Broadband in the Boonies 2019

Some 18 years ago, I moved from the Silicon Valley suburbs to the wilds of the California coast, and have questioned that move for not a single moment. The area is gorgeous, the natives friendly, and then there’s the beach that inspired me to take up the camera and spend time learning its workings.

If there was ever an insect in the ointment it would be the lack of broadband options. As in dearth. As in “Well, you’re the one who chose to live in a rural setting.”

At the time it proved rich fodder for a series of Macworld articles umbrellaed under “Broadband in the Boonies.” In the good old days, we country bumpkins had little more than dial-up and satellite connections to feed-in the outside world. And, considering that streaming media wasn’t yet really a thing, it was annoying, but hardly intolerable. And surely, with time, conditions would improve with cable, fiber, line-of-sight… anything.

And it did to the extent that a little over a decade ago, DSL was introduced to our pleasant coastal valley. Okay, it topped out at 5 megabits per second down and 640 kilobits up, but because I used a third-party provider rather than AT&T, I didn’t have to deal with a data cap. And when the connection crapped out, I could talk to a human rather than be buried in a phone tree.

And that’s the way it’s been ever since. Until now.

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The making of Broadway Noir (1 and 2)

If you read this thing with any regularity, you know that, in my spare time, I compose and perform themes for several podcasts. Of those podcasts, the most interesting assignments come care of David J. Loehr's The Incomparable Radio Theater—an every-so-often podcast that recreates the feel of the classic radio dramas/comedies of the 30s, 40s, and 50s.

The most recent episode, "Away We Go," is the story of two cops investigating a murder in New York's Broadway theater district. For it, David asked if I could come up with something that was part "Harlem Nocturne," part "On Broadway."

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This Week in Time Travel

Another podcast goes live, meaning I offer up another podcast theme for your approval.

This time it's This Week in Time Travel, a Dr. Who-centric podcast hosted by Chip Sudderth and Alyssa Franke on the Incomparable Network.

This one was challenging to the extent that I've never watched an episode of Dr. Who. (Yeah, yeah, I know, –1 geek cred. Hey, I've been busy!) In such situations, I generally ask the client what they imagine for their theme, ask that they send me some examples of soundtracks they really like, and have them listen to my past work to see if anything jumps out at them as close to the mark.

Then I pretty much do whatever I want.

In this case, it's a theme that barely conceals my love for Peter Gabriel and the Remain In Light-era Talking Heads. This one is thick. And I really like it. I hope you do too.

As always, you can download a copy for your personal use from the Music page.


The Logic overview of TWiTT theme.

Download the Download theme

That Jason Snell is one busy cat, producing yet another podcast for the RelayFM network. As the title implies, this one is called Download and examines the week's biggest topics in tech.

From a musical perspective, I particularly like the steel drum bit that appears in the middle of the theme. Also dig that crazy mini-moog lead!

As with my other themes, you can find it on the Music page.


One of my favorite places in Santa Cruz to walk and take photos is West Cliff Drive. Not only does it offer beautiful views across the Monterey Bay, but it fronts some of the best (and best-viewed) surfing in this part of California.

Yesterday, as I walked past the lighthouse and on toward the Boardwalk, a young man rushed passed me, vaulted a fence, and, while standing at the cliff’s edge, shouted “Someone’s struggling. Help her!”

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Give of yourself (2016 edition)

The holidays are upon us, and with those holidays come the rituals we perform year in and out to help get us into the spirit of things. In addition to banging out holiday tunes on the piano, upping my consumption of minty treats, and arguing with my spouse over the most appropriate image for the holiday card, I take to BBEdit to offer a few hints about how the appropriately inclined can give of themselves to those who find modern technological life confounding.

This year—when the world has seemingly determined that a return to the sterner aspects of the Middle Ages may be an intriguing change of pace—it’s particularly important that we lend a greater hand to our fellows. And when better to start than during a visit to friends and families over the holidays? If you have the know-how (and patience), give these tips a try.

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About forums and comments

Earlier this week, my former employer, IDG, shut down its commenting system and asked readers of such publications as Macworld, PCWorld, and Computerworld to instead engage with the publications via social networking. As the person largely responsible for moderating Macworld’s forums—and, later, comments—for many years, I have views that I’d like to share.

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I'm loving my new virtual piano

As someone who’s played the piano for too many years to think about, I’m always on the hunt for the perfect piano sound—whether the real wood ‘n wires instrument or its sampled counterpart. As I mentioned in Paying for the (virtual) piano, I thought I’d found that sound in Best Service’s Galaxy Vintage D virtual grand piano.

Something better has come along.

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Commander Jetpack!

In this week's Incomparable Radio Theater I composed and performed two versions of the Command Jetpack theme. The first—Jetpack Main Theme—is a military cadence for the "real" episode. For the radio-show-within-the-radio-show, I put together a cheesy version of the theme. 

As I imagined it, it was thrown together in a few minutes by the few musicians who lurked outside, catching a smoke. Quick. Dirty. And very, very cheesy. 

You can find both on the Music page.

More Incomparable Radio Theater Music

Yep, still at it. I've added a few tracks I've put together for The Incomparable Radio Theater. (All of which can be found, natch, on the Music page.)

From the Goon Show homage, The Go On Show, you'll find The Go On Show Tidbit. This is based on radioright David J. Loehr's request that I cast the traditional Incomparable theme in the setting of The Archers theme.

The other bits are from episode six, Eli's Coming. In this episode the Tigertails (me) return to sing David's Going Back to Old Nassau. Later in the episode, producer Jason Snell found a place for an industrial hunk of music I gave him awhile back. It plays behind the Quatermass Inc. commercial.

Play "Space Theme" yourself

Near the end of summer, I composed a theme for the Liftoff podcast, titled, imaginatively enough, Space Theme. (You can find a recording of it on the Music page.)

I've grown quite fond of the little thing and thought it might make for a nice piano piece for beginning players. With that in mind, I've created a score of it for anyone who'd like a copy.

If you count yourself among them, just click this link to receive a PDF.

The usual fine print applies. I own it, so you're not permitted to use it for commercial purposes or, of course, pass it off as your own work. If you (or someone you know) enjoys playing it, please leave a comment below.