Wednesday, December 24, 2014

2014 That was The Year That Was

Another year is closing out in a few days.2014 was another eventful year. I really is amazing how truth can be stranger than fiction. The Ebola outbreak unfolded almost on cue from a horror sci fi script, very much like Guillermo Del Toro's and Chuck Hogan's The Strain. The vanishing of the Malaysian Airlines MH370 could have been a Fringe, X-Files or Twilight Zone episode. Race relations deteriorated with the Ferguson incident triggering protests across the country and the law enforcement community responding with increasing levels of deadly force.

The Sony Hack also got front page news as it was a wake-up call for every business and organization that has valuable assets to protect behind their fire-walls. It really wasn't a matter of if the hack of this scale and magnitude would happen but just a matter of when. So we all know what went down, I am going to make some predictions for 2015.

1) Another tech bubble and associated collapse of recent start-up companies will happen in 2015 because all of the good ideas for start-up companies have been taken and founders are grasping at straws for innovative new start-up products and services.

2) The price of oil and interest rates will go up again in 2015.

3) The economy will improve slightly and job creation efforts across the board will be hampered by Congress, lobbyists and special interest groups.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Five minutes with my buddy Greg Kihn

An interview with Rock Star, SF Bay Area Rock Icon, published author and Renaissance Man Greg Kihn, on what he’s been up to:

One of the cool things about living in the San Francisco Bay area is that it is the home base for rock-and-roll star, SF Bay Area Hall of Fame DJ and published author: Greg Kihn. With a career as a musician with #1 hits such as “Jeopardy” and “Breakup Song”, as a SF Hall of Fame DJ, Greg is a bona fide rock and roll professor. He has freely shared his vast rock and roll knowledge with his fans over the years. Greg stays in close touch with his loyal fan base and is very active in the social media scene with his blog on and on his social media accounts Facebook, Twitter and Saepta.

Let me begin by saying that  I am a huge fan of rock music that came out of the 80s, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band and of course, The Greg Kihn Band which exploded on the SF Bay area music scene and put the iconic Berserkley Records on the map. I am fortunate to be good friends with Greg Kihn and we had a chance to chat and catch up on what he’s been up to.

So Greg, how are you and what have you been up to?

I’m doing good Wes. Having fun! Enjoying life! I’ve got a lot of projects going on that I enjoy working on. Plus, I’m spending time with the grand kids. And I’ve almost caught up on sleep after all of the years of getting up at 4am to be a morning drive-time radio DJ.

What are some of these “Projects” you’re talking about?

Well, I can’t say too much because some are Top Secret, but what I can talk about is: I’m working with a LA film company on a Greg Kihn documentary; my next novel “Painted Black” published by Open Road Media is to be released this Spring 2015 (follow up to “Rubber Soul”); And my one of my most recent projects has been my work as the Emissary for Saepta, a cool new social media voting and polling website ( that’s here in the Silicon Valley.

You sound very busy. What’s this new novel “Painted Black” about?

“Painted Black” is my new novel about the murder of Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones. It’s a follow up to “Rubber Soul” and it again includes good old Dust Bin Bob.  I’ll be giving out details on “Painted Black” real soon so check back with me @

Sounds good, I liked “Rubber Soul”, I’m definitely going to get “Painted Black”!

Greg, you mentioned social media earlier. I see that you’re pretty active online. How do you keep the social media engagement level so high with your fans year after year?

Content is KING! The fans have to be compelled to return to your website on a regular basis. How do you do that? Again, posting good content will get them to come back. They really need to find your content and blog posts interesting enough to read & share with other fans. The posts need to be provocative, funny and a fair amount of wit. A good friend, Guy Kawasaki said, “Keep your fan enchanted”. It’s good advice! I always try to keep my fans interested and engaged so they will come back to my web site and stay a fan.

How can you tell if your content is what the fans want?

My Manager and friend Joel Turtle told me when I very first started that “I should never do an “Act” or be something I’m not just because people want it. Just be yourself your fans will love you for you.” I’ve taken that to heart. I just go out there. Be myself and hope that people like me and my music and what I have to say. Online I try to write blogs about the way I feel on anything and everything that comes to mind, music, sports, science, current issues, what’s happening in the Bay area and I hope that it coincides with my fan’s main interests. I can tell if I’ve connected with the fan’s online by the comments, number of likes & shares or by the votes on each of my SaeptaPolls.

