Sunday, January 31, 2016

Three Classes and One Full Week Done of Piano Class

Picture of Piano KeyboardI have finished the first full week of piano class.  Three classes and I certainly would not say that I can read music.  However, I am making headway in the art of reading music.  The book starts off easily getting us familiar with the keyboard and how we will eventually be reading music.  The digits of our left and right hand to use when reading the music.  Sure, it all makes sense now as we are only doing basic things on the piano.

Still, there are times when I am practicing at home, maybe making up my own tune on the piano (as encouraged by the book to learn the keyboard) where I forget for just a moment that I have no idea what I am doing on the piano.  I start to get into the rhythm of the piano and the tune I am pouring out from my fingers takes over... if only for a few seconds... but it feels and hears to my mind that I am playing a real tune.

I still have not tuned our piano at home though, so for it to be a tune, you know it has to be a badly out of tune.  There are some keys that make you cringe, but overall, it does not sound too bad.  Carrie and I were guessing the piano has not been tuned in over fifteen years through various moves before we received the piano and not played, it is in desperate need of tuning.

My piano teacher provided the name of a person in town who can tune our piano.  About two weeks have gone by since I got the name of the tuner from the teacher and I still have not called to schedule them to come out.  It is on my to do list to call and schedule them to be out to tune our piano.  Then, look out as I will finally be in tune here at home.  Another week or two and I believe we will be full in deep to reading music then too.  At least that's what I observe looking through the book to see what is coming up in future classes.

I am still working on remembering treble and bas clefs (see Studying, Piano Lessons, and Remembering Childhood Piano Practicing).  It takes me a while, but I can eventually get it.  Of course with practice I know that I will get faster at being able to read music.  Still, we have not started really reading notes in the class.  We are only looking at pages with numbers and notes, but the notes are not on a clef.  Again, I know eventually we will get there and eventually be reading music.  We have to get through this basic stuff first before we can start being able to play.

The class provides extra credit if we go to events in or around Topeka.  Friday night, Carrie and I had the opportunity to go to a recital for a friend.  She sang soprano accompanied by a piano, flute, and other soloists all at first times.  Primarily it was our friend (singing) and piano accompaniment.  It was a wonderful performance.  We were able to heard another friend of ours who sings opera and they sang a piece where he joined in too.  Wonderful evening of music!  To think I get to use that for extra credit now in my class too.  Works out nicely!

Carrie and I talked afterwards that we need to try and go to a local musical event a few times a year.  I would like to attend operas or orchestra once or twice a year.  I remember when I was little, I would go to events throughout the year with my mom.  Of course when I was little, I did not really want to be at some of those events and rather be out playing.  Now that I am older, I want to expand on my musical knowledge or experiences.  So, Carrie and I are both going to watch for events we can attend and make it to a few throughout the year.  No, not only for extra credit in this class, but because we enjoy the music.

Still not any pictures, video, or sounds of my practicing at this point as no one wants to hear that now.  Our class is interesting as it is a full class and we all play aloud in the class.  The instructor has us turn our piano down to half volume, but still, it sounds like a train wreck when we all play wrong keys to start a scale.  Gradually though, we get better as we learn the process or notes.

I have slacked off since our Wednesday class on practicing, so I need to play a lot Sunday to make up for it.  In class on Monday, we will each play our own piece for the class.  It should be interesting as we make it up as we go, but are restricted to a certain set of keys.  We will simply make up the chords and the melody with the right hand.  We can take notes so we can duplicate our play on Monday in class.  I am thinking I will just wing it and act as though it is planned.

Picture of MusicAs we are about to begin our second full week of class, it still amazes me that I use to play the piano when I was little.  I remember bits and pieces as I read and while I find it exciting to play and for a brief few seconds feel as though I know what I am doing, I still feel as though I am only making noise.

I know it will all come together at some point.  At some point it will all make sense and I will be able to read music and make a sound that others want to hear.  That is my dream from taking this class and the ability to be able to sit down and read from sight a new piece of music so that it is recognizable to those listening.  With practice, I intend to be able to play a song, but I want to be able to sight read anything too.

