back to article Retiring Reg hack explains how bass playing = tech reporting

After 2,035 days writing 2,531 stories containing 1.65 million words (thanks, Word Counter), this aging hack is celebrating his 26th birthday by hanging up his trusty MacBook Air and slipping off into semi-retirement. It's vanishingly unlikely that I'll be around to toast birthday number 27, so this year's binary natal day …


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Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

Always sad to hear of Reg Hacks moving on.

We may agree, disagree and outright insult each other from time to time, but there is a special kind of community at ElReg that us commentards really appreciate.

Good luck for the future!

William Boyle

Douglas is laughing

I think Douglas Adams is laughing at your pun... :-) And yes, I don't expect to hit my 2^7 b'day either! I hit my 2^6 a couple of years ago, but still feel like I can make a contribution to the computer software industry, although Microsoft apparently thought not since they let me go from my Nokia Mobile Phones position (senior systems engineer) 2 weeks after their purchase of Nokia was closed. Interesting that all the other grey haired folks in the division have also disappeared, except those in management positions...

Rodrigo Valenzuela

You will be missed.

Thank you for all the articles.


Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

Bass Players, Blues and writing

I'm of a similar age to you and I wish you well in your retirement.

I had the good fortune to be able to see many of the great Blues and Rock musicians of the 1960's & 70's in London. My Cousin was in the Music Biz and ... well he got me into venues that I shouldn't have been in.

The sight and sound of a great drummer and bass player jamming it up is what Music is all about. They can make or break a band.

Sadly a lot of the skills these people demonstrated night after night are now redundant with all this electronic drum & Bass crap we are subject to these days. There are holdouts and long may they carry on. Watching Seasick Steve and John Paul Jones at Glasto last year was fantastic.(my 60th Birthday present from my family who couldn't believe that I had been to the first one...)

Some Bass rifs can be just mind numbingly beautiful. I can only wish that I had enve a bit of skill with anything more than a triangle.

Don't stop playing the Bass.

Elmer Phud Silver badge

Re: Bass Players, Blues and writing

"with all this electronic drum & Bass crap we are subject to these days. "

I have more years than you but it seems I am less old than you.

(aged gray and balding drummer - loves Dubstep)

John Brown (no body) Silver badge

Re: Bass Players, Blues and writing

loves Dubstep"

Hey, I'm still young and with it too. I know that dance!!

Trevor_Pott Gold badge

Re: Bass Players, Blues and writing

"loves Dubstep"

We can't ever be friends.

Chris G Silver badge


Thanks for all the words.

I am almost the same age as you but ska was around in the early sixties in Brixton and a couple of clubs in South East London . Now I date myself; 2/6 for Friday evening, another 3/- to do an all nighter through 'til 7 in the morning at the Peyton Place club in Bromley circa 1964.

By the '80s real ska was hard to find. Usually the bands (in the 60s) consisted of a couple trumpets, a trombone, a sax, snare and other drums and one or two vocals, all in a place about 30ft x50ft jammed with people and a selection of illicit substances, a bar that sold cocacola lemonade and chips.

Great music great weekends in my misspent early teens.

Trevor_Pott Gold badge

Re: Ska

If you think Ska was hard to find in the 80s, try finding a Dixieland/Big Band Jazz band - a real one - in the 90s. There was a resurgence here in Canada in the late 00s, thank $deity, but still...few and far between.

That said, I like Ska. It's good music. There needs to more people playing in this world.


...and work to overturn Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission.

No finer goal than that. Good luck, and may I be lucky enough to join you in a few years.

Jimbo 64

Re: ...and work to overturn Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission.

Free speech for me, but not for thee.


Fantastic analogy

As a bass player myself, I couldn't agree more - Its the only instrument where if you're playing it properly, you should constantly think that you're probably playing it too much. Musically I was never front and centre, yet when I left my last band, they split up. The analogy is a perect fit - You shouldn't be the story, yet without you there is no story. No one should notice you're there, but they should sure as hell notice when you're not.

Best of luck with wherever the future takes you - Technical ability is a mere competency, but your innate understanding is a rare talent.

Thumb Up

Re: Fantastic analogy

"You shouldn't be the story, yet without you there is no story. No one should notice you're there, but they should sure as hell notice when you're not."

