Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Weather report

Weather in Finland:
Vasa, Finland, photo: Vasabladet/Patricia Rodas


Wheather in Japan:
Japan, photo: Quaisi

Sunday, March 26, 2006

The Setup

Here's the setup that I "work" on. I use the term very loosely here because I'm not sure it classifies as work. Perhaps better would be to say "here's the setup I use".
The eMac running Garageband, the M-Audio Keystation 49e on the right, on the left is a Zip-drive and even further left, out of picture, is the DSL-modem and printer. When I play I usually move the Keystation so it's above the computer keyboard; it's just long enough to rest on the two raised desk-edges on the sides. The wires front right of the computer is a couple of headphones and an audio cable that we're using to hook up my brother's electric guitar when he's recording.

It looks neater than it usually does since I removed all the trash for the picture.

***
You may also notice an updated profile image. It's actually a picture of me this time, but as a sketch my brother did years ago. The paper was old and yellowed, and it's been scribbled on quite a lot; I took it into Photoshop and removed some of it, but I didn't want to ruin the sketch.

Besides, the wear does bring a bit of character to it.

Garageband + Reason = ?

Hold it, hold it...
You can use GarageBand with music software applications that support Propellerhead Software's Rewire functionality. GarageBand's ReWire support lets you synchronize the two applications so that they play at the same time, and use the sounds and features from both applications to create a single song.
-Garageband 2 help: ReWire support
You see? Now you see.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

1 year later

I was just thinking that there was something I was forgetting: today is exactly one year since I made my first post on Blogger. Man, time flies.

It's interesting to think back on how my purpose for this has changed since I started. Before signing up for Blogger, I had DMA post some writings that I considered to be relevant at the Antell Software homepage. My original intent was to have Blogger serve as an extension of that, hosting my articles on gaming etc. Slowly, or not so slowly, the et cetera-part came to push the gaming out of the main focus. In a way, the change was perhaps due to my Xbox becoming unplayable after the DVD-drive finally failing.

With the shift away from gaming, a change of view seemed to be in order. (And it's stayed basically the same since, besides the top image going through a couple of variations.)

As I started with the Japanese studies, the number of posts dealing with Japan seemed to rise in general. In fact, after a quick check, it seems as if before the change, 2 of 37 posts dealt with Japanese things, while after it was about 37 of 113 (the numbers could be a bit off since it's getting late).

Another person who has been blogging for about a year now is my classmate Aino, who I think also started around March last year, though a bit earlier than me.

今年も、がんばりましょう!

***
Remember those Beatles sheet music books I borrowed? Neither did I. Almost a month and I still haven't looked in them. This weekend, really...

***
How about a chart showing the number of visits and page views over the past year?

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

My anal personality comes in handy

For once, my habit of meticulously archiving almost all software that I download has come in handy.

I was copying (or "time-shifting") The Beatles' Help! that I had borrowed from the library, and it had a huge scratch on it that prevented tracks 4 & 5 from being cleanly copied (they would be copied over with lots of strange noise in them). I knew that there was one application I had used back in the day that had been able to copy another disc that had a big scratch in it. So I got open my archive (I'm using DiskTracker, btw) and looked around, and found what I was searching for: Track Thief, and old pre-OS X app by Bo Lindbergh. Ah, nostalgia... back in the day, this little thing was one of my favourite applications. With this little thing you had the ability to set the speed that the drive used to copy to HD. Not necessary for brand new CDs, but a good tool to have for when the shit hit the fan.

So, loaded Track Thief into my old iMac running OS 9 and popped in the CD. A couple of minutes later, perfect copies of the tracks I was having problems with. Good thing I had TT archived too, since it seems to be lost from the face of the 'net.

