Maschine 2.0 Newbie Review

It has been some time since I upgraded my Maschine to 2.0. Not a big win for me when I think about it, but you know how it is – old Maschine will hardly have any support and – probably the biggest reason – I wanted to support Native Instruments and maybe get some more sound content in the process.

I used Maschine 1.x with my Maschine Mikro (Mk1) to create a few songs – or mostly just drum/bass lines for songs that we could perform live. It was alright and I liked that I needed to interact only with the controller on stage.

Now I tried to use Maschine 2.0 expecting some improvements over the previous software version. I’m sure many people got what they wanted, but for me Maschine 2.0 is more like a facelift – without bringing anything essential. Kinda like “we have to come up with something new” stuff. This is probably not fair, but I just use basic things and I feel that way.

I don’t expect things to always go my way. I have ideas and try to communicate them on forums of my favourite products, not to mention many bug reports for things like IntelliJ IDEA that even got fixed. 😉 One simply cannot have it all. But there are a few things that are kinda striking.

I use Large layout for instance and let’s take a look, how it looks by default:

First the “red problems”: So the Arranger (upper part) does not display all 8 groups you have (at least by default), and Pattern Editor has plenty of free space for more sounds than necessary. Of course you can use this space in the part with Piano roll…

However, the biggest point here is – even though you can change the layout (use the section corner marked on the right of the screenshot) there seems to be no way how to save it. So even if you change it, the next time it’s gone.

My other issue was with zooming. You can only zoom on the zooming scroll bars (horizontal ones are marked with blue, but the same goes for vertical ones). Now imagine you want to fix a particular event with your mouse. To zoom to any reasonable level you have to go away from the event (that is already probably selected) and meddle with the scroll bar, pressing the mouse button, moving the mouse up/down to zoom – and also to the left/right in order to keep the event in the view. Now imagine using just Ctrl+mouse wheel right on the spot (or Ctrl+Shift for vertical zoom which is less needed in most cases). Wouldn’t that be great?

Generally many things in Maschine UI are made in a way that is completely counterintuitive – the only way is to learn the stuff and keep using it, because otherwise you have to refresh it every time before you occasionally use the Maschine software (my case).

When I compare this with Reaper for instance, that is a true power tool where:

  • you see keyboard shortcuts next to the action in any menu (main, contextual) – this is true for main menu in Maschine as well, but that is just too little
  • you can assign nearly whatever to whatever in their Actions window – not to mention you can use it as a quick reference and find the shortcut for an action there too
  • UI always loads how I left it
  • there are tooltips for buttons, often even with status information (for instance: Metronome disabled) – tooltips would be a big help for any starting/intermediate/occasional user of Maschine

We may argue that focus in Maschine is on another thing (partially true), that they don’t want to spoil it with too many DAW-like features (agreed, mouse zoom is not colliding with anything in Maschine though), and that you should mostly use their hardware. The last thing is valid for things like live productions (and more of course), but one way or the other – if you prepare something in Maschine for later use, you may need to edit it. And that is much easier with UI and mouse.

To sum it up: Maschine UI is different from standard even when not necessary, lacking tooltips completely, there is no in-place help with keyboard shortcuts, few contextual menus (no wonder when right-click deletes stuff, double click would probably did just as good), it doesn’t save the UI layout, zoom is awkward and I’m not going into shortcut customization.

I know that UI is just an addition to the hardware (though absolutely necessary) and personally I can pardon that you can’t change keyboard shortcuts. But many of these things are kinda easy to fix (tooltips?) and they would help a long way – especially users new to NI.

Maschine sure is a lot of fun anyway, but a little bit more seriousness to its DAW aspects wouldn’t hurt at all.

Happy New Year 2013!

Happy New year, of course! My last year was a bit poorer blog-wise. For some reasons I was more lazy to write about things. Heck, sometimes I think that I was less lucky with new technology in overall. I achieved some nice results with testing in our company during the previous year. This year I wanted to push Continuous Integration, testing a bit further, maybe Gradle – but results in CI area are mixed and the rest brought no real results at all.

