Apple Music

Default iPhone Ring as a Ballad

The default ring for the iPhone used to change every year or two evolving through various iterations of the tunes: “Marimba”, “Opening”, and “Reflection”. In the video above composer and pianist Tony Ann reimagines “Opening” as a complete ballad.

(via Kottke)


Comic Book History on a New YouTube Channel

I just discovered a relatively new YouTube channel about comic books that takes me back to my childhood. I particularly enjoyed this story of Rob Liefeld, and despite the clickbait title, “How this ‘terrible artist’ made MILLIONS”, it’s actually a great documentary on Comic Book history, and true, I remember thinking how weird some of his characters looked. I got my start collecting comics with the X-Force #1 mentioned in this video. I still have it wrapped in plastic sitting in my childhood bedroom.

Also, don’t miss the backstory behind the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I also used to collect the Archie Comics version of these heroes in a half shell. On the playground I remember hearing about the ultra-violent black and white versions of the comics that kids weren’t allowed to buy. I enjoyed hearing about the ending to that particular run of comics at the end of the video:

Rediscovering comic book history through this captivating YouTube channel has been a delightful journey down memory lane, and it looks like it’s gotten quite popular in its short life so far. I’m looking forward to Matt’s next release.


Remembering Keith

A couple of months ago, I received the news of Keith Johnstone’s death and learned about a celebratory wake in his honour to be held in Calgary on June 25th. Initially uncertain about attending, fate led me to join my friend, Wren, and I must say, it turned out to be an incredible experience. As we pondered what the event might entail, Wren confessed her belief that it could either be a remarkable gathering or a chaotic mess.

During my time at University, I had the privilege of participating in a one-day improvisation seminar led by Keith himself. The experience was truly transformative. I distinctly remember Keith expressing his disappointment with students who focused solely on being great performers, emphasizing the importance of authenticity and embracing our natural selves. His wisdom echoed the sentiments he had eloquently penned in his renowned book on improvisation, aptly titled “Impro” (which I highly recommend). Don’t try to be great, just try to be average and it will free you to be great.

Yesterday, Wren and I arrived at the festive wake, and to my delight, it was a beautiful celebration of Keith’s life, flaws and all. The eccentric sound technician, Dave Lawrence, embodied the character of Terry Cahill from the film “FUBAR” and added an extra touch of greatness. Mouthwatering authentic Mexican tacos from a local truck satisfied our appetites. The venue showcased an impressive collection of Keith’s artwork, accompanied by live music and heartfelt speeches. Even Death itself made an appearance, as a towering Grim Reaper on stilts, reciting Keith’s “Death’s prologue to Live Snake and Ladders.”

Although the livestream encountered some technical difficulties, the audience cheered Terry on as he quickly resolved them, and we were treated to a captivating collection of interviews and insights from Keith, which I encourage you to watch:

However, there was an incident that stood out—a passionate audience member expressed his disagreement when Keith’s son revealed that he had asked GPT4 to emulate Keith’s thoughts on the new AI technology. The man, sitting near us, repeatedly shouted “No!” at the screen. I thought the message from the chatbot was apt because it determined that while Keith may have marvelled at the technology he ultimately would have emphasized the importance of keeping a human connection.

Surprisingly, these minor technical glitches and the diverse characters in the audience added to the charm of the event. The imperfections created an atmosphere of genuine connection and shared appreciation for Keith’s impact.

Attending Keith Johnstone’s festive wake was a privilege I won’t soon forget. From my personal experiences with his teachings to the delightful surprises at the event, it was an extraordinary tribute to a remarkable individual. The gathering showcased the essence of Keith’s wisdom—embracing imperfections and allowing space for greatness to emerge. It was a truly memorable and inspiring celebration of a life well-lived.

Update: here is the entire festive wake edited “with the boring parts cut out”.

Art artificial intelligence Photography

Adobe Releases Photoshop’s AI Generative Fill

Adobe has announced a new Beta version of Photoshop that comes with generative AI technology.

Pam Clark, writing for the Adobe Blog:

We are thrilled to announce that the Photoshop (beta) app has released Generative Fill, the world’s first co-pilot in creative and design workflows, giving users a magical new way to work. Generative Fill is powered by Adobe Firefly, Adobe’s family of creative generative AI models. Starting today, Photoshop subscribers can create extraordinary imagery from a simple text prompt.

This brings two imaging powerhouses together — Photoshop and generative AI, enabling you to generate content from inside Photoshop with a text prompt and edit it with Photoshop’s comprehensive range of tools to create extraordinary results.

I’ve been having a lot of fun playing around with DiffusionBee running Stable Diffusion and yet this one from Adobe blows me away by how fast and awesome it is. Even if working on Photoshop itself is not your thing, don’t miss the examples.

