Archive for May, 2014

mood and time lighting with $35 in LED tape

The other set of LED tape lights arrived. Initially they had less impact when tested; the window behind the baffles in the left on this photo don’t go as high as the baffle, so the top lights were a bit hidden. So I tapped in a bit of wood to raise it.

Here are four configurations I’ve already found I like quite a bit and am actually using at their appropriate times of day – the idea is that if I don’t have BRIGHT DAYLIGHT LIGHTS on at 2pm, I won’t look up and go “oh look it’s 3:30 and I have to be up at… eight!”

Click to enlarge in a separate tab.


Sunset and Evening

(It really does feel like daylight in there.)


The pictures are colour-manipulated a little to try to get at least in the neighbourhood of the correct colours; this was as close as I can get. The white areas around really the colours you see near them, not white. The orange is more orangy, the green is more greeny, the snozzberries taste like snozzberries.

Exactly like snozzberries.

But yeah, $35 in LEDs – including the controllers and remotes. That doesn’t include power supplies; I had one already and paid $10 for a second one that can handle the full input requirements of the longer strand, so I do things now like put that one on cycle and leave the other one steady if I want. Just because I CAN.

Mood/time-lighting LEDs are awesome. 😀

what is the new noisemaker what makes noise?

Over on Livejournal, where this post is echoed, lj:blues_kun asked:

Would you mind posting a recording of that funky thing? Also what the hell is it called?

…I actually have no idea what it’s called. It’s called Seven Dollar Bin. Or “that shaker with the seed pods.”

Seven Dollar Bin

But I imagine it must have some proper name. Anybody know? I don’t.

However! I can be useful in other ways. Recording? Sure thing! This is me doing several different things with it – schlumping it over in the air, turning it on its side, turning it shakers-down, shaking it, spinning it around, tipping it into (and back out of) my hand, things like that.

The weird breath-like sounds are not me. They’re the seedpods rubbing against each other. SO WEIRD. Check it.

Seven Dollar Bin Noisemaker Makes Freaky Noises

Technical details: recorded on a single Oktava MK319 large-diaphram condenser microphone at close range so the preamp wouldn’t have to be turned up. (Neighbours were running a woodchipper and I didn’t want that included.) Recording was at 44.1Khz mono, exported dual-channel mono and encoded into a 320kbps-maxed variable-bitrate mp3, because there is no twinkie I cannot sandblast. It sounds reasonably like it did when I was playing with it, at least on my reference headset, so there you are.

all the little flowers

Many Small Flowers

I keep thinking – no, being sure – I have things to say about the latest misogynist murder spree, but I don’t, quite, yet. I’m still thinking I will. Sure, I could rant, but everybody’s doing that – so what’s the point? I think I will have one. But not yet.

Until then, you can have some pretty flowers, listen to the latest workprint from Bone Walker, and I can get ready for rehearsal.

bone walker is going to be amazing

In every project I’ve done so far there’s this huge chunk of drudgery and slogging and it goes on forever and ever and ever and ever and makes up most of the project.

And that’s not terrible. Don’t get me wrong, it’s part of the process.

But also in every project you get to this point where you’re doing One More Tedious Thing like, oh, positioning drums in a mix, and all at once you hear it, you hear the thing, it’s a rush of OH MY GOD IT’S ALIVE and you still have acres of work to do but you feel it take its first breath, and it’s electric and crazy and awesome and…

…today is that day. Now is that time.

Bone Walker is going to be amazing, you guys.

Get your headsets. Good ones, preferably, but earbuds are better than laptop speakers, so use what you got.

new noisemakers!

Not as much time this year at Folklife as usual – no particular reason, really, other than I wanted to spend a couple of those days working on the album. But I did have a lot of fun jamming with Alouest on Sunday, doing the Quebecois trad thing. Sarah Kellington from Pinnpied made it too, and a good time was had by all.

I also picked up my customary New Noisemaker. See, I collect noisemakers. I have a whole shelf of them. Wooden train whistles, weird little rings you blow into that make sounds, bells, clackers, spoons, shakers, all sorts of toys. Sometimes they end up on other bands’s recordings!

Every year at the Folklife percussion tent, I play with what got brought this year, and see if anything makes noises I don’t already have.

So look at this crazy monster:

Is that awesome or what? It was in the discount bin for $7. The decorative bits were broken – the vertical slats originally went down further, some of the wicker wrap is missing, nothing that affects sound. So I trimmed, glued, and bound it at top and bottom – flutemaking skills, ahoy – and it’s sorted.

It makes a great, heavy, shlunk, clacky and interesting. You can also turn it to get a continuous falling-pebbles noise, and some other sounds too. People were asking me about it all day, hearing me play with it while walking around.

Normally that would be my only purchase. But not this year!

I’ve been thinking about a particular flute I didn’t buy last year for a year, which is a pretty good sign that I need to buy it. You might remember a year and a half ago or so, the abortive show trip down to Portland? One of my gear bags wandered off after our car broke down, taking with it a lot of gear and a couple of instruments, including one of my hand-built flutes, Popcorn.

Popcorn was my favourite flute, the one I carried around all the time, a bamboo D piccolo I’d make probably ten years before. I’ve never seen a flute made by anyone other than myself which sounded like it, or let me do a half-step-below-tonic trick like I could on it, and so on. I’ve been wanting to put together the flutemaking kit again ever since, to build a new one, but haven’t had time.

Well, these carbon-fibre flutes made in Oregon? They sound and act exactly like Popcorn, only with a better second octave. I can even do the half-step below tonic trick. It’s a little heavier because of the headstock, but that makes it tuneable. It’s amazing, and I’ve been wanting one since I didn’t buy one last year.

