“Whiplash”, New Single from the Branford Marsalis Quartet

Here we have the latest and greatest jazz release.  This is a single from the upcoming album “Four MFs Playin’ Tunes”by the Branford Marsalis Quartet.

There’s a lot to like here, and it makes me excited to listen to the album in it’s entirety.  Branford’s tone sounds more dry, dark, and hollow here (hollow isn’t a bad thing).  Listen to the way he starts his solos right near the beginning — I was immediately brought back to Sonny Rollins on Way Out West or Plus 4.  But what he is playing here is not only hailing back to the ample annals of jazz tradition, but there is also a newness and a freshness to what the band is doing.  For example at 1:16 he has this accented quarter note line that ascends and descends and the band is right with him, going up the hill and back down it.  This is a small section of a nearly 8 minute performance for sure, but my point is that it sounds very fresh and gives me hope to hear the album as a whole.  If you are interested in the album, check out the featurette-length overview onYouTube.

Have you listened to the single or the album yet?  I would love to hear your thoughts.  Sound off in the comments!

There are 4 kinds of business; tourism, food service, railroads, and sales. And hospitals/manufacturing…. and air travel.

Then, when man could not find the thing he sought, then, quite apart from man’s own witting and willing, and without contributive effort on his own part, God gave man the thing he himself could not supply.

Equipment Review: DISK Fine for Aeropress

The DISK Fine by Able Brewing

The DISK Fine by Able Brewing

In the coffee world, manual brewing methods are king right now. This is something that I will not complain about because quite often these manual methods give the user greater control over the relevant variables at a much lower price point than any suitable automatic brewer.

I’ve always found the aeropress to be among the most finicky of our current generation of manual brew methods. I think it may be that because of it’s low brewing volume (220 grams of water is about your max), minute changes in each variable are much more noticeable than if you are brewing at higher volumes. This is good because it gives the user a chance to learn about brew variables, but bad because it can be tough to nail a spot-on brew.

The aeropress comes with thin paper filters, which have always been my preference. I don’t like sediment in the cup. Filters that allow sediment do usually deliver a greater spectrum of flavors to the cup but in my experience these additional flavors are not desired. While eco-friendly practices are a worthy pursuit, coffee filters have never seemed like a big enough source of waste to prod me towards a more “green” method. If the right solution came along however, I would be game.

Enter the DISK Fine, made by a company named Able Brewing. It is Continue reading

Brewing Method: Clever Dripper

As humans, it is our lifelong pilgrimage to live within the tension — the tension between what we want and what we can have, between who we love and who loves us, or between what we believe and what we can see.  For a coffee geek like me, one of these tensions has always been the excellent extraction of full-immersion brewing methods and the “clean” cup quality of paper-filtered methods.  French presses tend to reveal a coffee’s characteristics in ways that pour-over cones cannot, but who wants all that grit in the cup?  Who wants any sediment at all?  Not this guy.

Clever Dripper Brewing Method

Clever Dripper: manual brewing bliss?

Enter the Clever Dripper.  Whether you want to call it a solution to the yearnings of humanity or just a novel brewing method, I like it — alot.  Essentially the Clever Dripper gives you full immersion brewing capabilities with alongside of paper filtering.  It looks like a large manual drip cone with a handle.  Simple place the filter in the cone, add coffee, water, and steep.  When the cone it places on top of the decanting vessel (read: mug) the valve at the bottom of the cone is opened and out comes that glorious brown nectar.

I was first able to taste coffee from the Clever Dripper last year.  While visiting Might Good Coffee, we ordered 2 cups of their fresh roasted Costa Rican coffee — one brewed with a manual melitta cone, and the other in the clever dripper.  The results were stunning.  I’ve always enjoyed manual brewing drip methods, and the coffee as brewed in the Melitta cone tasted great.  Then I tasted the Clever Dripper cup.  There was, quite simply (and astoundingly) more everything.  More body, more acidity, more nuance, more complexity, and more flavor.  With the Clever Dripper I seemed to be getting a clearer picture of what this coffee was like.

I was sold.  Continue reading

The CoreDogs Experience: Part 4

Sections covered in this article: Basic database applications.

In each CoreDogs Experience article, my goal is twofold: (1) to look in-depth at a single feature of the site or its content (this will likely be analysis or commentary of a CoreDogs feature that is present in multiple places as opposed to a single section) and (2) to take a look at what went on in a given section of the course.

CoreDogs Feature: Organization

So far we’ve taken a look at several of CoreDogs’ differentiating features.  Now, let’s take a look at the way the site is organized.  There are three “books” of instruction; Foundations, ClientCore, and ServerCore.  Within each of these books are 5-10 lessons.  Each lesson contains a number of “sub-lessons” or explanations.  There is a definite and obvious hierarchal structure to the entire site.

Another element of organization that I really like is the Wikipedia-style table of contents at the beginning of each sub-lesson.  Here is the table of contents for the Creating a database lesson:

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Each item on the table of contents is clickable and takes the user to a hash tagged location on the page.  I love seeing this simplistic table of contents at the beginning of each sub-lesson because it lets me know (along with the “Where are we?” and “Lesson Goals” sections) what exactly I’m in for and how much content there is.  Additionally it gives me an instant picture in my mind of the shape of the lesson.  By “shape of the lesson” I mean something like the story arc of a book or movie.  It’s a sort of Cliff Notes to what I’m going to be learning.

Course Content So Far

The Basic database applications section focuses on creating an application (in the form of a website) that displays information (from a database) for users.  Furthermore, the application allows administrators to add, edit, or delete records in the database.  As noted in a previous article I found the sections regarding forms to be tough and a little hazy in instruction, but this database section was a home run.

The way that this section teaches the concepts should be imitated as much as possible in today’s textbooks.  The first three sub-lessons (of 17 total) focus on providing the goals of and necessary background information for creating a basic database application.  Then, two separate Sample applications are introduced; a website called DogToys (that stores products in its database) and a website called DogRock (which stores articles about dog rock music).  As new concepts are introduced throughout the section, it is explained how the concept would be implemented on each site.

Furthermore, the student is instructed to build a third sample throughout the section; a website that stores jokes in its database.  So for each concept that is taught, the student not only sees it implemented in two different samples, but then is charged with implementing it themselves in their own, slightly different sample.  When done this way, CoreDogs does not teach the student how to replicate an action; it actually causes them to be able to apply what is learned in a real world situation.  If one is able to create a basic database application revolving around jokes, why wouldn’t they be able to create one revolving around books?

On top of these praises, I have to add that creating the database was fun.  I actually enjoyed myself as I worked through each sub-lesson, crafting my application to make it better, bit by bit.  The way that the entire Basic database applications section is broken up is masterful; at no point did I feel bogged down or confused.  This is what the Form lessons should ideally be like as well.

There are a few ways that this section of the ServerCore book could be even better.  First of all, when MySQL injection attacks are discussed, it may be helpful to provide a little further explanation as to what the “escape_string” method actually does to the data.  I also found myself wondering if phpMyAdmin is only for use in PHP applications, or can be used otherwise as well.

Finally, the exercises page could use some help.  It seems that there are three large projects offered here, but each one is broken into three smaller exercises.  I understand that this helps break down the work, but it can also be disorienting to fish through nine different exercise wondering “Which one should I do?”.  Simply dividing up each group of exercises would probably do the trick.

All in all, this was an excellent section of CoreDogs.  The “learning” itself was at the seemingly perfect steepness so that this student was never frustrated and actually enjoyed creating the application.  Seriously, all textbook should try teaching their concepts in this fashion; it could change the way that we learn.

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