Archive for September, 2013

playing with panorama

The new iOS 7 panorama UI is perhaps the best I’ve ever seen, and it works great. You start, you pan slowly right, you tell it when you’re done, and there’s a UI to show you if you’re moving up and down or if you’re going too fast.

But since it works by knitting together new slices of images as you turn/move, you can screw with it by walking around. 😀

iCubism: Musician Traversing a Couch

iDada: iPunch The Cat

Those were taken with Paul’s iPhone 4. My iPad Mini doesn’t support this feature. I may need a new phone now. Goddammit.

sansui 500a

THIS HAS BEEN CLAIMED. I’m getting some abandoned projects out the door. This is a big one: a Sansui 500A combination vacuum-tube amplifier and receiver. THIS HAS BEEN CLAIMED.

Sansui 500a

It’s collectable, it’s audiophile, all that. Unrebuilt but in good condition – like this one, which is all-original – these seem to go for about $150-180ish plus $100ish shipping. I got it for a lot less because nobody cared at the time. So if you are a fan, promise you mean to rebuild it, and can pick it up, I will give it to you, because I hate seeing things like this go to waste.

Last I fiddled with it (which was, um, six or seven years ago? Aheh) it actually powered up and tested pretty okay. BUT: those large-can capacitors are well past end of life and should be replaced before trying again. SERIOUSLY, THESE ANCIENT CAPS CAN EXPLODE, so re-cap it before powering it up. Also, any smaller electrolytic caps should get the same treatment.

It would make a really good first serious tube restoration project for somebody, particularly since I’m including an aftermarket service manual. It’s in very good cosmetic shape, as you can see. They have a really good reputation as project amps on Audiokarma, too – generally considered well worth restoring for personal use.

Smooth as a new doorknob

Also, honestly – you want to know how people could listen to AM radio? Listen to it on a machine actually built for that sometime, and meaning it. I do this demonstration occasionally, on vintage kit I’ve rebuilt, and people go, “…that’s radio? That’s AM radio?!” AM only sounds like garbage because nobody bothers making decent AM kit.

Perfect for KIXI

But for most purposes, it’d be a really nice serious starter vacuum tube project and amplifier for somebody. It has phono input, general-AUX input, and a tape monitor input, so you have some options. It’s not a small project, but it’s not a particularly brutal one, either, and – from all reports – well worth it.

I can say from my memory of tests that it had a really nice sound to it, even unrestored.

Many inputs!

I WILL NOT SHIP THIS. If a bunch of people want it, I’ll pick at random. Otherwise, I’ll… eBay it, I guess. There’s a vacuum tube community out there; someone will want it.

perception of the world

GameSpot gave Grand Theft Auto V an Editor’s Choice and 9/10 review. The comment stream is a firehose of misogynist hate for not giving it 10/10 and for talking about the deep, vicious misogyny in the game.

But what’s interesting about the flood, really, isn’t the hate stream itself, and the obviously and intentionally misogynist comments. The more interesting part is the group who are saying that none of this belongs in the review, because it isn’t about the game; it’s “political activism” and “PC oppression” and such.

Now, of course, major thematic components of an immersive free-choice world-style game are relevant. And the other comments the reviewer made about the environment aren’t getting the h8, which, I think, verifies that they are, in fact, relevant.

No, the only way a player can really think the deep, systemic misogyny isn’t relevant in a review of a game is if you think it’s normal. It’s “not part of the game” and comments on it “aren’t relevant” and are “political activism” if and only if it matches and part of the world as you see it.

Which, frankly, the comment stream shows.

Unlike a lot of my posts, I don’t have an action call here. Well, I mean, I still have my post on Things Introverted Guys Can Do About This In General, of course, but in this specific case, I don’t even think it applies. I think it’s just an interesting look into how deep this runs, cause it runs deep, and mean.

LED poi spinning

Several people I know spin poi – some of them are really good! A few of them are fire performers, and that shit is epic. I have photos of a bunch of that up on my Flickr account.

But I haven’t seen people spin LED poi before. This is awesome in a different way entirely:

Somebody commenting on it said the spinner is using those bike LEDs. BEST USE EVAR.

I want to see this added to the Main Street Electrical Parade. I love that show. 😀

what the hell is this noise

Let’s play everybody’s favourite new game, “what the hell is this noise?”!

It’s captured on a live mic in a quiet recording studio; the sound is not audible in the room itself. I’m really curious if it sounds familiar to anyone, and reminds them of anything other than ground loop:


This was picked up on AKG200 microphones, across multiple mics (All AKG200s) and cables, so it’s not am individual microphone or cable problem.

It starts at about 450hz and goes all the way through the floor. There’s something to amplify throughout that signal range. I put a sweep equaliser and found tones to boost throughout that range. Nothing above that, though.

I realise it sounds like a ground loop, but it’s not; I chased the 60hz question for a while, but it’s far wider than that. I have a workaround that reduces it to inaudibility that involves changing nothing connected to any of the equipment – at least, as long as I’m recording other people. That would not be true for a ground loop.

I posted about this a couple of places last night; the link goes to the Facebook link that got a bunch of comments.

Also, if I change out the mic to an Octava 012, it goes away. Also, a Shure SM57. No cable change fixes any part of it.

Whatcha got?

a standing workstation

I’ve never been fond of extended sitting around – I’m just not fond, and add a desk to the mix and I’m all just NOPE. But my digital audio workstation is at a desk. So I decided that was dumb, and I’d like a standing workstation, but those cost hundreds to thousands of dollars,and tried a standing configuration with my monitors at maximum height, using a music stand as a keyboard holder.

