A week ago today the annual Engage conference started in Rotterdam, on one of the most amazing conference venues I’ve been at so far, the ship SS Rotterdam, which is a permanently moored hotel ship in the harbour. Theo Heselmans put on a stunning conference, where over 400 people attended. They were IBM Customers, end users, IBM business partners, members from other user groups, people from IBM and I’m sure there were other representatives as well.
As a part of the Brainworker consultant pool, I was treated to this trip by Arne Nielsen, who footed the bill. We did a road trip from Norway to the Netherlands, via Sweden, Denmark and Germany both to and from the conference. It was a nice trip, but I think we will fly next year…
Photo: Kristoff Bruers
I also did a presentation at the conference called “30 tips about IBM Verse.” I was so nervous that nobody would come, but it turns out I got a full room with 50 people. And the feedback was great.
Milan Matejic wrote: “Nice Session for everybody who plans to use Verse Client on a regular basis. Packed with lots of information delivered in a funny and energetic manner.” Aww! Thanks!
Notes/Domino v10 and 11
IBM presented a lot of things around IBM Notes/Domino v10 and v11. I’ve written about most of the Notes 10 stuff in this blog posting, but I will mention the new stuff they presented at Engage about 10:
Support for unlimited documents in folders – This really means nothing to me
Enhancements in Domino Cluster Administration – This was about time
Cluster configuration document – This means you have a place to you configure the files and directories, which have to be clustered
Domino statistics and monitoring via New Relic – Great for administrators
A lot of self repairing and self healing on the Domino server
Roll out automatic updates of the Notes client from the Domino server – Oh yeah!
Forwarding multiple mails in ONE EML-file including attachments and formatting – Yeah… Outlook could do that ten years ago
Scheduled mail delivery – Have to send out an announcement tomorrow before lunch, but you won’t be at work? Schedule it!
Mail policy checks BEFORE the mail is sent to the server – This one I liked. You can actually prevent people from sending out confidential emails
A new “Team Calender” – This can also be used as a Team Mailbox. But most important: You can overlay the Team Calendar over your personal one! Yay!
Forwarding meeting invitations to other persons – Should have been made 10 years ago. But it comes with a twist that the competition doesn’t have: You can set up when you create the meeting whether people should be allowed to forward the meeting invite or not
Persistent chat – This means you can log off Sametime in your Notes client, and then continue the conversation, uninterrupted, on your mobile client. And vice versa.
Nothing new here, but it was strongly hinted that when the lacking functionality in IBM Verse is in place, Verse will replace iNotes as the Domino webmail platform.
What’s Nomad? It’s the ability to run your Notes applications on an Ipad, without the need of any coding! Everything (except mail and calendar) will work! I got to do testing with this on an Ipad, and it worked beautifully
This was the biggest news. Turns out that HCL, who took over development of the ICS portfolio (except IBM Connections), have started developing an alternative to the Notes client. It is more reminiscent of an application with feeds, but it’s still early days.
The first beta of Notes/Domino 10 will be out in June, and the second one will be out in August. We did get to se the new Notes 10 client, and I was severely disappointed. It looked just like V9, but Feeds, OpenSocial Component and Composite Application Editor will be removed. This an attempt to make the client lighter. It also stems from customer feedback that almost nobody was using these features of the client. You can also change the colours of the client in totally different ways than before, but a visual impression is so important, that I really wish the design of the client had been changed.
Notes/Domino v 11 will be out already next year. That version will have a much tighter integration with Active Directory, so that you will be able to create Notes users in AD, and then they will be automatically created in Domino Directory as well. Another vision for Notes/Domino 11 is that of low code. It will be even easier than it is today to set up applications, both for mobile, web and the client itself.
Also, the Domino Designer might get killed off, so that you can the Visual Studio Plugin for coding instead. The idea is that anyone should be able to code a Domino based solution, without much, if any, knowledge of the Domino platform. With new and improved APIs they will be able to read from and write to Domino. Personally, I hope they also get rid of Eclipse.
It was also revealed that over 200 developers (TWO HUNDRED) were working on the next versions of IBM Notes/Domino. And at one of the presentations, the lead developer agreed with me that Xpages had been a blind alley. Thank you! I’ve been saying that for years. And: There’s no end of life date for Notes/Domino.
There was also talks about IBM Domino in the cloud. You can already today move your Domino applications to the cloud or run them in a hybrid environment. This will be made even more easy in the future.
Phew! That was quite a lot about Notes/Domino 10 and 11. What else did we learn?
IBM Watson Workspace
Watson Workspace is something IBM is pushing really these days. They have already made templates for various types of businesses, that will make it easier for organisations to have spaces where teams can collaborate, and have their data analysed in ways that will make it easier for you to make quick business decisions. At least that’s what IBM says. It can also be integrated into IBM Connections Cloud. Contact your local IBM sales person, or partner, to give it a try.
I also attended a few sessions where organisations did presentations on what they are using IBM’s Watson technology for. I especially liked Margo van der Stam’s presentation about what the Dutch tax office is doing by automatically processing letters from the public. It was very interesting to hear about the challenges they have by making the automatic process recognise things like addresses, censoring the names of the sender and decide on the right cause of action. It’s all still in being developed, so there is a manual review as well.
I also saw demos on how to make scripts and customise the templates so that you can add your own actions that you can trigger Watson to do. It is a very promising technology.
Sponsors and partners
The sponsor room was great, with a constant stream of food, snacks and drinks. It was also nice to talk to several of the business partners and sponsors about that they could offer for Office 365, Notes/Domino and IBM Connections.
