What I’ve Been Up To

April 11, 2010 · Posted in europe, goals, hungary, iphone, music, news, personal, scuba, travel, work · Comment 

I’ve been crazy busy ever since we returned from Colombia. We fell back into life in the US at full sprint and have only had a few periods since where we could rest. As a result, I don’t think I’ve been clear on what exactly I’ve been up to with my family and friends. So here’s the short version of most of the major things I’ve been up to since getting back:

iPhone Development

We started a company last year to allow independent iPhone app developers to make the transition from “wanna-be” to published developer. The model works similar to a record label, where LTZ provides the leverage, so that developers can concentrate on coding rather than the logistics of getting apps out. We wanted to start small, get a few early successes and then use that momentum to gather a pool of developers. We’re also planning a Code Kitchen, which is a class to teach iPhone and Mac programming to anyone interested for free.

Most of our early time was spent on logistics, even though we had our first app idea right from the start. It was a lot of waiting; we waited for resources (copy, data, images, feedback), we waited for Apple, we waited for the lawyers and we waited for contracts. So in a year’s time, we finally had an application ready to release. But thankfully, most of that work won’t have to be completed again since the contracts, setup and other logistics are taken care of. I’ll post a longer article on the whole process (what it took, what we learned, etc), but as I type this, our app, BarNinja is “In Review,” waiting to go up on the Apple App Store. It still might get rejected (one never knows with these processes), but we’re hopeful that it will appease the Apple review gods. We’re also more hopeful that the app will actually sell well and we can get some money into the business so we can buy “test” devices, like the brand new iPad for all our people.

Scuba Diving in Blacksburg

As many already know, scuba diving is a relatively new thing for me. However, I instantly fell in love with the sport and have tried to progress as quickly as I can. It’s been a lot cheaper than flying.

I got my Open Water (OW) certification in November of ’08 (with dives in Cozumel, Mexico in December), my Advanced Open Water (AOW) in July of ’09 (with dives in the Florida Keys and on the US Coast Guard Cutter my grandfather served on in World War II), my Rescue Diver certification (that required another certification of Emergency First Responder) and now I’m working on my Divemaster certification, which is a professional level diving certification. As you can image, this has been a long journey, with a ton of training, reading, and diving. The diving part was especially difficult due to the location. Blacksburg is not known for it’s amazing scuba diving, but diving in the local river, which has a maximum depth of 41 feet, has made it a bit easier.

We should be able to finish up the divemaster certification in May of this year. That’ll allow me to help teach some classes with Scott, who runs Avalon Adventures here in Blacksburg and the New River Valley (NRV). He’s my current instructor and I’ve helped him out with his website. The plan is to serve Blacksburg, Christiansburg, Radford, and the surrounding NRV to provide classes, dive trips, dive refreshers and other adventures. Hopefully, we’ll also make some money in the process.

Music

I’ve picked up my guitars again. Sadly, I don’t think I’ve picked them up in at least six months, but I’m at it again. Luckily it only took me a few minutes to remember what those six months made me forget. I am also helping my old Computer Science instructor with his business at Rocket Music. It helps me get back into music, even though its on a strictly computer programming level. Just talking about guitars, buying guitars, customizing guitars and everything guitars reminds me to go pick up one of my guitars and practice, if for only 15 minutes.

Our Foster Dog

Our foster dog Petunia has really adjusted well with us. When we first got her, she had some problems with other dogs, being generally nervous, crying when we left her home alone, etc. We weren’t surprised, since her previous owners abandoned her and she spent a long time in the shelter. Now all she does it try to cuttle up with us and never leaves us, even if that means following us from room to room.

Ana is getting attached to Petunia and I don’t think we’re going to get her adopted. Being a Pitbull mix, people are afraid of her. However, everyone that’s met her has loved her, which is another reason we don’t think we’ll let her be adopted. She never barks, is great with our cat, loves to play, never complains, and is so adorable. She’s gathered such nicknames as Petu, Petufilese and just Perrita. Dogs are a lot of work, but I think in this case, for her, she’s worth it.

