Speaking at MWLUG 2016!

I’m pleased to say I’ll be speaking at MWLUG this year in Austin.  This will be my second time speaking at MWLUG and my first time ever to Austin.  I’m looking forward to both!  It’s also my first time speaking with Shean McManus! We will be presenting:

Using Dashboards to Transform Application Data Visualization

When you’re driving a car, you need a lot of data quickly. How fast are you going? Are there any problems you need to address? Where do you get that data at a glance?  Your dashboard, of course. All the info you need at your finger tips, easily understood.

Your applications have a lot of data and important information, but can your users get to it quickly? Can they easily spot issues or know what they need to do right now?  They can if you use dashboards. Modern business applications commonly make use of dashboards to provide easy access to key information.  Shean and Kathy will take you for a test drive through some XPage application dashboards.  They will demonstrate how to move away from email-driven tasks and buried information to show you how you can easily visualize your critical business data.

Come see how an application can provide a visually striking, functional, and easy to use Data Visualization for common workflow actions, important info, charts, and key metrics.  Put your users in the driver’s seat!

Come and watch me attempt to correctly say our session title!  Come and learn some stuff about dashboards!  Come and just say hi!  (Wow, I am enthusiastic for a Monday morning!)

Breaking Strings

So yeah, that new bass I bought.  As I said, I went with a cheap one from Amazon.  As I also said, I have a somewhat musical background.  I opened the box, it was already strung, I just needed to tune it and play.  Luckily, a) there are a billion videos/sound clips out there that come with the notes to tune a guitar and b) I knew how to tune a guitar from when I was a kid.  So I tuned it and I played.  (Interesting side note, I found that I could tune it better if I sang the note and played the string rather than just listening to the note and comparing it to the string.  Weird, huh?)

However, something sounded a bit off and being the techie that I am, I thought it would be cool to get one of those tuning apps that uses the mic to hear what you’re playing and tell you (with SCIENCE!) whether it needed to be higher or lower.  Except, something was off.  It kept saying it was too low, so I kept tuning the string higher, higher, high- TWANG.  String broke.  Well, crap.  Looking on the bright side, I certainly felt more badass having broken my first string.

Back to Amazon I went and noticed strings varied from about $18 to $38.  Again, I had to wonder if more expensive was better or not?  But I also realized on my cheap bass, I probably had the cheapest and worst strings ever and probably anything I ordered would be an improvement.  I perused reviews and decided on these.  Sadly, I had to wait two whole days (but once again avoided interacting with humans!).  The string arrived and I had another first, re-stringing a bass guitar.  Pretty simple thing to do, but I can totally see how one of those windy tool things would be helpful.  Retuned it and HOLY CRAP WHAT A DIFFERENCE.  I can’t even imagine what those $38 strings must be like, the bass will probably make me dinner or something.  But for now, these $18 strings seem soooooo great over the cheapies that came with the bass.

I’ve now broken a string, re-stringed a guitar, and looked down upon crappy strings.  I think I’m well on my way to rock star status.

Finding a Book

As I said in my previous posts, I’ve decided to learn to play the bass.  With my background, I want to learn it “right”.  Meaning I want to actually learn how to play the bass, not just learn songs.  While it seems everyone learns everything these days by watching some Youtube videos, I can’t learn from videos.  My brain just works better when I read.  Also, I really want to learn to play bass, not just learn some songs.  I want to learn the notes and proper fingering and all the things it seems you don’t get in a Youtube video.  So I needed a book.  Once again, I turned to Amazon.  I ordered the Hal Leonard Bass Method “Complete Edition”, which is books 1, 2, and 3.  It’s a spiral bound book, which is a small detail, but lays open nicely while trying to read it and play the bass.

It’s exactly what I wanted.  It’s got all the basics, starting you out with open string notes, and then adding a few notes at a time.  Short “songs” to practice the notes you just learned.  It may be a bit boring, but I’m actually learning the notes and proper fingering.

Amusingly, the book came with CDs.  It struck me that I have no place to play them, other than my car.

In order to maintain my initial excitement, however, I did look up “easy bass guitar songs” and have learned the main riffs to Seven Nation Army* and Smoke on the Water.  Incidentally, learning a song from tabs goes against my every instinct in “properly” learning an instrument, but I can see how it’s tempting since it’s so fast to learn.

* While playing the “interim” bit between the  endlessly repetitive, but ever so catchy bit of Seven Nation Army, my 9-year-old son asked if I was playing Hot Cross Buns.  Sigh.  Everyone’s a critic.

Running Notes of a Different Kind – Part 3

As is my usual way, I went about selecting a bass all the wrong way.  (Spoiler alert: it turns out ok).

I’m sure anyone who actually plays bass (and all of the internet) will tell you to go to a reputable music store, preferably a non-chain store.  Well that’s all well and good, but I don’t really like people or interacting with them and there’s this awesome thing called Amazon which means with the click of a button I could have a bass delivered to my house within two days. Oh yeah, and it would be LEFT-HANDED. So I think you know what I chose.

The next decision was which one?  Of course, I could go cheap because I’m a beginner and who knows I could drop this thing like a bad habit in a couple of weeks, why spend a ton of money?  On the other hand, people will tell you to spend some money on a good instrument because it will be easier to learn to play.  Again, I probably made the decision that people will tell you not to do, I bought a cheap one.  Now it was on Amazon, so I made sure it was a well-rated bass, but I didn’t spend a lot.  I’m not some afficionado with a critical ear to how it will sound.  If I stick with it, maybe someday I can buy a more expensive instrument.  For now, I went with this.

It arrived two days later, much to my delight.  Now I just gotta learn how to play this thing…

Running Notes of a Different Kind – Part 2

Right, so we last left you on a heck of a cliffhanger, just how did she decide on the bass?

Well, I didn’t right away.  I liked the flute, but it’s REALLY hard to sing along when you play.  And since I like to sing, I kind of wanted to learn something I could sing with.  Ideally, I’d learn to play the piano.  I found a great app to help me learn piano, SimplyPiano.   It was featured in a Lifehacker article.  I like the app, with a mix of traditional songs and simplified pop songs.  It takes me back to basics and is somewhat “gamified” to keep me interested.  But, the piano is in the basement.  The basement isn’t heated.  Therefore it’s really hard to get motivated to go downstairs when it’s super cold.  Additionally, my kids like to sleep in the room where the piano is on weekends, so that was cutting into my practice time.  Plus, I just find piano really f-ing hard.  My brain doesn’t like to do two completely different things with my right and left hands, especially in different rhythms.

Guitar would be great.  But in my one act of girlishness, I just refuse to cut my fingernails.  Plus the guitar we have is right-handed and I’m left-handed.

So.  I’ve always thought bass players had a certain coolness about them.  And chick bass players?  FORGET ABOUT IT, they’re the coolest.  And you know, as a 42-year-old suburban mother of two, I’m just oozing with cool.  (Maybe I’ll start a band and name it “mom jeans”).  A couple of weekends ago I saw a band play and we were joking about band members and their personalities and anyway, I just wanted to play bass.  So that’s how I decided I wanted to play bass.  Very scientific reasoning, eh?

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