Daniel Compton

The personal blog of Daniel Compton - Projects

Steve

I will always remember where I was when I missed the news Steve Jobs had died. I was playing guitar at my MacBook Pro and an RSS item came in. I clicked on it and it was the picture of Steve Jobs holding his chin with a caption “Steve Jobs 1955 - 2011”. I thought it was just someone posting a picture of Steve Jobs and I went back to playing guitar.

Fifteen minutes later I checked Twitter and saw that Steve Jobs had died.

With the death of someone special to you, you gain a newfound clarity for a short time. It has happened to me once before, when a friend at school died. Amongst the chaos and trauma, life was put back into perspective. Trivial things become trivial and things you know are important like family are put back in their rightful place.

Last night, amid the tributes to Steve Jobs in my RSS reader there was a post about a small Mac App. I found it jarring, something so insignificant juxtaposed in a moment so profound.

I don’t know how long this newfound clarity will last. In the meantime, I am realigning what is important to me and what is worth living for.

There are three things that I think are worth living for, God, family and music.

I believe that being a Christian is worthwhile and meaningful. What does being a Christian look like? I believe that “To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” sums it up well 1.

Without family, you have nothing. That is all I need to say on that.

Finally, music. Steve Jobs’ life inspires me to make something meaningful, something that puts a ding in the universe. The best way that I know how to do this is through writing songs.


  1. Micah 6:8 

Song a week 7 - Videogame theme tune

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This is a small piece of music I composed for a podcast with a video game theme tune. It didn’t get used but I liked it so much I wanted to post it here.

Quality over quantity

Link: http://earlyretirementextreme.com/greshams-law-of-content-tipping-content-providers-and-providing-a-better-compensation-model.html

One of the emergent and unforeseen problems of the free information society is that we have no good way of compensating the content makers.

Advertising works for some sites but if you’re less than naive, you know how SEO and writing for the lowest common denominator brings in a lot more revenue than a site that focuses on quality content. Furthermore, advertising often means that the author’s interests are more aligned with the advertisers than his readers.

This is one of the biggest problems that needs to be solved on the web if quality information is to prevail over quantity.

Song a week 8 - A Matter Of Life And Death

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After Steve Jobs passing away I’ve been thinking a bit more about death and what it means. I was sitting at the piano and I remembered Steve Jobs commencement speech at Stanford. One idea stuck with me particularly.

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent.

I felt encouraged by this, encouraged to do something worthwhile with my life. Life feels like a gift now, more than before.

If you haven’t seen the video then I highly recommend you watch it.

All that you’ve seen
All that you’ve come to believe
Is only borrowed for a while

All that you know
About what’s up above and down below
You’ve only borrowed it for a time

There’s no need to despair
That death is a destination we all share
It’s only a matter of life and death

Through no plans of your own
Not from what or who you know
You’ve been given another day in this life

Life isn’t fair
You might not make it to the end of the year
You’re only on borrowed time

There’s no need to despair
That death is a destination we all share
It’s only a matter of life and death

I hope when I’m standing at the pearly gates
The angels there know my name

There’s no need to despair
That death is a destination we all share
It’s only a matter of life and death

Song a week 9 - The Ballad of Lincoln Beachy

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I’ve got a cold this week so I haven’t recorded the singing for this song but I’ve written it and I’ll record it as soon as I get my voice back. It’s a song about an American aviator. He was one of the most famous stunt pilots in the early 1900’s but is not well known anymore. I heard his story from this podcast by Radio Lab

Edit: I’ve posted the song now. It features fine vocal work from Kirk Pearson and Julia Egan from La Guardia School Of The Arts. You can hear some of their music at New Music Ensemble

Lincoln was a young boy
Not like the other boys
He spent his time staring at the sky
Launched his bike down the steepest hills
No brakes, just a strong will
Dreaming of the day he would fly

Will they remember me? Will they remember me for my great deeds? Will they remember me? Or will I be forgotten?

