Tuesday, May 24, 2016

A new..not so cheap toy.

I had been eyeing a drone for some time.  I am not sure why.  I am not a photographer and never was really in to “remote control” cars for example.  That is probably because the sheer number of batteries it took to run them and it was always a hassle a few days after Christmas or your birthday, so it would sit unused.

The Phantom Drone had always struck a chord with me.  It just looked cool, seemed reasonably priced and could do some neat things.

So…I finally bought one.  Went with the DJI Phantom 3 Standard.

Figured I’d share my thoughts a few days out.

Ordered it on line from the DJI site on a Sunday and it arrived on Thursday.  That experience was “ok”.  Outside of a “thanks for your order” I felt I was checking their web site every few hours for an update.  It was in “payment pending” for what seemed like days.  Regardless, it did arrive.

I am not sure what I was thinking, but I decided to unpack the drone thinking I might have some quick fun before I really read the directions.  Mind you, it had been raining for 5+ days and was still pretty damp out, but by god I was going to get that drone off the ground!

The manuals are below average at best.  It’s not a simple “plug and play” type deal.  I am glad I had my laptop close by to hit up the internet for various ideas and thoughts.  Finally after a good 30 minutes of the drone beeping and flashing I just had to put it away.  Way too much for this late in the evening.

I let things charge up and watched some hockey.

It can get nerve wracking and frustrating.  There were at least two updates I needed to do to the firmware.  Most videos I saw indicated this, but we are talking 30+ minutes of an update.  Again, I was ready to fly this!!

Finally the rain broke and it was time to fly it. (2 days later…)

Brought out to the back yard and tried to sync stuff up.  Did everything I could…the drone would not take off.  I was getting a message that the RC was not connected (RC = Remote Control) so after I shut it all down, lugged back inside to then google what the hell that meant I was good to go. (Just another re-sync).

I like to consider myself a calm person, but I was starting to get upset.  I paid a fair amount of money for this drone and the rotors still had not even spun.  You use your cell phone (or tablet) as part of the remote and I realize I have the internet at my fingers in a way, but you have to disconnect the drone etc etc.  I’d much rather have a “pre flight checklist” in the manual.  Here is what you need to do, here is what may happen and how to fix it.  Easy right?

Back outside I go…we are beeping we are ready.

Then I realize I have no idea how to get the rotors to start up.

None

Back inside to look that up.  (for your reference pull both the control sticks down and inward and hold).

Okay…good to go.

Back outside, and I get another message that I am in “beginner mode”.  That is all fine and good.  What this basically does is puts a set distance/height on your flights until you get used to the controllers.  Even after a few days I am still in this mode honestly.

Control sticks down…..and……….

Contact.
Up it slowly climbs.

I do have to say it’s pretty cool.  Actually it’s really cool.  In flight you can change from video to still pictures so you capture your flight.  Be aware there is NO audio on the video.  That makes sense.  The drone itself is not super quiet.  It is not LOUD but you certainly know you are flying it.  When the drone is low and your are nearby you can feel the air moving.

Like anything else it is getting easier, but that is because I am curious to know more.  I am all over YouTube looking at videos on set ups and other ideas.


As you can tell I’d like to learn more about image resolutions etc to get “nicer” looking pictures.

Technical Breakdown
What you get – Drone, two sets of rotors, a battery, charger and remote control.  You get a box with some random stuff that they don’t tell you what it is or it’s needed for.  One device is used to hold the rotor in place so you can attach the rotor blades.  The camera is attached and has a lens cover as well as a plastic piece that holds the camera in place.  Also you get a micro SD card that inserts right in to the camera.

Set up – Attaching the blades is easy.  Hand tighten.  The cap on the camera I found “tight” and was worried as I was pulling it off I’d damage the camera.  The plastic holder I’d like better instructions 
on how to “use it again”.  The camera hangs under the drone and it has to move pretty easily but I feel like it “jostles” too much when putting the cap/plastic holder back on.

Charge time – The remote plugs in to your computer and takes about 1 to get full.  It arrived to me with more than half.  The battery charges pretty quick and it too was about half charged.  The flight time has been about 25 minutes, pretty much what I’ve read everywhere.  The remote appears to hold a good charge for 2.5/3 hrs.

Things you may want to get sooner than later – A second battery.  Some sort of “case” to both protect and organize your stuff.

Before you fly – Ask friends that have drones for help/advice.  Be PATIENT.  Stuff is out there, but I got frustrated.  I was trying to be smart and read up on things but the material just was NOT there in the box.  Write some ideas down for yourself (or bookmark videos).  My suggestion is to just have some ideas so you can try it out.  Also register it online.  It costs 5$ and it’s good for 3 years.  I’ve seen suggestions as well to write the # right on your drone in marker and also put a “reward if found” w/your phone # sticker on the drone. 

When you fly – go to an open space.  Despite all the cool videos out there of people going in and out of tunnels or whatever…if you are new you want the space.  Just get used to it.  Go up, come down, and go left..go right.  Take a few pictures and land it.  I am waiting to get out of the fear that a 400+$ item is going to fall from the freaking sky.  Seriously go to a local school field or something.  Just have fun.  Leave it in beginner mode so it doesn’t go “higher” than you want.  Law requires it remains in your sight.