Greg, you’ve mentioned Saepta a couple of times now. What is Saepta? What’s a SaeptaPoll?

Asking questions is in our DNA. Who’s the best guitar player ever? What’s your favorite Beatles' song? How do you buy your music?" I love asking questions and I also like reaching out to my fans to see what their opinions are. That’s why I’ve teamed up with Saepta. Saepta is a really cool way for anybody to create an online poll as well as a place to go vote on current issues. Initially I used the SaeptaPolls to spice up my social media sites. But, as time went by it became more and more a part of my blogs and my social media experience. I use it all the time and I want my fans, and my fans of fans, to love and use Saepta as much as I do. In fact, I am so passionate about Saepta that I have signed on as Emissary. So when the aliens come and they say “Take us to the Emissary of Saepta”, that's me! My first act as Emissary is to join forces with Saepta to bring you a chance to win a very cool Holiday giveaway! I'm giving away a Greg Kihn Band autographed Guitar!

(You can enter and get more details by clicking enter below.)

Saepta sounds like a good fan engagement tool. That’s pretty cool that you‘re giving away a signed Greg Kihn guitar. I’ll definitely be posting a SaeptaPoll once were done with this interview. 

So, what advice do you offer to an aspiring musician today?

Again content is king! The fans want new content all the time. Whether it’s a song, a video, a show, a blog, a picture, anything that engages your fans is content. Also, one of the most important things is that you’re true to yourself and that you believe in what you’re doing. If you’re just doing something to be cool or successful and rich, it probably won’t happen. But if you’re doing it because you really love what you’re doing and that you’re passionate about it than you will find true success.

In closing the music, the shows, the books and the web content you have produced consistently over the years are all appreciated by your fans. There are some really good lessons to be learned from your career and the content you’ve produced. I really admire the time you spend and the ways that you try to reach out and engage your fans, whether it’s through blog posts or these new SaeptaPolls, again it’s greatly appreciated by me and I’m sure by all Greg Kihn fans alike. 

Well thank you so much Wes and thanks to all my fans. I really appreciate the support. And as always it’s great talking to you.

And don’t forget to enter the Greg Kihn guitar Kihntest!

Kihntest Information here:
(Click on link)
Rock On!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Hornit Bicycle Horn Review

Most bicycle riders put themselves at risk whenever they are biking on public roads. Most bicyclists wear helmets and use front-facing flashing headlights and rear red LED safety flashers so they can be easily seen by drivers. Unfortunately, being seen is not enough for distracted drivers. You know the ones I'm talking about. To them, pedestrians and cyclists are invisible. If you do not make eye contact with drivers when turning at a busy intersection or in a parking lot, then you are more likely to get hit from the rear or even head on. Being seen by flashers is not enough. You also have to be heard. Studies have shown the majority of bicycle accidents occur at a busy intersection, usually a car plowing into a bicyclist from the rear , side swiping them or when making a turn. The big problem is that manual conventional bike horns and buzzers simply are not loud enough to get the attention of a distracted car or truck driver. Now there is a really cost effective product simply called the Hornit. The tag line for this new bike horn is "Seriously Loud Cycle Horn" and this is no understatement. The Hornit emits an ear slitting warning chirp at 140 decibels which is really loud and will definitely alert a distracted driver or pedestrian from a fair distance away. Retailing for $49.99, the Hornit runs on 2 qty AAA Alkaline batteries and a fresh set of batteries will last approximately 6-12 months of normal use (6 x 1 second blasts on average per day) taken from the Hornit Instruction Data Sheet.

How does it work out in the field? In the real world. I took it for a spin recently and man, this horn is loud. It saved my bacon on the first ride in a parking lot where someone was backing up with out looking. One short blast and the car stopped immediately after hearing the Hornit. Out on a public bike path, it gave plenty of warning 50 yards before approaching a woman with a baby carriage, dog and tricycle, They heard the chirp and moved to the right to let me pass, Measuring 4 inches long by 1 3/4" wide, the Hornit comes with a push button wired remote that is water resistant and comes with a nice handlebar adjustable mount. If you ride in an urban or even suburban area where distracted drivers are a big problem, the Hornit will save you and prevent collisions by making your presence known in a big way. Highly recommended  as mandatory riding gear, right up there with a Bicycle Helmet and a high power flashing rear light.

