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  • dtoub 8:59 am on Tuesday, January 27, 2015, 8:59 am Permalink | Reply
    Tags: bugs, ,   

    iOS 8 bugs that really irk me 

    I’m running iOS 8.1.2. In no particular order:

    • Calendar appointments display in GMT
    • WiFi usually doesn’t see some routers unless I enter the router name, and then it usually forgets the password
    • Why can’t the OS be smart enough to choose the best connection rather than default to the last-used router, which might be barely a dot in terms of strength?
    • I can still make my iPad 4 crash by swiping through several apps with four fingers
    • Multitasking gestures stop working entirely on my iPad after it wakes up unless I swipe up to open the control center
    • Music I didn’t intentionally sync appears on my iPhone. This isn’t an iCloud issue in general, but a syncing issue from my computer’s iTunes.
    • Sometimes, music that was ostensibly synced, really wasn’t, and the track plays for a split-second then disappears
    • Settings is a mess. Where things reside seems almost stochastic at times.
    • Would it kill someone to actually order apps in Notifications by alphabetical order?

    These aren’t all the bugs, of course, or even all of the most annoying ones. But it’s a start. I know that Apple is working to fix the GMT issue, but it sure would be nice for them to deal with at least some of these others. And don’t get me started on the bugs in 10.10.

    • Larry Harrison 12:49 pm on Tuesday, January 27, 2015, 12:49 pm Permalink

      Yeah! Multitasking Gestures is totally flaky! Sometimes they work sometimes they don’t. Toggling them on and off in Controls usually makes them work – for a while – then they randomly stop again. Damn annoying. Been that way since iOS 8.0, and not fixed through several updates. Still really buggy. And Apple won’ even acknowledge the problem.

  • dtoub 5:17 pm on Tuesday, December 30, 2014, 5:17 pm Permalink | Reply
    Tags: apps,   

    my 2014 list of indispensable, well-designed iOS apps (along with some clunkers) 

    Obviously, this is totally subjective, but here are the iOS apps that I really can’t do without. Generally, these are extremely well designed, and have sufficient updates to keep them useful. All are available on the iOS App Store, hence the lack of embedded links. These are always on my Home screen in one or another folder. In no particular order…

    • Google Maps. I am not a fan of Google on many levels, but they get Search right, and this almost never fails me. Now that they updated the UX, making the arrow even bigger (like that of Apple Maps), it’s even better. I have no reason to ever use Apple Maps.
    • Waze. The interface is not terribly pretty, but it works and I really like the crowdsourcing. There are many things that could be improved, but for long trips, I do like being alerted to slowdowns in the road and other obstacles.
    • Paprika. The best recipe manager out there, period. Unlike abject failures like TheRecipeManager that I’d really like to forget ever having had to use, Paprika syncs effortlessly with other devices and our Macs, and it’s trivial to import a recipe from the Web with one click. Worth every penny if you cook anything.
    • Xpenser. This is what I use to manage all my receipts for work travel. It uploads everything into the cloud and I can then obtain a report with the receipts through a Web site ( It always works, and it’s free.
    • GoodReader. While it’s not perfect, it does provide a great way to work with PDFs in iOS, and I use it all the time to securely annotate documents. The scrolling could use some work, but otherwise it’s something that most people really should probably have on their devices. It also opens compressed files.
    • Office for iOS. When this came out earlier this year, it was really annoying and not useful, in that one needed a pricey subscription to edit documents. Now that it’s free with a few limitations (and one can get around the lack of Track Changes by simply enabling it in a document via one’s computer), integrates with Dropbox, and has a decent UI, it’s a no-brainer. Much as I liked Pages, it just can’t compare when working with others who use MS Word. I still prefer Keynote any day, but being able to use Excel rather than fight with Numbers is so much better.
    • Newsify. I’ve tried many RSS newsreaders on iOS, and this is what I’ve found works best for me, and it’s free. Reeder used to be nice, but now it’s just not worth the additional money except on OS X, since Newsify doesn’t exist for the Mac OS.
    • Zite. It’s now end-of-lifed, and nearly dead after being purchased by the owners of Flipboard, and doesn’t seem to get updated news as much as it used to. But it’s still a great news aggregator and will be sorely missed. Flipboard is getting better through having access to Zite’s backend, but still can’t really replace Zite.
    • Kayak. I travel. A lot. Kayak helps me manage all of this, storing all my itineraries and giving me updates on flights. It used to be a bit more reliable and timely than it is now, but still is critical to my travel.
    • Transit Maps. It stores all my transit maps for various cities in Europe and in the US, and works perfectly.
    • Google Translate. It does what it is supposed to do.
    • Word Lens. While this would be even more useful if it had more language packs (like Dutch; I really need it in Dutch), and isn’t always reliable, when it works, it’s amazing. It uses my iPhone’s camera to translate signage into English (or in the other direction).
    • Runkeeper. A nice way to track exercise, with GPS and other functionality. It also integrates with other apps.
    • MyFitnessPal. This tracks food intake, integrates with my Fitbit, and really helps one try to stay healthy.
    • 1Password. Absolutely indispensable for managing passwords, and now has TouchID functionality.

