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The good thing about music copyright violations on YouTube...

Der Ban Hammer

I've been using YouTube since 2006 back when it was still brand new (original start date was February 2005, for those interested) back when there were no partner programs and Google didn't own it yet.

At that early time, it was basically open season. The only things outright not allowed on YouTube at that time was "adult video" and anything "grotesque", like decapitations and things of that sort like you'd see in a horror movie. Other than those two things, it's like I said, it was open season. You could post anything you wanted, and of course this included a crapload of guitar players posting somewhat-cover songs. I say somewhat because it wasn't really a cover but rather "guy playing along with a copyrighted song in the background".

I don't remember the year when YouTube laid down the ban hammer on "non-licensed use" of copyrighted music, but when they did, there were tens if not hundreds of thousands if not millions of guitar player YouTube videos that got pulled off the site is just a few short months. It was an absolute massacre.

When that happened, oh yeah, it was bad. Did I get caught up in the middle of that? Yes, I did. I received two copyright violations that took several years to get removed (and eventually did). I survived the massacre, but just barely. However, there were other guitar players who had YouTube channels that were nothing but videos of somewhat-cover songs, and got slammed with 3 "strikes" instantly and had their accounts disabled before they could even say, "WHAT THE F..."

So here we are now in late 2013. Google/YouTube has let up a little - but just a little - on enforcing copyright violations for guys who post somewhat-cover songs on the site. I have seen several somewhat-cover videos that obviously contain copyrighted audio used without permission, yet Google/YouTube lets it stay out there. As for why, I couldn't tell you exactly, but a video with illegal use of copyrighted audio in a video seems to be totally A-OK if it has stupid cats in it (as if there aren't enough of those).

Protip: The likelihood of your video using copyrighted audio illegally seems to magically stay up on YouTube if you put your fleabag cat in it. As for how long the "cat factor" will keep your video up, that I don't know. But it seems to work. And why don't I do it? My landlord doesn't allow pets. Maybe if I just used a thumbnail image of a cat it would work. Hmm..

This is the only cat video I like on YouTube. All others fail in comparison.


What was the good thing about all those guitar videos and channels that got whacked for copyright violation?

Yes, there as a positive to this. And the positive is that it eliminated a whole lot of crappy guitar covers off of YouTube.

Before the copyright massacre, there were two major problems with guitar videos. First, way too many cover songs. And second, way too many players who were playing the exact same thing. Badly.

If you want an example of what happens when everyone plays the same thing, just search YouTube for "super mario guitar". After watching a few of those you will hate the Super Mario Bros. theme song.

Even worse: If you click the "Filter" button on that search and choose "This month", there is always someone posting yet another cover of Super Mario Bros. played on guitar. It never ends. Kind of the same way Super Mario has a never-ending stream of crappy products on Amazon. The horror.

What I'm saying is that yes, I am glad so many crappy guitar covers got yanked from YouTube, because the vast majority of them just plain sucked.

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1984 - the 1953 television version!

1984 (1953)

I had thought that I had seen every single screen adaptation of George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four. I was wrong. There was one more. It happens to be the first screen adaptation, and the oldest all the way back from 1953 (yes, that makes it 60 years old at the time I write this). And, wouldn't you know it, it's an American version that originally aired on CBS as part of what was called the Westinghouse Studio One series (which started off as radio-only and then was brought to television later).

Can you watch the 1953 television version of 1984 right now? Yes, you can. It's on YouTube. Or at least it is as the time I write this. Part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4. Being it's from CBS it will eventually get pulled from YouTube, so find a way to download the video if it's still there at the time you read this.

Before watching it though, I'd suggest you read what I have to say about it first.

Okay... so there are four screen versions of this story. The 1953 CBS version which is the one I'm going to talk about, the 1956 BBC television version (on YouTube), the 1956 film version (also on YouTube), and the made-in-1984 film.

Of the four, the BBC version is the most true to the book, which I have read. And in '56 when it originally aired, there were more than a few viewers at the time who called the program "perverse". If you consider what the standard of entertainment was in the mid-1950s (which was generally very cheery), and how dark and dystopic Nineteen Eighty-Four is, well, you can understand how that would ruffle the feathers of a few people.

But anyway, the '53 CBS version is without a doubt the absolute weirdest screen adaptation of the story I've seen.

First of all, it was written as a play. So if you can imagine what Nineteen Eighty-Four would be like if it were performed on stage live, that is exactly what the '53 version is, artsy-farsty version of Big Brother and all. I'll talk about that more in a moment.

Second, some of the same people who did the CBS program went on later to do the 1956 film. You can basically consider the '53 version a prototype of the later film because of that. And yeah, that does mean the storyline is perverted into a love story between Winston and Julia instead how it's supposed to be told (it's supposed to be the journey of Winston's enlightenment and his defeat).

Third, it is really short. About 50 minutes. This is probably because it was meant to fit into a one-hour television time slot, per 1950's television broadcast standards.

