17 August 2009


My video course now at London Drugs

Remember my GarageBand training video? The one you can buy from MacVideoTraining (with a 20% discount using the checkout promo code ihr)? This one?

It's now available online from London Drugs too, as well as on DVD in their stores here in Western Canada. Why not buy some copies for your friends (and enemies, for that matter)?

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07 August 2009


Come see me play drums in Cloverdale

Arbutus Club - Derek at setup 2If you're in the Vancouver area and aren't going to VinoCamp tomorrow afternoon (Saturday the 8th), you could head out to the Blueberry Festival in Cloverdale, which features vintage cars, various activities and entertainments—and the band Heist, with whom I'll be sitting in on drums.

It's the first time in several years I've played with any band except my usual gigs in The Neurotics and HourGlass, but it's the same kind of classic hit rock 'n' roll material, so when we rehearsed on Monday I felt right at home. My old podcast co-host Paul Garay (with whom I've also made some training videos) plays keyboards with the group, and brought me in while their regular drummer is out of town.

We'll be at the Cloverdale Station Pub from noon till 5 p.m. If the weather is decent we'll be outside; if it rains (which it might), then inside. The pub is about 30 minutes east from Vancouver along Highways 1 and 15. I'll even do some singing for you.

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05 July 2009


Links of interest 2006-06-28 to 2006-07-04

Once again, while I'm on my blog break, my edited Twitter posts from the past week, newest first:

  • Photo of Obama picking up his infamous housefly victim.
  • Guess that U2 iPod is never coming back.
  • And now: "Ant and Buttercup," my debut HD macro closeup movie from our summer garden:

  • My first experiments with off-camera flash during close-up photography:
    Veins 1 Veins 2 Veins 3 Veins 4 Veins 5
    Veins 6 Veins 7 Veins 8 Veins 10 Veins 9

  • If I'm passed at high speed by someone with a Washington plate BOKEH, I now know who it is. He says he'll wave.
  • Mammals will play, even between species, even when you'd never expect it—wild polar bear and huskies (slide show via Dave Winer).
  • A couple of crows are nesting nearby; they keep landing in our birdbath and on the house and lamp stands, looking ominous. Too smart, crows.
  • Sitting in a B.C. garden
    No waiting for the sun
  • CompuServe finally shuts down.
  • Just in case you're looking for a $2.1 million convertible.
  • Congratulations to Buzz Bishop, Jen, and Zacharie.
  • I presume this tiny USB-driven monitor screen is Windows-only, because of drivers? Looks pretty swell. (Via Neal Campbell.)
  • Definitive proof I'm not afraid of heights: I love this idea.
  • Via John Biehler, I found that as well as MythBuster Adam Savage, his co-workers Grant Imahara and narrator Robert Lee are also on Twitter.
  • When I had my first Nikon 25 years ago, I wouldn't have believed I'd ever own one (a D90) with 66 pages of the manual (out of a couple hundred total, in a 16 MB PDF file) just for menu options. Then again, 25 years ago, a friend showed me a shoulder-mounted Betamax camera from Hong Kong, and it was the latest in high tech video too.
  • That's the funkiest beat I've ever heard a marching band play (via Jared Spool). Maybe some James Brown next?
  • Has anyone pinpointed the exact day that Victoria Beckham stopped being able to smile? Angus Wilson speculates, "whatever day she began to look less like a hot English babe and more like a velociraptor."
  • Meg Fowler: "Sarah Palin's quitting politics like Ann Coulter's quitting evil."
  • As the 40th anniversary of the first moon landing approaches, some fabulous photos from the missions, via Bad Astronomy.
  • From Ben Englert: "Thank you, gdgt, for institutionalizing the arduous task of dick-measuring by figuring out who has more toys."
  • Ten best uses of classical music in classic cartoons.
  • Our fridge magnet: "I love not camping."
    Our favourite fridge magnet