On the brighter side, I managed to finish my quest for system time shifter on JVM that would be usable for testing purposes – all documented in my post. Blogging is not all of course and I am quite happy how topics around Clean Code got some attention around me. We pushed Java Simon project a bit further too, I learned a few interesting things around Spring, MVC and jQuery… Add this beautiful Scala class on Coursera and this year was more than fun after all.

Still I’d like to make some resolutions. I discovered QueryDSL (thanks to a colleague of mine) and this seems to be answer to readable and compile time safe Criteria – because those shipped with JPA2 are simply horrible to read. It works well with IDEA’s annotation processor, Maven and it should be no problem with Gradle either. Ah, Gradle! For around two years I’m watching this guy but for whatever reason I was not able to use it for anything more than a few tests – but that is not Gradle’s fault. I like it, I like the idea, I like the language – and I think this year is time to switch Java Simon from Maven to Gradle. And after that I’ll go on with projects in our company, although the battle there will be more difficult I guess.

Out of technology, I managed to put together a few songs with my colleagues and it was fun – the first time I played in something close to a band. We played only on our company party but it doesn’t change anything… it was a real fun. We didn’t have a drummer so I used my Native Instruments Maschine Mikro and pre-programmed our songs – and I was really happy with the results. I’ll probably dedicate a post to Maschine Mikro, because it is one really interesting controller (and software too!).


Maschine Mikro controller

Talking about music, I managed to upload two full-blown tracks to my Soundcloud and later added two simple guitar+voice tracks. While mixing/mastering is still my weakness, I’m happy that I was able to pull through this recording-wise. And just how I imagined – my songs composed with paper, pen and acoustic guitar many years ago can really work as rock recording too.

So what about this year and those resolutions? Gradle – sure. More testing methodology on our projects – maybe I’ll even manage to document it here on the blog. Pushing Continuous delivery just a bit further again. Scala or other JVM language? I don’t know. Maybe, maybe for tests. And a bit of my music – I need to practice more with keyboard, guitar and bass guitar (yeah, I bought lovely Yamaha bass too).


Bass guitar Yamaha RBX375

Last resolution is no resolution at all – we have to survive somehow “socialistic” experiments of our government here in Slovakia (although there is nothing social about them). Europe has its own deal of problems – and USA? Well they saved themselves from falling down that fiscal cliff or what – just a few hours ago. And it probably means to make the cliff a bit higher for the next time. So we might have escaped one Doom’s day lately at the end of 2012, but who knows how our civilization will fare in the future.

Then I remember those really poor and I know we have nothing really horrible to complain about. So once again – Happy New year – and whole year of 2013!

Not so Christmas technology whining

First of all – Merry Christmas (and eventually Happy New Year considering my last blogging pause) to you all. I’m sitting in my living room, son is ill and sleeping sooner than expected (mid-day) and wife is cooking something for the evening. And I decided to report about just a few technology problems I met recently – and I think it’s shame that I had to. Often I just ask “how this can happen in 21st century?” But it probably will again in 22nd too – in a way.

I’m just listening to Christmas songs and I realized I started to like them recently – not sure if because I’m getting old or what – or because I sing them occasionally at a music school. Probably both. So let’s see my little stupid technical issues in random order:

Amazon restrictions (not only, and maybe Amazon is not to be blamed)

And we’re getting to the first problem I encountered lately – today actually. Amazon wrote me previously that I have some free credit to download some songs for my previous shopping. Nice, I grinned. Today I really wanted something – The Priests and their Little Drummer Boy. But Amazon said “sorry, but it’s not available in your country”. Yeah, no wonder, who would sell music here – to Slovakia where we still live on trees or what. Whatever. Of course I will listen to that song today. There are alternatives.