And speaking of IBM Connections. There was nothing announced about Connections. Less than a year ago at Social Connections in Vienna, it was all about IBM Connections Pink. Now? Quiet. The only times it was mentioned was whenever IBM denied they were only thinking about cloud customers, or when it came to integrating IBM Watson Workspace into communities in IBM Connections.
In addition, I attended a couple of sessions about how to leverage your Notes/Domino data by using various types of technologies and development platforms. Especially Paul Withers talk about Node.RED and the Domino APIs was great. I’ve worked way too little with stuff like this and should really get my act together.
The people that you love
And that was the technical stuff. Another important part of the conference is the social bit. On Tuesday the sponsors and speakers were pampered to a great dinner, with tribal drumming and didgeridoo playing, on the deck of the SS Rotterdam. In beautiful weather, I might add.
On Wednesday Theo took us speakers, as per tradition, on a secret tour. We started the evening at the Dutch Pinball Museum and ended up with a dinner at the Euromast tower.
The next morning Arne and I drove back, and thanks to lots of road construction work on the German Autobahn, we weren’t home in Norway until 3 in the morning. And I had to be at the train station at 04.20…
Once again, Thanks for a great conference, Theo. You give us other user groups something to really strive for! And thanks to all the attendees, especially my fellow IBM Champions and the other speakers, for helping to make it great. See you all next year!
You can see my entire photo album from the conference here:
I’m sure you have received them too. Tons of annoying emails where companies or organisations are explaining to you how they value your privacy, and that because of the new GDPR directive from the EU, they are asking for your consent to continue sending you emails.
Yes, there is a new directive that will soon be put into action. The original date was on May 25th, but it’s now been postponed until June. However there was most likely no need for the company to send you an email asking for your consent. In fact, these emails are most likely illegal and a violation of both GDPR and privacy rules that already are in effect!
In an article in the Guardian, Toni Vitale, the head of regulation, data and information at the law firm Winckworth Sherwood, says that businesses are not required to ask for your consent. They already have your consent because of the existing 1998 Act, which was made in preparation for GDPR.
Also: Consent is just one of the six legal grounds under GDPR. The others are contract, legal obligation, vital interests, public interest and legitimate interests.
In addition, recital 171 of the GDPR makes it clear that you can continue to rely on any existing consent that they already had from you, which you gave them by signing up in the first place. There is absolutely no reason to ask for your consent again. All an organisation has to do is to make sure the consent met the GDPR standard, and that they are properly documented.
In short: You have received tons of unnecessary annoying emails for no reason other than a lot of consultants wanted to make a shitload of money by preying on the misguided fear that companies could be fined insane amounts of money. Naturally these companies wanted to cover their asses.
Not only that, but by emailing you these GDPR emails, the sender will most likely be breaching the rules set by the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations, which makes it an offense to email someone to ask them for consent to send them marketing by email!
To quote Vitale: “If the business really does lack the necessary consent to communicate with you, it probably lacks the consent even to email you to ask you to give it that consent.”
On the positive side, if you just ignore these emails and don’t click on any of the links in them, you will not receive more annoying marketing emails from the companies that sent them to you…
Mike Oldfield talks about his career, ups and downs, hurricanes, personal demons, how he made the music industry aware of Napster, how the London Olympics vindicated him and his last album “Return to Ommadawn.” And what has Jean-Michel Jarre got to do with Oldfield’s teeth? Turns out, quite a bit!
In my work as a freelance journalist and photographer, I’m lucky enough to meet with and/or interview a lot of famous (and some slightly famous) musicians, scientists, models and artists. I especially like to talk with people who have made a very important impact in my life.
One of those people is Mike Oldfield. In the 80s he was every now and then releasing hit singles, which kept him on my radar, but it was 1990s Amarok, which consisted on one (1!) track lasting one hour and four seconds that got me hooked.
He started out with his sister Sally Oldfield in a folk band called Sallyangie when he was only 15. He then went on tour and record with musicians like Kevin Ayers.
In 1973, at the age of 19 he composed and released the album “Tubular Bells.” It was the very first release on a newly started company, Virgin Records, and was the start of Richard Branson’s fledgling Virgin empire, now including Virgin Airlines and a world spanning business.
The album went on to sell 15 million copies and has since spawned two sequels and a re-recording, as well as having been sampled and copied by hundreds of artists.
In the decades that followed he became a touring artist, then stopped touring, dabbled with computer generated music videos, did computer games and released over 20 albums. In 2017 he released a sequel to his third album, “Ommadawn,” called “Return to Ommadawn.” The original practically invented World Music, by combining African musicians with Irish and Celtic music, as well as pop and rock. In short: Just as unique as the artist himself.
Just a few days before “Return to Ommadawn” was released in January 2017, I got a lengthy chat with Mike Oldfield. Me in a studio in Molde, Norway, with rain pounding against the windows. Him in his studio in the Bahamas, with the sun shining through his windows. The original article was published in Norwegian by Dagbladet. But here you have a very expanded version, in English. Enjoy. And please let me know in the comments section what you think.
– First of all, I got a preview copy of the “Return to Ommadawn” album a few days ago, and I’ve listened to it constantly. It’s a very beautiful album, I have to congratulate you.
– Aww! Thank you. That’s lovely to hear.
It’s very acoustic based, compared to the music you did in the 90s and 2000s, isn’t it?
Yes, and that was on purpose. Because the original “Ommadawn” was very acoustic. I did use some keyboards on it. Among them a very early string machine, which was an Arp Solina. But the sound was dominated by acoustic instruments like guitar and harp, African drums, electric guitar and so on. I tried to choose the same instruments for “Return to Ommadawn”.
