Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Come on, Toshi!

There are not many videos I find that I wish to embed in a post, but this one certainly qualifies.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Bad day

So I had seen Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory for 9.90 at a store yesterday, which is a great price, but didn't have quite enough money on me, so I thought maybe I'd get it today. Except it wasn't there anymore today. And I had gotten all set up for a new game... So I checked online, it's not available anywhere anymore, it seems. I'm going to have a look around for it on Monday after the haircutting.

And on top of that, when I was walking out of the store, I dropped one of the two orange-juice packs I had bought and it broke.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Christmas presents

Since I'm absolutely positive that people want to know what I want for Christmas presents, here are a few things... In order of most feasible/affordable to least:

Boards of Canada - Transcanadian Highway (CD)
House of Flying Daggers (DVD)
Monty Python's Flying Circus - Best of (DVD)
The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Box (DVD)
Money
TM Network - Final Live Last Groove 5.18 and Decade (DVD)
Another Code 2: Memory (Japanese version)
Ultimate DX-48 keyboard stand (preferably black)
A 512MB stick of RAM that fits the eMac (for those interested, here are the specs for those)
Roland Juno-D
New computer, maybe a Mac Mini?

more later as I think of something...

Update: Thomann.de has a returned FM7 for 82€!
Re-update: so it went pretty quickly, but if you find it for cheap somewhere... ;)

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

A temporary relocation

So I got the word that we're going to put in a new floor in the living-room. This means that everything there must be moved to other places, including the "data centre".

It's always a hassle to move the computer around; once in a while I do an all-out cleaning of the corner where the computer table is – disconnecting every cable, cleaning out and reconnecting – it's always a pain in the ass.

Anyway, since I have no idea of how long it will take to fix the floor, I decided to set it up somewhere else so I wouldn't be without internet/music. This new location is granddad's old room that we've used sort of as a storage room since he moved out.

It's a very makeshift solution and I probably won't get accustomed to it in a long time, but at least it's an acoustical improvement over the old corner where there was a crazy spike at around 120-150Hz. (Yes, I'm actually considering leaving it here. A bit crazy, I know, but we all go a little crazy sometimes.)

I've also found out that it wasn't just the corner responsible for the loud fan-noise; the eMac fan is obscenely noisy.

We'll see how it all works out.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

The Experiment

I think I have just seen the most horrible, scariest, horrifying, saddest movie so far in my life. And no, I'm not talking about Borat, which I have to write about later since that requires a lighter mood wherein I'm not shaking with upset with tears threatening to burst out.

The movie I'm talking about is The Experiment. The premise seemed interesting and I was soon captivated by despite missing the first 15 minutes or so. If you want to see something truly scary, that's what you should watch. Screw Saw and your run-of-the-mill serial killer-movie; the idea that we have our own little monster inside us that is just waiting to jump out and suppress all our common sense is far more scary than that. Seeing regular people being completely twisted just makes you completely lose faith in humanity. I thanked god reading on IMDB that it didn't go as far in the real experiment it's based on, the Standford Prison Experiment.

I honestly can't remember the last time a movie left me this shaken and teary-eyed. Absolutely horrifying... Don't see it if you unless you want to lose your faith in humanity.

(If you've read Harry Potter: I could easily imagine that this is what it would feel like getting too close to a Dementor...)

Friday, December 01, 2006

Titus Andronicus

As some know, I've been reading in my Complete Works of William Shakespeare in the evenings before I go to sleep, and the other night I finished off Titus Andronicus.

And I must say that I was a bit shocked at how brutal it was. Not far into the play was a scene where the daughter of Titus Andronicus was raped and her tongue was cut off so she wouldn't be able to say who did it, and her hands were cut off so she wouldn't be able to write it.

After that I'm really looking forward to The Comedy of Errors, which I hope is a bit more uplifting.

***
And tomorrow, Borat! About the only clip of it I've seen is the first four minutes available on Youtube, so it's basically completely unspoilt for me. Unlike the Matrix sequels where it seemed that all the money shots had been shown in the endless previews, trailers, commercials and 'making-of's already.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Loose ends tied up

Today was a nice day in that a couple of things got cleared up. First, we finally got the room all wallpapered. Now I can start actually putting things in order.

Second, more importantly, I got the shit today. I called the post office in the afternoon, after I figured they had gotten the next batch of mail. Sure enough, they packages had arrived. Off I went! It was a bit tricky since I needed to pay cash and I needed more than the amount I had set as a daily withdrawal-limit on the ATM... In a stroke of good fortune, the bank was still open, so I could just wander in and do a withdrawal "manually", so to speak.

The boxes! One from ESI, the other a Thomann box.Opening the Thomann box I found the Firewire Solo and the cables I had ordered (2xTRS, 1xXLR) with lots of bubble-plastic around it; but not the regular bubble-plastic with small bubbles, this was sort of a chain with BIG bubbles. Additionally, the Firewire Solo was also surrounded by foam in its own box.Opening the ESI box, I found... two smaller boxes! Inside those were the nEar 05 speakers.But before I got to hook everything up and enjoy my new listening, there was a lot to do. I was going to do a complete re-shuffling of the computer-table (and clean up a bit at the same time). The main problem was that I've been keeping the keyboard on the right side of the table, but since I need to fit a speaker there, that won't do anymore. I'd have to place it beside the table, right or left. On the right side is a doorway, so that position was immediately rejected. But: for it to be on the left side, I'd need an ass-long USB-cable; luckily, the cable to the printer was of ass-length. And so, with switching the printer to a shorter cable, I would have to put it on the right. I'd also have to put the Firewire Solo on the right so it would be closer to the "recording booth" (aka the closet). Anyway, the new setup:
I also moved the external harddrive to the right, meaning the firewire-cable is not as stretched out and I have better access to the on-off switch.

So how does it sound? Well, it's certainly a world of difference from the built-in speakers. Of course my ears aren't trained well enough to know what they should sound like, but with listening and tweaking the placement I'll probably find something. The tweeters should be level with your ears, so they're still a little too low. I'm going to cut up a mat of camping foam I bought just for this occasion and prop them up a bit. Just moving my head down so the ears are at tweeter-height gives a very pleasant sound-sensation, which is promising for this whole operation.

I was also a bit worried about the Firewire Solo, having read about problems with bad drivers, the documentation stating a minimum of 512MB RAM required and whatnot. But so far so good! Of course, I haven't tried recording anything yet, which will be the true test. (Hopefully that will work out, too.)

Friday, November 17, 2006

In transit

Palvelu: Economy -paketti
Lisäpalvelut:
Paino: 3.48 kg
Tilavuus: 0.0584 m3

Lähetystunnus: ■■■■■■■■■■■■

LÄHETYKSEN REKISTERÖINNIT

17.11.2006, klo 09:59
Lähetys on lajiteltu
01010 POSTIN LOGISTIIKKAKESKUS
17.11.2006, klo 09:55
Lähetys saapunut maahan
01010 POSTIN LOGISTIIKKAKESKUS
14.11.2006, klo 02:33
Lähtenyt Suomeen
01000 Ulkomaa/Foreign country

Palvelu: Economy -paketti
Lisäpalvelut:
Paino: 12.56 kg
Tilavuus: 0.0463 m3

Lähetystunnus: ■■■■■■■■■■■■


LÄHETYKSEN REKISTERÖINNIT

17.11.2006, klo 10:32
Lähetys on lajiteltu
01010 POSTIN LOGISTIIKKAKESKUS
17.11.2006, klo 10:28
Lähetys saapunut maahan
01010 POSTIN LOGISTIIKKAKESKUS
14.11.2006, klo 03:10
Lähtenyt Suomeen
01000 Ulkomaa/Foreign country

Thursday, November 16, 2006

I predict

I predict that today will be absolutely horrible. I got a minimal amount of sleep last night; a rough estimate of around 2-3 hours. Though I can't say exactly, it went something like this:
  • Lie in bed, trying to sleep.
  • Eventually fall asleep, wake up in the middle of the night sweaty all around me. Get up and adjust the sheets so I won't have to sleep on the wet parts and get some paper to wipe off my legs.
  • Fall asleep again only to wake up another time all sweaty again. Back to sleep.
  • Wake up again, needing to pee. After a visit to the toilet, try to go back to sleep.
  • Lie in bed for a while. Look at clock, shows 5:55.
  • After about an hour of lying awake, realise that it's no use; get up and do some homework.
Wonderful.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Newish

Today we started putting up new wallpaper in my room, which means it's a complete mess there and it stinks of wallpaper paste. Of course I hadn't realised that was scheduled for this week; I had planned to cram some kanji and write a short text in Japanese about Norwegian Wood. Now I have a bit less time to do that...

