Wednesday, July 31, 2013

I was so happy

I was so happy I was so happy
seeing you again
seeing you again
that the image
now haunts my brain
like a watermark
or the acidic stain
left by an accidental spill
of the choicest wine.

In time
the image
may fade
but I wouldn't count on it;
your life
your life
is in that image
and everything that you were
or ever will be
to me
is there
for me to see
on the other side of my eyelids
whenever I close my eyes.

c Kenneth Rowley 2013

Saturday, July 27, 2013

How to disable Windows 8 'Secure Boot' etc and install Ubuntu, Mint or Peppermint

You've bought a laptop that came with Windows 8 pre-installed on it and now you're tearing your hair out? There's hope (though maybe not so much with the hair replacement). Although Windows 8 ships with a 'Secure Boot' setup that suggests you can't install anything else on the machine (not even go back to Windows 7 or good ol' XP heehe) it's actually quite easy to disable this and install whatever you like. All you need to do is turn the computer off and restart it with the F2 key held down. This will active the BIOS, where you can switch off the 'Secure Boot' and switch to Legacy OS, which means you can use your installers CDs just like you used to, or gparted or whatever. It took me just a few minutes...

I'm posting this from a Lenovo G580 running Linux Mint 14 (Maya). No problems.

Friday, July 26, 2013

for the record

Just for the record, currently I use a MacBook, an iPad, an Android phone (Samsung S2), and a cheap box that came pre-installed with Windows Vista but  now has Linux Mint 14, Peppermint 4, and Ubuntu 14 installed on it (no Windows).

Why Windows is in trouble...

Many commentators think Windows is in trouble because Windows 8 is proving so unpopular that some companies are making money by uninstalling 8 and replacing it with 7. Others point to the fact that Microsoft's Secure Boot option (sic) is really a way to try and stop users dual-booting their machines by installing linux, for example, on a new partition. Still others claim that desktop machines are already obsolete and Windows has very little mobile presence.

But the real reason that Windows is in trouble is that OS X and Android are close cousins.

Consider, for example, a mobile programmer. Let's say he writes his new app in python, a flexible language for such apps. He writes it first for iPhone and iPad; which means it will run on a UNIX core. If he then wants to release an Android version, it's not that difficult (I'm not saying it's easy) because Android is a LINUX flavour, and linux derives from unix. But if somebody then asks him for a Windows version...

This is the main reason why Apple and Google are the two giants fighting for mobile dominance at the moment.

Apple struggled prior to OS X, but the switch to a UNIX core helped reverse its fortunes. And Windows 8 boxes-- such as the Lenovo Thinkpads--are ideal platforms for running linux.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

I See Hawks in LA: 'Mystery Drug' Review

I See Hawks In LA Mystery Drug:

I first came across I See Hawks when they released their second album, years ago, but because I live in Swaziland, all I could get hold of were a few songs on the band's website including I See Hawks In LA and Humboldt. I thought they were a neo-Flying Burrito Brothers and told them so. More recently I was in London and found a copy of last year's New Kind of Lonely. I'll be honest; I'm a fan. But, like the Burritos, they're still likely to appeal more to musicians than the general public. (I bought two copies of the Burrito's Gilded Palace of Sin when it was first released and gave one to my brother. He appreciated the gesture but was bemused by the music.) But how can I not like a band who releases songs with lyrics like these:

“Stop driving like an asshole/ You know who you are/ Did you think when you cut me off it would help you go farther? / You’re an accident waiting to happen, a flipped over SUV/ On the 405, at six o’clock, your carcass on TV…. The angels will sing/ sha-la-la, sha-la-la/ he drove like an asshole"?

That's on Mystery Drug. For many bands it might be seen as a cheap throwaway, but it's typical of the band's leftfield approach. The Hawks are listed as Alt. Country, or hippie country and it's rare for a reviewer not to mention the Burritos, but they have this whole other dimension that I call Zen Country, an off-the-wall insight or irreverent comment that lingers long after you've heard it. 

Already I love this album. And when some other driver cuts me off...

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The future of pop music

'Amo Noite e Dia' by Oba Oba Samba House

The other day I was thinking of three album titles that are likely not to appear on iTunes anytime soon: 'Chris Brown sings Rihanna', 'Jay-Z: the Reggae Album', and 'Niki Minaj: Worship Live at the Pentecostal Worship Center, Los Angeles', and wondering why this is so. Music is so niche-nuanced these days; mention the name of an artist and you already know what you're getting.