    Now for a few apps that I really wish were better…

    • Apple Maps. Getting better, but still nowhere near where it needs to be.
    • Quicken (2015). It works, but could be so much better and functional, and still crashes at times.
    • Wells Fargo. I loved the Mobile Deposit function when it came out, but now it’s become buggy for many users and is much less streamlined and elegant than similar apps from other banks (eg, Citizens Bank). I tried to give them feedback and they confused it with a tech support need that they required to be done via telephone, so I finally gave up.
    • Haaretz. The iPhone app has no swiping capability, often crashes, still has ads for paid users, but at least can work. The iPad app was deleted from my iPad after I realized it was horrible and not worth bothering with compared with just going to the Web site in Safari.
    • US Airways. I’m hoping this changes with the merger. It never remembers logins, and is nothing more than a Web app disguised as an iOS app.
    • Facebook. For something that claims to be updated (with no changes actually specified) every two weeks in the App Store, it’s only gotten worse. Many people hate that Messenger functionality was split off. I hate the lack of utility, the crashes, etc. I don’t really believe those claims that they update it every two weeks.
    • Paper. This was, I suspect, supposed to be a replacement for the main Facebook app. It isn’t. In many ways, it’s even worse than the Facebook app, even though the design is better in some ways.
    • Wikibot. When it doesn’t crash, it’s a great way to read Wikipedia.
    • Scramble. The HD version is now a year old, crashes and is totally unusable. The iPhone version isn’t much better.
  • dtoub 1:15 pm on Sunday, November 9, 2014, 1:15 pm Permalink | Reply
    Tags: focused music, minimallsm   

    focused music 

    My music has been labelled “postminimalist.” And “minimalist.” I’m okay with either, although I’m not at all shy about the “minimalism” label.

    But it occurred to me that how I really approach composing a new work is to focus on a small number of elements. That leads to repetition at times, but most of it comes out of improvisation rather than some system.

    So I’d prefer to refer to my music as “focused.”

  • dtoub 3:02 pm on Thursday, October 9, 2014, 3:02 pm Permalink | Reply
    Tags: indiegogo,   

    we’re raising money for a new album! 

    A few days ago, an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign went live, with the aim of funding a recording of quartet for piano and for four, as performed by the remarkable pianist Stephane Ginsburgh. The album will come out on Maria de Alvear’s label World Edition in 2016. Before the CD has been released, contributors will be able to receive a digital download of the entire album, along with an audio file of the world premiere of quartet for piano from June, 2014, personalized scores of the works, etc.

    So if you’d like to help make this album a reality, please donate. It will really bring you good karma.

  • dtoub 11:42 pm on Sunday, September 7, 2014, 11:42 pm Permalink | Reply  

    air waves (2014) for brass quintet and synthesizer 

    Screen Shot 2014-09-05 at 12.01.58 AM

    Before I mention this piece, I have to say that I spent probably two hours today trying to make a simple addition to the “about the music” page on my music site, since snippets of earlier text kept appearing and additional columns and line breaks as well, even though none of these were in the actual page code and rendered well outside of WordPress. I’m convinced WordPress is possessed or else has something against new music, since it made that minor task horribly painful.

    Okay, now that that’s out of my system…I have a new work.

    I was interested in putting together a brass work with mostly static chords. But a few of the chords sounded best with a very low pedal tone, which unfortunately were a bit out of range of even a tuba. So my solution was to add a synthesizer that essentially doubled all the brass tones. Paul Bailey kindly looked it over and made some great suggestions (such as the addition of a French horn, which I was initially avoiding). The result is air waves, which lasts around 20′-25′.

    The score is here. The audio file (mp3) is here.

    • Paul H. Muller 6:49 pm on Thursday, September 11, 2014, 6:49 pm Permalink

      The synth was a good idea – adds some smoothness and evens out the blend. I esp liked the stretch after 17 min…

    • dtoub 7:06 pm on Thursday, September 11, 2014, 7:06 pm Permalink

      Thanks! Glad it worked!