– Did you play everything yourself this time?
– Yes, everything.
– Even the flutes?
– Yes, but I can’t play the recorder very well, and there is a recorder on the original. However, I can play the penny whistle pretty well, so it was a good substitute.
– Technology finally caught up with me
– Was it a spontaneous album to make, or did you use bits and pieces you have collected through the years?
– It was very spontaneous. The first job was to assemble all the instruments I was going to use. And I used a metronome to get the rhythm going. Then I started off with the bodhran, an Irish drum, and started to see where that lead. And day by day, I added more and more. First a guitar part. Then another. So, I continued to add layers for 11 months until it was finished.
– This was a sequel to “Ommadawn,” which was created in 1974 and 1975. What is the main difference between creating music then and creating music now?
– Not much, really. I had to wait for technology to catch up with me, and it did about five years ago. The computer programs that came then made it easier to have a true home studio, and finally the sound you recorded digitally started sounding just as good as the old reel-to-reel tape that we used back then.
Skinny guys shouting
In the late 70s the old rock heroes from earlier that decade started to become looked upon as dinosaurs and boring old farts. The punk music movement had arrived, and Oldfield felt it in full force.
– In the late 70s my music went out fashion. That’s when the people I call “the skinny guys shouting music” became popular. And my music was looked upon as old fashioned and so on. In order to survive, because I had financial troubles as well, I started touring.
After touring with a full orchestra, and lost a ton of money, Oldfield realised that he had to streamline his touring band.
– I whittled the band down to seven musicians. I also changed my music into becoming more mainstream.
Through the 80s Oldfield therefore made a series of more song based albums. He had several hit singles, like Moonlight Shadow, which was huge all over Europe in the summer of 1983.
Vindicated at London Olympics
Oldfield kept going through the 90s and 2000s with albums that covered everything from Irish music to classical music, pop and even techno. He also did two sequels to Tubular Bells. But all the time he was feeling frowned upon by a snobbish music press. Then the summer Olympics came to London in 2012. And Mike Oldfield was asked by film director Danny Boyle, who was in charge of the opening ceremony, to play during the tribute to the National Health Service.
– That made me feel validated, because I got to play to so many people. In addition, some very complimentary things were written about both me and my music. And that made me think it was time to get back to my roots from the 70s and make album length instrumentals again, that were hand played.
– I was going to ask you about the Olympics. I remember when I saw the opening ceremony, I saw you on stage, and I was so happy for you. Because I know all the shit…
*sound of Mike snorting on the other end*
… – the British press has flung in your direction through the years. That must have been a glorious feeling of vindication?
– Ha ha. Exactly! Yes, it was a wonderful feeling. Nothing can best that. It was the number one gig on planet Earth for any musician. And it was a lot of people trying to get in on it. I was doing some sessions over Skype with musicians in Los Angeles. And there were people coming into the studio all the time going “can I get it on it, can I get it on it, it is the Olympics, oh my god” and so on. Ha ha. It was like winning a prize in the lotto. It was fantastic.
Oldfield describes what a wonderful evening the whole thing was.
– Everybody, all the performers and musicians, even the audience, they gave it their very best. Everybody was pulling in the same direction to make it great. I think when British people get down to it, they can do fantastic things. Unfortunately, the British mentality is more about being rude, bored and nasty. But when it really comes down to something important, they can still do it really well. It’s nice to see that, because I am still English at heart.
He is not staying in Britain, though. For quite a few years, the tropical island paradise has been his home for semiretirement, and he is reluctant to leave the islands. Even for short trips.
– Yeah, funny enough, Bahamas used to be British. But they still have a lot of the old traditions of Great Britain. It reminds me when I was growing up in a town called Reading, 20 miles away from London. Children go to school in their uniforms, people get dressed and go to church on Sundays, there are police on the streets and such things. Just like Britain in the 50s. It’s very lovely.
– The weather must be better than Britain, though?
– Ahh! Yes. Apart from the occasional hurricane, the weather is fantastic. Actually, just when I was putting the finishing touches to Return to Ommadawn, we got a direct hit from the hurricane Mathew. That was a very, very powerful storm, and it did a lot of damage. We were without main power for over three weeks. They had to re-wire the powerlines for the entire island.
Oldfield did have an emergency generator, and he says he became an expert in generator maintenance.
– The album was actually delivered to the record company via a little satellite dish on my roof. Via this satellite we have a very slow backup internet connection, so it took me about 24 hours to send the entire album via that connection. There was no cable, no DSL or anything.
– I got this image in my head now with you on the studio floor, with emergency powers, recording, surrounded by candles or something similar.
– Ha ha. Yeah, it was kinda like that.
Tubular Bells app
As mentioned earlier in the article, Oldfield has done a lot of musical styles. Pop, classical, Irish, World Music, ambient, reggae, ambient, techno, rock and the end is listless. I ask him if there’s a genre of music he hasn’t done yet.
– Ha ha. No, there isn’t much I haven’t tried, is there? Can you think of anything? Maybe I could try Bollywood, or something like that. Ha ha. I don’t know. I’ve even done the very ancient music from Bali on my album “Islands.” And I’ve done classical, folk, rock…
– Very often when you listen to an album by an artist, you think “oh, this sounds like the previous album by this artist.” Putting on an Oldfield album, you know you are going to get something vastly different from your previous album. Is this a conscious decision on your part?