Are you playing a new instrument or learning a new tool?  Share it with me in the comments sections.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Blab Blab Blab... A new Social Media Site to Check Out

Picture of Computer with 1's and 0's Coming out of the Screen

During the weekly #blogchat last week, a fellow #blogchat participant introduced me to site Blab.  Marc Miller introduced me to Blab by way of his blog posting back in October 2015.  Blab is still in beta, so it is still being tested.  I was intrigued as soon as I visited the the blog (Boomer Job Search with CareerSherpa and CareerPivot) and saw the demo of how Marc was using the Blab service.

At first glance of Blab, it appears to be a simple video chat.  With deeper investigation (and use) it is similar to Google Hangouts, but this was different in that anyone could tune in and watch the conversation.  Not only can anyone tune in and watch, but they can also chat with anyone in the "room".

I admit, I have not done a lot with Google Hangouts.  I have visited the site and participated in one or two Hangouts.  Although, usually when I have taken part in a Hangout, it was through a YouTube video where someone was doing a Google Hangouts and then broadcasting it via YouTube.  I think the last time I tried using Google Hangouts was in 2011 or 2012.  Sure, I see them from time-to-time when visiting various sites or when browsing #live streams on YouTube, but it has not been something I have been involved in at all.

From what I know of Google Hangouts, I remember it would allow up to ten people doing video chat.  No one else can join in on the call to watch those ten people chatting.  Only those ten people connected are able to video chat and see one another in the chat.  This is where I believe Blab is different.

Picture of Faces and People Talking with BalloonsBlab only allows for a maximum of four people to video chat at one time.  The difference is that anyone can tune into the Blab to watch and even interact with the "blabbers" in the chat.  A complete description of what the site is about can be found on their web site at

The site is currently in beta, but so far from what I can tell, it is working fine.  The site does only currently work with Firefox or Chrome.  It does not work with Internet Explorer or Safari.  I am hopeful as they build and develop the site that other browsers will work with the site too.  Possibly the HTML engine of the two browsers they have selected that allow for the video chat to work where IE and Safari do not allow for it to happen.  Regardless, to gain popularity I hope that other sites can be used too.

The site went to beta back over the summer of 2015 as indicated on the About Blab page.  It appears they have had some good publicity from presidential post debates as well as Big Brother chats.  Yes, the first time I hear about it was during a weekly #blogchat when a fellow chatter mentioned it to me.

I am certainly interested in what the site is about.  I see the potential for a lot of events.  No, not necessary me doing them at this point, but looking through the various categories, it already appears to be catching on to TV and radio hosts to allow interaction for their shows.

Interesting point that Marc Miller suggested in his Blab chat, what it can be used for office hours for faculty.  The site allows anyone to jump into the video chat and the entire class, or anyone interested, and that has the link to the video chat, can tune in and take part.  They can take part by jumping into an open seat (remember there are four spots to video chat) or they can take part in the chat.

They have an app for Apple and imagine if it continues to grow there will be apps for other mobile devices too.  Certainly a interesting concept they have put on the web.  I would never have known  about it until the #blogchat last week.

What cool and different sites to you visit each week that you are not sure anyone else knows about?  Feel free to share in the comments or send me a tweet.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

New Found Addiction are YouTube Channels of Sailors

Picture of YouTube Logo from YouTubeI was one of those that would watch YouTube every now and again.  I had a few feeds that I subscribed to on YouTube, but really, I did not do a whole lot with the feeds that I followed.  That all all changed back in November of this last year.  I was not looking for anything in particular, I was just browsing around the Internet.

It started out as searching for the ocean, beaches, etc., and then turned into watching people sail.  Turns out, there are a lot of people that have given up their lives on land (for the most part) and their home is a sail boat.  Most of them record weekly or bi-weekly broadcasts of their adventures.  They actually make money by those watching their videos and then people can send them money too.