***
Another new thing that is about to arrive, hopefully this week, is the audio equipment I've talked about on many previous occasions, namely the M-Audio Firewire Solo audio interface and the ESI nEar 05 speakers. I'm very excited to get some better listening than the eMac built-in speakers. (The lack of exclamation points do not indicate sarcasm; I am just too tired from wallpapering to be that excited.)While on the subject of music, I want to say that the FM7 software synthesizer is really cool, but really complicated. Not having any previous experience with synthesis doesn't help, I guess.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Kanji

I finally got around to the kanji-cramming. It certainly seems like the start is by far the worst, when it's been a while since you did your last crunch and now you've got all-new kanji that you don't recognize. But breaking the surface, so to speak, the ride has gotten significantly smoother. (Having a system that I know works helps a lot, too.) I'm pretty sure I'll learn most of the 200 or so new kanji for December's test (and also rehearse the previous 500).

What I'm doing currently is that I've split them up so at first I'll only be cramming the first 100, and when I know those I'll move on to the rest.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Lately

I was asked recently if I watched Weeds, which would indeed suit my profile since I do consider myself to be quite liberal when it comes to drugs (even though I don't use any myself). I haven't been watching, however, since it's on at the same time as Slings and Arrows, a drama-comedy about a theater-group focusing on Shakespeare's works struggling to survive. It seems to be the second season, as the info I have found about that says it is then they do Macbeth. (It's too bad that I'm still reading through Henry the Sixth myself... But I'm going to do them chronologically.)

In any case; choosing between drugs and Shakespeare, Shakespeare comes out on top.

***
I was also asked recently if there is anything from Japan that I would like for Christmas that would need to be ordered in time. Well, of course there are many things, but the two main ones are a couple of DVDs:
TM Network - Final Live Last Groove 5.18
TM Network - Decade
Links lead to CDJapan, I've shopped there myself many times (though always using cash).

***
Addition: I "found" Muse's latest album Black Holes and Revelations through a clever combination of internet cunning and Google. It sounds very, very interesting, with what sounds like some classical influences, too. Granted, it's not like all of the tracks are killer, but the ones that are good sound really good.

***
Winter is now upon us.
But some trees still defy the season with their green leaves.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

First snow

We got the first snow of the season last week, and it promptly melted away.

Monday, October 23, 2006

The Knife

Last Friday was a huge 5-hour long special of a Swedish music-show (Musikbyrån) where they showed some clips from the last 10 years of the show, and among the clips was a live by The Knife, who had some really groovy tracks, especially "Heartbeats". Click the link to see the music video and be washed over by the awesomeness of it. (Though the Deep Cuts album that it's from is a bit uneven, I discovered after having searched it out on a local P2P network.)

Speaking of music, I haven't really played a lot while sick, but this night I felt I was pretty productive, sitting down in front of the keyboard for a bit. One section could become a pop-tune with a bit of work, and another will probably become the next piano-only piece I upload. Though both are far from completion, I feel they both have potential.

I've been wanting to learn other applications for music production other than Garageband for a while, but after having looked closer at both Reason and Logic Express I've come to the conclusion that they're both quite a bit more advanced, and more complicated, than GB. I'm certain that it would be beneficial for me to learn them, but right now it's more appealing to just load up the piano sample in Garageband and play. Maybe when we start recording some guitar I'll explore Logic along with the virtual amplifiers it has.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Bugs in my life: Fruit flies

We're having a drawn-out autumn here, but that still doesn't mean it's exactly healthy to walk home from the club in the middle of the night, as I have now gotten a nasty flu. (This could mean that my so-far perfect attendande in school is broken... Oh well, it was bound to happen.)

Another thing is that the warm autumn has brought is a recent invasion of fruit flies. I was thoroughly convinced of this invasion as I arose on Saturday only to walk into a cloud of them at the bottom of the stairs. Not being the guy who has his privacy invaded by small bugs, I decided to fight back, and found instructions to building a simple trap.

Here you see roughly how the first version of the trap looked.Though this isn't the first one, it's built the same way: clear plastic cup, topped with clear plastic sheet with a couple of holes in the top so they get in and with a piece of apple as bait. The very first version was a bit of a failure since none went in, but plenty hovered around; so I sat down and noticed they would go around the holes, but the holes were too small. A simple procedure and a few minutes later I saw the first fruits (pun intended) of my trappings.

The article that I got the build instructions from said that they wouldn't be able to find out, but I noticed that some of the did find their way out again. Cearly I needed something more secure. (Even though I caught plenty this way.)

Enter trap version 2.This new trap is larger, and instead of just holes in the plastic on top, I cut up some straws and attached them, making it impossible for them to find the exits simply by waking around in the roof long enough. With time I've noticed that this isn't entirely secure either, so for 2.1 I've planned to make the straws narrower as they lead down, and that way hopefully discouraging entering from within the container.

I don't think we'll be rid of them any time soon, but I'll fight them on the lands, on the beaches and on the seas with all my might! And when the world looks back on my life, they will say, "This was his finest hour!"

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Sits

As the last effects of alcohol leave me*, I can look back on the last 24 hours with a better sense of scope.

For those who don't know, a "sits" is basically a student party, something that seems to be quite popular in these parts of the world (ie. Finland). As this was the first "sits" I have been to, I'm no expert in the subject, but that's the impression I've gotten.

*It should be noted that I'm not just talking about the sobering-up period, instead I see it as a roughly 24-hour period; before I feel completely "clean" I need to have 1) slept after the night of partying, 2) taken a dump, and 3) showered. In that order. Anyway, back to 30 hours ago.

I arrive at the scene only to find it in complete chaos. Not knowing what needs to be done there's not much I can do, so I just watch everyone else run around like headless chickens.

After a while of that everything is in order and ready for action. First on the agenda seems to be introduction of the first-years in a weird ceremony where they take some sort of pledge, they kneel and water(?) is squirted in their faces, and then they are seated not knowing it's a ploy to get them to eat something weird.

This seemed to me hopelessly pointless, as I've never been a fan of humiliating rituals.

When we were all seated a whole bunch of rules as equally pointless as the "ceremony" at the start. Fortunately whatever possible "bad mood"-seed that had planted was squashed once we got to food and drinks.

Now, when people drink, a lot of different personality traits can appear; some get are really mean drunks while others are of the jovial kind. Though it's not really proper to classify oneself, seeing as a matter you're not quite objective about, I would say that I'm clearly in the latter group. However, when in school (or generally with people I haven't spent a great amount of time with), I'm often purely business. Which means that if you've only seen the business-side, you might be in for a shock when you see the jovial side. (Being the youngest child of three, it's quite natural that I would have a bit of clown in me.)

For obvious reasons, the exact events escape me, but there was singing, drinking, more singing (which was probably increasingly out of tune as the evening progressed), and lots of games. One of the more interesting things were the scetches performed, one of them featuring me as an adolturous husband who is discovered by his wife and then performs ritual suicide. I just hope it was as fun watching as it was acting it! The only problem was that since we had so very little time to prepare it that there was no real dialogue or explanation of what was happening. (I realised later that we could have put someone as a narrator.)

