Monday - a text message arrived from T-Mobile admitting that they’d got our final bill wrong, but they still haven’t sent a revised bill. We cancelled the account months ago…
Tuesday - a phone call from college advising Val that her evening class for that night had been cancelled (tutor unwell). However, it gave Val the opportunity to sit in on Jimmy’s class instead – a bonus!…
Wednesday - phone call from an insurance company asking whether we’d received our renewal quote/documents for Public Liability Insurance. Yes we had, and had phoned them the previous week telling them we did not wish to renew and had cancelled our Direct Debit…
Thursday - turn up for a pre-booked performance to be met with blank stares. Apparently the person who booked us months ago has been on the sick for a while, and their replacement hadn’t turned in on the day we were due to perform. Even though we were clearly displayed in the What’s On noticeboard in the foyer, there was no way to allow us to play if the correct person wasn’t there to oversee things. Fifteen miles there, fifteen miles back, and no play! Rather than waste the rest of the day wasting energy on being negative we expended energy by getting on our bikes (literally) and we had an enjoyable few miles pedalling and freewheeling in the sunshine…
Friday - we were surprised when our local postlady handed us two packages saying “These have been in the sorting office for a while”. Both had stickers attached indicating that cards had been left following unsuccessful delivery attempts – no such cards had been posted through our letterbox. Both packages were from Amazon, and both were so long overdue that Customer Services had arranged to have replacement items shipped to us – too late to cancel, the replacements had arrived before the originals turned up…
Saturday - “network connection lost: scheduled backup cancelled”. Ah well, 195,000 files uploaded amounting to just over 1 TB. Clear cache, shutdown, re-boot, and (as they say) “Job’s a good ‘un” – Zoolz is merrily continuing its uploading from where it left off…
Sunday - for some time now, Val has been promising (or should that be threatening?) to trim Jimmy’s hair, and today was to be the day. She brought a smile to his face by announcing this morning that she wasn’t going to cut his hair after all – but we suspect that’s more of a temporary reprieve, a postponement rather than a cancellation…
Val has a few day’s temping scheduled for next week (it’s been re-arranged due to a cancellation of holiday arrangements). Wonder if that will be cancelled? Probably not…
Jimmy & Val (jiva)
You know the saying “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” – that may be true, but we’re not old (less of the guffawing in the back there) and we’re always keen to learn… it’s not so much learn new tricks, it’s more about developing and improving the things we enjoy doing. How so? You may well ask, and indeed you will be answered.
Friends, fans and regular readers will know that we are singer/songwriters, performers and techno-geeks. On the music front we’re out and about on a regular basis performing in care homes, village halls, community centres, folk clubs, festivals, cafes, etc etc etc – and our enjoyment of technology is often called upon to design websites, record albums, make videos, design posters and flyers, fix networks and printers, resurrect seemingly dead PCs, set up blogs and email accounts, be available 24/7 to give advice on what to buy or (more often than not) what to do if having ignored our advice the wrong item has been bought and doesn’t perform as wished…
Quite often the jivacoustic blog contains snippets about techno-whizzery in relation to hardware devices as well as PC and mobile device applications, and we might publicise our upcoming shows or share a thought or two on recent performances – heck we even berate or praise customer services of companies that we deal with. This week we’d like to share two development and improvement avenues for our music:
After a jiva-fronted songwriting symposium at an emerging North Shields arts centre in August 2013, attendees agreed that we should meet regularly with the aim of members sharing, learning and improving our craft. Song Writers And Performers – North East (SWAP-NE) has been holding get-togethers since then and we meet on the first Friday evening of each month. To quote from an early SWAP-NE blog post:
Song Writers And Performers – North East
That’s us. SWAP-NE
- A place to SWAP ANY thing related to songwriting and performing.
- A place for members to share their songs.
- A place to share experience, ideas, feedback and any resources that might be useful to aspiring and experienced song writers and performers alike.
2. Newcastle College
Visitors to the SWAP-NE blog/website will have seen the post “Newcastle College Songwriting Course” (a 15-week course on Tuesday evenings) – many thanks to Steve Gray for bringing this to our attention. Naturally, our curiosity and keen interest in music and songwriting led us to investigate further. In fact, having perused much of the Newcastle College schedule and information, we drove down to the campus to enrol. We decided that, rather than both of us take the same course, Jimmy would do the Songwriting course while Val would do the Singing Techniques course… that way we can compare notes and share hints, tips, techniques etc from both courses.
OK, it does mean that we will be unavailable for Tuesday evening gigs for the rest of 2014 – but we’re sure that the loss in that department will be more than compensated by the benefits gained from committing ourselves to these opportunities to develop our musical abilities further.
As Animal (the Muppets drummer) almost puts it – “Rock Enrol !!!“
Jimmy & Val (jiva)
Answers to last week’s question (no one got it right): Evernote and Riffstation (two of our must-have, most-useful programs/apps).
You know the saying, “Out with the old, in with the new” – we do quite a lot of in with the new, but not so much out with the old. And so, this week has seen us balancing things with more out with the old. A 32″ Panasonic TV, a Pioneer DVD player and a Roberts radio/alarm clock will be transported to our local municipal waste management and recycling centre (colloquially known as ‘the dump’). However, the TV has been replaced with a 24″ TV/monitor that will be the central display device for our media conversion centre – huh? What’s that?
We are often commissioned to design websites, songbooks, posters, make videos, record albums, fix PCs, printers, tablets, home networks and all manner of stuff… we have a reputation for being techno-geeks – and so we get quite a number of requests to salvage, convert and/or repair old media. In the past this has been pretty much one-off ad-hoc connecting old bits of kit temporarily to achieve the desired result. The past week has seen us moving kit around and re-assembling it in a more permanent and easily accessible way. This has meant throwing out some old gear, bringing some of the spare gear out of retirement and even buying some new stuff (hence the 24″ TV/monitor).
At the centre of it all is Jimmy’s 15 year old Yamaha RX-V1000RDS A/V receiver which has more than enough inputs to cope with audio from many different analogue and digital sources, playing it out to a couple of fine Mission floor-standing speakers as well as routing it to a PC/Netbook to create a digital copy. Cassette, vinyl and mini-disc players are all hooked in as inputs. Add to that VHS conversion to hard disc and DVD and throw in a Blu-Ray player for leisure playback of CDs, DVDs and Blu-Rays and you get the picture (unintentional pun, but it worked… sort of) of our dining room setup. And the picture? Well, we needed a reasonable-sized display which can handle numerous inputs and the one we bought has sockets for PC, SCART, Component and HDMI so we can keep everything permnently connected.
Of course, this brings with it a veritable plethora of remotes (6 at the last count)… but, but, but… technology to the rescue. We’re having fun merging the commands into a multi-remote for use on our phones (and Note tablets too!).
Reminder to self: Rest occasionally, lie down, sleep.
Jimmy & Val (jiva)