Monthly Archives: April 2009

Rearranging Plans for the Ryan Montbleau Band

After seeing Ryan Montbleau open for Martin Sexton last year, I became a fan. I bought his band’s last two albums, Patience on Friday and One Fine Color, and listened to them somewhat regularly. I followed his MySpace blog. (Although really, Ryan, make the move to WordPress that you were considering! Don’t make me associate with MySpace.)

It has been interesting to follow updates about life on the road for a good band that’s not quite there yet. That hasn’t quite broken through. But they’re talented, working hard at it, and gathering a following. The Sexton tour was a big boost, I’m sure. I started feeling invested in the band, and when they finally headed west with a stop in Minneapolis this month, I wanted to see the show.

Although… I dithered. It was on a Tuesday night, when I had to get up by 4:30am the next day. And… Oh, who am I kidding: on any given night I prefer to be at home. I hadn’t managed to line up anyone else to go, so was going solo, which made it easier to consider just ditching the whole thing.

While I had become a fan, apparently I was a tepid fan. There was some inertia to overcome. Clearly this is a problem that up and coming bands face, which Ryan anticipates in one of my favorite songs, “Stretch“:

And it’s going to take microphones and stages,
Many people rearranging what their plans are for the night time
Hope they show up at the right time
And I’ll sing them my song
And I hope they sing along
I know they always sing along in my imagination.

That chorus kept running through my head, and I thought about how this and other RMB songs have inspired me. And I realized I should go. I should rearrange my “plans” and do something different. I wanted to support the band, do my small part to help make their dream come true, and maybe find some more inspiration toward my own dreams. I suspected I would see a great show.

So I headed out to The Cedar Cultural Center on April 14.

And oh man am I glad I did. It was nearly a religious experience. I’ve seen the light. My goal with this post and at least one more to follow is to share the joy with others; to persuade you to listen to their music. Give them a try. What kind of music is this, you ask? I have no idea what category to place it in. It’s just good. Great. Reviewers describe their style as folk, blues, soul, R & B, ragtime, and rock.

There are a lot of RMB and solo Ryan videos out on the Net. In addition to the link to “Stretch” above, here’s a mellow yet passionate number, “Starting Again“:

(Thanks to Mark Thompson for the pointer.)

You can download a selection of full tracks and partial samples at the Ryan Montbleau Band web site. (If you look around there, you can actually listen to full tracks of all their songs.)

All right! Get to it. You’ve invested the time to read my meandering post; why not spend a few minutes more listening to some talented artists and inspiring music?

Oh, the Pettiness… It Hurtses Us

I think I first learned about the web site Zen Habits when my sister sent me a link to this post: Open Source Blogging: Feel Free to Steal My Content, in which the blog’s author, Leo Babauta, places all of his writing from the site and from his ebook Zen To Done into the public domain.

It was music to my ears, coming from someone enjoying success (financial and otherwise) with their blog and their writing, and it really showed that he “gets” Free Culture. Since then I’ve subscribed to Leo’s blog and have found many things to inspire me there.

Given Leo’s generous and enlightened attitude about his own work and the importance of sharing freely, it made his post from yesterday even more disappointing. In “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway (or, the Privatization of the English Language),” Leo starts:

Today I received an email from the lawyers of author Susan Jeffers, PhD., notifying me that I’d infringed on her trademark by inadvertently using the phrase “feel the fear and do it anyway” in my post last week, A Guide to Beating the Fears That Hold You Back.

The phrase, apparently, is the title of one of her books … a book I’d never heard of. I wasn’t referring to her book. I’m not using the phrase as a title of a book or product or to sell anything. I was just referring to something a friend said on Twitter.

Her lawyers asked me to insert the (R) symbol after the phrase, in my post, and add this sentence: “This is the registered trademark of Susan Jeffers, Ph.D. and is used with her permission.”

Yeah. I’m not gonna do that.

I find it unbelievable that a common phrase (that was used way before it was the title of any book) can be trademarked. We’re not talking about the names of products … we’re talking about the English language. You know, the words many of us use for such things as … talking, and writing, and general communication? Perhaps I’m a little behind the times, but is it really possible to claim whole chunks of the language, and force people to get permission to use the language, just in everyday speech?