After a couple hours of fun and games we headed to a club nearby where I danced my ass off! Finished it off with The Chemical Brothers' Galvanize, which took the last drop out of me, so I eventually decided I'd better be going. I was accompanied a bit on the way by Aino, who seemed very doubtful about my abilities of traversing the great distance ahead of me. But I made it, though I don't know how long it took me. (I've walked further in worse shape once on Åland, where I actually thought I would die from alcohol-poisoning.)

And what came after was quite a bad hangover and not enough sleep due to a visit from an old Finnish friend (or perhaps not "friend"), Yrjö. Fortunately I didn't have anything important scheduled for the day, so I could wallow in bed, eventually taking on my pants at 5 PM, or so.

Coincidentally, both times I've tasted sake, it has made a repeat on me. I don't have the stomach to be a big sake-enjoyer, methinks.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Running

No, I haven't started serious running (though it would probably do me good), but I have been unusually active as a side-effect of my activities.

Today I decided I would finally get some of my 8cm CDs from Japan converted into a more practical, lossless format. But due to the unusual dimensions of the discs, I couldn't use the eMac since it has a "cup-holder" tray.

The ancient iMac upstairs, on the other hand, has a snap-on tray (I think most laptops also have the same mechanism). The one small hitch is all that I have to move the files around is a 100MB USB1.1 Zip-drive. (Actually the drive is 250, but I only have 100MB disks.)

So I had to first rip the CDs on the iMac upstairs in full CD quality, then load them onto Zip-disks (one file per disk), run downstairs, load them onto the eMac, then back upstairs again. Repeat about a dozen times. Took around five hours (with a break for food in-between).

And I still haven't done any homework today.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Dreams

Tonight I had two dreams that I remember.

First I dreamt that all of my teeth were falling out, one by one. The last tooth was hanging out of my mouth by a long string of skin (supposedly). When I looked in the mirror there was only bloody gums to be seen, and I started crying at the horrible sight. And then I woke up and felt incredibly relieved when I realised it was just a dream.

The second dream was not quite so extreme. Strangely enough it seemed to be animated in the style of a Miyazaki-movie. I don't remember exactly how it went, but it was about a boy who lived alone with a bunch of robot house-servants. His father was away, as he had been for a long time (maybe in a war?), and the boy had come to see the robots as his friends, dressing them up in wigs and clothes. And even though the robots didn't in theory feel emotion, they seemed to have started caring for the boy as well. When the father returned, he was going to take the boy away to another (new?) home, and took all clothes off of the robots. Since the boy didn't want his friends to be just servants, he decided to run away. He had heard of a hidden place up north, that you could only get to with a strange train, where supposedly robots had more rights. So he set off, taking one of the robot friends with him, avoiding search patrols on the way. He had gotten to the station where the train would appear sometimes, and was waiting there when his father appeared with an army. This is where my recollection gets a bit foggy, so can't remember what happens next. I do seem to recall a train, so maybe they made it.

Sneak Attack

A bit of new music. Ourmedia is still being weird, so if you want to hear it, go straight to the Archive.org page. (Here's also a direct link for those who are confused by the Archive.org page.)

I've actually had this laying around for a while now. The composition is nothing special, I probably spent more time arranging it. (The arrangement turned out pretty good, actually.) Clocks in at just under 3 minutes, complete with unnecessary key-raising about two-thirds through.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Day at a time

God damn, it feels good to look back on something you've been practicing for a while and coming to the conclusion that you have actually improved since you started it. In this instance I'm thinking of keyboard-playing. I was practicing Joe Hisaishi's "The Summer" (from the soundtrack to Kikujiro's Summer) the other day when my brother commented that I've actually learnt to play a bit.

It's like a natural high when you notice improvement; you can't really see it while you're in the midst of practicing, but when you finally notice and start to think how it was in the beginning and see how far you've come, it's a damn good feeling. On a related note, this is also how most games work: when you level up, or get that new weapon, you experience a similar rush.

I practiced "The Summer" a bit on a piano at school, and was once again shocked at the difference between a real piano and the plastic-y MIDI keyboard I currently use (M-Audio Keystation 49). Not to mention that the 49 keys of my keyboard is getting a bit constrictive. Ideally I'd be using a full 88-key hammer-action keyboard like the Keystation Pro 88.But those are like 500€! With that I'd rather get a decent synthesizer for possible performances in a band-environment, like the Roland Juno-D.Roland have gotten some flack for the Juno-D since it's quite different from the previous incarnations in the Juno-line (to the point where some would probably say that it isn't even decent); but what it does seem to be is an affordable entry-level synthesizer. Yeah, it's only got 61 keys, but above that seems to be a completely different price-range for synthesizers.

Returning from gear-obsessing to the original topic, I've also noticed how my compositions seem to be getting better over time. This becomes especially obvious when I take a look at some of my earliest "musical note-pads" (I use these for just playing around in Garageband, if I come across something cool I can then quickly record it). The earlier ones really sound incredibly boring...

Going back to gear-obsessing for a while: Garageband only records in 44.1 kHz, 16-bit, which, while being CD-quality, isn't preferrable to mix in. So the plan is, that when I eventually get the Firewire Solo (which I have decided to get instead of the Behringer FCA-202 Firewire interface, due to a couple of reasons*), all the real instrument recordings will be done in Logic Express (which I have acquired), Apple's budget-version of the Logic audio sequenser. The incredible advantage of Logic over other audio sequensers (for me) is that it is able to directly open Garageband project files; this means I can use Garageband to make a "rough sketch" of the song, and when I want to take it to the next step, recording vocals or guitar, I can just pop the file into Logic Express.

* As for the reasons for me choosing the Firewire Solo over the FCA-202: the FW Solo has built-in pre-amps, meaning I'd have to buy separate pre-amps if I got the FCA-202; I've heard some reports of very high latency when recording and high processor-usage even when idle for the FCA-202; and finally, I guess Behringers reputation for sub-standard gear also had its fair share in the decision.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Movies

It's not often that I actually watch movies nowadays, but the last couple of days has seen me taking the time to watch a couple.

On Saturday I watched The Warrior and the Empress by Tom Tykwer. I had previously seen his Run Lola Run and after seeing a documentary about him I wanted to see something more. Quite a different film from Run Lola, but very enjoyable nonetheless. Later that evening I watched Rules of Attraction, which went between "quite fascinating" and "waste of time". It was hard to know what to make of it. (I watched it mainly because I knew that one of the characters was the brother of Patrick Bateman, the main character from American Psycho, which I though was quite good.) While it had some funny scenes in it, it sure wasn't a straight-up comedy, it was all presented in a far too dark tone for that. I guess it was hard to make up my mind since it dealt the cards so honestly, but so differently from how films usually do it. For one, it was edited in a way that put the ending first, sort of how Fight Club did, but the difference being that there was no more turning points after that. And the unsuspecting movie-goer, always expecting a happy ending, left with no resolve or closure.

Sunday I half-watched Freaky Friday, dropping away for only the most cringe-worthy scenes. At first I thought it was just a common Lohan-vehicle, but I was pleasantly surprised.

This evening I watched Run Lola Run again after having "acquired" a DVD-quality copy. I could have watched it tomorrow instead when it's on TV from SVT2, but seeing as it was completed already and I had nothing better to do...

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Endings

Yesterday I was to the dentist, where they filled up a mysterious hole and scraped off some tartar (another word for it is "calculus" if you can believe that; strange that one name of it also means a member of a Mongolian tribe and another is about maths). It's always a bit creepy when they scrape around in the mouth and when they go right up to the gums it often starts to bleed. I remember the previous time when it was done at the dental hygienist, it looked like I had bitten the head of an animal or something. Though I guess it goes pretty well with my fangs.

***
I finished watching the Gokusen drama the other day, continuing my tradition of watching the last two episodes of a drama in one sitting. My final verdict: 3 of 5. Quite funny, but it got pretty predictable. It's not something I'd recommend, but if you don't have anything better to do...

