dglenn: My face, wearing black beret, with guitar neck in corner of frame (pw34)
posted by [personal profile] dglenn at 02:20pm on 2007-07-19 under , ,

Okay, it should quickly become obvious that I'm not camping in Enchanted Ground[*] ...

The latest American Science & Surplus catalog arrived in todays snailmail. "Oh, right," I thought, "they sell photovoltaic solar cells! I've been meaning to look up whether it'd be cost effective to get some of those for Pennsic."

Eep! On p.52, a panel rated at 12V/1A that they said they got 19V/750mA out of unloaded ... on sale for $144.50. %wince% Okay, not in the cards for this year, and probably not any of the next several years for me, unless I can find a way to turn it into a profit-generating thang as well as an electricity-generating thang. So looking up whether their shipping could get it to me before I leave or not became moot.

OTOH, they've got a bunch of rechargeable batteries for what looks like good prices so far (i.e., before checking the AH:price ratio of car batteries down the street at Advance Auto Parts): 6V/12AH Pb-acid $7.50, 15ct. "grab bag" assortment of NiCd $3.95, 10 AA NiCd packaged together as 12V/1AH (but easily cut apart to use as individual cells, so maybe I should get these for me DigiCam (but I'd better check the camera's manual to see whether it warns against using NiCd cells)) $5.95, single AA 1.2V/2100mAH NiMH $2.25 (I think those are $13.95 per 4-pack at Rite Aid -- dunno about other local retailers).

The main thing I'm pondering how to run is rated at 5V/2A (I tried four NiCd D-cells and got less than two hours), so either the 6V/12AH Pb battery plus enough solar cells to both recharge the battery and run the device (not cost effective), or a much better idea of how often I'll actually want to be making active use of the device to get a better idea of charge/drain times (not enough info just yet), would be useful. I think the grand plan there will wait a bit longer to get into seriously trying to implement it.

So the secondary concern is wanting to extend the life of the battery+inverter I'll be leeching off of to recharge my PDA and cell phone (and the laptop I borrow, if I do borrow one) and to help me feel less guilty about leeching off of [info] syntonic_comma's battery (I do wish I'd remembered to yank the battery from my car before it was towed). Of course, being able to skip the inverter stage would help ... the catalog list a "7-cell Li-ion pack" with an assortment of connectifiers and output switchable "between 3V/6A up to 8.4V/2A" (I hope they mean there arew a bunch of voltages available in between the two extremes) but it doesn't list an AH rating, which makes it harder to judge the cost-effectiveness ... and neither my phone nor my PDA has a nice, standard, barrel or phone connector for power. (I can charge either directly from 12VDC with a cigarette lighter socket -- easy enough to wire up if I get a chance to swing by a Radio Shack or similar store, or if I find the one I used to use as an extender when I drove a car with a lip on the ash tray that prevented the plug from the phone I was using then from fitting into the lighter.)

Third on the list is powering the digital camera. Not wanting to drain the laptops/phones/PDA master battery for that, especially with inverter losses (wait, just how efficient are those itty bitty consumer-grade 100W inverters these days, anyhow?) I was planning to bring a Big Pile O' Batteries and just run it on alkaline AA cells when the two sets of NiMH cells I have run out. But I wonder: if I can afford to buy a mess of NiMH or Li-ion AA cells in time (and run them all through my charger), will they hold their charge long enough in the camera bag to still do me any good in the second week, or should I stick with alkaline (or maybe NiCd) for Pennsic?

Golly, if only I were going to a party known to be frequented by electronics geeks, scientists, and engineers between now and War! ;-) This sounds like a problem to discuss over ice cream, n'est-ce pas? Gotta remember to take the catalog with me to Baitcon this weekend.

(Whoah. I just noticed a 10-pack of A76 cells -- which suck in film cameras, which prefer S76, but are great in laser pointers -- for $1.50. That's less than a single cell costs at the drug store.)

[*] This footnote grew into a whole entry of its own, about the many different ways of enjoying Pennsic and how I feel about bringing electronics, which I'll post a little later this afternoon.

dglenn: Me in poufy shirt, kilt, and Darth Vader mask, playing a bouzouki (vader)
posted by [personal profile] dglenn at 01:42pm on 2007-07-07 under ,

Dear Lazyweb,

What's the proper lubrication for this type of AC motor (from a box fan)? I'm guessing that neither WD-40 nor olive oil, the two oils I have on hand, are correct.

[Electric motor, disassembled; coilsaround the outside, rotor doesn't appear to be a magnet]

Graphite powder seems iffy to me in an electric motor too, but if'n I knew fer sure, I wouldn't need to ask. Oh, I might have some 10W30 around here someplace, if that would work as a substitute for the correct stuff. Or is this one of those "once it starts squeaking and rattling and stalling it's time to throw it away" situations? It would run normally for a few seconds, squeak really loudly for a few minutes, then slow and stop. I cleaned a decade or two worth of accumulated dust and hair out of it but it's still not happy.