Music technology

Why Music Festivals Sound Better than Ever

As this video explains, line array speakers in sound system design have revolutionized audio quality in live music events. Dave Rat, a sound engineer and sound system designer who has provided audio for Coachella since 2001, explains the differences between point source and line array speakers and how the latter has helped improve the even distribution of sound across large festival areas. Additionally, advancements in technology, such as laser range finders and 3D mapping, have helped sound designers create precise and targeted sound systems, minimizing sound bleeding and creating a better experience for festival-goers. Next time I’m at a concert, I’m going to notice the speaker arrangement and appreciate how far we’ve come in sound design.


Redesigns and Revamps: Utah’s New State Flag and My ATA Local’s Logo

I’m not a graphic designer but I that’s basically what the New Media program at the U of L taught me to be so I’m interested in good design and want to share some examples of recent logo and flag redesigns:

Back at the end of the 90s I spent a year living in Utah, the flag they had then is basically just the state seal on a blue background. Some 24 states still sport this style of seal on a blue “bedsheet”.

They’ve recently redesigned it and, in my opinion did a pretty good job. Modern design dictates that good logos should be simple enough that one could draw them from a basic description. The new flag meets that criteria. It’s got a great use of the beehive (a symbol of Deseret), the red rocks below, and the white peaks of the mountains. Good job.

Speaking of redesigns, my ATA local recently updated their logo. When they were talking about doing the new logo I thought about volunteering to do it myself but I was worried that I wouldn’t create something in the same ballpark that a full time professional designer could come up with.

The new logo incorporates some symbolism of hoodoos (in the south) to the willow trees that exist in the northern part of our local. It doesn’t meet modern design’s trend of being easily drawn — it’s much too detailed.

I decided to make my own attempt and this is what I came up with:
I suppose my design doesn’t pop in this black and white format, but I’m confident that adding a little colour would give it the same life as the one they chose. C’est la vie. Anyway, I’m disappointed that they’re not going to use my logo, I should have volunteered when the time was right.

(via One Foot Tsunami)


2022 Playlist

Once again1 in 2022, Andrea and I made a playlist for the year:

Just like last year I used to collect the same songs in a Youtube playlist and also exported My 2022 Apple Playlist in .CSV format.

  1. Previously: 2021 playlist. ↩︎

One Second Everyday 2022

I’ve been making One Second Everyday compilations for ten years now. It’s so hard to believe because when I started I just thought it would take a year and be done. It turns out, it’s a Sisyphean task but I get such a positive response each year that I don’t mind. Below is the one I just wrapped up for 2022.


Billie Eilish: Same Interview, the 6th

I watch this same interview every year and every year I think I should post it so you can enjoy it too. I finally am.

books writing

On Writing Well

Earlier today I finished reading On Writing Well1, by William Zinsser. In it, Zinsser outlines not only what it takes to write well but also rouses ones love for writing. The book is great, it’s not only fun to read but inspires me to write.

Zinsser died in 2015, and at that time Open Culture honoured him by posting 10 tips from his book which is a worthy summary:

Zinsser stressed simplicity and efficiency, but also style and enthusiasm. Here are 10 of his many tips for improving your writing.

  1. Don’t make lazy word choices: “You’ll never make your mark as a writer unless you develop a respect for words and a curiosity about their shades of meaning that is almost obsessive. The English language is rich in strong and supple words. Take the time to root around and find the ones you want.”
  2. On the other hand, avoid jargon and big words: “Clear thinking becomes clear writing; one can’t exist without the other. It’s impossible for a muddy thinker to write good English.”
  3. Writing is hard work: “A clear sentence is no accident. Very few sentences come out right the first time, or even the third time. Remember this in moments of despair. If you find that writing is hard, it’s because it is hard.”
  4. Write in the first person: “Writing is an intimate transaction between two people, conducted on paper, and it will go well to the extent that it retains its humanity.”
  5. And the more you keep in first person and true to yourself, the sooner you will find your style: “Sell yourself, and your subject will exert its own appeal. Believe in your own identity and your own opinions. Writing is an act of ego, and you might as well admit it.
  6. Don’t ask who your audience is…you are the audience: “You are writing primarily to please yourself, and if you go about it with enjoyment you will also entertain the readers who are worth writing for.”
  7. Study the masters but also your contemporaries: “Writing is learned by imitation. If anyone asked me how I learned to write, I’d say I learned by reading the men and women who were doing the kind of writing I wanted to do and trying to figure out how they did it.”
  8. Yes, the thesaurus is your friend: “The Thesaurus is to the writer what a rhyming dictionary is to the songwriter–a reminder of all the choices–and you should use it with gratitude. If, having found the scalawag and the scapegrace, you want to know how they differ, then go to the dictionary.”
  9. Read everything you write out loud for rhythm and sound: “Good writers of prose must be part poet, always listening to what they write.”
  10. And don’t ever believe you are going to write anything definitive: “Decide what corner of your subject you’re going to bite off, and be content to cover it well and stop.”

  1. On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction, first published in 1976, has sold almost 1.5 million copies to three generations of writers, editors, journalists, teachers and students. ↩︎