Another thing I'm about to finish is Yukio Mishima's Spring Snow (finally). Just a couple of chapters left now, and after that I'm planning on getting ahold of some of the required reading for the spring literary course.

***
Looks like Blogger finally has gotten the labels activated for all beta blogs!
When you're writing a post, you'll have a space at the bottom of the form marked "Labels for this post." Enter whatever labels you like, separating them with commas. You can also click the "show all" link to display a list of labels you've used previously. Then just click on the labels to add them.
I've planned to go through my old posts and label them according to what areas they touch on.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Alanis Morisette - Forgiven

Originally by Terry Lin, dragged out from the other side:
OH MY FUCKING GOD This song is pure brilliance. Pure brilliance. Well, at least from a technical standpoint... this song has a progression I have NEVER seen before. What is totally incredible is that from a passing guess, it's a minor key and there are lots of minor chords. Actually, this song has practically major chords EVERYWHERE. There is NO key for this song. It just goes all over the place. Okay, let's break it down:

Verse "[F#min/A]You know how us cath[F#sus4]olic girls can be"

Now I know I'm always suspect when I see an intro that complicated but believe me, that's what the intro is. If you play A,E in the bass and then jam the F#min chord on the right hand you'll nail the first one. The second one play F#,C# in the bass and jam a Bsus2 on your right (which effectively gives you a F#sus4). This intro is nice and colorful but you ain't see nothing yet.

"a [Emaj] little too late"

This is very jarring if you play it on the piano - you can't just play this by itself it will sound odd. But I guarantee you that's what the chord is, and it's only when you play the stuff before does this chord makes sense (ie in context). And then the fun starts.

"I [Emaj/B]never, for[Eaug/C]got Con[C#min/C#]fused as it [Emaj7/D]was"

OMFG. I can feel into the mind of the composer. He just wants to get a chormatically rising bassline, and he puts all these crazy ass chords to do so. Even as I'm looking at that, I can't beleive I got this. One year ago, this song would have been impossible unless I used transcribe, and even then I probably would've misread the song because it contains so much distortion.

"[Gbmaj]I may as [Amin]well have..."

Another huge modulation. This song is throwing chords from like a billion keys. And now the chorous, which was actually the easiest to figure out, even though by most standards, it has a very unusual progresion.

"We all [Dmaj] had our rea[Dbmaj]sons to be [Dmaj]there, we all, had a [Dbmaj]thing or two.... We [Dmaj] all needed some[Dbmaj]thing to cling [Bmaj]too, so we [Dbmaj]did"

This is HUGE modulation - a total smackering of 100% major chords from various keys. But I have seen something like this before, with spanish music. If you jam Emaj, Fmaj, Gmaj it sounds very spanish. And then the big-ass bridge or whatever you call it.

"[Dmaj] What I learned I reje [Emaj] cted, but I believe in God [Dmaj], I will suffer the [Dbmin] conseuqnece, of this inqusition[Dmaj]. If I jump this foun[Emaj]tain, will I be forgiv[Gbsus4]en.......... [Gbmaj]"

The chords are big-time major, big-time modulated, and then go up and down and up. Take heed of the awesome build up as it goes Dmaj, Emaj, and then Gbmaj for the big finale chord - I caught the sus at the last moment. I still cannot find words to express the shock and awe I am at this song. For a progression so unusual, so exotic, the song manages to sound close and familiar without alientating the audience. That is no trivial matter, I tell you. And once again I feel like I'm reached a new plateau in terms of music understanding. It's like, after this half a year of non stop composing, I can see songs in a wonderful light - it's truly a magnificent feeeling.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

The Tempest

Today has been incredibly windy. Luckily the morning was pretty calm, except for a brief, but intensive, rain that ocurred while we were in class, so I managed to avoid travelling in the worst of it.

Today was actually pretty good. I got quite a lot of sleep for once, which left me feeling better than usual during the lesson. I got to bed before 12 o'clock, which is somewhat incredible for me. (I wonder a bit how long it's been since I went to bed at that kind of time.)

***
I've been watching another Japanese drama-series lately, called Gokusen. I don't remember exactly where I heard of it, but I felt like watching a new drama and I happened to come across it. I had originally intended watching it unsubbed, but it turns out that finding raws for stuff that's readily translated is pretty difficult (since everyone's uploading the translated version instead).

In any case, it's a fairly straight-forward school drama in the vein of Great Teacher Onizuka. While not as good or engaging as GTO, it's alright if you don't mind overlooking some of its weirdness (like how the main character is the granddaughter of a yakuza-boss getting into teaching).

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

I noticed yesterday that I was unable to comment my brother’s blog. I figured it was because he has switched to blogger beta. I’s be hatin’ on beta!
-the bro
That is probably so. It goes both ways, by the way, so I can't comment on non-beta blogs. (Though you can still use the "other" or "anonymous" options to comment here.)

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Musical punch

Seeing that Terry Lin's blogger had been wiped made me sad since he had lots of interesting stuff there. But instead of bitching about it, I just went ahead and dug up some of the most interesting stuff from the various caches you can find on the web, and will now blatantly infringe on his copyright by reproducing some of it here. (Since the text came as one huge block from the cache, I took the liberty to segment it off in paragraphs. Some small stuff was also altered.)
There's a little term I'd like to discuss with my readers today. It's called Musical Punch.

When it comes to Musical Taste, I'm afraid I'm pretty below average. I have no idea what it is to have Musical Taste. I still listen to Mandy Moore from time to time. But when it comes to recognizing Musical Punch, I'm always on the money. I guess you could say my girlfriend has good Musical Taste because she enjoys listening to semi-fringe artists like Björk and despises just about anything mainstream. But her Musical Punch radar is totally off. Sorry, I haven't even come up with a definition of Musical Punch. The best way I can describe it is by using associative words. On the positive side, we have mainstream, catchy, powerful. On the negative side, we have cliched, unoriginal, commercialized. There are certain artists which I will always associate with Musical Punch. I'll give you what I think are the 3 biggest representives from the 3 countries that I listen to music from: US - Britney Spears, JPN - Utada Hikaru, TWN - Jay Chou. What these artists all have in common is that their music is produced with only one thing in mind, to appeal to as many people as possible. "Expression" is just an afterthought. To that end, they have big budget studios equipped with the fanciest gear and have the most wiley audio engineers working for them.

You cannot appreciate how difficult it is to get a sound that punchy until you try making music for yourself. It's not easy. The mixing technique is impeccable. The snares have crazy bite. The bass has definition and presence. The vocals are superbly enhanced with all kinds of choruses. The riffs are catchy and jump out at you. This is not something that happens with coincidence, they have experienced engineers working for many hours long after the artist has finished the recording session, tweaking this, tweaking that, until they have filled the entire stereo audio spectrum with just as much stuff as they can possibly stuff. And no, it's not as simple as adding a Aural Exciter into a mix and watch as dust turns into gold. I've tried those BBE Sonic Maximizers, all they do is tire your ears out. These engineers are the real magicians, the real alchemists. They can turn dust into gold, with their secretive voodoo techniques. The final result is similiar to McDonalds food. It has superb mass appeal and you cannot deny that at some primal level, it is extremely gratifying to consume. On a higher intellectual level, you may reject it on the basis of "it's junk", but you cannot deny the primal satisfaction. The popularity speaks for itself.

I say I don't have Musical Taste because to me, Musical Taste is so goddamn pretentious. It's like fashion trends. There's no sound basis for liking this style over the over, it's just... whatever's hip at the time. I bet all those people who knock Britney Spears would be praising her if she wasn't as popular and Pop music was considered "Alternative". However, Musical Punch has a deep and serious foundation in both musical theory and audio engineering. You can appreciate that like you can appreicate a well-made car. It's something that only trained professionals can produce. It can even be measured with a sonic analysis tool, with criteria such as Average RMS power.