  • How did I manage to bite the inside of my upper lip while eating a peach? If this were high school, the guys would say, "Each much?"
  • Back to short hair for summer. And now I realize that it's Colbert hair.
  • I think my guts have calmed down now. Time for bed. In the meantime, enjoy a naked Air New Zealand flight crew.
  • In case you'd like to watch Jeff Goldblum reporting on his own "death," on Colbert Monday: links for Canada and the U.S.A. (sorry if you're elsewhere!).
  • Didn't attend various Canada Day parties because of tired family and my usual intestinal side effects. Hope you had fun in my stead. Managed to avoid intestinal chemo side effects for a few days, but they're back with a vengeance. Could be a looooong night. (And it was. At 2 a.m., my chemo side effects were "over" and I went to bed. Bzzt! Wrong! Finally got to sleep at 9 a.m., woke up at 1 the next afternoon. As Alfred E. Neuman says, Yecch.)
  • Whatever you think of the 2010 Olympics here in Vancouver, VANOC is doing a good job with graphic design.
  • I, too, welcome our new ant overlords.
  • I had no alcohol on my birthday yesterday, but still had a Canada Day headache on July 1. Here's my new free instrumental.
  • Inside Home Recording #72 is out: Winners, Studio Move, Synth 101, Suckage! AAC enhanced and MP3 audio-only versions.
  • Normally I really like our car dealer's service dept, but today the steering wheel came back oh-so-slightly to the left. They had to re-fix it.
  • World's geekiest pillows (via Chris Pirillo). My guess: they didn't license the Apple icons. Get the pillows while you can.
  • Officially made it to 40. Thanks everybody for the birthday wishes. Most people are bit melancholy to reach 40, but I am extremely glad to have made it.
  • Just returned from a Deluxe Chuck Wagon burger (with cheese) at the resurrected Wally's Burgers in Cates Park, North Vancouver:
    Derek Wally's burger 2

  • From Rob Cottingham: "The hell with putting a ring on it. If you liked it, you shoulda made a secure offsite backup."
  • Info about recording old vinyl records into a computer: You need a proper grounded phono preamp, with good hot signals into an audio interface or other analog-to-digital converter. A new needle might be wise if yours is old, but the real phono preamp (w/RIAA curve) is the most necessary bit after that. Route it thru an old stereo tuner if needed! See my old post from 2006 at Inside Home Recording.
  • Myth confirmed: Baby girl evidence (named Stella) shows MythBusters' Kari Byron actually was pregnant.
  • My new Twitter background image is the view we saw at sunset during my birthday party on Saturday. (I've since replaced it again.)
  • Back from another fun sunny summer BBQ at Paul Garay's new house—it's been a burgers-n-beer weekend.
  • Photos from my 40th birthday party now posted (please use tag "penmachinebirthday" if you post some).

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27 May 2009


Learn GarageBand from me on DVD

My Quick Start to GarageBand video course from MacVideoTraining (a company co-founded by my former podcasting partner Paul Garay) is now available on DVD:

My GarageBand video course now on DVD

You can get it at London Drugs and many other retailers in North America, or if you use the promo code ihr, you can get a 20% discount if you buy a DVD or download online. The discount code also works for John Biehler's iTunes course and other stuff from MacVideoTraining, including bundles.

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18 December 2008


Last IHR of 2008, GarageBand training, mention at TidBITS

Recording classical guitar - 6 at Flickr.comThose of you who listened to my classical guitar recording of "What Child Is This?" yesterday might be interested in how I recorded it. I describe that in episode #65 of Inside Home Recording (IHR), our last one for the year. My bit starts about 36 minutes in, but there's lots of interesting stuff in the rest of the show too.

On a similar instructional note, over the course of several weeks this fall, when I was feeling well enough, I recorded almost 60 short instructional videos about how to use Apple's GarageBand audio software. They now form the Quick Start to GarageBand '08 course from Mac Video Training, a company co-founded this year by my former IHR co-host Paul Garay and Mike Kaye from Switching to Mac. The complete course costs $30 USD (about $40 Cdn these days) for download, and will be available on DVD in stores in the new year. (Earlier DVDs by different instructors are already at shops like London Drugs.)