Skype is so annoying (no news here)

I wanted to download Skype client for my mom and was lead through Czech page (which was OK), but needed do log in on web before I could get the client itself. Never happened to me before, it’s annoying and stupid. I want direct download link! Is it really your mission to annoy your users recently? (Automagic ebay related toolbars and stuff, window open after start in Windows 7… what’s wrong with you guys?) Of course: “Just don’t use it!” The trouble is my family does.

I reported part of it via some Skype support form and after submitting I saw: “Thanks so much. We’ll learn a lot from that comment.” Well, I hope so. 🙂

Google Calendar sends notifications, Google Mail puts them into Spam

Title says it all! For this I missed my last football game with friends this Wednesday. It was different day than others Wednesdays and our son got fever too and in all that mess I forgot and there was nothing to remind me. My new HTC Wildfire wasn’t set with alarm yet… but back to the problem. Isn’t it ironic? Google sending emails from their service just to end up in Spam of Google mail? So you rather want to white-list notification address.

HTC Wildfire difficulties with answering calls

I carry my phones in pockets – actually as most people around me. Otherwise you have to have it in some bag or on your belt (I don’t wear belts). Soon I noticed that my new HTC Wildfire has real problems with answering calls very often. Googling revealed many other people have the same problem – and many others don’t believe them. 🙂 (“When I don’t have the problem, you can’t have it either… you’re stupid and don’t know how to use your phone.” Or similar.) In one thread there was that idea that it somehow relates to carrying the phone in one’s pocket. And indeed – it always happened when I pulled it from my jeans. It was easy to demonstrate it. Now I’m in talks with HTC support. I’m curious how will it end. (And for those curious – it’s vanilla HTC Wildfire, no branding, Andorid 2.2.)

I could go on with many other issues related to Android or this phone, but funny enough – I just like it enough to adjourn these for some other post. But as you probably agree answering calls is kinda essential feature. And “don’t carry it in your pocket” is not the right answer.

Another wannabe spammer – Kongregate

After 9 Dragons also Kongregate network showed how NOT to it. It’s funny that big corporations (where my subscriptions is much more important and often related to my profession) can live with direct unsubscribe links and obscure sites (I sometimes register to for whatever reason) starts sending their newsletters often after some longer time, I have no idea what the hell the site is about and I have to log in to fix the situation. But I think it’s fair to let them know. So I wrote them on their support form:

Please include Unsubscribe link from email that works without login. I had to renew my password after you started to send me emails after a few months. I can’t understand why some can’t do it properly. So often notifications start to pour from service I hadn’t hear about for months (often years) and when I need to stop them, I have to spend more time than I wished to to do so. Please, for the sake of other random users of your service, do it better.

And some positives?

There are many, we just don’t notice them so easily – because they don’t angry us, right? Not sure since when, but YouTube now allows for unlisted videos. Exactly what I wanted to share videos with my family. You can’t imagine how difficult it is to instruct mommy how to register and become my friend on YouTube. This made my day.

And as we started we will end: Merry Christmas however you like it. 🙂

Supertramp, Paris and the others

Recently I’ve received my first package from Amazon. For I felt like I’m short of Supertramp’s albums – and it was my favourite band once (later replaced by U2 on #1 spot ;-)) – it’s no surprise there were 4 CDs by this band. I have Paris live bought like ten years ago or so. Now it was the right time to fill up the list with Crime Of the Century, Even in the Quietest Moments, Breakfast in America and their Famous Last Words. I can write tons of things about Supertramp – not about their life, you can find that anywhere else – but about their music, what I like about it, how I feel it. And of course how I disagree with some reviews – which is normal if you’re fan.

Let’s start with Paris. No… let’s start with how I came to this band. My father had many a cassettes with many albums that were normally not accessible in Czechoslovakia in those old days before 1989. Music played a lot in our house and I just listened without realizing what is what – I was like 5? 8? Later I started to like some particular interprets – Mike Oldfield was probably my first favourite one (thanks to Discovery/Crisis tape), swiftly followed by Yes (90125) and finally Supertramp. Here I just loved how Breakfast album started – the opening song (I didn’t know the name for many, many years) being Gone Hollywood.