Also, when I switch it on and it locks itself up -- an electromagnetic situation, not friction -- does that mean it's not worth trying to lubricate it to eke a little more life out of it? It doesn't lock up every time, just once in a while.

It's pretty cool how neatly it comes apart and goes back together anyhow. I hadn't taken apart this type of motor before. Getting the fan blades off the shaft was the hardest part.

dglenn: Me in poufy shirt, kilt, and Darth Vader mask, playing a bouzouki (vader)
posted by [personal profile] dglenn at 01:40pm on 2007-07-07 under ,

Dear Lazyweb,

What's the proper lubrication for this type of AC motor (from a box fan)? I'm guessing that neither WD-40 nor olive oil, the two oils I have on hand, are correct.

[Electric motor, disassembled; coilsaround the outside, rotor doesn't appear to be a magnet]

Graphite powder seems iffy to me in an electric motor too, but if'n I knew fer sure, I wouldn't need to ask. Oh, I might have some 10W30 around here someplace, if that would work as a substitute for the correct stuff. Or is this one of those "once it starts squeaking and rattling and stalling it's time to throw it away" situations? It would run normally for a few seconds, squeak really loudly for a few minutes, then slow and stop. I cleaned a decade or two worth of accumulated dust and hair out of it but it's still not happy.

Also, when I switch it on and it locks itself up -- an electromagnetic situation, not friction -- does that mean it's not worth trying to lubricate it to eke a little more life out of it? It doesn't lock up every time, just once in a while.

It's pretty cool how neatly it comes apart and goes back together anyhow. I hadn't taken apart this type of motor before. Getting the fan blades off the shaft was the hardest part.

dglenn: Me in kilt and poofy shirt, facing away, playing acoustic guitar behind head (Default)
posted by [personal profile] dglenn at 05:32am on 2007-07-07 under ,

Today's QotD entry includes a little layout change, sticking a graphic with a title attribute next to the quote. I don't know whether folks will see this as pointless, annoying visual clutter, innocuous decoration, a cute feature (see below), or a near-miss. Right now it's just a one-shot experiment; depending on feedback and how much energy + patience I have, I may make it a permanent fixture at some point, try other related ideas, or just drop it and leave my QotD entries pretty much as they've always been.

First, the gut reactions:

[Poll #212] Why the experiment? Well, after you answer the poll ... )
dglenn: Me in kilt and poofy shirt, facing away, playing acoustic guitar behind head (Default)
posted by [personal profile] dglenn at 05:30am on 2007-07-07 under ,

Today's QotD entry includes a little layout change, sticking a graphic with a title attribute next to the quote. I don't know whether folks will see this as pointless, annoying visual clutter, innocuous decoration, a cute feature (see below), or a near-miss. Right now it's just a one-shot experiment; depending on feedback and how much energy + patience I have, I may make it a permanent fixture at some point, try other related ideas, or just drop it and leave my QotD entries pretty much as they've always been.

First, the gut reactions:

[Poll #1016954] Why the experiment? Well, after you answer the poll ... )
dglenn: Photo of clouds shaped like an eye and arched eyebrow (sky-eye)

[... and a wee bit of experimenting with mirror-related layout]

Alrighty then, my body can stop playing this "crash hard only to be wide awake again an hour later not feeling rested" game, any time now, please. :-(

A thought I had earlier but didn't muster the energy to post at the time: Let's say we have an individual of an "uplifted" species -- genetically engineered by another species to produce sentience ... uh, sapience ... er, "human-like intelligence". (For example, Tayler's elephants, Stanley's Bowman's Wolves, Brin's dolphins.) And furthermore, let us suppose that members of the uplifted race are able to breed with their pre-uplift cousins. Would such a coupling constitute bestiality? Does it make a difference whether the offspring from such a mating would be sterile (like a mule, hinny, or zorse) or fertile (like mutts/mongrels, or like female ligers and tigons), or is sapience where the line is? Does it matter whether the normal mating signals -- pheremones, mating dances, calls -- are the same for the uplifted and non-uplifted races?

A related thought, that I thought it might be in poor taste to post while so many of my friends were in dire straits dealing with the recent trouble (but may be in even poorer taste now that some of them have been turned into zombies themselves): do zombies have sex, and if so, does it count as necrophilia if two zombies have sex with each other? Or is it only necrophilia if one of the parties is alive? And for that matter, what about vampires? Should there be a corresponding term for an obsession or interest in sex with the quick on the part of the (un)dead? (Uh ... 'biophilia'?)