This year, Anna said “Carbony is here again, you should get that flute.” So I did.

I’m thinking of naming it “Kettlecorn.” Sound fitting, you think?

bunches and bunches

Today’s flower picture is a semi-wild bit of shrubbery that’s on a property line between a house and a commercial property. No idea what it is, but it’s pretty now that it’s flowering. I’m kind of pleased with myself for getting a picture, given my terror of the bees which were all over the flowers.

Bunches and Bunches

Worked out a second, higher bassline for “Song for a Free Court/Anarchy Now” last night. Didn’t record it, tho’ – I’ll need another day or two of practicing it. It’s entirely up the neck, which isn’t something I’ve done a lot of on bass. DOUBLE BASSLINES: absolutely critical to commercial success! Or, more likely, something completely unlike that.

Is my art degree showing? I bet my art degree is showing.

other reasons to open the case

While I was opening the computer to add glowy bits and more importantly a case fan to support the new graphics card, I noticed the wiring inside was a bit of a mess, and cleaned things up a bit.

While doing that, I noticed that the cable providing extra power to the USB root-hub card I’d previously installed 1) used an utterly unnecessary adaptor, and 2) had a loose piece. As in, one of the wires – the yellow one – was basically just reseting against the connection point, rather than being clamped on properly.

Now, things have been working reasonably well lately, but I have been getting a sudden hard bus error about once a day. Ardour crashes, JACK reports a hard bus error but restarts successfully.

That the yellow pin was just resting against its intended contact might explain that problem. Even if it doesn’t, that’s not okay, so I yanked the adaptor, used one of the extant four-pin power connectors in its place, and went on my merry way.

I have had exactly zero bus errors since making this change.

It’s still too early to claim victory – I’ve had error-free runs before – but it’d be awfully, awfully nice if installing a case fan and glowy lights actually lead to solving a known problem.

lost paper butterfly

One of Zinger the Magician’s magic paper butterflies showed up at our house, somehow making its way onto a table in our TV room, all the way from the Oregon coast. I’m not even sure how. It just appeared there a few days ago. Endurance!

what do you use for GPU temperature monitoring?

After all the hell involved late Friday night in getting nVidia drivers running under Linux (a.k.a., “Hi, I’m Running A New Kernel Now, Ask Me Why!”), I thought it’d be a good idea to get a case fan. I got the quietest 92mm fan they had at Fry’s, clocking in at 14.6db. I also picked up some hum-dampening silicon bolts for attachment.

Installing it proved I was right in deciding I couldn’t possibly afford the noise of a graphics card with fans onboard. Even the whisper-quiet-as-such-things-go case fan required me to throw some sound absorption behind the box to get it back to inaudible in the recording space.

…and okay maybe I couldn’t resist grabbing a case light while I was at it. It was only $8, so why not? 😀 But behind the case, you can see that I’ve attached some leftover sound baffle material to the wall – it’s just a single layer, but that’s okay, since fan noise is pretty high-frequency and easy to scatter.

In addition to the visible pieces, there’s another attached to the underside of the shelf that overhangs the case. It’s just out of frame above this picture. That piece catches some of the sound bounce coming out from the back which isn’t picked up by the wall pieces. The reduction is enough to hear, close up.

This baffling brings the case noise back down to the same level as it had before, without the fan. It’s nice to be justified in my card choices, but I wish I’d been wrong – the GT520 chipset isn’t bad, but I’d really kind of like, oh, a 750 TI. But… not today, not in this machine, not in this room.

What do you use for GPU temperature monitoring? Given the temperatures of everything else, I’m confident I’m fine, but I wouldn’t mind monitoring the card itself for a bit. Windows or Linux is fine.

Oh, and! On Internet Skyrims Elder Scrolls Online, I’m Starbird the Fleet, username Solarbirdy. Still in starting environment at the moment, breaking out of prison – and getting used to PC controls again after a long time being a console gamer only – but I’ll be out of that soon. Look me up.

anybody want to play elder scrolls online?

I have triumphed over the Open Sources and have made the nvidia GT520 driver work. I am now running a new kernel along the way, but hey. I also discovered bugs in Xorg -configure, as well as the nvidia configuration tool, and it only took 11 hours.

I can also now build the latest 3.2 Linux core, but that’s just kind of a side effect.

And this is for the official nvidia driver. Don’t believe me? Here are the instructions on how to install it, from nvidia themselves.


They do tell you that you have to have a full development environment and sources and headers for your kernel. They don’t tell you their driver doesn’t work with the realtime kernel and will fail without error. (Or panic your machine – one of those, depending.)

So will the open-source drivers, by the way. That’s fun.

Honestly, figuring that “this will always fail silently forever except when crashing your machine despite what the build instructions say” part out was the biggest hurdle. There’s a patch you can apply for the 3.4 downstream realtime kernel, but that’s even more out of phase with the rest of Ubuntu 12.04LTS than my previous custom realtime kernel was, so, yeah, no.

RANDR still fails so the GUI for monitor preferences still crashes if you try to run it, but I don’t use that anyway and I think that’s because I’m running Xinema mode – it was true for my previous card setup to. Both monitors started individually run RANDR and the GUI just fine.


(The Windows install was more a matter of “here’s the driver” “yup that’s a driver” and “no I want this monitor on the right” “okay” and done. DO YOU KNOW WHAT IT TAKES TO GET ME TO SING THE PRAISES OF WINDOWS?! I mean goddamn.)

But it’s all working. Anyone playing Elder Scrolls online?

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