When you land – The app on your phone can grab pictures off the memory stick.  Everything needs to be connected to do this (drone and RC) so just convert it so you can upload pictures to your computer or social media etc.  Power it off and thank your stars it landed safely.

So there you have it.  I have to say I really do think it’s cool and look forward to pushing it, and myself to get some neat images and have fun flying it.

Finally the Pros/Cons
Pros:
Price point is good. Camera is good for the beginner/novice
Light
Sharp looking
Lots of online tutorials

Cons
Lack of documentation for start up/first flight.  Really my biggest gripe of all.
Tons of firmware updates (I’ve had it for 2 weeks and done 3 of them)

More to come…have fun!

A few days after I wrote this I took it out of Beginner mode and grabbed this shot.  About 220 feet up.



Thursday, March 17, 2016

Tortoise - The Sinclair, Cambridge MA March 15, 2016


Tortoise
The Sinclair, Cambridge MA
Tuesday, March 15, 2016
Support –Mind over Mirrors, E


Tortoise released"The Catastrophist"  back in January and it is a great return record for them.  Seems it had been quiet from their camp for some time.  When the band announced a string of shows I knew it was fine time I went to see them again.  The last time I saw the band was at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston so the venue felt a little more suited for them on this night.
Arrived when Mind Over Mirrors was performing.  Note I did not say anything about “on stage”.  Nope, set up on the floor right off the sound board.  The music was neat, sort of “drone” but enough that, at least at first, I wasn’t  begging for him to stop.  It was interesting, but 20 minutes or so was plenty.  It sort of felt like PA music so the wait for Tortoise seemed all that much longer.
Arriving on stage with little to no fanfare the members took their places on the stage.  On the front lip of the stage was two drum kits (both facing one another).  There were times when there were two drummers going, and others when there was no drummers.  
The band played about 55 minutes for their “main set” stopping only once to speak about how the primary was being held in their home state (Illinois) and that they were too scared to look at the results.  Other than hand waves that was about all the band did to acknowledge the sold out crowd.
The two encores felt a bit forced.  Why the band did two songs, break, then two more seemed unessesarry .  We still got the music, but the gaps messed up the flow where it was nearly flawless for the previous 55 minutes.
What drives Tortoise is the musicianship.  They are accomplished performers as evidenced by the carousel like ease the band had with swapping instruments.  The audience was respectful and engaged which is always a plus

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Monday, February 29, 2016

New Music - Dead Trains


New from Boston based band "Dead Trains" comes the release "Country Road Bound".  The albums is out now and includes 7 tracks that run that fine mix of punk rock meets country.  Its an odd mix, but it works!

Check out the track "Mean Town Blues"

You can grab the album now.  Check em out!  Looking for some shows to pop up soon too!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Two bands to mention..

The year has been a bit quiet so far on new releases.  I grabbed the new Tortoise record last week.  Called "The Catastophist" its a pretty solid listen. I have to say the cover of "Rock On" is not really what I would have expected. It actually is the one song I tend to skip on the record for whatever reason.

Otherwise I've really been digging on the band King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard.  I read about them in a magazine (yep still old school around here) and it was cool to dive in and check em out.  They are really prolific, releasing 2 records a year at their current clip.  Excited to hear new stuff, get in to it and then be ready for even more new stuff.

The good news is both Tortoise and King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard are making local area appearances.  Both bands hit The Sinclair in the next few months.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Hello

The year is coming to a close and the blog continues to be on the back burner.

new job, lots of hockey and just a little change of direction.

I like the blog, I need to decide in the next few weeks really to see what is up.

Happy New Year to all.

Monday, September 21, 2015

2Cellos come to Boston (rescheduled tour info)



2CELLOS COMING TO BOSTON’S

WANG THEATRE
February 20, 2015

 

Tickets on sale now!

The duo come to Boston on Friday February 20, 2016.  Tickets are on sale now and range from $37.75 to 62.75 (price includes $3.75 facility fee).  They are on sale now through ticketmaster or without service charge(s) at the Wang Theatre box offce located at 270 Tremont St.

A limited number of Meet & Greet and VIP packages priced at $250 and $150 respectively will go on sale online at ticketmaster.com starting Wednesday, September 16 at 10:00 AM.

Forced to cancel much of their North American tour earlier this year due to cellist Stjepan Hauser’s neck injury, music’s most electric and dynamic instrumental duo are healthy and happy to be back on the road.

The Croatian cellists Luka Sulic and Stjepan Hauser, together known as 2CELLOS, have achieved international success by taking the cello to a new level with their incredible talent and undeniable passion. Their playing style has broken down the boundaries between different genres of music, from classical and film music to pop and rock. 2CELLOS have no limits when it comes to performing live and are equally as impressive when playing Bach and Vivaldi as they are when rocking out to AC/DC and Iron Maiden.