  • dtoub 9:21 pm on Tuesday, March 18, 2014, 9:21 pm Permalink | Reply
    Tags: for philip glass,   

    philip glass marathon concert 

    Several years ago, I wrote a really long string quartet called for philip glass. It’s never been performed, but one of my favorite sections occurs around 37 minutes from the end (the whole thing is around two hours, which is actually short by the standards of folks like Feldman or La Monte Young). I arranged that section for piano at the behest of pianist Nicolas Horvath, who often does these really long, marathon-like concerts of minimalist music and who last year premiered my piece for four in France.

    Well, Nicolas is premiering for philip glass in its piano version at a Glass marathon in Paris on Friday, April 11. That should be a really neat concert, with over 90 works in addition to the piano music of Philip Glass. Quite a superhuman feat!

    This will be the third time he has performed a work of mine (he’s already done one twice; that’s the first time I’ve had a piece performed more than once) and with Stephane Ginsburgh’s concert in Bruxelles in June, I’ll have had as many live performances in Europe as I’ve had here in the US. It’s getting there.

  • dtoub 11:54 pm on Wednesday, March 12, 2014, 11:54 pm Permalink | Reply
    Tags: flute,   

    flute loops (trio for flute) (2014) 

    On the same day that I started the piece for ruth first, I came up with a short piano improvisation for future use. I had first thought to take at least part of it and develop it into a piano work, but my daughter Arielle asked me for a short solo flute work for her graduation recital. I thought about a solo flute work, but before even trying anything, I didn’t have a good sense that it would have worked out. But the idea of a multitracked solo flute work (flute with prerecorded parts) was appealing. A loop from that piano improvisation seemed to work best, rather than other portions, and I developed it into a work for solo flute against two looped measures (the two measures coming from the piano improvisation, with the bass line transposed three octaves higher). The work was originally titled solo for flutes, then trio for flute, but as it was a work that consisted entirely of loops, I thought flute loops (trio for flute) worked best.

    The piece is fairly free in that it may be taken as fast or as slow as one wants, within the constraint of quarter = 78-96 bpm. Originally I took it at the upper limit, but that seemed almost too fast, so I gave some leeway. The average duration is around 10′, but depends upon how many repetitions each measure gets (after the usual one measure of silence, each measure is repeated at least four times, until the final measure of silence).

    The score is here. The audio file is here.

  • dtoub 12:31 pm on Saturday, February 15, 2014, 12:31 pm Permalink | Reply

    on the same program as cage, feldman, glass, pärt, eastman, curran, jl adams, denis johnson, riley, la monte young and gann. wow. 

    The pianist Nicolas Horvath is doing another maximalist program (nine hours!) of minimalist piano music starting today, this time in Kyiv, Ukraine. I’m really honored and humbled. He’s giving the second performance, ever, of for four and will be soon be premiering the piano transcription of an excerpt from my two-hour string quartet for philip glass in Paris. And I’ve had two folks friend me recently on Facebook simply because they heard my music on disc or via WPRB-FM in Princeton and for whatever reason liked my music. I’m not sure to what I can attribute all this interest in my music lately, but it’s kinda nice given the long and unusually severe winter here in the northeast.

    Sleepless night of music :: All-Kyiv – city touristic portal.

  • dtoub 12:36 am on Saturday, January 11, 2014, 12:36 am Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , two pianos   

    for ruth first (2014) 



    for ruth first is a work for two pianos written from 1/6-1/9/14 over four evenings in palo alto. The title refers to the South African antiapartheid activist and journalist who was assassinated with a bomb in Maputo, Mozambique by South African intelligence agents.

    The entire work consists of six tones, which was not originally planned that way, and there are occasional canonical passages between the two pianos. It is entirely pianissimo in terms of dynamic level. I also realized after completing it that it is actually in the key of E Major, which is not typical for me as I don’t write tonal music. So I think of it as accidentally tonal.

    The score is here. The audio file is here.

  • dtoub 2:19 pm on Saturday, January 4, 2014, 2:19 pm Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , maria de alvear, , , stephane ginsbergh   

    stuff for 2014 

    Some projects for the new year:

    • I will be in Palo Alto next week with four nights to compose. Thinking about a work for two pianos.
    • I’ll be starting an Indiegogo crowd funding campaign soon to support a recording session by the amazing Belgian pianist Stephane Ginsburgh to release quartet for piano and for four on Maria de Alvear’s World Edition label. I’m really excited by this; Stephane is one of the best contemporary pianists out there who has recorded and performed Feldman, Rzewski and others, and he was one of the three dedicatees of quartet for piano.
    • Nicolas Horvath will be premiering this work at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris on April 11th
    • There may be a live performance or two of quartet for piano in NYC and/or SF this spring…

    This is either all great news or really ominous, depending on one’s musical taste.

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