Remixes and Samples: American Dreamin’

Have you ever heard a new song on the radio and thought, “That beat sounds mighty familiar”? Well sampling, remaking, and remixing are all a staple of today’s music scene. The goal of these blog posts will be to start to dig down on where some of my favorite songs originated from. There are no rules (yet) on what makes something a remix or sample (on this site) other than it has to borrow from the source material.

I am doing this for a few reasons. First because I love music (more details on this later). Second, I want to see if I have what it takes to be a successful blogger. Third, I need a hobby that doesn’t cost any money. Fourth, I want to give myself deadlines and meet them. Finally I want these blog post to showcase my ability to research and entertain.

So with all that said look forward to these post each and every Wednesday from now until I run out of songs. Also feel free to comment and correct me if I have been mislead in my research (make sure to provide links) or if you have a song that sounds familiar and you don’t know where it may have come from I will do my best to track it down for you.

Without further ado let me get to my very first sample even if it is an easy one

Amazon.com link

The sample can be found in Jay-Z’s “American Dreamin”  As many may know the original source of this sample comes from one of my favorite songs “Soon I’ll be loving you” by Marvin Gaye.

What’s Next For SGTMcClain

After spending most of spring break debating if I would do this or not, I have decided to resume blogging.  This blog will mainly be a place to document my progress as a 34 year old Army Veteran matriculating through my undergraduate degree in Game Development.

I am doing this to keep myself motivated as well is to inspire others like myself who have decided on a career change in their 30′s.  This will hopefully also be inspiration to my children that no matter what there is always an opportunity to make different decisions in life, so long as you go after that change with everything you have!

After my first semester I am on the Deans List and have been inducted into Phi Theta Kappa honor society.

So what can you expect as a reader?

First, I will post many of my game design projects here as well as some of the programming work I am doing in my programming classes.  As well as random posts about my opinions on the way that technology is evolving.  If you read closely you may even get insights to my future projects.

Also please feel free to engage in conversation in the comments on each post.  I feel like the only way to truly grow is to learn from those around you.

As always thank you for reading and stay tuned SGTMcClain 2.0 is underway!

My battle with game compulsion

I know I haven’t blogged in years and seeing that I am going through a massive life shift I may start blogging again on a regular basis but I watched a video that made me want to reach out and share my story in the hopes that it may help someone out there who may be suffering from the same thing.

For those of you who don’t know game compulsion (or game addiction as the media likes to call it) is when people withdraw into games and regress from other forms of human interaction. Not everyone who spends hours on games suffers from game compulsion there are some people who just spend hours trying to grind through a certain game and once that’s done they are able to go back to their lives with little to no difference than before.  I would liken this to people who grind through TV series on Netflix, they aren’t hiding from society they just trying to get all the way to the end of the series as quickly as possible.

For me, I slipped into Game compulsion shortly after a car accident.  Before the car accident my life was going pretty good I was on track to have an amazing military career, I was scheduled to take the series of tests necessary to becoming a pilot which is something I had wanted to do my entire life.  However after the accident due to the pain I was in I couldn’t see myself ever passing the physical.  I didn’t realize it before but that was when I really dove into gaming hard.  I would play season after season of madden and follow it up by spending every night grinding though each Final Fantasy.  My friends at the time had no idea what was going on with me.  Luckily at the time they were persistant and got me back to the real world fairly quickly.  But this wouldn’t be the only time I struggled.

I slipped again when I moved to Germany, the first few months I was there I didn’t care about anything but living in the online world of Ultima Online.  During this time I didn’t call anyone and only came out of my room to go to work.  I can honestly say now that I had a lot of fear about the outside world, I didn’t think I deserved to be promoted, I hated my job at the time, and I was terrified of potentially being a father, so I hid in a world that I could control.   A world where unlike the real world as long as I worked hard I was rewarded.

During this time I barely associated with anyone and the relationships I did have started to break down.  But life does try to lift you up I snapped myself out of my rut for a while and managed to somewhat repair a crucial relationship, I was there for my daughters birth and managed to get married.  Things seemed to be okay for the time.

Then things (financially) in my marriage started to get out of control and I ran back to the refuge of gaming again, ignoring my family for hours at a time.  I look back now and realize that I used games as an escape from reality whenever things got too rough to bear.  I finally can say that I don’t suffer from game compulsion anymore but it set me back a long way.

