Archive for October, 2014

busy weekend around the lair

It’s been a busy weekend around the lair – and a bit bloggier than usual, too. You might enjoy “GamerGate True Believers are the Anti-Vaxxers of the Online World,” or maybe my ‘okay I’m done’ rant about Doctor Who, written after walking out on “Kill the Moon.” Check comments in particular on that second post, there are some good ones.

Apparently, some people rather liked the episode. I don’t see how, but hey, carry on.

No, here, it’s been mostly paperwork – even supervillains have to catch up on email and clear the desks sometimes – and a decent bit of Legend of Korra! Yes, I’m finally through all of year three. So far behind but so worth it. If you’re one of the people who didn’t get much out of the first year, give it another go, starting, oh, no later than midway through year two, with “The First Avatar.” It really rocketshots after that. I’m pretty sad that year four is probably the last year – it’s been so good. I’ll miss it.

I never did write up that VCON report, dammit. Wrote a bunch of other things, but not that. Here’s a nice one by Steve Fahnestalks at Amazing Stories, if you want, wherein he was kind enough to give me a little shout-out for my drum work. Thanks, Steve! 😀

But even in all the paper catch-up this weekend, music hasn’t been entirely set aside. It’s just mostly been MIDI instruments, which means lots and lots of keyboarding. I’m… vaguely competent on keyboard – good enough for this – but wow, do I have no emotional feel for it. OKAY LET’S PUSH ALL THE BUTTONS DOOT DOOT DOOT OKAY LET’S PUSH ALL THE BUTTONS AGAIN DOOT DOOT DOOT

I’m trying, I really am, I have touch sensitivity and aftertouch and all that, and I’m using it. But – yeah. It’s just not my thing.

It is useful, though. At least, once I can stop myself from just setting everything to drums and mashing all the keys at once. That is fun. But… kind of useless. And the MIDI tenor sax isn’t entirely bad.

I’m wondering whether I have time to get just good enough on xaphoon to fake my way through a soprano sax solo. Should I try it? I don’t think I have enough time. But it might be fun to try.

And so much for Doctor Who.

Wow. Just watched last week’s Doctor Who, the one on the moon. This show has descended into utter incoherence so steadily I never even noticed when Aquaman showed up.

Thing is, I didn’t like Superfriends as an animated kids show. I don’t like it any more now that it’s called Doctor Who. I don’t expect hard science, I know it’s science fantasy, but I do expect better than Superfriends Logic. And upon getting to that point, I am done.

Ring me up when Moffat’s gone. If the show survives that long, I might come back. Then again… I dunno. I walked out on this one as the space dragon that the moon turned into laid a replacement moon egg, and wow, do I not have any fucks to give anymore. I can’t even work up being insulted. I’m just done.

eta: Anna stayed through to the end.

#gamergate true believers are the anti-vaxxers of the online world

Another week, another woman in gaming forced from her home by doxxing followed by threats of rape and murder. And, as usual, you have the chorus of idiots going on about how this is “really” about a real issue in games journalism.

Ignore the part where it was specifically set up as a misogynist harassment campaign to drive various people out of tech – we know this, we have the chat logs to prove it – ignore all that, because it’s “become something else…” that happens to achieve exactly the same effect.

And here exactly is why you can’t argue with the useful idiots. #GamerGate true-believers are the anti-vaxxers of the online world.

Seriously, come with me here. Anti-vaxxers are basing everything on the authenticity of a vaccines and autism paper written with a plan of knowing and intentional fraud. It was a lie, with a goal, and the perpetrators are in jail. But none of that deters the horde of fools and morons who are causing the deaths of tens of thousands of people through easily-preventable diseases worldwide.

#GamerGate true believers are basing everything on the authenticity of an online campaign created with a plan of knowing and intentional fraud. It was a smear, with a goal (of driving women from tech) – although in this case, the perpetrators are not in jail. Part of their documented strategy was to drag in a lot of useful idiots who would fall for it and bulk their numbers. And none of that deters the true believers who are doxxing and threatening women with rape and murder across the internet.