It wasn't always this way. There was a time when pop music was genuinely popular; that is, you didn't have 'hip-hop' charts, 'urban', 'smooth jazz', 'country', 'electro', 'kwaito', and a zillion other categories. No, there was a time when 'pop' embraced everything. The Beatles, for example, wrote reggae songs, Ray Charles sang country; and Aretha sang gospel and latin as well as soul. And everyone heard it all. In those bygone days, listening to the radio meant the whole family was catered for -- the kids, the teens, the mums-and-dads and even the grannies could expect to hear their current favourite songs being played by familiar corny-joke DJs.

But not, it seems, any more. What brought about this narrowing of focus, this fragmentation of music into many parts? Well, of course there are a lot more people in the world now -- seven billion or so, and they all like what they like; and there's a heck of a lot more music too. But I suspect the biggest instigator of the change is technology. When radio was the big thing, the unifying force that it was, it was partly because there wasn't anything else. If you wanted portable music, music on the go, it had to be from a transistor radio. There were no Walkmans, iPods, iPads or even beatboxes. Now it appears that half the world walks around with wires sprouting from their ears. I even saw a hoodie advertised recently that comes with earphones built-in -- 'fully washable', according to the blurb.

Yet I've seen, I think, a glimmer of change, and that's why I think bands like Oba Oba Samba House are the future of pop. 'Amo Noite e Dia' begins with that ubiquitous 4/4 House thump, but a short way through suddenly becomes a samba song. The words are in Portuguese (the title means 'I love [you] night and day'), but the band (they're from Brazil) sing convincingly in English too (check out their reworking of Kings of Leon's Use Somebody). I like the way they're bilingual and eclectic -- Portuguese bleeds into English and Rock sits side-by-side with House, Samba, and boy-band vocals. Oh, and perhaps most embracingly of all, they also manage to include the tradiditional Brazilian tiny guitar (cavaquinho) in their instrumentation and sound. Their albums bang like a mixtape, and I love it. Everything is back in the mix again. They are, to me, a miniature musical representation of the sprawling Internet, the way everything is available, all jumbled up, all up for grabs. And, as they should be, they're fun. Their sound should be chaotic, anarchic, but it's not; what they do shouldn't work, but it does; somehow what should be an unmanageable collision of languages and styles finds a sense of order. They are truly a band for the Internet age. So, welcome to updated radio. Oba Oba Samba House are the sound of our future.

Monday, March 11, 2013



That was the day I clicked with the girl from Clicks. I didn’t recognise her at first. No, that’s wrong; I did recognise her, but I didn’t know where from; she wasn’t wearing her pharmacist’s uniform. And without her uniform...
   She was dressed casually, not fussily, presumably for comfort rather than to impress. Her jeans were faded and worn from use—not bought that way—and her top was a bright mass-produced one you could buy at any common clothing chain like Identity or Jet or Mr Price. Her blue shoes were stylish though.
   She smiled at me, a good start. I started; stared; then smiled back.
“What’s wrong?” she asked. I was still trying to work out where she was from.
“Nothing... you’re the pharmacist from Clicks?”
“Yes, and you’re one of my customers. How’s the migraine?”
“Oh, it’s gone now, thanks. You helped.”
“That’s my job.” She smiled again.
“Yes, I suppose so.”
   It was at this point that nothing happened. No, that’s wrong; plenty was happening, but we were

feeling it, not talking, not moving, just looking at each other and feeling.
“Look, why don’t...” We spoke together; realised what we’d done; looked again at each other; and

“You first,” I said.
“No, you,” she said.
“Well,” I started again, “what are you doing now? From here?”
“Just girlie things.”
“Shopping, you mean.”
“Uh-huh. Do you want to buy me something?”
“Uh, like what?”
“What girls like. Shoes, jeans, an engagement ring...” I tried to ignore the last item.
“Underwear?” I said.
“That’s what men like. You’re always thinking of undressed women.”
“Me? No, I was joking.”
“You weren’t, but it’s OK. I like a man to be a man.”
“Let’s keep talking,” I said.
   We went where we could talk. We went to a cafĂ© and got a drink. No, that’s obviously wrong. We got 
two drinks: hers was a juice; mine was an appletiser.
   Then we talked. And laughed. And talked. And laughed. And got some other drinks. And discovered
we liked similar music, had read similar books, and wanted exactly the same thing.
   What was that thing? Well, let’s just say that we spent a lot of time together that day. We looked at

shoes and jeans and yes, we stopped by the window of a jewellers where we looked at the rings and laughed and then held hands and went to another shop where I bought her a CD and she bought me a book. We hugged. We kissed. We felt we belonged together. We still do. Because we click. We’re tighter than her pair of faded jeans and the childproof-cap on my bottle of migraine pills from Clicks.

© Kenneth Rowley 2013.