I just loved the way how it started with the distant piano bursting into falsetto vocals supported by rock solid guitar (not hard, but not soft either) and bass line – and of course their trademark piano. This all ceases after the first minute and we’re getting into something completely different than “verse, refrain, verse, refrain, bridge, solo, refrain, whatever” kind of song you normally know. Saxophone, repetitive piano and TONS of atmosphere. Strings when needed, Rick’s (Davies) voice, with that saxophone being second voice – this all gradating around 2:40-3:10 (check that sax!) and then moving into Roger’s vocals with solo guitar on the background (isn’t that contradictory? :-)) and returning back to the start of the song – just a bit louder.

Don’t get me wrong – Supertramps do normal songs too – just listen to the next one – The Logical Song. I know many people who don’t know about Supertramp, but they almost always know this song (along with It’s Raining Again, Breakfast in America, and then some of them also Dreamer and a few others). So you can just use these to to test yourself – will you like the Supertramp? These two are not maybe the best selection, but it’s hard to do selection of two being “the most typical”. But you have their piano there (electric in the Logical), their so typical saxophone, both voices (Rick and Roger, both authors too) – and you can be sure this is them in their best. Supertramp is somewhere on the edge of art and pop, sometimes clearly in one of these areas – and they are convincing in both of them.

Many years later I realized they are good with guitar too – not that it is their main instrument, but their solos are not out of place at all and supporting guitar is definitely rocky too – sure I don’t mean hard rock. Add organ and go on with listening the third song of Breakfast – Goodbye Stranger. Fast paced with one tone wah-wah based solo – and very fresh. They don’t sound like stuck in 1979, the sound stood the test of time. Sure they don’t sound like 2 Unlimited. Thanks for that. 😉 Next song is the eponymous Breakfast In America. Rhythm of bear walking on two, supported with tuba (yes, that big brum-brum hanging on your neck trumpet), bit of fun, bit of seriousness, just lovely. First side of album (in times of vinyl LPs) is closed by a bit lighter Oh! Darling.

B side starts with just awesome Take the Long Way Home – this is Supertramp in their truly best. Strings, piano, great chords, perfect atmoshphere, harmonica – and especially that dialog of harmonica and clarinet is just perfect. This song has perfect flow, perfectly leans from one side to the other with every subtle change of the harmony on the piano. And the strings before second refrain… after all these years this one is probably my favourite song of the album, chased closely by Gone Hollywood though.

Skipping next three songs we’re getting to the last one – Child Of Vision. Driven by combination of synths and electric piano was originally most interesting for me when I was a child (name coincidence) – Roger’s thin voice (no offense there!) occasionally combined with Rick’s – this all leads us into refrains climbing slowly up. I love the bass here (but not only here) too. And then from the half of the song we’re just closing the album with grand piano solo later supported (again) by saxophone.

Man – what a ride! It’s not like music that leaves you washed-out, but still strong without unnecessary decibels, but still full blown rock.

You can listen to other albums arguing that Fool’s Overture should be mentioned or that later Famous Last Words (not really their last album – but the last one with both main characters because Roger left the party after that one) are too commercial or whatever. I don’t care. Let’s take a look at Paris now – because I just can’t forget that Allmusic gave it just two stars with the whole review being these lines:

“Recorded in the wake of the global success of Breakfast in America, Paris is a competent but ultimately unnecessary live album that fails to live up to the standards of Supertramp’s studio material.”

