solarbird: (molly-feeling-alone-andor-pouting)

I haven’t been posting much lately, and that’s because honestly, I’m just too strung out to do it. 18 days ’till the American elections, and while this is Cascadia, this is American-occupied Cascadia, so I can’t just laugh nervously and hope they don’t invade, they’re already here.

Leannan Sidhe sent me a new song a few days ago, and I’ve learned something: Ab (and all variants) are the Satan of chords for irish bouzouki – at least, in my tuning. It’s so much so that chord charts just skip over it completely. I was all, “…did I miss something? Is it in back for some reason?” NOPE IT’S JUST NOT THERE. Of course, I can come up with a few, but they’re stupidly up the neck and sound wrong in context, or they’re missing important things like, oh, the 5th.

Really, this is one of those cases where having very flexible fingers doesn’t make up for having small hands. Some five-fret reaches, I can just barely make. (See: all F chords.) Some four-fret reaches, though, I can’t – and while the “take G and make it a bar chord” approach is my best shot at getting an Ab that isn’t insane, well, yeah, it hurts.

So, anyway, yeah. I’ve been quiet, because stressed the fuck out, and it won’t be ending real soon. Mr. Trump is most likely going to lose, appears to know it, and appears to be setting up to denounce the result as fraudulent… all so he can corral, I dunno, 20 million of his hard-core alt-right supporters into his new television venture, which will, given what we’ve been seeing, become the new voice of white supremacy and overt misogyny.

It never ends, really, does it. It. never. ends.

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come check out our music at:
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solarbird: (Default)
This is very definitely one of those "please let this hold up" science stories. Popular Mechanics jumps the gun a bit in that - according to the authors - this is "probably" not economically viable yet, but there's also a big question about what the authors consider economic viability.

From the paper online here:

We report an electrocatalyst which operates at room temperature and in water for the electroreduction of dissolved CO2 with high selectivity for ethanol. The overpotential (which might be lowered with the proper electrolyte, and by separating the hydrogen production to another catalyst) probably precludes economic viability for this catalyst, but the high selectivity for a 12-electron reaction suggests that nanostructured surfaces with multiple reactive sites in close proximity can yield novel reaction mechanisms.

Bold added.


Oct. 18th, 2016 12:14 pm
solarbird: (Default)
This is all we get out of on Sombra? really?

...Estableciendo conexión...
...Protocolo Sombra v1.95 iniciado...

...Transmisión finalizada - finalizando carga...
...Carga finalizada. Unidad Bastion E-54 comprometida...

...Terminando conexión...

----- (google translate) -----

... Connecting ...
... Protocol v1.95 Shadow started ...

... Finished Transmission - ending loading ...
... Charging complete. Bastion Unit E-54 committed ...

... Terminating connection ...
solarbird: (molly-oooooh)

Several months ago, I saw online a prototype of a sampling synth with waveform editing and a uniquely cool physical user interface. I don’t remember whether I blogged about it at the time or not, but I certainly talked about it on social media and such.

It’s not so much that it does anything you can’t already do; you can do everything it’s doing with a modern digital audio workstation, for example. But the physicality of the interface looked delightful, and that sort of thing really, really matters in instruments. Including synths. It made sample synths look fun to play in a new dimension – one far more instrument-like than I’d seen before.

Collidoscpe v2

I wondered at the time if they were looking for a commercial application, to build them to sell. But if they were, they’ve ditched that: it’s gone open-source. Not just source code for the software, but instructions and 3D CAD files if you want to build one yourself to their physical specs.

Admittedly, the case-build instructions are… a tad sparse. But that’s half the fun, right? Component-wise, it’s basically a cakewalk. (Silly me thought the waveform display was some fancy custom thing HAHAHAHAHAHA NO IT’S A STANDARD LCD MONITOR BEHIND A FRAME HAHAHAHAHA etc. But that’s the smart way, so.)

Anyway, yeah! Project!

h/t: Klopfenpop for the link

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solarbird: (korra-on-the-air)
Remember that article several months ago about how the GOP's refusal to consider any Obama nominee this year might extend into the next presidency?

McCain: GOPers Will Unite To Block ‘Any’ Clinton SCOTUS Nominee
By Allegra Kirkland
Published October 17, 2016, 1:45 PM EDT

"I promise you that we will be united against any Supreme Court nominee that Hillary Clinton, if she were president, would put up," McCain said on WPHT Philadelphia radio in an interview first flagged by CNN. "I promise you. This is where we need the majority."
He has 'walked this back,' as they say, since people came down on it - but which do you believe is true?