Since that worked, I decided to make a better keyboard holder, one that would also hold my trackball.


It attaches to any stand that will take a standard mic clip. This was of course intentional. It’s 3/4″ thickwall PVC pipe, filed out on the inside to make the inner diameter wide enough to slip over the microphone pole of a standard mic stand. It doesn’t screw on, it just fits on, so don’t file it too much or it’ll get wobbly. The fit should be snug.

The top board is just some leftover plywood I had lying about, tinted with some leftover stain and polyurethane. Completely unnecessary, but looks nice. The board is held to the PVC frame with plumbing securements and brass bolts. Don’t use wood screws; quarter-inch ply doesn’t give you enough of an anchor for that.

Also, there’s a layer of double-sided tape between the metal securement hoops and the PVC end caps. If the fit wasn’t tight, that wouldn’t work – but it is, so it works well.

The end caps are important. You need them so that the T in the middle of the PVC support and the ends of the PVC support present the same frame diameter to the attachment system. If you didn’t do that, either the board or the PVC pipes would bend a little once you bolted everything down. This way it’s consistent and flat.

I think it came out as an attractive bit of kit. The screws aren’t flush, but the keyboard has feet and those are thicker than the screw heads, so it works out. I kind of expected the screw heads to sink in a little, but they didn’t; you can always drill a little bit into the wood with a bit the size of the screw head to flatten it a little bit further, if you need to. But that’s tricky with 1/4″ ply, since it’s so thin.

Since the mic stand’s telescoping pole reaches the top of the T inside the PVC frame, you can raise and lower the tabletop just like you would a microphone, so it’s adjustable to the height you like – at least, within limits.

The PVC pipe is also the right exterior diameter for a mic clip! If your mic stand is stable enough, you can totally do this, too, which lets you raise or lower the table like a boom mic. My stands aren’t awesome enough to be stable doing that for a heavy thing like a keyboard and trackball, but I could use this for other, lighter items if I wanted. The hard part is getting the clip not to rotate left and right – the clamping bolts on my mic stands don’t clamp firmly enough. If yours do, then great!

Very quick build, about an hour except for the staining and polyurethane, but that’s optional. This is quarter-inch ply, and that seems plenty strong enough for this purpose. It’s 65cm wide and 26cm deep, which was about as small as I could get and fit the keyboard and trackball.

What I’d really like is something I could move around just a little, kind of like a mobile rack for the monitors and keyboard, but that appears to be crazymoney. This seems like a reasonable middle ground that cost me, um… two disposable brushes plus stuff I already had on hand. ^_^ So far, I’m getting more work done since this indulges my dislike of chair and desk. We’ll see if that holds out over time.

norwescon harassment policy

Norwescon executive committee have announced the adoption of the anti-harassment policy they’ve been working on over the last year. That “they” is a little disingenuous, as nwcMUSIC is part of Norwescon, and therefore this is also nwcMUSIC’s anti-harassment policy, effective six days ago.

Along with many others, I provided testimony and information to the committee working on it, and I think they’ve done a pretty good job. I’m pleased to be able to say that yes, there is an official policy in place, with intent to enforce.

eta: While I, for one, applaud John Scalzi’s harassment policy pledge, I must note that this process was underway a solid year before his statement, and that it was not, despite some comments made elsewhere, prompted by his pledge movement.

up late in up lake

Up late comping fiddle and listening to J-Pop of the 1980s, in a two-hour compilation tw:freedrull found on YouTube. (“Category: Science & Technology” Awesome.)

The fiddle is for the Bone Walker/Free Court of Seattle soundtrack album – I played a bit of it in the latest episode of the podcast – and I’m trying to get reasonable comps ready for Friday’s recording session with Ellen Eades on hammer dulcimer.

I made kind of an ad hoc standing configuration for my digital audio workstation. I hate sitting for long periods of time – I’m too antsy for that! But it turns out a music stand makes a fine keyboard shelf:

Turns out I’m more likely to start working if I don’t have to sit down, and can wander away and back to it. So I’ll keep this kind of thing as an option. I’m building a better keyboard shelf that’ll have room for the trackball and also attach to a mic stand, because if you’re going to engineer something, you should totally over-engineer it. (I tried just putting a board on the music stand… it was too wibbly.)

Did I take pictures? lolno. I’ll post about it later anyway, though. It’s an easy build.

nwcmusic festival 2014

If you didn’t listen to the podcast: we’re ramping up for nwcMUSIC 2014, at the Norwescon science fiction convention, April 17-20, 2014. If you want to be involved in programming, now is the time to ask.

That goes to people who want to be on staff, too. I need a videographer and a second – I don’t want to be the only person who knows how this all works! music at is the official contact address; that gets to me, plus a couple of other people, so if I miss it, it doesn’t get lost.

geekmusic podcast september 2013

Surprise! The Geekmusic Podcast! Episode 5, September 2013. It’s a short one (18 minutes) but it’s here. I play some very early bits from the Bone Walker soundtrack, talk about nwcMUSIC 2014, plus – SHOW ANNOUNCEMENT! – I’m an attending pro at Vancouver’s VCON this October! I’ll have a 10pm Saturday show, and will be running a workshop and some panels.

But here’s the podcast:

Tell me who you want to hear about or hopefully just outright hear in a future episode, too! Hopefully in October or November we can get back to normal lengths.

Oh, if you don’t like YouTube, we have direct mp3 download and Soundcloud links at the Podcast page, like usual.

In related news, an update on the post I made yesterday about the return of Seattle Geekly: they made their Kickstarter goal! Go them! But it’s not too late to jump on that bandwagon, they have stretch goals and such, like y’do.

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