Category Archives: Concert

Design Patterns: iOS and Android – Dispatch Queues and AsyncTask

For the past few weeks, I’ve been learning Android and porting one of my iOS apps to the platform. While there are many differences between the two platforms, it’s also kind of interesting to see common design patterns between them. I figured I should write up the common design patterns that I notice and maybe help out some iOS developers who are also learning Android like me.

Today I’ll look at doing asynchronous tasks in each platform. While there are many ways of doing this in both platforms, I’ll take a look at Dispatch Queues for iOS and AsyncTask in Android, since that’s what I’ve been using lately.

In iOS, you can use the dispatch_async call to run code on a background dispatch queue. Say we get an NSArray of JSON objects and want to save them to a Core Data store. We can call dispatch_async on a dispatch queue, process all of the objects and then update the UI by using dispatch_async again on the main queue:

In Android, performing a lightweight asynchronous task requires you to subclass AsyncTask. I guess I’m using the term “lightweight” loosely because creating a subclass just to do something asynchronously seems a bit heavy, but at least you get to reuse your code!

You must define three generic types which describe what the input is (in this example, a String), the progress type (an Integer) and a result (a Boolean).

Once you have that AsyncTask set up, you can call

to run your asynchronous task. One tricky thing to remember is that execute takes a list of objects and sends it to doInBackground as an array. I’m not BFF with Java so the syntax threw me a bit, but apparently it’s using a feature called varargs that’s been in Java for a while now.

That’s all for today. I hope this blog post was useful. I certainly found it useful, since I had to do some research to really understand what the heck I was writing about. I’ll probably write about UITableViewDelegate/Datasource vs. ListAdapter next, unless there’s something else that seems more timely.

Ingrid Michaelson at The Ark, Ann Arbor 8/9/10

I went to see Ingrid Michaelson with my .gf at The Ark in Ann Arbor on August 9th, 2010. This was the third time I’ve seen her in concert, which is the most times I’ve seen anyone in concert, I think. Besides the band I was in myself, which doesn’t count.

I had recently seen her and the band in Seattle in October last year. I was hoping there’d be a lot of new material, but for the most part it was a lot of songs from her latest two albums, Everybody and Be Okay/Girls and Boys. She played one new song called “Parachute” that was catchy.

As usual, Ingrid and the band came off as genuinely having a good time. I think it helped that this was a fan show (they pre-sold out to the fan email list) and they had been opening for a band so no one knew who they were for the past few shows. As with any live show, the best parts are when the band does something unexpected. In this show, they mixed in the chorus from Poker Face into Soldier (I think they might’ve done that last time, too), did a cover of Britney Spears’ Toxic as a last song (before they left for an encore) and also played a punky fast version of The Way I Am as their real last song (which they also played at normal speed earlier in the show).

Overall, It was a really fun show. Ingrid and the band really have a good time, and it rubs off on the fans, especially in a small venue like The Ark. Hopefully a new album is on the way. I’d like to hear more new material next time.

They Might Be Giants at SoDo Showbox, Seattle WA 11/10/2009

flood

So I saw They Might Be Giants in concert last night. This was a super special show where they played all of the songs from their album Flood plus some other songs as filler.

There was actually an opener called “Guggenheim Grotto.” Their music wasn’t too bad. But it seemed really inappropriate as an opener to TMBG. Like their songs were about love and pretty serious without any funny lyrics at all. You could kind of tell the crowd was not into them. I felt they should’ve had a more appropriate opener, but oh well. I guess there aren’t really a bunch of bands that are like TMBG and could open for them.

They didn’t actually go on stage til around 10pm, opening with some kind of song about elements. I haven’t listened to their kid’s albums, so this one was new to me. Then they did some other songs before launching into Flood. Along the way they also did some weird puppet show, but it seemed like they had less random stage stuff than the last concert I saw, where they channeled a dead person or something.

For the most part they played songs from Flood in sequence, though for some reason they rearranged Racist Friend and maybe also Particle Man. I think some of the fans were like “WTF” because of that. Personally I’ve listened through Flood so many times that it seems like one giant song. So any break in the sequence is pretty noticeable.