Here's the introductory video:

Finally, the fine folks at TidBITS, a Mac-focused online newsletter that's been publishing since before the Web was invented (really!), have highlighted my Camera Works series here on some technical aspects of cameras and photography. I've written for TidBITS in the past, and it's a great resource you should all subscribe to. I can't even remember how long I've been reading it, but every issue teaches me something.

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29 November 2008


Better start from the start

Heelin'My daughters, like most people, have different talents. My youngest, L, can turn cartwheels, hang from jungle gyms, and balance on those one-wheeled rolling sneakers known as Heelys like nobody's business. (Sometimes you're certain she'll crash catastrophically into someone or something, but she'll simply swerve nonchalantly out of the way.) I can't do any of those things, and neither does anyone else in our family.

A few weeks ago, she said "hey, watch this!" to her mom and me. Before we knew it, she was suspended in mid-air in our kitchen doorframe, legs braced against the sides. Zoop, up she'd gone, Spider-Man style.

Her sister, M, has an ear for music. Yes, she can carry a tune—they both take music lessons, but it was M who begged us for them five years ago. Here's her example. A few weeks ago we saw one of those "where are they now?" shows on TV, this one featuring Mike Reno of Loverboy, who lives here in Vancouver. Then, a few days ago, I was at a restaurant with my kids and our friend Paul and his family. M cocked her head and said to me, "Hey, is that that Mike Reno guy singing?" I listened, but could hardly make out any music on the sound system over all the noise of people jamming the restaurant.

Then, sure enough, in a quiet spot, there it was: "Workin' for the Weekend," barely audible but undoubtedly there. She'd heard a little part of it once, it stuck there in her brain, and she filtered it out of the background automatically. How many ten-year-olds can identify a snippet of Loverboy (?!) at 20 paces, and name the singer?

As a boastful dad proud of his daughters' good taste, I also have to tell you that on sick days home from school, L spontaneously gives herself math lessons out of books (her mom is a math teacher). And when M redecorated her room this summer, she insisted on covering the walls with Beatles posters (wonder where she got that?).

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03 April 2008


Farewell to the Lab

Ana touches up Leo's makeupBack in February when my podcast co-host Paul and I made our most recent trip down to the Lab With Leo studios here in Vancouver, no one knew that it would be the last shooting week ever for the show. But not long afterwards, Leo Laporte emailed to tell us it was the end of the line: after ten years of creating Call for Help and The Lab for TV in the U.S. and Canada, it had been cancelled.

It's a pity that a tech show like The Lab, which covers a wide variety of topics and doesn't talk down to its audience, couldn't survive—or even get U.S. distribution. Fortunately, Leo (who has been covering technology on radio and TV for decades, and has even won an Emmy award) isn't standing still, and plans to launch an online version of the show in the next few weeks from his studio in Petaluma, California (also, incidentally, the town where Mesa-Boogie manufactures its guitar amplifiers).

As far as Inside Home Recording goes, we've started posting tutorials over at IHR TV, which may later include some live-action explanatory episodes like our segments on The Lab. And though it's far less convenient than driving a few minutes across Vancouver, if we ever find ourselves in California wine country, we might appear on Leo's new show down there too.

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20 March 2008


No-hair club for men

Alright, I finally did it. Off we went to the mall and I shaved my hair off!

Baldy! Baldy!

The chemo wasn't making me completely bald by itself—but it was thinning and greying my hair significantly. The manginess and relentless shedding of my hair (in the shower and on our pillows especially) was getting really, really annoying. Plus, it's as good a chance as any for me to shave my head, which I've never done in my life. Here's a nice set of contrasting pictures:





I like it! And I look more like my podcast co-host Paul now (or maybe Yul Brynner) too. Your thoughts?

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16 March 2008


Learn home recording at IHR TV

Inside Home Recording.TV  at Flickr.comMy Inside Home Recording podcast co-host Paul has been making instructional videos for macProVideo.com for some time now, and he's good at it. So when he proposed that we start putting out short video podcasts in addition to our regular audio show, I knew they could be useful.