Lincoln Beachy thought it was a dream
To go up to heaven in a flying machine
His parents said no it was too unsafe
He’d made up his mind he’d go anyway

He left school he had one goal
To be a pilot at an air show
He became a mechanic to work on the planes
One day the star pilot got sick
They asked the staff “can anyone hold a stick”
Lincoln got his shot at fame

18 years young he’d flown this plane
At the crack of dawn when no-one was awake
He brought it up to speed and into the sky
3000 feet above the ground
His engines stalled, there was no sound
He fell into a spin that no-one had survived

Will they remember me? Will they remember me for my great deeds? Will they remember me? Or will I be forgotten?

Lincoln Beachy thought it was a dream
To go up to heaven in a flying machine
His machine broke down and down he fell
He broke out of the spin and made it to the ground

He became a famous pilot that day
Everybody soon learned his name
He had girlfriends from coast to coast
He was a stunt pilot of a different kind
He had no fear just like as a child
Cheated death like he was a ghost

Will they remember me? Will they remember me for my great deeds? Will they remember me? Or will I be forgotten?

Lincoln Beachy thought it was a dream
To go up to heaven in a flying machine
All his life he’d wanted fame
He found it now, flying a plane

In San Francisco the sun was high Flying a new plane, a new design
Pointed the plane into the sun
The metal struts couldn’t take the strain
The wings began to tear away
Everything came undone

Lincoln Beachy thought it was a dream
To go up to heaven in a flying machine
The machine went down and down he fell Did he make it to heaven, we’ll never tell

Will they remember me? Will they remember me for my great deeds? Will they remember me? Or will I be forgotten like Lincoln Beachy?

Learning the guitar fretboard

I’ve been learning the guitar fretboard for a while and thought that others might find my research and study useful.

I learnt the 5th and 6th string long ago but never really nailed down the rest of the fretboard really well.

Some of the things I used to learn the fretboard

  1. Picking a note name out of thin air and finding where it is on every string. This sounds really good but I found it hard to pick a random note each time, I would end up picking ones too close to what I’d just done.
  2. Finding anchor notes on the fretboard to base my knowledge around. For me I used G on the 2nd string at the 8th fret, E on the 2nd string at the 5th fret, C on the 3rd string at the 5th fret and G on the 4th string at the 5th fret. From here I could count up or down from the open or 12th or the 5th fret to quickly find the name of the note I was playing
  3. Learning interval shapes on the fretboard. This is really useful in all of your guitar playing but knowing that two frets down and one fret across is a minor third makes it quicker to read notes in succession.
  4. Using Advanced FretPro. This is a sweet piece of software which shows you a guitar fretboard and quizzes you on what note it is highlighting. It is Windows only unfortunately but is pretty awesome.
  5. Using Anki with a deck for the fretboard. Anki is a program that helps you learn and remember anything. You can download my guitar fretboard deck here. Anki runs on Mac, Windows, Android and iPhone with syncing between all of the platforms.

Coming from playing the piano I have found it difficult to think of music in a guitar fretboard style but I am getting much better at it now.

Solution to page breaks not working in TextEdit

I was preparing my final songwriting portfolio in TextEdit rather than the monster that is Microsoft Word. All was going well until I went to print a draft of my portfolio. Each song was separated by page breaks created from Edit > Insert > Page Break but they weren’t showing in the pdf I had created.

After some searching I found that I need to set Format > Wrap to Page. This will make the TextEdit window more like a traditional word processor look.

Song a week 10 - The planet that never sleeps

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This weeks song is another one about the relationship technology has in our lives. I’m really proud of this song, this would be one of my favourite songs I’ve written this far.

Wires
Invisible wires
Connecting to the stream
Lights
Always on
On the planet that never sleeps

Screens rewiring your brain
Did you notice your train of thought is getting shorter
I just want to leave it all behind
For a country with no power lines
Just the grass beneath my feet
Away from technology

Sleek
Shiny slot machines
In your home
Feed
Endless novelty
From a phone

Screens rewiring your brain
Did you notice your train of thought is getting shorter
I just want to leave it all behind
For a country with no power lines
Just the grass beneath my feet
Away from technology