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6
Nov

Finally I can leave Verizon Behind

In a little bit more than one week from now I will receive my iPhone 6 with the no-contract option and will initially use T-Mobile as carrier. Hopefully that works out but if not I still have the option to switch but for sure I will not go with Verizon. After more than 3 years being a Verizon customer I can’t wait to ditch them. This is not only a story about bad customer service but also a story why I would never buy an Android phone because Apple is to a certain degree limiting the power of the carriers. Read more »

23
Jun

Adobe AEM (CQ) 5.6.1: Cutting Down on Dispatcher Flush Agents

Having multiple domains / virtual hosts on an Adobe AEM Dispatcher with an AEM Publish instance would require a multitude of Dispatcher Flush agents but you can cut them down to one per Dispatcher / Apache Server. This can be done but there is a pitfall to be handled. Read more »

11
Jun

Adobe AEM 5.6.1: Changes to the Impersonation

In the past few days I had to investigate on how to manage impersonation and it turns out that behind the scenes a lot has changed since 5.5 and I am not 100% sure what and why. Here is a rundown on the changes I experienced and on how to manage the impersonation programmatically using CURL. Read more »

15
May

IntelliJ, License and Frustration

As a Java power developer I have two Macs, a MacBook Air and a Mac Pro, side by side and develop on the concurrently. Dealing with Adobe AEM (formerly known as Day CQ) I need more horse power than a MacBook Air can provide but I always place the client’s VCS onto the Laptop (Air) in order to be able to retrieve or upload changes on the go.

Now Subversion is not easy to use and IntelliJ makes it much easier to deal with changes that the command line or any other free app. I can look at locally deleted files, unversioned files and incoming changes and so I need to have IntelliJ running on the Air. For the regular development I switch over to my Mac Pro so that I handle deployments or test changes on a scrap AEM instance. For that the 8-core CPU, 16GB Mem and 500GB SSD is very andy and development on it is a breeze.

IntelliJ and License

Since IntelliJ 6 I am a client of JetBrains and bought every single version even after the also provided a Community Version because I like the additional features. Since quite some time when I open IntelliJ on the other Mac IntelliJ come up with a dialog box complaining that I only have a single seat license and should either re-activate or shutdown IntelliJ. So, for now I just ignored that dialog box, did my thing on the other Mac and then shut IntelliJ on the other Mac down, re-activated it and kept on developing. But then when I ran into an issue with Subversion and had to update the code I had to go back and test it and so this whole procedure became annoying and frustrating.

I am one person, have two hands and cannot develop on two computers at the same time. So I think I use IntelliJ within its limits and I don’t see any reason why I should have to buy another license because of this screwed up behavior of IntelliJ.

Little Snitch to the Rescue

As of lately I upgraded Little Snitch to version 3.3 and so I wanted to see what IntelliJ does in order to figure out if there is a license violation. I am not giving away on how that IntelliJ does it or how to use Little Snitch to fix it because people should pay for their software but IntelliJ is annoying the honest customers and crooks can get around it fairly easily. It took me about 20 minutes to figure it out and to fix it. In the past I was always annoyed when I saw users in a big, profitable companies using the evaluation version as if they could not afford it. Since I started my own company I always bought my software if it wasn’t for free and I refuse to use Eclipse because I don’t have the time and thus the money to waste.

Proposal for a Fix

Most likely I am not the majority of IntelliJ users and so I don’t have much faith that JetBrains would consider my proposal but I don’t want to end this post without at least show an idea on how to fix it.

The basic problem is that IntelliJ should look for concurrent usage and not concurrent launch or processes. Developers should be allowed to have multiple IntelliJ instances up and running if they only use one at the time. IntelliJ takes quite some time to fire up and so keep the instances up and running would be a great feature.

Therefore instead of sending out a message to other IntelliJ instances and then complain if such a message is received IntelliJ should connect the two instances and then check from time to time if they are used at the same time. But if you do so please give some slack because not every concurrent use is a criminal act.