The site that almost everyone uses is called Patreon.  Until coming across these sailors, I had not heard of Patreon before.  Low and behold, there are a lot of people using it as almost all of the people I am following use this site.  No, I have not donated any money yet, but it is a interesting concept.  Basically, followers of a particular person donate money for each time that site creates an update.  Whether that is a video, blog post, etc., the patrons (see what happened there... Patreon's) commit via the site to pay the poster $1, $5, and up for each new item posted.

I started off with one particular channel that I basically watched all of their videos in one evening.  There were a lot, but I was addicted.  After finishing watching the entire season, I searched for other YouTube sites and quickly found there are a lot of people doing this same thing.

I think in all the cases of the videos that I am following on a regular basis, all of them have in fact quit their jobs and sail full time.  They sold their homes for a sail boat.  At least one of the videos I follow, they say how scary it was to sell their home and leave what they knew to only sail.  Now, they would not give it up for anything.  Of course, the other thing that many of these adventurers also gave up was their family and friends that they left behind.  A few of them are able to have their family meet up with them on their adventures of the wild blue sea, but this has been a rare occurrence.

So, you might be curious which sea adventurers I am following.  They include the following no particular order except for the first one which was the first one I started following:

These are all like TV shows where they document each week what has happened for the previous week or two.  Some (i.e. Shaun Sailing) only post every other week while others (I think most of the others) post every week.

Not only are the videos of where they are beautiful, but I get swept away with the thought of leaving everything to go be on the wide open ocean.  Being on the ocean in the middle of the night with no one around for miles and miles... Makes me wonder how I would feel in that situation.  When I see a notice come through via YouTube or email that a update is available for one of these channels, I get excited and cannot wait to view their latest adventure.  

I would like to thank the above linked video bloggers for providing videos of their adventures.  I look forward to future adventures. Don't worry, I do not plan to sell everything and become an adventurer on the open ocean.  

What are your favorite YouTube channels to follow?  Do you have feeds that you have to watch as soon as they are released?  Please share them in the comments or send me a Tweet about your favorites.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Studying, Piano Lessons, and Remembering Childhood Piano Practicing

Picture of Book Piano Lab an Introduction to Class Piano
Text Book for Piano Class
I have enrolled in a piano class this semester.  We recently received the piano from Carries' parents.  It is very similar to the piano I used when I was young.

The book we are using in the class is the "PianoLab: An Introduction to Class Piano".  I almost forgot I had to order the book as I had checked on the class before the semester started, but did not see the book listed.  I checked again this past weekend and realized I could find the book listed under "Find My Books" of our campus portal.  Sure enough, there was the book listed for the class.  A few short Amazon searches and we had a book in-route to our house for class that started Wednesday night.

When I was young, I took piano for many years.  I took the Suzuki method of piano.  I started in grade school and from what I remember I took it all the way through junior high.  In fact, when Carrie asked me how long I took lessons, I think I told her it was for 12 years.  That might have been an exaggeration... it just felt like it went on forever.  With the Suzuki style of piano, I did not learn to read any music.  It was all memorization.  Well, at least through the first couple of years of lessons.  I think at some point, the lessons did try and teach us to read music, but being a kid, it was not something I was too interested in learning.

Mom and I had a lot of "fun" learning new pieces.  Of course, she struggled to get me to practice and then we struggled through my memorization of the piece.  I remember my dad being in the family room watching TV while mom and I struggled through lessons for the night.  I am sure dad enjoyed hearing the piano played while he was trying to watch TV.  My mom recalls at a summer workshop that I was attending that the teachers finally realized after years of my taking lessons that I could not read music.  I think I blocked that out as I do not remember it at all... or the ability to read music!