I realize now that the same rules for gaming apply to real life, when you fail (die) in a game you go back and try things again, and again, until you succeed and when you succeed in life you are rewarded but you have to keep trying you can’t give up just because things didn’t work out the way you hoped the first time.   My issues hurt a lot of people and for the longest time I didn’t know how to explain it.

I am writing this because I think about all the people I know who have people in their lives that are suffering from game compulsion as well.  These people (usually guys) tend to be out of work and facing the grim reality of a tough job market and a less than adequate skill set.  Left without hope and fear of further failure I believe these guys turn to “madden” or other video games first pass the time without being a burden on anyone.  You can lose many hours in a game without feeling the need for food… not to mention with the advent of online gaming there are always new challenges to overcome.

Now I am far from saying that everyone who plays games suffers from Game Compulsion.  Playing games for leisure is a good thing and as I said above some games are so compelling that they pull you back in with their story lines and game play that they you feel compelled to see them through until the end.  The issue is when that game is over does the person look for another digital fix?  If you know someone who has slowly withdrawn from the real world is playing games to the point where their lives are starting to visibly fall apart please reach out to them and either try to help or get them help.  I personally think Game Compulsion is just a way of dealing with depression and it may need to be treated as such.

Mysterious Facebook Contacts Sync

Facebook has recently updated a feature in its arsenal that may have you concerned about your privacy again. They have apparently synced your contacts from your cell phone with the site. Just go to the top right of the screen, click on Account, then click on Edit Friends, go left on the screen and click on Contacts. All of your contacts are probably sitting right there.

I’m not sure how they have done this but I have a few ideas, first if you have iOS then you probably have allowed this thru the app since its a very easy way to sync your contact photos with the ones they are currently using on Facebook. But up until recently this was a pretty one way affair. On Android facebook is baked into the OS so my guess (I don’t own an Android phone) is that if you have ever logged into facebook either via the web site, or the app it has determined that this is your facebook account and synced your contacts on your behalf (How helpful of them).

From what I can tell this is harmless though very disturbing. If you have your phone number listed on facebook just ensure that you have it hidden which you can do by going to Account-> Privacy Settings -> Customize Settings then scroll down to where your phone number is and restrict the settings accordingly.

I have been hearing reports that people are seeing phone numbers show up in their contact list that they are not friends with and that they don’t already have a phone number for. Doing the above should ensure that no one else can see your personal contact information.

Another concern I have been hearing is that people are worried that their contact list may go public. Currently I see no way of making the list public but if you are still concerned this is an easy fix as well. First go on your mobile device and dig into either the Facebook settings or the phone settings and turn off your contact list sync with facebook, and then go to the contact list on facebook using the instructions at the beginning of this post and look to the right side of the page. Then click on the link provided to remove all of your contacts and you should be good to go.

An Explanation

As I said at the beginning I think all of this is harmless and facebook trying to make your life easier. They just partnered with skype and soon skype will be embedded thru the site. I think they want to make it easy to call anyone you already have contact information for by already having their number within and database that only you can access… But in classic facebook fashion they have bungled the feeling of security by making it opt out instead of opt in, because I am sure that if you got a little message (like the stupid one about the new chat features) that said hey if you want to sync your contacts with your cell phone click here most people would have done it. But here we stand. Message to facebook: You have to do better.

Please feel free to comment below to let me know if you find out anything else concerning these facebook contacts.

No longer just a personal blog…

I can’t say that I won’t blog about personal stuff anymore, because I may.  But I am going to try to start working for the greater good.  I realize that I am a tech geek… I took me a long time to go thru the 12 step process but needless to say I accept that I am a geek.  But the people that I associate with most aren’t and I find that had they known what I know they may have avoided some major missteps with technology.  So I am repurposing this blog to talk about the tech news that I hear and read about and try to de-geek it.

I will also make sure that I link back to every article that I reference so that if you are truly interested in the information you can go to the source to learn more.  I can’t, however, guarantee that I won’t be a bit biased.  I’m not a reporter I am just a human being I like what I like and I try my best to be opened minded but when something works correctly for me I tend to favor it.

I came to this due to two separate situations one friend who had their identity stolen, and another who could have avoided a lot of charges had she known that she was paying for two almost identical services.  Basically I am here for you, so I will come up with my own articles but feel free to contact me and I will research and write an article!