[And how many of you stumbled a bit at my choice of the word 'quick' there? Although http://www.m-w.com lists that as the first definition and doesn't mark it obsolete or archaic, about the only time I hear anyone but me use the word that way is in the specific phrase "the quick and the dead". Is it used elsewise often and I just haven't noticed, or should I be more choosy about when I use it because it comes across as an affectation (or both)?]

Finally, what's that sloshing sound?

dglenn: Photo of clouds shaped like an eye and arched eyebrow (sky-eye)

[... and a wee bit of experimenting with mirror-related layout]

Alrighty then, my body can stop playing this "crash hard only to be wide awake again an hour later not feeling rested" game, any time now, please. :-(

A thought I had earlier but didn't muster the energy to post at the time: Let's say we have an individual of an "uplifted" species -- genetically engineered by another species to produce sentience ... uh, sapience ... er, "human-like intelligence". (For example, Tayler's elephants, Stanley's Bowman's Wolves, Brin's dolphins.) And furthermore, let us suppose that members of the uplifted race are able to breed with their pre-uplift cousins. Would such a coupling constitute bestiality? Does it make a difference whether the offspring from such a mating would be sterile (like a mule, hinny, or zorse) or fertile (like mutts/mongrels, or like female ligers and tigons), or is sapience where the line is? Does it matter whether the normal mating signals -- pheremones, mating dances, calls -- are the same for the uplifted and non-uplifted races?

A related thought, that I thought it might be in poor taste to post while so many of my friends were in dire straits dealing with the recent trouble (but may be in even poorer taste now that some of them have been turned into zombies themselves): do zombies have sex, and if so, does it count as necrophilia if two zombies have sex with each other? Or is it only necrophilia if one of the parties is alive? And for that matter, what about vampires? Should there be a corresponding term for an obsession or interest in sex with the quick on the part of the (un)dead? (Uh ... 'biophilia'?)

[And how many of you stumbled a bit at my choice of the word 'quick' there? Although http://www.m-w.com lists that as the first definition and doesn't mark it obsolete or archaic, about the only time I hear anyone but me use the word that way is in the specific phrase "the quick and the dead". Is it used elsewise often and I just haven't noticed, or should I be more choosy about when I use it because it comes across as an affectation (or both)?]

Finally, what's that sloshing sound?

dglenn: Me in poufy shirt, kilt, and Darth Vader mask, playing a bouzouki (vader)
posted by [personal profile] dglenn at 04:10pm on 2007-06-12 under , ,

Hmm. I shoulda seen that coming ...

When mirroring an LJ entry to GJ and IJ, if the entry contains an <lj ...> tag (e.g. <lj user="examplename"> => [insanejournal.com profile] examplename), the IJ and GJ copies of the entry will interpret the same tag as linking to a user of the same name on those sites. And similarly, if I try to link to a GJ member, the LJ copy of the entry will try to point to an LJ user with that name. Oof.

Unless TPTB decide to extend the <lj user=""> tag to have syntax that can point to other LJ-codebase sites (or maybe other OpenID sites in general), and all three sites install that feature, I've got a problem. Maybe I should just forego the convenience of <lj user=""> and <lj comm=""> and use longhand HTML to produce the same effect instead (maybe stick a macro in my .exrc file to help) ... but I think that would break the "automatically fix all your old tags to point to someone's new name when they rename their journal" feature, wouldn't it?

Thoughts? Suggestions? Obvious workarounds I've overlooked?

I'm glad I noticed this before getting around to copying all of my old LJ entries over to IJ and GJ.


[Edit: a test of doing things longhand (though I might simplify this a bit from the copy/paste version here, in practive):

This is what the <lj user="dglenn"> tag expands to on the three sites, minus a <span> tag that must reference a CSS style with too many side effects; for simplicity on my end, I could leave off the little symbol that links to someone's profile (note that GJ uses the same icon as LJ) and just do a plain old href on their name ... would folks miss the "this is an LJ/GJ/IJ user I'm pointing to" indicator and the convenient profile link, or does it not matter much?

Hmm. IJ doesn't link from the icon, and links the username to the profile instead of the recent-entries page -- odd. Bug?]

dglenn: Me in poufy shirt, kilt, and Darth Vader mask, playing a bouzouki (vader)
posted by [personal profile] dglenn at 04:08pm on 2007-06-12 under , ,

Hmm. I shoulda seen that coming ...

When mirroring an LJ entry to GJ and IJ, if the entry contains an <lj ...> tag (e.g. <lj user="examplename"> => [livejournal.com profile] examplename), the IJ and GJ copies of the entry will interpret the same tag as linking to a user of the same name on those sites. And similarly, if I try to link to a GJ member, the LJ copy of the entry will try to point to an LJ user with that name. Oof.

Unless TPTB decide to extend the <lj user=""> tag to have syntax that can point to other LJ-codebase sites (or maybe other OpenID sites in general), and all three sites install that feature, I've got a problem. Maybe I should just forego the convenience of <lj user=""> and <lj comm=""> and use longhand HTML to produce the same effect instead (maybe stick a macro in my .exrc file to help) ... but I think that would break the "automatically fix all your old tags to point to someone's new name when they rename their journal" feature, wouldn't it?

