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Jake Tolbert
Works at Millikin University
Attended Eastern Illinois University
Lives in Decatur, IL
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Jake Tolbert

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Alrighty, I think I've got the long neck up and running.

Unfortunately, I had to dump the Aquila wound 4th string - when I came down stairs tonight, I found it had snapped (at the tailpiece again), and despite using a button, it snapped again, this time in the middle when tuning up to pitch.

So I threw the old bronze string back on. So I'm using a metal 5th (so it'll fit under my railroad ties, which you see here, the little dots under the 5th string) and a metal 4th and 3 more Aquilas.

I've still got to stuff a towel under the head - this thing rings too much and sounds reverby in a cheap sort of way without something muting the head a bit. But overall, it sounds decent.

It's not as loud as my regular banjo or even my Taylor--I'd say it's about regular guitar volume. And surprisingly articulate, but plunky.

One of the other things I've been wanting to try, now that I've got functional railroad ties is a sort of uke tuning on the long neck.

I'm capoing on the first fret, moving the 5th up to G and then tuning the 3rd string down a half step. That gives me the same notes as a ukelele on the 4 strings closest to the ceiling. And the top string (the one closest to the floor) is the same as the bottom string on the uke, which makes for some real mind bending chord shapes (not hard, just confusing!)

Also, the frets on the long neck are a LOT farther apart than they are on my soprano uke - reaching out 2 frets is HARD!

The idea is to have a way to take advantage of the arrangements I've put together for uke when I'm out busking (I don't need to haul ANOTHER instrument), but I don't know if it's gonna work out - it's so confusing and different than it's going to take a lot of practice to get used to, which is exactly the thing I'm trying to avoid.

I should post a video of this... Maybe a different day--right now, it's bed time! 
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Those giant spaces between the frets on this one are tough on me. I can handle the regular banjo and the uke, but this thing is hard to play!
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Jake Tolbert

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I went to this craigslist deal, expecting to MAYBE spend $15 on a table saw. 

I walked away having spent $25 and bought:

1. a 7" tablesaw. It's little and needs a bit of work, but it won't take up a ton of room in my garage
2. a 4' air compressor
3. some sort of little metal shelf-y/cabinet that'll be the perfect spot for the table saw.

Now, I have to decide if I want to spend $40 on a cheap Asian-made banjo that I don't need.
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This thing is small enough to go on the kitchen counter (as if +Jenn Tolbert would stand for that). It's maybe 2'x1'x1' and weighs maybe 20 lbs. 

It's awful small, but I don't remember the last time I wished I had a BIGGER table saw.
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Jake Tolbert

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Ok, this is pretty cool: it's an app designed to help you learn topics. It's mostly rote memorization, but it's vaguely gamified, so it's fun enough to work through for 5-10 min a day.

It's primarily designed for learning vocabulary in foreign languages, but there's a host of other courses.
Right now, I'm going through the course on resistor colors, plus the one on terms in statistics (the latter is significantly harder, mostly because I know what "yellow" is, whereas "negative binomial" is less intuitive).

They also have one for aural training, so you can learn intervals by ear, by +Jenn Tolbert​ says I can't play it without headphones. 
What do you want to learn?Memrise is a Wikipedia of learning: over 300,000 ...
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Jake Tolbert

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I think I solved my tailpiece problem--no breakage so far! 
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Yeah. Although, boy howdy do these Aquilas stretch! I had them on a small tenor guitar before this for a long time, but there's about half the string that's never been stretched.

They won't stay in tune for longer than 5 min at this point. Just gotta give em time, I guess. 
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Jake Tolbert

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I've been using Pocket Casts (courtesy of the extremely generous +Frank Sloan) for the last couple days. I hate to say it, but while it's gorgeous, it's just not a winner.

Here's my review, the last review in my Saga to Find a New Podcast Player.

Overall, PocketCasts is gorgeous and fairly well designed. However, it falls apart for the same reason Podcast Republic did: the inability to really control how/when downloads happen.

This is probably another one of those things where I'm not giving the the app enough credit--you can probably tweak things a ton so that it only downloads when you want. But that's not what I'm looking for--I want "download podcasts at 3 am" and "only on wifi". 

PocketCasts hits the former (although it doesn't actually seem to work--I've used almost 200MB of my 1GB/month in the last 2 days), but there's not schedule for when to download.

Sidebar: I really don't understand why app developers think that checking for new episodes and downloading those episodes need to be two different activities. Maybe there's a completely different use case that I'm not aware of? I just want my phone to download the most recent episdoes each night while I'm sleeping so I can listen to them w/o fussing with it on my commute.

Which brings us to the other problem w/ Pocket Casts--playlist management makes exactly zero sense. It took me 2 days to figure out how to make a playlist at all. Now that I have, I'm still not sure if episodes are going to auto play (I had to pull my phone out of my pocket at way too many stop lights so I can hit play manually).

Are new episodes being automatically downloaded? Why did an episode try to download today at 11 am on LTE? I don't know the answers and the pretty design isn't making up for it.

The one other good thing I'll give Pocket Casts is the Tasker integration--there's LOTS of intents you can send and they're well documented and easy to find. 

Unfortunately, it's just not compellingly better than BeyondPod in any way, and it's less reliable than CarCast.

I'll be posting a general wrap-up later on tonight, I think...

+Carl Wiltse 
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Jake Tolbert

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Now THAT'S a frailing scoop. Just drill a bunch of small holes into the fretboard, then break the excess off and sand, right?

What could possibly go wrong?
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Jake Tolbert

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Nabbed this banjo for $40 off Craigslist today. Came with a gig bag, even. As if I need an extra, cheap banjo.