– I do think through before making an album about what I want to do, what kind of instruments I’m going to use and so on. I’m working at the moment on a new music player. It’s going to be an advanced music player, an app. I see it as an extension of the old phonograph player, with the huge speaker, like the one the dog is listening to. It’s about time we had a new player.
This new player is going to be based on Tubular Bells 4, Oldfield tells me. So, yet another variation of that classical album, which celebrates it’s 45th(!) anniversary in 2018, is on its way. However, this player will offer even more.
– You will be presented the music via multitrack, so you will be able to create your own mix, if you want to. And it’s going to have a virtual reality section, where you can go into these three-dimensional worlds. Here you will be able to explore beautiful environments while listening to music. The music will change, depending on where you go and what you do.
– Is this going to be a mobile app, then?
– Initially it’s going to be made for desktop PCs. Maybe we will do a stripped down version for mobile. I’m also interested in seeing what happens with those Virtual Reality headsets. If they catch on, we might support them as well. Nearly everybody has a desktop computer, these days, haven’t they?
When I describe Tubular Bells 4 as a multimedia package, Oldfield disagrees with me.
– That sounds like something you buy in the supermarket. No, this will be something new and a different experience. I did some games in the late 90s and early 2000s that were released with a couple of my albums. They were great fun to make, but they cost me a lot of money, and they didn’t sell very well, he he. But they still work, and you can get your hands on them online. Which is nice. Some people still play them. But of course, the quality in graphics have improved considerably since then. Even a simple laptop can today do wonderful things you could only dream about in those days. You’d need those big Silicon Graphics machines for that back then.
Jean-Michel Jarre and the dentist
Oldfield says CD sales have fallen so much that you have to find other ways to get your music out. However, he is very happy about the rise in vinyl sales.
– That’s wonderful! It’s a lovely thing having those vinyl discs.
“Return to Ommadawn” is divided into a Part 1 and a Part 2, just like in the old days. Did you think vinyl when you composed it?
– Absolutely. I still think of two sides of a vinyl disc when I make music. It was a wonderful ritual doing two sides of music. And then going to see the engineer cutting the master of the vinyl disc. We lost that in the world of going from the studio and then straight to digital download. Things are looking a up a little bit for the music industry these days, I must say.
– I interviewed Jean-Michel Jarre a few months back. And like you, he also thought of two sides of a vinyl disc doing his latest album. And he also did a sequel, Oxygene 3.
– He also said that nobody does sequels in music, except for “me and Mike Oldfield.”
– Ha ha! I’ll tell you a story about him. I got a link from someone to a live chat he was doing online on social media. So, I followed the link, because I wanted to look in. This was about his collaborations albums that he did [Electronica 1 and 2 – Hogne]. And someone asked whether he would consider working with me. He replied that he loved my music, but he thought of me as more of an acoustic musician. And I went: “Hmm. If he thinks of me as an acoustic musician, maybe I should make an acoustic album?” That’s one of the reasons I made “Return to Ommadawn.” So, thank you, Mr. Jarre!
– That’s a great story. And he told me as well he liked your music. Do you like his music?
– Oh yes! A funny story about that: My very first introduction to the very first “Oxygene.” I was about to go on tour for the very first time, and my tour manager said that I really needed to go and visit the dentist before the tour. Because some of my teeth were out of alignment.
So, Oldfield went off to see an expert dentist in Harley Street.
– And he said he could put a cap on it. So, I went to the laboratory where they were making the caps. And they were playing this music, which sounded weird, but really nice. And I was enthralled by it. They told me that this was by this French guy, and that the music was called “Oxygene.” So, there they were, making my new teeth, and listening to Jean-Michel Jarre. This slightly out of this world music. True story.
– That’s funny!
– And I still got the same caps on my teeth, to this day, ha ha! 40 years later.
Mike Oldfield and Jean-Michel Jarre’s music have always been compared as being similar, even though there is nothing similar about what they do, other than it being instrumental. Vangelis is also often thrown into that comparison. I ask Oldfield why he thinks that is.
– You’re right. The only common denominator is that it is instrumental, or most of it. None of us have really used anyone as frontmen. And the musician has been more a producer or technician, rather than a performer. And since we all do most of the playing composing and producing ourselves, they maybe see some similarities between us in that way. And of course, not many other artists have been so consistently successful with instrumental music, as those three.
Return to the 70s
Return to Ommadawn is a sequel to Mike Oldfield’s third album. However, listening to it you also hear a lot of traces from his second album, “Hergest Ridge”. I ask him if he agrees with that.
– Yes, that was on purpose, really. I am very active on social media, and I can see what fans write about my music. And I was very surprised with how popular both “Hergest Ridge” and “Ommadawn” were. It seemed to me a lot of people actually preferred “Hergest Ridge” and “Ommadawn” to the original Tubular Bells, which surprised me a lot.
So, Oldfield went to work with the mindset that he was back in the mid 70s, composing. The challenge was to find the right way to start.
– Tubular Bells start with the tinkling piano, for example. I thought I could start Return to Ommadawn with a folk melody. But I decided to set the scene by making the opening very atmospheric and use the same kind of beginning as I did with Hergest Ridge.
– Paul Stanley of Kiss says in interviews that you have a lifetime to prepare your first album, and for the second you have six months. Was that how you felt when you started working on the follow up “Hergest Ridge” after having an unbelievably popular first album?
– Tubular Bells took my whole life to write and get recorded. Just the part of getting into a recording studio took years. Two or three years before this, I was taking my demos around to all the record companies. And they threw me out, like I was crazy. Because my music was instrumental, it had no vocals and no drums and so on. It didn’t help that I was a young guy with long hair and a beard, not looking in any way like a star, you know.
