The end of the Space Shuttle era - and the absence of a replacement

The STS-135 flight was the last of any Space Shuttle flight, and this marks the end of the Space Shuttle era, which began some 30 years ago. The Space Shuttle, although quite flawed, was a pinnacle in space flight technology, but eventually was shut down due to too high costs. Here's an overview of this remarkable vehicle :

Some remarkable quotes :

  • "Most people lament the end of the Space Shuttle. What's really sad, is that there is nothing to replace it."
  • "1969 : The landing on the moon
    1981 : The start of the Space Shuttle era
    2011 : Nothing
    For anyone traveling backwards in time, the American Space program looks fabulous."

Motif XS

Yamaha keyboard owners are spoiled, it seems, with their keyboard sounds quality. This was demonstrated lately in music school when I had the change to play on a - rather old & battered, I must admit - Roland keyboard. The piano sounded like I was killing a kitten.

I've always been very content with my PSR-E413 keyboard, piano sounds on it are truly excellent. However, 32 note polyphony is quite a limitation. And as one progresses, and starts using arpeggios, this limit got hit quite frequently. And as my keyboard playing interest seemed something that wasn't a passing fling, I was looking around for more professional gear.

The Tyros 4 was just released, but its price tag was way beyond my reach, just as the Motif XF. I wanted a keyboard/synth with 70+ keys, both with keyboard accompaniment and virtual analog synth sounds. The Korg M3 and the Motif XS7 remained, from which I eventually chose the Motif.

Truly a great machine. It would take me over 2 days only to try out all presets on this machine. It has more than 6000 arpeggio's, which is amazing. Trying out all of these for half a minute would take me about 3 days.

Seems that I'm well-equipped now to take over the charts ;)

Zomerconcert Hamaril 2011

Het zomerconcert is altijd een hoogtepunt van de muziekschool : 3 dagen optredens van jong & oud, in een aardige mix van muziekstijlen en - instrumenten. Dit jaar werd voor mij persoonlijk gekenmerkt in het puur piano leren spelen (dus zonder keyboard begeleiding, waarbij linker- en rechterhand een verschillende melodie - en vaak een ander ritme ! - spelen).

Het gebrachte nummer was Conquest of Paradise van Vangelis, in een piano uitvoering op een voor mij onbekende Casio stage piano. Ik ben redelijk in mijn nopjes : 2 kleinere fouten die zo goed als onopgemerkt weggemoffeld konden worden.

Terug een pluim aan de organisatoren en de medewerkers voor een uiterst geslaagd concert !


I've upgraded my machines to Natty, the latest (I avoid greatest with a reason here) Ubuntu release. As usual, upgrading Ubuntu is putting 2 steps backwards, and 3 steps forwards, and this release is not different :

- on my desktop, I got the usual crap with the Nvidia driver, but it seems that I'm getting more and more experienced in getting this fixed. One issue remains, and that is that the screen is garbled when resuming the computer. Restarting GDM fixes this temporarily. Will get fixed by the next kernel update. Also Grub config got updated, resulting in a incompatible framebuffer setting for my NVidia card.

- For one or other reason, my (personal) sane scanner config got reset, resulting in lots of trouble when scanning in some documents. After resetting all to gray-and-white, everything worked again. Why is an Ubuntu upgrade messing around with user settings, is completely incomprehensible to me.

- On my netbook, the desktop got upgraded to Unity. Now, there's a bunch talked and written about Unity, resulting in avid haters & lovers for this desktop environment. I find Unity pretty okay wrt features (it reminds me a bit of Ubuntu Netbook Remix, which I was quite fond of). However, the thing is slow as a dog on low-end machines (as netbooks - opening the so-called lenses is enough to hang my Sammy netbook) and sometimes it takes ages to start up.

Also, it is heavily integrated into CompizConfig, which means that

  1. my whole Compiz configuration got changed,
  2. Fiddling with Compiz settings is enough to render your whole desktop unusable

The upgrade to Unity marks a first stage in the major upcoming changes for the desktop for Gnome users. I'm not sure if I'm willing to follow either Canonical or the Gnome folks into their direction. I hope Unity gets mature during the Natty release. If not, XFCE might become a serious desktop environment alternative...