Thursday, August 25, 2011

Holding off on Gold... for now

Great article by Bill Bonner, the economist who my Dad and I read a lot :)

I have been pondering an investment in gold now for several months, but with this market so absolutely insanely volatile, I was nervous to enter it. Of course the market takes no prisoners and gold bounded upwards, jumping from $1600 to successive record highs, ending at $1910 a few days ago. About 3 weeks ago I was chatting with my friend Matt, wondering if I'd waited to long and missed the boat already. Was I too late to join the club? We figured the answer was "maybe" for short term investing and "no" for long term. I am certainly planning for long term here (say, 5-10 years) but I'd still rather not buy in at a foolish rally-driven price.

Today things started to become more clear - or at least as clear as things can be in times of insane, nervous, trigger-happy market conditions. Looks like people are not expecting Bernanke to make any huge stimulus announcements like QE3 on Friday, and short term gold speculators are selling off these record highs so they can bake in their short term gains. Makes sense. But these trends spell a downward view for gold over the next bit. I was feeling that instinct, don't buy now because everyone else just rushed in and there were reports of it being "overbought". So it's cool to see that my most respected financial writer has confirmed my suspicions. I have no idea what timeframe I should buy gold in, but he's saying in this article that the next jump in gold is maybe still a couple of years out.

Of course no one knows for sure, and we can only do our best to make the right decision at a given time, given all the information we have at that point. For me, I feel like gold is a solid long term investment choice, countries like China and India are starting to purchase it en-masse and in the long term I like the idea of holding it. It's certainly proved it's potential to gain in the last 10 years (when, sadly, I was a poor student with no money to invest). I see it rising over the long term given all the info Bonner discusses in his posts and the general shoddy state of the US Economy, US dollar, and stimulus/propping up of the failing stock prices by quantitative easing. It's bound to break. No one knows when, but I think it safe to bet on it breaking, eventually. And I don't want to be invested in stocks when they crash and burn.

So anyway it's nice to see that the recent rally in Gold is correcting itself now, and I'll wait until it's continued downwards for a bit until I jump in. I've done my research now, so when I feel the time is right to enter then I'll be ready.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Introducing the new

It's done!!!!!

After a lot of hard work, planning, design, re-formatting and general staying-up-too-late, I'm super psyched to announce the new Available now at - you guessed it -!

new look for

The new site features a rotating banner of images I've taken on my travels, an new travel section, and a much more modern web look. A selection of my favourite photos are available in a "lightbox" gallery and music I've recorded streams to the site. My resume has also been updated along with a new media exposure section, highlighting old newspaper articles as well as random hilarious YouTube media of me (check out the Harvey Norman TV ad I was in when I lived in Australia).

Check it out and let me know what you think, I'd love any and all comments.

Mike :)

Goodbye, old website

Goodbye old website with your scribbly Mike Jutan handwriting "font" and wordiness and broken photo gallery. We'll miss you. :)

New website announcement in 3... 2... 1...

Old website landing page
Old website "Professional Interests" page

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Red Tails Trailer

New Lucasfilm Movie coming out January 20, 2012!

AMAZING trailer, this is gonna be awesome. I love the style of the film logo too...

Monday, August 15, 2011

Atabet Art: Make Art Help Orphans

Please support my buddy Matt's art project. The aim is to get 2000 messages. All you have to do to help is add a comment!

‎- go to
- add a comment about what gives you hope
- share with friends

Atabet is partnering with Children of Uganda to create a crowd-sourced mural, raising support for orphaned victims of civil unrest and the AIDS epidemic. We're gathering 2,000 messages which will become part of an original mural, the sale of which will support children in need. To help, visit and leave a one sentence comment on the original post answering the question "what gives you hope?" If you'd like to help further, 'like' this page and press the 'share' button, adding a personal message to spread the word. Every 250 quotes, a selected contributor will recieve a personalized artwork containing their message.

To learn more about Children of Uganda and the work they're doing, please visit: http://www.childrenofuganda.or​g/

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Mic Test, 1, 2, 1, 2

I'm in mid-development on the new look for and it's gonna be great. I've really enjoyed planning out and designing the site, and now I'm spending a bunch of time on the content. It's gonna be a lot more professional-looking than my current site, and it's also got a cool RSS feed reader that I just wrote to re-post the 3 most recent blog posts on there. It's in a secret location right now so this is a test for me to see if the RSS feed is in fact working :)

I was going to post up some sneak peaks but I think I'll just wait until it's completely done and then I'll post it all at once. Good times!