Cheers – Andy Schaefer

30
Apr

Rocksmith 2014: Bass and Shortcomings

Two weeks ago I finally could pick up my shinny red Ibanez Bass and started to play on Rocksmith with it. Having played the Guitar for over half a year rally paid off and many of the songs I could play quit well from the get go. I went through many of the lessons and played all the song at least once. With one or two exception I mastered all of the songs over 50% and that all within 7 days. So far so good. Now if that sounds too good to be true then you are right. Unfortunately for the Bass RS has a big shortcoming. It does not mark a note played too many as mistake and so if you pick the strings fast enough then you will hit all the right notes if they are on the same string. This is not very helpful to learn rhythm patterns.

Afterwards I went back to the Guitar which suddenly felt small and short. Here I finally have to conquer chords which I for most part tried to avoid because my hand tenses up and my hand and arm start to hurt. Now applying less pressure is easier said then done and after a while I am back to my old habits. With that in mind I started to play the parts with chords slower so that I can focus on the pressure and try to apply as little as possible. Especially on chord changes to barre chords I tend to apply way too much pressure to avoid half-pressed or mute strings. Guess practice makes perfect and for me it means even more practice.

RS has another shortcoming because it does not give good hints on why chords, bends or slides are not good. For example in Billy Idol’s White Wedding there are two chords played back and forth and I failed to play them right. Eventually I figured out that one chords has to be kept short (lifting my fingers are playing it) and to play the other chord slightly faster. Later there are two chords that are easy to be done because there is enough time to prepare aka breaks in between but most of the time it does not take it. Even though this is frustrating at the end I have to feel good which also applies when RS thinks I was perfect but I know I was

1
Apr

A Half a Year with Rocksmith

A Half a Year with Rocksmith

It is now 6 month since I bought Rocksmith for the XBox 360 and for most parts I played at least 1 hour per day. Without any doubts I am making progress and playing along a song is for most parts an enjoyable past time. In addition when I am under pressure in a song I am sometimes surprised that I find notes quickly or slide over the fretboard quite accurately. There are already a few song that I can play lead over 90% mastery on full speed and new songs like the Matchbox 20 pack was quite easy to get the basics down. That said I am now struggling to master any songs except Blitzkrieg Pop. Either there a chord progressions that make me trip off or fast solos that are difficult to conquer. For example there is a very short part in Self Trap from Playground Kings that elude me now for 3 months to master. So far the most effective way to master them is to play the slowly (70 or 80%) until I can play it with closed eyes. Then I increase the speed and repeat the procedure. When I feel under pressure or overwhelmed then I am too fast. Funny thing though is that when I finally get the hang of it the riff seems rather mundane and slow.. I guess this is mostly due to the fact that I now can relax and enjoy playing it.

Lately I discovered on how to cheat Rocksmith and even though I don’t do it regularly when it bugs me with a song I have no inclination to learn I might use it to get pass that mission. I am not sure if that is really cheating of it that was the intention from the creator. At the end I am interested in learning the guitar and not to accomplish as many missions as possible.

Some of the songs have a strong and powerful bass sound and so I decided to buy an Ibanez SR250 bass and learn the bass as well.

Currently I am wondering where I will be in another 6 months. It would be great if I could play the most popular chords quick and effortless, find the fret on the fretboard blindly and that I could do bends easier, quicker and with less effort. Maybe mastering 15 more songs (2 now) would be great as well. Finally playing along a song outside of Rocksmith would be really an accomplishment especially if I could play with my kids.

Looking back it was a fun half a year with some great accomplishments and I am looking forward to the next 6 months.

  • Andy
2
Dec

Rocksmith 2014: Six Weeks In

Slowly but surely I get the hang of Rocksmith 2014 (RS) making it easier to work around issues but also get good enough so that I can play parts of a song play at full speed and difficulty and even managed to play a song (The Kinks: You got a Hold on Me) at Master level where the notes are not displayed but still there are a few cues where I am within a song.

