Michael Greilsammer plays in Yellow Submarine in Jerusalem

Me and my friend Teddy went to the Yellow Submarine, a music venue that is a sort of converted factory unit in Talpiyot, the southern industrial part of Jerusalem.  I went to this place last year to see Lazer Lloyd, an American Orthodox Jew who plays blues guitar, usually stuff by Clapton or Hendrix.   This is the third time I have been to see a gig of local band here.

I have been wanting to see Michael Greilsammer’s band play in Jerusalem for sometime now, he is a reggae artist who plays violin, with his wife Shimrit on guitar, the bass player is also well known from another Jerusalem based (although Indie rock) band.

I have got to listen to a few local Israeli bands on Youtube which I listen in the background whilst I am at work.

Michael has a new album out very soon, and despite waiting about 3 or 4 weeks for his first CD to be ordered, the local book shop chain Stiemetskis eventually told me they were not able to order it in, despite that Michael is a Jerusalemite musician!

Michael’s music doesn’t really fit any a simple genre, it is reggae but there is quite a bit of Irish folk in it too.   There is a familiar heavy bass and carribean beat to it, and the lyrics in the songs are Hebrew or French.   All his tracks seem to have a feel-good nice vibe and are very dancable too.

You maybe thinking that culture from Jamaica and the Caribbean seems as far away from Jewish life as possible, but  Jewish Klezmer music uses a lot of brass instruments and has a fast temp to it, familiar to reggae and ska which started to become popular in Europe and America in the 1970s.

I think Michael writes all his own songs, but there was a good cover of Lion Zion by Bob Marley and the Wailers.    All the other tracks were Hebrew or in French, there was a really nice atmosphere to this gig and would like to see them again.

Its well worth listening to some of his stuff on Youtube or on his below web site.

http://www.michaelgreilsammer.com/

http://www.yellowsubmarine.org.il/default.asp?lang=eng

British rock stars tour in Israel, this time its Peter Hook of New Order

Hat tip to IGoogledIsrael blog: Darn it!! Peter Hook of Joy Division/New Order/Monaco fame did a gig in Tel Aviv, I am annoyed I didn’t know about this earlier!

http://igoogledisrael.com/2011/11/peter-hook-live-in-tel-aviv/

I saw Hooky play in ‘Monaco‘ at the Wedgewood Rooms in my home city of Portsmouth in 1996 :)

Its good thats hes back playing again, the last I heard after playing in different turns in both New Order and Monaco was that hes started a new venture called Freebass, a band with three bass players, I guess this didn’t work out and now he has a different band again.   Respect to him to dodge any political pressures from Israel-haters which are all over the internet.   I think need to scour Amazon for cheap used CDs to fill the gaps in my collection now.

Respect to Ashley (British chap) who runs IGoogledIsrael for his great mostly political-free site to music, entertainment and fun stuff that Israel has to offer.

Would of liked to go this gig.   Oh well.   I am going to see Hebrew/French speaking violinist reggae artist Michael Greilsammer play at the Yellow Sub in Jerusalem on Saturday with my good friend and fellow blogger Teddy Chadwick, I can’t wait :)

August in Israel, Missile attacks, Glen Beck visits and ELAV 2011

Its now close to the end of August, and thought I would briefly comment on some things happening here of late;

Glen Beck comes to Israel

I’ll be honest that I don’t know much about Glen Beck, all I know is he is some US TV celebrity, hes a Mormon and he supports Israel.

A lot of people around this land including people from many Christian organisations went out the Caesarea this week to see him speak, along with John Hagee and some senior Orthodox Rabbis.

There seems to be a frenzy amongst Christians to see Glen Beck, but I am not sure why as hes not a Christian.  Its nice that he is out here showing support.   My message to any believers here looking forward to seeing this event or watching it on Christian TV stations is discernment, discernment and discernment.   In the past theres been dubious things dressed up meant to be Christian, so it great to see this man show support, and mingle with Christian organisations, people just need to be careful.

Terrorism

You will of heard about the recent bus attacks in Eilat, the bottom corner of Israel which looks out onto the Red Sea, my Japanese housemate went to this place only 5 days earlier, I have traveled on this Egged bus service but not since November 2009.   This tragedy is significant for several reasons, again this was just ordinary civilian Israel folk on this bus that were shot, and another bus had an RPG launched at it resulting in 8 innocent people dead, there has been reports that Palestinian terrorists also were wearing Egyptian army uniforms and therefore risk dangerously damaging relations with Egypt.