Apartment

My girlfriend of about a year, moved in officially a few months ago. She still has her old apartment, but the rent there is taken care of by a sort of sub-lease. Previously, we were always together anyway, cooking food, studying together, grocery shopping together. The only difference was, she wasn’t paying rent or the massive electricity bill we seemed to rack up with her presence. I have an extra bedroom in my condo, which I gave to her for all her stuff. We moved in her tredmill into that room (producing some of the first small scratches in my new hard wood floors), her desk and a bunch of other things so that she has her own space. It’s worked out extremely well and while we’ve had our fights about stupid apartment and living stuff, you don’t truly know a person until you lived with them. That goes for friends and girlfriends.

Spanish

As a result of living with a native Spanish speaker, I’ve picked up a lot. I never learned Spanish. It was always the language of poor people where I lived. Instead I studied German, the language that’s most understood in Europe. While living in Hungary, I learned Hungarian so picking up Spanish was probably the easiest thing for me. With Spanish, for example, just add an ‘O’ or an ‘A’ after any English word of more than 2 syllables and translate word for word and you have a pretty good, understandable sentence.

Before I met Ana (pronounced Ah-na, not Anne-uh by the way), I probably knew less than 20 words, and that’s after having spent two weeks in Mexico scuba diving. Before that, I probably knew around 5. Now I wish I would have learned it sooner, but I’m glad I learned German since Ana and I are planning a trip back to Europe. Ana has never been, so I’ll take us around Hungary, we’ll visit Italy (which is a language both of us have studied, but she understands a lot better) and she can take us around Spain since they almost speak the same language as she does.

We have a savings account set up that we’ve been putting money in since last summer. It’s not a lot, but it’ll at least pay for the plane tickets out there. Then we plan on staying with friends where we can, and since we both have friends all over Europe, it shouldn’t be an issue.

New Song I Wrote: Perfect is the Enemy of Good (Guitar Only)

July 22, 2008 · Posted in music, personal, projects · Comment 

I recorded this song just to capture some music I had in my head. It’s not meant to be a final version, but more of a “stream of thought” in terms of music (though edited). I still need to go back and gather those thoughts into a comprehensible “song” that has all those melodies and harmonies that makes music so structured, or not.

The recording goes along with its own first draft lyrics which were also created from stream of thought writing, which is inherently unstructured and mostly incomprehensible. So, you won’t get to hear the lyrics anytime soon (because I can’t sing).

This is probably as far as I’m going to go with this particular song. I just threw it together because people often ask what songs I’m playing when I play my guitar. I’m just making junk up as I go along, and this is the junk I came up with so I thought I’d share.

I hope you like it, feel free to critique it as I’m always trying to improve! Oh, and I know the timing is a bit off. I need to invest in a metronome.

I present:

Michael Ziray – Perfect is the Enemy of Great

 

Aside: The title comes from a Voltaire quote (my translation): “Le mieux est l’ennemi du bien.” The song’s lyrics are actually about a girl and knowing that perfection is the goal, but by no means the finish line.

New Song I Wrote: Undeserved

July 19, 2008 · Posted in art, music, projects · Comment 

I started this song over a year ago (March 2007?). I worked on it a bit since then but completely lost the direction I was going with it and gave up trying to make anything from it. Thus, I think it’s probably one of my worst songs. However, in the interest of finishing what I started and the fact I hate to leave things without closure, I decided just to cut it short and finish it up.

This one doesn’t contain any stock loops and is created entirely note by note in Apple’s Garage Band.

I present:

Michael Ziray – Undeserved

I hope you enjoy!

Music Store/Guitar Work

June 30, 2008 · Posted in art, music, photography, photos, projects, work · Comment 

Some of you know that I work for the coolest music store in Blacksburg, but maybe you don’t know exactly what I do (I’m not exactly sure myself sometimes), so I figured I would share some of the photography work I’ve done for them:

 

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Some of My Old Music – Part 4 of 4

June 14, 2008 · Posted in music, projects · Comment 

This last piece of music was made with the intention of being used as the introduction. Thus, it’s a bit shorter than the last four but like the last four, it’s also meant to be looped.

Mike Ziray – Intro

Enjoy!

 

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