There are some artists that sort of sit in between Musical Punch and Musical Taste. Like for instance, Radiohead's OK Computer. I think that's really catchy and punchy, and all those jaded music reviewers think so too. Red Hot Chili Peppers also falls into this category. Whenever you hear one of their tracks used on TV, it's a GUARANTEE that it particuarily excels in Musical Punch. Then there are some artists which are pretty much all Musical Taste and zero Musical Punch. I don't really know any artists off the top of my head, because I can't stand that kind of music. But any of the following characterists would pretty much qualify: 1. Retarded lyrics that make no sense or try to make the listener feel uncomfortable 2. Constant screaming, long durations of acapella singing. 3. Overuse of dissonant chords, unconventional chord progressions, unusual scales etc. etc. 4. Purposely not filling the entire audio spectrum when it should, leaving the listener with a strange uncomfortable feeling 5. Overuse of strange sounds that do not elicit any feelings of familiarity from the listener 6. Overuse of strange effect boxes Generally, not following the conventions of popular music pretty much qualifies. I much liken it to covering a canvas in red paint, giving it a fancy title, and then calling it "art".
Disclaimer: the opinions of Terry Lin do not necessarily reflect my own.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Art

I was looking in awe today at some stuff by British graffiti artist Banksy when my brother asked me if I had thought about becoming a painter. Well, no, I haven't.

The main problem as I see it is that I don't feel I have anything of such importance to say. Or maybe that I'm too comfortable, living in my little shell, not letting anything in, not letting anything out. (I guess being bad at drawing also has something to do with it; I couldn't draw even a roundish circle even if my life depended on it.)

Anyway, I came across Banksy seeing a headline in my BBC news-feed about him "remixing" Paris Hilton's CD. Now that's something I'd like to hear! (Anyone got a torrent, btw?)

Back to my artistic inabilities, now: it seems to me as if the greatest creators often are deeply disturbed, insane, alcoholic, or bearing whatever deamons they have. I went through a couple of really rough years way back when, but I've been slowly recovering form that since after the age of 16 now and starting to feel alright (a couple of lapses into depression, but nothing serious). I think a couple of years out in the real world, making it on my own, would probably give me some hardship to think about. But sadly, man strives for comfort. And it's always difficult to give up a comfort you have ('net access, TV, CD, DVD).

Furthermore, I think that in this stage I'm more concerned with social acceptance, which is probably one of the underlying reasons as to why I'm so obsessed/envious of pop-tunes (that they are japanese pop-tunes at the moment is irrelevant, I think).
Artwork that is only about wanting to be famous will never make you famous. Fame is a by-product of doing something else. You don't go to a restaurant and order a meal because you want to have a shit.
-Banksy, in Wall and Piece
I just realised that the title of that book is a reference to War and Peace. Clever.Continuing on the suffering artist theme, I've been listening to Alanis Morisette's Jagged Little Pill (only 10 years after everyone else! w00t!).
In New York City, Morissette landed a spot on Star Search, a popular American talent competition. She used her stage name, Alanis Nadine. Morissette flew to Los Angeles to appear on the show, but lost after one round.

It is known that during that time Morissette [...] suffered from anorexia and bulimia nervosa, catalysed by professional pressure and manager demandings.
-Wikipedia, Alanis Morissette

Friday, September 01, 2006

Variousity

Yesterday morning was pretty awful. As usual I had slept badly, but that's to be expected. What was worse was that when I woke up and looked out the window all I saw was pea-soup. A thick fog had settled upon the village, decreasing the visibility drastically. (Perhaps ~100m or so.) This made it a bit of a gamble every time you were to turn into a bigger road, since you couldn't see if anyone was coming that you had to yield to. I actually drove out in front of a big truck, but fortunately there was a bus-stop next to the intersection so I could stop and let him pass.

***
I switched to the new Blogger beta. I you have problems commenting, just drop a comment saying so. Ha! Seriously though, there shouldn't be any problems since those issues are mostly related to the new templates. Though I have been thinking of switching the template over to the new style too to take advantage of the new labeling feature. So if suddenly there's something completely fudged up here, you'll know what's up.

They're going to switch everyone over sooner or later, so I figured I might as well take the leap. You'll be needing a Google ID if you want to switch your own profile over. If you want to know more, head over to the Help section.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Dragonfly on my back

I was out taking pictures yesterday when one of 'em suddenly sat down on my back, right behind my shoulder. This was the best picture I could get of it since I had a really tough time telling exactly where it was. Being on my back and all. Besides, if I had moved the camera over the shoulder it would probably have flown away before I got a shot of it.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Rhetoric

Even though I'm quite fond of criticising things and correcting people, it's not very often that I actually do so. (Which is probably due to some urge for social acceptance, but that's another topic.) I was thinking about writing something criticising, the train of thought running through my head as I went to have a shower, and pretty soon, due to the incredible effect the shower has on my mind, I started thinking about my critique in general.

If there's something I want to criticise, often I tend to prelude it with a foundation of objective writing. Or rather, as I came to realise, a front of objectivity. Because, since the ultimate goal is an attack based on my own bias and opinions, it's not objective.

I say "attack", but it's very rarely that it comes out that way. Straight attack is often the worst way to put something, since it always puts the other side (in a debate, for example) on the defence. And when people start defending something, they will often do so blindly, even if in normal circumstances they would see the fault in it. Instead, I prefer to wrap the criticism up in "sweetener" if I can. Poison always goes down better in the form of candy.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Close encounters with the flying kind

If you have had a look at my Flickr album earlier you might have gotten the impression that I've only gotten pictures of dragonflies airborne. I've now uploaded a couple of pictures where the distance is greatly reduced.

I have actually gotten quite a few pictures of dragonflies "up close and personal", so to speak, but unfortunately they've all been relatively small, the larger ones still elude me.But that's not to say that I haven't gotten close to them. Rather the other way around, that they've gotten close to me! It's happened three times that as I was out photographing a really big one would come right up and almost land on me! The first time one flew straight towards me as I was trying to take a picture, coming right up close and inspecting my right arm. I was so shocked that it came so close that I accidentally withdrew my arm in surprise, scaring it away.

The second and third occurences came pretty close together, so I suspect that was one and the same. I had spotted a dragonfly in the road, and I had moved onto the grass by the side of the road to approach from the side, thereby also getting very close to a couple of trees. Then all of a sudden I hard the flaps of a larger one, getting louder and louder. Before I knew it, it was right next to my right ear! By then I was prepared from the last time, so I managed to stay still, hoping it would land on my head(!), so I could point the camera towards it. Unfortunately, it flew away quite quickly, so I didn't get the chance. It did return to have a look at my left ear too, but no luck getting it on picture that time either. (Imagine the picture that would've made: me with a big-ass dragonfly on my ear.)

Summer is almost over, but I've got a couple of shots I really like. I'll try to sort out the best and put them up on Flickr.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Myoclonic jerks

So last night turned out almost exactly like I thought, except that I almost managed to fall asleep pretty early.

I had gone to bed relatively early, I was pretty tired and for a good while it seemed as if I would actually succeed in getting a good nights sleep. But then, just as I was drifting off, my right arm suddenly twitched, and in seconds I was back into a state of wakenness. Just as I was so close to sleeping mere minutes ago, I now felt more awake than I had ever been during the whole day.

What followed was the usual tossing-and-turning, trying to find a 'good spot', not too hot, not too cold, cursing the pillow for being so uncomfortable, etc. Accompanied with this was the usual line of thoughts that go with insomnia: bad memories, recollections of situations and moments I regret/feel ashamed about. Not a pleasant night. In desperation I went up and got another pillow, and at first it seemed to have worked, as I stopped thinking about weird crap. But as it was, the pillow was a really thick one, raising my head a bit too much. So I switched back to the usual pillow. Better the devil you know, right?

At one moment I looked at the clock and saw that I had been lying awake for more than two hours. How long I lay awake after that I can't say.

Oh, as for the title, that's what the involuntary twitches are called: myoclonic jerks.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

眠い… / So tired...

