water bottles, some blankets, and walk to the park, her hand in mine.

We'd come to our spot, lay down on the blanket, and we’d lay together mostly. The sun filtered through the trees above us and the breeze blessed us with it's sweet, cool air. I'd hold her and kiss her and tell her I love her and how beautiful she is. She'd sometimes get up and run around for me to catch her and hold her. Other times, she would be on my chest smiling her sweet smile and I'd look at her and lay my head down, closing my eyes and smiling and I'd feel content. Then we'd walk back, holding hands or with our arms around each other, to her house and she'd kiss me and I'd get on my bike to go home.

I also miss how she would act like a kitty; how she would meow and avoid water.
How she would be so concerned while I was on a ledge; how she worried for my safety.
I miss her, "I love you"s.

I miss there being no stress, no work, nothing to do but love each other and have fun.

I really miss those days.

I really do.

I went past both of our spots. I laid down in one spot and imagined her their. There was another couple in our other spot. They were happy.

And when I stood at the back of her house and I knew she was in there, I felt better knowing she was there; that she was tangible.

However, I can't test her tangibility.

She might as well be a memory or an apparition. I want to hold her again and tell her I love her.

I'd also like to go to the park again with her someday. So I can relive those beautiful Summer days that I long for so much.

So that's what's been going through my mind. I've felt sad over this but I'm feeling better. I hope I can see her soon.

Only 7 months 30 days 3 hours until next Summer.

- Aidan

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Best. Thesis. Ever.

(Yay for stock imagery!)


I know I don't write a lot on this blog. I wish I had more things to talk about and more time -_-

But anyways, I did have something I wanted to share with the world this Wednesday evening.

So, at school I'm in Honors English AP (not to brag or anything) and we're working on planning and setting up a paper with the topic of entertainment and it's influence in society (agreeing and supporting whether it's good, bad, or a little of both). Today we took some thesis statements from various students and put them on the board. The whole point of this is to critique and fix errors in our thesis statements so that not only them learn, but the entire class get help. My English teacher is standing up there, talking about the various thesis statements on the board (lots of them were very wordy) and then we come to this little gem:

"Since the dawn of entertainment and media, society has experienced dark age, marked by a decrease in moral activity and a decline in the innocence and joys of life."

My English teacher broke out in laughter after reading the first five sentences and so did the entire class, including me. It was hilarious and it's one of the reasons English is my favorite class. Another interesting note was that not one person in the class noticed this thesis on the board before my teacher got to it.

After laughing for about two minutes, the class finally settled down slightly and my teacher decided she should come back to it later.

There's just so much good stuff in this thesis:

"Since the dawn of entertainment..."

What, are we watching a nature documentary narrated by Morgan Freeman?

"...society has experienced dark age..."

"Society has made us all poor, dirty peasants,  plagued not by the black death, but by the torture and sadness that entertainment brings". I mean really now!

"...decline in the innocence and joys of life."

Well, innocence is correct, but joys of life? Sure, more you get a more wholesome and filling experience spending time with a loved one or friend, but most of our life is not spend talking to another person. And doing things associated with entertainment with another person (such as going to a movie, playing a video game together, etc.) can not only by wholesome, but filling and enriching as well.

Plus, the "joys of life" just sounds plain cheesy. X3

But hey, that's just my opinion.

That is my dissection of this wonderfully bad thesis statement. I found it very enjoyable and I hope you did too.

Thanks for reading,

- Aidan

Monday, September 3, 2012

Life is Like Skydiving

I just had a thought: Life is like jumping out of an airplane. Why?

The analogy assumes that when you jump out of the plane, that's your birth, of course. When you jump off the plane, you see no ground just like in real life babies don't perceive the real world around them that well, imagining things and learning for the first time of their surroundings and the fact that they're "jumping out of a plane". 

As you get older and fall farther, you start to see the ground, or the real world, or I guess for a more bleak term death. For example: young adults. They see some of the real world but there are still some clouds in their path, referring to teenager's and young adult's spirit and dreams. Some believe that they can make a change in the world one way or another. You also will join hands with others in your same plane and, hopefully, others. 