I should note, the two statements don't necessarily contradict each other, in that there's a difference between "guaranteed vote against" and "refusal to vote or even hold hearings at all," which is what they've been doing. I think even with his walkback, his statement means, "we'll hold hearings, and reject every one." Because "merits." Of course.
solarbird: (Lecturing)

Well, that was neat – the “warmup” storm was the big one, the big one swerved north at the last minute and weakened, mostly missing us, and then surprise-collapsing over Victoria. Still, we did lose power and were offline most of a day, so if you missed Friday’s post about recovering damaged recordings – a bit of a geek-out, really – that’s what happened.

I took advantage of the unexpected uptime to finish up that project, by the way. It was interesting, and I learned stuff, like usual. The condition of the tape (and damage in the recording) varied all over the place, and arguably too much even to try to split it up into a million shards. Though there was a lot of this kind of crap:

This is one phrase of lyrics

That’s a combined automation of level and compression ratio. Here’s what it looked like over a larger area, about 3/4 of the way through. Yes, meaningfully more got added to this:

And the sad thing is, that’s just me trying to attain listenability throughout. I’m not trying for “good” – that isn’t attainable, but less noise and less distortion and fixing dynamics over time, that I can do.

Some of the tape wasn’t really that bad! I mean, it’s a 23-year-old cassette recording made on some sort of portable device set on what sounds like two different autolevelling schemes – it changes once when the recording was stopped briefly, I suspect the operator changed modes and I really wish they hadn’t – so “not really that bad” comes with a lot of caveats. But still, not that bad. Lots of hiss, lots of tape rumble, small dropouts, and so on, but not unintelligible. Fatiguing to listen to over time.

Here’s a short sample of “The Crawl,” early on, direct from the tape. Hissy, some sort of mid-band distortion that isn’t too bad in short doses (but really gets annoying over time), off-centre sound placement. But otherwise not that bad. You can hear stuff.

So I ripped the hiss off, did some work to improve dynamics, pulled out what I could of the distortion, threw on EQ to bring back out the low end, re-centred and smoothed it a bit, and here y’are.

Then there are other sections. After that mode switch got thrown, the whole recording got weirder. “The Profiteers” was particularly bad. Here’s the original. I know the lyrics and I still can’t make them all out here. But I can in the restoration. It’s not good, but you can make things out. This is where I needed that whole stack of plugins I talked about on Friday.

And just as importantly – and something short samples like the above won’t give you – it’s listenable over time. Some of these problems are really hard to tolerate over the two hours of this recording. They’re not bad in short doses, but they grate.

Like, the original seems to have more high end, right? But it’s not real. Eventually your brain figures out it’s just hiss, with your audio centre filling shapes into it, and it’s wearying. In short comparisons, the brightness is attractive, and the restored version sounds kind of dull in contrast at first – but as with light, your ears adjust to recordings, and that goes away with listening.

Similar are all the damn-autolevel-to-hell level changes. They’re not necessarily so bad in short doses – some of those are like punches to the face, but most aren’t. But even with that, EVERYTHING REALLY LOUD PUNCTUATED BY surprise underlevelling is also wearying.

So the restoration maybe doesn’t sound good, on any kind of normal scale – but I got it to the point where, particularly on laptop speakers, it sounds pretty okay. I can listen to it. Occasionally – just occasionally – it even sounds musical. And there’s enough there there to remind me how much I miss this Great Big Sea.

There was one thing I couldn’t fix though, no matter how I tried. And that’s during “Excursion Around the Bay,” wherein early in the song, some fucker orders espresso at a George Street bar. And so you get that espresso machine foam blast noise right in the middle of a verse.


Gods damn you, espresso man – gods damn you.

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solarbird: (korra-on-the-air)
This is really bad. His supporters also plan voter intimidation, and then violence if they lose. Mr. Trump is actively formenting both.

Trump says the election is rigged — and his supporters are furious


They believe what Trump has told them over and over, that this election is rigged, and if he loses, it will be because of a massive conspiracy to take him down...