Thoughts? Suggestions? Obvious workarounds I've overlooked?

I'm glad I noticed this before getting around to copying all of my old LJ entries over to IJ and GJ.


[Edit: a test of doing things longhand (though I might simplify this a bit from the copy/paste version here, in practive):

This is what the <lj user="dglenn"> tag expands to on the three sites, minus a <span> tag that must reference a CSS style with too many side effects; for simplicity on my end, I could leave off the little symbol that links to someone's profile (note that GJ uses the same icon as LJ) and just do a plain old href on their name ... would folks miss the "this is an LJ/GJ/IJ user I'm pointing to" indicator and the convenient profile link, or does it not matter much?

Hmm. IJ doesn't link from the icon, and links the username to the profile instead of the recent-entries page -- odd. Bug?]

dglenn: Me in kilt and poofy shirt, facing away, playing acoustic guitar behind head (cyhmn)
posted by [personal profile] dglenn at 03:18pm on 2007-06-06 under , ,

Last night, thanks to Clue suggested by [livejournal.com profile] syntonic_comma, I was able to work out the rhythm notation problem that was keeping me from writing down the tune I'd come up with over the weekend. (And as I predicted when I first complained about being stumped, it turns out to look easy and obvious once it's finally written down.) Since [livejournal.com profile] anniemal suggested that it might fit somehow with another tune I've been working on, 'Samhain', I made MIDIs of both of those plus 'Samhain Eve', to listen to all three together in various orders. I think that if I make the new tune part of a set with the other two, it's going to have to go first (hmm ... unless I do something interesting to the end of 'Samhain' ...). So I'm trying to choose a title that has something to do with the changing of the year and implies a bit of nostalgia. A couple of the titles I've thought of already seem too pretentious for what this tune is; others seem a bit bland. I dunno. The title shouldn't be as much work as composing the tune, but I do want to have a title I like before I put it in front of a lot of people. I'm considering 'Tomorrow and Yesterday' as one of the possibilities.

In the meantime, since my paid LJ account hasn't expired yet, I figured I'd toss in a poll for musicians...

[Poll #998297]

FWIW, the 12/8 version is easier to type in.

dglenn: Me in poufy shirt, kilt, and Darth Vader mask, playing a bouzouki (vader)
posted by [personal profile] dglenn at 01:58am on 2007-05-25 under , ,

Okay, the cable is connected ... 'lsusb' shows that the computer can see the printer ... I click "Print Test Page" in 'Gnome-CUPS-Manager' for that printer ... I get a message saying the test page has been sent to the printer ... the status window for that printer in thr CUPS-manager shows my print job with a status of "Printing" ... and then it changes to "job stopped" and the "resume" option in the pop-up window is greyed out. Logged in as myself, this happens. Logged in a root, this still happens.

What ought-to-be-obvious (but isn't obvious from the 'man' page) detail am I most likely overlooking here? The printer is on-line as far as I can tell (it's powered up but doesn't have a separate "on-line" or "ready" LED; the LCD says "plain paper / normal / 100%" as expected, and the "error" LED is dark). At first I thought I had a bad cable, but 'lsusb' does report a device of the right brand plugged in.

The last time I managed a printer from *nix was back in the 'lpd' days, using RS232 ports and parallel ports, not CUPS nor USB.

dglenn: Me in poufy shirt, kilt, and Darth Vader mask, playing a bouzouki (vader)

In case anyone is unfamiliar with the abbreviation, "IANAL" means "I am not a lawyer", a standard bit of disclaimer when a layperson on the 'net starts speculating about the law or offering "worth what you paid for it" free advice. I think I know quite a bit more about copyright law than most people, just because I've read various "copyright law for dummies", "intro to copyright for photographers", "intro to copyright for musicians", and "common myths and misperceptions about copyright" web sites, and the US government's own "copyright FAQ simplified for laypeople" page, as well as Lessig's Free Culture: How Big Media Uses Technology and the Law to Lock Down Culture and Control Creativity ... and given just how freaking commonplace the various copyright myths and misperceptions are, it's obvious most people haven't. I know that I know less about copyright than some of my friends, and most of my friends know less about it than a lot of lawyers, and then there are the lawyers who specialize in this stuff. So: while I feel that I have about 1/3 of a clue more clue than most people about copyright stuff, that only adds up to ... about 1/3 of a clue. Admittedly it's been awhile since I reread any of those "things you ought to already know about copyright but probably don't" sites...