If you are into self-preservation (who isn't?) and want to alert the zombie distracted drivers and pedestrians with earphones on yacking on their smartphones, this is just what the doctor ordered. I give the Hornit  5 stars out of 5. Two Thumbs up. Kudos to the engineers and inventors who are also bicycle riders as the design is well thought out and custom designed for daily bicycle usage. It's a real life-saver in the most literal sense of the word!!!!

You can purchase the Hornit from your local bike store/retailer or directly from the good folks at Hornit on their corporate web-site here: There are a number of Youtube videos that demo the Hornit and you can hear it in action on the city streets.

Road Mode 140 decibels
Park Mode 130 decibels
Dimensions and Weights
Main Unit 97mm(l) x 48mm(w) x 36mm(h)
Trigger 94mm(l) x 18mm(w) x 7mm(h)
Type 2 x AAA batteries
Durability Batteries will typically last 6-12 months with normal use
Weight 96g
Ingress Protection Rating
IP Rating IP44 - Protection from splashed water and solid objects greater than 1mm in diameter

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Deconstructing Steely Dan's Black Cow from the Album Aja

1977 saw the release of Steely Dan's Aja which was one of the first albums worthy of audiophile release on the Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs catalog and brought Mssrs Becker and Fagen front and center in the Jazz community as the content came closest to pure Jazz than any other album they had produced to date. Sonic perfection was clearly the goal in the production for this album and most critics and fans agree that they pretty much achieved it. Black Cow is a disco-funk composition that has a veneer and polish that was missing from their previous albums. They had the good sense and financial means to hand-pick the studio jazz musicians who were at the top of their game when recording Aja. Having a killer rhythm section with a rock solid bass line and superb drumming was the order of the day and the opening of Black Cow with Chuck Rainey and Paul Humphrey establishing the beat and groove sparks the opening of Black Cow. Victor Feldman was a well respected Jazz musician specializing in the vibraphone and piano and contributes a tasty piano solo. The background vocalists with the "So Outrageous" chorus is also a nice touch giving the song a sardonic, admonishing feel and a hipster vibe all at the same time. Before the last verse kicks in you can hear the key change from major to minor, a subtle but very effective flourish that signals that the song is headed into the closing chorus and saxophone vamps from the superb tenor saxophone master Tom Scott. Tom literally wails on the outro tenor sax solos and in my opinion is one of the most effective horn closing/sax solos in a Steely Dan song.

The song works musically on so many levels and the production and execution of the song is really flawless. It is one of my favorite songs on Aja and for me is really the essence of the type of jazz music Becker and Fagen wanted to create. I really want the sax solos to last longer and it still stands up really well over time. Again a master lesson on how to create yet another iteration of jazz while adding fresh new elements all around. Every time I play it I can hear something different.

The Making of Aja Video interview with Donald Fagen and Walter Becker on Black Cow

In the corner
Of my eye
I saw you in Rudys'
You were very high
You were high
It was a cryin' disgrace
They saw your face

On the counter
By your keys
Was a book of numbers
And your remedies
One one of these
Surely will screen out the sorrow
But where are you tomorrow
I can't cry anymore
While you run around
Break away
Just when it
Seems so clear
That it's
Over now
Drink your big black cow
And get out of here
Down to Greene Street
There you go
Lookin' so outrageous
And they tell you so
You should know
How all the pros play the game
You change your name

Like a gangster
On the run
You will stagger homeward
To your precious one
I'm the one
Who must make everything right
Talk it out till daylight
I don't care anymore
Why you run around
Break away
Just when it seems so clear
That it's
Over now
Drink your big black cow
And get out of here.
So outrageous, So outrageous
Drums: Paul Humphrey
Bass: Chuck Rainey
Electric Piano: Victor Feldman
Clavinet: Joe Sample
Guitar: Larry Carlton
Synthesizer: Donald Fagen
Tenor Sax: Tom Scott
Backup Vocals: Clydie King, Venetta Fileds,
Sherlie Matthews, Rebecca Louis