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day permlink Tuesday, 20 April 2004

permlink Thunderbird, Firefox

I've been remiss in not mentioning how impressed I am by Mozilla Firefox 0.8; I now use it 99% of the time on Windows and am exceedingly happy with it -- it handles standards nicely, is very fast, is easy to learn, blocks pop-ups, lets you easily resize the text on a page...

There are add-ons you can download for specialized behaviors -- like a sidebar RSS reader and an extension for Opera-like mouse gestures...

My favorite, unsung feature of Firefox: when typing in a field on a web form, Ctrl-Z does what it does in so many other apps: UNDO. Hallelujah! Firefox: good for blogging. (Apparently Opera does this too, but neither Safari nor IE does.)

Best of all, it's being improved steadily by a team of motivated programmers, free and cross-platform and in the open. The contrast with Microsoft Internet Explorer is stark. If you surf the web a lot on Windows, you owe it to yourself to try Firefox.

(I still use Safari primarily on OS X... not sure how long that will remain the case.)

The Mozilla mail/news client Thunderbird is coming along too, though I think for mail I'm going to move back (and up) to Eudora/Paid and skip trying Thunderbird for this round. Long story. (Headline: Apple Mail Too Sluggish with Massive Mail Repositories.)

In its (superficial) favor, today Thunderbird got its very, very nice new icons. permlink  

permlink Angel; Bramblett on Letterman tonight

Thanks to the invaluable Laurel's TV Picks, I found out that I'll have a chance to see a particular Letterman that I missed when it originally aired: tonight, Steve Winwood performs.

In Winwood's band: Randall Bramblett. No idea if he'll get a moment of his own to shine, but hey, I like Winwood well enough anyway, so it won't be a waste.

Also via TV Picks: lots of Angel-cancellation news/discussion here. Bottom line: it's (still) not coming back, but all the fuss makes it more likely there'll be another installment as a movie or some such. permlink  

permlink Music: Tony Banks' Seven, others

Any Genesis fans left out there? Keyboardist/prime-mover Tony Banks is releasing a classical disc today, performed by the London Philharmonic: Seven: A Suite for Orchestra (cheap, too: $6.98).

I've ordered it, and will report back once I've given it enough listens.

I have so many music-related posts backed up in my head; I'll cover a couple of them very superficially here to let some of the pressure off: permlink     2 comment(s)  
Being a professional of classical music, and an old-date Genesis fan at the same time, puts me in a difficult position in judging this work. Modern so-called "classical music" is in no way associated with what you can listen to in this issue. If I did not know it was by Mr. Banks I'd say it was by Rimsky-Korsakov, Prokofiev, Glinka, Waugham Williams, Michael Tippet or John Williams, from time to time. In a few words, it seems to have been written some one and a half century ago. No "classical" (if this term still means something) living musician would write music like that for an orchestra, except soundtrack authors. This does not mean it is worthless, it is just completely anachronistic. It would be embarrassing for any symphony orchestra to include this piece in a concert programme keeping Mr. Banks’ true birth date. The only way would be to write in the concert sheet: Seven. Suite for Orchestra by Anthony Banks (1823 - 1911) hoping that no one in the audience would know his real career (and the things he did in the past, which I love so much). This piece is quite well written, even if somehow bombastic, and often very well orchestrated, following the principles explained in Rimsky-Korsakov's orchestration manual. And if the orchestration has been realized by Tony Banks and not from another musician, than I have to say that it shows a good craft I did not suspected. Furthermore Mr. Banks is (as we all know) a very talented melody thinker and gifted harmonist, but it takes much more than this to write something that can really say something new in the perspective of 500 years of "classical" music, or at least outstand a bit from the ocean of music composed until now. But maybe this was not his goal, however. In fact I cant get rid of the suspicion that Banks just wanted to play with a new toy, being now 50 and, I imagine, somewhat bored by the last 15 years of Genesis music, which, we have to admit it, is much less demanding (and less satisfactory to the ears) than the former one. It would have been much more interesting if he had turned his efforts to writing something real new, including electronics AND classical instrument, voices, lyrics, noises, even remaining in the field of iper-tonal music, like he did: that is something that nobody has made yet and it needs a sensibility for pop and rock culture that often academic composers simply do not have. Only Zappa made something similar, as far as I know, and his works have been perfomed by Boulez and his Ensemble Intercontemporain during the most academic occasions. All in all I'll wait for Bank’s next work, hoping it will not be another historical novel.
      ...posted by Luca Ripanti on June 28, 2004 7:16 AM
I was really happy reading your comments. I think that you are absolutely right. I think tony had fallen into the trap where an artist thinks that he had to excell in big creations forgetting that his strong point lies in small areas, in his melodies and fantastic simple harmonies.As you said ,he is wonderful in keyboard sounds.a song like heathaze or one for the vine would never be better in a different orchestration(I exept genesis for 2 grand pianos.)Because of my admiration for tony,I have learned piano for 8 years );but I think that he is falling sometimes into sentimentality since his album still,something that rarely happens with genesis specially in the area from trespass till duke .that explains some weackness in his new classical seven like the first suite where he is unable to move swiftly as we know him.the best he did in my opinion are the third and the sixth suites,the ones unfortunately he composed 20 years ago.If only I could hear a song like the second one in the wicked lady , the one he plays on his keyboards,what a wonderful piece!the distribution though in seven is exellent but unfortunatly he was helped by the orchestrator,so I agree again with you.I only wish this album was done with genesis because the rythmic dynamic collins would have eleminated the sentimental feeling.I Know this is a paradox because most of collins songs are boring and sentimental and his drums in his solo works is so weack compared to his work with genesis.I think that with age tony lost some of his free spirit which resulted in sentimentality,and this is because he lost his vehicle genesis where all the members used to listen to his ideas first.there is no harmony in the world like
      ...posted by khaled shehab on November 12, 2004 8:13 AM
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