Alright, today was the first day of the new season. Early rise meant a huge shock to my system which is used to late nights and sleeping in long. Usually I can do well with getting up early if it's just a one-off event, but if I then have to get up early the following day too I have huge difficulties getting up. Anyway, getting up so early has also caused me to feel drowsy and fucked in the head for the rest of the day. No doubt I'll get all perky and when it get's time to go to bed.

Our teacher also indicated that there will be a kanji-quiz tomorrow to see how much we remember, meaning I now sit with JFC, currently rehearsing the first ~250. And after that it's the next ~250. Gah.

Something new for this year is that there's a new building we have classes in. Which is sort of a drag since there's no piano there...

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The two ways of making music

In making music, you might say that there's a slider that you place yourself on, with the two extremes being (attempting) originality and full-blown rip-off. Personally, I get a better feeling when I try to craft a song myself rather than just taking a chord sequence from some other song, but I'm expecting that feeling to eventually fade and possibly be replaced by cynisism as I realise that almost all possible catchy chord progressions have already been used, re-used and recycled.

Of course, going into rip-off land is a bit dangerous, but chords and bass-lines seem to be safe areas.

But for the aspiring composer, it does present somewhat of a dilemma: try to do it from the ground up, or search out previously used catchy chord progressions and work with those? I think I would try to place myself somewhere in the middle, perhaps with some strays towards knowingly ripping something off if it's suitable. (But taking melodies is a no-no. That's lawsuit-land.)

I came across this neat video clip that tells of how a single 6-second drum sample from the 60's was re-used in, well, just about everything.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Preparation

Just a couple of days now until the Japanology starts again. A bit crap that I didn't get anything done this summer, but those are the breaks. Oh, well, in any case I've watched some Japanese TV-shows (unsubbed), so it's not like I've completely ignored it.

I am now in "preparation-mode". I've got an appointment to get my increasingly long hair cut tomorrow, after which it will be a bit easier to handle/fix; important when we have those morning-lessons and I wake up late and have to do everything in a hurry.

Something else I've done is to enter some verb-charts from the Oxford Starter Japanese Dictionary into a spreadsheet. I took the opportunity to test Google spreadsheets at the same time. Neat, but a bit slow. It makes up for it by not being Microsoft, I guess. (Besides, Excel pukes out shit when you try to enter Japanese.)

Something else I've done is to put a bunch of new kanji into JFC. I haven't started yet, because trying to learn from it is pretty bad. I use it almost exclusively for rehearsing the kanji that we've already gone through in class, meaning I've got something to build on. Being confronted with a big slab of ~500 new kanji that you haven't gone through before is a bit uncomfortable.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

One week

Wow, just one week until the next school-year starts. Another summer gone with little results to show from it. Seems to be sort of a tradition for me to get nothing accomplished during summers, but hopefully I will be able to break that tradition.

I think the main problem is staying active; I remember in the beginning of the summer I had grand plans for all the things I would do, and actually started a bit, but as time went by I was drawn down into the ususal lethargy. I would ask for a kick in the behind if I thought it would help, but unfortunately I am as stubborn as a mule when it comes to some things.

***
From the comments to a recent story on Slashdot.
Is this [good] news or not... It could be a trojan horse... (in the Greeks bearing gifts sense...not script kiddie sense)
-mresev
Just a note, the original Trojan horse was a gift bearing Greeks, not the other way around :)
-Red Flayer
It was Greeks bearing a gift bearing Greeks. And if a few of those Greeks was carring presents, say birthday presents to give to somebody after the battle or something, then it would be Greeks bearing a gift bearing Greeks bearing gifts.
-Mr. Slippery
And if instead of a horse they had built large wooden bears, it would be Greeks gifting bears.

Plus, with the proclivity of Greeks to be naked, you could end up with:
Greeks gifting bears bearing Greeks being bare bearing gifts.
-Red Flayer

Monday, August 14, 2006

Presents and cake

There was a small event on Saturday, in celebration of, uh, me.

Some presents were recieved and chocolaty cake was eaten, and a phenomenon of nature was observed. It happened whilst we were sitting in the garden, relaxing. It was pretty warm, but with some cool breezes. Suddenly a very strange sound was heard, and Mr. Kong produced a yelp in astonishment (which of those came first, I do not remember). Looking out to the field, we all saw a small tornado out there in the middle of the golden barley! Incredible!

What exactly the sound was I do not know, I'm guessing it occurred when it was formed. It sounded almost like a small house suddenly and quickly crashing in on itself; imploding, perhaps.

In any case: presents. I got a special issue of the Studio magazine concerning home-studios from my brother, and from my sister I got the Collateral DVD. I watched it yesterday, and it was really, really good. It was interesting to see Tom Cruise in a bad-guy role. It wasn't until the ending credits that I noticed that it was directed my Michael Mann, the same guy who wrote and directed one of my favourite movies ever, Heat.

***
If you haven't yet seen Boards of Canadas first music video, do yourself a favour and check it out right now.

Friday, August 11, 2006

What to become when you grow up?

I actually had this question asked to me not long ago.

And to be honest, I have no f-ing clue. I can honestly not see what line of work I would fit into. And there's no obvious continuation after the education I'm going for (Swedish & Japanese); well, perhaps translation, but most of that would probably deal with technical terminology that would require deeper studies.

Besides that would be, I guess, some sort of writing gig, which in practice means journalism. Which would probably suit me since I really love the sound that deadlines make as they go by.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

OK now

Alright, so 5 minutes after I'm sitting giggling incessantly at a noob-post over at Jpopsuki.

I am officially in need of getting wasted.

You might say that I'm absolutely in need of getting wasted!

Birthday blues

Today was my birthday. It is now twenty-four years since I was born. And I'm feeling blue.

Just for the usual reasons really, no money, no job, no education, no plan, spending my life as a parasite.

You might think that I could somehow take advantage of my language skills to get a job, but the sad fact is that knowing 3+ languages isn't very unusual here. If I was in Japan I might get a job at one of the numerous eikaiwa schools. Though I would probably be a very boring teacher; I'd just find out as much as possible about the most effective ways to teach English pronunciation, the placement of the tongue, etc.

For the record, I think it's a bit silly that the words "pronunciation" and "pronounce" aren't spelled more consistently. I always want to put a "u" in "pronunciation".

I think the worst part is that I've become so entrenched in the way of life here. I feel like I'm so invested in my little hole here that I'd panic if I would be forced out. I probably would panic. I'm so unsure of myself that I don't know whether to laugh or cry. (No, wait, it's the latter.)

On second thought, the worst part is that I keep making excuses for myself; I keep procrastinating over everything, thinking "well, I can live here another year", pushing things of, then thinking "well, it's too late to look for a summer-job now, maybe next year".

***
I cut some of the hair that was hanging over my ears. That's a bad sign, isn't it? Cutting your own hair...

Oh, and if you've got a high-paying, low-effort job for someone without education or prior work-experience, give us a ring, will ya? (Though no heavy-lifting jobs since I'm a shrimp. Cheers!)

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

A slight threshold

I'm in a particularly foul mood.

This mood comes mainly from having so little money.

Found a good pair of speakers and thought that was it, but no. Need a new sound-card. Then I find out that the quality of the sound-card I was looking to buy isn't really that good, the nearest in features being more than twice as expensive.

So the choices would then be taking a chance with possibly low-quality hardware, or waiting even longer, dropping more money into this, which now seems to have evolved into a thing. Which bullet to bite?

Part of me wishes that I could just drop this weird idea of making music. But believe it or not, it is quite fun.

Edit: I now realize that it was gear blindness. Symptoms include obsessively checking hardware specs and prices on webstores. I have decided to lay back and see what the funds build up to.

Monday, August 07, 2006

From the cutting-room floor

I added some pictures taken of dragonflies in midair to Flickr. I'm particularly fond of "Gotcha!"