Often the war between Israel and the Palestinian militants, is not just a war of deadly weapons, its also done with the media, something that manipulates the news, so Palestinians always look like the victim.

Lately one of the main BBC reporters Yolande Knell who does many of the recent stories about Israel and Gaza also works for the Muslim Brotherhood English web site!

Its rare I see any pro-Palestinian organisation or secular news source ever to look at Christian Arabs being persecuted or how the main political group Hamas acts as a mob over the people in Gaza.   I do know of wonderful Christians that work here who have a genuine love and compassion for Arab people here though.

At the moment, there is a sense of nervousness because of a high risk of terrorism alert, and last weekend I was advised by a friend who is in the IDF not to use the bus or go near any crowds.

This week the several years overdue light electric rail system finally went live in Jerusalem, although to me this seems like bad timing as it could well be a target.

I work with people who have family in places like Ashdod where missiles are being rained down upon, and its upsetting that around 1 million Israelis (from places like Ashdod, Ashkelon and Beer Sheva) are having to sit in bomb shelters lately, as well as two people killed and several seriously injured also.

I don’t like talking about politics but these are some important things to be praying about.

Christian events in Israel:

ELAV 2011 – www.elav2011.co.il 

Some friends from my church went to the ELAV youth event in Tel Aviv last week, this is a Christian worship event for Jewish and Arab believers, I didn’t go, but heard encouraging things from friends (Christian foriegners and local Jewish and Arab young believers)

Yad Ha’Shmona (Hebrew for ‘hand of eight’)  www.yad8.com

Also with my church I went to an outdoor worship event in this town just a few minutes outside of Jerusalem this week, this was also an youth event, with some really good Hebrew worship music.

In the craziness of things happening in this part of the world (as opposed to a different type of craziness of people stealing and burning things in several parts of the UK!!) its massively encouraging to see great relationships between Jews, Arabs and overseas Christians at these type of events, and friendships and reconciliation.

Still with the places I visit, my job looking after equipment and resources for a Christian organisation to bless the Jewish people, and my church here and my friends of all different backgrounds here and around the world, I wouldn’t change it for the world!!  :D

Easter Sunday – Resurrection day at the tomb

My phone woke me up at 4.45am today on Easter Sunday morning, a silly time indeed, but I needed to leave just after 5 to get to the other end of the city for a special event with people churches all over the city starting at 06.00.

Lots of people are queuing outside….

Looks like people lining up for the sales (sunday is a regular work day in Israel) or going to a concert of some kind….

Aha, its starting to become clear now….

This was a special place to celebration of Jesus’ resurrection at the very place mostly likely to have been buried, but most definitely risen!

Really good service from a speaker I have not heard from before, and some great worship music from my (King of Kings) congregation.

It did mean that that leader speaking, the worship band and the tomb itself were hidden from view as there were bushes and trees in front of where I was sitting thought!   I would have a guess that there was about 2000 people crammed into the garden.  About half of the people I would guess are Christian tourists on a short holiday,with the remainder being Israeli believers and foreign Christians like me volunteering in the land.

Finally a quick glimpse of the tomb itself as people are leaving.

This was a memorable day to spend Easter Sunday.  I missed this service last year as I didn’t wake up in time!!

Funnily enough, two years ago I was working for an Israeli software company in Southampton UK, there we were given a chocolate egg by our bosses as an Easter present!  Also Pesach was mentioned as well as the Jewish holiday is the week before Easter.

Next: My journey to Nazareth and Cana to see Jesus’ childhood

Meet Teddy from Yerubilee

This week I got to meet up with my friend Teddy Chadwick.

He is a great musician who does Reggae worship songs often a Davidic harp.  I got to meet up with him at a cafe in the Mamila Mall, a district which uses bits of recycled on buildings to create a shopping place mixing old and new parts of Jerusalem together full of cafes, restaurants and clothing retailers.

Teddy goes to my church, and has his own blog on Israel and his music, he gets to travel an awful lot and has been to Singapore and Nigeria in recent times.