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Getting ready to start new website design

I just bought RapidWeaver and the Avante theme from WeaverThemes and I'm gonna get rolling on my new website pretty soon. It's looking more and more obvious that you pretty much have to buy the Stacks plugin for RapidWeaver for quick and solid website development. I also want an RSS feed and it looks like the easiest way to add one in is just to buy Stacks and then buy another RSS ticker stack to add into it. The point of going this way was really to minimize any coding I'd have to do so I could focus solely on content and knock out a nice-looking professional website in only a few weekends of work.

I've sketched out the rough plan for the site and the general navigation, I'm pretty happy with the plan and I think it's gonna look sharp in this new theme, just gotta find enough time to work on it! I'll probably start tomorrow just getting set up and making empty pages and navigation, and then once that's rolling I can start adding content and preparing banner images, photogalleries, and so on. This is gonna be sweet!!

Thursday, August 04, 2011

More Mac stuff (and Trampoline Volleyball with one of my heros)

Tonight I had a glorious time jumping at the House of Air bouncy trampoline gym with fellow 826 Valencia volunteers and it was a time of super awesome epic glory. I had an amazing time and played an excellent game of trampoline dodgeball with Dave Eggers!!

This is one for the history books. I even got a chance after the event to chat with him a little about the stuff Matt and I have done at 826 so far and what we are planning next, and he was so positive and supportive. He is so insanely inspiring and awesome, it really makes me want to do more and more and MORE for 826. I love that place and I really love Dave's obvious passion for making a difference. What an awesome fellow and I really have to read the next book in line from him on my "to-read" list. So I jumped on a trampoline with one of my heroes tonight... just another run-of-the-mill kinda day, eh? I think NOT.

Anyhoo, back to reality, I came home via Frank's and walked through the Presidio fog with him, that was fun and then I went on too loud and long about how awesome 826 is and one of his neighbours nearly came out to tell us to be quiet. Whoops. My damn overexcited Canadian-ness!

I got my KVM switch at work today which is frickin' sweet. This little puppy allows me to plug in mouse/keyboard and speakers and share them between both my desktop as well as my new Mac Mini. This is great as I can have just one keyboard/mouse/speakers plugged in and hitting Scroll Lock twice on the keyboard signals to this device to switch to control the other computer. Fantastic. I fiddled for a while, trying to plug in a USB hub instead of the keyboard and mouse straight, realizing eventually that the mouse could be plugged in via USB hub but the keyboard had to be directly connected, guess so it can control the switch with the hotkey press or something. That was a good try anyway. In the process I learned that the Logitech QuickCam Pro 9000 (awesome camera that I've got) doesn't really have driver support on Mac anyway, so I don't really need to share it between the systems anyway. After a bit of work it's looking like I'm just gonna share keyboard, mouse and speakers and that's just fine. Works like a charm.

Finally, I also realized I was still using WiFi on the Mac Mini. I scrounged around in my tub 'o cables and found an old Cat5 cable to use so I plugged the Mac Mini into the router directly for faster internet. Woo!

I'm now completely done with the machine setup, I should probably clean up the cable mess a bit but otherwise it's looking good and working like a charm. Awesome times. Busy day today getting back into the swing of things at work after being off for a few days, but a great day and what an experience tonight, that was so fun. Also psyched to really start rockin' on the Mac now that I've got all the hardware setup squared away.

What's new? Doesn't look like much, but it suuuure is...

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Website redesign plans

After a fair amount of research, I am deciding to go with RapidWeaver on Mac for my website development, and I'll probably be choosing the Avante theme from WeaverThemes.

RapidWeaver does seem VERY simplified (maybe even at some points, too simplistic) but that's probably a good thing because I keep saying how I want to "focus on content rather than design" for my new website, and "just have it look good and work well without having to learn jQuery" to quote my own thoughts. :)

I've looked at some other options and this does seem to be the best. The ability to buy your own add-on themes from external designers is the main reason I'm choosing this, because it allows you to basically farm out your jQuery programming and graphic design to a professional, and all you get is a much smaller amount of knobs to control pre-defined colour palettes and document widths and so on. These themes are tested on all browsers, some even have iPhone and iPad support too. So this really seems like a great way to get an awesome new website design, and all I really need to think about is the content and how I want to tweak a ready-to-go design.