So ... this is layperson-with-a-third-of-a-clue speculation and brainstorming which may or may not turn out to have any bearing on reality, but I'm going to throw this out there just in case it lands in front of someone who knows their stuff and has time to respond to my questions here (I know some of my friends have more than two whole clues to rub together regarding copyright, that being part of their jobs, but I don't know whether they'll have tome to respond), or turns out to be something useful that too few people have gotten around to yet. Take every darned paragraph with a grain of "IANAL"-flavoured salt, and check with authoritative sources (unless you are one of those more authoritative sources) to see whether I've misremembered something.

Okay, the very basic background just in case anybody needs it: copyright is, basically, "the right to make copies" (which is why it is not, as some people mistakenly spell it, 'copywrite'). "Copies", as it winds up being in the law, includes performances, recorded or not. The basic idea is that, for a set time (in theory -- though in practice every time Micky Mouse is about to enter the public domain, the duration of copyright gets extended) only the creator of a work has the right to make copies or to grant permission for anyone else to do so ... with certain exceptions (including the grossly misunderstood 'fair use' and the probably better understood but often abused parody). The creator, or hir employer if it's a "work for hire", starts off owning exclusive rights, which can then be rented, sold, or given away like any other property. (We'll leave the argument over whether "intellectual property" should exist for some other day -- today I'm working within the framework of what the law currently is, to the extent that I haven't misunderstood it.) These rights are most often rented, after some sort of negotiation (which may be as simple as "hey, what's your standard rate?"). In general, if you want to use or copy someone else's work, you have to ask permission and probably negotiate compensation. Want to use my photo in a textbook? We'll negotiate. Want to use my song in a television commercial or a movie? We'll negotiate. *cough* In general. But not always.

"Not always," because there's this notion of "compulsory licenses", for specific uses, which go hand in hand with statutory royalties. If you've published a recording of a song and I want to record a cover version of it, I do not have to ask your permission or negotiate a royalty rate. There's a "compulsory mechanical license" that means all I have to do is pay you the royalty amount specified in law for covers before I press copies of my version, and all you can really do about it is cash my check. Because you're compelled to grant me the license, the royalty amount is set by statute instead of negotiation. Note that you do have the option, if you like me a whole heck of a lot -- it's still your work and your copyright after all -- to charge me a smaller royalty or to waive the royalty or to write a letter saying that you trust me to pay you later and are giving me permission to go ahead and press those CDs now. Gotta have that in writing, of course, so I can show it to the CD pressing plant so they know I'm not BSing them. AFAIK, you don't get to insist that I pay you more than the statutory amount, since the law says you're compelled to grant me a license and specifies the standard payment (hence "compulsory license"), but do keep that "IANAL" thing in mind here.

Which brings us to performance royalties. I'm not 100% certain that performance licenses are compulsory, but it makes sense that they would be, since a) there are statutory royalty amounts for different types of performance, and b) it just makes sense that you wouldn't make every single radio station negotiate a separate license with every single copyright-holder whose music they play. For now I'll assume that performance licenses are compulsory unless someone corrects me in the comments. Every time a radio station plays a recording that's still under copyright, they owe a royalty payment. Every time a band performs a song that's still under copyright for an audience, someone owes a royalty payment -- usually the owner of the club or theatre where the concert's taking place, but it could be the band -- which is why when the music industry came down on the Boy Scouts and various summer camps to collect royalties for campfire sing-alongs, however wrong they were from a PR standpoint and a "what decent people should do" standpoint, they were actually legally absolutely correct (as I understand it -- IANAL). This is one of the frequently misunderstood bits, and every so often music industry agents check up on clubs that aren't paying lump-sum royalties and sue them if it turns out they've been hiring cover bands who haven't been paying performance royalties either, and I think it usually comes as a surprise when the club owners learn that they should have been paying royalties (or verifying that the performers had done so) all along. I keep wishing I could sic the RIAA on those folks who blast their car stereos so loudly you can hear them for two blocks (no I am not exaggerating) for not paying royalties for a "public performance" of the recordings...

There are statutory royalties covering how much it costs to play a song on conventional radio, how much it costs to play a song on satellite radio, how much it costs to play a CD at a discotheque, how much it costs to have a band play a song they didn't write in your bar, and how much it costs to stream a song over the Internet. I'm guessing there are statutory royalties covering telephone hold music and elevators. In principle, whoever runs the organization "performing" (which includes playing a recording of) the music, owes performance royalties to the specific copyright holders of each piece of music they play.

In practice, that's too much paperwork -- they'd have to track Every Single Song and exactly how many times it was played and write checks for the right amounts to each and every copyright-holder whose work they'd used. So there's a legal shortcut. A radio station will work out how many songs it plays on average each month, and write a check for that lump-sum amount to an agency that collects and distributes royalty payments. That agency then does some statistical sampling, figures out which copyright-holders get what percentage of the pie, and writes checks to the copyright-holders (usually artists or record companies ... and I get the impression that it's more often the record companies). The system isn't perfect: niche artists, "genre" artists, and local indie artists are so far down in the "noise", statistically, that their cut gets rounded down to zero if they're even noticed in the random sampling at all. On the whole, it works well enough for the folks owed large enough amounts of money to care, so everybody's basically cool with it even if they're getting shortchanged a little ... either that, or the little guys' complaints just aren't being paid any attention. Hmm. Gotta look into that.