So I guess you can say the online persona of SGTMcClain is changing from Army Blogger to a Tech Drill Sergeant!  Say a prayer for me as this goes forward!

Money really doesn’t mean a thing

I was just doing the kind of thinking that I think most people only do when under the influence of mind altering substances, but for me this is normal.

Has anyone realized that our currency here in America really amounts to nothing, and I venture to wager that the currency in most other countries doesn’t mean anything anymore either.

Trade and Bartering

Ok think back to the old days… yeah all they way back to when people traded things for other things, for instance if I was a farmer and I had milk, I could trade a few days worth of milk to a carpenter to come and build a fence.  Or I could trade a rare metal like gold or silver for goods and services.  Well somewhere along the line currency was created to stand in for rare metals and the price of “notes” were directly tied to the value they held against that rare metal.  Some modern currencies still carry to nomenclature of this like the British Pound was (I believe) tied directly to the value of a pound of silver.

Well over time the dollar which was based on gold became based on imaginary currency.  Now I am no expert, I am just taking what I see and hear, but it seems to me that our money is backed by nothing but debt.  The way I understand it (and feel free to correct me if I am wrong) our money is based on the potential of the american economy.  I would love to drive my car on potential, because it would potentially be full all the time, I mean I always have the potential to get wherever I need to go, but if my gas tank was empty then my car isn’t going anywhere.  What about food?  If you don’t have any food will potential fill your belly?  I doubt it.  Yet we walk around everyday with money that is only backed with potential…

I just wonder what happens when someone decides that potential isn’t worth a thing anymore? Or is that what hyper-inflation is all about?  I guess what I am saying is, you might want to get your hands on something real because there is “potential” that one day all of this may not be worth a thing and then what will you have?

GoogleTV – The critics are missing the point (part1)

I think many critics of Google TV are missing what Google is truly trying to do with Google TV. Google TV isn’t meant for the viewer though the viewer will greatly benefit from its arrival. Creating an interface for the view will fail, it always has failed it always will fail. Google (I think) is creating something much more genius and they are thinking on a much bigger scale. They are creating a device to make TV (and by proxy internet video) ads more relevant to the viewer. This device will act as a trojan horse but on many fronts. I believe Google has just declared war on entertainment as we know it.

Trojan Horse to the Viewer

Ok as a geek I am itching to get an internet connected TV because I can’t stop seeing the benefits for myself. I mean just to be able to watch netflix and other internet media from the comfort of my living room couch without having to explain to my wife or anyone else how to set it up is brilliant all on its own. Hell I was looking at purchasing a Vizio Internet Apps TV just for the features it offered. But Google is taking that a step further.

Of course I want a Google TV device because of all they have pledged to do to converge the internet and the TV, so I and many others will usher this box into our houses with open arms and connect it to as many other devices as we can but lets stop and think about what all of this does.

You connect your Google TV to you network of course, as well as to your TV, Cable Box/DVR, DVD Player, and whatever else it can plug into. At the moment you finish setting everything up Google knows so many major things about you before you start viewing your first TV show. It knows what TV service you have (cable, sat, fios, uverse, or Overt The Air (OTA)). It knows what TV you have (if you have an IR Blaster then it know basically what TV you have just by entering in this info). It knows what brand of DVD player you have. It also knows about your internet activities.

This is where it gets interesting, see once you have hooked up a Google TV device onto your network it now is behind your firewall firewall. It can see all of the traffic that goes on within your network, its in! See before Google had to wait on you to invoke Google so it could learn about you, now your searches (from home) will become even more relevant, heck spookily relevant because google will know what your internet habits truly are. Do you play WoW (World of Warcraft) till the wee hours of the morning? Do you share music across your network, what music do you share? Do you play other online games via PS3 or XBox360?

With this information alone google will have a wealth of information and you don’t have to tell google anything, it could use your IP information to serve you relevant ads no matter if you use google account. But remember Google is going to offer you a better experience on your TV too… so you are going to be all to willing to give up your google account information to set up Google TV even further. Then boom, it takes what could be random information and attaches it to what it already knows about you (search history, email, ect..). Now google has a much better view of what you like and dislike, your habits, a wealth of information that it didn’t know about you and this is information that it of course will use to better target ads directly to you.