It’s exactly the same thing. And just as with the anti-vax movement, it needs to be taken seriously, because it’s causing real and lasting harm. It needs to be fought. Just don’t think you’re going to get through to them, because you’re not. Like the anti-vax fools, they’re locked in; any argument or discussion with them merely entrenches them further in their beliefs.

What you can do is make this shit trigger some fallout. Right now, it still doesn’t. Until it does, nothing will change. And since you can’t change their minds, you have to make damn well sure that these actions have some serious goddamn consequences. Lock them out of your dealings; lock them out of your businesses; lock them out of your events; lock them out of your lives. Because while there certainly is no law, there can damned well still be effects.

Some people are doing this already, but it has to hit a critical mass before it can take effect. Basically, it’s up to everyone who isn’t them and isn’t a direct target. Which is to say – it’s up to us.

eta: Hey, look, guess who got a bomb threat again, this time at GeekGirlCon. And there’s another harassment account already set up just for this.

This is one of a several posts on Sexism and Racism in Geek Culture.

the problem with midi

The real problem with MIDI is that every time I try to do MIDI I end up doing things like setting the SoundCanvas to ALL PERCUSSION SAMPLES and playing SMASHY SMASHY on the keyboard all night.

SMASH ALL THE DRUMS also all the sound effects and also the hilarious terrible fake scratches HI I AM not A DJ scratchy scratchy


this is hilarious. but not productive.

So, yeah. Everybody has to have their own versions of this, right? Surely they do. What’s yours?


all kinds of updates

Anna has all kinds of updates over on her blog – most relevantly to you the Bone Walker novel and soundtrack notes. We just had Shanti from Leannan Sidhe over doing some final chorus work. We are 98% done, less the readings.

You have no idea how excited about this album we are. You just don’t. I listen to these tracks and think ‘I can’t even believe this came out of my little studio, and I was there.’ Normally I’d be sitting here thinking ‘don’t oversell, don’t oversell,’ but I did not expect this album to turn into a serious business monster, and it has, and there’s just no way around that.

I have learned a lot since Dick Tracy Must Die, and it shows in every note and every beat. Goddamn I am excited about this. So is everyone who has heard it. You can still be one of these people – sign up for a review copy.

Readings get recorded in November. Mastering and replication follows in December. ARCs will go out then, too, and possibly (ahem) a limited/soft pre-release. Full official release January 2015.

Two and a half months. I swear, it’s gonna kill me. But seriously, I can’t wait.

Off to VCON and Canvention!

Off to VCON today! And it’s also Canvention, the Canadian national convention. Aurora Awards will be given out, and I WILL DRINK CIDER AND FROLIC IN MAPLE SYRUP WITH THE BEAVERS wait that’s not right OR IS IT?

I look forward to this con every year. Despite that, I’m kind of “nnngngh album so close to finished don’t want to leave the studio!” but yeah screw that, it’s VCON!

I’ve also been asked to join up at the last second for some programming, so a thing will happen, but I’m not exactly sure what. But something. I know a sing-along is involved.

You coming? Well, good! You should be. See you at the hotel!

well, that didn't last: bongo drum mic clip take two

Remember my unexpectedly easy mic stand mount for a pair of bongo drums? It lasted exactly as long as it needed to, but not one second longer. The midrange drums recording I was doing – they may be bongos technically but I wasn’t playing them in that style – I got completely done. Then when I started taking the drum off the stand – CRACK! The epoxy separated and that was that.

But having the drums on a mic stand was pretty cool, and I’d like to be able to do it again later. So I’ve come up with a Mark II mount system! I’ll call it the Drumclip, even though “drum clip” means a different thing elsewhere. I’m not 100% sure this is a final design – I’ll talk about that more below – but it’s 98% final.