And that, at last, brings us to the whole reason I'm writing this: Internet-radio royalties. I had this funny thought about how to turn this whole "jack up the statutory royalties on Internet radio so high that it puts the entire field out of business" crap on its head. I'm just not sure whether I've got all the details right.

Does the compulsory performance license specify an exact amount for each category of performance, or just the largest amount the copyright-holder can insist on? Does it specify that lump sum payments to a particular agency must be used, or do broadcasters have the option of using a different agency or paying copyright-holders directly? Because if I can charge a friend less than the statutory royalty for a compulsory mechanical license if I so choose, why can't I charge a group of broadcasters I want to support less than the compulsory performance royalty? (In fact, I saw a throwaway line in some superficial news article about this that suggested that major web-casters would negotiate discounts with major labels, implying that exactly this is possible.)

So what happens if a bunch of indie artists -- the ones with the most to gain from Internet-radio exposure -- put in writing, "We will only charge $reasonableamount as a performance royalty for Internet radio, instead of the ruinous statutory amount"? Would that mean that suddenly an Internet-radio station would be affordable to operate again as long as it stuck to artists who had given either blanket or specific licenses to use their tunes at the reduced rate? Could this then bite the RIAA in the ass by making its own artists too expensive for Internet-radio and leaving that entire field to the indies and small labels willing to support the medium? Or am I missing or misunderstanding something critically important? And if the paperwork burden of this approach is too high, could a bunch of indie artists band together and start a separate royalty-distribution agency just for these lower-rate artists? They certainly wouldn't be "lost in the noise" there ...

I haven't bumped into this idea elsewhere yet. So what am I missing? Would it work? (Is it already being discussed, just not in the places I'm reading?)

dglenn: Spaceship superimposed on a whirling vortex (departure)
posted by [personal profile] dglenn at 04:12pm on 2007-04-25 under ,

Long, long day yesterday. Tired today. I'll be asking for advice re: cars and inspection and risks in a little while, as well as trolling for a favour from a friend with a trailer, but I'm still collecting my thoughts ...

In the meantime, not having found any more of a hint as to the location of the alleged trasure-trove of relevant clues than "there exists, at some undisclosed location, some bass-players' mailing list where this has been discussed before", I'm making a first, crude stab at collecting the knowledge of the Net with a magnet instead of a shovel. While this ought to be (and as soon as I get a round tuit will be) either a Wiki or a custom LAMP application, for now I've started a Google spreadsheet to which I'll grant edit-access to whomever says they've anything to add. Behold the rough version of the Which Cars Can Carry A Double Bass spreadsheet.

Please pass this along to other bassists you know, and ask 'em for additional Clues.

dglenn: Medium-hair silver tabby (Perrine) yawning (smallyawn)

So here's the video I was trying to turn into an animated LJ icon:

... and the animated LJ icon I've managed to create from it so far [Embedded YouTube video, followed by a tiny animated GIF] )

The icon version is smaller than the full 100x100 pixels allowed, with fewer frames than I would have liked for a smooth animation, and I had to trim a lot of frames before and after the yawn so it loses the "oh, just a picture of a cat -- wait, it's moving" effect at the start and turns into one of those annoying constant-motion images. If I can figure out how to set different delay times for different frames, I'll try to put the long pause back in at the start that way. [Thanks, [livejournal.com profile] redaxe.]

So I guess the image embedded in this entry is subject to improvement and may no longer match this text if I'm successful. And, uh, if any of y'all with real Photoshop/ImageMagick/GIMP/etc. chops wanna show off how much better at this you are than I am, I'll happily make the original 3GP file or the separated JPEG frames available for you to play with -- all the more so if you think you can describe what you do well enough for me to learn from.

dglenn: Spaceship superimposed on a whirling vortex (departure)
posted by [personal profile] dglenn at 05:45pm on 2007-04-05 under ,

Next car-shopping question: can I fit the bass into a 4-door Mazda 626? Wheee. Have I mentioned lately just how much I hate car shopping?