Here's a couple ideas of what I could do with it:

1. Practice making a frailing scoop. Also try the coat-hanger-as-a-tone-ring thing.

2. Upgrade the 5th string tuner to a geared one and sell it all for $100

3. Pull the 5th string off, throw some heavier nylon strings on, tune it like a uke and play it like a really big uke/tenor banjo

4. Do #3 until I find a legit 4 string banjo or a uke that's loud enough for busking. At which point, I'll do #2, if I haven't already tried (and failed) at #1.

Ps. Never mind the wrestling children just off frame...
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Nice. Keep watching craigslist. Now that Mumford & Taylor have moved on, there's sure to be a bunch cropping up... 
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Jake Tolbert

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Shaped up a new bridge and tried Aquila strings on the long neck today. It was a big ole fail - the 1st string keeps breaking at the tailpiece when it gets close to pitch.

So I guess I'm going back to steel strings. I probably need to get (make?) a new tailpiece, too. The stock tailpiece has holes & hooks for SIX strings, not five.

I'm assuming what happened was that this thing came out of the Silvertone/Kay/Harmony factory in Chicago in the late 60s as they were closing up shop - they had way too many of these 6-hook tailpieces and a manager said "use those things up!"

Still, the new strings sound good, plucky bit loud. Who knows. 
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+Jake Tolbert I use La Bella strings on mine. I use the La Bella banjo strings on my five stringers, and the High four La Bella Folk Singer guitar nylon ball ends for my tenor.
I play shows with both as well as plenty of workout at home,and have never had one break on either. Unless you have a burr or something on your tailpiece that is causing this, maybe try the La Bella's. But I would first make a really good inspection of that tailpiece.
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Never, under any circumstances, sign up for a card managed by Barclay. Their customer service is incredibly painful and awful. As it stands right now, they've figured out a way to cheat me out of the very benefit that sold me on signing up for the card.
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Frontier. They promised 2 free tickets for signing up and now it looks like they trying to back out of it...i spent 45 min on the phone yesterday without much luck. 
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I know I've said this before, but seriously, if you're not looking at the Soyscapes Photoblog and you live in #Decatur , you're doing it wrong. 

It's great to see somebody pulling out the beauty in what is, to tell the truth, a rather ugly town.

http://soyscapes.com/archives/2147
Soyscapes. Photoblogging Decatur, Central Illinois and wherever the road leads. Categories. Agriculture (53); Animals (26); Cars (33); Culture (1); Decatur (108); Faith (3); Food (14); Holidays (8); Indoors (23); Industrial (16); Nature (74); People (7); Photography (5); Photoshop (14) ...
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That's your Flickr page? Subscribed. ;)
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Jake Tolbert

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Ok, here's the final wrap-up post about Finding A New Podcasting App. I promised +Carl Wiltse I'd write this all up.

Tl;dr if you don't mind paying for it, use BeyondPod.

Now for some background to this story:

I listen to podcasts every day in the car on my commute. It's about a 20 minute commute, nothing too serious, but I can't be bothered to do a lot of configuration with my podcatcher--it should be a set-it-and-forget-it type of thing. Preferably, I shouldn't have to take my phone out of my pocket--it should start playing when I get in the car and stop when I get there (pushing a button on my Bluetooth receiver is acceptable I suppose).

I've used CarCast for years, as long as I've had a smartphone. It's super reliable, very simple, and has huge buttons that are ugly as sin. It also lacks two or three important features, namely, bluetooth button support is super fiddly (I've hacked it together with Tasker, but it's wonky) and there's no way to integrate it with Dropbox a/o any sort of local folders.

With that in mind, I thought I'd try out some new podcast players and see what I liked. As it turns out, BeyondPod came out the big winner. It's got a ton of features, but isn't too fiddly. Also, it looks great. If you're into getting fiddly, it has lots of knobs to turn and buttons to push about playlist management, how many eposides to keep for each feed, etc.

Other apps I tried included:

- PocketCasts:  gorgeous but fiddly and unreliable download scheduling
- Podcast Addict: super fiddly and VERY confusing UI
- Podcast Republic: good UI but no download scheduling

If all you want is reliable (and you don't care about looks), I still come back to CarCast. To tell the truth, if it had virtual feeds (ie. could read from local folders) and bluetooth button support (which I've sort of hacked in via Tasker in the past), I think I'd stick with it.

On the other hand, it does have the biggest buttons, AND it's open source, which are both huge advantages.

If I was smarter (or, rather, had more time), I'd try to hack the missing features into CarCast. Unfortunately, I'm not an app developer and learning isn't really where I want to put my energy right now. Maybe in a year or two.

That said, for now, I'm probably going to settle on BeyondPod.
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Haha. That's how I feel about Ubuntu/Linux.... 
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Education
  • Eastern Illinois University
Basic Information
Gender
Male
Other names
crazybilly, Jacob
Apps with Google+ Sign-in
Story
Tagline
rollin' like a semi, brother
Introduction
Interested in computers, free and open source ideas, emergent Christianity, geocaching, poetry, folk music, guitars.
Bragging rights
Leader of The Curators, a folk/Americana band in Decatur IL
Work
Occupation
Geekery
Employment
  • Millikin University
    Assoc. Director of Data Mgmt. and Electronics Communication, 2010 - present
  • Decatur Electronics
    Marketing, 2006 - 2010
  • Christ on Campus
    Assoc. Campus Minister, 1999 - 2006
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Currently
Decatur, IL
Previously
Flora, IL - Fayetteville, AR - Charleston, IL
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Jake Tolbert's +1's are the things they like, agree with, or want to recommend.
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DELICIOUS. The Greek chicken was a great deal and was as delicious as it was affordable. The staff was friendly and helpful - overall a great experience.
Public - 9 months ago
reviewed 9 months ago
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