The duo released their album "Celloverse" in January of this year.  It debuted at #1 on both the Billboard Classical and Classical Crossover charts as well in the Billboard Top 200.  Their new album is supported by a world tour landing the 2CELLOS in the U.S. in mid-February for 42 sold-out dates. Moreover, 2CELLOS’s viral video for “Thunderstruck” from Celloverse has racked up over 33 million views to date on YouTube!

Aside from their huge online following where they continue to amaze with new YouTube hits, 2CELLOS’ main focus is performing live. In addition to many sold out solo tours (U.S., Japan, Europe), the duo have joined Sir Elton John on tour globally, performing with him and opening his shows in massive stadiums, as well as appearing at prestigious venues and events such as Madison Square Garden, Paris Olympia, Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, and the Emmy Awards. They have also collaborated on stage with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Queens of the Stone Age, George Michael, and Lang Lang.

Sulic and Hauser have played the cello since childhood; Sulic graduated from the acclaimed Royal Academy of Music in London, and Hauser from the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, both in 2011. Sulic has won a series of top prizes at numerous prestigious international music competitions including First and Special Prize at the VII Lutoslawski International Cello Competition in Warsaw (2009), First Prize at the European Broadcasting Union “New Talent” Competition (2006) and First Prize at the Royal Academy of Music Patron’s Award in Wigmore Hall (2011) among others. 

Hauser has worked with acclaimed classical artists such as Mstislav Rostropovich, Bernard Greenhouse, Mennahem Pressler and Ivry Gitlis, to mention a few. He has collected no less than twenty-one first prizes at the national and international music competitions and performed twice for Prince Charles in Buckingham and St. James’s Palace. Both have appeared in major classical music venues throughout the world including Wigmore Hall, Royal Albert Hall, Southbank Center, Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Vienna’s Musikverein and Konzerthaus.
For more information please visit their website:

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

New Music from Bob Forrest


New Album Survival Songs out 10/9
via Six Degrees Records, on tour this October

Forrest Best Known as Lead Vocalist of Thelonious Monster, The Bicycle Thief, and as a Drug Counselor on Celebrity Rehab


On October 9th, singer-songwriter Bob Forrest will release Survival Songs via Six Degrees Records.  Formerly the lead vocalist of LA rock bands Thelonious Monster and The Bicycle Thief, Forrest is also known for appearing as the lead drug counselor on Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew.  
 
The first track "Truth Chaos & Beauty" premiered at Yahoo Music, listen or embed the track via Soundcloud right here!!
 
To record Survival Songs, Forrest worked with friend and Grammy-winning producer and author Ian Brennan (Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Tinariwen). The pair, along with a small crew of musicians that featured Zander Schloss (Circle Jerks, Joe Strummer) went to Big Sur to record the album on a plot of property owned by Bob's close friend Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers).

During his past battles with addiction to cocaine, heroin, and alcohol, Forrest once almost killed himself onstage, and infamously mangled the “Star Spangled Banner” so badly at a Clippers game he become a minor sports celebrity. After 24 attempts at rehab, Forrest finally recovered from addiction in 1996  eventually going from celebrity drug-runner to celebrity drug-counselor and Dr. Drew Pinsky's right hand man. A fixture in the recovery community, Bob Forrest has appeared alongside Pinsky in Celebrity Rehab and Sober House.
 
Bob Forrest was also the subject of the full-length documentary Bob and The Monster, which featured testimony from his peers including Anthony Kiedis (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Scott Weiland (Stone Temple Pilots), Keith Morris (Black Flag/The Circle Jerks), Steven Adler (Guns & Roses), Courtney Love, and more.
 
Survival Songs coincides with the paperback release of Forrest's memoir, Running With Monsters, which details his struggle with addiction in L.A.’s ‘80s and ‘90s indie rock scene.
 
Tracklisting:
 
1. See That My Grave Is Kept Clean
2. Song Of The Songs
3. Cereal Song
4. Sammy Hagar Weekend
5. Looking To The West
6. Body And Soul
7. Off-Street Parking
8. Lena Horne Still Sings 'Stormy Weather'
9. Not Going To Do It Again
10. Anymore
11. You've Gotta Be Kidding Me
12. Elvis, We Are Waiting For You!
13. Truth, Chaos & Beauty (Peace in the Valley)

Tour Dates:
 
10/03/15 – Seattle, WA – Elliott Bay*
10/10/15 – Washington DC – The Potter’s House*
10/12/15 – Minneapolis, MN – Boneshaker Books*
10/13/15 – Chicago, IL – City Lit Books*
10/14/15 – San Diego, CA – The Whistlestop^
10/15/15 – Los Angeles, CA – Book Soup*
10/16/15 – San Francisco, CA – Make-Out Room^
10/17/15 – Big Sur, CA – Henry Miller Library^
10/18/15 – Reno, NV – Sundance Books*
10/20/15 – New York, NY –  Joe’s Pub^
10/21/15 – Boston, MA – Johnny D’s^
10/25/15 – Philadelphia, PA – World Cafe^
 
* = Bob Forrest Book Tour
^ = Bob Forrest Solo Show