Now we've posted our first episode of Inside Home Recording TV (IHR TV). This one Paul recorded entirely himself. It's about using Propellerhead's ReWire to link their Reason software to Apple's Logic Pro.

We're trying something new with this video podcast. As usual, you can subscribe to watch on your computer, Apple TV, iPod, Zune, or whatever. In addition to posting it on our own site, you can also find each episode free at the video sharing sites Revver, Vimeo, Blip.tv, and YouTube. Plus we post them to Facebook, and will note each new show (audio and video) at Twitter.

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13 March 2008


Chemotherapy will last longer than I expected

Northern Voice 2008 - Chemo hairI thought that yesterday's chemo treatment (which continues, with a bottle I'm hooked up to right now at home, till tomorrow) would be my second last for now. But it won't be. My oncologist Dr. Kennecke recommended yesterday that I take at least four more treatments, totaling 16 since I started in October, then perhaps move on to a different mix of drugs.

That's disappointing, though not a complete surprise. As I mentioned, my last CT scan was good, in that the blood clot in my lung is gone and the small metastatic tumours there have not grown. But that's the thing: the chemo is keeping them at bay. Taking a break as I was hoping to—in order to recover a little and have the surgery that can reconnect my intestines together (so I can poo normally, rather than into a bag glued to the side of my belly)—might risk letting the cancer grow.

And, reasonably enough, I don't want that.

So I've had to readjust my thoughts for this year. When will I be able to start work again, even part-time and from home? I don't know. Will we travel as a family this summer? Likely, but probably not far. Will the chemo keep working, and maybe shrink the tumours eventually? I sure the hell hope so.

I had hoped that the limbo I've been living in during the last five months of chemo—a somewhat sisyphean routine of three days of crappy, foul, vile side effects interrupting two weeks of feeling relatively normal while my hair thins and goes rapidly grey, my fingers get strangely discoloured and dry, and I see pink whenever I blow my nose—might change soon. But no, and I'm okay with that. Just okay.

If my hair gets any scragglier and thinner, I'm seriously considering shaving my head to match my co-host Paul (whose baldness comes more naturally). Fortunately, I've returned to essentially the same weight I was before this whole mess started at the beginning of 2007 (about 90 kg, or 200 pounds), so if I do that I shouldn't look too much like a cancer patient, especially since I still have my big bushy eyebrows.

More positively, my doctor also said I should start exercising regularly again: there's no hazard from my lungs, which seem to be functioning properly, and I've regained most of my strength since my worst state in the summer. I may even ride my bike around Central Park here in Burnaby soon, more than a year and a half since I last took it out. Those tires will need pumping.

So on we go, still alive. On on on.

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10 March 2008


Vancouver podcaster meetup Wed Mar 12

Podcasters 2:3:06 06:24 PM #1There's going to be a podcaster meetup this Wednesday, March 12, 2008. Details:

6:30 p.m.
The End Cafe
2360 Commercial Drive (just north of the SkyTrain)
Vancouver, British Columbia

Alas, I won't be there—I have yet more chemo that day, so that night I'll be in sad shape, curled up in bed watching The Food Network, or sleeping. But my co-host Paul plans to be there, and I'm hoping some of the rest of you will too—if you're not at SXSW in Austin, of course.

You don't need to be a podcaster or blogger or whatever. If meeting other webby types is up your alley, head on down. Doing a little RSVP at upcoming.org or Facebook would help with planning, I guess, but you should also just be able to show up.

Have a drink or two for me, will you?

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25 February 2008


On "The Lab With Leo" again tomorrow

IHR on Lab With Leo #50 at Flickr.comMy podcast co-host Paul and I will once again appear on tech TV show The Lab With Leo tomorrow, as we've done regularly since last spring.

The show records here in Vancouver, and the episode won't appear for a couple of months on air (on Canada's G4 Tech TV, Australia's How To Channel, and also on City TV weekdays at 11:00 a.m. here in Vancouver). We'll be taping two show segments this time, one on MIDI drums and one on headphones.

I'll let you know when the shows are available online as well.