Image of Treble and Bas ClefSo, I have started this new class.  We had our first class, as I mentioned, on Wednesday night.  We are starting with the basics.  Posture, hands, keys, how the peddles work, and much more.  This was all on our first night of class.  We have homework to do for our next class Monday night.  It did bring back memories of some of the Saturday morning workshops with my piano teacher when I was little. Memories of going through treble and bass and trying to memorize the lines and spaces.  Memories of the "Every Good Boy Does Fine" or Good Boys Do Fine Always" to help you remember those lines and spaces on the treble and bass clef.  Ah, the memories when I was young and not caring whether I learned it or not.  Not, the goal is to learn how to read music and then be able to sit down and play at a piano from any book that I pick up.  Now, I am not saying I want to be able to sit down and play perfectly as I recognize that it takes practice to be able to play a song; I would like to be able to simply sit down and play a song with both hands from start to finish.

When asked in class about treble or bass clef, yeah, I could not remember the notes each represented. I could though recall where Middle C was located. So that was good to know I at least remembered that much from my young years taking piano.  Everything else from those early years, while it  sounded familiar, were no more clicking in class Wednesday night then they did when I was in lessons years ago.

Picture of Music StaffThe intent this weekend is to spend about two hours studying for class Monday night.  Learn the treble and bass clef well enough to be able to look at the staff and recognize the individual notes.  I think I can handle that without too much trouble. After all, I do not want to embarrass myself in class on Monday when we are asked to go to the board and mark the notes.  I did leave my notes from class at the office, so I will need to stop by the office to pick those up and make sure I cover everything.  I also plan to sit down at the piano in our house and try out a few of the items we did in class Wednesday.

Wish me luck in my class and maybe in a future update there will be a sample of what I am playing.  I am excited to be taking lessons and I want to make the most of this class.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Videos from Game 1 of 2015 World Series ... Rediscovered on my Phone Today #Royals

Carrie and I at the World Series Game 1 Preparing for Gametime
Carrie and I had the opportunity to attend Game 1 of the World Series on October 27, 2015.  Of course, we were there to cheer on the Kansas City Royals!

We did some tailgating in the parking lot prior to the game.  It was raining steadily as we sat in the parking lot.  We had purchased the tickets the day before when Carrie saw them advertised on StubHub for cheap.  It was not planned in anyway.  What a great night though we had!

We wore our ponchos into the game as it was raining steadily while in the parking lot and prior to the game.  Just about the time first pitch was supposed to happen, it did stop raining.  We made it to our seats which happened to be our favorite area to sit.  We love sitting in left field by the fountains. The seats are roomy and we are close to the beer!

During the game, I broadcast via Periscope and forgot until today that I had recorded those clips to my phone too.  We got excited last week with the re-signing of Alex Gordon and after looking through my phone for pictures/videos, I came across these and wanted to share them too.

The first video is from before the first pitch.  Everyone is ready and #TheK is packed! We meet the two guys next to us which were a lot of fun. One was a manager of Johnny's West in KC and the other was the bartender for Johnny's West.  Could not have asked for better guys to sit next to for a game let alone my first ever World Series game.  It is rather long at 12 minutes.  I also did not realize that with Periscope that I could shoot it wide screen until late in the second time shooting a video.

Bottom of the 9th inning and Alex Gordon hits a home run that sends us to extra innings. It starts off with Salvy at bat. This video is a little over seven minutes long. When Gordon hits that home run, we all go crazy! There were high fives everywhere... hugs....  I realized after watching this whole clip that at about the six minute mark when someone on Periscope said to go wide screen, it does not change when I posted it.  Oh well, you can still hear us yelling and the plays. "Enjoy the rest of the game" was my last comment in the video and little did we know it would go on a while after that... Fun night!

I am not going to apologize for my screaming during the videos.  That was something new that I started toward the end of the regular season.  Trying to throw off the opposing team.  Plus, I feel like it is good luck, so I keep doing it for other sports too.

Forever Royal Image Copied from KC Royals Web Site
Image Copied from KC Royals Web Site
The Royals ended up winning the World Series... in case you did not know...  Carrie and I only made it to the first game.  The rest we watched from my lucky chair where I yelled, screamed, and cheered for the Royals.  Looking forward to the 2016 to start and it is good to hear and read about contracts and new additions to the Royals. #ForeverRoyal is right!  I know I have been a fan since I was little and so fun to see the #Royals the past past and last year making it to the World Series.