Well, compare Hide In Your Shell from Paris and Studio album, listen to that atmosphere of the whole recording. Especially fourth side is just brilliant – starting with Long Way Home, through Overture, shortened Two Of Us and culminating in Crime Of the Century. Album Crime Of the Century itself is obviously very important for the band because they enveloped the Paris with the same opening and closing song and except for one from the Crisis, all songs appear on Paris too. And many of them – if you ask me – just are much better live. Maybe School is on the same level in studio, but otherwise the ambient of the crowd and especially their somehow fuller interpretation is just better on the live. Especially that Shell song – it’s so thin on the studio album (not bad, but thinner sound-wise). Heck, even that jet flying over before they start Rudy is just perfect. 🙂

What I love Supertramp for is their atmosphere. Synths on Rudy with clarinet, absolute relax on From Now On (the second half with clapping – and sax again!), moody You Started Laughing and of course all those other songs too. There are some lighter touches just to prepare you for those stronger pieces – and this all finishes with insistent piano in Crime closing section supported by strings going up and up and absolutely soulful saxophone solo. And harmonica.

This is Supertramp. Even when I like other bands more now, I love them no less and every time I listen to them I’m just blown away again and again.

Personal Log (3): Year of fulfilled dreams

So the year 2009 is over and – all crisis considering – it was a good year for me and my family. Our son was born shortly before the year started which means that most of his first year happened in 2009 – and interesting year for him it was! He now walks, touches my guitars, opens cupboards and freezer – you can imagine.


Our domestic rhythm section

I mentioned crisis… I guess everybody noticed. Somewhere major banks went down, a lot of people lost their jobs, but again – with a bit of luck – nothing of this affected our family seriously although payment didn’t come up either as it would have otherwise. What troubles me seriously though – it’s the politics here in Slovakia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slovakia. I’m kinda hopeless thinking about normal Slovak people when I see what they want to rule and lead us. Socialists or not, there are two parties from Slovak pre-1998 “dark ages” (HZDS, SNS) and one newer, bigger with a leader that reassembles infamous Vladimír Mečiar from HZDS – our modern populist, Robert Fico and his party Smer. Thanks to this trinity our country is loosing money way too often – bribery, frauds, over-priced tenders (often won by the highest bid as anything “inappropriate” is disqualified for absurd reasons), etc. You may think it’s the way it is in every country – more or less. The problem here is – it’s way too common here. Media often discovers new cases, but the real tragedy here is – electorate as a whole obviously doesn’t care about it and believes in lies they are told. Morale suffers, justice is crooked, economy could go better too. It will take many years to fix all the damage in the society. If it ever goes there…

Funny enough – if we haven’t bought our flat here in Bratislava maybe we would leave the country. Now we’re more or less stuck here but I can’t really complain about our living standards. Regions where HZDS, SNS and now mostly Smer has biggest support are not getting that better thanks to these politicians, but they rather blame media, foreign capitalists, or whoever the current designated enemy is. This all in Slovakia – otherwise normal, modern, educated country. To add more – we chose (again) Ivan Gašparovič for the president – the man who was just the second one in rule after Mečiar , the man who evidently broke even constitutional laws as a leader of parliament, the same Constitution he helped to create. The man who called previous president “the old dick” in the parliament – unaware that his microphone is still on. And I know people who voted him because he was just recommended by Smer/Fico – of course, because it’s just their type. So we have liars and cheaters on all important positions now, just great. You may say – “it’s the same here”. Well, unless you’re more to the east I just doubt it. Even if there are cheaters and liars in politics everywhere, the magnitude, the scale is still important.

Whatever… after I paid my taxes on these parasites, I could spend some on my dreams. Politics really affects us all, but I can’t say I’m doing bad – far from it. Of course I can’t buy anything I want, but when you want to buy something related to home music production, you can do it very easily and cheaply nowadays! So it just happened that having microphone and Midi keyboard for a few years already, I decided to take it all from the closet and actually use it! I bought a mixing console, stands for keyboard and guitars and so I got to my first kind of home recording studio. I added DAW of my choice in – REAPER – and the day before Christmas Eve I brought also M-Audio studio monitors (speakers). I blogged a few times about various topics related to home recording.