***
While I'm reminiscing... I don't remember exactly when we got the iMac, perhaps in '98 or so. If there are any Mac-heads out there (serious Mac-nerd alert here), I can tell you it was a rev. B model, upgraded with a slightly better graphics-chip over the rev. A. It wasn't really that powerful, but it seemed to get by. I did a couple of upgrades, foolish as I was; got some more RAM, and even got a Voodoo2 3D-accelerator for it for gaming. It did make games a bit more playable, but in retrospect it wasn't such a good buy. And installing it was a nightmare for me who hadn't really done anything like that before.

The Voodoo2 board was also the primary reason why I haven't installed Linux on it; I was going to try Ubuntu with a Live CD, but I couldn't find any way of making it use the built-in graphics chip instead of the 3D-only Voodoo board.

Eventually the screen on it died, from a busted logic board. Which was when we got the current eMac, which has been an absolute dream (except that one time initially when it suffered from the same problem, luckily it was still under warranty). For me, it feels perfect; while I don't need state-of-the-art equipment, it's fast enough to dabble around with stuff like Garageband (and perhaps Reason) if you keep it light.

The old iMac still lives on, I got an external screen with old-style Apple connector (thanks DMA!) and I use it occasionally. For a while I used it to watch instructional videos for keyboard-playing, while using my brother's ancient Yamaha PSR-2. At this juncture, I think an image would be in order.The revived FrankenMac under the desk and on the note-stand Tetsuya Komuro's Piano Sounds sheet music that I have ambitions of learning from. (Note to self: should really work on reading notation.)

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Senpai/sempai

Transliteration of 先輩, "senpai" or "sempai"? Sounds like the set-up for a Googlefight!

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Message from a Foreign Star

Message from a Foreign Star. A slow, instrumental, electronic piece made in Garageband. (When I made it I pictured myself a signal from a faraway place, travelling across the vast distances of space, finally reaching a reciever here on earth.)

Not anywhere close to Max Breaker's stuff, but what can you do.

Friday, March 17, 2006

大成功! (Or "How chance rules my life")

Did you ever have one of those days where everything turns out just right, even though it looked to go all wrong? Today was one of those days for me.

We had a test today, modern Japanese history, that I thought started at 9 AM, but actually started at 1 PM. The source of this misunderstanding was that I heard Aino mention in Finnish when it started, but due to words in that context being a bit similar in Finnish ("yhdeltä" for "from 1" and "yhdeksältä" for "from 9"), I thought it was 9.

So I showed up at 9, very tired, and I bump into some of our sempai on their way to class. Waited nervously for our teacher to arrive to hear what's up, and I find out that the test is at 1 PM. Relief. I sit down for a couple of hours to study, which was pretty good, because I had problems concentrating last night and I had studied far too little. If I pass this test I can say that it was probably due to those four extra hours of study-time.

In any case, I catch a glimpse of our sempai again on their break, and, collecting my balls, I chase them down and ask to have a word with the one going of to Japan (あのかわいい女の子); the reason being that there are some pretty rare CDs that I'm interested in, and if she would happen upon a BookOff-store or a similar used CD-store, could she see if she finds them and toss me an e-mail if she does, so I might be able to make arrangements for getting them home. The CDs, if you want to know, are Tetsuya Komuro's Seven Days War and Hatachi no yakusoku, kanji: 二十歳の約束. (Furthermore, if you know me you probably know that this is something that I wouldn't have dared to do, for example, at 18. Most of my earlier activity with interesting parties of the opposite sex has consisted of wishful thinking.)

And all this accomplished due to a mishearing.

***
It occurred to me now that I haven't mentioned the Japanese food night yesterday yet. For the most part it was a success, but the rice (which was the responsibility of the group I was in) was a bit so-so. Thank god I wasn't put in charge with making any of the real food. The little soup-thing served first was superb. I mean, the moment I smelt it my worries about it vanished. The fried fish (not raw, mind you) was very well made, I'm don't really like fish, but this went down without much resistance. After that was some meat-vegetable mix-thing, also quite nice, but by that time I was already full, so I couldn't finish it all. (I really wish I had written the names and recipes for these down, especially the initial soup-thing; that was, in one word, 美味しい! That means it was delicious.)

