Archive Page 2

Composting robot

Ashton mentioned that our composting cart looked like a ‘leaf-eating monster’, so I introduced the kids to rattle-can art.

Leaf-eating monster robot composting cart and kids.

Ashton also learned the incorrect way to test whether paint is still wet (observe left hand).

Then Brennan helped me inspect the deck by testing the lawn with a #2 square drive bit.

Kid with tools.

VFR 8:00pm

I was keeping an old (warped) disc brake and chain sprocket from my ’99 VFR800 around because they looked kind of cool. I knew what to do when I found an $8 clock at the flea market….

Clock with VFR800FI sprocket and disc rotor.

Then I went OTT and added some $6 under-vehicle lights from Meritline and hooked them up to the garage door opener.

In fact, the most expensive part was the steel backing sheet from the hardware store. Sigh.


Today we went to the beach. Since there was quite a lot of driftwood, we built Seaweed Fort.

Mudman and Brak

Kids crossing a sagging cushion bridge.

Ashton: I am MudMan. You are Mr Clean.

Me: I have the amazing power of napkins.

Ashton: I am sad. I have no family. My assistant is Brak.

Brennan: Here I am!

Me: Oh no, Mudman has slipped off the cushion bridge into the canyon. Brak, can you rescue him?

Brennan: He’s dead.

Giant Ethernet VU meter

I made one. Why not?

H.M.S. Pinafore sitzprobe recording

I never procrastinate when mixing down audio recordings.
What never?
Well, hardly ever. Okay, I guess I’m running 33% late.

HMS Pinafore logo

Anyway, I finally got around to finishing up the HMS Pinafore sitzprobe recording with Lyric Theatre. Being in rehearsal for The Pirates of Penzance might might have provoked me to get around to it. Links are below.
Continue reading ‘H.M.S. Pinafore sitzprobe recording’

It’s halloween, time for

Python seemed like a fun language, so I put together a little animated pumpkin face, on the grounds that it might, possibly, get me out of some carving.

Pumpkins with projected faces

(A small video is available for watching. Source code for those of you with Python, GTK and pygoocanvas is on SourceForge.)

Don Norman on Siri

With Siri only $199 away, I feel that now is the time to share Don Norman’s thoughts on this distopia from his 1992 book Turn Signals Are the Facial Expressions of Automobiles:

Let’s assume we’ve reached the time when the power of information technology has increased enormously, with the whole country—nay the whole world—wired so that anyone anywhere can connect to the huge communication network. As a result, society has evolved to the point where everyone always carries a portable computer with them, except that it is thought of not as a computer but as a personal, confidential assistant.

Each of us would have our own portable device, all the time. In fact, by starting out with a personal assistant at a very early age—from two or perhaps three years of age—it could help us learn to read or write, draw and sing, spell. Because the devices would be handed out early in life, the version for young children would be soft and cuddly, like a Teddy bear—hence the name “Teddy.”

By starting so young, the Teddy could store within itself all the information and experiences of a lifetime. We would become quite intimate with our Teddys. They would know all about us, while also giving us complete access to the world’s databases of knowledge. I assume that by the time such devices are possible the speech recognition problem will certainly be licked, so we could communicate with Teddy by talking. We talk to it, it talks to us.

My 1 and 3 year old kids can already use an iPhone, but I haven’t let them loose with Siri yet! (And they disdain most fluffy toys, too.)

Fun with Asterisk

I’ve been playing around with Asterisk, the free PBX. And I’ve found that IP phones go for close to 10cents on the dollar on eBay/Craigslist. Hence, I picked up some Polycom IP500s and the Nortel 1535 video phone.

VoIP phones

I wanted the Nortel because of the inexpensive video phone part. There’s also a Video Supervision mode, where you can monitor the camera on another phone without anyone picking up. It’s not documented well (I couldn’t find any!), but on the camera side: set the “Video supervision” “Number” to the extension that will be calling it, and “Userid” to the extension and proxy. E.g., on my system I needed to enter “206” and “206@” respectively into the camera phone. That allows extension 206 to dial it, and the camera phone will pick up after 3 rings automatically.

Sorcerer recording

I recorded The Sorcerer sitzprobe for Lyric. This is so that we could have a recording for next time we do a Sorcerer promo where we own any rights.

Since “pro”-audio is great fun, I had picked up a few new microphones to play with. A pair of M-Audio Pulsar II mics (used in X-Y for the orchestra), a pair of Karma K10 mics (used in X-Y for the chorus), and a Behringer C1 side-address mic for various leads. These all fed in to an SM-Pro pre-amp (modded with improved op amps and new input capacitors) and the E-Mu Darwin recorder.

Overall, I was happy with the sound recorded (and pleasantly satisfied with the $40 C1). However, the performance was patchy. The K10s displayed in interesting feature: they emit perfect 1/f noise (normal) all the way down to 3Hz (curious). Also, one of the K10s was significantly noisier than the other. The 3Hz was a brief problem in mixing, because I kept hearing a high ringing tone in the 5 to 10kHz range. But after trying first to filter it out (unsuccessful) and then find it in spectral analysis in a quiet section (also unsuccessful) I figured it out. The DACs in my HDMI monitor can’t cope with low frequency! Putting in a 2nd order high pass filter at 20Hz did the trick. Weird.

Update: See the whole post for download options. Continue reading ‘Sorcerer recording’