I pretty-much agree. Good bass playing usually and mostly is something that merely remains in the background but makes the rest of the band sound better. But as I said below, tell that to Stanley Clarke!

John 62

Re: Fantastic analogy

I tend to listen out for the bass guitarist and am disappointed if I can't hear them!

Peter Hook is the exception that proves the rule that bass players should melt into the background of the song. He's possibly a one-trick musician, but I can't get enough of his bass lead lines! I saw Peter Hook and the Light live last year and they were brilliant, right up there with Pama International* for best concert ever.

* Finney didn't really look up for it that night possibly due to a wrecked knee, but even despite that he's one of the best singers I've ever heard live.

Mr Myslewski, I salute you and wish you all the best for the future.

Mike Moyle Silver badge

Ave atque vale

You will be missed, sir. I've enjoyed your writing from the MacAddict days to the present. It's been fun.

Now get out there and enjoy your semi-retirement. (And, if you should ever decide to occasionally downgrade it to a demi-semi-, or even a hemi-demi-semi-retirement in order to write the occasional opinion piece, I hope I find out about it.)


I guess its - so long and thanks for all the frets :)

Will Godfrey Silver badge

Have one of these ->

From another somewhat musician :)


So you retire and now you start to fret? Sure there's something wrong there...

Happy retirement.



I'm giving you an upvote (guitar humour is rare on a tech site) even though he did say it was a fretless bass (i.e. an artefact of Satan)*.

* - I have nothing against fretless instruments except that I can't play them and so I assume, naturally, that anyone who can has sold their soul to the dark lord in exchange for that ability. Just look at Les Claypool - there's no way to describe that man's playing except ungodly. Maybe there is an equivalently powerful divine gift of fretless bass playing . . . Mo Foster, perhaps?


Goddamit! RTFA moiety! Good catch.


I got an old bass defretted once and through the cunning means of having the fret gaps filled a different colour to the frets, it wasn't too hard to adjust by ear when my eyes missed. Eventually my hands kind of learnt the positions and it wasn't too hard. I was never much of a fretless player though.

These days I have somewhat switched to g**tar and occasional mandolin, which do get noticed a whole lot more by the audience, though my standard in both is probably considerably lower. Good bass playing is, unfortunately, invisible to anyone who isn't also a bass player.


I'm not sure if your comment could be taken to explain it, but I was wondering how Les Claypool fits into the metaphor. Is he like a microchip designer who ALSO does tech writing? Or maybe a tech writer who's articles, while still valid English pieces that are on topic, can also be compiled into micro-chip designs?


"Good bass playing . . ."

"Good bass playing is, unfortunately, invisible to anyone who isn't also a bass player."

Tell that to Stanley Clarke!

Michael Hoffmann

Nothing else to say

... but raise this icon to your health!

Jimbo in Thailand

Best of luck!

Hate to see you move on Rick as I've enjoyed your many articles. I'm a hipster myself and try to keep my hand in playing guitar but have done a couple of small gigs playing bass way back when to help some buddies out. I muddled through with basic bass lines. Luckily, nobody seemed to notice since my buddies were so talented. Gotta admit it was great fun.

Good luck in your future endeavors!

Anonymous Coward
Thumb Up

Alvin Lee

Anyone that has played with Alvin Lee is Ok with me. Enjoy your retirement.

And here's a bit of Alvin for the younger folk.


Maybe it's time to buy an SVT then?

Peavey? Dude . . .

As a somewhat guitarist I don't agree that listening helps; only more gear helps : )

Elmer Phud Silver badge

"Peavey? Dude . . ."

Yes, quite - Peavey?


Thanks for the memories

We will hold on to them here so you don't misplace them.

Best wishes.


Nice goodbye, Rik! Only in Regland does technical and industry knowledge mix so well with something like ska (me, too, for first hearing it in the 80s).

Florida1920 Silver badge

Rock on, Rik!

See above.


Music and illicit substances go well together like words and illicit... never mind :) Enjoy the retirement, may the muse never leave your side in whatever art you pursue.

Elmer Phud Silver badge

And that's why they are called 'Jazz cigarettes'

(well, apart from the old racist overtones, that is)

Down not across

I would just like to respond to you words of departure that I think you have certainly achieved what you aimed for in your reporting. You have indeed (in my opinion anyway) been non-craniorectal and I have enjoyed your articles and will miss your reporting. I also think you hit the nail on the head with the analogy.