Thursday, March 16, 2006

The Master of My Own Undoing

When someone you're interested in says they are soon to go away for a long time, one of the proper responses would be:
"Wow, so soon? What a shame, we've hardly gotten to talk with each other. Here's my phonenumber/e-mail."
Unfortunately, that's not what I said.

Japanese food, eh?

Tomorrow we're going to have the "Japanese food night"-thing at our school. It is said we will make okonomiyaki etc.Since I'm a simple boy raised on the countryside far away from these kind of exoticisms, I'm a bit nervous. But I'm sure it'll be fine. The main thing on my mind is whether it's BYOH (Bring Your Own Hashi).

***
Being a boy, of course I too have an attraction to big guns, even if it's usually latent.
Sailors often refer to the CIWS as "R2-D2 with a hard on" due to its peculiar shape.
-Wikipedia article on Phalanx CIWS

I originally found out about it from a comment on Slashdot, where there was this additional little snippet:
Also, one of the things that makes this thing so kick ass is that once it decides to shoot something, it start shooting (at 4,500 rounds per minute (or 75/sec)) and the radar tracks each bullet's trajectory and corrects the aim based on that. It has eliminated any aiming error before the first bullet gets to the target.
-kryzx, Slashdot comment
***
Lately, I've been listening to the Vampire Hunter D soundtrack by Tetsuya Komuro that I found one day while perusing a peer-to-peer service. Much more than listening, I've been thoroughly enjoying it. It didn't really stick on the first listening, but it's grown on me immensely.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Ahh...

I finally finished reading the book for Friday's history-test. Sort of last-minute, but that doesn't seem to be unusual when it comes to me. I was set on finishing it today so I could do a short rehearsal tomorrow and final preparations on Thursday. Most part of the day has gone to reading, which was made all the more intolerable by not sleeping very well the previous night.

As it happens, I just now started thinking about school tomorrow, and it occurred to me that I haven't done my homework. Oh dear...

***
It's also my sister's birthday tomorrow. Hope she likes the "present".

Monday, March 13, 2006

Digitalian

I finally got my hands on the album that I named this blog after! How cool is that?Maybe that depends on who you're asking. I think it's nice, in any case.

実は、小室オタクです。荷物には小室ソロCD4枚!「デジタリアン」「天と地と」サントラ「マドモアゼル・モーツァルト」サントラそして「ヒット・ファクトリー」。いい曲だな〜と思います。

でもそんな古いの音楽を聞く、ちょっとかっこわるくない?

Edit: if you want to hear what it sounds like, here is a download link.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Too Damn Late (starring Garageband) - Part 3

Again another evening wasted with Garageband. My brother recorded some sound-bytes for his new song, and after he had gone to town I started poking at it and it made funny noises. I must've spent an hour just trying to figure out how to get a certain sound effect in there.

Anyway, it turned out pretty OK, even though it was just a joke-song. Let's see what the brother has to say about it later, and if he doesn't like it, he can kiss my flat ass!

***
If you went to the post by my brother I linked, you would have seen some rather outrageous claims about me there. I'll try to talk about it, but I must warn you that I don't like talking about myself.

I don't really see myself as a bona fide genius. Though I don't see myself as a completely "normal" person either. I do feel like there's something in me that needs to be let out, I'm still not sure what that is. While looking up the word at Dictionary.com I found an interesting quite by Simone de Beauvoir:
One is not born a genius, one becomes a genius.
I remember once long ago when we had one of those IQ-tests in a psychology-class. I got a pretty good score with a verdict of having a fair chance of being accepted to Mensa would I take the test for real, but I still didn't get the top score in the class. That's a bit how I see myself, having potential, but a far way from being "the real deal". Perhaps the piano thing and the Japanese thing recently are just sub-conscious ways of trying to maximize that potential, and striving to reach that new level.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Outfoxing a fox

I watched Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism yesterday, and while I knew that Fox was biased I was still shocked by the extents they went to to push their "line". It was utterly mind-boggling what they get away with. In one segment they showed when Bill O'Reilly interviewed a young man (Jeremy Glick) whose father had died in the September 11 terror attack and who had later signed a list protesting against the war in Iraq. You should've heard the trash that O'Reilly spouted out, while completely ignoring Glick's comments. In fact, thanks to the magic of the internet, you can watch it. And that was a guy who had just lost his father!

