Clifton M. Thomas

I have an opinion.

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Self Loathing and Going Forward

On my birthday, I look at my life. I look at what I’ve done: for and to myself; for and to others, and I am left with this song which has haunted me for 2 years. I guess I am what I am and I want to say this to myself:

"Now will you overcome this impression?

When the life that you lead 

Is second guessing me?

So you’ve come for things you left behind

You left me here with all this on my mind

I’ll be fine

Now I feel so stung

Now I feel so stung

All I want to feels is affected

When all you want to be is protected

And when you realize you’re on your own

The wind can push the sails and drive you home

This I know

Now I feel so stung

(you got the best, you got the best of me)

Now I feel so stung

(you got the best, you got the best of me)

I can see it come and go

(can you feel it? we hit the ceiling?)

You can feel the undertow

(can you feel?)

I guess we’ll never know

When you realize you’re on the shore

The wind can push the sail and drive you home

(this I know)

Now I feel so stung

(you got the best, you got the best of me)

Now I feel so stung

(you got the best, you got the best of me)

Now I feel so stung

(you got the best, you got the best of me)

Now I feel so stung

(you got the best, you got the best of me)

By you

By you”

I live in this kind of musical stupid reference life so forgive me if you have rolled your eyes at me at 33 posting lyrics but I can’t always put my feelings into appropriate words. I am angry at myself for how I lived my twenties and how I treated people then. But I don’t want to feel guilty any more. I’m moving forward now with some conviction that I hope I’ll fill with action. I need my spiritual life back. I need my friends. I’ll be a better man. 

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webOS Frustration

Why doesn’t HP have out RIGHT now a webOS mass media marketing campaign? I am not expecting details, but I want and need a general statement that explains webOS before the launch of the Veer. I have been expecting and I do not see a story that explains webOS, in of itself or in relation to the larger HP picture, publicly.

Maybe I am being impatient, but I think the webOS community patience as well has run dry. I don’t need or want right now specific product ads. What is sorely needed is an voice from the source on multiple fronts that tells the community and the general buying public what HP’s vision for webOS is, and from there tie in a glimpse of future product.

I guess I just don’t understand HP. They talk about webOS all the FUCKING time in industry meetups, but they haven’t to the general consumer said: HP webOS in a way that makes any sense. The Veer by itself is not a way to introduce HP webOS. The Veer is a cornerstone for HP as a relaunch of webOS, but right now, webOS might as well be Meego in the mind of the general public.

What am I missing? HP: What are you doing? It’s one thing to keep product details close to the chest. It’s another thing to not promote webOS even initially as a product plan to introduce people to it. 

HP: I can’t right now even get a bead on your strategy. Somehow in the back of my mind I have faith that this whole “webOS” thing is a large component of your consumer and business strategy. What I don’t see is a commitment beyond promises. This seems harsh because I know that you as a company are neither stupid, nor unaware of the (webOS) community or your state in the game. I will however admit that at this late stage I am both scarred and scared. Do SOMETHING, make it fantastic, and do it SOON. Please!

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Pragmatism: My Approach to Life & Consumer Electronics

pragmastismFor many, the best consumer electronics and their related brands elicit an emotional response and attachment that goes beyond what some would consider realistic or warranted. Consider the now decades-long war of opinion between the opposing camps of the PC vs Macintosh debate, or the now similarly drawn lines of the iOS (Apple) vs Android (Google) conflict. The exchanges of opinion related to these aren’t usually civil or even rational. They’re full of the emotions that come from their users devoting a space in their heart to these products that might otherwise be occupied by thoughts of a loved one, a pet, or even a place. Does this mean that these ‘fanboys’ are crazy? No. It does say that these companies are doing a great job at creating products that make a what is by itself an inanimate object into more than just that: an idea that embeds itself with a heartbeat in the deepest parts of their owners’ Id. Admirable? Yes. A little scary? Yep.

I’ve tried to in the past few years take a more pragmatic approach to the choices I make. Pragmatism is defined by Merriam-Webster as “a practical approach to problems and affairs”. For me this stretches into politics and other subjects that engender a similar sort of emotional involvement to what I discussed in the preceding paragraph. Some might find this ironic as I write for what could be termed a fan-site for the mobile operating system webOS. Guilty! But anyone who has read my editorials could hardly call me an apologist for HP or Palm, nor could they say that I rarely have an objective opinion.

When I make a choice about what product I am going to purchase I do it through the lens of: “What works best for me?” For example, OS X is my daily computer operating system of choice because it’s incredibly stable and enables me to get my design work done most efficiently. However when I decided to purchase a home-theatre PC, I bought a Windows-based nettop because it offered the best feature-price balance for my usage case. My mobile-OS of choice is webOS, however when my Pre was on its last legs I moved to an Android phone because Sprint offers the best pricing plan for my needs, rather than changing carriers to stay with a webOS-based device. Do I miss webOS? Absolutely. However, pragmatism dictated that I make the choice to stay with my carrier, rather than allow my emotional-attachment force me to pay the early termination fee necessary to stay with HP.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying that those who make decisions differently than me are stupid or petty. That said I do think many ‘fanboys’ could benefit from taking a step back and saying “It’s just a phone*" (*insert whatever appliance suits your fancy). At the rate the electronics-arena moves these days, the products mentioned in this piece really don’t matter. In fact I feel my pragmatic idiom ‘What works best for me?” would benefit many people concerned with any number of self-reflective topics, and could create much more productive and thoughtful conversations in the process. What do you think?