Like the previous attempt, this is very simple, and still under $10. First, order a cheap but metal microphone bar, or double mic attachment. This is a small device you can screw onto on a single mic stand to make a little platform that will hold two to three microphones. I found this one online for under $10, with shipping:

Now like the name says, this is a drumclip, a mic stand clip for drums. And it’s going to attach to the connector bridge between the two drums.


Sadly, I can’t do it that way. I have to do it with hammers and an anvil and a big bench clamp. But if you have those tools, it’s very simple.

Remember the hole I drilled into the drum’s bridge, for the first attachment? It’s still there, and looks like this:

Take the mic platform and pop the centre mic attachment into that hole. Make sure it’s perpendicular to the plastic bridge, and mark where the sides of the platform would meet the metal if the corners weren’t so rounded.

If your bridge is more square than mine, you can just mark where they meet. Mine is all rounded at the corners so I have to allow for that. You may not need to. But just follow the wall down to where it would meet the metal, if it didn’t curve in first.

That’s where you want to bend your new drum clip. Draw lines on both sides. I used a knife, but whatever is visible works.

You could also measure the width of the bridge and mark that, centred, on the bridge. It’s the same thing, and again, those marks are where to bend the clip.

Then remove the microphone attachment knobs and centre mic attachment. Place the platform bar into the bench clamp so that the top of the clamp is right on one of the lines you made, and start hammering it over!

this is why it needs to be metal. plastic is not so good here.

You want to hammer down near the clamp point, or you’ll end up warping the base of your new Drumclip. Don’t worry about getting “too sharp” a corner, you won’t. Just make sure that clamp is nice and tight, so it doesn’t slip! Then flip and do the other side.

If you do warp the base a bit, you can hammer that back to flat pretty easily. However, you only want to do that once, because doing that repeatedly will weaken the metal. So if you start to bend it, don’t fix it immediately; get the sides bent into place, then hammer the base flat again, so you’re doing it only once.

If you have to do it more than once, for a small drum pair, it’s not too big a deal. But if you did this for larger drums, it would be a bad idea in general, really a very big deal.

You want to hammer the platform into a sharp-cornered U shape, but so that the sides are just past vertical, and angled in just a bit, to give it a better grip on the bridge connecting the drums. Once you’ve done that, it’ll slide on and hold pretty well.

This is where I actually needed that hole I made for the first attempt – it’s there so the platform stand attachment that came with the microphone bar (and which you removed earlier) can screw all the way in. That provides an extra bit of attachment security.

In my case, I ended up gluing that attachment into a permanent vertical position. I also tried doing it using double-sided tape on the silver metal piece as glue, because I like reversible changes better than I like epoxy. But that wasn’t strong enough, and the drum set kept tipping slowly over, so – epoxy it is.

Of course, after doing that, I realised that you don’t need the extender at all. This drumclamp will screw straight onto the mic stand just fine. So yay, unnecessary work. But that may not be true for other microphone platforms. And even in my case, it’s a little less awkward to use the platform stand attachment as kind of an extender than to attach directly to the stand, so it’s not a total loss.

Here’s the drum and clip and extender on the mic stand:

Yay! It works! But this gets to the design bit I’m not sure about.

You’ll remember from the first picture that the platform comes with knobs on each ends. These are for attaching other microphone clips so you can then attach microphones.

Right now, I’m using them as very slight tensioners on the sides of the drum’s bridge. Or that’s what I tell myself. In practical terms, it’s really just for storage and appearance. It does look better with them, don’t you think?

The question is: should I drill two more holes, one on each side of the plastic bridge, so that these knobs can screw all the way in? That would certainly make the drumclip more secure; it simply couldn’t move left to right.

But I’m also worried that two more holes might overly weaken the bridge. Were it metal, I wouldn’t be concerned about that. But it is of course plastic, so I am.

Any materials engineers got opinions?

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