Monday, 28 June 2010

iPhone 4 and iOS4

I saw the new iPhone 4 today.

I had updated my iPhone 3G to iOS4 over the weekend, but I found it to be seriously lacking. Apple in their usual wisdom blocked the features of background wallpapers and multitasking when it has already been proven to work sufficiently on an iPhone 3G.

Just like the omission of video, it just smacks of a push to upgrade to the newer phone. The deal breaker was that my Mobilepoint wifi was seriously screwed up, frustratingly not allowing me to log in to use the service.

I rolled it back to 3.1.3 and it's working as it should.

After work I saw the new iPhone in Bic Camera. It looks nice and makes the old phone look a bit dated. I'll give it that. The squared off and thin design has a nice, minimalistic German look to it. I had a good play of some of the new features.

I like the dual cameras, and the video it takes looks good. "Skype"-style video calling could be fun on this. Web pages too like they've said, look very clear and sharp. They say the mail app has been improved, but to me that's a non-issue on the old phone.

One MAJOR issue that has come up is that of dropped calls for left-handed people (yes, that's me).

That, and Softbank's great idea of locking their phones (yes, even after the contract expires), leaves me hesitating. I'm happy with my 3G for now. If it's not broke, well, not yet, no need for a fix, is there?

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Tokyo Guitar Show 2010

I went to a fun party the previous night, so I didn't know how I'd be feeling to go to the Tokyo Guitar Show today. It was held in TFT Hall in Odaiba, a stone's throw from Big Sight. I missed out last year, so for something new I thought it'd be interesting to have a look.

As usual when I go to Odaiba I took the opportunity to walk across the Rainbow Bridge again. The weather has been horribly hot and humid. Today was no different but being overcast, it was (slightly) cooler than usual.

It cost 1,000 yen to get in. It was no where near as big as Yokohama's Music Fair, that I went to last, so I wasn't as impressed as that show. This was pretty much a buyer's market. They had quite a few interesting guitars on sale, and VERY expensive ones too. Lucky for me, my Greco arrived the same day, so I didn't have the insatiable desire to buy a guitar here.

In another room they had Fender, Boss and Roland music gear that you could discreetly try out with headphones. It was a bit of fun.

After looking at a few outlet shops once we left the show, we made our way back across the bridge. You can see Tokyo Tower lit up with blue lights in support of Japan's soccer team playing in the World Cup.

Go Japan!

Greco Mirage

I've been good for a long while, trying REALLY hard not to buy another guitar.

It doesn't help when I live close to Ochanomizu, which is a guitar junkie's paradise. I was THIS close to buying (another) Gibson, the Buckethead signature no less. It looks and sounds great. I love a nice ebony fingerboard. The arcade kill switches are fun, but just one button would have been better I think.

I was a little saddened when I saw a Greco Mirage I tried a week earlier had already been bought. The Mirage has the same shape as the Ibanez Iceman. Not a copy, but from what I've read Greco shared the design with Ibanez. Ibanez had worldwide rights, while the Greco version was only sold in Japan.

While the latter day Icemans, both Ibanez and Greco were made in Korea, the late 70's models were made in Japan. With that being the case, those models in great condition are pretty hard to come by.

Two words.. Yahoo Auctions.

Ok, I was a little drunk on my cans of Chu-hi but after work on Wednesday, I put my winning bid on my very own 70's Greco Mirage. I was feeling extremely guilty, but pretty elated as well.

The guy was only in Saitama, but as usual too scared to allow me to pickup (and save a bit of money) on the 1,470 yen delivery, and 420 yen bank transfer.

I was surprised that the courier delivered on a Sunday, so at about 10:00 I got the knock on the door. The case was only covered in bubble-wrap. With the unusual shape, I'm glad that the guitar came with the original form-fitting hard case too.

Opening the case for the first time I knew straight away that I made the right (albeit, drunk) decision to make that bid. The guitar looked immaculate. No belt buckle rash, and very few other imperfections to speak of. The serial number began with "D78", "D" is the alphabetical month, April, and "78", is made in 1978. Very, very sweet.

The vintage look of the guitar reminded me strongly of my old Gibson L6-S. Acoustically the guitar was very resonant and plugging her in, she sounds very nice too. The fingerboard feels comfortable to move around on. Unlike that Gibson this feel great.

Speaking of the Gibson, on Yahoo Auctions I saw this..

This is a very old Ibanez OD-850 Overdrive stompbox that was thrown into the sale when I bought my very first electric guitar, that Gibson L6-S over 25 years ago. Through my crappy Roland amp back then it sounded horribly woolly and fuzzy. Through the high school PA system playing a cover of Cheap Trick's cover of "Don't Be Cruel" it was rockin'.

When I got rid of that Roland amp, I threw in that pedal as well. The guy on this auction wants 55,000 yen! I wish I knew back then, like my long gone L6-S of what worth it would be now.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Here Come The Drums!

Ikebe Gakki is one of the biggest musical instrument chains in Tokyo.

This Sunday in Akihabara they had a HUGE sale with some very enticing discounts on a lot of music gear. I don't need any more guitars, but it doesn't hurt to look, does it?

In their advertising material I noticed they were selling an older model Yamaha electric kit for 98,000 yen. I don't consider myself a drummer, but for that price I think that's as cheap as they'd ever get.

We left later that I expected and arrived there about 10:45. The crowd was quite large, but they had a workable ticket system to stop a mad rush. For the Drum Station we were number 50, but the more popular Revole guitar store we were a much further 270.

By the time of the 11:00 opening, you could see quite a sizeable crowd forming. I waited in the drum line while she waited a LONG way around the corner and across the bridge in the guitar line.

It didn't seem to take that long to make it into the drum store. I asked one of the staff about the kit, and he said it was already sold. I was a little disappointed, but he soon came back to me to say that it was actually still available.

The drums were an instore demo so I could easily see a little bit of wear on the pads, but it didn't look too bad at all. My main concern was how big and heavy it was, and I had to consider the logistics of A) being able to set it up in the apartment and B) shipping it back to Australia.

I had to make an after hours withdrawal at the bank, but in no time it was mine. Luckily they offered free delivery to the apartment.

The guitar line took about 3 hours to get in. Since we had a number to get back in line, we decided to go to Maccas for some free coffee to escape the heat, and relax for a long while.

Not surprisingly by the time we got inside all the good stuff had been snapped up. There was a 9,800 yen Squier "Hello Kitty" guitar still up for grabs, and more interestingly a Fender Am Deluxe Strat for 69,800 yen, but neither made me want them. I think I secretly didn't want to find myself buying yet another guitar.

The drums arrived on the Thursday, about the usual 11am. Lucky for me it was my day off, so I had all day to be at home to sign for it.

I almost died when I saw the boxes. Not one, not two, but three of them. The largest was SO big. They were all quite heavy too. All together they were about 50kg. "Holy Shipping expense Batman!"

I found a tight corner where I managed to set up just the kick, snare and hi-hat to test some sounds out. Unfortunately chopsticks were my only drumsticks at that time, but they did the job.

I dread the time when I have to pack and cart this to the Post Office. For the time being I'm going to have a bit of rhythm fun.