Taking pictures of dragonflies is pretty difficult, even more so when they're flying. I've taken literally hundreds of pictures trying to catch them. (Well, around 200, anyway.) Of course, about 95% of all those are just crap, failed attempts or unclear. Some I have a really hard time deciding whether to keep or not; the following is one such image.Not really so clear, but zooming in just right/below of the centre, it starts to appear.In the end I decided to toss it. There's just too much other stuff around it that steals the attention.
***
All purchases have been postponed until the budget can hold both the speakers and an external Firewire sound-card. The Behringer is probably the most affordable of them, so it seems as if it will be that one.

Audio equipment porn

So, the decision seems to be made, as long as the budget is up for it. Along the way in researching this stuff a lot of potential problems have come up that would require obscene amounts of money to work out, but you've got to work with what you've got. Or in this case, what your budget allows.

One problem with the nEar 05s is the lack of bottom, meaning it doesn't do good in playing frequencies below ca. 75Hz. In one way that sucks because those are the frequencies that give the song the 'umph'. In another way not so bad since it's also those frequencies that has the possibility of causing the most problems. Untreated walls and corners often enhance the bass artificially, muddying it up, causing the bass-tones to all sound alike.

Another problem is cabling. The only way to connect them from the eMac is the headphone out, which I've read isn't the optimal connection. The volume may have to be boosted to near-full in the system settings in order for the signal to get strong enough. A solution to that problem would be an external Firewire audio-card such as the M-Audio Firewire Solo.Or a cheaper alternative, the Behringer F-Control Audio FCA202.Of course the Behringer lacks preamps, but considering the generally low prices of Behringer products, you could get the Firewire box and a preamp for less than the cost of the M-Audio Firewire Solo... Of course all these things lie in the distant future.

I've also considering getting a harmonica, while I'm ordering things. Only about 4€ at "the T-store", and it won't affect the shipping price (whic is flat-rate). The only question there is, which key to choose?

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Final two?

Again with the speakers.

I think I've narrowed the field down to two potentials. The M-Audio Studiopro 4s, and the ESI nEar 05s. They're roughly in the same price-range (a difference of about 30€ at Thomann.de), but the nEars don't have RCA-in, only 6.3mm TRS (I think that's the same chord as most guitars, for those more familiar with it from that) and XLR. The audio-out on the computer is a regular 3.5mm headphone connector, and 3.5mm -> 2xRCA are common; to hook up the nEar 05s I'd need a 3.5mm -> 2x6.3mm, and those have prooved very tricky to find. It seems my best bet would be a 3.5mm -> 2xRCA and then a couple of RCA -> 6.3mm adapters. But that does seem like a roundabout way to connect them.

But the extra 30€ does seem to give me a bit more bottom, [according to the manufacturers] the Studiopro 4s go down to 70Hz, while the nEar 05s go down to 60Hz*. I've read feedback that they're both quite good for their price-range, but I've seen a bit more praise for the nEar05s than the Studiopro 4s.

But the Studiopro 4s also have an extra headphone jack, meaning I can easily attach a pair of headphones without pulling out/plugging in wires.

It might be that the nEar 05s are a bit better, but I'm leaning heavily towards the Studiopro 4s, since they seem a bit more suited for my setup (ie. easily connectable, requiring only one power-cable).

*The information is a bit split here. The product info pages states 60Hz while the downloadable manual states 33Hz...

Update: After further reading, and finding a list where the ESI nEar 05s ranked pretty high, my previous conviction of getting the Studiopro 4s has been shaken.I found the list on some German forum (translation via Google), no idea who did the test... But if that list is even somewhat accurate, that would put the nEar 05s quite high on the price-to-quality scale!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Library

I saw a cute girl in the library today and did nothing. It certainly seems to be part of my modus operandi to not do anything when confronted with cute girls. I could see how that could confuse people.

I even had a chance at starting an interaction when she sat down at the computer next to the one I was sitting at, trying to remember what George Harrison was called, whose name I had temporarily forgottten. In fact, my gut reaction was to just ask her if she knew what the guitarists in The Beatles was called, but being me, I suppressed it.

(Oh, by the way bro, I did remember those books.)

In any case, what I was going to say was that I really like libraries. They're so calm and quiet, filled to the brim with information.

I'm brought to mind a scene from Good Will Hunting.

You wasted $150,000 on an education you coulda got for a buck fifty in late charges at the public library.



I'm considering doing some changes to the markup. Usually when I start a new topic in a post, I separate the topics with a centered line of three stars, but I've been thinking of using something else instead, like the line you see here above this segment, perhaps.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Nothing's ever easy

The computer has been worrying me a bit lately. There have been a couple of occasions lately when instead of starting up like normally, the screen just stayed dark and multiple beeps were heard. According to an Apple support document, this points to bad RAM, but a run-through with the Apple hardware test CD showed nothing out of the ordinary.

I had put a piece of foam behind the computer to dampen the sound from the fan, and thinking this was the problem, I removed it. The issues seemed to stop, though admittedly, I don't restart it often enough to do exhaustive comparative testing. In any case, I noticed a much stranger problem today when I booted it up after having it unhooked since we were having some electricity wires, uh, rewired; it booted with the sound turned to 11, literally. The sound was much louder than I've ever heared it go normally. Playing around a bit with the volume seemed to fix it, but then when I tried to play an MP3 the volume went right back up through the roof.

Tricky.

So I started thinking: what had I done recently, had I changed anything? Yes. I had changed the resolution of the screen. Reboot, change resolution. Haven't seen any of the previously mentioned problems yet.

Of course, that makes no sense that just changing the resolution would have such a drastic effect on the system. But who knows? Changing the resolution also changes the frequency that the screen updates, so maybe the new lower frequence just gave off some "bad vibes"...

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Japanese choir music redux

If you don't know what this is about, here's the previous post about it.

I've now also uploaded the videos to Google video, where the audio-video synchronization is much better.

View video 1, view video 2.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Searching for treasure

I took a slight tumble down the stairs to the basement just now. My foot just slipped out and I fell right on my ass. (Well, slightly more on the right side.)

But that's not what I wanted to talk about.

One of the really cool things about growing up on an old big farm was that there was always a lot of stuff around. Having lots of outhouses meant lots of storage room for whatever, and being far away from the nearest trash-container meant that much of what would in normal cases get tossed away was just put on a shelf, in a closet or wherever.

Like this old breathing protector, for instance.I remember playing with this when I was a kid, and it popped up in my mind again recently. I think I also have a pair of protective goggles somewhere, so with that I'd only need a white coat to have a "scientist" outfit.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Acoustics

I visited a local audio-gear dealer in the week, and found that they had no studio monitors at all in the store! Though they did have a catalogue you could have them order stuff from. There was the previously mentioned Studiopro 3 speakers and the Studiophile DX4, which is basically the same as the Studiopro 4 except for having a couple of extra audio-in connections and being 20€ more expensive. I asked them to check if the Studiopro 4 speakers were available; hopefully they'll be able to get them.

Having investigated a couple of audio forums in search of recommendations for budget audio monitors, I've also come across much info about the importance of acoustics treatment for your listening environment. The most hard-core of audiophiles say that it's just as, if not more important to have the right surroundings as the right audio gear.

One of the biggest names in the acoustics-scene is Ethan Winer (puns about the name being suitable comes to mind), who runs Realtraps, a company making products specifically for absorbing various frequencies.

Here are some pictures from Winer's own livingroom.All those big white things hanging everywhere are various kinds of traps for absorbing problem frequencies.Crazy.
The more basstraps you have in a room, the flatter and tighter the low-end will be. It really is that simple.
Very well if you run the company making them, but regular people probably won't be able to invest hundreds to thousands of dollars in their listening/recording room.

If you have the time/interest, check out the instructional videos they have to see how serious these guys are.

Friday, July 21, 2006

My last glass of aspartame Coke?

Indeed, it seems as if an era has come to its end. The old-style aspartame-sweetened Coca-Cola light has all but disappeared, now replaced with sucralose. I started facing the music and resigned myself to seeing a bottle of the 'new' Coke light being bought. I haven't opened it yet, as I'm having the last of the old Coke light this evening.

