Top Songs/Albums Ever

Top Songs

Top Albums

I try to update these. The albums playlist are favs from the album. There’s some crossover, obviously. 


Nick Swardson, Lynn Shawcroft and Ken Burns walk into a bar

On the afternoon of April 30, 2006, Johanna and I were in the bar at the Marquette Hotel where we’d been vacationing to attend the Mitch Hedberg tribute at the Orpheum in Minneapolis. Based on the vast knowledge of comedians and hotels we’d amassed from Mitch’s jokes, we assumed the comics were probably staying at the Doubletree — or Quadrupletree — as Mitch called it.

We’d figured out the hotel’s bar was adjacent to a fine dining establishment that had fancy macaroni and cheese the bar would sell during happy hour, so we spent a lot of time there. We’d been there for a while when the bartender noticed he’d forgotten to turn on the big screen, so he asked our feedback on our viewing preference. I encouraged him to pass the sports channels, where he landed on the Ken Burns Civil War documentary. I’ve always loved to make jokes about the sad letters and flute music, so I encouraged the barkeep to turn it up.

We were eating our macaroni when Lynn Shawcroft took a seat at the barstool next to mine. Whoa, this was Mitch’s wife, touring partner and stellar opening act, and I couldn’t think of anything to say. We’d flown from Texas to be there, but all I imagined was that she’d probably enjoy a few minutes to herself before the show started in a few hours. Johanna was nudging me incessantly to say something, but I just basked in the moment, being there with the one person in the world who connected me to Mitch more than anyone.

I watched Ken Burns, I had a beer, and I knew that I was inches away from someone really special. That’s when Nick Swardson appeared behind me wearing a hoodie and jeans, “Do you mind turning on the game, I’d like to check the score?”

“I’m sorry sir, but my guests are involved in this show and it wouldn’t be fair for me to change the channel.”

Nick ordered a drink and went and stood behind me in the hall, watching the game on a wall-mounted flat screen. He was really into the game, and Jo and I spent the rest of our afternoon watching two of stand-up’s most interesting people enjoy some ‘me’ time before the big show. Even though we were clearly the most important people in that bar.

Nick was a perfect gentleman, even though I thought it was absurd that a bar didn’t show a big sports event in favor of The Battle Hymn of the Republic and a lonely letter to my dearest Eloise. But we were there. We still love Ken Burns. And the show was great.

Here’s a strange review:


Top ten 2017 in progress

Julien Baker 

Lana del Ray

Brand New



Arcade Fire (Begrudgingly)

Portugal. The Man


Harry Styles

Amy Shark

Sylvan Esso

Judah & the Lion

Album Name of the Year: “The boy who died wolf” – Highly suspect


Already leaving, Jester’s Folly

Some lyrics by Greg from Jester’s Folly

This is what I meant to say: I remember the scent that day, hanging in the air.

I like to watch her drink all the rain. This kind of happy, I could never feel again. 

And so it begins again. My love, sweet rapture, gonna take all my sin. 

Pick a park where we can meet. You make me happy feeling. I don’t wanna make you wait. I’m already leaving. 

You’ve got to remember. If you don’t try this one on: Will you make a movie with me? So I don’t have to lose you. 

Greg was my roommate at UT Arlington in 1998. Our band was called Lachrymethod with members Gary and Jarod. I honestly don’t remember their last names. I think about him from time to time. If you’re connected with both of us, send me a note. 


UX lessons from Dominos iPhone app: What I do

Dominos is my favorite pizza app. User experiences and apps are what I make, so here are a few things I’d change. 

Entry screen call to action is “checkout.” I always push this button when there’s nothing in my cart. The red button should be disabled or say “menu” or “coupons” when the cart is empty. 

Which leads to this screen. Problem is, “continue” takes me back to the empty cart “checkout” screen, not the menu or coupons. 

This “cheese it up” modal is great, but clicking yes could add $2 to your order. Problem is, not knowing could irritate me if I wasn’t expecting the upcharge, or I might REALLY want extra cheese and assume it adds $5 and pass. 