Sometime this spring, Carrie and I will be traveling with brother-in-law Greg and his girlfriend Erin to watch minor league games in Arkansas.  We are all looking forward to that and hopefully we will see some up and comers that will soon be playing for the Royals.

Go Royals!!!!

Old iPhone 5 and Wanting the Newest Features... Why Not?

iOS 9.3 Beta InstalledDon't you love it how technology tries to keep you "current"?  Well, more accurately put, the companies that produce the technology that we (I) like to use keep us current by forcing us to upgrade our phones, computers, cars, etc.  Just so we can get the new gadgets, new features, or just look "cool".

OK, I admit, I have an iPhone 5 which at this point is over three years old.  In terms of a phone, it is old.  A friend of mine just recently upgraded their iPhone 4 to the iPhone 6.  I am not that bad, but it does make me frustrated when my iPhone 5 (released September 21, 2012) can no longer do the fancy new features that are being produced for the "new" phones.

Case in point, my phone will not do the WiFi calling nor will it do the newly published iOS 9.3 feature of Night Shift which was released earlier this week.  So, I have the new operating system and I have been providing feedback for likes, dislikes, and suggestions for features, but my iPhone 5 will not do the new cool feature.  What's the point of allowing me to test my "old" phone with the beta software if the cool new feature will not work?

I have been part of the iOS public beta program since it was released.  I have the Mac OS beta installed too along with the iPhone beta.  Overall, I have enjoyed the experience.  I got tired of reporting that the phone app on the iPhone with the beta software is slow or crashes.  I think I have reported this issue every other time the beta has released.  Once again with 9.3 I am seeing the slowness with the phone app.  It either takes forever to change from contact, keypad, or voicemail or simply crashes back to the home screen.  I provide the feedback and the next release it is fixed.  This makes me wonder if it is because I am running an old iPhone 5 and it works great in iPhone 6 or 6 Plus, but who knows.  It keeps happening to my old phone.

I still remember when I was a BlackBerry fan.  I really enjoyed the Blackberry!  Well, more appropriately the BlackBerry 8330.  It was probably my favorite phone and never thought I could start using a phone without a keyboard.  The only frustration with that phone (BlackBerry) was that not a lot of people were using it, thus, there were hardly any apps for the phone that I could utilize.  The funny thing now is that with my iPhone, I use a core set of apps.  When I could not get those other cool apps for the BlackBerry, I jumped ship to get the cool new phone.

The core set of apps that I use now include email, Twitter, browser, calendar, FaceBook, fantasy sports, and a few other odds and ends.  Probably all apps that could easily have been done back in the day on a BlackBerry.

Back to my current phone of iPhone 5....  It is over three years old.  It is an old phone by any standards.  I plan to keep it at least until iPhone 7 which is due to be out in September 2016.  I am sure I will continue to test and complain about future iOS beta installations.  I will continue to complain about the horrible battery life my phone maintains (i.e. it dies with anywhere from 5 - 10% battery life).

The Night Shift feature released in iOS 9.3 public beta sounded perfect.  I have a bad habit of as soon as I wake up I grab my phone to check email, Twitter (see previous post), and a glance at FaceBook.  Even though I have auto dim set on my phone, the screen is usually so bright that I can barely look at the screen without my eyes watering.  It does not matter whether it is 3 am or 6:30 am when I wake and grab my phone to see what has come through since I was sleeping, I still am drawn to the phone to check what was happening.  Not the best habit, but so far I have kept from responding to email or Tweets at those odd times.

Anyway, because of my old phone and the fact that Apple decided not to release the Night Shift feature to anything less than a iPhone 5s, I miss out on this new feature.  Granted, as some friends said, this is likely because the iPhone 5 is unable to handle this feature and I agree, but I feel like I am missing out with this old phone.