Is being miserable a prerequisite for being a composer?
In what Oldfield describes as pure luck, he bumped into some guys, including the now world famous billionaire, Richard Branson, who were putting together a new company called Virgin.
– They had a recording studio in this old mansion, called The Manor. And I got my foot in there by being the rhythm and bass guitarist for various obscure artists. And these people believed in me and gave me a chance to prove myself. I couldn’t believe my luck. But it took me so long to get there that after “Tubular Bells,” I didn’t really have another album in me.
This was difficult for the people around Oldfield to understand.
– I was always followed around by these people, especially Richard Branson, going “where is the new album”, he he. “We’ve made millions from the first one, make another one! Quick” Ha ha. So, I was sort of pressured into making it. This made me have a difficult relationship with “Hergest Ridge” for some time, but in hindsight, upon listening to it again, I think parts of it are really beautiful.
In 2013 BBC made a wonderful documentary about the making of Tubular Bells. The album was produced by Tom Newman, who also has produced several of other Mike Oldfield’s albums through the years. Some fans even say that Newman is always there when Oldfield makes his best music. In the documentary, Newmans says that Oldfield always makes his best music when he is miserable. I asked Oldfield if he would echo that sentiment.
– Hmmm. *long pause* It goes back to the time when I was a teenager. I was very unsure of myself. Which of course is quite normal for a teenager. But I felt it very deeply. I was having what I’ve later learned was an “existential crisis,” it’s what the psychologists call it. It used to really frighten me. So, music was a world on its own to me, where I had control and understanding. And every instrument was like a character that its own voice. That made music so real to me. I also saw how much power and influence music can have on people.
In the past four years Oldfield not only lost his oldest son, he also got divorced. I therefore ask him if those demons were lurking in the background when creating “Return to Ommadawn” as well.
– I wouldn’t call them demons. But I’ve been through four very difficult years. There was huge tragedy in the family and I had legal problems, personal problems and financial problems. Record sales are nothing like they used to be, you know. So, I guess I kind of retreated into this world of music again.
Oldfield underlines that he’s not unique in that regards.
– A lot of artists do their best work when they are under pressure from other things. Because you can retreat into this safe world, where you know exactly what’s going on. In the past few years I’ve seen the darkest side of life, and the darkest side of human nature. And none of that exist in my musical world, you see?
The heritage of Napster
– You mentioned low record sales. Going back to Jean-Michel Jarre again, who is currently the president of CISAC (organisation that works for the rights of artists), he said that if artists aren’t properly paid for their work from digital and streaming services, we will not get a young generation of new artists who are able to make a living out of musical career. What is your take on that?
– He is absolutely right! It all began with Napster in the early 2000s. I had a colleague who alerted me to Napster. So, I informed my lawyer about it, and he informed my record company. The following week it was on the frontpage of Music Week. It became easy for anybody to listen to anything for free. As far as I understand it, streaming services pay a blanket fee to the record company to be able to play all of their music, but very little of that money comes back to the artists on the lower levels. If an artist gets million of plays, I guess there will be some sort of kickback. But if you get a few thousands, you get nothing. So, it’s absolutely right, it will be impossible to make a living out of recording music. Touring will be the only way to make money, unless the artists and record companies are able to sort things out.
As mentioned above, Mike Oldfield has himself made several computer games. And he says that the music industry could learn a thing or two from the gaming industry.
– If you have a computer game, it’s very difficult to copy it or have people putting it online for free. I think maybe the music industry should look at their business model and offer the music in protected, but user friendly, online services. So that when someone buys your product, you get your reasonable share and people can start making money again.
– Modern music is like porridge
Which brings him over to the state of music these days.
– I think music today has become so formulised that… it’s still good music, don’t get me wrong. But it’s become so formulised that it’s like a porridge. Everybody sort of follows the same ingredients on how to make a song. And everything sounds inhumanly perfect at times. That’s why on “Return to Ommadawn,” I kept the mistakes I made during the recording of it. If I played a little bit wrong here and there, I didn’t tidy it up. Most of it was first take, just like “Tubular Bells” was. Back then we had so little time, so we just had to keep going. Back then those mistakes used to bother me.
But now, he says, he realises things actually are imperfect.
– It’s like us humans. It’s human to have flaws and imperfections. But in this day and age, we photoshop the human body in photographs. You know, they make people’s waistline thinner and smoothen the face and so on. The same has happened with music. It’s all perfect. But nobody’s perfect. In my opinion music has lost all of it’s character and individuality.
In a lot of the world Mike Oldfield is mostly famous for Tubular Bells. In America that’s the only thing he is famous for. But in a lot of countries in Europe, he is most famous for pop songs like “Moonlight Shadow” or “To France.” In my homeland of Norway, “Crises” from 1983 is his most famous album. It was on the charts for almost a year.
– That must be kind of cool, to have different markets and not being a one trick pony?
– Ha. That’s a good point. I suppose it is kind of cool. All countries have their individuality and different cultures will like different things. In Germany, for instance, they never really liked Tubular Bells. But some of the later albums became very, very popular. It’s a bit strange, yes. But a good situation, I think.
Oldfield and Norway
In 1985, Mike Oldfield released the single “Pictures in the Dark.” The lead vocalist was Norwegian singer Anita Hegerland (herself a huge star in Germany) and Oldfield and Hegerland became a couple for the next six years. They had two children.
– We have to talk a bit about Norway, because you have a special relationship with Norway. You have kids and grandkids here, haven’t you?