Ship of Fools

Damn. Thank you and have fun, you've earned it.


good luck

Sorry to see you go.

Scroticus Canis Silver badge
Thumb Up

Will you still need me, will you still read me, when I'm sixty four

Well yes, only occasionally apparently, happy birthday (belatedly).

Alan Sharkey

So, did you ever play with, or listen to, Phish? An excellent USA band from the 90's/00's.

John Gamble
Thumb Up

Good luck with your future career, both in music and in overturning Citizens United (and let us know if you decide to give blues in Chicago another try).

James O'Brien

Well then Rik

While I know me and you have had our differences (Apple fanboi :P) It will be disappointing to see you go. Hopefully you will still contribute something from time to time. Hope you enjoy your retirement and have a good one. Thanks for the reporting over the years.

BTW I will be hoisting a beer to you tonight. Peace.

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

> I came to tech writing at the relative ripe age of 39.

Typical bass player ... always comes in late.

Anonymous IV

Is it true?

...that you can do a bass face like Este Haim?

(I won't ask about the legs...)

Oodles of Noodles

I was with you ..

.. until you mentioned Peavey and fretless precision's. Peavey somehow managed to infect Trace Elliot with their components and their 'meh' type sound. I learnt this at great expense when I had to very quickly replace my old Trace which was damaged in an unfortunate RTC the day before an important (read profitable) gig.

The old broken one was the canines undercarriage, the new one was (to my ears) a crackly cheap-sounding abomination. The first clue was the sound engineer rolling his eyes when he saw it. The second and most enduring clue was when I turned it on and used it.

As far as the fretless is concerned, I demo'ed them around the NW of the country when they first came out. Lovely guitar (as precision's mostly are), but with a very limited soundscape.

Anyway, given all that I bow to your Journalistic abilities, especially as I struggle to string more than three letters together at any one time.

you are right about the piano though - I am *really* struggling with that sod of an instrument!

Enjoy your deadness - opps, sorry I meant retirement. The novelty will wear off in about - oh lets see - 14 days. :)

earl grey Silver badge

and many thanks

May you long enjoy your reitrement back to the world of music.



I hope you get to spend plenty of retirement time rolling in your Fuego. Thanks, and enjoy!

Charles Osborne


Yes, thanks for all the words. And the mental images they generated. And the laughs and the occasional rising bile. And the dirty looks from my boss reading El Reg at the office.

All the best!


"The Joseph Conrad of IT Journalism"

So sad to learn that "the Joseph Conrad of IT journalism"* is retiring from El Reg. Your writing will be sorely and dearly missed!


* Yanks officially recognise the word 'boffin'


Re: "The Joseph Conrad of IT Journalism"

Also sad to learn that we disagree on the subject of whether people banding together to engage in political speech should have to forego the legal protection afforded to almost every other form of cooperative activity, and expose their personal assets to suit, in order to publicize their shared opinion on matters of public controversy. But as skelband pointed out in the very first comment above, the fact that "We may . . . disagree and [even] outright insult each other from time to time" does not diminish my respect for you or your writing, which I have consistently enjoyed over the years. Or our sense of community, etc.

(Hell, many of my best friends — and at least three of my cousins (one a regular contributor to The Daily Kos!) — are unsound on this question, sharing your apparent misunderstanding and metaphysical confusion! (Namely, thinking that there is any such thing as a "corporation" that is somehow capable of speech all by itself, independent of any actual, flesh-and-blood human beings, so that one may somehow limit the speech of "corporations" without also thereby limiting the Constitutionally protected speech of real, honest-to-God people.) But if I were to insist that all my friends agree with me on everything, I would have no friends. I have some very odd opinions!)

So despite your error, I shall be hoisting a pint to you this evening, and I wish you the best in the future.

Paris Hilton

Re: "The Joseph Conrad of IT Journalism"

P.S. I met the late Bob Babbitt before he died, at The Lipstick Lounge in Nashville. A great bassist, and also a classy guy. Introduced by a mutual friend, who also plays bass. Loved him and the late, great James Jamerson in Standing in the Shadows of Motown!

Cheryl England


Highly recommended - trust me! -cheryl

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