Trump is actively stoking fears that a core tenet of American democracy is also in peril: that you can trust what happens at the ballot box. ... And if Trump doesn’t win, some are even openly talking about violent rebellion and assassination, as fantastical and unhinged as that may seem.

"If she’s in office, I hope we can start a coup. She should be in prison or shot. That’s how I feel about it," Dan Bowman, a 50-year-old contractor, said of Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee. "We’re going to have a revolution and take them out of office if that’s what it takes. There’s going to be a lot of bloodshed. But that’s what it’s going to take. . . . I would do whatever I can for my country."


"Trump said to watch you precincts. I’m going to go, for sure," said Steve Webb, a 61-year-old carpenter from Fairfield, Ohio.

"I’ll look for . . . well, it’s called racial profiling. Mexicans. Syrians. People who can’t speak American," he said. "I’m going to go right up behind them. I’ll do everything legally. I want to see if they are accountable. I’m not going to do anything illegal. I’m going to make them a little bit nervous."
solarbird: (Default)
PSE customer? SERIOUSLY UNPLUG SHIT IF YOU ARE ON PSE. We're seeing variable power between 0 and 14V AC on the hot lead, and that is not okay.
solarbird: (Lecturing)

Whelp, wave one/two are mostly past us, and so far, we’re still up! We had three short outages overnight, but nothing the UPSes couldn’t handle – the longest was about 10 seconds long, nothing actually serious.

Tonight could get dicey in the early afternoon; tomorrow afternoon, though, will be the biggest event. It’s a separate system, we aren’t in some kind of eye; Songda doesn’t have an eye any more, and is continuing to weaken. They’re thinking more “2006” than “1962” at this point, so those winds will most likely top out in the 90-100kph range.

Still, in 2006, we lost power for two days, and neighbours lost theirs for nine. So it’s still to be taken seriously.

I’m still working on a project for some people in Great Big Sea fandom, helping them recover a badly-degraded cassette recording of a concert from 1993. It’s… wow yeah, it’s a mess. Definitely one of those, “I’ve got this to the point where it’s… pretty bad! But here, listen to the original for comparison…” projects. I think I’ve managed to make wide sections of it listenable, in that you can make out lyrics pretty much all of the time now, you can hear choruses, the weird continuous rumble is gone, the particularly fierce for some reason tape hiss is gone, things like that. But damn, the distortion is pretty fierce at times. I’m pretty sure they were overdriving the microphone.

Here’s the plugin stack, from memory:

  • repetitive noise reduction (-18db)
  • low pass filter (more hiss)
  • high pass filter (rumble)
  • 10-band bandwidth-adjustable equalisation (with deeply gnarly settings, this was not a good recording)
  • multi-band compressor (to reduce crowd noise as percentage of signal)
    right about here it starts to sound like a normal, if low-quality, recording
  • second 10-band bandwidth-adjustable equalisation (basic general EQ)
  • second low pass filter (because asymmetrical EQ curves aren’t a thing)
  • standard compressor (oh look something almost normal!)
  • 20-band notch equaliser (fixing dents in the curve, I thought, “let’s try this” and it worked)
  • some very short-duration reverb to hide many remaining sins (waveform smoothing)
  • fast look-ahead limiter on master bus (kind of a circuit breaker, for peak protection, should do absolutely nothing) and done.

It’s kind of a lot. The automation in particular is pretty hilarious – the recorder had automatic recording level adjust and they used it (NEVER USE THAT) and I’m kind of undoing all of that the best I can. I’m also fixing dropouts, stuff like that.

(Seriously, never use automatic recording level, I’m pulling entire lines of songs back out of noise.)

If any audio engineer is reading this: I know. I know. But I can’t combine those EQ passes, I tried – the processing between them matters too much. And of course, this is a no-pay project, because it’s fannish – but I volunteered, and every time I do one of these things, I learn something.

Okay, now we’re getting more power flickers, so let’s post this while we can still echo it around. Adventures!

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come check out our music at:
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solarbird: (molly-braceforimpact)

So apparently we’re being one-two-three-ed by big, and I mean big for us, windstorms over the next week. High wind watch tomorrow, followed by Typhoon Songda (or the remnants thereof, which we’re still talking 75-80kph sustained winds on the coast), then maybe a Tuesday chaser.