That said I did not play any lessons for the past 3 weeks because with issues by the guitar detector. Currently I am away for six days – still took my accoustic guitar with me to keep up with playing and to further strengthen my fingers. Even though my fingers are still not fast and precise enough for many difficult cord changes like to a Bm or doing the full F chord I am slowly getting better and sometimes I am surprised that some chords work without looking.

After working many hours in the Session Mode where one can jam alongside a virtal band I am now back learning songs. Before the brake I was working on Queen’s We are the Champions which was simple but for the full complexity it suddenly becomes very diffiult. Many additional notes requiring quick finger changes on the left as well as right hand side are tricky and making it very difficult to keep up especially when I play the entire song.

For most parts RS works well and is fun to use but some parts of the playing a song is not very user friendly and can limit the fun or sometimes be just frustrating. I do understand that detecting what notes especially when played in a chord or special techniques like a pull off is hard to do but at least the program should mitigate this. I would suggest the following enhancements to Riff Repeater but also to the Lessons and Song Atack:

  • Add a fly-over over the song so that the player can move forward and backward on its own pace and inspect difficult parts and seqences
  • Add further information about the previous mistakes made into the fly-over to see if the note was played late, early, to low or high, wrong string, wrong chord etc. Make the mistakes visually more visible as well.
  • Use the additional buttons on a Joystick like the XBox to provide shortcuts into the Riff Repeater (increase / descrease speed and difficulty, toggle level-up and auto-continue). Preferably let the player select the button layout.
  • Provide interactive tutorials on the various aspects of the game. For a multimedia game the old-style textbook tutorial are out-dated and hard to understand.
  • Remember previous settings in the Riff Repeater so that I don’t have to set them every time when I go back to learning that song.

I am looking forward to go back playing with RS again and hope that some of the things will be improved over time. As soon as I am progressed enough to be able to play the songs I like I will go ahead and buy additional songs or even packages. For example there is an Albert King song that peeked my interest. I also want to play around with the Rythm Guitar mode as soon as I am done with my 60 days challange (I think I am around 40 days).

Cheers – Andy

28
Nov

Rocksmith 2014: 3 Weeks Review

When I first saw Rocksmith 2014 (RS) I was intrigued but also feared that this is more hype and that it would not deliver. Now after 3 Weeks I can say that it was worth its money and that for the most part it delivers. There are a few things that do not work well and some of them can be very frustrating but at the end of the day I don’t care what a computer program says about my progress but what I feel I did accomplish and I feel I accomplished a lot.

Before RS I could barely play some chord, played 5th fret pentatonic scale and some 12-bar blues. I had lessons for roughly a year about 20 years back and tried to learn playing the guitar with some books but it never could keep myself disciplined enough to play everyday for a given period. Since I started with RS 3 weeks ago I played everyday at least 1 hour or more on various things learning songs, techniques, jamming, composing a guitar sound, scales etc. Slowly but surely I can move my hand blind on the fret board and pick the correct string a the correct time. Sure I make a ton of mistakes and I am still have a hard time to trust my feeling to know where my hands are meaning I will look down more times than I should. Compared to when I started I am much more fluent, confident and use less force in my hand playing the guitar.

Currently I am working on the old Police song “Every Breath you Take” and playing it at 100% difficulty and 70% speed is my limit. My left hand tiers out way too fast and I am tick off by a problem way too easy but I start to be able to recover from it. RS has the ability to reduce the difficulty by reducing the number of notes or the difficulty of the chords but sometimes that is can be a burden in the long run because the flow of the fingers can be easily disrupted by additional nodes, chords, bends, slides etc. That said it helps to get the feeling of accomplishment and for the overall rhythm of the song.

One of my missions was to clear a song on medium difficulty with few mistakes. This is called score attack and it focuses less on the accuracy but rather on the consistency of the playing. What I mean is that it only scores a “strike” when many notes / chords are played wrong in a row and after 3 strikes the player failed the score attack. For example the song Blitzkrieg Pop by the Ramons have many fast power cords but few variations. So even if one missing a chord here or there one will pass.

