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Friday, June 9, 2017


A week ago I reported of an amazing chicken, Jokgu, who played America the Beautiful on a keyboard as a competitor on America's Got Talent.  The judges and audience were stunned.  So was I...until I checked further and learned that the fowl was merely pecking at keys that lit up.  

I have a failed history of attempting to play keyboards, so I was intrigued.  It was in the 70's when my wife and I purchased a Baldwin Fun Machine, an organ synthesizer that could mimic a whole range of instruments through a piano keyboard.  I can't recall either of us ever playing even one full song.  We finally gave it away to her sister.

Nine years ago, when my wife was in intensive care I bought a Casio Song Bank Rhythm Controller, essentially the same thing as the above, but four decades more recent.  My plan was to play her a song when she returned home.  I even stored a Dom Perignon to celebrate that occasion.  I turned to page one and tried to learn Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.  After two weeks I gave up and went to page 98 for Pachelbel's Canon in D.  Unfortunately, she then passed away, so I drank the champagne and this electronic keyboard is now in my closet.  But it had no blinking lights to show you the way.

In my search, I saw Jokgu playing TWINKLE TWINKLE LITTLE STAR.  This inspired me to get the latest technology.  I went to Amazon and found a 61-key Portable Light Keyboard for $300.  Supposedly, it had 128+ instrument sounds and 4000 programmed sheet music songs.  Alas, Amazon did not ship this keyboard to Hawaii.  So I looked further and found a possible source, Shopify.  I went through the process and ordered one.  I was stunned to receive this e-mail confirmation:

Order #SHOPIFY1829 confirmed
That was last Friday.  I called VISA and explained my predicament.  I was worried that whoever got this order would then use my credit card to order stuff.  The staffer asked if they had contacted me or if I initiated the order.  I said the latter, so he said why don't you wait a few days and see what happens.  He also said, don't worry, if you didn't order something, you won't be charged.  This is, indeed true, but someone sitting at one of my dining room tables mentioned that it took a year to clear up her account.  Bothered me all weekend.

On Monday I received a second e-mail informing me that the order was shipped through UPS and included a tracking address.  But the message also said:

Please allow some time for the status of the shipment to correctly display at the above address

I thought, oh, oh, this was just a delaying tactic.  I checked on Tuesday, and there was still no indication of when and how.  I was depressed.  Wednesday, the package arrived!  What a relief.  

Shopify is a Canadian e-commerce company founded in 2004, and is used as an order platform by 377,500 merchants.  The only criticism I could find was that Breitbart News uses it to shop on their site, but this company made CNBC's Disrupter 50 list.  

Shopify's response was that refusing to do business with Breitbart would constitute a violation of free speech.  But it nevertheless had me worried.  Being on this list is actually a plus, for these are firms changing the world.  In 2017, Airbnb is #1 and Lyft is #2.  I don't see Shopify in the top 50 this year.

Now the real work began.  After unpacking and plugging in the device, the simple instructions said I needed some Android or i-Phone device to control the keyboard.  Now they said that.

Luckily, I had an old iPad, which seemed to work until I tried to download an app to serve as the brains.  After an hour I gave up, for I just could not get that app into my pad.  I went down to the 15 Craigside information services office, but they were too busy to help me.  I made an appointment for tomorrow, but went back to try one more time.  I don't know what I did, but I then saw the icon.  I guess it must have taken a heck of a long time to download.  It's a really old iPad.

Now came the challenge.  Could I find Twinkle Twinkle Little Star?  Yes, it existed in this system format:

Interesting sidelight, but did you know Mozart supposedly wrote this song?  I checked.  Nope, this is a French pastoral song from 1740 entitled Ah! nous dirais-je Maman.  Mozart got credited throughout time because he wrote twelve variations on this simple tune.  How's this for more surprises.  Baa Baa Black Sheep and The Alphabet Song also use the same music.

Basically, the blue bar is for your left hand and the gold for your right, plus each finger is given a number, and #4 next to your pinkie a darker gold.  These bars scroll down to alert you to what is coming.  Those pinkish lights indicate where your fingers should be at that time.  

After you learn the song, you can turn off those lights.  I haven't gotten to that phase yet.  I'm still learning.  So am I smarter than Jokgu?  Still to be determined.  He took two weeks to learn Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, so I still have 13 days to go.

By the way, to make your Friday, you just got to click on Angelica Hale, a contestant in America's Got Talent this week.  Just nine years old and alive because she was given one of her mother's kidneys.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average broke its all-time record, up 89 to 21,272.  I guess the market is not being affected by the metastable state of Donald Trump.


1 comment:

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