And that’s if Songda maintains its current path and doesn’t shift south. If it does – hoo boy. Cliff Mass – a popular weather blogger in Seattle, he’s a research scientist at UW – is describing the Songda as “a highly dangerous windstorm with the potential to be an historic event” which would exceed the worst storm ever to hit here, back in 1962.

Plus, the timing is terrible – mostly, the leaves are still on the trees. That makes them giant sails.

So basically all that combines to mean we’ll probably have to bunker in, lose power, and end up offline for a while. Possibly several days, if Songda moves south a bit. The music page will stay up ( ) throughout, of course, and blog page echoes live here:

Livejournal (complete blog echo)
Dreamwidth (complete blog echo)
Tumblr (partial echo plus have I mentioned korrasami and overwatch?)

And, of course, there’s the band page on Facebook and my Twitter account.

Hopefully we’ll get lucky and it won’t be so bad. Nobody thinks of us as having storms, but boy howdy, we do this time of year, and this is looking to be a bad one – particularly as a combined wave. Wish us luck.

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come check out our music at:
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solarbird: (molly-braceforimpact)

I will, when I see a good one, post about a nice Supervillain Lair up for sale. This is not that, but is still a listing that I’m posting because damn.

‘Unique one of a kind finishing completed by a professional!’ Yes, that professional, I am certain, being Kevin, from Desert Bluffs.

Something very, very wrong happened in Avon, Connecticut.

More suburban hellscape here

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solarbird: (korra-wha)
Like everything else hasn't been horrible, but, honestly, how does this not make anyone feel anything other than incredulity or shame?


Or you can just help me revive this antique meme, it's pretty much the same thing.

solarbird: (korra-excited)

Hey, I got my Orycon schedule! I’m doing several panels and will write those up in a bit, but the concert is Sunday, November 20th, 12:30pm, in Mt. Hood.

I know that’s still a bit off, but that just means plenty of time to make plans, eh?

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solarbird: (utena)
...I can see it being true, so tell Disney - don't do this. Seriously, Don't.

An Open Letter to the Creators of Disney's Live-Action Feature Film 'The Legend of Mulan'

A white merchant's business brings him to the heart of a legendary Asian conflict -- he unwittingly helps save the day while winning the heart of the Asian female. Am I describing the plotline of the Netflix series Marco Polo? No. I'm describing the spec script that Disney bought for its live-action feature film, The Legend of Mulan, which is projected for release in 2018.

As an Asian American person in the industry, I am furious after reading this script. I am writing this letter anonymously so all the fans anticipating this remake will know how problematic it is in its current form. We must urge the creators of Disney's live-action Mulan to reconsider the story before the film goes into production.
solarbird: (hard-on-picks)
Well, this just got real complicated for Samsung - a second "repaired" phone spontaneously catches fire, sends owner to hospital:


Oct. 7th, 2016 11:30 pm
solarbird: (Default)
this dog looks like a dog that is wearing a dog costume
solarbird: (hard-on-picks)

Back at Clallam Bay Comicon, I did “USSR” for the first time, as a karaoke track. When I got back, I posted a video of the live USSR performance on Tumblr, taken off of audience camera.

And that was fun, but the sound quality was pretty bad, because it was just the on-camera microphone. Plus, the camera did things like make automatic-recording-level adjustments throughout, which means the backing track is pulsing all over the place.

I’m going to be cleaning up some other, similar live recordings for some other people this weekend, so I’ve had a go at this audio, just to warm up and see what I can do with it. That’s meant a lot of level-control automation, heavy use of a multiband compressor (and a high-pass filter to get rid of most of an occasional rumble from… somewhere…), a bit of reverb to smooth out some of the sample rate issues, and a lot of EQ work.

I’m going to massage it a bit more, I think? But I’m reasonably happy with what I’ve managed so far (mp3 link). The amount of surprise audio-level changes is down a lot, I’ve brought back the low end and some of the high end, there’s even a hint of kick to the bassline now – though I wonder if I’ve over-built that at the moment. It mostly sounds okay but I’m not sure it’s so great on anything that does a lot of bass boost, like some gaming headphones.

Anyway, what do you think? I’ll re-upload the live video with the improved/massaged audio if enough other people think it’s better enough.

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solarbird: boring bit (boring bit)

I’ve been doing some better organisation/re-organisation of file systems around here, particularly on Dropbox which I’ve used historically to store larger files for this blog. I’m pretty sure everything’s okay, but if you notice anything broken – let me know? Thanks.

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