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Buzz Andersen

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Moving to Vox [Jun. 26th, 2006|09:11 am]
Buzz Andersen
Just a quick note to my LiveJournal friends: I've pretty much decided that I'm making the switch to Vox. Not only does Vox take care of many of my complaints about LiveJournal, it also already has more momentum among my offline friends than LiveJournal. It also helps that I was able to snag "buzz.vox.com."

I will miss Xjournal though. Maybe someday Six Apart will release a Vox API and we can shower fraserspeirs with gifts to build us a client.

In the meantime, if anybody needs a starter invitation to the service (the kind that allows you to comment and view friends only post, but not to blog), let me know in the comments.
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Vox Envy [Jun. 7th, 2006|06:14 pm]
Buzz Andersen
[mood |enviousenvious]

Damn--wouldn't you know it: I finally jump on the LiveJournal bandwagon, and now all the cool kids are jumping ship to Six Apart's new (and currently invite only) Vox service. This is particularly vexing to me, since it appears that Vox addresses most of the LiveJournal complaints I discussed in my first LJ post, and it looks to be much closer to the "Flickr for blogging" that I've always wanted. It's tempting to jump ship myself before I get too invested in LJ.

If, by any chance, anyone reading this has an invite (the kind that actually allows you to publish) they'd be willing to send me, I'd be glad to make it worth your while (just ask Eric Case, who gave me my first Gmail invite and got lifetime free PodWorks licenses for all of his friends and family in exchange).
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Dinner at The Fort [May. 27th, 2006|11:39 pm]
Buzz Andersen
[music |Arab Strap: Girls Of Summer]

I decided to spend Memorial Day weekend in Colorado this year, since I probably won't have another opportunity to go home before Thanksgiving and Christmas. It'll be a quick trip, but so far it's been both an enjoyable opportunity to reconnect with my family, and a much needed respite from the usual Silicon Valley work/San Francisco social grind.

This evening I thought it would be fun for my two brothers, my parents and I to have dinner at The Fort, a restaurant in a faux-old west adobe near my parents' home on the outskirts of the Rocky Mountain foothills. I had a mint julep (girly perhaps, but it's a bit hotter than San Francisco here and I was in the mood for a good summer drink) and a buffalo tenderloin filet mingon (game is a speciality of the house). Both were, in a word, awesome.

Me being me, of course, I had to get up from the table in the middle of the meal because the light outside was too good not to photograph. I put the resulting photos up on Flickr.

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Cesar Chavez: Dead or Alive? [May. 27th, 2006|04:16 pm]
Buzz Andersen
Ever since I got my first guitar (a 1981 Fender Bullet) in junior high school, I've wanted to be in a band. Unfortunately, while years spent sitting on the edge of my bed meticulously learning Pink Floyd solos made me a fairly competent guitar player, and I did make a few attempts at playing with friends from school, I was never able to make a band work. This was due mainly to a combination of my own hyper self-criticism, and my difficulty working with people whose musical taste I considered less than perfect (I once went on a tirade because a prospective bandmate suggested that Primal Scream's "Medication" sounded like "Money for Nothing"). In other words, I was probably taking the whole thing a little too seriously.

Now that I'm squarely in the world of professional software development, I've more or less left behind any real aspirations to rock stardom. But I still get the itch to create music every now and then, and working on Soundtrack Pro and getting to see the NAMM show really rekindled my old interest in audio engineering and production.

Until recently, one of the only things stopping me (besides a general dearth of time) was the lack of a focused idea about what kind of music I really wanted to make. I have fairly diverse musical taste, running the gamut from minimal techno to country, and my enthusiasms tend to shift depending on my mood.

Fortunately, inspiration struck me very unexpectedly a few weeks ago, during Edinburgh Castle's pub quiz night. One of the trivia questions asked that night was simply "Cesar Chavez: dead or alive?," a phrase that struck me as having a surprisingly nice ring. I immediately remarked to my friends Michael and Kristin that it would make a great band name, in the tradition of "Death from Above 1979," "I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness" and "...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead." They agreed, as have all of the other friends I've mentioned it to, and mere name itself has suggested an interesting sound to me: a sort of cross between Calexico and Joy Division. In other words, a fusion of bleak new wave/post punk with Morricone-inspired "desert rock."

This may sound like a strange combination at first glance, but I think a lot of Calexico's darker, more experimental songs already hint at it. And heaven knows it'd be a great way to take advantage of my amplifier's awesome built-in tremolo and reverb.

So, we'll see if the motivation sticks with me long enough to actually write anything or recruit some bandmates (anybody know any candidates?).

In the meantime, here's a list of songs I think of as hinting at the kind of sound I have in mind. Enjoy!

Blue States: "One Night on Tulane"

Arab Strap: "Girls of Summer (Live)"

Calexico: "Black Heart"

Calexico: "Crystal Frontier (Widescreen Version)"

Spiritualized: "No God Only Religion"

Mercury Rev: "The Funny Bird"

Twilight Singers: "King Only"

Twilight Singers: "Black is the Color of My True Love's Hair"

New Order: "The Perfect Kiss (Live Version from Video)"

Joy Division: "Love Will Tear Us Apart"

Interpol: "The New"

Interpol: "NARC"

Ennio Morricone: "Man with a Harmonica"

Ennio Morricone: "Il Tramonto"

Ennio Morricone: "A Silhouette of Doom"

Luis Bacalov: "Summertime Killer"
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Bay to Breakers 2006 [May. 25th, 2006|01:19 am]
Buzz Andersen
[music |Mylo: Emotion 98.6]

Now that I've freed myself of the need to actually sound credible and important on my weblog, I have absolutely no compunction about mentioning that I participated in that drunken 7 mile walk across the peninsula known as Bay to Breakers last Sunday.