Check out his site at: www.yerubilee.com for his band, and also www.jtod.org for his Aramaic bibles he sells.

Also check out his great music (I just bought a signed CD) you can listen to some samples on Youtube here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HWIaJFYHoNc

Don’t scrap the UK TV licence

Every now and then on the media, like Facebook, there is a campaign for people to abolish the UK television licence.

I wonder if people really think this is possible.  Is it possible for Auntie Beeb to operate with money out of thin air?  Especially as the government are making cuts on hospitals and the police at the moment.

Think about it, each TV company’s business model is as follows:-

BBC – annual subscription (required by law even if you dont watch this channel) but no commercials.

ITV/C4/C5 – commercials between shows, no subscription fee needed.

But then the channels on satellite and cable, ie: MTV have both.  This is why I don’t have cable or satellite, as I think it offers poor value for money. I don’t understand why I have seen some people plonk down upto £40 a month sometimes for terrible stuff.

I have had a freeview box but the software design of these devices is atrocious and the two different units I had would constant freeze and break down.   I will get another one but I need to look for some careful reviews first.  I think a lot of foreign people are quite jealous of British telly.

I don’t mind advertising, it should be non-intrusive, not to nag and be honest.   In all honesty, channels like MTV have double the number of adverts of ITV, and require a subscription.   The adverts are twice as frequent, and trashy often for annoying ring tones and premium rate telephone lines, sometimes adult stuff when its not even late.

I think MTV and music channels will disappear with music subscription services like all-you-can-eat internet music like Spotify will divulge into music videos at some point, or a similar competitor will, in the same way Google has made the Yellow pages book now only good for removing insects and fixing tables with short legs.

Maybe Youtube could evolve to show music videos continuously in such a way based on a predetermined set of music tastes that could also promote new bands as well as current favourites.

British TV licence is about £130, that £11 a month, which a large takeaway pizza and a big bottle of coke or curry at the medium scale of things.   I think that’s quite reasonable myself.

Lets keep the television licence but ensure that the fees are spent wisely.

 

Why I like Foxytunes for listening to music at work

Not stuff life in Israel today, but just some handy little known snippets of things I use both at home and work.

I almost always listen to music whilst I am driving or working.   There is quite a lot of similarities for me between these habits.

Good old iTunes.   Lots of people like it and lots of people hate it.  I don’t own a iPhone, and I think it would be better if Apple spun off the phone controlling features into a separate application.   iTunes does a grand job of cataloguing your music, occasionally there are some funny quirks, but in general its a nice application.  I am quite a big music collector and have most of my 200 odd CDs imported and on my (now old school rotary controlled) 30gb iPod.

Various friends have recommended Spotify if you want an “all you can eat” monthly diet of music.  I have yet to try this, but I tend to use Youtube for music I don’t yet own, whether this is legal or not as i am just watching it, I don’t know, but I do know this does strongly influence what CDs I buy next.   I still prefer to buy CDs than download, its cheaper, I like having the tangible copy on a shelf with the others in my collection, some songs are best played as part of a collection as they can often tell a story together which is not so significant if you buy one song at a time.

Now you can notice Firefox has some extra buttons at the bottom.

Clicking this little button above lets you choose your preferred music player, iTunes, Windows Media Player, Winamp and many more.  If you stop iTunes and open up another tab in your browser with Youtube, I can listen to a song on here, switch back to what I am doing on the web and control the music with the buttons at the bottom, Foxytunes will shift the functionality of these controls to the appropriate music player transparently.

The controls on Youtube are horrible from a usability point of view.   Try adjusting the volume, its awkward and fiddly, even more so when the phone rings and you need to quickly silence the song in a hurry.

This method is similar to way I like the last car I had had audio controls on the steering column, I think Renault were the first to do this, with original Espace in the early 1980s.   A lot of generic car radios have scrolling messages of how many channels it has, and the buttons are small and awkward to operate, a truly hideous experience to use whilst you are trying to operate a car.  The stereo on this car was a simple one, the four directional joystick, one axis for volume the other for radio or CD track, just for the main essential features of the radio that doesn’t distract you from driving.

Now I am not currently a car owner for the time being, I still have the same tastes of making controls for things not more complicated than necessary.  Here these buttons just have which music player, backwards, play/pause, forwards, volume slider, and some other bits I haven’t used as of yet :)   There is a faint red line under the title of the artist and song that shows how far through the song you are.   You do have to switch to your music player to pick a different artist of course.

