hat tip rene abythe for GIF
"hey, we're having a political discussion here!"
Based on personal experience and anecdote (i.e., reading queries from desperate computer users in help forums), it appears that Microsoft has embarked on a truly sleazy strategy regarding the operating system it sells you (which unfortunately controls the PC or laptop you bought from someone else). It's a practice of controlled obsolescence, where they leverage their own incompetence in the security field to get you to "upgrade" (that is, purchase) a more secure product.
As most people know, Windows integrated web browsing with the rest of the computer's functions (a bad faith response to an antitrust suit in the '90s -- long story), making it possible for third rate hackers to invade your PC through "exploits" on web pages. To patch these "exploits," Microsoft issues a steady stream of fixes through a process called "Windows Updates." Your computer pings the Microsoft website periodically to receive these.
In order to force users to switch to its newest operating system, Windows 10, Microsoft is deliberately slowing down, or even halting altogether, the updating process for earlier operating systems. I have Windows 7 on a PC (that I use for music) and a small laptop (for traveling). The PC requires close to an hour to check for, and download, updates, where it took only minutes a year ago. The laptop stalls out during the update process. Many other users are having these problems, judging from commentary and cries for help online.
You might think that each "upgrade" gives you a better and more sophisticated operating system and that's why you should keep switching. In fact, most are just tweaks on Windows XP, the last really good OS Microsoft developed (in the early 2000s!). Many users would be content to keep XP on their machines, or Windows 7, the company's second best OS, for years, until the hardware failed. With XP, Microsoft famously declared the "end of support" about two years ago. With Windows 7, they haven't declared an "end" but are making it more precarious to use, due to unpatched vulnerabilities, during a transition period where they are also offering a "free" version of Windows 10 (and even trying to sneak 10 onto your machine running 7).
Holding security fixes for ransom is a dishonest business practice that, if practiced by a local merchant in more innocent times, a customer might "report to the Better Business Bureau." Today, probably nothing short of a class action lawsuit would force Microsoft to be a good corporate citizen. But as individuals, we can make "consumer choices." So, here's the self-righteous testimonial (*smiles, holds PC up next to head for the camera*): I'm now using Linux Mint for most of my everyday computer needs, and keeping the Windows PC offline as much as possible in my music studio. When the laptop stops working or becomes janky with malware, I'll replace that with a laptop running Mint. It's minty fresh!!
Update: Apple shouldn't be omitted from this tirade. If you have a Mac desktop with the irrelevantly-named OS "Yosemite" it will nag you to switch to the equally irrelevantly-named "El Capitan." Linux is the only OS that doesn't treat you like a thumbsucking infant.
Another snippet from Curtis Roads' book Composing Electronic Music: A New Aesthetic, on the topic of the conventionality of Western melodic forms:
Conventional classical and popular styles exhibit a great deal of redundancy in melodic patterns (i.e., parts of many melodies are identical). The tendency of composers to borrow or reinvent an existing tune has been long studied by musicologists. As Thomas Alva Edison (1917) once observed: "I had an examination made of the themes of 2700 waltzes. In the final analysis, they consisted of 43 themes, worked over in various ways." [citations omitted]
You gotta love that hubris of the dilettante one-percenter: "I had an examination made..." What are servants for, after all. If only Bill Gates would examine 2700 waltzes instead of mucking about in charter schools; the world might be a better place. He could even have interns doing it.
Am continuing to read Curtis Roads' book Composing Electronic Music: A New Aesthetic. He has this to say about conventional Western harmony:
A formidable advantage of 12-note ET [equal temperament] over its predecessors was the equality of its intervals. For example, an ET “perfect” fifth interval will sound equivalent no matter which pitches are used to form it; this is not generally true of non-ET tuning systems. Such flexibility means that a composer can write functionally equivalent melodies and chord progressions in any key. It also enables harmonic modulation (i.e., a transition from one key to another by means of a chord common to both). The same flexibility fostered the rise of atonal and serial music and the promulgation of increasingly abstract operations on pitch class sets.
The mother lode of 12-note ET has been mined for 500 years by millions of musicians in innumerable compositions. The tuning is so ingrained that it is virtually impossible to musically express anything new about it. Consider a work for piano; it is constrained by its tuning and timbre from the start. If it is to find novelty, it must seek them not in tuning or timbre, but in other aspects of the composition. This is not to say that it is impossible to express anything new with 12-note ET. However, the new thing is not about the tuning. Rather, the novelty lies elsewhere, for example, in a new interpolation between existing genres, an unusual rhythmic organization, an atypical formal structure, a fresh combination of timbres, a philosophical message, etc.
The pop music industry sometimes manufactures songs that are attractive despite the use of 12-note ET in worn-out harmonic and rhythmic formulas. Yet some combination of elements in the voice, lyrics, audio production, fashion, face, camera angle, lens, setting, hairstyle, body language, stage show, animation, or attitude spawns mass fascination. The familiar melodic and harmonic formula—like the formulaic beat—serves as a comfortable backdrop.
"Bjarney" [5.9 MB .mp3]
Continuing with the house tempo. Sound sources include sliced and rearranged '70s e-piano (from vinyl) and analog synth chords and a bass line from a non-house tune I did. This needs speakers that can play bass to be heard "as intended."
"plEBE" [6.5 MB .mp3]
"Respiration 1-2" [7.7 MB .mp3]
Started re-listening to house records from about 15 years ago and decided to work some of my current ideas into that format. "plEBE" is the more conventionally structured of this pair, "Respiration 1-2" is the avant garde B-side.
drawn with Linux MyPaint
hat tip reneabythe for zuk photo
A fine post by British actor/comedian Stephen Fry on "going off the grid" in the Facebook era deserves a moment of your time. This is a man who has paid some dues to say "get off my lawn" -- he has a million Twitter ex-followers. He also uses Linux Ubuntu as his desktop OS, per Wikipedia, so he's taking some steps towards that unwired wired state he is describing. His intended audience is "young people" but everyone should be thinking about this.
But first, what would motivate any young person today to pull the plug?
Well maybe they should consider this for a moment. Who most wants you to stay on the grid? The advertisers. Your boss. Human Resources. The advertisers. Your parents (irony of ironies – once they distrusted it, now they need to tag you electronically, share your Facebook photos and message you to death). The advertisers. The government. Your local authority. Your school. Advertisers.
Well, if you’re young and have an ounce of pride, doesn’t that list say it all? So fuck you, I’m Going Off The Grid.
More stating the obvious but fun to read:
I and millions of other early ‘netizens’ as we embarrassingly called ourselves, joined an online world that seemed to offer an alternative human space, to welcome in a friendly way (the word netiquette was used) all kinds of people with all kinds of views. We were outside the world of power and control. Politicians, advertisers, broadcasters, media moguls, corporates and journalists had absolutely zero understanding of the net and zero belief that it mattered. So we felt like an alternative culture; we were outsiders.
Those very politicians, advertisers, media moguls, corporates and journalists who thought the internet a passing fad have moved in and grabbed the land. They have all the reach, scope, power and ‘social bandwidth’ there is. Everyone else is squeezed out — given little hutches, plastic megaphones and a pretence of autonomy and connectivity. No wonder so many have become so rude, resentful, threatening and unkind.
"Toy Piano" [4.5 MB .mp3]
See notes to "Cumulative Beats," below. Other ingredients used here are some riffs composed in Mulab, a sequencer program I've been enjoying (while I still have Windows).
Am thinking of this song is an unofficial tribute to Charles Ives -- no, really.