– That’s right, yes. I’ve been there many times.
– Do you like it here?
– Yeah, it’s lovely.
– It’s a bit cold, though.
– Yes, but you expect that.
These days he doesn’t leave the Bahamas, and instead his children come to see him.
During his career Oldfield has worked with several guest vocalists and musicians. Some already had successful careers beforehand, while others gained a career because of working with him. But there is one in particular who I’m anxious to talk about.
– You also worked with one of my other big musical heroes, Yes vocalist Jon Anderson. Tell me a little bit about how that cooperation started.
– I can’t remember how that came about, really. The only time I met Vangelis was actually at Jon Andersons’ house. This was just as I was doing the soundtrack for the movie “The Killing Fields.” And Vangelis had won the Oscar for “Chariots of Fire.” So, I asked him about working with David Putnam and some technical stuff when it comes to scoring movies.
The cooperation between Anderson and Oldfield heralded two songs. The wonderful “In High Places” from the Crises album in 1983 and the single “Shine” from 1986.
– I think it was Jon that contacted me. He has a very unique voice, he he. And we did a couple of tracks together. We even went to the cup finals at Wembley stadium together.
It would take almost six years from the breakthrough of Tubular Bells in 1973 before Oldfield went on his first tour, the Exposed tour. After that he went into a cycle of one album a year, followed by a tour, up until 1985. Since then he has toured once, and that was in 1999.
– Now that you have started making music again, are there any plans for a new tour?
– Wow. Straight and short answer, there!
– It would be difficult to find people who play the way I do. “Return to Ommadawn” alone has several different styles of music on it. I mean, of course you could find people who can play it, but they would play their own version of it, and then it wouldn’t really be my music anymore.
And once again, we come back to the Olympics.
– The Olympic games was such a high, that I will let that be the end of my career as a live musician. Playing for a billion people… It will be impossible to top that!
Yesterday I got another «Hi, this is Fucker Fuckerson from Microsoft Security calling” call. They had even managed to fake a Norwegian cell phone number this time, which is the only reason I replied. (I never reply to call from abroad anymore. If people outside of Norway wants to get hold of me, they have to send me an email, or message me via one of the many online services I’m on. Once I was called from abroad and they asked “Is this Hogne?” Unfortunately, I replied “yes” and they recorded it and used it as a verification that I had said yes to a lot of services, which I was then was charged for via my phone bill).
However, back to yesterday: I realised it was a fake call when he said he was from Miscrosoft (remember, Microsoft would never ever make an unsolicited call to tell you that your computer is infected). Unfortunately for him I was in a bad mood for other reasons already, so I decided to hurt the fucker. Here’s what I did:
I played along. After he told me my computer was infected, I went “oh no” and confirmed that I would sit down at my computer and let him connect to my computer and help me fix it. What I instead did was sitting down with my trusty old Imac and I started looking through my sound effects library for one particular sound.
You see, I make movies and radio programs, so I have an extensive library of great sound effects. A lot of those are made by yours truly. I was looking for a sound that is a combination of an old modem, a Norwegian civil defence siren (with a higher pitch than usual), a dentist drill sound and nails being scraped along a school chalk board. In short: Sounds that really hurt the ear.
I found the sound, loaded it into my music player, turned the volume of my subwoofer powered speakers to 9, put on my noise cancelling head phones for protection, held the phone as close to my speakers as I could, and turned the sound on.
Even with my noise cancelling headphones my ears hurt. But it didn’t matter. The scream I heard coming from the other end of the phone line was worth it.
For the third year in a row I’ve been invited to go to Engage to do a presentation. Last year we were in Antwerp, where I gave a presentation on IBM Connections plugins, and the year before that we were in Eindhoven, where I also gave a session about the plugins.
This year the event will be held Tuesday – Wednesday May 22nd – 23rd, on board the SS Rotterdam, the former flagship of the Holland American Line. That’s so frigging cool!
If this conference will be anything close as good as the previous two I’ve been to, we are in for a treat. What’s that? You haven’t signed up, you say? Well, you still can! What are you waiting for? I’ts free (apart from the trip and sleeping arrangements)!
You will be there with 400 like minded individuals to learn and engage with the best people within their fields. You will also get the news about what’s coming up from IBM and their partners. Hear the latest news and the roadmaps for Domino, Connections, Verse, Watson Workspace etc.
I will be going down there on a roadtrip through Europe with my friend and business partner Arne from Brainworker. I will be representing Brainworker and the Norwegian IBM Collaboration User Group (ISBG) there as well.
In these days where Facebook is rocked by the Cambrigde Analytica scandal, more and more people are starting to wake up and reliase how much personal information they are actually giving Facebook. Especially now that Facebook is showing that not only are they not that concerned about protecting your data, they are now even trying to cover their tracks by almost lying about why they shared so much data to third parties.
But do you know exactly what Facebook knows about you? Do you want to find out? It’s very easy.
Go to the pull down menu next to the help button (?):
Click on it:
Find the item Settings and click on it:
General Settings will now open up. At the bottom of the list, in small writing, you will find a link called Download a copy of your Facebook data:
Click on this link. You will now see this page:
Click on Start My Archive
You will be prompted for your password. Type it in and click Submit
You will then get the following message:
Click on Start My Archive
You will now be told that Facebook has started to create your archive, and that you will receive an email to the displayed email adress when the archive is finished.
You will now receive an email from Facebook telling you that they have received your request, and that they will send you a new email when your data is ready for download
Go on using Facebook as normal, while waiting for the email from them. This might take a while!