Anyway Foxytunes is just a very pleasant way of controlling your tunes whilst busy on the web, and can’t recommend this little app more.

There are some extra little ways it helps out, in terms of letting you play MP3 content on a web page without having to download it.  I haven’t used this enough to comment on it though.

As in 201xs more software operates via the web via browser via cloud technology, I think Foxytunes may become more and more popular to listen to music whilst using the web or browser based applications.

Recent surprise, Foxytunes is developed in Israel by a small team, and they are now owned by Yahoo.

The other good news it works on Firefox on all Windows (XP, Vista and 7) Macintosh and Linux computers with the Firefox browser :)

Get your Foxytunes add on for your Firefox here

https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/foxytunes/

Jon’s IT predictions for 2011

In the old days you turned on the Telly and watched Tomorrow’s World for exciting new developments in technology. New gadgets, exciting products that would bring jobs and boost the economy, and revolutionary medicines and treatments for people in hospital.  Sadly a lot of things on TW never got anywhere, and it was a shame the BBC pulled the plug on this show in the 1990s. Pioneering British inventors like Sir Clive Sinclair, and Trevor Bayliss were often featured.

Heres my predictions for changes in the technology world this year:

Buying things online from a mobile device will start to take off, with extra versions of ecommerce sites available made for phones. I can see that you could go to a night club or live music events and buy songs from your mobile device and the venue could promote and take a percentage from buying songs.   Lots of people would be happy to spend on small impulse type purchased inspired by things they see on a billboard or whatever.

Location based mobile applications start to get much bigger.   Clocking in and out of work would be good by GPS.   How about a real life version of the ‘Tron’ lightcycle game (you may know this game as Snake on mobile phones from the 90s) where you can walk or drive around a location against a friend, hitting that invisible line made by your friend means you are dead. I think location based services have a lot of value for businesses to use a clock in type set up for seeing if employers have got in on time, and compliance with fire services. Because of this there are greater security problems with people being careless with keeping their day to day events online, just like there have been burglaries done after victim said they are away on Facebook.

Microsoft will gradually get businesses taking up Windows 7, but for most IT managers its a case of wait and see how someone else gets on, plus there are too many legacy apps that may not work correctly with XP emulation.

Tablet computers will quietly disappear again as they are just novelty devices for web browsing and little else, people will go back to using laptops, the means to use finger gestures to do actions is clever, but with no keyboard, and in the case of iPads with no USB or SD card slots for cheap flash storage, you can only ‘consume’ information and not create it.   Can you imagine people doing serious work that involve typing more than a few sentences?  Tablets would need to be set on a stand to angle them at comfotable angle.   Its really only half a laptop with no means to pivot the screen into a usable way that doesnt bring on neck or back ache.  I think interest in iPads from Apple fans but will start to wane as well.

Google and other search providers will promote statistics. I think people will want to more figures of what’s being searched for and current market trends. Go on Amazon and try and buy a book that out of print or a CD thats been deleted and you have options to buy a second hand one from a third party seller.   Information could be used to tell book publishers and record labels there is demand for certain things no longer available, and thus could justify a new print run.  In 2010 Google (I think) bought about 20-30 start up companies, they will continue to grow massively, they are already looking out for a bigger office for their Israel operations.

Google’s Chromium laptops get canned. There are not cheap enough, and there is too much competition, people are content with their current laptops, and not enough people are using cloud applications yet.   Its a good ideas but the public aren’t ready to give up using localised apps at the moment.  Dumb laptops for cloud only apps could make it in a few years though.

Mozilla, please market Firefox to grown ups like IT managers and persuade them to drop legacy browsers (Internet Explorer)  the current way Firefox is promoted is like a bunch of hippies in a VW bus selling organic soup or something.

Internet service providers should cut off people with severe malware or virus attacks, so should public hotspots, a feature to alert botnet activity or other activity I would expect could be built into enterprise grade wireless routers.

Digital watches with colour screens. Don’t know if they exist yet, but why not? Plug it into the PC and change the numbers fonts style, change the background, put a personal picture as a background screen, just like those LCD picture frames.  I think kids would love them.