Monday, January 11, 2016

OneDrive for Business Next Gen Sync Client for Personal and Business Accounts

I signed up for a beta test a little over a two months ago to test the new OneDrive Sync tool.  It had worked well where I was primarily using it on my work computer.  The beta was to test new processes for the OneDrive sync as well as finally make it available for the Mac OS too.  During the beta period, I did not have a chance to try it on my MacBook Air where I am limited on local file space.  

As of today, the OneDrive for Business Next Generation Sync Client is now available.  It is available for PC or Mac.  Just as it did during my testing, it allows to sync everything or only certain folders.  Since I installed the new client on my work computer, I did not have any problems with file syncs.  Unlike the old OneDrive for Business client where it would often fail and I would have to re-sync everything, this new client seems to have resolved that issue.

The new client allows me to specify what folders are synced for both PC and Mac versions.  Extremely handy if I want to only sync certain folders to be able to work on files at home.  I have only installed the Mac version as of this evening, so after I run it for a few days I will post another update.  I am happy to see an improved OneDrive client that will work between multiple environments.

Windows installation directions available at
Mac installation directions available at

Problem with Comments Corrected

I was made aware of a problem with posting comments to items I post.  That issue has been resolved.  Thank you to @davedelaney for letting me know.  I had checked that they worked a while back and did not realize that they were not working until Dave sent me a Tweet about it following our #blogchat last evening.

If there are any other problems, please feel free to contact me through this web site or via Twitter.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Chats via Twitter and My Experience

Twitter Icon from Twitter Web SiteI have been using Twitter since April 2009 when I first created my account. In the early years, I did not use it too much.  I created the account simply to see what all the cool kids were using.  In the past few years, I have been using Twitter on a regular basis.  I enjoy Twitter much more than FaceBook and typically use Twitter to interact with others about an event whether that is a sporting, television, or other major event being discussed.  Mostly I have used Twitter to discuss Royals, Chiefs, Washburn, or KU.

Recently I had heard about #TwitterChat. This was new to me, so I wanted to find a #TwitterChat I could participate.  The first few I found were not so much "chats", but rather random people posting web sites to check on the topic.  I checked a few others finding the same thing of not a lot of discussion back-and-forth with the Twitter accounts, but simply people posting web sites to check on the topic.

I found a couple of web sites that listed Twitter Chats that had been compiled by various people.  Again, a few of these were helpful and a few were not.  I would find a topic I wanted to discuss and search for that hashtag finding no discussion at all was taking place on the particular topic.

I did find a Twitter Chat schedule that seems good and each of the times I have checked the schedule, there are actually chats occurring at the scheduled times.  The one I found is hosted on Google as a document.  It is simply called Twitter Chats 2.  By way of this chat schedule, I participated in my first #TwitterChat last Sunday.  It was a great time and I connected with others on the topic.

The chat I participated in was simply about blogging with a hashtag search of #blogchat.  It was exactly what I expected from a chat where a topic was posted by the moderator and people began responding, connecting, and interacting on the topic.  The topic of #blogchat meets every Sunday at 8 pm CST and I plan to take part in it again tonight.

My goal is to post on a regular basis here on my blog.  It was a inspiration to take part in the #blogchat and get ideas, motivation, and see what others were doing with their blogs.  Obviously having a blog, I want people to read and participate in said blog.

One interaction I had during the #blogchat last week was that I do not get a lot of comments, but I can see that people are accessing and reading the posts.  My thought on why I do not get a lot of comments was primarily because I post so inconsistently.  I believe if I start posting on a regular basis that will result in regular followers that will begin to post comments.

The #blogchat is very fast paced.  A lot of posts and it is recommended that you use a client that can separate those discussions in a easy manner.  I use Tweetbot for Mac and iOS that does this for me.  Many people use TweetDeck or HootSuite for this purpose.  I see fast paced discussions when following sporting events, but unlike those, I do not try to read or respond to every post like I did with the #blogchat discussion.

Until next time, have a great week!