The Best Guitar Stands

Until I was about fifteen or sixteen, it seems like the only kind of guitar stand I ever saw looked like this:

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Generic, and prone to falling over when bumped. These are no good. A trip to LA with my dad when I was in high school was the first time I ever saw an A-frame stand, that are now even more ubiquitous.

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So, I’ve been using some variation of that for about fifteen years. This type is better because the guitar leans back slightly and the weight of the stand is distributed more evenly on the base, giving it a lower center of gravity. A lot of them tend to be kind of heavy, however, and they don’t fold up as nicely for carrying as you imagine they do.

After a show recently where I had to carry one of these along with some other gear, I decided to try something a little different. I purchased a couple of these Hercules stands for home:

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What’s nice about these stands is that they fold up surprisingly small (Hercules also sells a carrying bag for them), are very stable and have these cool little grippers that fold in over the head stock when you’ve set the guitar on the stand:

IMG 2024

They’re a little more expensive ($40-50), but not much. I also bought one of their small floor stands which are like the regular heavy A-stands, but are much more light weight, at least as stable, and fold up extremely small:

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Spending $40 or $50 on a guitar stand seems like a lot of money. But when you consider that your guitars probably cost at least several hundred or thousands of dollars, it’s silly not to spend an extra $20 or $30 for a better stand.

The Revival of the Manual Typewriter

I enjoyed this article on Medium about one mans infatuation with manual typewriters.

Using a typewriter has challenged me to think, and write, in an entirely new way. Over time, I’ve learned that the defining trait of a typewriter lies in its sole use as a writing tool and that its most valuable qualities are what it lacks.

Since I grew up in the nineties I’ve never had to use a typewriter as a serious tool. As long as I ever had to turn in a type written report, it was done on a computer. Logically, a typewriter seems antiquated, inefficient, and the idea of only having one copy of something is terrifying.

Something is kind of indefinably cool about them though that makes me maybe want to give it a shot. I sort of feel the same way about record players. There’s got to be a German word for nostalgia over something you never really experienced first hand.

The Kindle Is Flawed But Worth It

A couple of weeks ago I bought a Kindle Paperwhite. I like it a lot. The backlight isn’t so intense I can’t read in bed without keeping myself up all night, it doesn’t get uncomfortable to hold, and it doesn’t give me the option to get distracted and open Twitter.

The typography does indeed suck. None of the typefaces look all great at the size I want to read them at. I keep flipping between Baskerville and Caecilia. I’m gravitating more towards Caecilia because it looks decent at smaller sizes on the lower resolution screen (probably Amazon chose it originally). Anyway, it’s not that bad — I can live with it.

GoodReads integration is cool, although I have no idea why it’s so manual. The Kindle shows me what percentage of the book I’ve read on every page, but for some reason, even after adding the book to GoodReads from the Kindle (why can’t it have an option to sync my books automatically?), I have to go to the GoodReads website to update how far into the book I am there (which I won’t ever do).

This is actually not the first Kindle I’ve owned. I had a second generation Kindle in 2009 (which I stopped using at some point). It’s quite an upgrade in a bunch of ways, although you can tell that the main focus has been making the Kindle cheaper and that making the reading experience better was secondary. The screen is better, but not iPhone 3GS to iPhone 4 better. Not refreshing between every page flip is nice, although I don’t remember that bothering me too much.

One thing that really stinks and hasn’t changed at all is that reading books which aren’t just prose is awful. I’m currently reading The Practice of Programming, and just finished a book called The Next America. The Practice of Programming has lots of code samples, which get formatted badly between pages. The Next America also had a lot of problems. There were a lot of charts in it which rendered at a size I think would be illegible for a lot of people. Still, I’m sick of having to move books around from place to place and the space they take up, so it’s worth it. It’s just surprising that in 5 years they couldn’t make this better.

I guess what I really think is that the Kindle is flawed in a lot of ways, but that it’s the positives — e-ink screen, having every book with me always, not having to own and move a bunch of large heavy books — are so appealing that for less than $200, it’s worth it to own one.