Looking back I was skeptical about it but I thought I cannot waste more than a few bucks and some hours but now I am hooked onto Rocksmith and there wasn’t a single day in the past where I did not exercise an hour or more and it does show. I could play Blitzkrieg Pop (not a difficult song by any means) in a few tries up to 80% difficulty. Also I remember chords like A5, E5, C5, Am and so on and I have not much difficulty playing scales like the Pentatonic Minor, Aelion etc over the fretboard so that I now can start jamming more freely. And I also completed 110 missions about songs, lessons, jamming, games and setting up a tone.

The only thing that is sometimes frustrating is the sometimes unreliable guitar detector which decides if a note / chord was played correct or not. Sometimes it helps to re-calibrate it or to increase the volum on the guitar but sometimes it does not work right. This is especially frustrating in the lessons because there one is stuck trying to get passed a little exercise. Finally there are a few things that I would love to be improved. First I would like for RS to tell me more precisely what was played wrong and why and secondly I would like to review the song and my mistakes more easily and quickly like in a fly-over. Also I would like that the Riff Repeater would remember what I did the last time and that I take advantage of the additional buttons on the joystick. For example use buttons to increase / decrease speed, difficulty, switch on and off the acceleration and level-up. This would increase the user experience because when I have the guitar on I want to play and not fumble around with a joystick.

Rocksmith is a great and fun way to learn to play the guitar. More fun that any book will provide and more feedback than any DVD. Even the silly games are useful and can and will improve a player’s skill. The songs are great and with enough energy and stamina anyone can master them. Even for players with less time available than me to exercise can benefit as long as they do it consistently. I only took the lead guitar mode in Rocksmith and so I cannot talk about the rhythm or bass mode but I don’t think these are much different. Still for any players jamming with a band the Session Mode will improve their improvisational skills a lot. There are a ton of different instruments, pre-set Bands to choose from and afterwards one can change the scale, root and much more to get the right session. When I took guitar lessons 20 years back I used a little box that would play a very basic blues band but ran around $200. With RS I have blues, funk, pop, metal, rock etc bands which can play nearly every scale, complexity and speed. The session mode would have been enough to make RS worthwhile but with the songs, games and lessons it is a steal.

  • Andy
29
Oct

Mac, Lion and the Lost Installer

Imagine you have an older Mac (like my Mac Book Pro 15” from 2005), you have Lion installed (last OS that it takes) and then you want to give this one to someone else.
Now the first thing that you for sure want to do is to erase the entire content of your hard disk and then re-install Lion from scratch to be sure that the new owner does not have access to your data.
If you have a Lion Installer Thumb Drive you can now reboot your Mac while holding the Option key. Then you select the ER Built (USB Icon) drive.
After the Installer comes up you can go to the Tools menu section, select the Disk Utility and format your boot drive. After this is done restart, hold the Option key and select again the Installer Thumb Drive.

Problem

If you were unlucky like I was then you will see a dialog that says:

There was a problem installing Mac OS X. Try reinstalling

What the ….?

First I thought the thumb drive is bad, then I doubled checked that both the Thumb Drive and the Mac’s boot drive are OK. Finally, just before giving up, I googled the problem and found an Apple Discussion that discussed the problem and had a solution.

Solution

It turns out that I had to reset the PRAM in order to be able to Install Lion again. As much as I love the ease of use of OS X sometimes it comes with a huge price tag. I would never have thought of this and I was spending a considerable amount of time to try to resolve it before I searched the Internet. It would have been nice if the Mac could give a hint of what is the problem and not just displays this somewhat useless Dialog. Especially considering that this is rare but still possible scenario for a regular Mac user.

At least I got passed that issue and could installed Lion again.

Cheers – Andy

22
Jul

CQ 5.5 and Link Rewriter Failures

In CQ 5.5 one can rewrite links by extending a RequestRewriter interface inside an OSGi service. This way links can be dynamically adjusted to external views or can be adjusted to internal conditions. In my current project we use this extensively and for most parts it works fine. That said for a few pages that did not work at all exposing internal structures to the client. It took me a while to discover the cause but fixing as quite simple. Read more »