When your Facebook data is ready for download you will get both an email and a notification in Facebook. Click on the link, and you will be taken to this page:
Click on Download Archive
You will be prompted for your password again. Type it in and click Submit
A zip-file with your data will now be downloaded. Choose where you want to save it. If your browser doesn’t ask you where you want to save it, you will find it in the Downloads/Nedlastinger folder.
Find the file on your computer. The file will be called facebook-[yourname].zip
Doubleclick on it. The file will now open up and show you the contents:
Mark the index file and all the folders by clicking on them while holding down the CTRL key on your keyboard:
Hold down the CTRL key on your keyboard while hitting the letter C on your keyboard. Alle the files and folders will now be copied.
Go to the My Documents/Documents/Mine dokumenter/Dokumenter folder, right click on it and then click Paste/Lim inn:
The index file and all the folders will now be pasted in there. Wait for it to finish copying, it will take a while.
When it has finished copying, double click on the index file.
A web page will now open in your web browser. And you can see
You can now click on the links in the web page’s menu to see exactly what Facebook knows about you, and what you have shared and uploaded.
You can se EVERYTHING you have done on Facebook.
Here’s what I found by going through my own data:
The names, numbers, email and adresses of all my phone contacts that I had on my phone up until I removed Messenger from the phone
A list of every single call I received or made between 2008 and 2016. The list even told me if the call was a missed call or not
A list of every single text message and MMS I sent and received in the same period
Every single conversation I’ve ever had on Messenger, even from people how have blocked me or that I have blocked
All my interests and pages that I have liked
Every single comment and like I have made
Every single comment and like YOU have made on my postings
Every single song I’ve listened to on Spotify in the period I used Facebook to log on to Spotify
Surprisingly few of my photos, but the ones that were there had all comments and likes listed
Most videos and live broadcasts, including comments and likes
A list of all Facebook friends, including the ones I no longer have in my friends list
Every single event that I have created or attended
Every single place or device I used to log on to Facebook
Every ad I’ve made or (accidentally) clicked, including sponsored postings
Every single application I’ve ever used
Imagine having this information for billions of users all over the world. Now, imagine people using stupid Facebook quizzes that give these quiz apps the same access to all of your friends’ data. The next time people ask you why you should care about privacy, tell them this:
All this data is a total profile on you. And it’s a profile about your beliefs, your political views, your sexual orientation, who your friends are, what you like, what you don’t like… It’s so much, that the people who have all this knowledge about you can actually use it to influence you on what to vote, what to think and even how you behave!
The conference IBM Think was held in Las Vegas from March 19th to 22nd. Over 30 000 people were there, and the conference covered subjects like collaboration, IBM Connections, blockchain, cloud, encryption and artificial intelligence.
As I’m an IBM Champion for ICS and the leader of the Norwegian ICS usergroup (ISBG) I was mostly interested in the portfolio of IBM Collaboration Solutions. As I wrote back in October 2017, HCL has taken over the development of the ICS portfolio, except for IBM Connections, while IBM will still be handling sales and customer contact and support. The most surprising revelation that came out of this is that we will get a Notes/Domino v10, and IBM and HCL has already started delivering demos of what they have promised so far.
However, even that news was eclipsed by the demo showed at Think. You can now actually run Notes applications on you Ipad, without any development, what so ever, needed!
You can simply run them on the Ipad, and all functionality will work as if you were in the Notes client. This includes Lotusscript and the Formula language!
Don’t believe me? Take a look at this demo, provided by Alan Lepofsky:
It really seems like IBM & HCL has set a pace we haven’t seen from IBM since…since… a long time. They are even going to do marketing! Now, if this only could be followed by actually talking to and meeting with customers, we might have something. Anyway, that video is awesome, and I can’t wait to show it to the Notes/Domino customers I have left.
As for Connections, on the other hand, it was peculiar how little news that came out of IBM Think. Last year, everything was all about IBM Connections Pink. This year there were a few sessions about IBM Connections Engagement Center, but so far I haven’t seen any announcements about how the development of IBM Connections is coming along.
It’s no secret that when the Norwegian user group have seminars or webinars about Connections, the interest from our members is considerably lower than when we have presentations about Notes/Domino. So I’m wondering about what will happen on the platform. My guess is that it won’t be long before HCL takes over Connections as well. Especially since IBM seems to be focusing everything on Watson Workspace and Watson Assitant. Not to mention quantum computing and big data analysis. Time will show.
Anyway, the video is just awesome. I can imagine the applause in Vegas when it was demoed.
Lately there have been more and more focus on exactly what the Facebook and Messenger apps are doing on your phone. And the revelations have been quite an eye opener for a lot of people. There is no logical reason for Facebook reading your phone contacts list, your text messages or any other content on your phone.
In the following days I will post a series of postings showing you how to secure your Facebook account in the best possible way. Each tip will take you less than two minutes to follow.
I’m sure you have used Facebook to log in to apps an web sites. I am also sure you have used the “comment with your Facebook profile” in comments sections and similar. And of course, you might have played Farmville, taken Nametests questionnaires and so on.
Here’s how to go through the list of your apps to see exactly who and what you have given access to your profile data:
Go to the pulldown menu up in the right corner of Facebook:
A new page will open up. There is a menu to the left. Find the one called Apps:
Click on it and a new page will open up where you will see all apps where you use Facebook to log on:
Hold your mouse pointer over one of the app icons, and these two new smaller icons will appear:
Clik on the pencil to see what exactly you give this app access to (warning: You might be shocked):
If you scroll down in the list, you can also see that you give this app permission to do on your Facebook account (warning: This might scare you even more)
To remove permissions, click on the blue check mark to the right, so that it turns white:
Click the Save button and you will be taken back to the app list.