I’ve already confirmed my address at the beginning of this process, so taking up a full screen’s worth of real estate with some things I can’t change and other info that’s probably accurate considering I chose my address wastes my time choosing a card for the transaction. 

I can also only delete expired cards from the choices, most of these cards have been replaced on our end, and I’d like to delete them. 

After ALL this, I have to enter my Dominos password to checkout. If you’re going to require a password, do it at the beginning, and figure out a way to bypass it with a thumbprint. Considering how complicated this app can be, I’m not too worried my 4yo is going to accidentally order a pizza or a nerdowell is going to hack my phone and order a pizza. 

And last, this tiny flip phone icon at the bottom of the screen calls my store in case I have any last minute changes. A great feature. Problem is, I thought this icon let me use my phone as a walkie talkie. Stick with a hyperlinked numerical phone number for accessibility purposes. A developer should rarely assume I know what a flip phone icon means. 


My First Week at my New Job

I’m proud to have started a new job a week ago Thursday. The new bank had an excellent one-day orientation that included a tour of the massive campus and handing out laptops, testing logins and assigning monitors and work stations. This is nice, as I’ve worked places where new employees don’t have an orientation and sometimes wait weeks for new computers. 

They assigned me an HP laptop, but my boss has already begun the Apple MacBook ordering process, a sign to me that they’re committed to making sure we have lots of tools for testing and production. 

My setup now is the laptop in a dock on the right and a nice-sized monitor on the left. The bank also issued a new mouse and keyboard so I only have to use the laptop as a monitor when it’s docked. 

The cafeteria is very nice and there is also a self-pay convenience store a little closer in my building. So far, I’ve had an Indian Tiki Masala Chicken dish and a gourmet Italian sub. The eating area looks out onto a beautiful lake with fountains and waterfalls and a nice-sized walking trail folks are allowed to enjoy from 11am to 2pm. 

I did get trapped outside this week when I went to the lake around 4pm for a stroll. I was locked out and an executive saw me trying to get back in and walked me around to the side of the building where the doors are open. I should have known when there was no one out there. 

I spend a lot of lunch time wandering through the complex and parking garage and driving around the area, my favorite destination, McDonalds. 

I have an operations supervisor in Dallas and development boss in Charlotte, as well as coordinate with the design supervisor in Charlotte, so I spent much of last week meeting with influencers and stakeholders on my project. 

My main project is coding the design appearance into an app the bank uses for business-to-business banking. 

I also have Lynda access to some cool online classes I’ve taken and attended an amazing web accessibility conference yesterday. 

Things are great so far!


Your signature mentioned “Filthy Rich” – Is there a story?

Your signature mentioned Filthy Rich, and it is also listed in your portfolio. Is there a story behind this nickname?
I was a rapper in a past life and currently perform as a bass guitarist. My hip hop band Gallery Cat was twice-nominated Best Rap Act by the Dallas Observer 2010 and 2011. I was known as Richie Rich until 1999 when a producer started calling me Filthy Rich. Now I use it as a mnemonic device. I’ve introduced myself that way to Steve Wozniak, the CEO of Capital One and my US Congressman. They all remembered my name.

Top Independent or Local Albums

These are my favorite independent/local/self-funded albums I can think of today. While I was making the list, I realized that independent and indie are not the same thing. Also, Radiohead’s self-released material doesn’t count. Here they are in random order:

  1. Triple Lutz – Vampire Screenplay* (Dallas, TX)
  2. Centro-matic – Love You Just The Same (Denton, TX)
  3. Pedro The Lion – The Only Reason I Feel Secure (Is Because I Am Validated By My Friends)
  4. David Gray – White Ladder (Self-Funded)
  5. Caedmon’s Call – My Calm, Your Storm (Houston, TX)
  6. galleryCat – Bi-Polaroid* (Dallas, TX)
  7. ENIAC – All That’s Left of Us (Denton, TX)
  8. Spilling Poetry – Invisible (Lubbock, TX)
  9. Mexico – If You Wanted to Go* (Dallas, TX)
  10. Flat People – Flat People* (Dallas, TX)
  11. The Promise Ring – Wood Water (Jade Tree)
  12. Gone Since Five – This Is How You Felt* (Lubbock, TX)
  13. Pedro The Lion – It’s Hard to Find a Friend (Seattle, WA)
  14. Astronautalis – This is Our Science (Fake Four)
  15. Primitive Radio Gods – Rocket (Self-Funded)
  16. Centro-matic – Navigational
  17. Julien Baker – Sprained Ankle (IndieGoGo, Murpheesboro, TN)
  18. Spilling Poetry – Microphonic
  19. The Wishlist – Life’s Design of Mind* (Dallas, TX)
  20. Three Car Garage – ThRe3 CaR GaRagE* (Luboock, TX)
  21. Centro-matic – Fort Recovery
  22. Sorta – Strange and Sad but True (Dallas, TX)
  23. TW Walsh – Blue Laws (Boston, Seattle)

* I played on these records.

User Experience

Are you getting forwarded calls from an unwanted Google number?

Yesterday, a client had an interesting dilemma. They somehow have their two extensions listed as the forwarding number for Google Voice numbers, that unfortunately used to belong to a fast-food restaurant and a dime store chain. Their office manager was overwhelmed with a dozen or more calls a day for these old numbers, still listed in the online yellow pages. Here’s how we solved the problem.

Hi *****, ***** and *****,

As you may be aware, we are receiving bogus phone calls from Google numbers being redirected to our 2 phone lines. Confused callers have reported dialing the following two numbers, which today lead to a dress store and a disconnected message:

  • ***-***-****
  • ***-***-****

Based on Google’s recommendation for dealing with this type of issue under “Stop getting forwarded calls” on,
I am making the following recommendation: Let’s take back our numbers!

“Stop getting forwarded calls: If you verified your personal number in error or as part of a scam, your number could be linked to someone else’s Google Voice account. To stop getting forwarded calls, reclaim your phone number by adding it as a linked number to a new or existing Google Voice account.”

***** and *****, ***** has chosen you two to help with this problem. Here’s the step-by-step:

  • Login to with your ***** email
  • Click “Get a Voice number” in the left menu
  • Click “I want a new number”
  • Important: on “Add a forwarding phone”
    *****, type in ***-***-**** and ***** is ***-***-****
  • Under Phone Type, choose Work
  • Next Step: Reclaim a verified phone
  • Choose “Call me now” and have ***** type in the two-digit code
  • Name and message recordings are optional
  • Under “Choose your number” in the “Area, zip code or city” field, type “*****”
  • Pick a ***** number, click “Continue”
  • You will see a “congratulations” modal and a number reminder
  • Congrats, we are now in control of the Google numbers that correspond to our lines

As an aside, these numbers will show as your number if you ever use your computer to make a google voice or hangouts call, which I highly recommend. Anytime you need to call someone and you don’t necessarily want them to have your cell or can’t access a Precocity line, log in to where you can call or text from the number associated with your precocity email account.

Last, simply reply all to this message with your new number. That way if ***** continues to receive calls, she can call your two lines to check the integrity of our phone system. Let me know if you have any issues, as it is possible that you may receive the occasional voicemail or text in the form of an email from google voice. Please let me know as soon as both numbers have been changed so ***** and I can call to confirm. We will also repeat these steps if we find another ***** line.

We will continue to find unique ways to combat phone spam, thanks for your help today. By the way, based on the instructions I just gave you, I can now be reached on my personal Gmail voice line (forwarding to my cell) of 972-638-RICH.


The client notified me later that they had now received a call from a caller looking for a national retail chain office, but had called the actual number. We found an online misprint of a matching area code and phone number that explains that and will continue to investigate and work on ways to reduce misguided callers.