My new speakers – not the best position, I know 😉

I also bought better electric guitar. The first one I had – again for a few years already – was Behringer’s V-tone with amplifier. While I don’t use the guitar, I still use the amp. My current guitar is nice black Lag AM-100 and while I don’t expect to be great guitarist, I practice here and there and just have fun with it. Too bad I could fulfill these dreams after 30! Too good I could do it at all on the other side. 😉

I should not have too much free time besides my work and family, but our son is really great and my wife is even greater. 🙂 That leaves me some time to practice the guitar (with son messing with my cables) or keyboard. And not only that. I have a feeling I now play more computer games than ever before. I bought a lot of Steam games (mostly on sales) and that also keeps me from buying more as I can’t play all of those I have already. I’d love to post something about the best I played this year. I really enjoyed Mass Effect, Mirror’s Edge, Left 4 Dead and now I’m stuck with Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War. But not only that. I started to play Perfect World International on September 2008, but I quit the game during this summer. I play it only here and there with my wife. I was just pissed of how imbalanced the game is on many places, how high levels do often too much for low levels which ultimately means there are a lot of mid-level players who just can’t play properly, etc.

For that I decided to go for a paid MMORPG after all – and I went for EVE Online as it was the game I was thinking about for some time. The game mechanics are just way more complex than Perfect World, market really works, graphics is not that crazy when it comes to some aspects (PWI really overdid it with most boutique mounts and especially their particle effects), the whole sci-fi feel is just great and believable, and also the netcode is far more fair than in PWI.

So that was my year! Job is OK, baby is great, family even better and then there are my musical hobbies and a lot of fun with games. Maybe the whole wrap-up could be much more negative if I had different attitude – because, yes, attitude is important as well. So if you’re in doubt about something, try to see it from the positive side.

I wish you Happy New Year – and good the whole year of course – and wish you a bit of luck too, as it always helps. After that it’s all about your attitude. 🙂

Native Instruments and more free stuff

I mentioned free Kore Player by Native Instruments previously in my personal log. The registration process is a bit annoying – but nothing that doesn’t work and it really is worth it. Since then NI came with free Kontakt Player (now upgraded to version 4), Factory Selection for Kontakt – but those instruments work in Kore Player too – and recently they delivered just another free Compilation vol. 2 (or Holiday Selection, whatever you like :-)). This all means that NI offers two lightweighted versions of their products (Kore Player/Kontakt Player) and four sound libraries (counting the one delivered with Kore Player too).

With previous Kontakt Player 3 I had a few issues. There were a few sounds coming with it – but this part of the library worked in demo mode and was disabled after a little while. Not too many sounds, but their “sudden malfunction” rather confused poor nonpaying user. 🙂 Now it seems that Kore Player 4 shows only Factory Selection and I can’t see any additional demo sounds. While Kore Player doesn’t need to be activated, it was displayed in red in NI’s Service Center (don’t forget to install this with either Kore or Kontakt Player!). Version 4 seems to be OK – nice and green. Factory Selection must be activated and the code comes in the mail. Don’t mix both mails with download links as I did – one of them really has activation key. 🙂 I even asked their support about the missing code, only to find out later that they don’t support nonpaying users – but they answered me anyway and the information was helpful. Very nice.

You can find a lot of sounds, effects and (most importantly) instruments there – TONS of various drums, basses, abstract sounds, woods… you just have to go through it by yourself! Check the sounds in Kore Player, try to mess with Sound Variations (those boxes A-H), I’m pretty sure there will be something you’ll like. Of course, the whole SW package eats a lot of megabytes (more than a giga, for sure – maybe two, I don’t care actually), but I recommend you: Give it a shot!

For some strange reason I can’t find Compilation vol. 1 on NI page via search feature – also their page is now often down (probably thanks to users hungry for all of this :-)). But you can always google download of the pack easily. One thing is sure. If I start making some money from music (which I don’t expect though) I’d seriously consider NI software. It is nice and easy to use, there are tons of sounds and VST integration works perfectly – at least in REAPER. Happy holidays!