There is one bit I want to mention from the interview.
GLICK: ... is that in -- six months before the Soviet invasion in Afghanistan, starting in the Carter administration and continuing and escalating while Bush's father was head of the CIA, we recruited a hundred thousand radical mujahadeens to combat a democratic government in Afghanistan, the Turaki government.

O'REILLY: All right. I don't want to...

GLICK: Maybe...

O'REILLY: I don't want to debate world politics with you.

GLICK: Well, why not? This is about world politics.

O'REILLY: Because, No. 1, I don't really care what you think.

GLICK: Well, OK.
-Bill O'Reilly vs Jeremy Glick transcript
Emphasis added. If O'Reilly really didn't care what Glick thinks, why in the world did he invite him to the show?!

While the film ended on a note of careful optimism, saying that if people stand up against the media companies things will change, I don't think that it will happen anytime soon. People seem to be too ingrained in watching television and relying on it for all of their opinions to dare stand up and think for themselves. The current sweet spot that the Fox network in co-operation with the republicans/conservatives currently hold is one that they won't let go of easily.

It's not easy outfoxing a fox.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Dear Girl

It's an instrumental piano melody I made with in Garageband this evening. Care to listen?

I was actually planning on making/uploading some new piano-piece for Valentine's Day, so I'm just half a month late...

Some small stuff I'm unsatisfied with, all-in-all, not too shabby.

***
My brother also thought up a melody for a song he plans to call "Konnichiwa, Akira Kurosawa". He says it's going to be in Japanese. I'm actually toying with the idea of writing lyrics in Japanese for it. Yes, it would probably turn out really lame since I can't really write anything meaningful in Japanese yet, but just for a laugh, you know!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Unexpected off

I arrived at school today only to find out that this week's lessons were cancelled due to sickness. (Always the last to find out.) Too bad. Now that the other students there have a vacation I thought I'd take the opportunity to practice on one of the pianos there (as I would have less people to embarass myself in front of). Playing on a real piano is very different from playing on a cheap MIDI controller; the keys have a much greater sense of weight to them on a real piano.

***
Having nothing better to do at the time, I went by the library and borrowed some Beatles stuff: a couple of CDs, sheet music (hopefully I'll get around to looking at it this time) and a book called Beatles In Their Own Words, basically a collection of quotes.

In any case, I've come to think that John Lennon was a bit of an asshole. How about this quote:
"People like me are always aware of their so-called genius at ten, eight, nine... I always wondered, why has nobody discovered me?
In school, didn't they see that I'm cleverer than anybody in this school? That the teachers are stupid, too?"
-John Lennon
Sheesh, like everyone didn't go through that phase where we think we're geniuses (or genii, if you prefer that). As it turned out, he was damned good at writing songs, but I wouldn't call him a genius.

In truth, I think I look up to Paul a bit more, even though it would be more hip to idolize someone who's dead. Paul just seems more versatile, and a bit more subtle. I like subtle.

***
I came to think of something when walking around in the library. It's almost as if I'm partly going backwards in time with regards to music; when I was younger I listened to a lot of 80's Bon Jovi due to interest by proxy (my brother being a fan), then Vangelis' earlier material ca. 1970, and now I'm on the 60's with the Beatles. And at the library I also borrowed a CD called Jazz 101, Introduction to Big Band Swing, the decision to borrow it surely inspired by the Swing Girls movie.

No doubt I'll be starting on the classics soon.