I thought I'd hit the jackpot when I saw a Volvo wagon for sale in my price range, but it turned out to be a "project or for parts" type of ad. I've thought I wanted a Volvo wagon (probably a 740) since the mid-1980s. But apparently my looking for a Volvo station wagon I can afford is about as useful as my wishing for a Lamborghini. As slowly as Volvos seem to age, it seems they depreciate even more slowly.

dglenn: Spaceship superimposed on a whirling vortex (departure)
posted by [personal profile] dglenn at 07:29am on 2007-04-04 under ,

Do Saturns tend to age well? Is a 1994 single-owner Saturn wagon a "run away from" or a "hey, better take a look at that"?

dglenn: Lego-ish figure in blue dress, with beard and breasts, holding sword and electric guitar (lego-blue)
posted by [personal profile] dglenn at 03:58am on 2007-04-02 under ,

Perrine just woke up suddenly, meowing and chirping, and immediately jumped up and demanded that I pet her.

Bad dream, perhaps?

dglenn: Spaceship superimposed on a whirling vortex (departure)
posted by [personal profile] dglenn at 01:06pm on 2007-03-30 under ,

I'm reading comments to my earlier post (and thanks!) but I'm gonna wait until a little later to start composing replies. For now just a couple of observations and a question...

Looking at pictures of hatchbacks -- 3-door -- I realize that I don't really much care for them aesthetically. Given my druthers, I'd normally pick a sedan or a 5-door; with the bass I'd lean more toward the 5-door, be it a longer hatchback or a proper wagon. Although I don't have passengers in the back seat very often, I've gotten used to always having the ability to carry adult rear-seat passengers easily and have them able to enter and exit the car comfortably. Having fewer than four doors will/would be a mental adjustment. More realistically, being able to maneuver guitar cases and assorted other stuff through the rear doors of a sedan is a feature I use regularly. Getting used to always puting such things in through the hatch might make up for that, I dunno.

I might find a 5-door or a large enough sedan to get the bass into more easily than it went into the Honda, but given my price range and the fact that reliability trumps body-style, I'm not counting on that. So I'm trying to prepare mentally for accepting a 3-door instead of being Too Picky and having no wheels for six months.

Anywho ... Google found me a 1986 Merkur XR4Ti that sounds interesting, except that I am utterly unfamiliar with that model. Who can tell me what? Vague subjective impressions considered useful, as are objective observations.

Hey, maybe I'll wind up with a manual transmission again.

dglenn: My face, wearing black beret, with guitar neck in corner of frame (pw34)

The expected phone call came this morning. The Honda is totaled. $1410.50 if I walk away from it, $1212.50 if I want to hang on to it and try to get it repaired myself. So now the questions are: how much will it cost to fix the important stuff (i.e., make it safe to drive at highway speeds and not be in the process of damaging itself farther, and fix the lights); and, how much car does $1400 buy me around Baltimore nowadays, how reliable and how double-bass-friendly (with "how much will Glenn like it" being, alas, a more distant concern)?

And they want my answer by Monday (which is also when the rental has to go back) or Tuesday. Er ... can I get an estimate that fast?

On the first question, y'all can't help much, of course (except by suggesting trustworthy garages that I can walk or take a bus home from, that might be able to look at the car today/Monday -- I'm going to phone Comprehensive Car Care and/or Three Brothers after I take my morning meds and feed Perrine).

But on the second question, have any of you got relevant, recent used-car-buying experiences to draw on (or have a hobby of trolling used car ads for fun, for that matter)?

dglenn: Me in kilt and poofy shirt, facing away, playing acoustic guitar behind head (cyhmn)

(Or: Physics Goes 'Twang')

I should be asleep. I'm not. Go figure. And I'm puzzled.

Pluck an open string, and you get the fundamental frequency of that string (i.e., that combination of length + mass + elasticity + tension). There are overtones present, but to a large extent what you've got is the vibration of one segment with nodes at the nut and the bridge. From what I remember of plugging a guitar into a sillyscope[1] years ago, the wave produced is overwhelmingly the fundamental with much smaller amplitude overtones crawling slowly along it (which means they're not exactly integer multiples of the fundamental, I guess -- izzat predicted by the model or a side effect of making strings out of real-world materials?), pretty much as the elemtary-school physics example suggests. And pretty much as we expect to hear, unless we pluck the string way down at one end (or select a pickup, or combination of pickups, placed where certain overtones are easier to detect) to add "twang" or "bite". For now let's only consider the "plucking in a normal place" situation.

And natural harmonics do the obvious thing for the very straightforward reasons one ought to expect. Lightly touch the string at its midpoint while plucking with the other hand, and you force a node at that point, which remains a node after your finger is withdrawn, resulting in what looks like a pair of standing waves, each half the length of the open string, one on each side of that midpoint node (it's one standing wave with a wavelength half the length of the open string, with a third node at the midpoint). Half the length, twice the frequency, and we hear the octave. All well and good. (Why the octave harmonic sounds "more pure" and more bell-like than the same note fretted, I'm not certain. And I don't recall whether that looked the same on the sillyscope as I'd expect from its sound.)