Personal Log (2): Leaving Linux, buying guitars

Not that I write continuation of the personal log every time Federer wins a Slam title, but after dramatic final of the Wimbledon it really happened. (Just another instant classic after last year final? :-)) Fifteen and counting so it seems.

I wanted to confess that I stopped using Linux on my computers. I still have out of date Ubuntu on my desktop, but I can’t remember last time I used it. I went for Windows XP after all those Linux years, because I play more games now than ever. Video and music processing is also better supported on Windows – more software to choose from, VST support, etc. Seriously, why to use Wine just to pretend I’m not using Windows, right? Of course – anytime I have to work in command line in Windows, it’s real pain in the ass. When I changed my old computer at work for Lenovo T500 (with some troubles though) I decided to go for Windows XP only and in order to have some Linux I searched for some virtual machine solution. Friend of mine recommended VirtualBox and I was satisfied! It worked nicely, there was some trick with virtual folder name (try different name then the directory name if you have problem, or something like that ;-)), but after just a few hours I had nice Ubuntu machine for development tasks that required Unix tools, strong command line and all the rest you don’t have in Windows for free. Of course, performance was… virtual. 🙂 But if you want to try some virtual machine software, I strongly recommend this one. Documentation is OK, not too much to drown in and I found everything important there.

What I can’t understand is SVN Tortoise client. It’s absolutely great tool, looks nice, integrates to contextual menus for files, etc. So far so good. But when you want to check modified files to find out what is not added to repository (and should be) or when you want to commit, the view shows you either only managed files or all files recursively – there is no way that non-managed directory is just reported without the complete sub-tree. Compare this to default CLI functionality of the svn st command. Man I miss that so much! But not that much that I plan to setup my system PATH and run the all-time-loser “cmd” to use it.

There is one more thing I dislike on Windows. I alt-tab a lot, I’m of those erratic guys. 🙂 And sometimes I alt-shift-tab back too. Sometimes, when I depress these keys in a wrong order, Windows is strongly convinced I wanted to switch the keyboard layout (alt-shift). Trouble is, there is limited amount of options (keyboard shortcuts) to do so, this one is clearly the best. I should probably download some tool just do switch between keyboard layouts. Slovak keyboard is not good for coding really. Enough Windows rant for now.

I bought a new guitar! I have infamous Behringer’s V-Tone pack – because it was cheap and I was young(er) and uninformed when I bought it. The price was good, amplifier is good, guitar is… well, it’s some kind of Strat and it is possible to play on it. Now I know there are better options in the same price tag (not too many though), but what’s done is done. To have at least semi-decent guitar I bought French LAG AM100:


Black beauty!

It looks cool, it’s Superstrat, it is something different than the Strat, so I might actually also learn more about guitars per se. It was priced 356€ but in a massive sale action I acquired it for 156€, why not? I actually didn’t know what to buy as I also wanted some Ovation, but I decided to buy the best value from whatever I wanted. Funny sale strategy when you learn prices only on site. 🙂 Even before I bought it I had started to learn some scales and other stuff to enhance my play. Chords, rhythm, no problem, but I wanted to go on after a long stagnation – and with better guitar it’s even more fun!

Is the guitar good? More people claim it’s a good value even for the original price, so I guess I wasn’t wrong with my buy. Quality is OK, but I honestly can’t judge guitar when I can’t compare it. Maybe later I’ll write more on the guitar, trouble with LAG is that they have no official English site (as a manufacturer, not as reseller), forums are dominated by French language, no real documentation for newbies like me. So I have to rely on other forums, other people and learn the rest by myself. Of course, when I just play on it, there is no problem, but you know… when you have a new toy, you want to play with it even more. Tune it (later probably, and I don’t mean just strings now), understand it. However, enough for this time – I need to practice!