About Me

I ramble about a number of things - but travel experiences, movies and music feature prominently. See my label cloud for a better idea. All comnments and opinions on this blog are my own, and do not in any way reflect the opinions/position of my employer (past/current/future).

29 May 2009

Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra

I don't know the technicalities and the jargon of music - especially classical music. However, I really like listening to classical music - it is very different to rock, metal, jazz and hip=hop - there is a certain grandeur and complexity that is just not present in most modern music. There is also a certain air of "class" - performers are all dressed up and the audience is all dressed up in smart/formal wear. And although most of the audience is old grey haired pensioners, there are more than a few young people.

I came across the listing of the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra by chance - and the lineu-up of russian composers was intriguing (not that I recognised any of the names). The first piece - Overture to Prince Igor (Alexander Borodin) - was comparatively short, and an excellent warm-up to the rest of the concert. The second piece, Piano Concerto No 3 in C Major (Sergei Prokofiev) featured Japanese soloist Ayano Shimada, and had a amazing conclusion. While the first parts were seemingly simple, the latter parts featured amazingly complex musical performance - both from the soloist and the supporting orchestra. The last piece was my favourite for the evening - Scheherazade, Opus 35 (Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov) - a trully grand masterpiece involving a mix of a number of differenct musical instruments and sounds.

Apart from the music - two other thoughts: watching the conductor do his thing is quite a lot of fun and the guy who plays the cymbals had impecable timing, but looked quite bored most of the time. I am still not sure why the conductor is so valued, but his direction of various performers was quite amusing to watch.

Orchestral music is amazing in its complexity - the number of different parts and the timing of the various actors. I am really keen to go again - esp in two weeks time for the last concert of the current season featuring a few more Russian composers, only this time I know of them :)

28 May 2009

ITWeb Security Summit

I have been to many conferences, but this is the first time I have been to an industry only focussed conference. Apart from the product placements, the key difference between academic and industry conferences is in the level of detail and the practical application of the knowledge. In academic conferences, there is real in-depth knowledge and discussions while most presentations at industry seem to be at the glossy level - and stop just as things were getting really interesting. Conversely, the practicality of issues dealt with at this conference was much more tangible than that at academic conferences.

There were some great talks in the past three days - Phil Zimmerman's keynote on VoIP security, Tyler Moore's talk on economics of security, Fransisco Artes' talk on security of MMO games and really interesting talk by "The Grugq" on why there are criminal hackers.

What was ultimately annoying, was the short time spans of some of the really interesting technical talks (20 minutes) - hardly much time to discuss complex topics such as internet telescopes, privacy from data correlation across multiple online sources or even seemingly simpler topics such as security of IPv6.

I was also involved in a "pubcast" (which has yet to be released) - seemingly out of the blue. And I won a bottle of French Champagne at a product launch - although lost out on the Russian vodka, personalised golf clubs, the portable hard-drives, blackberries and numerous other lucky draws from vendors.

24 May 2009

Melodic Mayhem @ Tempo's

Although I have known about Tempo's since I have been in Gauteng, I have only gone there a few times. Tempos frequently organises "festivals" comprising of a lineup of a number of bands - although whether there is a theme to the bands is questionable. While the festival started early in the afternoon, I only went through in the evening, so I did not catch all the acts. This post only covers the notable bands IMO. I was quite surprised at the small crowd, and most of them were family and friends of the bands.

By far the best band of the evening was Soul Picnic. They are a new band, playing largely "old school" rock - similar to Perez in a way, and despite the small, non-interactive crowd - they put on a great show. Their songs are great, and their combination of different musical styles is a good breath of fresh air. I am definitely keen to see them again.

Only Forever and Holly and the Woods were the best supported bands of the evening - although, it was a pity that most of the supporters only pitched up during the performance, and left soon after. Only Forever had a dynamic performance on the stage, although I thought they were rather ordinary musically. Holly and the Woods do not feature any band member called Holly, but their lead singer Melissa is not exactly the stereotypical rock star wannabe. She does have a great voice, and a great collection of songs. Furthermore, the combination of cover songs by bands such as Skunk Anansie and their own made a great lineup. Of the two, I definitely found Holly and the Woods more entertaining.

Autumn Sun was the band I was really interested in seeing. While the music was definitely interesting (the keyboard element of the bands makes it more symphonic - but it has not really translated into the performance itself), the mixing was horrible. I would really like to see them again, and hopefully with better mixing.