Here's what I'm having trouble picturing, and what I think I need want a strobelight (and maybe a fast motion picture camera (and maybe a sillyscope too, as long as I'm wishing)) for:

Pick up a bass guitar (my regular guitar is downstairs right now and I'm in bed, or I'd verify that this works on that as well; for now I'll limit myself to the electric bass because it's the current bed-instrument[2]) and play the octave harmonic on the G string. Then hammer on at the second fret. What do you hear?

What the simplistic model of plucked strings suggests I should hear is either the natural A (because hammering on disrupted the two-division standing wave, and the energy of the hammer-on got added to the kinetic energy already in the string but as though you'd just plucked it stopped at the second fret -- as is what happens if you hammer on at, say, the fourth fret) ... or I should hear the octave A (because hammering on didn't disrupt the node structure, just moved the nut-end node to the second fret, raising the pitch -- like what happens if you play an artificial harmonic and then slide). But neither of those is what I hear.

I hear both notes: the A that I would hear playing normally at the second fret, and the A that I woud hear at the fourteenth fret. It sounds very much like two strings an octave apart playing together, but (hold on while I repeat the experiment with my thumb muting the A string to be sure I'm not just hearing a sympathetic vibration) but it's all coming from the one string.

Okay, thinking numerically I can understand this as a fundamental and an overtone of approximately equal strength, and expect that on the sillyscope I would see a shape very close to f(x)=sin(x)+sin(2x) if I ignore the wee ripples of higher order overtones. Which is also what I'd expect to see (but messier) if it were two strings played together. And thinking logically, it makes sense that if overtones can exist at all -- and I've seen 'em on the sillyscope so I know that's the math I'm hearing when I hear them -- then having a really loud overtone is merely a difference in magnitude, not a fundamentally[3] different phenomenon.

But what's got my three-in-the-morning brain (it took me a while to type this) confusled[4] is that I want to think visually here, so I keep trying to picture this as a standing wave, and I can't figure out what f'ed up shape that wave would have to be to work.

Am I just not seeing the right shape, or am I approaching the problem completely wrong in the first place? Is it a standing wave, or just a travelling wave (a*sin(b*x)+a'*sin(2*b*x)) bouncing back and forth like the jumprope tied to a fencepost in the elementary-school demonstration?

And that's why I want a strobelight. And maybe a high speed motion picture camera. At a quarter to four in the morning. I, ah, don't suppose anyone reading this knows the answer off the top of your head or knows what search terms to fling at Google or Wikipedia to zoom in on this narrow subtopic without wading through three or four reams of stuff I already know plus ten times as much background I don't know with lots of math to chew on to get to it? What the hell is happening in my G string?[5]

I'm not sure what happens if there are no frets. I'll check that tomorrow.[6]


[1] Oscilloscope. Not to be confused with an osculascope, which I've never heard of but am having a great deal of fun trying to imagine.[7]

[2] Well, at the moment I've only got two[8] bed instruments (sometimes I have just one), but when I've been doing a lot of composing and haven't gotten around to putting any of my toys away, I occasionally wind up with two instruments beside the bed and three or four more in bed with me. Anyhow, I gotta have at least one instrument -- usually a solid-body electric guitar or bass -- close at hand in case a) a nifty tune idea pops into my head, b) I just get a "must play guitar now" craving, c) I can't sleep and want to play myself a lullaby (or distract myself from the frustration of not being able to fall asleep), or d) wake up not feeling well enough to wander downstairs for an instrument, but feeling that I should practice. Oh, or e) I bump into sheet music while surfing the web and want to hear how it sounds. And yes, yes, I've occasionally woken up curled around my guitar as though it were a teddy bear, and yes, I've already been teased about it.

[3] Sorry[9]. Couldn't resist.

[4] Not entirely certain how that wants to be spelled, but that's the spelling that makes the most sense to me. Pronounced "con-f(y)ooz-'ld" or "con-fooz-əld". Hey, anyone know the etymology of that? Is it something conscious like a portmaneau of "confused" and "puzzled", or nothing more than a deliberately too-cutesy-by-half version of "confused" that just happens to be really fun to say?

[5] Y'all were really hoping I'd get around to leaving you an opening like that, weren't you? C'mon, admit it. And yeah, I was tempted to make that the subject header for this entry, but that would've made it too easy.

[6] The double bass is too big for the bed. It doesn't get a turn as a bed instrument. (The mandolin, on the other hand, gets extra time on the bed because it takes up so little room even though I almost never play it on stage.)

[7] Not the first time I've entertained myself with such musing/imagining over the years. It's just a fun word to contemplate possible meanings/implementations of. Though I expect that inventing such a device would be even more up [livejournal.com profile] madbodger's alley.

[8] The other is this double-whistle thang, with three holes for the left hand and four for the right, that I should probably put in the woodwinds rifle-case and take to 3LF sometime )though I can't do much with it yet).

[9] But not quite sorry enough to go back and edit it, obviously. Deal.

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