New Tracks to Check Out

I posted a couple of new tracks I’ve been working on that you can check out on my band site if you’re into that sort of thing. I sort of had the realization that at this point, my issue isn’t that too many people might hear my music, and that instead of sharing what I’m working on privately, I should post everything — demo versions, works in progress, etc — for free and see how people react.

Picking Up My Dolphin Yesterday

I’m now the proud owner of a 1988 Dolphin motorhome. I had to fly to Bend, Oregon, and then drive four hours back through central Oregon and over Mount Hood (where it was snowing). Anyway, it was a pretty crazy trip, and I took some photos.

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Beta Test My Album

Over the past while I’ve been working with a stronger dedication to finish something I’ve had in mind for a long time: record and release an album of original music. Since I was fifteen I’ve been writing songs, during and after high school I had a band, and I’ve performed solo with varying frequency since then. Recording and releasing music is part of a much larger goal to alongside making apps (which I love and would never stop doing), to make music a large and essential part of what I do. I also decided to give it a name; I’m calling the project Fisherman’s Porch.

The reason I’m posting this now is that a couple of weeks ago I started thinking, “what if I beta tested my album the same way I do apps?” The idea is to put the music I’m working on in front of a group of people and see which songs and see how people react. The music is my own and personal, so I’m not saying I want to design an album by committee (that sounds like a way to make really crappy music), but maybe putting something out there now to a group of interested folks and seeing how people react to everything would be useful.

If you like folky, indie, acoustic music, maybe you can help. If you like musicians along the lines of Death Cab for Cutie, The Avett Brothers, Rock Votolato, David Bazan, etc, this might be something you’d enjoy. You can check out this short video of me performing to get a fairly good idea.

Technically the way I plan on doing this is to set up a Glassboard group and put up links to new tracks as I record them. They could be anything from a fairly produced album-ready version of a song, to live tracks, to something I recorded live into my iPhone.

I’m going to be honest and say that while I’m not looking to just be told me how great I am, I want this to be a positive experience that encourages me to finish the album, I’m really not looking for any negativity or to be told that I suck. If that’s how you feel, that’s fine, but please just keep it to yourself.

So if you’d like to be hear what I’m working on, it’s really easy. All you have to do is use this link to join the Glassboard and check out the tracks that I’m going to start posting. Really excited to see how this turns out.

Dancing With weakSelf

There was a really good post on the Black Pixel blog by Rich Wardwell about the implications of capturing self in Objective-C blocks which Brent Simmon’s posted a response to on his blog. If you’re lost, I’m talking about doing this sort of thing to avoid retain cycles:

__weak MyClass *weakSelf = self;
self.someObject.blockProperty = ^{
    weakSelf.someProperty = something;
};

Brent’s thoughts/rules for blocks partially mimic my own1. I never use -[NSNotificationCenter addObserverForName:​queue:​usingBlock:]; I just don’t see the benefit. Unlike Brent, it’s not uncommon for me to copy a block and assign it to a property, but usually if I start having more than one or two somethingHandler blocks, creating a delegate protocol is a better fit most of the time (this code also tends to be easier to debug). I also agree that thinking about if self really needs to be used in the block at all is a good practice (Rich also mentions this).

I can’t say why exactly, but whenever I have to the whole weakSelf thing, it feels like I’m doing something wrong — it seems like kind of a code smell. That’s not to say I never do it (I do it all the time), but my general feeling is that if I need to, I should probably think about if I’m approaching this from the right angle.


  1. One difference. At some point recently I realized I’d memorized the crazy block syntax: BOOL(^someBlock)(NSString *string). I’m not too proud of this, since I’m pretty sure it points to some kind of underlying psychological disorder 

January 26th Video of Me Performing Music

I have a new music thing I’m trying to get started called Fisherman’s Porch. Here’s a video of me performing some songs a couple of weeks ago at an open mic in Portland.