If you watched this without knowing the story first, you would have no clue what's going on. None at all. It just moves way too fast. Huge chunks of the story are left out, and like in the '56 film, the '53 version renames certain characters. For example, Goldstein is renamed to Cassandra. Yes, really.

Big Brother himself is this artsy-fartsy oil-painted like... thing. When you see it you're going to say, "What the f--k is that?" Absolutely no resemblance to the way he's described in the book whatsoever. Not even a little.

Telescreens are simply shown as large panes with the best you could do in '53 for what could be considered a special effect. Just some washy-like screening and lighting of some kind.

I'd have to say the best part of the show is Cassandra during the Two Minutes Hate, because what he said was actually written very well.

Most of what he said:

Today you are at war with Eurasia. Tomorrow, perhaps with Eastasia; it doesn't matter. The primary game of modern warfare is to use up the products of the machine without raising the general standard of living. For if leisure and security and enjoyed by all alike, great masses of human beings who normally are stupefied by poverty would become literate and would learn to think for themselves! And once they have done this, they would sooner or later realize that the privileged minority have no function, and they would sweep it away.

That's just as true as it was said in '53 as it is today, if not more so; it is the highlight of the program just because of the good writing, and it's very true to the book.

The rest of the program however is just so unbelievably rushed. That combined with actors many times almost literally shouting as if they were performing a play for an audience just gets annoying.

I suppose I shouldn't knock the program too much because it was the first screen adaptation, and Nineteen Eighty-Four is a really tough story to tell visually.

Why did I watch it? Just to "complete the set", so to speak. I had seen the other three and thought that's all there were. So when I discovered this one, of course I had to watch it. 🙂

Ordinarily I do not like television from the 1950s, but with 1984 I make an exception because it's just interesting seeing different attempts at telling the same story because each has its own take on it.

Even though the story in the '53 version is told totally wrong in so many ways, I give it a thumbs-up anyway just because it's so weird and unique.

Obsolete guitar gear: Alesis Quadraverb GT

Alesis Quadraverb GT

The Alesis Quadraverb GT effects processor (see current listings here) is something I owned myself for a long time. I bought it new originally in the mid-1990s (1994 if I remember correctly) and the price tag was $500 for it. At the time, this was one of the best guitar effects units you could buy. It was also priced right because its nearest competition was the Rocktron Chameleon, which cost more than the Quadraverb GT did.

The main difference between the Quadraverb and the Quadraverb GT is that the GT model had basic amp modeling and distortion/overdrive effects whereas the non-GT version did not. In other words, the GT was the "guitar player's version" of the Quad.

The 1990s for the most part was an "anti-pedal" time for guitar players where everyone wanted all their effects in a rack unit with preset switching ability on the floor via a MIDI controller such as the ART X-15. While pedals were still available and always were, guitar stores had mountains of rack unit stuff available for everything you could possibly think of.

The Quad GT does reverb, delay, phaser and flanger very well. It has a crisp, clean sound to it and its digital processing, while primitive today, still holds up quite nicely. The only time the Quad "sounds old" is if you use really washy reverb. But other than that, the GT could still be used in stage or studio to this day.

Where the GT fails is with its overdrive and distortion as it is awful. All you hear is digital nastiness from that - even with cabinet simulation enabled.

The best way to use the GT as far as guitar is concerned is to not use the distortion or overdrive at all. The cabinet simulation is okay, but for dist/od effect you should use a distortion pedal for that directly in the signal. And what I mean by that is guitar to dist pedal to GT and not use the effects loop.

As far as hardware problems go with the GT, there are a few.

The 1/4-inch jacks on the back have plastic nuts holding them in, and they sometimes work their way loose; this inevitably leads to the jacks breaking their connections on the inside where the signal will cut right out. Using plastic instead of steel nuts was a poor decision by Alesis just to cut cost. If you are a GT owner, the first thing you should do is junk those plastic nuts, replace with steel, and use a socket wrench to get a good, snug connection.

The power button has a nasty habit of losing its connection as well after being used for years.

A very common problem is that the backlight on the LCD screen stops working completely, where you have to shine a flashlight on the display just to read it afterward. It's still functional, but with the backlight not working, the unit gets very annoying to use very quickly. Thankfully, replacement screens are available and easy to install.

The GT does not age well as far as its internal electronics are concerned. Being some units are now close to 20 years old, restoration may be needed.

The power supply for the Quad GT is exactly the same as the Alesis DataDisk. It's a 4-pin proprietary (yuck) adapter, and it is absolutely required that if you buy one you must get the AC adapter with it, because there is no universal adapter available that will power the unit.

Worth owning?

No, unless you want that 1990s "warp" style reverb, and that takes a bit of explanation.

Certain digital reverbs made by Alesis when modulated a certain way have a sound that can only be described as "warped". The Quad GT can do this, as can the Midiverb and Midiverb II. However, those units are only sought out mainly by synth guys and not guitar guys.

The DigiTech RP360 does everything the Quadverb GT did and much more - and many times better.

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