It was good fun (if perhaps, a bit more of a meatheaded frat party than I normally like), and certainly one of those ridiculous things (like Halloween in the Castro or the Haight Street Fair) that every San Franciscan should try at least once.

As is my habit, I took a ton of photos, only a few of which I uploaded to Flickr (I'm trying to avoid being the kind of guy who uploads photos of things like naked people and drunken keg stands). By popular demand, however, I did use Aperture's nice web gallery export to upload a special "too hot for Flickr" set. Check it out here, but remember: not safe for work!

Below is my favorite photo of the day: my friend Cameron in the 16th and Mission BART station preparing for the "race."

Cameron Prepares for Bay to Breakers
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Opening Ramble [May. 25th, 2006|12:47 am]
Buzz Andersen
[music |Smells Like Teen Spirit]

Back in March, over sushi on 6th Street in Austin, Texas, I had a conversation with my friend Eric Case about the sorry state of my once proud weblog. As I explained to Eric, there are varied reasons for my blog's steady decline.

First, there's the "Apple problem." Though I had some initial following as an indie developer, I really came to prominence as that rarest of Silicon Valley specimens: an Apple employee blogger. Unfortunately there's a good reason so few Apple employees write weblogs (or at least Mac-related ones): employee discretion is an important part of Apple culture. I'm not saying this is always a bad thing--particularly after my recent trips to "pro"-oriented trade shows like NAB and NAMM, where hype about unreleased products can make a lot of companies seem downright hucksterish. But it certainly presents a problem for a writer whose principle interest to his readers is as an "insider."

Another contributing factor was my move from Mac OS X QA to an real engineering position on Soundtrack Pro. Back when my days at work were spent on (let's be honest now) less engaging manual testing, internal web app development, or automation scripting, my primary intellectual stimulation still came from my own independent development on PodWorks and Cocoalicious, which in turn fueled my blogging. Now that I spend all day at work hacking away on Cocoa code, my motivation to work on side projects is severely diminished, which means the amount of my coding I can actually write about and the amount of source code I can share has fallen commensurately.

By far the most important factor, though, is that I tend to be a person who structures his life at a given time around a single organizing project, and that project has changed. For several years after college, that project was to get a job at Apple and move to the Bay Area--a goal that drove me to create PodWorks (that's right: despite how well I've done with PodWorks, I actually wrote it to impress Apple--not to make money) and start my weblog. Later, when I was trying to move into a development position, I created Cocoalicious to impress some people within Apple (who ended up rejecting me, but that's another story).

Now that I've finally completed my post-collegiate project by securing an actual engineering role at Apple, and now (it must be said) that I've officially entered my more mature late twenties, my mission statement shifted to a less professional (and, admittedly, infinitely wussier-sounding) one: to get better at developing and maintaining interpersonal relationships. Because I now spend so much of my extracurricular time trying to understand people rather than machines (a far more difficult task, by the way), I now find that what I'm interested in writing about often falls outside of the "serious" technical/industry focus of my weblog.

After explaining all of this to Eric, his suggestion was that I start a LiveJournal as an outlet for less "serious," more personal writing. I confess that, like many "serious" webloggers, I've always tended to regard LiveJournal as kind of a weird teenage phenomenon akin to MySpace. The stock template designs are, to be charitable, aesthetically naive, a lot of the site's accouterments tend toward the puerile (current mood?).

Slowly but steadily, however, a number of things changed my mind about the site. One of the first was actually meeting Evan Martin (evan), a former LiveJournal engineer and author of the estimable memecached (correction: Brad Fitzpatrick is the author of memecached), while visiting Google. Evan is a serious engineer, and the fact that his level of expertise had been applied so impressively to what I had previously taken to be an unremarkable journaling site made me take it a lot more seriously.

Other "serious" LiveJournal users--including people like Jens Alfke (snej), Fraser Speirs (fraserspeirs), Bill Humphries (whumpdotcom), and Momus (imomus)--helped further disabuse me of the notion that LiveJournal is strictly for teenage girls, and a number of my good friends who decided to ditch their weblogs in favor of LJs only cemented the idea that there was something to the phenomenon.

More than anything else, though, it was Flickr that sold me on the idea of starting a LiveJournal. As anyone who has followed my Flickr photos knows, my Flickr stream has essentially replaced my weblog as my primary online presence, and the reason has a lot to do with the fact that Flickr (with its varying levels of "friendness," access controls, and unified friends photos page) feels more like a real community than the blogosphere. I feel like I've been more successful developing relationships through Flickr than through any other social software I've ever used (remember my current project!), and I've often remarked that I wish they made weblogging software. It's only recently occurred to me that LiveJournal is pretty much that software.

So, then, this rather rambling post is just my way of saying that I plan to add LiveJournal to my online output. I will probably end up following the Jens Alfke model of using my Wordpress weblog to make infrequent announcements or publish essays on weighty topics, while maintaining a LiveJournal for day-to-day musings and juicy friends-only posts. We'll see how it works out...

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