You can now do the same with the other apps, or you can simply remove the app completely. Do this by clicking on the x-icon:
You will now be asked to confirm that you want to remove it. You may also be given the opportunity to select a checkbox saying that you want to delete everything you’ve ever posted on Facebook with this app. My recommendation is that you do this! Then click Remove.
Congratulations. You have now taken control of your apps (if you do this with your entire app lists).
Stephen Hawking died yesterday. A huge loss to the world, and no matter his very human shortcomings, the world truly should pay tribute to this man. I am among those millions who bought his book “A Brief History of Time” in the early 90s. It opened my mind up on so many levels, and taught me complex concepts that I had only scratched the surface of before.
I met several of my heroes within science and last year I almost made a hat trick by meeting and interviewing both Neil deGrasse Tyson, Brian Cox and Stephen Hawking at the Starmus science festival in Trondheim, Norway. However, Hawking couldn’t make it because of his declining health. And now I never will be able to meet him. But last weekend I bought a new copy of “A Brief History of Time”, because I lost my old copy, and will read it this weekend in tribute.
As the years went by, Hawking became quite the celebrity. He appeared in numerous TV shows, probably most memorably “The Simpsons” and “The Big Bang Theory”. And loads of artists made songs with or about him. I have created a playlist of 12 of my favourites of these songs:
1) “Into the Party Zone” – Turbonegro
The Norwegian hard rock band Turbonegro’s opening track to the album “Party Animals” called “Intro: The Party Zone,” features Hawking’s familiar electronic voice saying, “Greetings, my name is Stephen Hawking. Anyway, please follow our denim leaders as they enter the final black hole – a new dimension in rock music. Welcome to the party zone.” I don’t think it is Hawking’s voice, though, even if the band have always refused to confirm or deny it.
For Record Store Day in 2015, Hawking recorded a version of Monty Python’s “Galaxy Song,” originally sung by Eric Idle for 1983’s film “The Meaning of Life” (he also appeared in a short video clip featuring fellow physicist and professor Brian Cox filmed for a documentary about the British comedy stalwarts’ reunion shows the year before).
3) “E=MC Hawking” – MC Hawking
When I attended the aforementioned Starmus festival last year, they showed us a documentary about Stephen Hawking’s career as a rap artist… It was hilarious, and taken from the works of Ken Lawrence, who created the MC Hawking rap persona in the late 90s. The lyrics are side splitting, and also spoofs N.W.A (“Fuck the Creationists”). Stephen Hawking was a big fan too.
4) “A Glorious Dawn” – Carl Sagan
Ok, so it’s not really Carl Sagan who performs this track. In 2009, John D. Boswell, a.k.a. Melodysheep, a.k.a. the man behind online video series Symphony of Science, concocted a genius mind-meld between two cosmologists, Carl Sagan and Stephen Hawking. The result is a “cheesy, synthesizer-strewn odyssey that sounds like Auto-Tuning the Cosmos, that could also gently lull you to sleep on dreams of Milky Ways and nebulae nurseries” as Spin Magazine described it.
5) “Keep Talking” – Pink Floyd
David Gilmour insisted that the Pink Floyd albums released under his leadership were concept albums, just like the earlier Pink Floyd albums. 1994’s “The Division Bell” was about communication. So when British Telecom did an advert featuring one of Stephen Hawking’s most powerful monologues, Gilmour thought it fit the bill for his song “Keep Talking.”
“This was the most powerful piece of television advertising that I’ve ever seen in my life,” Gilmour said soon after The Division Bell’s release. “I just found it so moving that I felt that I had to try and do something with it, or with him or something, in some way.”
6) “Hawking Radiation” – Philip Glass
The mastermind of minimalistic music created an album of the same title as the book “A Brief History of Time.” This is a short, but very nice ditty. Unfortunately this is not on Tidal, so the Tidal playlist below only has 11 tracks.
7) “Me and Stephen Hawking” – Manic Street Preachers
The once huge stadium filling band, who used to be an underground band, name checks Hawking in this nice pop track.
8) “Hawking” – Todd Rundgren
Todd is a strange one. Part jazz, part prog, part rock, part pop and part psychedlia. Not only on one and the same album, but preferrably in one and the same song! This one however is dangerously close to lounge jazz.
9) “Da Vinci” – Weezer
Don’t remember what happened to this band, but mentioning Da Vinci and and Hawking in one and the same song just feels right.
10) “White & Nerdy” – Weird Al Yankowic
Come to think of it, I saw Yankowic in Trondheim as well. Oh well, this is a parody of a hiphop song I’ve never heard. But the lyrics are hilarious and the video is awesome too.
11) “Chronologie Part 4” – Jean-Michel Jarre
When the French electronica hero created an album about time, called Chronologie, in 1993, he name checked Stephen Hawking and thanked him for his book “A Brief History of Time,” in the liner notes. The book was a huge source of inspiration for Jarre when he worked on this album.
Last year when I was in Trondheim Jean-Michel Jarre received “The Stephen Hawking Award,” together with Neil deGrasse Tyson and the producers of the TV Show “The Big Bang Theory.”
12) “Talkin’ Hawkin'” – Pink Floyd
Hawking pops up again on the very last Pink Floyd album, “The Endless River.” I think this is a beautiful track, and a nice closer to this playlist.
What did you think of this list? Should I create other lists? Leave your comments below.