While I like the concept of playing a whole album for a concert (plus other songs), in practice it seems kind of absurd. Some songs just don’t make sense live, like Hearing Aid or Minimum Wage. But in the spirit of experimentation and randomness I can accept it. While Flood is a really good album, I would’ve liked to hear more songs from other albums, too. They did play She’s An Angel, which was cool. And Famous Polka, The Mesopotamians (which I guess they use a lot as a pseudo closer), Shoehorn With Teeth and Why Does The Sun Shine? But what about Ana Ng and Don’t Let’s Start? I guess you can’t fit all their songs into one concert…

As with the last time I saw them (almost exactly two years ago to the date!), TMBG is really good live. Some of the Flood songs seemed a bit under-rehearsed, but besides that they were good. Linnell sang a wrong lyric in Letterbox and I think everyone noticed. Also, random thought of the concert: “Is it weird that there is a giant room of people all singing along to a song about buying prosthetic foreheads to wear on their real heads? I guess not.”

Also similar to last time, the band left, then came back for two or three songs, then left again. At this point I was really tired and started walking off. But then they did a second encore! That’s how you know they’re professionals. I just hope they don’t push it so much that each song requires an additional encore, starting from the first song played. That would get tiring. The last song they did was Fingertips from Apollo 18, which I think they also did the previous concert I saw. It’s a crowd-pleaser.

Hopefully I will get to see They Might Be Giants again some time. They really are fantastic live (especially Linnell’s piercing voice) and really fun, too.

Ingrid Michaelson at Neumos, Seattle 10/12/2009

ingridband

I got to see Ingrid Michaelson in concert at Neumos in Seattle last night. I previously saw her for the first time in Ann Arbor, 2007. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see her in Ann Arbor last year because she sold out pretty quickly.

From what I remember of the last time I saw her (I haven’t re-read my other concert post yet), she seemed really modest and was excited that people in the audience knew the words to some of her songs. After two years of success, it seems like she’s a lot more confident, but also kind of diva-ish. Not that she’s a bitch or anything, but she’s sort of less charming in the way she was before. She still mentioned lots of random stuff like crying a bunch after watching The Family Stone on the tour bus and how much they like all like Mexican food.

Before Ingrid and the band came on, there was an opening act guy named Matthew Perryman Jones. I wonder if it’s his real name or a fake stage name! He was pretty good, but his songs were kind of yawn-inducing. He was nice though, and he said that all proceeds of the music and shirts and stuff would go to a child in need. Then he revealed the child in need is his child! What a joker.

Ingrid and the gang came on kind of late, and started with Soldier, which is the opener of her new album, Everybody, which I haven’t written about yet. Then she played a mix of songs from her past three albums. The first time I saw her, she only brought her friend Allie, but this time she had a full band, which is kind of necessary for playing a lot of the arrangements in the new album. The older songs felt a little weird with a full band though. To be fair, some of the arrangements were refreshing, like Far Away turned into a much richer song and I think Giving Up almost turned into a country song, which had an awesome effect. This is exactly why live performances are worthwhile to plunk down change for.

Ingrid said she was tired because she had taken a nap. I can relate. It’s hard to get back on track after taking an hour nap. She sounded fine, though. Her voice was as nice as I remember it. There were times that she used a little too much vibrato though. But she’s totally still got it talent-wise.

I think her songwriting has gotten better as well. I really like Die Alone, don’t get me wrong. But it’s just a little too repetitive. Her new songs are much better in that sense.

Oh, also, when she sang Can’t Help Falling in Love, some girl fainted. And she said it happened the previous night, too! Maybe it’s an epidemic. Or maybe people just know they can get Ingrid to come to their rescue and get close to her by pretending to faint during that song…

Overall, I think Ingrid Michaelson has improved quite a lot. The lacking maturity factor that I wrote about in my previous posts seems to have resolved itself. Maybe is a really good album. And Ingrid is a really good performer (and so are her bandmates, especially Allie). Oh, and her other girl guitar player is kind of cute. So go see her live if she hasn’t already sold out in your town! Apparently she has sold out everywhere she’s gone so far. Hopefully I will get to see Ingrid again some time soon without a skip year like before!