I did some quick tests with the trial version of RapidWeaver and I think this is gonna work well. Once I decide on a theme for sure I'll buy the theme as well as RapidWeaver and get working on the new site. Till then I am gonna sketch out a rough website plan on paper. I've got a bunch of ideas for the new site including a more dedicated travel section, a consolidation of all the "about me" stuff in my current website, and a nicer and cleaner photogallery which will show off only some of my more recent and best work.

Guitar hooked up to GarageBand

After being home sick, by this evening I was starting to get back on track and decided to fiddle around with my new computer a little bit to see if I could get my guitar hooked up to GarageBand successfully. After a bit of fiddling, it looks like it's working nicely.

So first off: this Mac purchase was an excellent decision. If you see my post from a week or two ago, I said one of the reasons I was buying the Mac was for GarageBand... and it definitely does not disappoint. It has some stuff that is miles beyond the old software I was using on Windows a while back - it's got a built-in metronome (useful) and even more importantly... a built-in tuner!! This is amazing as I've always had to plug into a tuner and tune the guitar and then rig it up to the computer to record, only having to jump back to the tuner when it gets out of tune. Now the tuner is built into the "LCD" panel inside of GarageBand. Brilliant.

There are some fancy/hilarious things like pitch correction and time correction, presumably to make you sound less terrible if you a) can't sing in key or b) can't play in time. Let's hope I don't need to use any of those ;)

A part I really liked was the effects. I suspect the purists still go for the analog stompboxes, but a friend of mine bought a digital guitar effects board a few years ago and was showing it off to me, it was pretty amazing. For the longest time I've had the Boss CH-1 Super Chorus pedal on my "wish list", but it's always been like $130 or something so I've never bought it. I know you can get an entire digital pedal board for like $200-something, so I've always wondered why the analog pedals are still so expensive. I do LOVE the sound from that Boss Pedal, but the question I've got to ask myself is, how many times have I played a live show in the last 5 years?!? Not many. In the last 10 years?! Well, including all those shows in first year at University, maybe 5 or 10 times... so that doesn't really mean that I need a concert-worthy stompbox to really be stompin' on hard during a show. Rather, as it appears I'm entering "guitar hobbyist" territory lately, digital effects will be just fine for whatever recording purposes I have.

Which brings me to my next point - why even buy a stompbox at all if it's digital and I'm using it for recording only... in that case, I may as well let Apple program my pedals for me and use their awesome and simple interface. The pedal selection is pretty much the usual standards: chorus, flanger, overdrive, distortion, etc. I saw a few cool ones like "Auto Wah" which had a lot of options and I could see using it during a chorus line or something. Very cool. On the other hand the "Chorus" pedal sounds awesome as always and I could see using that on an entire song to give a DMB-ish effect, after some fine-tuning, and maybe some extra reverb or echo to give a concert-hall feel.

This is all I've got after just an hour or so of fiddling with GarageBand '11, but it was definitely fun and I like the interface. There are some useful pieces like setting loops and also just listening to one track at a time and so on. Of course you wouldn't want to overuse the effects and you'd probably want to pick carefully how and when you use them, but in general they seem pretty plentiful and easy to apply and layer on top of each other. You can even save out specific instruments that have a bunch of effects already applied to them which is cool. I think I read somewhere that there are amp effects as well so you can get GarageBand to emulate specific amp output sounds, that sounds like a cool idea.

I wasn't sure how to best post these sounds here but I guess the easiest is just to make a YouTube video with the 3 playing in it. Enjoy :) There will be real music to come over the next while as I get back into it and start practicing some songs again. It's good to be able to record easily again.

Mac Mini connected to Behringer sound board. Output via Monster L/R to mini stereo jack, input from standard guitar cable. This allows me to boost the guitar signal and ultimately also to plug in my Mic which requires Phantom Power.

It works! GarageBand is an awesome interface and even has a tuner!

Example of 3 audio tracks. First is me playing part of "Stay or Leave" by Dave Matthews, then I ran it with the Auto Wah effect and then with the Chorus effect.

Monday, August 01, 2011

New Rob Kutner book

My buddy Rob (formerly a writer on The Daily Show, now writing for Conan) just released a new book in Kindle format called: "THE FUTURE ACCORDING TO ME" Only 99 cents on the Amazon Kindle Store. (Compatible with the Amazon Kindle device itself as well as any computer/iPhone etc running the Free Kindle App). Check it out if you like hilarious awesome comedy. And if you don't, then you're probably not reading my blog ;p