When asked what else the client could do, I added that wrong numbers are a cost of doing business if your company answers its phone, which I strongly encourage. One low-tech solution I recommended is Ruby Receptionists, who cost about $1-2/minute but can professionally and nicely answer all your calls and forward legitimate customers onto your main line.

I’ll close with an anecdote I shared with the client: Is there a way to stop them from calling? 

Not really, not without burning the number. It’s a cost of doing business. When I was growing up, my phone number was 1 digit off from the local cable company. People would call in the middle of the night if their “movie” wasn’t working. You can imagine how a call like that might go at 3am.

As of today, “Filthy Rich” Wiliams can be reached at 972-638-RICH. Rich is a user experience developer and problem solver with an MBA in Marketing and a psychology background. He’s still scarred from the 3am phone calls as a teenager. Rich Williams uses high-tech and low-tech solutions to solve problems. His team developed the app a major retailer CEO uses to check sales numbers every morning and Capital One’s Auto Navigator and Home Mortgages and Refinancing user interfaces. And he took back one client’s phone numbers from scammers. Call (214) 945-3382 or email for answers to your high tech and low tech questions.

Bass Guitar

ONE SIMPLE TRICK to avoid turning your sparkling bass tone into mud when the rest of the band kicks in…

So I have a friend that plays lap steel in a number one song country band and he told me the strangest thing: During rehearsals for their world tour, the producer gave each member of the band a 7-band EQ and told them to pick a frequency that best represented their instrument and kill everything else. As the story goes, my buddy would get his world renowned tone, then activate the EQ and sound thin and hollow.

Get the perfect tone, then do what? Kill it? So the next step in this unbelievable exercise was to have everyone turn off their new friend/enemy and play the hit single as a pretty big group with violins and guitars and the like.

Nobody could hear themselves. It sounded like mud. Problem was, everybody in the band had world renowned tone.

Now, depress/activate the EQ and play same song. Band sounds full, everyone can hear themselves, the clarity and intent of each player is instantly present in the mix.

When the singer introduced the band and during solos, he was allowed to deactivate the restricting pedal and wow the folks with his full spectrum.

What gives?

Don’t you need a sound man for that? No.

Is it really that simple? Yes.

Robert Sledge revealed in an interview once that staying out of Ben Folds’ low end was the hardest and most enjoyable part of playing with the pianist. The trick is easy with a Big Muff and an Orange cab.

But what about the rest of us? What about the folk players and the power trios?

Here goes nothing. Perfect your solo tone, then rip it to shreds with the new 10-band EQ pedals available. I’ve got two examples.

My power trio guitarist and I bought MXR M108 Ten Band EQs and spent some time splitting up the ten bands 50/50. We proceded to put the pedals last in our chain, get everything perfect, then suck the life out of our tone. Big intro, guitar comes in wailing, bass and drums hit, click the pedals. Clarity. If he soloed with it on it sounded a little thin, but when we were both full playing rhythm, the proof was in the pudding.

The drummer from that band just texted me that those pedals were smoke and mirrors and wants to know the name of the lap steel friend. Haha.

So I have another interesting gig coming up with a Wallflowers-esque band and was already thinking competing with the rhythm electric and hammond was going to be a beast. Hence, Caline’s CP-24 10-Band EQ Pedal for less than $50 on eBay. I hope the guitar player and hammond guy can pick one of these up too and I look forward to experimenting with each of us maybe picking up four bands with a little overlap.

Another text from Antago-drummer.

Case in point. Smiley face EQ was a huge part of Nirvana’s sound, but what’s that have to do with this? When you kill the mids on a guitar and fill that void with highs from the bass and kill the bass mids that would otherwise conflict with the guitar’s lows, suddenly, we can all move around without stepping on any toes.

A word of advice. Most people don’t want to believe this works, but folks who focus hard on mixing and mastering have been using more advanced versions of this trick for centuries. I’m sure there are shared notes on upright basses, cellos and violins, but everyone can play together because they’re filling different parts of a spectrum.

Here’s a few articles on the subject:

Caline’s CP-24 10-Band EQ Pedal