As we get even older, the clouds start to fade and we see most if not all of real life and the reality of things around us. We realize that, whether good or bad, this is how life is and either you can let it happen or change your course since there's no way to stop falling. You might also join hands with a person from another plane permanently so ensuring them no matter what happens during the fall, you'll always be there for them.

As you start getting close to the ground, thus getting older, you start to realize that death is coming and there's not much you can do. If you live a good life, then you can have a functional parachute to help you coast down to the ground and not have a bad parachute that will give you a quick, scary death (although sometimes, unfortuanetly, someone can get a bad parachute even when working hard to get a good one).  As you get down to landing and closing your life, you can think, "I'm scared because I'm going to land soon and I don't know what's going to happen when I do" or you can think "Well, this was an awesome time! I'm so glad I got to do this".

So, will you have fun during your fall, soaking in the landscape around you and enjoying it, or will you be scared of the impending ground for your whole life and not notice and take advantage of the things around you? Also, will you have a parachute or will you plunge to your death?

It's (mostly) your choice.

- Aidan

P.S. I had this thought after listening to Secret O' Life by James Taylor:

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Thoughts on Indie Game: The Movie

Before you read this, go to Steam, iTunes, or the DRM free download and get this movie for $10.

Now that it's downloading, I can tell you why I enjoyed it so much and the emotions I felt from it.

In this movie, you follow three Indie developers: the developers of Super Meat Boy, Fez, and Braid and you see what they go through to make a video game. And they go through a lot. Through this film, you see the emotions that come from their experiences in life and you feel it. When your game has a crucial bug which makes it almost unplayable, in the instance of Fez, at PAX after working for years of your life after your father almost died, your has girlfriend left you, you could have the whole thing ruined from a lawsuit from your partner leaving you midway through development, you can get angry and frustrated and that's what I felt. I also learned that developers can be upset even after stellar ratings and sales because the message that they felt was there wasn't. Also I saw how developers will work tirelessly for a month to finish a game that was expected to be released even close to that date. 

Overall, you see the raw emotions in what goes into making a game independently and how rewarding it can feel to get a game to the public and see how everyone loves it as well as the pitfalls that comes from putting all your waking hours into a game. I think I will start looking more into games, and indie games in particular, to see their true meaning and what the developers intended me to feel. I also, like many others, think that this film doesn't just fit into the gamer crowd and that all people would feel the same things I did because this film isn't about necessarily the games themselves as what it takes to make them and what feelings come out from distributing them, etc.

As a side note, the film itself is beautiful. It's excellently filmed and the music fits perfectly. It was a pleasure to look at in and of itself. 

OVER 9000/10

As you can see, I couldn't fit this all onto Twitter. I've been wanting to game reviews but I guess a movie about games is a good start (: Can't wait to see the Minecraft documentary when it comes out later this Summer. 

Is your movie done downloading yet? Go watch it! 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Say Goodbye to 1080p (for now) and Hello to New Recording Solutions!

There is sad news on this day,

So let me give you kind of a back story. I use Voila for screen recording my computer. Overall, it's okay. I would like to have the option to record 30fps video, but 25 is pretty good. Anyway there's one fatal flaw: whenever I play games at 1080p resolution while recording, every once in a while a key will get "stuck", that is if you were to press the "W" key in Minecraft you would keep going forward until you pressed "W" again. This happened frequently enough where I started to look for alternative programs. I scoured the Interwebs in order to find some solution. Alas, there were no solutions for this bug. I'm not sure whether I'm going to file a bug report or something since I have found a workaround. It turns out I have to change my screen resolution to 720p and thus record in that resolution. I just played Minecraft and Portal 2 and they both performed great (Minecraft got 35-45fps) and best of all I never got the bug. So, the point here is I won't be doing many 1080p videos until I get my new recording setup, which I'm going to talk about in the paragraph below.