Kurt Elling and Ernie Watts at The Michigan Theater 04/16/09

kurt-elling

I saw Kurt Elling w/ Ernie Watts at the Michigan Theater last Thursday. The program was billed as “Dedicated to You,” in which Kurt re-envisions songs from Coltrane/Hartman’s ballad album. I really like this album, so I approached the concert with some enthusiasm and also some apprehension.

The instrumentation was kinda interesting. There was a combo as a base: Piano, Bass, Drums, Sax. Then there was a string quartet called ENRON or something (err, it was ETHEL) included in the instrumentation. This made the music seem a bit more fancy, but also more… orchestrated. I thought it took away from the jazziness of the performance. Like a real jazz performance will be a bit impromptu. The strings can’t really improvise along with the rest of the band (at least not in 4 part harmony) so everything is a little more rigid.

Anyway, I think the set included all the songs on the aforementioned cd, but in different arrangements. Some were converted into non-ballads and I think one was played at ballad speed but in a double-time feel. Can’t really remember everything because I wasn’t taking notes. I do recall that I didn’t really like the arrangement for “My One and Only Love.” I thought it should’ve been given a real ballad treatment instead of the uptempo version that wasn’t very long.

I mean, the concert wasn’t bad or anything. Not at all. Elling was a pretty good singer. Even though he kind of overdid the loungey moving away from the mic and then getting closer to it to change dynamics thing. You know what I mean? He also had some funny movements. He has a good voice, but he also seemed to mess around with the vocals a little too much. That’s okay for people who are familiar with the subject matter but for people hearing a standard ballad for the first time it makes it harder to listen to.

I wonder if listening to the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra (a definitely old-school group) is making me kind of snotty. LCJO gets criticized for not being more modern. But I like the old school sound! There were times when the Elling group really got in the groove (or as we jazz musicians like to call it, “in the pocket”), which was great. I really like the straightahead jazz sound. I guess I really shouldn’t complain though. I was happy with the concert for the most part.

Towards the end Elling brought out some old jazz singer dude. I didn’t know who he was at the time but I just looked it up and it was Jon Hendricks. He came on for the last two songs and scatted. The first was Bessie’s Blues, a Coltrane tune that wasn’t on the ballad cd. I think this was one of the times the group really jelled. Then they played Bye Bye Blackbird. Kurt sang the Miles Davis solo of it using some made up lyrics. It was kind of cool because I think a lot of people recognized that it was the Miles Davis solo and appreciated it. It’s also kind of cool because it requires secret jazz knowledge to pick up on it!!! Oh, and after I looked it up I learned that Jon Hendricks actually did this in 1986. So I guess Kurt was doing a tribute to Jon, while Jon was standing there.

During Bye Bye Blackbird, Jon was taking a solo. It looked like he was taking a longer solo than everyone had anticipated, so I think Kurt was trying to figure out how to signal to him that the song needed to end. I mean, they were probably cool having him take the solo. But he most likely didn’t do a rehearsal with the guys. So it was pretty entertaining watching the guys figuring out how to end the song while the guy was taking a long ass solo. That’s how jazz people roll.

The closers were definitely the right choice because they had high crowd-pleasing potential (blues and a well known standard). I think everyone left happy, including me. While I think the source material for the concert is timeless, and perhaps shouldn’t be messed with, they did an okay job and the concert as a standalone event was good. It’s kind of hard to please and live up to standards when you leave yourself open to comparison with Johnny Hartman and John Coltrane…

ALSO: After doing even more research (lookin’ on Youtube) it seems as though Kurt sang with Bob Mintzer, one of my favorite mustached modern composers. Though apparently he didn’t sing “My Foolish Heart” on the album which I really, really like, he did sing it live with Bob. Neat-o.