February 26, 2006

Metal documentary

Metal: A Headbanger's Journey is playing in several Canadian cities: Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, and Montreal. It's a great documentary and touches upon most of the aspects of Metal as a music genre, and has a good sense of history. Naturally, it doesn't cover absolutely everything, but I think it really captures the aspects of the music that I find so fascinating.

Posted by stu at 07:09 AM

Opeth Chronology - New York City

A friend and I flew to NYC to see Swedish progressive death metal act Opeth play at the Town Hall theatre near Times Square. The venue was quite impressive - well maintained, smallish multi-level theatre, with great views of the stage all around, and the sound quality (finally!) was decent. Too often I've felt that their stage sound was muddy, but this time, other than some relatively minor level issues, it was much clearer than on past tours.

This event was part of 3 special shows, "Chronology MCMXCIV - MMV, A live Observation by Opeth", in NYC, LA, and Chicago -- seated venues, where Opeth would play a 2 1/2 hour set going through their 12 year album career -- all 8 albums.

Here's the setlist. Ballet Deviare opened, which was entertaining - four dancers strutting to Opeth's Deliverance.

(The following is a variation on what I wrote on the Opeth message board). It's been a great time watching Opeth grow into a world class live presence. I remember in January 2003 watching Opeth play Toronto's Opera House, and they were so nervous.. in such a short time they've gotten so much more relaxed, tighter and confident. (All that's left is hoping that their main drummer, Lopez gets better!)

I thought this show put the band on a different level. Genres of music entertain in different ways. What makes Opeth special is that they have the ability to hit the intensity of death metal and also those "sublime" moments that one only gets with great progressive rock like Pink Floyd. This was the first time (for me) they hit both moments in spades. Between The Amen Corner, White Cluster, Deliverance, and Ghost of Perdition, the energy in the room was peaked. And in terms of sublime moments, I would have to say that A Fair Judgement and Closure were tops. The middle section of Closure, where Per does his keyboard solo and Mikael doodles on the guitar just elevated the show to another level, it was like watching a great Jazz band or Prog Art Rock band at work. I'm not sure how they can top this show, short of replicating it on a larger scale.

A number of older fans are complaining about the setlist lacking older material. Frankly, a lot of those old songs are repetitious, meandering, and not very entertaining to see live -- they're meant for personal enjoyment on headphones. There are lots of great Opeth songs, and the ones they chose are some of their best, including some that we haven't heard very often. Yes, there is a place for yesterday, but we are dealing with a band that is arguably getting better with every album release...

Posted by stu at 07:00 AM

February 18, 2006

being a road warrior

This past week I was in Calgary and Houston (one day each, with a conference in Toronto in the middle), next week is Ottawa and New York, the week after, Las Vegas. Later in March, it will be Vancouver, Boston, San Jose, Edmonton, Calgary (again). Having said that, I don't think I'm that crazy a traveller -- there are the Star Alliance Gold folks who seem to live in the air...

My gadget friends on the road...

  • Sennheiser PXC 250 noise-cancelling portable headphones - perfect for drowning out babies crying on the airplane with some music or a podcast. It even has the dual-pronged airline headphone adapter.

  • my black iPod nano 4gb

  • Cold-fX - after experiencing the havoc that travel, lack of sleep, and overwork wreaks on my body, I've turned to this at the first sign of cold symptoms... it seems to work.

  • Dell Latitude D800, soon to be replaced by a D810 and possibly a MacBook Pro. I found this laptop has the best performance to heft ratio when I got it in late 2004; it's 7.1 lbs , which was only .3 heavier than my 17 inch Powerbook G4, but the Pentium M 2ghz + 2 gigs ram + 7200 rpm + decent battery makes for a great on the road desktop-replacement -- it's what most BEA consultants use in Canada.

  • Blackberry 7780. I've been a Crackberry man since mid-2000, with the original 950. I've since had a 957, the first phone-enabled 5810, and I'm now on my second 7780 (the first sadly was dropped and screen-cracked after 3 months) since Summer 2004. It has treated me well; unfortunately ever since I upgraded to Blackberry 4.0, though, it's been slower, though I enjoy the new BB messenger. Web browsing is also glacial, I think i'll need to grab an EDGE phone like the 8700r this summer.

  • The Economist - short & deep enough for great reading material, before cracking into books

  • Apple Airport Express which has proven invaluable for those "I wish we had a WiFi network here" moments. The great part is it works with PC's, and has proven remarkably robust -- when the D-Links of the world fall over at 12-16 clients, this little guy has served as many as 21 laptops in a room at once.

Posted by stu at 12:58 PM

February 15, 2006

The most important strategic decision a CIO can make

If you haven't seen it, Christopher Koch recently opined that "enterprise applications--big, integrated suites as a bulwark to assert dominance over customers’ software buying patterns--is increasingly at odds with the emerging thinking on enterprise architectural strategy: SOA."

His conclusion I found quite apt, as it resonates with what Alan Kay and numerous others have said in the past, about great and growable systems...

It seems that if SOA really takes over, the software that links applications together, rather than the applications themselves, will become the most important strategic decision that CIOs make.
Posted by stu at 03:28 PM

February 07, 2006

The solution architect's lot

My life - part one and two. (I even tell good jokes, but I still don't get commission).

Posted by stu at 12:20 PM

February 03, 2006

Cookie monster vocals

The Wall Street Journal has an article on death metal's distinctive vocal style. Courtesy boing boing.

Though Mr. Conner from Roadrunner Records suggests that death metal acts are no longer selling, this is not to say that some artists are selling very well, and growing in popularity. One of my favorite bands is Opeth, a hybrid progresive / death metal band from Sweden, who have reached Billboard positions, and have sold Their music can be described as a dynamic mix of early Led Zeppelin, mid-70's Pink Floyd, and older Metallica, but with growling. I highly suggest them, particularly the latest "Ghost Reveries" if you like intense, dynamic music. If you just like progressive rock, give "Damnation" a try - no growling on that album.

Several of Cradle of Filth's albums have reached gold status (100k) in sales, and most recently Dimmu Borgir's Death Cult Armageddon has reached 100,000 in sales in January 2006, according to Soundscan. Dimmu is (for lack of a better term) a symphonic black metal band, in that they incorporate live orchestra with growling vocals and guitars. Some of their music was featured in the original Hellboy trailer.

And, finally, I must say that Sirius Sattellite Radio's Hard Attack is very entertaining, with a good mix of all metal genres, including plenty of cookie monsters!

Posted by stu at 09:48 PM