But they aren’t done, now you are also going to tell google about everything you like entertainment wise. It starts with just searching for TV shows, and movies, but also what type of youtube videos you like to watch, and what you like to do while your watching TV. I say this last thing because this is where third party developers come in.

Imagine how twitter will be when you can tweet or even group tweet based on input device, during a sporting event, a popular tv show, or even the news. Google may not have access to twitters “fire hose” but it would have access to any data sent from its devices and just from my recent usage of twitter I can tell you many people twitter and watch TV at the same time. Though I am sure that google will make this very easy to do using buzz and allowing you to link your buzzes and tweets together.

Now onto the issue of Google not knowing whats on your DVR because its using an IR blaster, I call BS. Google may not know whats on there currently but it will, because you are going to tell it when to record and what to record. I say this because if google does this correctly you won’t need to directly access your DVR you will use Google TV to program and playback your DVR programming, as well as to clear it off once it reaches capacity. Granted yes this could be better using bluetooth or wifi but Google has to start with the technology that’s currently available, give them some time!

Think about it, Google will make a much easier interface for navigating your DVR than what most already have, most of those are cumbersome interfaces. Google has the ability to make a unified interface so no matter what brand of DVR you have you already know how to program it. Now you can program your DVR while anywhere in the world just by going into your Google TV account and saying record this program. Google will handle all the interface stuff, behind the scenes and you don’t have to worry about anything else. Google will know the capacity of your DVR (because you told them) and can warn you if your nearing capacity, then even ask you if you would like to get rid of something thats already saved. It can also ad subtle reminders to your google calendar about when your favorite shows will be on and a small button to record. All the while google is gaining more insight to what makes you tick. When you like to view saved recordings and if you tweet about it (with the multiple user interface) who you like to watch it with.

Once Google gets this box in your house it will know almost everything about you… we only have a few months to wait till the first android car rolls off the lots. Just remember we will welcome this trojan horse with open arms. I just pray Google sticks to their “Do No Evil” mantra because they are going to have us by the short and curly’s with all the information we are about to willingly give over.

I think many critics of Google TV are missing what Google is truly trying to do with Google TV. Google TV isn’t meant for the viewer though the viewer will greatly benefit from its arrival. Creating an interface for the view will fail, it always has failed it always will fail. Google (I think) is creating something much more genius and they are thinking on a much bigger scale. They are creating a device to make TV (and by proxy internet video) ads more relevant to the viewer. This device will act as a trojan horse but on many fronts. I believe Google has just declared war on entertainment as we know it.

This was originally intended as one post but it got way too long so I broke it up a little, look forward to part 2 focusing on how it Google TV changes things for the Networks coming soon.

Apnea Update – I’m totally screwed

I got a new mask for my CPAP Machine today and the air pressure adjusted. For those of you that don’t know a CPAP machine is basically a midevil device torture device that you place on your enemy to force air down their nose and throat with the force of a leaf blower. Ok maybe I’m exaggerating but that’s what the pressure feels like now that that have turned it up.

I guess it’s needed since I have sleep apnea and l could stop breathing and die in my sleep, but I hate it. I mean on top of being strapped to a machine via a hose that makes you look like the love child of Darth Vader and Mr. Snuffelupagus, it also forces you to swallow air so you wake up with all kinds of stomach pain.

But I guess this new pressure works because without it I am always tired. The docs tell me I get between 12 and 20 minutes of REM Sleep in an 8 hour period without the CPAP. Just for comparision a normal person get between 4-6 hours of REM sleep in an 8 hour period. Which leads me to ask questions like what my life would be like if I could get this much sleep on a regular basis.

This machine was supposed to answer that but I hate it and I can’t sleep with it on, thus defeating the purpose. I hope I can get approved for surgery because this isn’t working and part if me wishes for death to come in my sleep because at least I wouldnt have to wake a drag thru my day or feel like my stomach is about to explode. FML

Why Did I get married too, review… (Why I feel let down)

Just a warning if you haven’t seen the movie and want to, stop reading now and see the movie.  This review is for people who already have seen the movie, I will be saying a lot that hasn’t been said yet and could potentially ruin the movie for you.