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18 December 2007


The new world of shopping

I've ordered several of this year's Christmas presents online from the U.S., although none of them has arrived yet, which is a bit worrisome. Nevertheless, the current U.S.-Canadian dollar parity means waiting for Customs clearance is usually worth it.

For instance, I was looking for a particular present that I wanted to pick up today in town. No one had it in stock, despite several stores listing it on their websites. So I went to the manufacturer's online store in the U.S., and they were happy to take my order and ship it expedited to Canada, so that it may very well arrive before Christmas (no guarantees, though). And even with rush shipping and taxes, it was still several dollars cheaper than if I'd found it locally at retail.

My podcast co-host Paul has a post office box just across the border in Washington state (he lives in Cloverdale, B.C., about 15 minutes north of the line) which simplifies things even further: he can order from stores that don't normally ship to Canada at all, then pick up the stuff and deal with Customs himself. That saves him quite a bit of time and money—even when the dollar isn't as strong as it is now.

He does seem to be spending an awful lot more than he might otherwise on gadgets and gizmos across the border these days, though. I don't know if we're saving money in the end, or simply spending on more stuff.

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28 November 2007



Lip Gloss and Laptops featured at iTunes U.S. podcast directory at Flickr.comMy wife's Lip Gloss and Laptops podcast has been featured on the main page of the Fashion and Beauty podcast category in the U.S. iTunes Store (they're on the second page here in Canada). We also figured out today that the show is #34 in that top 100 in Canada, and #68 in the U.S.A.

So congratulations, LGL, on 84 episodes and a feature at iTunes.

In addition, my podcast co-host Paul Garay and I have posted our 50th episode of Inside Home Recording, which we recorded live at a Coquitlam restaurant a couple of days ago. Mmmm, calzone.

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26 November 2007


IHR #50 coming soon

Today my podcast co-host Paul Garay and I recorded our 50th episode of Inside Home Recording (IHR). Usually we put together a whole bunch of separate segments and edit them into a proper show over the course of several days, but today we simply sat down at a restaurant and chatted for about 45 minutes about that process: how we usually construct our podcast.

Paul started IHR back in August 2005, when podcasting itself was less than a year old, and Apple had just added podcasting support to iTunes. It's the longest-running podcast on home and project studio audio recording. I joined on episode #16 in early 2006. It's been a fair bit of work for an essentially unpaid hobby, but also a lot of fun.

Episode #50 be a bit of a different show, but I hope an interesting one. We should have it posted in a day or two.

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14 June 2007


Lab With Leo rockin' guitar photos

No video yet, but here are some photos of my appearance with my co-host Paul Garay on The Lab With Leo yesterday, taken by Sean Carruthers of the show's staff:

Derek and Paul on The Lab With Leo - 1 Derek and Paul on The Lab With Leo - 2 Derek and Paul on The Lab With Leo - 3
Derek and Paul on The Lab With Leo - 4 Derek and Paul on The Lab With Leo - 5 Derek and Paul on The Lab With Leo - 6 Derek and Paul on The Lab With Leo - 7 Derek and Paul on The Lab With Leo - 8

Paul had better be careful with those heavy metal hand signs—then again, I guess they were appropriate in this case. And yup, that's my new guitar.

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13 June 2007



Megan Cole - Lab With Leo Backstage - 5 at Flickr.comI've listened to Leo Laporte's many podcasts for some time now, but before he started the This Week In Tech juggernaut, he was well known as a TV and radio host—which is still what he does for a living.

Leo's latest venture is The Lab With Leo, a syndicated technology television program available (so far) on G4 Tech TV in Canada and the How To Channel in Australia. While Leo is based in California, once a month he flies up here to Vancouver to record a batch of new programs.

Even though it started only a few months ago, there are already more than 30 episodes of The Lab, and today my podcast co-host Paul Garay and I were guests on two separate segments, about microphones and digitally recording guitars.

Those will be available online and on air in a few weeks, but if you'd like to see how things work, check out Paul's previous two appearances, courtesy of Google Video:

We also ran into our pal Megan Cole, who was recording a separate segment on the same episode. I'll let you know when the new material appears.

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