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Music I Love: JJ Grey & Mofro - Georgia Warhorse

The music of JJ Grey & Mofro strikes to the core of my music tastes, as if everything I love in music has gelled into one band and one sound. It encompasses so much of my roots: Southern (in my case Delta) Blues, Swamp Rock, MoTown-era R&B, funk, and singer-songwriter music all with a social consciousness. 

JJ Grey is simply an amazing artist with a broad array of talents. His band is supremely talented. Below is a video documenting the making of their latest album that better describes why I love this band and JJ Grey as an artist so much:

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Keyboards, Again? Yes, Again!

If you have read any of my previous posts you will know that I am a novice but still engaged Keyboard Nerd/Aficionado. Right now I am using an essentially brand new Apple Extended Keyboard II. It uses Alps mechanical switches and was THE keyboard of choice for typing purists of the Apple variety in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. I am lucky to have this keyboard in this condition. It types wonderfully, but I am still in search of the ultimate ‘clicky’ keyboard for me. Shoot - I probably always will be!

I just ordered a DasKeyboard Model S Silent as an early Christmas present to myself. I have held off on buying gadgets of late but I just had to pull the trigger because of a great buy I found on this model. A coworker has the DasKeyboard Professional with the extremely loud Cherry MX Blue switches which while having a great feel might drive my wife even more crazy then the Apple Extended II. The Silent model swaps out the Blue switches for Brown (differences explained in depth here) which changes the feel a bit but gives the keyboard a much more damped sound that will make my wife much happier (fingers crossed).

I will update the blog with a follow-up post once I have had a chance to compare the Apple Extended II with the DK Model S Professional Silent. Until then, cheers!

UPDATE:

So I reneged on my DasKeyboard purchase after all I talked about in the above post. I decided to get a Rosewill (NewEgg.com’s housebrand) RK-9000 keyboard. This is in many respects very similar to to a DasKeyboard. It uses the same Cherry MX-Blue switches but is a simpler and slimmer design. It does not have USB ports like the Das but saves me some desk space compared to the former. Here’s a link. And here’s a picture:

Filed under keyboard, Apple Extended II, nerd, mechanical DasKeyboard Aficiando

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People I Admire: Patrick Rock

Tonight I am starting a new section of my blog: “People I Admire”

Lets start with this:

Patrick Rock

What can I say about this guy? Actually a lot.

I’ll start with this. I bought his original EP on the way to Chapel Hill, NC to celebrate the 4th of July with a former college roommate — I believe this was in 2000. I listened to it twice on the way from Greensboro as the trip is about an hour. I was suitably impressed by the quality of the writing in music.

I was in a band way back in like 2000-2002. We weren’t very good to be honest but Patrick would give us slots in between his sets to play acoustically and was incredibly generous. Needless to say the band didn’t go much of anywhere but it sure as hell gave me a lot of memories, most of them positive. Patrick made a huge impression on me as a person and it stuck. In 2002 he released ‘Recovering from Silence”, his first full album under the Patrick Rock Band band name. The band enjoyed regional success and traveled beyond the North Carolina boundaries over the next few years promoting it. 

Patrick continued to play with different lineups as the ‘Patrick Rock Band’ until 2007 when he took a long break. In the break he played for cover bands while working on his own new material in private.

In 2009 he released his long awaited for new album under his own name titled ‘When All Else Fails’, produced and released by Nascent Republic Records. The album brings together all the best of Patrick under one umbrella of great music. It is still the album I have played the most on my personal computer according to iTunes.

So after everything I have said previously, I am not writing this post to promote Patrick as an artist but rather as a great person. Patrick is simply one of the best people I know. He is generous to a fault, as you might have gathered from my previous text. As an example he used to invite me to back him up when he played solo acoustic gigs regularly — and quite frankly I am not the best vocalist. But he knew and knows that I love to sing and would indulge me regardless.

This is a guy who meets the basketball definition of a player who makes everyone else better through his own presence. He is supremely talented, whether it’s through his vocal talents, guitar skills, or personal endeavors. I believe everyone who knows him would say something similar. I am proud to call him a friend - if just on a small-time level.

To listen to Patrick’s music, please head to this link.

Here’s a video of Patrick playing locally in Greensboro on an acoustic night.

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Jimmy Gnecco’s Heart

If you have read anything posted by me then you know I am a huge music-head. Well I’d hope anybody with a beating heart is music-head of one form or another. If not then you’re some kind of robot — just saying. Wait some robots might enjoy music now that I think about it.

Ours lead singer Jimmy Gnecco has released an album called ‘Heart’. I will be frank - it is just amazing. Amazing is a word that encompasses a lot of the other words I could say about it: like haunting, beautiful, intriguing, simple, addictive, brilliant. I could extend that list out if I really had more words. Let’s just say it’s the best album I have heard all year and that it is saying quite a bit for me. 

Here is a sample:

Yes, the whole album is of this quality. Get it.

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This is my newest toy, a Kodak Retina IIIc in all of its West German made, Schneider-Kreuznach Retina-Xenon 50mm f2 lens lens packing, overbuilt heavy metal glory. Now I just have to relearn photography. No problem. Here’s a link for more info.

This is my newest toy, a Kodak Retina IIIc in all of its West German made, Schneider-Kreuznach Retina-Xenon 50mm f2 lens lens packing, overbuilt heavy metal glory. Now I just have to relearn photography. No problem. Here’s a link for more info.