I know this review is going to attract some anger or at least some questions, because when I look across the internet all I see is high praise  for this movie but honestly I felt let down by it.  To me this movie seemed like payback to anyone who had ever bootlegged or watched a bootlegged Tyler Perry play.  Actually now that I think about it, every one of his “Movies” seem like they have just been an excuse to make you pay for a script that you have already seen before.
The actors were amazing and heck if this was a television mini-series it may not get the same type of feelings from me.  I mean look at it this way, its approximately a 2 hour movie, so we didn’t have to take the time to really get to know any characters except for Troy, and I kind of like the way that the movie teased at all of the other couples issues.  But thats ultimately my problem as well, it only teased.  In the first movie we were greeted to problems and resolutions, in this one we were just given 2 hours of drama.  The plot holes are enormous when you actually take time to point them out.
Angela and Marcus
We are greeted to Marcus thru a quick glance at his TV show, but how in the 2 years that passed was Marcus able to pull off getting a prominent position on this “weekend” sports cast?  As I recall he didn’t spend very long in the NFL, and at least from the last movie it didn’t seem like he spent much time around the NFL, I mean I do recall him cutting hair in Angela’s salon.  I’m not saying that its not possible, and yeah maybe it wasn’t meant for explanation in the context of this movie, but it does make you wonder how he was able to keep his job after Angela’s antics on live TV.
Now to Angela, who seems to be an advocate for drinking, acting out, and I guess its okay to fire a gun within your own house, without so much as a question from the police.  While it may be a bit funny in a play when Madea fires off a clearly fake pop gun for comic relief, it a totally different thing when a clearly upset woman is firing off a real gun a what she thinks is her husband in their bed.  Honestly neither of these characters did anything to add anything but comedic relief at best or (at least in Angela’s case) playing up negative stereotypes which have plagued our community.
Terry and Diane
I guess they had to throw in some cheating some where even if was a possible non issue.  I don’t know but it seemed like Terry wasn’t really that excited about finding out the truth.  Its funny how if it was a man in this situation in any other movie would have been doubted and tracked as if he was America’s most wanted.  It feels like there was more to this story that was never explored.
Sheila and Troy
Way to rehash a plot line straight from Soul Food.  Just a question though, did Sheila have a job?  I think it was pretty clear that in the first movie she didn’t have a job until she started working at Troy’s store.  Futhermore, you mean to tell me that a man that served in an elected position as a Sheriff couldn’t get a walk on job with the Atlanta Police, State Police, Highway Patrol, Park Police, Security for the falcons games? I understand that times are tough but they were saying he had been out of work for months.  I know this may focus around its not what you know but who you know, but getting elected into a position is one of the best resume items you can have simply because a majority of people wanted you to serve publicly in a position.  Also, who moves somewhere (that seemed to be a planned move) and doesn’t scout the job market first?  I mean really, how much more difficult would it have been to I don’t know… call ahead maybe and see where they may be hiring?  Also, I know Sheila had a big heart but going to Mike’s house… yeah that seemed perfectly built for this movie with nothing but a… he has cancer thrown in almost as an after thought, because up until that point there really wasn’t much basis for any long term drama between the two of them.
Gavin and Patricia
I understand they were having there issues, but we never really seem to see or hear what those issues are.  Yes the loss of their son was a strain on them, but I would have really liked to hear what the conversation/argument they were having at the beach house was all about.  Also with her being a therapist one would think she would be the first to recommend that they seek marriage counseling.  It seemed like Gavin’s final scene was put in to do nothing more than wrap up these loose ends so that they could end the movie, otherwise this easily could have run on for a few more hours getting everyones problem to the point of resolution.
Final Thoughts
I am not saying that the movie was horrible, I just expected more from what was such a powerful movie the first go round.  This seemed more to me like a reunion where they were just wanting to put all of the old actors on screen together again.  I guess I may be spoiled because I was a fan of the Soul Food Series, and they tackled all of these issues in more in depth, and maybe thats what Tyler Perry is trying to do, use this movie as a backdoor pilot to Showtime or HBO for a series based on these characters (or some facsimile of these characters).
Ultimately for me this movie left me with more questions than answers and I just felt like there was very little effort put forth by the writers to clean up the script enough for a movie, this script would have been allowed to play out in a play or thru a series, but for a movie it was poor (in my opinion) put together.
All that aside I do think the actors played their characters wonderfully, but I think it could have been even better with a decent storyline for them to play out, which is why I felt let down

My life in the Army one blog at a time