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    Friday, May 29, 2009

    End of the year...

    Well that's it, My first year at university is over! It's gone unbelievably quickly, I mean everyone says when you go, "Make the most of your first year, it'll be over before you know it" and, if you're anything like me, at the time you were just sat there thinking 'I wish it was over right now!'. But honestly, its been a really fantastic year. I've met new people, and actually been able to study what I want for once, instead of having all the government based education shoved in your face!

    If there's one thing I haven't totally enjoyed here it's the student halls. Don't get me wrong, i've got great flatmates and i'd probably say one of the happiest flats in Purbeck and it was easy to make friends when I got here. For anyone considering halls for university next year, i will say this: No matter where you get, whether you tick quiet or loud, big or small, there will be noise! Nearly every night, from about 10 until 3-4 in the morning. It's just something you have to get used to!

    Now, onto the course. This year, my course has seen record dropout rates, upwards of 50% and I'm pretty sure some people will not be coming back next year. The reason for this, I think, is that my course was advertised totally wrong. It was marketed as a music technology course, which it certainly isn't! How many music technicians do you know that program in C++, are able to tell you (in detail) about the inner workings of a computer, create flash and video based animations, and can recite the OSI and TCP/IP network models (and what they do) off by heart! No, my course is definitely not a music technology course. What it is, is a low level computer science course specialising in aspects of music technology! But the thing is, it turns out that it's the perfect course for me!

    I really do think that this course is a great course, but the high drop out show that some people obviously are not happy with it. I really do think that the university should look at this course again, and redefine it! Anyway, moving onto exams...

    I had three this year, one earlier in the year on the fundamentals of sound and two more recently; Audio and Video principles, and Media Devices Networks and Architectures. On the whole i feel they went reasonably well, there was one or two small questions on each paper that i wasn't 100% about but I think  hope that I managed to answer the main questions in enough detail to get a good mark. I'll let you know when I receive my final grades sometime in June/July how I got on!

    Anyway, that's about it as far as my first year at university goes. Check back over the summer for lots more tech related posts, and hopefully a review of my Dell mini 10 netbook (when I get one!)

    Tuesday, May 19, 2009

    Dell Mini Inspiron 12

    The Dell Mini Inspiron 12 has been discontinued, as many of you know i have been looking into netbooks recently, and the inspiron 12 was a fairly new contender in the market, but it has been discontinued. It is no longer available on the Dell UK website, and it has been confirmed with a dell representative. See screen-shots below!


    And confirmation from a Dell Representative... (Click images to view full size)

    Thought I'd post this, as no one else seems to have!

    Sam

    Monday, May 18, 2009

    Assignment Results

    Hey All,

    Just a quick update as I have some marks back for my assignments. If you remember I uploaded two assignments to my blog recently, a Flash based DSLR tutorial and Two Radio Jingles to promote my course. Anyway, I have just collected the results for both assignments. For the Flash tutorial I got 95% and for the two radio jingles i got 91%. I'm really pleased with these results, and I am still working on the flash tutorial to make it perfect before I release it.

    Anyway, That's all for now!
    Cheers for reading

    Wednesday, May 06, 2009

    Electric drums 'vs' Acoustic drums...

    Recently there has been an explosion in the number of new electronic drum kits that are coming onto the market. There are many reasons for this, advances in technology is an obvious one, but I can't help feeling that games like Rock Band have encouraged the growth.

    Those who know me, will know that I have always been an avid hater of the so called 'electronic drum kits' and have always preferred playing on my old acoustic drums. For those who don't know me, I have been playing drums for nearly 15 years now, so I like to think of myself as an experienced drummer.

    Anyway, something strange happened when i moved to university. I brought a
    Yamaha DTXplorer, which is a pretty popular, standard electronic drum kit. There were a number of reasons behind this choice, mainly there was no way I could get away with a full sized kit in this tiny little university-rented room, but also I think i would have been kicked out before i could even mutter paradiddle.


    Yamaha DTXplorer Electronic Drum Kit


    So, after a few months use a strange thing has happened. I actually really, really like this kit (note the repetition for emphasis!). I mean, it could never compare to an acoustic kit for live performances but it definitely has some advantages for the purposes of practice. The main one being accuracy, acoustic kits are designed so that the drums sound their best when the skin is hit in the very middle of the drum (some snares are an exemption to this rule). The size of the pads on the electric kits force you to do this, and I have found that just this alone has made me a better drummer when I return to my acoustic kit.

    Aside from accuracy, the electronic drum kit is much more neighbour friendly than an acoustic kit. The sound of sticks hitting a rubber pad is infinitely quieter than the sound of a drum resonating or a cymbal being hit! Whilst some drummers hate the tactile feel of the sticks on the rubber pads, i have found that it has a hidden advantage. I have found myself being forced to play double strokes properly, rather than being lazy and dragging the sticks, so while at first glance this may seem a hinderance, in the long term it could be improving your technique!

    Sure, as with all things, you get what you pay for. Some electric kits are not even worth bothering with, the
    Alesis DM5 for example (available at around £350), although this is a nice drum module, the pads and stand are worthless! Some electronic kits, such as the Roland TD-20 (available for around £4,400), do a fantastic job of imitating the classic acoustic kit and sound great at the same time.

    As with all electronic kits you get to choose different sound sets for all different styles of music, but you will no doubt return to one or two sound sets that actually sound like drums, and when you do you will be able to truly appreciate the electronic kit for what it is, not only a fantastic practice kit for when noise is a problem but also a tool to help you improve your technique for when you do get the chance to play on an acoustic kit again!