Saturday, January 17, 2015

Skype: Slight Glitch

Okay, so yesterday, my Skype totally flipped out and shut down (I'm using 5.10, remember). For the life of me, I could not get back in (it kept showing the irritating "Skype could not connect" error whenever I typed my password in). I uninstalled 5.10 and reinstalled it, but to no avail.

So, the first thing I did after that was run over to Services to check on the skype updater. To my horror, it was NOT disabled, like I had done to it over a month ago. I redisabled it, and tried 5.10 again. It still didn't work.

I removed Skype Click to Call (which was running version 6.21 for some reason). Still didn't make my Skype work.

Scratching my head at this point, I removed Skype from my computer and downloaded version 6.21. This time, it opened up without a problem. Irritated still, since I don't like ANY of the new features, I decided to try once more to reverse the problem.

I checked in the Temp folder (C:\Users\<your_username>\AppData\Local\Temp) and found that 5.10 was still the SkypeSetup.exe there, so I went and uninstalled 6.21, then reinstalled 5.10 from the exe.

To my surprise, Skype opened up with no problem this time.

So, I guess I would write out this procedure like so:

1. Check to make sure the Skype Updater is disabled in your services.
2. Remove Skype Click to Call
3. Remove your version of Skype
4. Download a more recent version of Skype, sign in.
5. Sign out, delete the recent version of Skype.
6. Redownload your version of Skype.
7. Hopefully, bask in victory.

I hope I don't have to repeat this process every time I log out of Skype or it crashes, but I will if it means getting to keep my 5.10!

Happy debugging, everybody!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Music Theory: Chapter One

I've been learning music since I was, like, five. At least since 2006. I remember taking my violin with me to Italy, claiming I was going to practice all the while long (yeah, right!). I wanted to learn piano, but my mother made me learn the violin instead, for some reason. My older-younger brother also learned the violin. 

Recently, I took a Music Theory class. It was both to satisfy a credit, get an A (which was harder than it sounds, truly), and learn how to compose music. I came out with all three, thankfully (although, the 'composing music' bit is still coming along). I bought my music theory book instead of renting it, so I still have it on hand. Half the book was stuff I already knew about music theory, since my violin teacher made me do theory non-stop, but I did come out learning things. 

So, I thought, why not make a blog post series about it, since I still have my book (though I could do it from memory)? This motivation mainly comes from talking to people about music theory and they having no clue what I'm going on about. It's like speaking German to an only-English speaker! (Oh. I should do some German blog posting. That would be fun. Did I mention anywhere that I'm learning German?) I don't like it when people don't understand me when I'm talking about music, so I'm going to try and shove knowled--gently teach some people along the path. 

Here we go! I may skip things in the book that aren't relevant (or things I don't think are relevant. Buy the book if you want to read it all. XD) 

Hopefully, no one sues me for teaching from this book online. I bought it! and I credit the author, Ronald J. Gretz. I do not subscribe to the belief that everyone must pay $100 for a textbook to learn things (though I think this one was more like $20). Most of what I write will be straight from the book, often just paraphrased. Pls don't be suin' me. 

So, I guess, this is a Reader's Digest version of Music: Language and Fundamentals. With fun pictures!

Chapter 1: The Notation of Pitch

The musical language has an alphabet of only seven letters:


It's beneficial to know those backwards: 


The seven letters of alphabet represent seven different pitches (regular vibrations). These pitches are placed on a staff. The modern staff is five, parallel lines. The staff alone shows only the relationship of pitch: high (top) or low (bottom). 

Pitches are represented by notes on the staff. 

 A clef is placed on the staff to identify the letter name of the pitch. The placement of notes depends on which clef is used. We use three different clefs: the Treble clef, the Bass clef, and the C, or Viola, Clef. (We're only going to talk about the Treble and Bass here for now.)

See how the treble clef noms that second line from the bottom with its swirlyness? That's G. This also identifies all the other lines and spaces.
(Note: D before E at the beginning, F after G on the end. Too lazy to go back and draw 'em in.)

If a letter is on a line, it will be on a space the next time it appears (an octave: the distance in pitch between a note and the next repetition of its letter name. (e.g., E-E or F-F in "Note Names")). 

Ledger Line: an extension of the staff above or below the usual five lines. Ledger lines are equidistant from the staff and long enough for only one note. Only use as many ledger lines as are necessary to notate the desired pitch. 

The Piano Keyboard

There are 52 white keys and 36 black keys (88 keys total) on a piano. They have a repeating pattern (I feel like this book thinks you've never seen a piano before).

Learning the keyboard will help you visualize pitches and their relations. If you have one handy, or a virtual one, you can also use it to help you with chords, since it is capable of playing pitches simultaneously. 

The grouping of black notes helps us identify white notes. To the left of any group of two black notes is always a C, the middle the D, and, to the right, always an E. 

 For three black notes, the white note on the left will always be F, the middle two G and A, B on the right.

Clefs are used to show specific locations of a pitch on the keyboard. High pitches are on the right, low on the left ("Talk to me like I'm five." / "Oh my gosh, where are your parents?!"). Thus, treble clef represents those on the right, bass those on the left. 

On the wood directly above the keyboard, you should see the name of the maker of the piano (Yamaha, Steinway, Bach, etc.,). Directly under the name, there is a group of two black notes. The C of that group is called "middle C" and is written below the staff on a ledger line in the treble clef, or above the staff on a ledger line in the bass clef. 

Location of sind viele (many many) notes can be shown by a Grand Staff, which is actually two staves combined. 

Why have ledger lines? So you can do stuff like this: 

This also works for the bass clef. Ledger lines are used to write pitches higher and lower than the staves, and to simplify notation.

That's all for chapter one!

Practice the above knowledge here: 

Note Identification (You must turn off accidentals in the 'customize' sidebar (upper right hand corner, left of the piano symbol))
Reverse Keyboard Note Identification (You must turn off accidentals for this as well)
Keyboard Note Identification (There is not a quick and easy way to turn off the accidentals for this one, unfortunately, so this will be harder to use. The black keys are accidentals, which are sharps (#) and flats (b), so you could have a stab at this. We'll get into more of that in chapter two.)

Some helpful mnemonics:


Music: Language and Fundamentals by Ronald J. Gretz. 2nd Edition. Published by McGraw Hill, 1990-1994.