There she is, the AVerMedia Game Capture HD. This is going to be the focal point for my new recording setup. I talked about this a long time ago in a Skyblock video, but I'm going to talk about this in a new video that I will make sometime. What this does is it records footage from a composite input. That means that the computer does absolutely no work. And it records 1080i! Although this looks slightly worse than 1080p, it looks very close to it. But since I am a videophile (?), what I'm going to do is get a HDMI splitter, split one HDMI cable to my monitor and another to an HDMI to composite converter which will then go to the box. Thus I get the best quality while still being able to record at a high resolution. All of this will run my approximately $210. You may be wondering, "Is it worth it just to record more pixels?". Well, if you don't know I have a PS3, Wii, and Nintendo 64 and my friend has an XBox 360 and an SNES (I don't know if you'd be able to record that though). So, this means I can record a lot more games by myself and with friends as well as vintage ones too. So in my opinion it is definitely worth it. I am very excited for when I will be able to produce more content in high qualitie.

There's one slight problem: I don't have $210. That's what I will be saving up for. I am hoping to have enough money to buy it by sometime in Summer (or maybe I could get it for my birthday. Who knows!?), assuming I don't spend it on Indie Game Bundles and iOS apps.

Oh look! Is that a new Indie Royal Bundle?!

- Aidan

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Tons of Updates on the Server!


I've been working hard on the server for a couple of days (losing needed sleep because of it) and It's coming along very well. Here are the things I've added so far:
  • PermissionsEX 
  • WorldGuard 
  • NoSpawnEggs
  • neoPaintingSwitch
  • Multiverse Core and Inventories
  • Grief_Logger (Not sure if I'm going to implement this one yet or at all...)
  • Giant Trees
  • bcVote
  • RealMOTD
Now, I could have just drag and dropped all of these plugins in and defaulted to Op which is what was happening on the old server. Mostly what I've been working on is permissions for ALL the plugins. There are currently four groups: Guests, Builders, Moderators, Admins, and Owner (I will be the only owner). Guests only have permissions to access a couple of basic Essentials commands and to teleport to any world they choose (it took me 2 days just to get Multiverse configured). Also, Multiverse Inventories allows you to have seperate inventories for certain worlds which is what I'm using for the Survival world. I'm using NoSpawnEggs to disable certain groups from spawning bad mobs and things of that sort. neoPaintingSwitch will allow you to switch paintings with your mousewheel (only for builders and above of course). Giant Trees is going to be only for Mods and up. bcVote is for Builders and up. You can vote for the weather and time of day with it. RealMOTD is a plugin that allows you to have a more rich MOTD than Essentials when you log into the server.

Since Spring Break starts this week (yay!) I will be working overtime on getting this server ready for a public release. I will set myself a goal: by the end of Spring Break, I will have the server and all of the other things associated with it's release set up.

You thought this was over?

I am renaming the server. Why you may ask? Because now I do not only have just Moog and Thimble Lake City on my server, but I have a Survival world, End world, Redstone world, and Dongo Bongo Island. Since I couldn't name it the Thimble Moog Redstone Dongo Redstone Survival Server, I had to come up with a name to cover what this server is about. What I want this server to be is a place that you can go for almost all your Minecraft pleasures. Whether it's surviving, building, or exploring, you can do it here. So, this is the name for the server:

The few of you that get this: clever huh? For the rest of you, you're probably saying, "Why the heck did you name it '42'?". You would have had to watch or read "Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy" in order to get this because, according to the movie/book, the answer to life, the universe, and everything is 42 (Even Wolfram Alpha concurs). I thought it might go well with the server because I want it to be the answer to your Minecraft server; the server that you want to go on for all your Minecraft desires. So, I'm happy with the name and I'm sticking with it.

I'm making a page on this service called Enjin on which you can make a page for a certain game. I'm making one for the server. I will talk about this in another blog post since I don't have anything ready on it yet.

I made the logo you see above. I did it in like 20 minutes on my iPad. I kind of like it, although I probably can do something better. For the time being, I guess that will be the logo of the Server. I guess I can make a better one over the break.

Since all of this is going on, video production will probably be lower than usual (although it wasn't very frequent to begin with). So yah. Hope your excited to come on this server as much as I am. I look forward to a big and great community. Who knows? We could expand over time and grow maybe to a 40, 60, or 100 person server. That would be awesome!

The future is bright,

- Aidan

P.S. I will probably be adding 42 to soon as well. Just thought I'd let you know.