Button MP3 players. Heard this on the radio the other day but also seen them online. A button type badge with a self contained MP3 player you pin on your jacket which you attach your headphones. You have a badge with the name of the band you can make a statement about and listen to the album of songs which are fixed on this simple music player. If these could be offered cheaply, they could be a nice way to buy and listen to music and lend them to friends without any legal problems, I think they would also become collectable as small run volumes of certain albums are produced.  Easy to lend them to friends also with no legal issues.  I think its a fab idea, something that would of been great in 1960s if mp3s where around then.

Handel’s Messiah played in Hebrew in Jerusalem

I missed the chance to go to this performance  last year, but sadly as I am back in the UK again for a break I didn’t get to see once more.   A real shame but I got to see a brief video of this sent via friend.

The famous classical piece, Handel’s Messiah was performed in Hebrew at King Of Kings congregation at the Clal shopping mall between Agrippas and Jaffa Street in Jerusalem.

Interesting enough, the 90 year old lady mentioned who dreamt up the idea to rework it in Hebrew was in tears after the performance, Handel was found in tears by his assistant after reporting being touched by God some 250 years ago.   See the video here:

Some musical friends I know got to play in this, thanks Teddy for the link :)

Autumn in Jerusalem, around town and at work

This last few months has been quite a varied collection of events.

September my good friend John came down from Portsmouth, originally from Malta, John is of Armenian Jewish decent and I do admire his huge amount of energy and enthusiasm for Jesus, and Israel and the Jewish people, he stayed a few days with me and got to visit a few places and walk along the city walls amongst other things.

I also got an extra person for my department at work which means I am no longer having to look after the computer network on my own.   I also made the decision to extend my time for the second time, and I will be volunteering right into the spring of 2011 when my visa runs out.

In October I had a strange stabbing pain my chest.  I originally attributed this to a strange cold I have had for about two weeks which could of spread somehow.   This was really painful so I decided to stay home from work the next day.   I booked an appointment with the doctors which I got with 4 hours notice, which was good.   As I did mention I bruised my hands from falling off my bike, they wanted to xray me in case I had cracked a rib, although I never got any bruising or injuries to my chest.   This results of this ancient xray machine, who the lady technician told me is probably the oldest in the country proved negative.

The next day after forgetting to take my pills for this condition, I found the pain to be completely gone!   Whatever it was, its no longer there and I am really thankful to the Lord for this.

Had a sad farewell to my friend Matthew from Switzerland as he goes back to Basel, actually twice as did one party at mine and one at his, and also to Taylor, volunteer journalist from the ICEJ as she come to the end of her time here.

Have had some really nice surprises with opportunities God has opened up for me with several  Jewish friends and acquaintances who are planning to make Aliyah (immigrate to Israel) one is a friend from my home city.   It will a real honour to put them in touch with people I know that will help them get settled here.   I also have been asked to help with technical set up for a colleague’s son’s Bar Mitzvah early next yet.   All of this is confirmation that I am not meant to get back into regular secular work back in the UK just yet.

I got to go with Christopher my work colleague and a couple from Canada to see some live blues guitar music (a few articles below) and also quick visit to the Mount of Olives and Jerusalem’s biblical zoo, I will cover the zoo visit soon.

This Wednesday I am going up to our food bank warehouse in Karmiel.   This requires a stay with one of the volunteer staff up there, as its 170km bus ride.   Actually I have to get up to Tiberias and get picked up by a van driver and brought up to Karmiel.   The Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning me and my co-worker at there there I hope to do a full back up the server and put on Windows patches, set up wireless routers and sort out a few other things.  Once I get a ride back to Tiberias, I will probably find somewhere to get dinner there before heading home.   I would dearly love to properly explore Tiberias for a few days, being the largest city in the Galilee but this will have to be another time, I only have a few weeks left here.

Work projects at the moment, include a fairly big redesign of our network to sort out the weird kinks that happen sometime, writing up documentation, replace a UPS system, source more memory for servers and a special presentation laser mouse and virtualise a few more PCs that are only used for remote VPN access.

I will probably skip going to the young adults worship event at church as I need pack for a camping trip at the weekend, not sure where it is, but staying somewhere on a beach and going to do some caving.   Looking forward to this.

Overall things are not always easy or go as planned sometimes, but life is good.