But reading up on sucralose, I have found indications that most artificial sweeteners, aspartame and sucralose included, might be bad for your health. So I'm thinking I can take this opportunity to look around for a new favourite soft-drink unless I get used to the new Coke light.

***
A picture from today. I was out observing when I saw this tree with a weird outgrowth.The image isn't that good, there was a ditch in-between, so I had to take it at a distance, but I'm going to go out again and venture out into the forrest and get a better picture.

I also got myself a Flickr account, where I going to put some pictures. (Seems like the biggest size you can view is 1024x768. If I'd known that I would have resized the images before uploading, thereby saving some of my monthly upload capacity.) If you ever lack motivation to take pictures, just go and explore the Interestingness-section.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

When Nature goes Bad

I was scraping off a wall of an outhouse today in preparation for it being painted, when I spotted a bumblebee.

Bumblebees are friendly, aren't they.

"Hello, bumblebee."

But this came a bit too close for comfort. It started buzzing around me like crazy, and when I moved position it came after me.

"Gah, what are you doing! Get away from me!"

So I started swatting after it with the scraper, eventually fending him off. Turns out they had some sort of bumblebee-nest there in the wall, and apparently they didn't like me banging on the wall.

But not long after that incident I was struck again. I had continued my scraping, though a bit more carefully now so as to not anger the flying bulls. Suddenly, I felt something drop onto my head. Felt like rain, but the sky was clear. Oh crap.

"Dad, is it..?"

"Yep..."

"No..!"

"Bird-shit."

Oh crap.

I took that as a sign that mother nature didn't want me to do anything else for today.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Demons

I dreamt something pretty incredible the other night.

I was back in the upper level of compulsory school (ages 13-15), I don't know which grade it was. One of the class dickheads was being a dickhead as usual, but then I got up from my seat, went right up to him and yelled in his face to "shut the fuck up!" (Roughly translated. I don't recall the exact wording.) Completely without repercussions.

To put that bit into perspective, whenever I've had dreams concerning my tormentors from the past, it always saw me in a state of helpless victimization, so this kind of scene was a major departure from the norm.

It reminded me of "Demons" by Fatboy Slim and Macy Gray.
All of your demons will wither away
Ecstasy comes and they cannot stay
You'll understand when you come my way
Coz all of my demons have withered away
I should search out that CD.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Another candidate

Continuing the search for something approaching decent speakers, I've come across the M-Audio Studiopro line (3 & 4s).

M-Audio Studiopro 3

M-Audio Studiopro 4s
They are both a bit more expensive than the Behringer MS16s (89€ for the Studiopro 3, 159€ for the Studiopro 4s, compared to 68€ for the MS16 at Thomann.de), but I do seem to find more info/reviews for the M-Audio speakers. The 4s' are even a featured accessory for Garageband on the Apple page.

I also found a pair of headphones that looked alright, the Behringer HPS3000 for only 19.30€.If I got the Behringer speakers, I could probably pick up the headphones too for the extra dough, as opposed to blowing it all on the speakers.

Though I've come across some bad reviews for all of the products, I guess that's sort of a calculated risk with bottom-of-the-line equipment.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

A candidate

I've found a pretty good candidate for my speaker purchase with the Behringer MS16's. Affordable, seems to do the job, even though they're far from pro-level. But in this instance the price is what does it. A pair of good-enough speakers at under-100€?

The next step is to see if any local dealers have them, and perhaps I can muster up enough courage to ask to listen to some other speakers too. It would be interesting to see how real studio monitors sound.

The main idea is to find something better than the built-in speakers in the eMac. Which shouldn't be too hard since they're pretty bad...

Saturday, July 15, 2006

New profile image

The old profile image was a bit outdated, so I thought I'd change it to something more current. (I might be able to get it even better, in which case I will change it again.)

***
Yesterday evening I watched The Fearless Vampire Killers by/starring Roman Polanski, a surprisingly funny movie. Seeing that it hasn't yet come out on DVD makes me wish I had taped it.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Sucralose

The Coca-Cola company recently changed their formula for Coca-Cola light (aka Diet Coke) in Finland, and it seems in many other countries too, to include the sweetener sucralose instead of aspartame, which was used before.The change in taste is obvious from the first time you taste it. Long story short, it just doesn't taste as good. I found a very good review of the new Coke Light (though in Swedish) that describes very well the issues I have with it.
It's very easy to feel the difference between the two, they taste very differently. The old kind has sort of a sour and sharp taste in comparison to the new, but it also tastes very little of sweetener. The new kind is clearly sweeter, but the sweet taste also brings its evil twin, the unpleasant taste of sweetener. And this is the big question. Is it worth the unpleasant taste of sweetener, just to get a sweeter soda? We say NO! One of the advantages of the old Coca-Cola light is that it isn't so sweet. That way it becomes a better thirst-quencher, and you can drink just about as much as you want. The sweeter the soda is, the faster you get tired of it.
-Fulcola, Coca-Cola light (Sucralose), rough translation
You can probably get used to it, but the current plan is to buy the old kind for as long as I can.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Weeding

I've been going around a bit in the strawberry garden, trying to rip out weeds from there. Of course there is no way I could ever hope to finish such an endeavour, but I've conceded to merely doing as good as I can.

One of the more evil plants I've had the displeasure of acquainting myself with is this (a thistle according to more knowledgeable people):Indeed, it is a plant consisting of pure evil. It is covered in sharp thorns that you will need more than just regular gloves to stop (I suspect you would need dragon-hide gloves to get any kind of grip on them).And the long roots makes it near-impossible to get them completely uprooted.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Gah. (Heat brings bugs.)

Holy moly, it's hot. As soon as you sit down the sweat sticks your ass to the chair.

The heat also makes the flies giddy, causing them to buzz around incessantly. Since the heat gets me off my fly-swatting game, my kill average has gone down drastically. (Just know I missed the same fly three times in a row when trying to hit it.)

A curious thing is that after a long time of chasing flies around, I still seem to "hear" some sort of buzzing even though I'm pretty sure there's none in the vicinity. I guess it comes from having focused my ears for so long for that sound that when it's removed an 'echo' of it still remains. (Perhaps a bit like the phantom limb phenomenon?)

A black bug started to attack me (it flew towards me menacingly), so I had to smack him down and punish him for his insolence.

Sensitive readers might want to stop at this point.

This is where one of my old friends, the electric swatter, comes in. It's probably wrong to say so, but I would be lying if I said it hadn't brought its share of amusement, not to say variety, to my bug-chasing. Due to my long, shall we say, "history", with the black bugs, I always approached their "treatment", so to speak, with great enthusiasm. Even a quick touch of the electric swatter is enough to throw a bug completely off. (After that, you have the choice of either moving on to other appliances or continuing with the electric, depending on your time and the availability of other instruments.) Of course you can then apply it wherever you please on the insect, but most of the time, if you just shock it quickly first, then turn it on its back and put the swatter on top of it, it will then kling its legs onto the swatter. If you then activate it, the bug will clench its legs even tighter onto the conductive bars, making for an easy incapacitation of it.

Now, I don't want you thinking I'm some kind of psychopathic insect-torturer (though I guess some might be of that opinion no matter what), it's not towards all bugs that I hold this great disliking. I'd say that it's up to two factors: 1) how common the insect is, and 2) what level of annoyance the species is in my life. I tend to have a more favourable attitude towards insects that merely stick to theirs, such as bumblebees and butterflies. (Yes, I do realise that this logic is flawed since the insects probably don't make a conscious effort to intrude into my personal space.) Flies are everywhere during summer, and they easily enter the house and prove to be a great source of annoyance, with their all-too-noticable buzzing and trodding all over food-stuffs. The black bugs might be a bit harder to understand for someone who hasn't lived around here, but they are also make their presence known, scratching around inside the walls during night, running around the basement, seeing one or two running for cover as soon as the shower is turned on. You might also have heard about the time I awoke from a nap to find one right next to me on my pillow (which was quite a shock).