Pretty much the same kind of idiocy that you read about every day on Techdirt, I guess, but it still has the power to irritate me. What a load of crap. I’m happy to see Leo dismiss the threat. I hope he doesn’t face any more harassment or intimidation over this.

I’m not going to give this woman’s book the time of day to find out what it’s about, but I imagine she’s trying to empower her readers to work through their fears. I wonder how she might counsel me and my fear of the crippling effects of an ever expanding “intellectual property” regime? What of my fear that free expression and creativity will be stifled by the threat of lawsuits and legal fees?

Perhaps she would say: “Feel the fear and cave in to my petty bullying.”

The Power of Less

On the subject of Zen Habits, take a look at Leo’s new book, The Power of Less. I don’t see where this one is freely available in digital format yet, but I imagine it will be, eventually. I may have to buy a copy to support The Power of Free.

(Note: Amazon affiliate link uses Zen Habits’ tag, so kickbacks will go to Leo.)

Some Friday Links

I think I found the first three of these while catching up on Jason Kottke‘s feed. Jason’s site is a great place to lose vast stretches of time find interesting web pages. Many of my Twitter links are uncredited Kottke finds. :-)

NetBeans Python Plugin

NetBeans speaks Python now! In my first pass at learning Python last year, I had looked around at IDE options and noted that NetBeans didn’t seem to support it yet. Eclipse probably had a Python plugin at the time, but it may have seemed too daunting to try out. I can’t remember now. In any case, I wasn’t needing a full-fledged IDE then. Python’s interactive prompt and IPython were good for my purposes, but I knew eventually I’d want something more.

Now I’m back into learning more Python, and was excited and happy to see all the work that has been done for the language in NetBeans. I downloaded a standalone installer for NetBeans 6.5.1 which painlessly installed the IDE on my Ubuntu 8.10 machine, and then from Tools » Plugins selected Python, and that was that. Starting a new project let me select a Python project, and now I have all the power of a robust, professional IDE to use in developing Python programs.

The NetBeans page for Python says it is an “Early Access” feature. I think it was just late last year that it started coming together as a usable plugin for NetBeans. So far it appears to be quite stable, although I have seen a couple of glitches around creating a project and adding files to it. I was pleasantly surprised how easy it was to get started with it.

Features include the goodies you would expect or hope for in an IDE, including code completion, syntax highlighting, editor hints, code folding, refactoring, and a debugger. (And more!) There is an interactive Python console that lets you interrogate and change the state of your running program. You can read more about it at the NetBeans Python Wiki.

Here’s what it looks like:

NetBeans 6.5.1 IDE Python Plugin

Is Python support provided via a plugin, or is it a core part of the IDE? It is included with plugins for installing it, but in reading about the project, people refer to it as being a core part of NetBeans and that there is “first class support” for Python, so I’m not sure how best to refer to it.

It’s such a pleasure to have great free software like this. And it makes me worry what might happen with NetBeans if IBM buys Sun. I like having both NetBeans and Eclipse around. I realize NetBeans has its own community outside of Sun, but I suspect Sun drives a lot of the development. Will IBM want to support both projects?

Here’s a big “thank you” to everyone who has worked hard to add Python to NetBeans. I’m afraid this will only be a partial list, but here are some of the contributors I’ve happened across. It has been interesting to see snapshots of the project history in their blogs. In no particular order:

Thanks, guys, and great work. NetBeans for Python is awesome!

Updated, 7 September 2012: Removed links to a couple of these sites that seem to be gone now.

Seasonal Interest in Exercise Machines

A Google Trends graph of searches for “treadmill” and “elliptical” reveals an unsurprisingly persistent annual pattern:

Google Trends Graph: Treadmill and Elliptical

Look at that mid-year surge in search volume for treadmills in 2006: What happened? Was Britney Spears photographed in a compromising position on a treadmill? (And I wonder how many people will now find this post in a search for compromising pictures of Britney Spears?)